Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bonkers Nairobi Drivers

What Do They Teach In Driving School?

 I am tempted to refer to Kenyan drivers as queer but I won’t. It is not right to bundle people into such an undesirable generalisation. Sadly it is partly true that Kenya has odd drivers. The legitimacy in such an assertion is even clearer when you live in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.  In Nairobi you would be lucky to travel in a Matatu and have subtle thoughts to yourself. Matatus are chaotic to say the least. I am going to ignore the little hell that is characteristic of the interior happenings in a Matatu and focus on the bigger hell – the way they are driven. We have obnoxious drivers all over the place. I refer to them as obnoxious because, firstly, they have very remote shreds of politeness in them and, secondly, because they seem rather incapable of adherence to obvious traffic instructions.

It is hard to narrate a Matatu escapade without being mordant or spotting a little combination of cynicism, bluntness, and sarcasm. So all the ‘Concodis’ out there kindly pardon me. It is a little bit after 9.00pm. I am in the CBD. It is not usually busy at this time in town but today is different; it is raining. Rain spells havoc in this town. It tags along gushes of madness from god-knows-where and intoxicates all of us. I am saying all of us because people change when rain hits them in this big city. The chaps at the office get the sudden urge to go home. The chaps at the bus-stage start freaking out about not getting a Matatu home. But the biggest madness is neigh – the Matatu guys get sudden blood-rush and want to make uncountable trips to-and-fro town. The concoction that comes out afterwards is why I am writing this article. It is the reason I can confidently point out that some of our drivers are completely bonkers.

I am particularly not accustomed to taking rides home at this time because mysterious things happen. One minute you have your phone and the next minute you don’t have it (pause here and take a minute to feel bad about my friend’s lost phone). Okay moving on, the Abracadabra will happen to virtually any valuable but your wallet and phone mostly. So I pace up Moi Avenue with my friends amidst the rain and suddenly out of nowhere this chap in a Corolla speeds by and practically washes us up!! I almost shouted bad things at him. I mean it had to be a ‘him’. Women are not that insensitive. Yes?  I swear he is the kind of guy you get crass with. No pun interned here. I have not forgotten the feeling – it’s the kind of feeling you don’t have emojis for. And surprisingly such arrogant characters are the ones that own lame cars - Corolla being an example. Anyway I am going to skip a big part here to the part where I am already in the ‘Mathree’.

It is utter courtesy to give way on the road especially if you don’t have the right of way right? Now Matatu drivers are painfully good at this.  Not the giving of way but the receiving of way. They have to get ahead at all costs. If they don’t put you off by the constant revving of the engine they will be-little you through insults. Not the lilting manner of insults Mombasa guys use. No! Brutal explicit insults that make you wonder who raised these people. I was in the Matatu and I felt a great deal of pity on the young corky-looking guy in the Harrier trying to nose in between Matatus. Trust me I want to write the insults here but there is no good way to censor them. Anyway it doesn’t last long. The guy in the Harrier reverses giving way and off we go. Barely meters ahead we brush against a Mathree owned by a different Sacco!! It sounds bad. It is bad. In what seems like a five minutes haze, there is what I would politely describe as a stand-off (it was way more than that) and our driver in back on. Here comes that rather insane part – instead of moving on what does this guy do? He reverses and rams into the other ‘Moti’ properly!! Totally berserk! And the reason for reversing into a Moti you have already hit? Ati so that he can pay for actual damage done! I bet this kind of reasoning is what makes people genius. Well eventually I got home but I would have sworn we broke more traffic rules than those already existent. It’s crazy because at the end of it I felt like I was already initiated to a gang of rudeness, vulgarism and tackiness.

I have no idea what some driving schools teach but clearly refresher classes are not such a bad idea. Just to offer a soft reminder on simple traffic rules. In fact methinks we need an additional course on abusive driving to survive on the Kenya roads. Like when to yell, to grin, to show a particular finger to other people etc. I should end by saying that Matatu drivers are not the only ‘good’ drivers around. They are just a tip of the iceberg. They are only but the outspoken batch of dissident drivers in Kenya.

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