Kamagira touts

30 Aug

As a matatu approaches any major town,  a group of young men runs toward the car; some chase the matatu on the passenger side and opens the sliding door as the car is still in motion,while the other group of about three or four men runs along the car on the driver’s side, a heated argument ensures between the men as they decide who is going with the vehicle and who is not, once they have sorted themselves; a new team takes over control. Music is tuned up to deafening volume and more passengers are added or forced to squeeze in the already full matatu.This  new group that takes over are known in the industry as -kamagira- the name is a corrupted kikuyu word meaning; go get them {Thii umagire}
This guys might decide to terminate your journey anywhere between the last kilometer without explanation, that largely depends on the size of the crowd of passengers on the opposite direction, if they are convinced that there are enough people to fill the car, then the matatu makes a u-turn and the next thing you hear is ” Mwisho” this means the end of that matatu’s journey; if you refuse to alight and stay put,then sorry for you because these people don’t really care about you or what ever you think is your rights, they will drive back with you up to the place they had initially left the original crew who will apologetically give you a ten shillings coin and advise you to board another vehicle. if you dare question, then you will be in for a rude shock, this men will call you names and tell you things that will hunt you for many days; they seem to have mastered the art of using abusive language to the fullest advantage.

And, if you are the guy who likes keeping it real i.e you go to the gym and you have some pounds of muscles in your arms and chest.don’t ever try to challenge this men into a fight. Why ? because every other matatu that will slow down and find you beating one of their own will produce two more fighters, at the end of it all, you will be the one recording a statement at the police station.while you nurse some nasty wheel spanner’s injuries and a few stitches
But why do we have them if all they do is cause confusion and chaos? well, they are as useful to the industry as the freelance journalists are to any media house,they provide the much-needed insight in commercializing passengers transportation. they set the prices and regulate the number of vehicles to any route,they monitor the flow of passengers, .They are the link between the passengers and the transporters,
Their main job is to make sure that the matatu is full before it leaves every town. Their fee is deducted and is included in the daily budgeting of the matatu,
Who are they and where do they come from? They are the Watu Wa Barabara [people of the road] they are our brothers, our sons, our children, they smoke weed in the open drink before Mututho’s time and are always dressed in the latest fashion if not in rags. they don’t wear uniforms and sometimes the police treats them like dangerous criminals, they are rounded up, arrested chained and flog matched to police stations, where they are booked and then dragged to courts but they re-appear the following morning at their usual joint chanting and sharing goodies with the cops who had arrested them the previous day. they are ex-prisoners, ex-drivers, ex-conductors,ex-thieves, ex-anything.
Where do they come from?> from every home; they are the black sheep’s of each family brought together by a common desire, to find acceptance.


Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Matatu matters



2 responses to “Kamagira touts

  1. Alexandre

    August 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Hello James,

    This is Alexandre in Brazil. Great Blog! I learned about you in the AlJazeera Witness program on their website. I wan to wish you the best of luck with your future career as a journalist!
    Best of luck to you!

  2. Gloriana

    January 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I can’t believe you’re not playing with met-h-at was so helpful.


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