This Happened Roughly 33 Minutes Ago Here In Nairobi

This happened roughly 33 minutes ago.

So having done my business in town, I head to the stage. I check the buses, and settle for the cheapest, hoping it will be the quietest. Poverty and old age. Again I have to decide which part to sit because the sun is out and if you dare sit the wrong side and the president happens to be going somewhere, you will get home baked like a bad cake. Anyway.

So the Matatu leaves town, Tom Mboya St,, Ronald Ngala Ave, Moi Avenue,Haile Selasie (sp), and we pour into Mombasa Road, the Mat speeding like the driver is going to save life. Seated next to me was a your ordinary folk, wearing a T-shirt that has seen better days and a trouser that is he is probably the 12th owner. You know the good ordinary chap that you can strike an ordinary conversation that will last the entire bus ride but one that you will remember a million days to come.

When we pass through the Railways Bridge, just opposite the Railway Golf Club, some other matatu decides to pick passengers in an undesignated stage just we were about to change to that very lane. Since we on full speed, our driver cannot act fast enough. He breaks as he tries to avoid banging the other matatu and swervee his lane. Unfortunately some guys in a Mercedes was equally speeding behind us and as we were getting to our lane, it had just cruised past the matatu, but the matatu violently met its bumper and all heard was a big bang.

After a few seconds I see the mercedes the Mercedes-Benz several yards ahead, the back bumper down. Out came a light-skinned, middle-aged man, in a crisp white shirt and that greenish blue trousers so favoured by banking executive. He has that paunch that he probably struggles to fix in a gym daily. He is relaxed like you would expect a Merc owner. He is in a company of another middle-aged man, dark in complexion, in a grey shirt and black trouser and looks like a middling manager.

They join the drivers and conductors of the two buses. Soon the police arrives. And it is not the usual rude, abrasive, pot-bellied cop. It is a tired, tall and languid, police who has an hour or two retirement, so tired with life and motoring bullshit. He tries to reason with the crew from the two matatu, but the two are unreasonable. The bus that stood to pick passengers in the wrong place is apparently on the wrong, those who drive know how unjust the rules are. The police flags them off and suddenly our matatu is on the wrong..

As usual, the passengers are agitated, the sun does not help matters. The conductors tries to make off with the balances, but the passengers chase after him and capture him as he is about to cross the road and disappear to the Railways Golf Club. And here is why I am telling the story.

The crowd want to beat and even lynch the conductor, and the police says, “wacha wachape yeye.”

All along the mercedes guys are relaxed, asking a question from time to time, but totally unbothered.

Then this young woman, possibly in her early 30s pleads to the police,

“Aki mwambie, atupee pesa. Nimempea mia tano, na sina pesa ingine. Hiyo ndio hadi ya supper!”

There is a way that she says it that makes me sad. It is a plea. But the police ignores her and decides to take care of the rich guys. He goes to the matatu and plucks off the insurance stickers and tells us to take care of ourselves,
“Hata mkitaka kupigana ama kuchoma gari, sawa.” He goes and he leaves us to our devices. Damn.

And now the crowd gets agitated, and the conductor who is drunk from cheap liquor and higher from that thing that bleeds smoke. He is rude and it is a tussle, and a fight before he agrees to pay the fares to everyone. There are altercations, with at least three other matatus and the conductor proves to be too dickish and thankfully he was dealing with a reasonable crowd that despite carrying stones, read to crack open his skull, they chilled and boarded the next matatu and on our way home, there was a rich exchange of expletives, but I had to get off and go to some meeting…

Now I have been served Keringet water that tastes chlorine like it was drawn from the tap…

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