Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mat Mad


Are we sliding back to the matatu madness days? If you have answered this question, I suggest that you go back to pre-school and do research on rhetorical questions and write an essay on them. Then keep it for future reference. Of course we have slid back to the matatu madness days.

When Hon John Michuki fished us out of the matatu madness sludge, we suddenly developed this urge to go to and from work. We became a working nation. But not anymore, courtesy of one Ali Mwakwere, who treats the public transport docket as if Michuki carried it in his shirt pocket to the Ministry of Internal Security. As well he should have. Mwakwere brought in the diplomacy docket to the Ministry of Transport.

Atleast Dr. Murungaru brought in some notable changes like for example breaking the yellow line. With Mwakwere, there is absolutely no change.

The City Council also seems to have signed a MoU with the route 44 operators, where they fenced the stage so that all passengers along Thika Road are herded into underground tunnels. At first, we Thika road passengers had been duped to believe that these were ordinary safety measures. But it has turned out that the tunnels are traps to trap us into matatus. This is how they work.

A person emerges from the tunnel and finds a route 44 mat parked at its mouth, so that the only way to go is into the mat. Some local tourists just touring the city find themselves in this situation and so try to fit themselves into some small spaces that the matatu leaves on both sides of the tunnel. The touts are always on the lookout for them and they grab them and hurl them into the mats where they find terrified passengers cramped in the mat. Regular passengers on other Thika road routes have learnt to use the windows as exits to their respective matatus. The lost tourists are hurled right out once the mat reaches its capacity. I don’t know whether they find their way out of that man-made hell.

Leaving the bus stage is another tedious bureaucratic experience that we would appreciate to do away with. Vehicles are parked in front, behind and besides each other which results in reversing, hooting, banging into other vehicles as touts shout insults at each other for upward of an hour before we can leave.

As all this is going on, the driver plays very loud music and added to all the noise outside, one’s head is usually inches from exploding. The music causes the fillings in your teeth to vibrate and your ears to stop. One will once in a while try to lift up their head to see how everyone is coping and your eyes rest on a graffiti with this sound advice ‘If it is too loud, you are too old enda shags ukalime’ (another City Council connection).

There are those of you who still think that fastening your seatbelt in a mat is a safety precaution. Don’t do it on route 44! Those who do are driven straight to Mathare Mental Hospital , where you are kept under observation for the whole night.

Another thing you don’t do is ask for change. Do not give anything less than fifty bob and if you give any amount above it, kiss it goodbye. The typical response for those who think that Kondas are employed to do their math is that they are grabbed by the collar and dangled out of the vehicle for five minutes. By this time the vehicle is cruising at speeds that need only two passengers seated at the windows to stretch out their hands on both sides of the vehicle for it to convert into an air bus and fly. The driver also makes sure that the vehicle is balanced on its left side wheels because he has to drive on the road reserve bordering deep trenches because he has no time to waste on the infamous Thika road.

The Konda then brings in the passenger and drawls, ‘Do you still need your change?’ No one has been courageous enough to find out what other steps would be taken if your answer was yes.

Since we don’t see any help coming from the Ministry of Transport any time soon, the Ministries of Tourism and Sports can work together and promote route 44 as a tourist attraction. The Londoners would especially love the thrill away from their mechanical train and bus hours.



IT IS OFFICIAL. THE PARTY OF NATIONAL UNITY (PNU) HAS MUTATED INTO A PERFORATED NEW UNIT and, with lots of exaggerated preamble. The worst part about it is that some of the members are acting the way gazelles pretend to be startled by cheetahs when filming documentaries in the Mara.

All along the gazelles are aware that there are cheetahs and lions and wild dogs and other gazelle-eating animals in the tall grass and then when one appears they take off as if their eaters don’t try to eat them every five minutes.

Or their ancestors the wildebeests (actually they are grandparents of the gazelles), which go to drink water in places where they have a terrific view of crocodiles – nostrils, ears and the whipping tail, and then go right ahead and drink from a few meters. I think that the crocodiles are just usually going about their business like basking and are not usually waiting to eat the wildebeests. They probably just react to the lack of common sense displayed by the wildebeests, prompting them to grab one by the nose sending the others clambering for the walls of the Mara River and falling right back, compelling the crocs to just eat them. And they have done this since the Big Bang. At least that is what some scientists who were in the Big Bang have told us.

Now some PNU members have borrowed this leaf and are behaving as if they have not been part of the president’s cheerleading squad and campaign strategy, which is to hound politicians into a little known party around October of the election year. He then forms a cabinet that ensures that the country remains in election-campaigns mode for the next five years.

The recent bickering, we have been informed is about inheriting his job. Rumour has it that he (the president) has his eyes set on one Uhuru Kenyatta. Now, this is a guy who, even if I am not a politician I find too lucky. Apart from being the first president’s son, the second and third president’s have doted on him as if he is the only one whose blood has tested I AM PROUD TO BE KENYAN+VE.

