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.