Kisii drivers and conductors are a pain in the butt

These people never shut up. The driver shouts from the front, and the conductor shouts from behind

A wise man once said that if riding public transport does not incentivise you to work harder in life, then nothing will.

It is a relief that the government will this month bring back the ‘Michuki Rules’ because there is no dignity in public transport anywhere in Kenya. In the villagers, a Probox carries up to 20 people, 15 more than its capacity!

Buses that ferry people to Western Kenya are so substandard, it is like they are built to kill.

It is worse in Nairobi. Commuters have to endure assault on their ears, listening to coarse music and FM radio stations with crass presenters.

And matatu drivers have the worst taste in music, oblivious of the calibre of passengers they ferry around. I hope there will be a rule that bans every form of music in public transport, unless it is rhumba!

 If you use the bigger buses, you have to endure hawkers, preachers and beggars taking turns at inducing guilt into helping them pay rent in Nairobi. Meanwhile, if you are tall, you’ll not find a matatu with enough legroom.

I can’t even get started on the detours that drivers take trying to escape traffic, almost crossing the border into Tanzania! 

Personal comfort and space in Kenyan public transport is such an alien concept. You have to endure bad breath and body odour from folks who shower once a week.

You would think that with all these pain it can’t get worse. Then Kisii drivers and conductors happen. In less than two decades, due to population growth in my homeland, all the young men have moved to Nairobi and the only jobs available are matatu drivers and security guards.

More than half of the matatus in Nairobi are operated by Kisii drivers and conductors, and what a mess they are!

The job of calling them out rests on my shoulder since I am purebred Kisii and nobody can accuse me of stereotyping. My brothers have no sense of private or public spaces. Travelling in a 14-seater matatu with a Kisii operating crew is cringe worthy.

Man, these people never shut up. The driver shouts from the front, and the conductor shouts from behind. They chat the entire journey. They talk about everything- sex, gambling, every trivial thing. Since I can understand their conversations, I can confirm to you that it is mostly pointless, silly and inane.

And man, the young men can be vulgar! They forget that some of their passengers may be Kisiis.  Listening to a middle-aged man talk about his sexual escapades with boyish glee can test your sanity to the limits.

Our school curriculum never teach us about the sanctity of personal space. We tend to confuse private and public, the reason politicians like apportioning themselves public land with no shame or guilt. That is why Kisii drivers and conductors don’t know that what they operate is public and not private space.

As a linguist I know for sure that my Kisii language ranks so low in terms of listenability. It is not musical, it is too jarring. Don’t get me wrong.

I like my language with all its shortcomings. But I am humble enough to know that it is one of the least attractive languages. You can tell how bad your language is by its music. Basically, if no music from your tribe gets played in your nightclub, in the ten or so minutes DJs play vernacular music, then your language is not friendly to the ears.

No Kisii music gets played in nightclubs even in Kisii town. If the Kisii matatu drivers still offend me so much, I can’t imagine the pain of other commuters.

If you are reading this and own a matatu being operated by Kisiis, tell them to occasionally keep quiet.

There is so much peace in silence.


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