Category Archives: Stories

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Respiratory Hijacking

Category : Stories

What has just happened one evening in the matt I had boarded is what can be safely called #Respiratory_hijacking. One of the people sitting at the back of the matt had sounded alarm at the rapid change in the composition of air saying ”Ebu fungua hii dirisha kuna mtu ameachilia kitu hapa” and within few seconds the driver of the matt had lowered the volume just to testify that his nostrils had also picked up some foreign smell saying ”kwani huyo mtu alikula nini…imefika hadi huku”. The whole matt was now talking about it some saying they felt its impact and magnitude but thot maybe the matt had stopped near an open drain, some elderly Swahili lady was busy lamenting how people nowadays don’t have manners saying ”Na hata hana aibu, tuko kwa jamu badala ya ashuke aende akaliondoe huko nje anaifanyia mumu humu ndani”��.

One of the passengers suspected the conductor to be the architect of the now famous fart as shortly before its effect, the conductor had visibly ”stepped outside to look for change” and all of us seemed to be in agreement with him. Someone even went further to say ”Dereva next time ambia huyo conductor awache kukula githeri haijaiva vizuri na Avocado imeoza” . I looked back at him, was very tempted to correct him and alert him that what they had inhaled was a fart rich in digested grilled meat (Athola) some fried fish & vegetables that I had ingested today at #Ronalo_kosewe (#Supreme_Leader_Titoh can attest to that) but this was not the time to take responsibility, they had already made their verdict. And to appear very agonised by the happenings so as not to raise suspicion, I also joined the mob justice saying ”Huyo conda ajiangalie vizuri kabla arudi kwa gari juu labda amejiharia ehh”. While flapping myself with the magazine I had carried.

*The barging questions (more of verbal assaults) that met the conductor when he came back esp from that swahili elderly lady…….I hope to be forgiven one day!!


This blog has been published courtesy of Kevin Soko.

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… next to the drunkard

Category : Stories

Have you been there, Seating next to the drunk guy in a mat?
This is how it all starts:
So you are seating there in a mat, only one seat remaining.
The seat next to you.
The makangas are now charged up!
They beat up the metal plate next to the guys sitting near the entrance of the mat vigourously!
The chant is now ‘mmoja iende!!’

Its Friday late evening, around 8.47pm
He left work early.
He decided to enter the local pub at the ground floor of their work-building.
It’s Friday, its expected.
A few drinks with friends before he heads home.
A bit too much and he realises it’s late.
He decides to head home immediately.
Wakes up suddenly only to realise he’s staggering,
‘I’m strong enough’, he says.

So you there sitting replying tens of chats on whatsapp groups,
Then puff! He drops next to you pushing you towards the window.
He then drops the sigh of a dark cloud of a ‘mixture of tots’
The dark cloud ‘travels’ slowly towards the window as it rushes to fresh air.
That’s osmosis like my bio teacher said.
He says hi and a few words then goes into a deep sleep!

After fifteen mins of tring to get out of the CBD the mat is now enroute home.
‘Centi hapo’, the makanga says as he slowly comes,
You pay your old fifty note that you choose among the new ones that remaing in your wallet.
The makanga then shakes the drunk whose head was swinging and tapping your shoulder,
As the driver was making some sharp corners around the city.
‘Weeeee mzaeeee, centi yako bana’
He awakes from the deep sleep and you notice the saliva drool and you quickly turn back to your smartphone.
‘Silipi’, he says.
I laugh inside me having expected the answer.
The makanga leaves him alone, he continues taking money from the rest of the passengers as if nothing happened.

He comes back again after he finishes collecting money from everyone,
‘Umesema haulipi?’ , he shakes him up but he refuses to wake up.
He goes back to the door of the mat, I notice the makanga has become aggitated.
The mat stops in traffic for a while, he drops and goes to the driver and comes back with a whip; the remains of a tire as the one used by watchies.
Then he comes back to the drunk guy while charged up.
‘Unatoa ama hutoi?’… Pulls him up and beats him one on the back.
This time i stand up and push myself towards the window.
He suddenly comes to life, eyeballs fully opened and momentarily sober!
‘Shika pesa yako!!’ he says… he gives the makanga a squeezed 100 note.
‘Usicheze na sisi!’ everything goes back to normal.
I go back to whatsapp and narrate the story in my groups.

