It’s around 2 pm and I’m a bit anxious because I’m late for my afternoon shift. So standing at our very dusty stage, I start debating on the ‘matatu’ I should board. Considering my options, I ponder; I don’t want to get into a ‘nganya’(flashy vehicles with flashy graffiti and loud music) because of the unbearable rowdiness that comes along with them. While on the other hand, I can’t board an old one because I’ll get to work tomorrow.
I won’t even try lying and say that I enjoy ‘matatu’ (what we call public transport vehicles in Kenya) rides all the time. They are not all hanky dory but for most of us, me included, don’t have a lot of options. I hate the hustle most times especially when I’m leaving town at around 9.30pm. I avoid the noisy ones because I’m afraid the ‘dondaz’ (conductors) will either refuse to give back my change, or they will drop me at the wrong stage at that late hour not to mention the speed they drive at. It’s like riding a jet that uses the road.
So I turn to the old matatus as the lesser evil. Why? Because they are a bit safe, but it turns into a chore when I have to fight my way through the crowds, so I can find a sit next to the doorway. Don’t get me started on these old ones, I might be forced to do a whole dissertation! But let me highlight one major element. Now, most times the windows either don’t open or close all the way. So when it rains just know there is no difference between you and the person walking in the rain with no umbrella so soaking to your destination will be your motto!!
Case study two: If you’re in a hurry to get to your destination, you may end up in uncomfortable situations, such as getting into an already full ‘matatu’ with the promise; ‘tunashukisha next stage’ if this happens just make peace with the fact that you will stand all the way to town.
If you boarded a ‘nganya’, your attempts to fall as they cut corners at neck breaking speed will be your groove the whole time. Or in other cases, the ones standing will definitely lie on you for support. Annoying I know, but what can you do?
So what are my matatu hacks; Always learn to carry loose change. That way, you’ll never have to bother stretching your neck and almost getting a heart attack after giving the conductor a one thousand note and waiting for your change.
I ask that you be mindful of the people your sit with. Remember that this is not private transport it’s public. I’m a tiny human so when I take a sit I don’t take the whole of it. Now the problem gets in when someone with no respect sits besides me and decides to take over the whole sit. It really pisses me off!
On that note, beware of the thieves and con artists you meet in these vehicles. Avoid engaging too much with strangers and also beware of your belongings . A lot of people have lost their accessories, money and others have disappeared mysteriously to be found in different locations or never to be found again.
Lastly as I finish up with my hacks, try as much as possible not to argue with the ‘dondaz’. These people are animals and might tear you down with words that would make you run for dear life. So if you see yourself heading to such a situation tread carefully. You might either ignore it or take it on. In that case, good luck! Also respect the fact that they are working…’heshimu kazi’.
But who I’m I kidding these rides add on a comedic effect with the different kind of people or situations you meet. I’ve learnt a lot from them and met people who have turned into friends. Given an option I may not want to use them but until that time comes, they will maybe give me a different story to write.