Muda Mrefu

The Nairobi Fly

Last week-end Samantha and I went camping out over Monduli, about one and a half hours drive from home. It is a real feat here (around Arusha) to go out into the bush and camp without being found by some wandering Maasai. And one Maasai inevitably means many, many more. And amongst them all will be the local village “mkuu”, or boss. And the mkuu will charge you a camping fee, which is usually a small sum (although they start incredibly high, and you negotiate down). Then the mkuu calls the anti-poaching ranger, who will bring you a couple of local Maasai watchmen that you are “strongly advised” to hire for the night, as there are plenty of hyenas and leopards around. Anyway, the flow of humanity rarely stems for the duration of your camp out. This time, though, we drove off the road and down deep into a valley. I think that we were down wind from the Maasai boma, as we could hear their cattle bells, but miraculously no-one came looking for us. We spent a night out in the bush with some friends completely undisturbed.

Undisturbed, that is, except by a Nairobi Fly. This little bastard is not a fly at all, but a small beetle. It is one of those animals, like the honey bee, that has a form of defense that entails it losing its own life. Hmmmmm…. it’s like a warning to not mess with its kind, but not a defense that offers the individual much comfort. Anyway, the Nairobi Fly has an abdomen full of a terrific acid that, when you smash him or her against your arm, spreads all over your skin and causes your flesh to begin to bubble up and do all of the horrific things that you would expect from a bug bite in the tropics. I must have had one of these flies land of my arm during the night, because when I woke in the morning I had a pretty bad rash in the crook of my elbow. In the last three of four days it has continued to mature, and I won’t go into any sort of detail. It is certainly not as bad as you are imagining, but it is definitely an uncomfortable ailment. If you are the gory kind, here is a picture of the damage a Nairobi Fly can do (this one is not mine!) It is also fascinating to watch the battle between my immune system and this acid play itself out on my very own arm. I am well on the road to recovery now, so rest easy. Samantha, my wife, is now seven months pregnant. She is doing wonderfully, and wanted me to add at the end of this post that she has been in no way affected by the Nairobi Fly, and that she is in excellent health. Understandably, our family tends to worry about a pregnant Samantha when they read about our life on the Dark Continent.


May 8, 2007 - Posted by | porini


  1. please give a solution to help the situation

    Comment by Tim | January 1, 2012 | Reply

    • Just after Christmas I had an ‘experience’ with the Nairobi Fly. Just below my lower lip. I applied toothpaste and the next morning the bubbling was over and no scab formed.

      Comment by Tony | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. definitely toothpaste settles it down quickly but doesn’t get rid of it.

    Comment by ross | February 7, 2012 | Reply

  3. Thanks for your information.i can now protect ma family better

    Comment by rose | April 11, 2012 | Reply

  4. HI, I’m Alex I would like to ask,how can we control Nairobi fly?Because they have invaded our school and students are suffering helplessly.Am at South Eastern university College,Kitui campus.

    Comment by ALEX MARONGO | April 17, 2012 | Reply

  5. I’m not sure its for everyone though, but if you are serious about wanting to make some changes in your
    life and maybe feel a little bit better, then you should at least try
    the Paleo Lifestyle. You can make a basic salad with onions, tomato and cucumber and serve it with
    the slowly roasted chicken. Adding a little spice here and there helps
    to a considerable extent.

    Comment by paleo cooking | September 13, 2013 | Reply

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