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9 Types of people in a ma3: Who reps you?

Category : Stories

The TseTse Man: You know this guy! The Heavy sleeper in a mat who no sooner has he/she sat on the mat than you notice his head leaning on your shoulder/ or the front seat infront/ head swinging around like a pendulum. They might snore when they are really tired or go passed their stage.

The AirFreshner: Always opens windows, they seem to be lacking oxygen or something. Their nostrils are stuffed immediately they get into a matatu. “Fungua hizo dirisha bana!” Perhaps its a true lung defect. But who am I to jugde?

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The MegaPhone: Mats are usually playing loud music, sometimes annoying when the speakers and tweeters are unbalanced but do they care?? They receive calls loudly and compete with the speakers for attention. And why are they always trying to seal a deal or trying to explain where the keys were left yesterday since they late?? But let me give them credit for sometimes switching in between languages when they notice they too loud or in a quiet mat. Hail Mega Phones!

The Complainer: These guys complain about everything and anything; the route being used, the journey being too long, the traffic, the police… Am usually like, “Tuko Nairobi bana”!! But don’t mind them. But you can mind if they interrupting your novel time or chat time; give an ear and say words like “enyewe!” “Kumbe!” “Waah!” and you’ll be safe.

The Insecure: You know them! Or perhaps you fit into the description :-) Anyway these guys ALWAYS nags the conductor for his/her change. I dont blame them though; most likely they left change for a 5sok or thao sometime back on a mat and the fear of loosing another one is soooo fervent! But there those who complain about about 10 bobs or mbaos. These are the most dangerous creators in a mat!

The Walking Studio: So there are all these screens in a mat, the music is out of this world and they decide to put on their earphones/ headphones, am not judging am just saying it looks abit odd.

The Active Matatureans: Classic, Radio Jambo, Kiss etc have proven to be really interesting in the morning or evening and some guys cannot help but listen to radio convos and laugh loudly. I mean you can try to “shikilia kicheko” bana. It can be really embarrassing especially if its an off topic, ama?

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The ManofTheMat: Man spreading as defined in an earlier blog is the term used to describe those people — usually men — who sit and take up two spaces in a matatu. They forget they are in a public place  and still thinking they are at home. Sorry you just have to sit squeezed like a chicken and not even be able to text till you alight!

The Co-Driver: You know them! They always like to seat infront with the driver. No sooner does a mat stop than they ran to open the door. And ofcourse if youve lived in Nairobi you know that those doors have to be opened from inside “juu ya makanjo” so one has literally beg the driver to open; and there those who don’t.

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Music Volume That Cares…

Category : Stories

The other day, I was surprised the response from the matatu crew when a fellow passenger asked for the volume level to be raised. Here is a snippet of the conversation:

Passenger: Dere! Si tuongeze volume kidogo sasa…

Driver: Kwa nini? Si hapo iko tu sawa.

Passenger: Zii! Reggae sio tune iko na kelele.

Driver: Beyond hiyo volume level actually ni kelele.

Passenger: Haipigi kelele juu ni reggae.

Driver: Boss, unajua tunajaribu kusaidia watu hutumia simu, labda mtu ni msick na hataki kelele au kuna mtu sio fan wa hizo ngoma. Ndio maana siwezi ongeza volume.

Out of that conversation, you could understand that the driver was concerned about the passengers and could  make you understand the need to conserve & make the traveler’s environment free of noise unless it turns out to be a “noisy journey”.

If all matatus were managed this way…

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The Amazing Storyteller

Category : Stories

Ever been in a mat then something debatable happens? You realize that there is that one person who waits for the opportune time and keeps conversing as he tries to create fun & pun out of the situation. This is always “AN AMAZING STORYTELLER”.

