Matatu Etiquete by Alffie


Most Kenyans have or have had many encounters with this iconic Kenyan means of transport. But like many things, they are prone to abuse & disturbing trends. The matatu operators-some not all-are incorrigible so I won’t talk of them. My focus is the passengers. This is addressed to most of us I suppose.. If you see yourself here…let me put it this way; someone is watching & not liking the view.

Do not play music on your phone (China or otherwise) on loudspeaker! We board matatus with no music for just that reason: no music = quiet! It’s not rocket science. Take the hint!

Receiving phone calls is inevitable but you can control what conversations to have where. CCK categorizes phone calls as private conversation, so please don’t torture others with your endless & LOUD calls! No one wants to know how many chicken you have at home or that you take hot showers in the evenings!!

A prelude to an annoying call is, more often than not, a just as annoying ring-tone! Worse still you let it ring for so long like you want everyone to hear it! The vibrate feature on your phone is a feature to be used.. it wasn’t just a marketing pitch!! On the off-chance that your phone doesn’t vibrate or may have valid reasons not to use it, please don’t let it ring more than 3 times or beyond the count of 10! As a side note: An “I’m a Barbie girl” ring-tone?! You are a grown man, what do you want us to think? That you are a … or a … A ring-tone says a lot about u! So choose your ring tone wisely!

Someone else’s phone is their own property and by extension, their own business so DO NOT SNOOP to find out what they are browsing or texting or posting or tweeting! I never say this but GET A LIFE!!

Worse than playing loud music from your phone is singing! Why would we want you to sing? Unless you are Mary J Blige, Cece Winans, Chrisette Michelle, Lauryn Hill, Dela, Atemi, Nanjira or the like.. PLEASE DO NOT SING…ANYTHING in a matatu!! We don’t want to hear you KILL music. Men…don’t even think about trying to sing!

When you sneeze in a matatu, please cover your mouth and open the window. After H1N1 and the likes of TB, we’d like to still be healthy when we get home. Always carry a handkerchief – a dozen costs only 200!!

You know those seat belts you see inside? They are not for aesthetic value. They are actually for your safety so use them! (Plus it’s the law to use them!) Don’t go shouting at the driver every time he hits a bump and you don’t have your seatbelt on!! *This depends on how well fitted they are so choose your matatus wisely too!

The matatu driver is doing his job.. he didn’t come to your office to tell you how to do your job so stop giving him directions as to the best & presumably shorter short cuts you think he should use!!

Do not disturb..*now in caps* DO NOT DISTURB a passenger with earphones (or headphones) with your uncanny ability to talk about the mundane details of politics, weather & of course..the road construction. They are listening to music or maybe even audio books so that they don’t chit-chat with you or people like you! So please, get your own music box or just fall back!!

You don’t have to see everything along the road you are using so stop craning your head every time the matatu stops like you want to save the day. Newsflash! That pilsner Ad on TV is just an Ad! You can’t help clear a jam like that! Plus, you use that route almost daily, what new thing can crop up along the road in 8-10hrs (time within which you are at work)..in Kenya?!!

Ask the fare cost before you board. Causing drama and throwing tantrums when the *kange gets to you when everyone else has paid the default amount doesn’t make you Rosa Parks-you are not fighting anyone’s right other than your own right…to look stupid!

The *kange is not in the least bit psychic or telepathic to know where you are to alight so inform him when you are about to reach your destination instead of sitting back and going into fits of vain rage when you are clearly to blame when the matatu doesn’t stop at your stop. Your outbursts just make you look psychotic & telepathic*

Removing your shoes, picking your nose, teeth plus all the other “Ushenzi” behavior should be a common sense thing not to be done in a matatu (among many other places).

If you like to sleep in a matatu and you can’t keep from leaning on your neighbour & even drool, get yourself a neck-brace! That should keep your head upright! Or just don’t sleep!!

Your cologne or perfume should be just enough! The point is to make sure your natural odor (read ‘sweat’) is kept at bay not to suffocate people so that they don’t get to smell your odor! Subtlety is the key in choosing the cologne/perfume for you. The other extreme is just as bad if not worse!

Learn to keep your cool, understand what a quarrel between a passenger & kange is about before you publicly display your ignorance because contrary to popular belief the customer can be wrong & often times is irrational!

So you know you are supposed to pay fare so why do you wait to be asked & give the kange a puzzled look like he’s bothering u? You didn’t think it was free did you?!!

So you board a matatu with a friend or 2.. your escapades are your own so keep your chatting A.L.A.P – As Low As Possible! Other passengers are not really interested to know!

*kange – Derived from ‘Makanga’ a variation of ‘Manamba’ which is equal to ‘conductor’ or ‘tout’ which points to the person in the matatu responsible for collecting fare from passengers, signaling the driver to stop the bus for passengers to alight & sometimes act as a co-driver.

Disclaimer: These are just what I’ve seen & experienced. I’m sure there are many many more.

 

Find More Writings by Alffie here

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2 Comments

  1. to add on this great piece:

    Some people need to carry their stuff with care.

    A mama was just about to wrench out my eyes with the tip of her umbrella, just this morning. She did not like what i had to tell her.

    Ladies your handbags are yours, why should you burden other passengers with them, especially the big bulky bags?

    Reply
  2. I so love this post.

    Problem is that these things happen to me almost daily. The other day I was seated next to a guy who did not want me to listen to my music but to what he had to say about Ocampo and the ICC Soap opera.

    I also warn everyone not to sit next to a mama with a sick child, a story for another day, but I lived to tell the tale

    Reply

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