On my way to work this morning, I noticed something pretty disturbing. The matatu in front of us had blood on it. It looked like a hand print, and the stain ran down the back in creepy smear. I watched a lot of horrors in my childhood, so in my mind, I pictured someone dragging their bleeding hand all the way down. I conjured up the situations that could call for that reaction, and I physically shuddered.
At first, I thought I was the only one who was uneasy about the blood. Then I saw our driver sidle next to the matatu. He tapped the makanga’s window and whispered to him. He clearly didn’t want any of us to hear, but I was seated right behind the driver, so I heard him ask about the blood. The makanga made a skeptical face, then shut the window. I guess he didn’t believe the driver.
They are the invisible ghosts woven into the fabric of our society. We rarely, if ever, talk about them or confront them simply because we think if we don’t see them, they don’t exist. Does it help that I don’t like to play the rules? Continue reading →
Every time I see a cop, I tense up. It’s reflex. And no, it’s not just because of my hair.
It’s more because somewhere in my Kenyan life, I realised that cops were far more scary than thugs.
Some weeks back, Maina Kageni was promoting Safcom’s latest offer on Matatu FM. Something about Opera Mini, 10MB, and 8 bob. He asked guys to call in and explain how and why they use it.
This one guy called in. He was very eloquent, spoke pretty good English with a bit of slang thrown in. I think he might have been from Buru [don’t ask me why].
I was paying attention until he said he was a cop. Apparently, he uses his Safcom to browse while he works.
The only part that Maina heard was ‘cop’. He immediately diverted to ‘Afande vipi’ mode, and the previously polished cop downgraded to the Kiganjo accent. He and Maina carried a two-minute dialogue in full policeman register, complete with the mixtures of Cs and Gs. It should have been quite funny, but I just got upset. Continue reading →
Like I said in Part 1, my cab guy works small miracles for a small fee. I’m never mad to pay him; he earns every single penny. It also helps that he’s hopelessly honest and pretty damn focused. 20 something with several cars in several cities; you can’t hate on that if you tried.
So that Friday morning, he was getting his insurance papers sorted out; all those PSV stickers that make no sense to the layman. He then took his car for servicing and spared no expense ensuring his vehicle was up to standard.
The good thing about sober, focused taxi drivers is that they know exactly how to avoid trouble; it’s not by driving faster or using the backroad. It’s not by bribery or lying. It’s by doing your job and shutting up.
By 10am, he was done with ensuring his vehicle was legal and up to par and running checks on his other cars and drivers. He drove out of Adams and before he got to the roundabout, a lady flagged him down.
She didn’t say anything beyond that. So he began driving towards town. When he got to the Kenyatta avenue round-a she said “Globe Cinema”. She wasn’t chatty and had no intention of playing nice. He didn’t mind. Halfway up K-Ave, his phone rang to life. It was me. I explained my conundrum and he calmed me down and told me he’d send someone.
He calls his friend and sends him my way. Right at that time, he sees a waving black baton being flailed by a chubby officer of the law. Continue reading →
It was 10am on a Friday in a busy dusty Nairobi. The sun was shining just bright enough to provide camouflage for the bone rattling chill. And it did so expertly; the treacherous glow had however convinced the masses to underdress.
But not I, Popeye. I anticipated this deceit and layered up.
I can’t stop glancing at my watch doing mental mathematics: I was meant to have an appointment at 11am at a hotel in Gigiri and had just gotten out of one in the CBD. Unlike the wealthier lot of you, my chauffeur was not waiting for me at the door when I came out, but instead at the bus stop where I was headed. ‘If I hop on a 106 or a 107 I’d make it to that area in 20 minutes or less and be half an hour early.’ So I stroll leisurely towards the stage.
10:20am: I’m waiting for a Matatu so we can leave.