Think of a fellow passenger who fails to songea mwenzake ili wakae watu wanne on that seat designated for 3 people(behind the driver on backbench). The Amazing Storyteller starts hitting the road running when he suddenly says, “Hii gari si yako, kama hutaki kusongea mtu ushuke. Kwani sisi tuko special juu tumefinyana?” OR “tunaenda home, haina haja ya kujifanya wewe ni mkubwa wao huwezi songa”. “Unasahu ukifika stage bado utatembea ukienda kwa nyumba yako. Hii si gari yako ikupeleke kwa mlango.”

Amazing Storytellers(consciously on unconsciously) will always do a stand up comedy regardless of whether there is an audience or not. To him, he is sure that someone’s listening and he ensures the comedy runs until he alights from the ride. The fellow who is always dragged along the conversation is just the makanga who will be required to respond and give his piece of mind regardless of whether he is interested or not.

To be an amazing storyteller, one has to possess the following characteristics:

a. Keen on happenings within/ around him.

b. Loudest.

c. Exhibit confidence even if there signs of exaggeration.

d. Have extra details that act as evidence to what you say.

e. Ensure that you side with the konda or else, “utanyamazishwa”

f. Have content and say it all until you jump off the ride.

g. Mention unnecessary details e.g. your name, where your work, occupation(most are always engineers – but never specifies the exact type).

h. Have a sense of humor – This is very key iff you want to keep me tuned to your broadcasting frequency.

This list is endless I can’t exhaust it, unless you want to make me the AMAZING…

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From Matatu Route No. to SACCO NAME

Category : Stories

If the trends serve us right, there is a big shift as to how Nairobians nowadays identify their way around Nairobi. The shift is from identifying a route as a number to the sacco name.

Its therefore common for someone to think of boarding an UMOINNER to go Umoja and be able to choose between it and UTIMO  which are the main saccos instead of #35-60 which is the route number.

The trend also cuts across other routes like ROG/CBET for #23 , Forward Travellers for Kayole or Embassava for Embakasi residents etc

Will the route no. be replaced by the Matatu Sacco brands in the years to come??

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Return of the SCREENS

Category : Stories

Photo courtesy of

The first matatu screens saw their way on matatu’s as early as 2002. The reigning matatus during those days included #58 plying BuruBuru, #9 plying Eastleigh and #23 plying Jerusalem Outering including others.

Over the years the culture has still been there but not that public, only the brave ones or allegedly only those owned by the big shots of Kenya.

Unfortunately,  when the newly elected government then came to power, loud music and screens were banned in matatus complaints being about the loudness and lewdness of the music.

However fast forward 2015 and MATATU SCREENS are BACK! The announcement by the president that allowed the return of graffiti seems to come with a whole lot package including the screens.

Will it be shortlived?

Lets wait and see.

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Ten Kenya Shilllings coin (10/=)

10 Bob is the Difference

Category : Stories

Surprised! Just the other day at the stage, while chilling to catch a mat at Namba nane stage(Prestige), Wanyee-Satellite onboarders treated us to a non-rehearsed but well performed short drama when in solidarity, they angamizad ‘kulipishwa fare si ya kawaida’. During the peak hours(baada ya kazi as one may call it), the standard charges(fare) from Namba nane to Kabiria(via Wanyee & Satellite), is 30 bob.

On this day, one of the matatu operators decided to chokoza utulivu wa wasafiri when on arrival, he called them in “Wanyee Kabiria 40bob!!’ No sooner had he uttered those words than he was booed at by the passengers in unity,  “EEEEEEEEEEHHH!!! Aaaaiiiiihhh!”

One guy shouted, “Enda peke yako!”

Another one, “Kwani utatushukisha kwa mlango?”

The other one, “Kwani iko na auto-driver?”

The protest must have made the konda realize & keep in mind that 10 bob can let you have a duo trip – konda na dere pekee yao.

I think the next time he wished to increase the rates, he would have to think twice.

Matatu Stories