Beba beba: Personal cars had rusty carriers

You will mostly find smoke-emitting jalopies sporting carriers in dusty rural roads. They are normally manual, angular-shaped, dudu-size Datsun 160Js and Toyota DXs with registration numbers that are a source of mirth for Kenya’s self-entitled Millennials.

But back in the day, when Kenya was still a single party state, owning a car meant you “had fallen into things.” Before Dubai - in a bid to make itself a world destination with a free port - a majority of personal cars down these shores were fifth-hand contraptions.

To squeeze the most out of the four wheels, most car owners installed carriers atop the roof on which they carried simiti, mabati and other assorted construction materials for that house they were erecting in shagz. On their return journeys, the carriers ferried farm produce in sacks full of waru, nduma and ngwaci.

Dubai’s free port in the 1990s made second Japanese rust buckets cheaper for those in Kenya’s pretentious middle-class, who would rather be caught dead than at the roadside welder having the carrier ikichomelewa on the ride with new registration plates from Kenya Revenue Authority!