The chaos that one sees in Nairobi, Mombasa, and other towns in Kenya is chronic. It is hard to imagine that anything will ever be done to ease the state of utter contradictions. From the traffic lights that demand a police officer’s hand, to the garbage that is displayed Clearly in the open on the matatu route to Embakasi Estate, the state of the republic is chaotic.
Recently the Secretary of transportation, one Kamau wa Njoroge or some character, announced that the rules and regulations passed during the reign of the popular politician, Michuki, would not be implemented as they are. It is Michuki who is credited with the ‘almost’ order we see within the matatu. I say within because his policies can only be witnessed on the matatu drivers and conductors’ uniforms, the strict adherence to the 14 sitter rules, at least in Nairobi, and other minor changes. But why would the Secretary draw back on the Michuki rules?
I guess one has to ride a matatu to see what goes on. I am used to driving a car. The last time I took a matatu was back in those days of Sam Mandoka TNT on Voice of Kenya. I remember those OTC buses and the humor of Kenyans on what OTC meant (Onyango Twende Choo?) or something like that. They were clean buses operated so professionally that the ride from Gichiengo to Nairobi was the smoothest thing ever! This is of course in comparison to the KBS busses I used to ride from town to O’ngata O’ngai. I was church planting in O’ngai, Kesirian, and Ngong. Great to see how good the Church the Spirit planted through me is doing! Great stuff!
The KBS buses operated until midnight and after a movie at the Nairobi Cinema I would ride them to O’ngai. The thing I remember was the drunks who took the last bus. They always seemed to sit in the front by the door. Several occasions I felt showers coming through the open back door next to the sit I always took: I am a back bencher. I decided to check why it was showering in a clear blue night. Was shocked to see a drunk standing by the door leaking! It was the urine that was having a shower effect on my face! Yaaaack! Took the front seat from that time.
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Modern Nairobi Matatu ride is deferent. The population has grown to nightmare scenario and the routes have increased as the demand for housing increases. This of course is happening while many of the roads date back to the time of Mzee Kenyatta. The Kawangware I knew is a sea of people. Their composition is best understood from route 46. The majority of the occupants in the matatus are people under 40. I do not know where the older Kenyans are. It shocked me to not see anyone over 40! NONE. A guy behind me got a call and started speaking in some tribal language. The girl next to me was texting her HUN. I know because I piped to see what she was writing. “Hun speak to me,” She wrote. My starting point was at Kencom. The bus stopped every time a passenger wanted to get off. I mean everywhere, and anyhow! Then others, like the ones who work around Valley road Pentecostal, are picked at the overpass walking bridge. I looked through the window as we entered Kawangware. Kiosk shacks and women sitting on buckets are breath taking. It is here that people shop on their way home. From sukuma wiki to tomatoes, omena, furniture, milk, scratch cards, and baby diapers! All is sold in this muddy, dirty and chaotic strip of maisha. We arrived at soko carwash stage. Almost every body got out to walk through the maze of garbage, sewage and stuff to their one room, two room homes where they have to contend with bucket water.
When I got off the bus to take route 102 to Kikuyu, it was dark and was great to enter into my sister’s house and find chapattis with beef stew, peas, carrots, and waru. She probably bought them at Kawangware. On reflection, I see the Secretary’s point of view. He was not talking about buses and matatus, rather he was declaring that no government, not even the first world governments can reverse the culture that has created the Kenyan chaos! NONE! The only hope is that those tens of tribal groups ridding together in buses and matatus will seat together at the table, eat together, and pray together in peace. Then they will wake up in and to the same chaos and ride the bus to . . .
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD). IMANISHA. TTP-INTERNATIONAL. Listen to tnk on 91.1. Nairobi to Arusha via Mombasa. Fridays 5pm EST. Streaming at www.atgradiokenya.com