The Pain of Being a Commuter in Nairobi.

I had an altercation with a conductor yesterday as I was going home.  For those who know me, public displays (whether good or bad) are just not my thing.  You can imagine how it must have felt arguing with an unreasonable man in a ‘matatu’ full of people.

So what was the bone of contention, you may ask?

Apparently, I broke some cardinal ‘matatu rule’ by paying my 50sh fare using a 1000sh note.  Seriously???

The guy had the audacity to ask me to give him 50sh in exchange for my hard earned thousand despite my many pleas that I had nothing else to give him.  He then went on to ignore me completely for most of the journey.

About a kilometre from where I was alighting, I again asked him for my change and this time he became menacing and started mumbling, “Nyi watu mmetuzoea sana.  Leta finje nikupe ngiri yako na uache kunisumbua.  Unafikiria ni kazi yangu kukutafutia change” (You people take us for granted.  Give me fifty and I’ll return your thousand bob.  You think it’s part of my job to look for change).   At this time I was still begging him, trying to avoid a scene but the guy threw his hands at me then pushed his head out of the window effectively turning off any form of civilized communication.

That’s when I snapped and raised my voice at him.  Probably not the wisest thing I’ve ever done but I was fed up with trying to reason with an illogical, irrational, extortionate brute (sorry, but there; I said it and feel so much better already).

To cut the long story short, the driver and one older lady did come to my aid (God bless their souls) and prevailed upon the conductor to give me back my money.  As mad as I was, I couldn’t help thinking what exactly we are doing wrong as a country.

Why does it seem like our priorities are turned upside down?

How come those who are supposed to serve us have become predators?

And why does it not seem to bother us much that our country is going to the dogs?

Something has to be done.  I am not sure what but we can’t and shouldn’t just allow this blatant form of thuggery to take over our neighborhoods, our country.  For starters, it is time we spoke up instead of allowing ourselves to be cowed.

I know you understand me: how many times have you been violated and kept quiet because you thought it was hopeless to speak up?  I reckon you already stopped counting.

This is my challenge; SPEAK UP!  Start with where you are.  We can restore some sense of respectability, one voice at a time.

PS:  As I was writing this, I discovered other blogs with similar incidents.  I have included one that I found to be quite interesting.


2 thoughts on “The Pain of Being a Commuter in Nairobi.

  1. Totally experienced something similar to this. I’ve been in different countries and regardless of the economic state of the country, there will be people who will take advantage of you if you don’t speak up. Some even will persist even if you speak up. You have to fight back. What you did was good.

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