-- You probably hate matatus.
You are undoubtedly completely
right to hate them as much as you do.
But I come from London and unless
you have seen the public transport there, you can
have no idea of the utter joy that is the matatu.
In London, getting a bus is like
going on a long pilgrimage.
You must walk first walk many
miles, then wait with millions of other pilgrims
(or office workers and tourists) at the place of
the holy sign (or bus stop) and pray to a vengeful
god for a bus to appear in your lifetime, and
preferably by 7.30 a.m. so you can get to work on
Once you do get on a London bus,
your fellow passengers will be either angry,
miserable, mad or all of the above.
The bus will drive round the
houses for an hour and, at the end, you will be no
closer to your ultimate destination than when you
set out, so will have to embark on another
pilgrimage until you finally arrive, your spirit
Imagine then a matatu that
actually picks you up from wherever you are;
better, one that will brake sharply, slam into
reverse for fifty metres to where you are walking
on the off-chance that you might want to go
"Are you going to Cinemax?"
"Yes, yes" The
conductor says confidently and shoves you in.
You squash in with your fellow
passengers, and pay your fifty bob as the matatu
hurtles wildly and erratically in the direction of
It is this point that you find out
two truths about matatus.
The first is that the passengers
are the most lovely people on God’s earth.
Your neighbour says to you
"This isn’t going to
"Oh no, really?"
You check with the conductor.
But conductors live in their own
world of carefree optimism.
"Yes, yes, Cinemax."
But he’s not really listening to
you - you’re on the bus, you’ve paid, you’re
The other passengers join in:
"No, but you can get off at
Nyali, and get another one from there which will
take you direct."
So, the other truth you discover
is that there is no public transport in the world
that will take you where you actually want to go.
To me, matatus are a cut
A matatu starts off like a
personal limo service making you feel like
royalty, before turning into a wild rodeo horse
and you become just another greenhorn cowboy
thankful simply to have been booted off in one
But it doesn’t matter; you can
always get another matatu.
Meanwhile, you have found
passengers who are kind, helpful and who actually
talk to you.
You wouldn’t get that on a
pad, opulent it is 'not': Sort of 'Art deco' with a
hint of '80s decadence.
you read it first at coastweek.com