Monday, March 20, 2017

Songa Songa: The Tight Fit

Image result for overloaded kenya matatu
CO/Standard Media
There is a proverb in my mother tongue that says, “giikaro kimwe kiri ndaa” and that loosely translates to, “if you don’t travel you will die of boredom”. 

It doesn’t matter how you travel but I guess you just have to move around. Take a cruise ship and sail to the Bahamas and go bask naked on the pink sandy beaches. Take a flight to India and go see Bombay and come back with pepper for us. Take a Jambo Jet flight and to costo and go swim under the salty sea water and fly back with a shaky Swahili accent. Take a bus to western Kenya and go find out how jehovah Wanyonyi’s lads are doing. Even take a boda boda ride and go around your hood waving at people for no apparent reason. Travel and feed your soul my ‘fren’. We only got so long be around. 

Just maybe don’t do the last one. 

And while at it do it for you. It doesn’t matter if we hate on your selfies and the thousand hashtags you use. After all we could simply be the jealous type repulsing that you are over there having all the fun while the rest of us are trying to beat the scorching sun with watermelon pieces and wearing boxers around the house. (I should actually mention here that there is nothing more liberating about bachelorhood than walking around with only a vest, boxers and happy socks. It is a lifestyle of the gods). But I again, for men, a selfie a month is enough. And no this is not debatable Siloma. (Although photographers like Siloma can be excused because they live and die for the cameras).

So, do I travel as much as I want? Nyet. Why, you ask? I think my bank account has a ka-hole. If it had enough chums in there y’all would probably never see me again. But if it is any consolation I do a lot of planning on travelling. I am in this man group that has grown to be a professional planning committee for road trips that never happen. Just sad you guys (Trump’s voice). We plan things and get excited and say we will go sijui to Naivasha for camping but then we muffle such plans, let the idea dwindle like a bad dream and then plan for something else all over again after some time. 

Terrible travellers I have as friends.

You might be wondering where I travel to now that I am poorer than a millionaire to cruise across the oceans and I can’t get akina Chris to go on local road trips. Well, I go home. Counting trees and, occasionally, taking pictures of Zebras and baboons from Nairobi to Nakuru and back can be surprisingly refreshing. But its torturous too. 

Here’s why.

On Friday morning I garnered all the luck I could get, I had to run errands and still be in town in time just before the upcountry rush hour. People travel a lot Fridays and Sundays between Nairobi and Nakuru and that road becomes jam-packed with traffic, regular traffic, and ambitious Subaru drivers who race with everything and anything that moves on the road. So, to beat time I needed luck.
By 3 pm, I was running to my last stop, Cooperative House. At the front entrance, I met this dark lanky soldier who was deep soldierly with his female counterpart. Of course, oblivious of my hurry.

“Habari mkubwa, fungua bag nione”.

I opened the bag.

“Unaenda kuona nani?”


I don’t think he knew who that was. He was just making sure I wasn’t there to bomb them or anything of the sort. Of course, I would gladly disclose to him if I had such intentions.

“Aiya. Ingia” (I think that’s how he says ‘haya’).

I hurriedly zipped my bag and trotted off.

“Na umetoa chasho sana”, he shouted as I swung the glass door open.

“Kuna jua sana uko nje boss”, I shouted back laying the stale conversation to rest.

By 4 pm I was at the stage. As murphy’s law, would have it, I was late and it got worse. First, my sweet seating spot in a jav is the middle row on either side, just not in the centre seat. I never got that either of the seats. A certain baba had booked one with a newspaper and one had a dysfunctional seat belt. I settled for the seat just behind the driver but near the door because there’s enough leg room, little did I know my seat partners would be the worst human beings. 

I wish they could read this blog because I am about to hate on them big time.

“Unaweza songa songa niweke bag hapa katikati?”.

That was the lady next to me asking for space for her handbag. She wanted a damn seating position for her bag! For me to move for a freaking bag! I almost asked why she couldn’t just pay a seat for herself, her ignorance and her dear bag but instead;

“Hapa haiwezi toshea na hakuna space huku mwisho”.

“Uko sure?”

I slid my sunglasses up.

Apparently, she wanted to get rid of the bag so she could read her newspaper in peace. She actually ended up elbowing both us sideways to get more space to read her paper. 

She finished reading.

She then ate oranges and slept. (By the way she had so many oranges).

Sleeping in a jav is okay but then know your sleeping habits. If you snore, drool, shout, chew on air, have bad dreams, lie on others or fart, it is advisable to stay awake throughout your journey. She snored and lay on others – others being me and the loud caller fellow on her right side. This was the cycle; 

Her sleeping, then snoring, chocking for lack of air, waking up and coughing on our faces, her sleeping again, laying on me, me moving, her realising her mistake, waking up and staying awake just for a minute, her sleeping again and laying on the other dude and on and on. She must be a heavy sleeper than one.

Then she was all about, “funga kioo”, “fungua kioo”, “funga kidogo”, “fungua kabisa”. I felt like her air conditioner.

Then there is the other dude. The loud caller. 

“Eee, enda hapo kwa fundi mwambie nimekutuma akupe cardboard”.

“Ningoje hapo Tuskys tununue vitu. Na usitoke hapo…. niko karibu sana. 15 minutes” 

(Loud laugh). Actually, we were at the Gilgil weighbridge as he made that call.

“Usitume pesa hadi nifike, I give the authority hapo”.

“Apana, my worried is huyo mtu ananichezea” (I know! He actually said ‘my worried’ twice).

He made us slaves to his noise until the driver turned up the radio so he couldn’t make ‘important’ calls anymore. He started killing time displaying his feet for us by placing them conspicuously high and whistling indistinctive songs. A naturally annoying fella.
That was up to Nakuru.

By 8 pm I was on a jav to my village. Those ones are hell. People seat four per row on the lower side (children aren’t people in this case) while the conductor and his, about a million, assistants stand at the door butts sticking out to the wind and heads perched inside the same way ostriches bury theirs in sand. Is that the worst part? No! the worst part is that there is someone alighting after every 100 metres and that person usually is the one on the back seat on the far end right corner so sixty people have to come out to pave way and then crowd back in and repeat at every stage. It takes years to get home in these and when I do, my entire body aches from all the pushing and the “songea huyu kidogo brathe”, and the “nitwendanei hau thutha” and the “kama husongi shuka”. 

They are rude AF.

I got there at 9ish, tired for three people. Slept like a log.

If I narrate the journey back it will take another 1,500 words which could as well be a story for another day. I wouldn’t fail to mention though that I held two stranger’s babies before I got to Nakuru from home. I couldn’t refuse because it was on Sunday and the babies we going to church and weren’t dirty. I think that was enough community service for this year. Oh, and the guy who bought bottled water on the way to Nairobi and you could hear him drink the water from the moon; the violet squishing of the bottle and the smacking of lips. He also lied he was near Naivasha whereas he was barely out of Freearea.

Maybe it’s time I get me a car.


  1. I have had a laugh to last me the whole week. Good job

  2. Happens to me all the time!!! kwanza when you are coming to Nairobi alafu you accidentally find yourself in those nyama kima mats.wueh!! those ones stop after every 100 metres for real. alafu everytime there is someone carrying onions!!! you cant breathe in there I tell you. Nice piece.loved it

  3. Hahaha you go in history kwa kushika watoto. I need no 1500 words to finish this comment. Am so serious about a serious blog. You cannot be keeping us like this with part time articles.

  4. I love your writing from the comments in BikoZulu to your posts herein.