Dear Traffic Police, We’re Too Stupid To Drive Without You

I wake up on Monday morning, switch on my radio and proceed to shower. The news comes up and the the first thing I hear is:

“Traffic Police to be Withdrawn From Round Abouts”


I was so much in shock, I had a near death experience.

Here’s is the thing, it won’t work. We road users – motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and handcart drawers, etc are too daft (or too smart) to drive without the police.

We are the drivers who emerged from driving schools that had driving instructors we had to bribe to teach us. And when we didn’t bribe them, they cancelled our classes or limited them to 15minute sessions. Then again, we are also the male drivers who proudly chest thump our way around town, brass balls hanging between our legs , glad that we didn’t go to driving school. We drove around the village or stole our parents’ cars and learned how to drive. And as far as the traffic code is concerned we only know that:

  • Green means go and
  • Red means stop unless of course there are no cars coming, otherwise go

We are also the stchupid female drivers who bribed our way through driving school and learned how to step on the accelerator and the brakes. Automatic cars were made for us. The rest are details. We don’t know what ATF does, and we couldn’t be caught dead fixing a flat tyre. Yes, we are the stupid female drivers who after causing an accident, or get involved in one, the first thing we say is “let me call my husband”.., because husbands come with accident covers and can get us out of our sticky situations and silly mistakes.

Yes Mr. Officer, we are the stupid drivers who think driving is part of our leisure time. That’s when we remember we need to call our mothers, and our friends, who we were drinking with last night and are not sure whether they got home okay. It’s also the time when we read the newspaper and even eat our cornflakes. Besides, we are the cocky, multi-tasking drivers. We’ve been doing this for years, surely, we can only get better at driving by doing something else while driving.

We are also the drivers that create prejudices against tiny cars and the square shaped ones. The drivers that decided that Vitzs and Proboxs are not cars and are therefore unroadworthy. And the more we hear this nonsense the more we harass these drivers, hardly giving way to the Vitz driver, unless of course she’s a hot lass.

We are the stupid matatu drivers who’ve decided that we are more in a hurry than anyone else. That we only have 24 hours in a day while the rest of Kenya has 29. Yes, we are those matatu drivers who have right of way. We can drive on pavements and push aside barriers. We are the conceited matatu drivers who think tuktuks are little ants that need to be driven in the drainage. So good are we at our trade that the gamers have created a game in our honour.

But then again, we are also the stupid pedestrians who think we have right of way. That because we don’t have a brake pedal like the motorists do, we deserve to walk as freely as stray dogs. We have a right to cross the road at any point – where the traffic lights are green, and under flyovers. Just watch us walking on the pavements. We walk like we are crippled. At that time we are not in a hurry. We walk in execution lines, creating human barriers where others would like to pass. And on the same pavements, we’ll stop abruptly and have up to 30minute conversations there in the middle of the pavement. We don’t bother to move to the side. We’ll stand at entrances to supermarkets, banks and God help us, even hospitals. We are those smart pedestrians with zero common sense. We like to rub shoulders with strangers, knocking them over and never bothering to apologize. If we can’t walk properly, imagine how we drive. On the road, where we can’t rub shoulders, we rub bumpers and get to know each other and a clueless lady’s husband.

That’s us. The smart motorists, drinking at the club while watching the news clip about the fools who died drinking Yokozuna. Just one for the road, and we’ll leave and go home. Oh yeah. We are parked between the highway infront of Galileo or Rafikiz because we must must must go to that particular club even when the parking lot is full. There’s no other place we can go have a drink.  That’s right, we are the smart ones. The flamboyant, educated, affluent, middle class with the new Subaru purchased with an unsecured loan. The lot that must be re-educated on the concept of a designated driver by a musician who jumps out of a bush like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. We smart ones can only grasp some concepts when presented in fairytale fashion.

Did I mention that we are also the mad ones? The gamers who can’t get enough of Grand Theft Auto 4. The ones that have desired to know what it feels like to hit 220, because Mombasa Road is wider and smoother and the speedometer seems to accommodate the thrill.

We are also the mad angry ones. We fought with the landlord, didn’t get any from the wife and our kids lost another sweater which we must buy. So we are pissed with the world, and we’ll take it out on other motorists. Our road rage, displayed in sneers, smirks, curse words and middle fingers. No one cuts us in traffic, or crosses the road in front of our cars. Cyclists are dogs (mbwa wewe!) and pedestrians are whores (malaya!). We are indeed the mad drivers, the stupid ones who hoot at fellow motorists who stop when the lights turn red, whether there’s on coming traffic or not. The stchupid ones who’s idea of resolving a car accident is to slap a matatu driver, shoot him with a gun or point a sword at him.

