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Monthly Archives: September 2012

One good chance is always worth another-

One good chance came my way last year; I had my twenty-five minutes of fame on Aljazeera Network. During the shooting of the documentary, I had this opportunity to mix a bit of business and pressure. A popular journalist, With Nation Media House hired my Matatu to take her relatives to the country. I was looking forward to this trip because of a personal reason and also the guaranteed income. Spending one full day working and not worrying about any gang or being arrested is like a paid holiday.

The personal reason behind my interest on this trip was to ensure that the client who had hired the vehicle got the best our industry has to offer. Otherwise, All the effort I had been putting in trying to present a human side of the matatu industry could come crumbling down; should anything happen to family members of somebody with access to the biggest media house in East Africa. The instructor who taught me how to drive told me that I’m the only sane driver on the road; so it had to be me if anybody.

Nothing happened that was not supposed to happen and the deal went smoothly. At the end of the day, I had an extra Ten dollars. Well;; those who watched the video “Reluctant Outlaw” know what happened to the ten dollars later that evening. I promised somebody close to me that it will never happen again should another opportunity present itself.  The agreement was that:- If I ever go out again to shoot a story and earn some extra cash I would spend it on the whole family and not with friends.  I never thought It would happen again. But it did.!!

An E-mail came through asking me If I could be available to take a team from UK- BBC WORLD SERVICE to Filming tour of duty to Nanyuki. At first, It did not sound real especially when the correspondent from Kenya; told me that, he was waiting for confirmation from the producer who was somewhere in United Kingdom.

The day did finally come and the producer did not just send a team to do the story, she came in person  together with the presenter of  FAST TRACK television Program and the camera man.I was supposed to be at the parking yard of Sankara Hotel in Westlands by 8:30 am on Thursday. I was at railways Bus Park at exactly 30 minutes before the appointed time. I had made a thousand bob coming to town and I knew my trip to Nanyuki would be rewarding. I was with a good friend of mine also a matatu driver who I had called to stand by in-case we were to do an extra filming where I was not the driver.

All was going on just like we had prayed for; But then came in the Kenya traffic police. We were driving along University way towards westlands and at Jevanjee gardens we found three cops, two on the tarmac blocking the way and the senior officer pointing at an empty parking space.

Weka ngari kado na ufungue Hapa!!”  My friend who was driving obliged.

What is happening officer?” I asked the cop.

“It’s the police Operation and you have jumped traffic lights.”

We had not jumped any light but all the same we ended up at the parking yard at Central police station. Minus 2000 shillings later, I was again on the road to Hotel Sankara to pick my passengers and give them a tour to the Equator. The odds were against me that day;

We were to start filming at Westland’s main matatu stage but another drama was waiting to happen. The camera man was filming matatus as they came and left the bus-stops when two touts came to my window and started asking questions. I thought they were just chanting us when out of nowhere one of the guys pointed to the BBC presenter and accused her of taking photos and then going back to her country to sell them. I demanded to know why or how that was possible and he was quick to tell me how this wazungu people go back to UK and tell their friends that they were in Africa and captured some very interesting shots of monkeys. I was deeply hurt; I just wished they could know what we were actually doing. Nevertheless, you don’t argue with a fool in-case someone passing by might not notice the difference.

The interview was on wheels; meaning the cameras where rolling for the entire trip. I don’t exactly remember if I said anything good about the police or my fellow workmates but they had definitely ruined my appetite. I guess I did not smile the whole trip; not until I meet Professor Kylo.

We found the water rotation’s professor; At the center of the Earth- popularly known as the Equator. He taught us a very interesting lesson using water to demonstrate the effects of the Earth rotation in the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres. I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about but at least I can say I noticed something extra ordinary in the experiment. A bad start like always creates a good step; we had a wonderful time all through the journey. The police stopped us five times but couldn’t get anything more from us because of the cameras,

I dropped my customers at their destination and they all boarded a bus to take them to  the National park. I was ashamed of my fellow country men but that was all i could do; when we were done, I had some extra cash, enough to buy vegetables along the highway at a reasonable price; to last my family a couple of days.

Just drop me a mail and let see what the industry has in store for you.A Good opportunity might never return; But, A good chance deserves another.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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Should we go on strike over a bridge?

The weatherman has made his predictions / fore-cast,,,,,, as its known. Kenya is again going to witness another season of continuous heavy rains; Eli-nino is the word going round. A name that reminds me of the hard times.  The last time we saw a rainy season going by that name was over ten years ago. If what we saw back then was to be repeated, I’m afraid not much would have changed in the number of victims.

Those who can remember the headlines back then all looked similar. Rains Wreck Havoc… Havoc as Ngaindeithia- Bridge is washed away…havoc as Farmers lose millions as produce rot in farms..  Perhaps the new Thika Road and a few improved bridges will come in handy during those times, but this is just too little to take to the bank.

 During the last rainy season which was far less in comparison to Eli-nino rains; KweKwe and Acacia Seasonal rivers both on Magadi road, claimed the lives of over five people; swept a number of vehicles-with the very lucky occupants surviving by the grace of God while those who were not as lucky were found hundreds of meters from the scene; minus their precious lives.

Residents of Kiseria and Rongai demonstrated and even blocked the road for hours. That morning four bodies were retrieved from the seasonal river, The area member of parliament assured them that that the ministry concerned would quickly fix the problem. But as soon as the rains ended so did the promise, the frustrations or whatever the area resident were feeling at that time.  Nobody is talking about the bridges today;- not even the aspirants vying  for the Kajiado north parliamentary seat.

I normally pass by the bridge almost every week as it falls on our route 126 that goes to Kiserian Township. If anything, Kwekwe River has become even more dangerous; so much waste and vegetation’s have choked the tunnels that are supposed to keep water out of the tarmac and the soil deposits have raised the river to the same level with the road. This means one thing; when the waters come, the road will be naturally closed. Naturally because we will blame the rain water; and spare those who are supposed to have fixed the problem by now.

Another option is to call a strike by all matatu drivers who use Magadi road and demand that the government allocate funds for the construction of this two very essential bridges.

This option as it stands today, does not work in Kenya; the teacher’s strike has entered the 9th day today and I don’t think the Government is going to do what they really want.  The educators should never have gone on strike; Why not? Because Perrier to that; we had this myth like believe that teachers know all formulas of solving problems. {May be its only in arithmetic.} I’m starting to look at them with suspicion. I believe this was not the best option; but I hope they reach an agreement and go back to class.

I’m not a teacher and I don’t want to pretend that I can feel what they are feeling but one thing is for sure; They don’t really care about our children and if they teach them with the same attitude, we don’t have much to expect from the free education. A survey should be done to see how many of this Government employed teachers take their children to private school. It won’t be surprising to find out that only small fractions have their children under the free education system and 80% of those are in areas where there are no private schools.

There is talk that the Doctors are also going on strike; the lectures also. I guess the problem is not even with the government it has something to do with our Education and is affecting the educated. – contamination kills teachers and doctors– so goes a kikuyu saying.  May be there is a bug that is biting the learned. Next it will be the advocates and judges and then the end will come.

Enough with the strikes back to the bridge; Our former member of Parliament who also happened to be the Internal security minister had promised to fix the problem before the next rain season; but unfortunately he will not be around to keep the promise and since we don’t yet have a representative in the August house-not until after the by-election we will have to survive the season praying that it wont be another eli-nino. I appeal to our honorable Government to look in to this before they allocate funds for building a monument to honor professor Saitoti at the site of the chopper crash.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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