A narrow pathway on the left side of Nairobi’s Kenyatta market’s main entrance is a beehive of activity during lunch hours.
On either side of the walkway are small butcheries roasting meat for customers on lunch breaks. The peak of activities is usually between 1pm and 2pm.
Unlike the other five meat shops, Hai-Hai butchery (famously known as B6)—the last on the lane—is known to attract high-profile individuals.
The likes of Homa Bay governor Cyprian Awiti and Kisumu deputy governor Ruth Odinga are frequent clients.
Mr Awiti, for instance, “likes tumbukiza, with a mix of potatoes and spinach, accompanied by a side plate of ugali”, says Mr Patrick Muchiri who serves the governor when he visits.
Ms Odinga, on the other hand, only loves nyama choma (roasted meat), with kachumbari (salad) and ugali on the side.
On Monday, however, the attendants were caught off-guard when a “peculiar” client walked into the small eatery and after having a savoury meal, spent a record Sh21,000—the highest bill they have had in one sitting.
The guest in question was President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was in the company of an extraordinarily huge crowd.
The President was ushered into B6 to savour its fresh, succulent nyama choma.
Accompanying him were Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi (Mike Sonko), nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, Nairobi woman representative Rachel Shebesh and Mathare MP Stephen Kariuki.
Mr Kenyatta was also accompanied by the market’s chairman, Mr Moses Waneni, and a committee member, Mr Hastings Mmbwanga.
“He came in the afternoon at around 2pm and stopped at our assembly point which is not far from my shop,” recalls Mr Waneni, who is also a businessman at the market.
Describing it as an impromptu visit, Mr Waneni went on to say: “I was not aware of his visit and only knew about it when a section of his security detail came to get me from my shop saying that the President was calling me.”
The father of four stepped out and walked to the assembly point where he found a cheering crowd had milled around the President.
“I was taken closer to him by his security personnel, shook his hand and he asked how business was. I said we were doing fine,” says Mr Waneni.
‘BITE OF NYAMA CHOMA‘
“Then he said ‘if you are fine, then I just came to have a bite of nyama choma; where can we go?’”
He referred the President and his guests to B6 because “it’s known for some good nyama choma, cleanliness and that prominent people like going there”.
Although he never accompanies the other politicians who go to the market for a chunk of beef, because the market is open to everyone, Mr Waneni says he had to go with the President since “the stakes were quite high as a result of the excited crowd and the security detail”.
At the kiosk, Mr Muchiri, Ms Valentine Mboni and Mr Anthony Mugo took care of Mr Kenyatta—who settled in a corner.
“He asked for nyama choma, ugali, kachumbari and managu (vegetables). He later asked for an uncut green pepper and bottle of 300ml Coke soda and water,” recalls Mr Muchiri.
And unlike other customers who request for drinking straws, the President preferred to drink his soda from the bottle.
According to Mr Muchiri, although they do not remember the exact amount of meat they sold as “we brought all the meat we had roasted that day”, the final bill amounted to Sh21,000.
“Usually, a large number of customers spend between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 but not beyond that for cooked beef,” he adds.
Asked whether the President tipped the attendants for their service, Muchiri says: “I don’t know.”
“Not even in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that a president can come and enjoy the meat we prepare like Mr Kenyatta did. It made us so happy.”
Before Mr Kenyatta’s visit, Mr Muchiri says, about 200 people frequent the small shop. However, since that visit, he says “people have been calling saying they want to sit where the President sat and eat the same meat he ate.”
President Kenyatta’s visit happened just six days after he and Cord leader Raila Odinga engaged in a war of words at former Cabinet Minister William ole Ntimama’s funeral.