A Kenyan finishes his class 8 or form 4 education and it is expected he knows or learns how to hustle. After all it’s the males’ curse; to toil the earth and it shall produce upon their sweat mudding the soil – Genesis 3:17
For purposes of kuchambua Biblia, let me add that women were cursed too; God increased the birth pain but still the woman shall desire (you know how) the man, and he will rule over her, yet he causes her all that pain. You get how grave these curses are! i cry! You know that saying that reggae music has a message, well there’s one that says man was made to suffer and woman to feel the pain.
Hi Kimani, allow me to use your name. So, when the farming or livestock keeping at home doesn’t assure Kimani’s community of his productivity as a man, he moves, to the famous city, the capital city, the central business district of Kenya; Nairobi.
Here’s where he has heard of the neighbors’ children going, hustling and managing to send a few bucks back home. Some visit in new clothes carrying a newspaper or some bottled water to show how fruitful the hustle has been, but only they know the truth.
So, Kimani leaves his father’s home expectant of his life improving just like the neighbors’ children.
And the rest, I guess is upon him or nature’s wishes.
In the life of a hustling Kenyan/Kimani, a matatu/ mathree/ jav is part of the monthly if not daily routine. Monthly or yearly is when he visits shagz or goes to “kupea mwili pole”/ chill at uhuru Park in the weekend. This Kimani walks to work every day from the quite populated Pipeline /Embakasi area off Mombasa Road to an industrial area near or further from the SGR.
Then there’s the daily commuter Kimani who boards a jav to work every day. Well, I am a daily commuting Kimani and matatus can get so interesting, if not irritating. There’s a day I sat next to this cute blondish guy, then a very familiar stench reeked in the air. You know the one when you eat at a kibandasky chapati madondo then it all goes wrong. I swear it was him. I looked at him and said, “you are too pretty for that”. Well in my head.
You know the way every hood has a dominant matatu sacco and the rest are, well, the rest. A typical morning for me when I get to the stage is either I choose the Rembo Shuttle that doesn’t look like breaking down on the road or wait for a Wamasaa Invest jav which am never sure after how long it will get there. I mean, there was a day I waited 20 minutes hoping that one will come since they are very few especially during the rush hour. I kept telling myself, “it will get here, and might just do so immediately you leave for or with a Rembo”, you know that destructive self-talk. Rembo is like that good guy that us girls friendzone and Wamasaa is the bad guy who will hurt us but we still want him. Here’s why; Wamasaa Invest has some very loyal clients. You see back then, we (am a fan too) would cause an earthquake and create a scene as we scrambled to board either Scofield, BluHaze or whichever Wamasaa jav showed up. Yet there were lots of Rembo calling out for commuters. Eventually the Wamasaa team decided to create queues to be fair enough to those who couldn’t climb through the window or hire someone to hold them a seat.
I recall seeing a quote that there’s a huge difference between 5 and 505am in the morning. Damn right.
Tell you something, you young one looking forward to getting a job, arrival to work is usually like school opening day and leaving time is like closing day. That kafeeling never grows old.
The 1-hour ride to n from work is usually quite interesting; Strangers in matatus prefer not to talk, they sleep or are on their phones/earphones. I have done that. Some days, I am not in the mood for a conversation so I will sit at the window somewhere in the middle and do all the above anti-social behaviors including staring outside the window watching the trees rush back home, while other days, am in the mood for a chitchat so if I happen to know the crew, I will sit with the driver or tout or find a way to start a conversation with the stranger neighbor. I once was in the social mood and I interacted with an older gentleman, we ended up sharing our love for reading and shared books. Another guy I met on board, and I shared with him my love for writing and he said he works with a media company. How cool is that.
Truth is, a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet and every friend you have was once a stranger.
I dream of that day when greeting your neighbor becomes a culture. Then it strikes a conversation and you meet your prince(ss) charming or your first business associate or the guy who sells to you your first car at a discount or the best friend you’ve never had then the whole world becomes smaller.
I garra say, Long Live Matatu Culture.
Cover image courtesy of here