This bickering has become pretty much like the Biblical Tower of Babel where the whole world came to a sort of a town meeting and agreed to build a tower that would take them to heaven. Now, if they had been as technologically advanced as we are, they would have known that their tower would have deposited them on Venus where they would have found scores of women and then be scorched by the sun to death. Unfortunately they didn’t and they ended up wasting their time and energy and God decided to help them by giving them foreign languages.

So a guy, who probably was 200 miles off the earth, working hard at the tower, probably asked his trusted assistant for more nails and the assistant in his new language heard milk, and ran off to bring milk.

In those days milk was not packed in sachets. It was packed in silverware or earthenware. So the guy brought the milk and his boss was so pissed off that he threw the silverware or earthenware carrying the milk into his assistant’s face forming a small crater on his face and sent him rolling down the tower. Of course this angered the rest of the workers who started arguing in foreign languages and at the same time wondering what was wrong with everybody else and the work on the tower halted.

What this uncalled for tidbit of information seeks to accomplish is to get PNU out of the gridlock that they have put themselves in. First, they need a preacher who is committed to the good book and one who will download to them all the wisdom he/she downloads from the book. That preacher, and as I am objective as I can be, would be me.

Apart from the expertise I have displayed above, I have experience and other qualifications – many of my colleagues would bet their malnourished wallets that I am a member of PNU. Their basis is the name I was given by my parents way before it had entered into the hearts of PNU members to form their party.

There is one who is too obnoxious for me to believe that we belong to the same species. In his belief that I am PNU damu, he brought me most of the party’s campaign paraphernalia which coincidentally proved to be quite functional for me. I am talking about caps and T-shirts and pens and others whose purpose I am yet to figure out.

I would like to state in print that I am party-less. This is because I am incapable of selling political parties in the usual manner that our politicians do. I am incapable of telling the voters that I and our presidential candidate are committed to forming a government that will provide three meals per day per family, free education and roads and then deliver wind pies for five years.

Instead, I channel my energies and a part of my measly earnings to the betterment of the youth, specifically in music. I sponsored one of them to produce an album and this is what he produced;

Kamanzi kananipatia ganji

Dum dum dum

Ati kameni – fall- ia

Tererere tererere X 2000

You can imagine my jolly pride at the launch and my telling everyone that I had sponsored the artist to produce the number. I have however observed that since the launch and every time the song plays on FM stations my colleagues give me dirty looks. I am starting to think that they are either jealous or that they know something that I don’t, considering that the song is in a foreign language.

I am therefore offering to be PNU’s official preacher and will not mind if they bring along some of the top athletes in the country.

Be Fashionable at own Peril


RECENTLY I HAVE BEEN HIT BY THE FASHIONISTA BUG. I found myself suddenly having the urge to read fashion columns and before I knew it I had started to believe some of the stuff they write.

The one that really caught my eye was an interview with a local model who said and I quote, “It is a shame for any woman not to have a pair of 4" stilettos”.

This came as a big surprise to me because all my life, I have assumed that stilettos were another name for leggings (or trouser stockings) and 4" was kind of bizarre to me. So I looked up the word in the dictionary and my first inclination was to take rat poison.

I have used my ‘meaning’ for stilettos with people I would have liked to impress and all this time making a fool of myself. I have also used the word on my friends and nobody corrected me. Either I have overly diplomatic friends or they know nothing about fashion or they don’t have dictionaries. My saving grace probably has been that they too are worn on the legs.

So I went ahead and bought myself a pair of yellow stilettos and kept it for the organization’s end of year party.

As many stiletto owners will tell you, lifts do not appreciate stilettos and so they break down as soon as they get you to your destination – mostly on double digit floors, ensuring that finding your way down is not effortless in the ‘must haves’.

The lift broke down on me during the party and I needed a sixth sense to get to ground floor with my toes in ten pieces or else they would be puréed when I got down.

My mind worked fast that day, which it rarely does. I feigned a sprain on my leg and Kimwaki (translates into bonfire), a colleague of mine helped me down the stairs 18 floors on his back holding my pair of yellow stilettos in his hands. I had forgotten the sprain by the time we got to ground floor and he found out that I had duped him. He is still mad at me.

He has attempted his revenge on me twice on the streets by trying to set me on fire with a cigarette in the name of a hug. Fortunately the city council has banned cigarette smoking in public places and he is yet to figure out another way of teaching me a lesson.

Our IT geek Wuod Nam (son of the lake) has promised to bail me out. He has warned Kimwaki that if he does not give up his obsession of setting me on fire, he is going to reconstruct one of his pictures from a fully dressed executive to one in boxer shorts and sell it as a front page photograph to major newspapers. He has already removed his blazer and shirt on the computer. I suggested that he punches holes into the boxer shorts.

News or No News