Kenyans are shocked, surprised and puzzled that a beautiful(apparently, it has nothing to do with her beauty), senior, presenter at NTV has been taking matatus at work. They do not understand why a person of her status and who is clearly in the upper middle class (Not the lower middle class that Art Cafe will serve separately as Dormanâ€™s) and who can clearly afford a car, even if its a kavitz, will take a matatu.
See, most of us ride matatus out of lack of choice – we canâ€™t afford a car. Doubt me? You havenâ€™t experienced the pressure that I have been under to get a â€œnice paying job and do stuff that normal people do, like buy a car and a house.â€ In Kenya, buying a car is a sign of â€œkufikaâ€ (reaching). Donâ€™t ask me where people are going, just stop a random Kenya in the streets and they will explain this to you.
You can therefore see why we are amazed a person who has â€œfikadâ€ like Kobi Kihara takes matatus to work.
I would, when your income improves, and you are in the career of feeding people with information, it pays if you maintain your old lifestyle. From matatus and rubbing shoulders with majority of people, there are many stories to tell, as Iâ€™m about to. Move up the value chain and you will be telling people stories of caviar, which only few people will relate to. Also, a reminder of where you came from is a constant push for you to to keep going past that point of â€œkufikaâ€.
However, I too will admit that I do not understand why Kobi uses matatus.
See, they are risky.
I once got into those loud and multicoloured BuruBuru matatus. They have 3 conductors who go around picking money and refusing to return change. Then my colleague who hails from Buru told me that she once sat next to the door. She watched as the guy who swings by the door craftily pickpocketed alighting passengers. I have also watched one of the guys hired to â€œjazaâ€ matatus pickhandbag a phone from a ladyâ€™s handbag.
But thatâ€™s not why matatus are risky.
In the evenings, I normally donâ€™t use matatus.
I walk from work to the railway station. This, I will admit became a habit on some day that it took an hour to find a matatu and another to get to town. Walking to the railway station takes me less than an hour. I then take the train home.
The previous week, I had a client meeting in after work hours. So I took a Westlands matatu to town.
It was those yellow StarBus buses. After picking up my colleague and I, the bus sped off down Waiyaki Way and Chiromo Road. As we got nearer the University Way roundabout, the driver spotted traffic.
From one of the inside lanes in the multi lane highway, the driver pulled an almost 90 degree turn-of-death and joined the Harry Thuku Road exit into Chiromo Road, cutting off a Vitz. Harry Thuku must have gasped from heaven at the macho show. Had a truck being trudging down the highway as they often do, a number of us may have been dispatched to join Harry Thuku.
We got to town safely.
Walking through downtown, we got to Tom Mboya street. Here, crossing a road, I got sandwiched in between matatus that were being driven in all directions. As I backed out of the quagmire, my shirt got nicked into one of the fancy things they weld into matatus. In the next instant, one of my few premium shirts, one which qualifies as a Sunday best, was written off with a tear that would be impossible to fix without leaving an unsightly gash.
I then got onto a Citi Hoppa bus as it was too late to catch the train and too early to catch the last one. The ride was fine, the usual pauses in traffic. Then we got onto Mombasa Road, and caught up with this blue bus.
Here, the Citi Hoppa driver started driving cheek by jowl to the blue bus. I got uncomfortable, especially now that I was seated by the Window. As we overtook the blue bus, my heart leaped to my mouth as the Citi Hoppa drove into the lane of the blue bus as he overtook a truck on his lane.
Thankfully, disaster was averted as the blue bus driver, having realised that he was facing a mad man, had switched to the extreme lane from us.
All in a dayâ€™s commuting, I may therefore not understand why Kobi Kihara wants to be driven around by raving mad, suicidal men who have been confined to Kenyaâ€™s biggest mental facilities – matatus.