So I had a pretty interesting weekend. As I boarded a matatu on this hot Sunday afternoon I just had to sit in the front seat next to the driver. I was minding my business, seeing and appreciating the good Rongai county for all its beauty. Window rolled down, wind in my beady hair, not a care in the world! Mid-way through the drive, the driver just turned to me and started talking. Now I have been told on numerous ocassions that I do not have a very friendly-looking face. So I’d probably be the last guy you’d spontaneously start making small talk with. When this kind of thing happens, I instinctively assume what the driver is telling would naturally be “kijana hapa ndio mwisho” “Hii gari haifiki town” or something of the sort. I already had my cringe/sneer ready for this brother. I was prepared to make him see how I felt about their everyday matatu shenanigans!
In an unexpected turn of events, he seemed like pretty jolly chap. Started off by smiling quite happily as he pointed at his ‘makanga’. Unaona huyo kijana ako hapo kwa mlango?”. “Kila wakati akiniambia tuende skwodi, hatukosangi watu wa kujaza gari.” Briefly, the chap was explaining how he and his conductor are always lucky enough to have a vehicle full of passengers every time they are on the road. Now this may not seem like a big deal but I have come to understand how this whole public transport works. I went on to observe the the dynamic between the two and quite honestly, they were very good at their jobs. Unlike many conductors seemed to have the right personality for the job. Anyway, as the driver continued to engage me in light banter, he happened to mention that he had worked in many cities around the country. Something I noticed is characteristic to those in the transport industry. As it turns out he unlucky enough to live in Nakuru during the infamous Post election Violence in 2007/2008.
As most people know this was a period of major destruction and political unrest. He told me that he was caught up in the skirmishes as his house was burnt and every single thing he owned. His ID, drivers license, money, clothes, basically he no longer had any property to his name. But he escaped with his life.
He didn’t seem too perturbed about it though. Said that it would do him no good wallowing in self pity and waiting for handouts from the government and well-wishers. So he decided to move on to the next town that would receive him with open arms. Well not exactly a warm welcome but I imagine peace and safety were basically his main concerns. And that is how he ended up in Ongata Rongai. He humbly boasted that no day passed by without him eating his fill and pocketing a cool KES 1,800. I had never met someone who actually got affected directly during this period so this came as much of a surprise. The level of calm and wellness with which he told his story made me wonder what was so different about him. He went on about his life for a good part of the drive and when we finally reached ‘mwisho wa gari’ so he pretty much summed up his story in a very interesting way. He said he didn’t know how long he would be staying in this town. Cheekily saying that should life get boring for him here, he will easily pack-up his few belongings and move on to the next town. I noticed that he did not seem too tied down or attached to any material things. I tried to take a picture of the guy but he disappeared as quickly as he arrived.
His story gave me a lot to ponder on that lazy Sunday. While the rest of us cross our arms and complain relentlessly about how there are no jobs this guy is having none of that. I really idolized the manner with which he approached life. It sincerely challenged me to put in much more effort in everything I did. If he could make it in life with nothing but a drivers license, what about you who has a little more to fall back on?
Also worth giving a try, is a care free approach to it all. Now I’m not advising you to become a hippy but putting so much value in material things is gives you less time and room to enjoy the whole experience of life itself.
Take courage; don’t just live a little, live large 🙂