A global fast food franchise opened Nairobi’s and by extension Kenya’s first drive-through outlet on Mombasa road. The drive through concept is all about convenience, a euphemism for laziness in the 21st century. The drive through is bound to thrive because Kenyans are already used to some level of drive by shopping. We source a wide selection of goods on our highways thanks to perennial traffic jams. If you are going to be stuck in a two hour traffic jam, you might as well order lunch and have it delivered on the go. Since people are spending more time in their cars, anything that involves not having to leave the comfort zone is likely to become a big hit.
In the western world, fast food is cheap and readily available. In Nairobi, junk food is actually pricey and exclusive which makes it status food. Hamburgers are a luxury food item. The quality is not half as important as the brand. As an emerging middle class asserts their presence and embraces new consumption habits we are about to roll into the era of heavy users, people who only eat takeout and takeways because sourcing for real food is just a waste of valuable time. In less than decade, we would have spawned a generation of overweight toddlers, brained washed by false advertising. Consumers so dumbed down that all one requires on the label is the phrase ‘fortified with vitamins’ to ascertain a health endorsement. The same kind of advertising that lies to our kids that margarine is good for growth and fitness and pushes processed milk endorsed by cows.
The analysts say that Kenya is ripe for the fast food industry and famous international chain outlets are trooping in faster than you can imagine. Soon or later, McDonald’s will have to set shop due to public demand for international fast food brands that fad conscious Kenyans can easily recognize from TV. These foods will be highly processed, full of fat, calories and sodium. But who cares. The idea that you can afford fat food (pun intended) is a status statement. With the growing fad conscious middle class and an ever expanding mall culture, drive-ins were the next logical step. In a time strapped city, where is the time to get out of a car, pay for order and sit about waiting for food, while one could using that precious time, to tweet, update their facebook status and instagram the moment.
9 thoughts on “Fat Food Nation”
Always a pleasure reading your articles Op…Very true i must say..We are def a fat Nation !!!
Always a pleasure receiving positive feedback.
Keep dropping by. All the best.
You have truly captured the essence of this recently transformed city. Just to quote, “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant the whole day so that you can afford to live in it” – Ellen Goodman.
Majority have lost the plot and are just swept by the tide wherever it will take them. Despite the increased levels of income enabling us to afford more expensive education (but not inherently better – you have to look at the thinking pattern of many Kenyans from any social class), we never take time to think through. If it has been endorsed by any “Authority”, be it political, religious, social or economic, then it is the thing to do. Herd mentality. Critical thinking is a concept that is alien to many Kenyans.
We live in programmed times. As it is on Tv, so shall it play out in real life.
The same kind of advertising that lies to our kids that margarine is good for growth and fitness and pushes processed milk endorsed by cows………
Ha Ha … I was brainwashed during the Blue Band & Cow Boy ‘mkebe’ days at the numerous health benefits of hydrogenated vegetable fat.
Unfortunately no one is taking heed of your advice while the up ward mobile moneyed classes abandoned the ‘ Kenchics for ‘new’ western fast food brands wananchi have been trooping en masse to lower strata fast food outlets in alarming numbers.
The days when having a light snack meant enjoying ‘organic’ roadside roasted maize are slowly coming to an end.
Sad really as a nation already grappling with other health challenges I am not sure how we will handle an epidemic of ‘lifestyle’ ailments in the near future, well maybe the up ward & mobile classes will shrug it off since they can afford treatment and management from top private hospitals.
…thanking the gods of website links cause I have finally found OPs’ by happenstance…from way back as a public primary boy I’d run for my fathers’ Saturday Nation with a different coloured and sized slippers because of the rush I had to get to the Newsstand lest the vendor ran out of stock which would force me to triple the distance just to get the paper…now here is some real insight on the realities of life that most Kenyans ignorantly overlook and console themselves in a ‘juicy’ and ‘meaty’ burger from Steers or some KFC takeaway thus perpetuating the same problem. I have ‘lost’ friends as a result of the upcoming fast food brands since I’d rather go out for some roast pork ribs( I know its not really that healthy based on ‘studies’ from the whorde of researchers trying to find out why our ancestors didn’t die despite eating raw fat and stuff) and a cold GK instead of going to “hang out” at Junction/Prestige or one of the many
mall’ coming up….A FAT nation thats what we are now..Dude! You get to see some of these kids who can’t even board a matatu but I bet from their residential addresses they have no need to know the route number to their ‘hood’…..Thanks Pala..and for those asking whether you got married ..especially men..tell ’em to grow some cohones and mind their own business,,you are a writer and thats what we need to know not your personal life…it autonomously exudes from the articles you put so much thought into before hitting the send button….keep it aflame…
Karibu sana. Look around. Some nuggets are hidden in there.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now – how warped the belief that fast food is a status symbol is. Until I realised that this mentality is only here in this parts of the world (which says a great deal about us).
Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the west the KFC’s et al are actually for the lower economic brackets while the upper classes are going more organic and all. It’s got a lot to do with how, I’m sorry, we Africans think.
our own foods, for example, the githeri and the fresh tilapia and the sweet potatoes are super super foods! But try telling an upwardly mobile Kenyan yuppie that!
I can relate to your grief but we have to keep sharing the knowledge and raising awareness. We are raising a generation that may never know what real food tastes like.