Kenya's Weird Goth Scene


Written by Aisha Nozari
26 Friday 26th July 2013

Think Africa headed over to Nairobi, Kenya, where they spoke with tattoo artist David Lith about the community of goths in the town. It’s estimated that Nairobi’s goth scene extends to around 300 people (which is considerably smaller than the goth scene of my year group in high school). Apparently goths are a pretty rare find in Kenya.

Lith provides a tour of Nairobi’s goth scene, hitting up all the goth joints in town, such as tattoo parlors, ‘goth shops’ and ‘goth bars’.  However such ‘goth spots’ are still pretty scarce in Nairobi - the subculture is seen as unusual, violent and anti-Christian.

A couple of days prior to the interview, Lith had been waiting at a bus stop when police pulled over and proceeded to question the length of his hair. Upon failure to produce a passport the authorities accused him of being an ‘Al Shabaab’ aka a member of the Somali militant group responsible for several terrorist attacks in the region. So yeah, long hair = terrorist. They then drove Lith to a local barber and forced him to get a haircut. Talk about stressy.

Despite the authorities attempts to jizz all over everyone’s goth fun, the goth’s themselves are determined to keep their subculture thriving, and their community continues to grow throughout Kenya.

Lith continues that the craze was instigated with the arrival of Western music channels in the east, such as MTV, which he says popularized tattoos, heavy metal and probably other such gothic things. According to Think Africa, Kenya’s youth of today are a generation less concerned with the notion of tribal loyalty that for so long has driven Kenya’s politics, and seek to forge new, contemporary identities. Part of this process has been the replacing of older, regional languages with informal contemporary ones, primarily English – Swahili. And they’ve also started partying more.

It seems Nairobi should fully embrace its new subcultures; the town’s crime rates have plummeted in the last few years, the drop in figures are said to be a result of the sudden night life boom, which promotes divergent attitudes on both culture and politics.

Sadly, as always, there’s some classic goth extremists taking a big fat shit all over their fellow goths rep. Lith himself saying that ‘some of these kids are crazy.’ One of Nairobi’s goth kids has taken to publicly self harming himself and getting so wasted that people have to carry him home, another dude literally set himself on fire after watching a local metal band play, later dying from his wounds.  You guys, you don’t ACTUALLY have to be a goth to dress like one. Just because you paint your nails black, you’re still totally allowed to go home and wank off to Dirty Dancing. I mean who actually likes Bauhaus? Fucking no one ever. But that’s not the point, all that matters is on the surface it totally looks like you spend your evenings microwaving kittens just for lols.

Either way, it will be interesting to see whether the weird and wonderful world of Kenya’s goth culture continues to flourish, or authorities are successful in putting a stop to the whole thing.

Ps I said the word goth a total of eighteen times in this post. It was painful.

Check out this picture of Lith being a goth.


Here are some other goths I found on the web:

And here is world famous goth Newt from Hollyoaks:


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