Maneuvering through Kenyan roads is dramatic. It is what makes life in Kenya interesting. Those who live in the greater Nairobi, from Nyanyo estate, through Thika, Kiambu to Kawangware via upper hill, Gitaru and the junctions of Ruaka experience the best in Kenya road ‘movie’. It is a movie because the stuff that happens on these roads, especially during rush hour, can only be fictional. But in Kenya, they are not fiction but real! I Was driving on Uhuru highway towards Kijabe when some minor accident happened ahead of us. Before long, the usually 45-minute drive became 3 hours of havoc.
First drama is performed by the victims. They stop the car and get out and start the usual Kenyan committee on how to handle the event. Then some ‘zombies’ from wherever show up and start surrounding the event from every direction (have you noticed that when there is an accident in Kenya people who were not there a while ago stream in and surround the event. Strange mechanics with crude tools offer all kinds of advice). No one in the event knows or have a number to call the police. Therefore, the road is blocked as the police are notified, not by phone calls, but by the chaos that explodes. Of course, they take about 2 hours to get there because their cruiser maybe did not have gas (petrol).
Some matatu drivers decide to take matters into their own hands and find a ‘muanya’ that leads them to the oncoming vehicles from the other direction. They turn on their head lights warning the drivers that this is now a two-way lane. Kenyans, being the most creative creatures to walk on this beautiful God created earth find ways to reverse their cars and somehow join the illegal matatus. Before you know it, the other two lanes also get clogged up and everybody heading both directions get stuck! Meanwhile, the police arrive after getting stuck on the same highway because Kenyans have managed to transform a two-way highway to six lanes. I don’t know how they do it but, hey, these are Kenyans!
When the police arrive, they forget to come with notepads to investigate the accident for record purposes. You cannot blame them. There is not enough money to buy notepads, leave alone pens! They solve the issue the Kenyan way. My nephew experienced the drama while in Kenya and explained how they do it, with humor. “You see,” he started the narrative, “After our car was hit by a truck, the police came after 2 hours. Our driver knew the trick and before the police could ask questions, he took them to the side and “convinced” them that the trucker was mad! They immediately started chewing up the poor truck driver who did not have extra ‘besha’ to convince them otherwise.” That is how my nephew describes accident investigation in Kenya. As I said, a movie!
Now, if the person is injured or crashed inside, the compassionate Kenyans can’t wait for an ambulance, a fire truck with equipment to saw through the metal, or the traffic police to set up a parameter. They take matters into their own hands. They drag the screaming victim out of the car. Find a matatu and holding the feet and the hands of the victim like a bag of potatoes, they squeeze them into the metal box and they are driven to the hospital through the traffic mess that has now occurred! What can they do? Tell me, what are they supposed to do? And by the way, they do not forget to pay themselves . . . from the victim’s pockets.
I remember witnessing an accident along Kangemi. I was with an American buddy of mine. A woman with a kiondo on her back was crossing the busy and chaotic spot when a pickup hit her throwing her potatoes and carrots she was taking to market all over the road. Within a few minutes, the ‘Zombies’ appeared, many of them from the watering holes nearby. We joined them and tried to inform them on how to lift the poor motionless body from the road to the same pick up that hit her, to drive her to the hospital. The drunkard characters started the Kenyan committee, “Wee wacha kutuambia mambo ya kumuinua,” and before we could make any sense of the event, two zombies had the mikono and two others had the miguu! They lifted the motionless woman and dumped her on to the pickup truck; The hard metal pickup truck in the back! The buddy of mine could not believe what just happened. “I never want to get into an accident in Kenya.” He concluded and never suggested we go to Kenya again. I think he was traumatized! I am a Kenyan! We do not get traumatized! We believe in Kufa Kiumeism!
Therefore, before my brothers the priests hold prayer meetings on the roads to fight some demons who somehow are patrolling the Kenyan roads looking for blood, they need first to focus on the Zombies that ignore the reality of the Kenyan respond network! They also need to pray for behavioral adjustment of Kenyan drivers!
You see, the bible has a monster with a sledgehammer following each of us to fulfill the Divine Decree in Genesis, “For from the ground you were taken and to the ground, you shall return.” Gen:3:17. It is called sin! And even though the devil has much to do with it, we cannot give him undue credit every time some driver speeds down the “road” in Kenya causing the actuation of the principle of life that St Paul calls, “The Final Enemy.” 2Corinthians 15:1ff This is Paul’s doxology, “…When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” vs25-26
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D.)
Diaspora messenger Senior Columnist