Hustles of Nairobi Life

A Thief Stealing Mobile Phone

It had been raining and people were debating whether it was a blessing or indeed a curse. For the drought hit areas, it is a definite blessing as now the earth can refresh itself and sprout with produce.
To commuters who have to travel, that is a different kind of story. Just getting into a matatu during the down pour is a nightmare! Just to say the least. Then there is the issue of fare hikes…I can just imagine the matatu drivers/owners rubbing their hands together with a smug smile on their faces knowing money will be poured in the name of passengers paying higher prices. As they celebrate the pedestrian is cursing under their breaths at the thought of having to part with more money than is necessary.

It is 100% increment on the fare which means you have to pay for it or you will have to remain behind standing in the rain. The problem with the commuters from our route is that no matter how high the fare is, they will in fact scramble to get into the vehicle and woe unto you if you do not have the strength to fight for space.

This is the time when pick pockets invest in their time because in the process of struggling to enter the vehicle they will push and shove as they tug at your wallet or pockets. After they have siphoned your money they will then retreat and pretend that they have not succeeded in getting into the Nissan…that is how I lost my mobile phone.

After you have sat down heaving a deep breath and congratulating yourself that you have made it and managed to get a seat, you look out the window feeling sorry for those who are standing out. Soon you are asked for your fare, you reach for your pocket/bag but you find nothing! All your money or even your whole bag will have disappeared. There is nothing as horrifying as having to tell the conductor that you have no money to give him trying to explain that you had the fare before you get into the matatu. I found myself wallowing in that situation sometime back and let us just say that it was not a pretty picture staring at the tout with him demanding his money yelling at you with unprintable names! The things you have to go through because you do not have your own car are just ridiculous.

After hustling, shoving and pushing to enter, the man sitting next to me-he practically jabbed me with his elbow in his attempts to enter-was asked for his fare.

“How can you charge exorbitant fares, you think we have money to keep wasting?” He shouted.

Leta pesa mzee, ama ushuke!” (Sir, bring the money or get off the matatu the tout demanded in Swahili.

Grudgingly the man paid and started grumbling to no one really about how the economy was hard, the tout being outrageous-most of the time repeating the part where the tout was this and that. No one was giving him audience as most of us were just glad to be going home after standing at the stage for more than three hours.

“These makangas (touts) think they can hike fares any time they want? I will never get in that matatu again!” Those were his final words as he got out at his destination.

Well, we got our prayers answered but you’d walk around town and hear comments like the rain is ill timed, it is too much, the rain will now bring malaria…blab bla bla…they are endless. The rain brings on the joys and perils of being caught bare foot when there is a down pour but in everything there must be comical situations…like seeing people struggling for cars some even getting through the window so that they do not miss a seat! Totally hilarious!

Like there was this lady who approached the tout to ask whether she could pay 30 shillings instead of the 60 shillings being asked, the tout turned to her and angrily said:

Kalia hiyo thirty bob ikupeleke kwa haoo!” (Sit on the thirty shillings so that it can take you home!)

I learnt that the next time I struggle for a matatu, to hold on tight to my possessions if I don’t want to be a pick pockets victim, but then again I swore I will never struggle for a matatu again!


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