We are the City Hoppa drivers at Kencom who won’t move to the front of the queue. The Star Bus drivers who think Waiyaki Way was made only for them. The taxi drivers overlapping on Harambee Avenue, and will hoot at a pedestrian on the zebra crossing while that very taxi is on the wrong side of the road. We are the Asian drivers in Parklands and Highridge. The ones who only give way to “onti” and “oncle” while the Africans can fuck off to Jogoo Road or wherever it is they drive. “Parklands is an Asian territory. Go look for your African road elsewhere!”

Mr. Officer Sir, you can’t leave us especially not at the roundabouts. Coz there, right there, is where our madness, smartness and stupidity come together.

And we are forced to move in orderly fashion like synchronized swimmers. You know we can’t. We are a product of an education system that taught us that we should only do what’s right when someone is watching us.

That’s why we strap on our seat belts when we see the police on the highway. That’s why we hide the beer that was on the dashboard and disconnect the phone call we were making. We do it all for you. How then do you expect us to abide by the mere flashing of three lights? We, the same drivers who think indicators are a decorative piece in our cars and should therefore not be used, just admired. We who never service our vehicles, so we never check whether our brake lights are working. We who go out to drink in the wee hours of the night with only one functioning headlamp.

Some of us may celebrate your departure from the roundabouts, perhaps because we do not know that everyday, there’s an accident on Haile Selassie roundabout and Nyayo Stadium Roundabout. We don’t care to understand why trees cannot grow on Lang’ata Road or why there are always chipped rocks on Mbagathi Way Roundabout. If we drivers cannot see a roundabout, will we see the traffic lights? The green, red and amber mean nothing to us. The only colour we seem to respond to is blue. And you’re it.

13 thoughts on “Dear Traffic Police, We’re Too Stupid To Drive Without You

  1. *Picks tickled self up from floor* Spot on,is what this is.
    In fact its when i was in driving school a few months back that I noticed,our roads are not only full of crazy motorists, but also equally if not more crazy pedestrians who just step into the road and give you that ‘Sasa unatunyanyasa kwa sababu hatuna gari’ look when you hoot at them to get the eff off the tarmac.
    Oh, and I do that sometimes too.

    • Pedestrians walk on the road, the way they walk on pavements. There was this one time I was crossing Tom Mboya Street near the fire station and I saw this chic getting ready to make a dash for it, shagz modo style. So I begin to walk to the other side, chic starts running and halfway through her sprint she realizes she won’t make it before the no.9 mat knocks her down. So in her fright, she grabbed my hand and hid herself with my body. #SMH

  2. The main problem in my view is that our driving schools don’t teach people how to drive, they teach them how to pass the test. A test that was devised for a different kind of car on a different set of roads than the ones we use now.
    Its a shame really

    • Our entire education system teaches us how to pass tests. It also teaches us that the proof of being knowledgeable or learned is in being #1. And that’s how we drive. We always want to be ahead even when there’s nowhere significant we are going. Even when we are going home, it’s like out houses are moving from where we left them in the morning.

      The test and roads may be different, but our attitudes are appalling. Courtesy is a foreign concept to us. We think it’s for wimps.

      We are the only country that thinks learners with an “L” sign should learn how to drive in the desert.

  3. This is very depressing, and scary (though there’s been times when I’ve wished road rules were the the same here as in Kenya: usually when I’m stuck at those never changing red lights in the wee hours of the night when there’s no one around).
    I wonder how many lives would be saved if we obeyed traffic rules, if we had the same point system like the US for example… Best not to wonder about the impossible I guess.
    ION, I’m hiring someone to drive me when I come home. I imagine I would have a serious panic attack driving alone on Kenyan roads.

    • Sometime last year I wanted to write a post titled “Administration Police Should Replace Traffic Police.” There are drivers in this country who should be shot on sight. Reckless drivers need to understand that they are no different from cops who go around shooting people for no particular reason.

      As for hiring a driver, the only difference is that you won’t be behind the wheel when you get hit. As the saying goes “In Nairobi, EVERY car has a scratch.”

      See you at the roundabout.

  4. Hahaha! Mr. Officer please don’t go!

    Funny enough, this morning I was complaining of being driven on the pavement by my stchooopid matatu driver

    • We all have a war story everyday from the #DailyCommute. Just do your best to stay alive. Mats will kill you on the pavement and driver away.

    • Haha.., they should put you on a leash. Or rather, hold someone’s hand while crossing the road, that way, you don’t die alone. Coz either way, you’ll die.

  5. The first time I came back home after being away for a while I had to be “reorientated” on Kenyan road rules. People found it odd that I wanted to use the footbridge or the pedestrian crossing instead of dashing across the road. I was already too used to queuing at the bus stop and expected the Matatu to come to a complete stop before I got off (ended up waay past my destination on numerous occasions because of this). And it was even worse while driving since I am used to Big Brother watching my every move on the road (I was unconsiously driving for the speed cameras)

    And the worst part about it is that most of the people reading this will ignore it because “it only happens to other people”

  6. Pingback: The Year That Was: DR Highlights of 2011 | Diasporadical

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