By Silas Nyanchwani
A very interesting thing just happened at my stage. Worth telling.
So, my route has this one popular Matatu SACCO and one that is less known. I get to the stage, and the popular ones are all gone. So I board the less known. As people come, they are reluctant to to board and would rather wait for the well known ones.
But there is this young short man, dreadlocked and quite a hardened tout. He has the charm to get people boarding. The matatu’s driver is a middle-aged Kisii man. Not confrontational but quite street smart. The matatu’s conductor is a confused young man, who has no voice in a job that relies on your voice, the gruffier the better.
The dreadlocked stage tout, offers to help with a bit of touring and sure people start to board. You know their usual language, ‘mtu mmoja’, ‘watu wawili’, ‘Ya mwisho na mia’.
Soon enough, it is full capacity, Covid-restrictions of social distancing notwithstanding. I should mention, earlier on, for the vehicle to carry at that stage, a mysterious tall, black and fat man, came and took cash from the driver. It is called, pesa ya stage. Each time the matatu uses the stage, it pays like Sh 100-300 depending on the spot.
Now, that the matatu is full, came the time to pay the tout. Driver gives him Sh 200. The formerly charming guy loses his head and says, filling the bus to full capacity is Sh 500. Only when carry half-capacity shoul do they take Sh 200.
The driver being a Kisii knows he is being ripped off. He cries that that the police have extorted him. It has been a bad day and those stage thugs demanding 500 is not fair.
The dreadlocked thug can’t have it otherwise. The negotiations last about 43 seconds before the thug does the unthinkable. He snaps, goes back inside the Matatu and shouts “Kila mtu akae kiti chake. Polis wanashika watu hapo mbele.” He alights and half the bus follows him.
When men are petty, even the devil sits down to take notes.