There is laying down the rule, complete with warnings boldly written to catch attention. Then there is that small matter of obeying the rules and following them religiously.
Take ‘Switch off Your Phone’ in petrol stations for instance. Of course, most Kenyans don’t follow it because they could be paying through mobile money transfer. But what about ‘Switch Off Your Engine’? Yeah, who cares!
Obeying those rules is hardly part of our DNA and most of us are singularly gifted at doing the exact opposite: ‘Do Not Step On Grass’, comes to mind.
Here are 10 other warnings Kenyans ignore:
1. Speed kills!
This is normally ignored by the ‘Nancy Boys’ in ubiquitous blue Subarus, especially while gassing along the Nairobi- Naivasha highway most weekends. In the cars will be naive college girls enroute to their ‘slaughter’ - figuratively, and sometimes literally.
2. Usikojoe hapa
It is almost as if this sign on a wall or tree ‘incites’ the filling of the bladder in readineness for full ‘irrigation’ of the nation. This pre-historic scenario mostly hits men, attracting them to the smelly area around the sign like a moth to a flame.
3. This is a corruption free zone
This is normally written in bold letters, which few can miss at the entrance of mostly public offices. But whenever you see this sign, chances are that the corruption that goes on in those offices could fund another round of Eurobonbd.
4. This is a no smoking zone
There are designated smoking areas in public and workplaces. The Nairobi CBD has five smoking zones: Tusker bus station, Jevanjee Gardens, GPO, Uhuru Park and Latema Road.
But it’s not uncommon for the craving to strike where there is no smoking zone. The ‘thirsty’ Kenyan will just light up, wherever he is. Bora uhai!
5. Don’t drink and drive
The Traffic Bill 2012 imposed a life sentence for motorists who cause death by dangerous driving or a 10-year jail term, or a fine of up to Sh1 million or both. But there are Kenyans who stagger to their jalopies and proceed to gas at 140km/h while dozing!
6. Weka condom mpangani
The rate of college dropouts over unexpected pregnancies indicates this warning is not taken seriously, as do the many women who take married men to the Children’s Court over upkeep for going full throttle ‘leather-to-leather.’
7. Not for sale to under-18
Despite this warning around wines and spirits shops, for most under-18, it’s easier to purchase killer spirits than a grown-up to acquire a loan on Mshwari.
Where do you think all those high school students who are caught high like kites buy their alcohol?
8. Usitupe takataka hapa
You will always find a mountain of garbage wherever you see this sign. Kenyans follow the ‘Broken Glass Theory,’ which stipulates that whenever you see an abandoned house, sooner or later, some urchin will throw stones at the windowpanes, encouraging others to break the rest. It’s the same with garbage.
9. No posters
Local witchdoctors are notorious for advertising their services, including treating wasiwasi kazini and finding vitu zilozopotea, whenever there is this sign. But they have avoided pasting them under ‘No posters, Sh85, 000 fine’ on pillars of underpasses in Nairobi.
10. No trespassing
There is always a well-beaten path next to a sign reading ‘No Trespassing,’ with the sign bent by legs brushing against it while ignoring the cobblestone walkway next to it.
Never mind, the beaten path is surrounded by grass which has been turned brown by boots, high heels and bathroom sleepers.