I recently had an encounter with a matatu driver. Stuck in a traffic jam, I started reading a newspaper, catching up on the latest shenanigans on the political scene. My focus was, however, shattered minutes later when someone banged a fist on the boot of my car.
Turning back, I saw a matatu driver attempting to wedge his battered contraction in the tiny space between my car and the one right behind.
His intention was to snake through and ‘overlap’ - an illegal practice they are rioting to uphold. “Kwani utalala hapa? Songa! Hii barabara si yako (do you intend to sleep here? Move! The road doesn’t belong to you!)” He snarled.
He was wagging a finger in my direction. He wanted me to risk banging the next guy, so he could squeeze his contraption through and break the law. He was also calling me an idle idiot. I ruminated on it and chose to ignore him.
My mind is trained to argue while his is conditioned to shout. There was no way we would reach a consensus unless the discussions were held using crude weapons.
I remembered another time, many years back, when a matatu crew pulled similar antics on motorists who just happened to be officers from the President’s Escort. One of the officers alighted, drew a pistol from a shoulder holster and shot the foul-mouthed fellow at point blank range.
Another, who tried the same on a senior citizen, got the shock of his life when the motorist, a renowned scientist, pulled out a gun and let go. Matatu crews should be thankful that most Nairobians are not licensed to carry firearms.