It has been said before that if you can survive driving in Nairobi for one year without being involved in an accident, a traffic violation and without having to pay any bribes, then you can survive on any road anywhere in the world. Heck, you should be awarded an F.I.A rally licence! (although I know a few people who should be awarded a Formula 1 licence)
Nairobian roads are not for the faint hearted. To survive here, you’ve gotta be a ninja, nothing less. One cannot afford to be a softie. You have to have balls, skills, wits and a mouth to match. But never make the mistake of assuming that every driver behind the wheel of a small car is a small man, you’ll be very surprised.
In a city where most traffic rules are either non existent or are flouted left right and centre, it becomes a battle where only the wittiest will survive. There remains only one rule which is generally adhered to: Mwenye bull bar mpishe. I don’t need to explain that. Avoid competing for space with a Nissan Patrol and you’ll be assured of getting your car home in one piece.
Nairobian roads are the second best place, after some of our politicians, to learn new abusive vocab.
Here are some of the things that really piss me off about driving in Nairobi. By no means is this list conclusive, so feel free to add your own peeves. Some of the content may offend some readers, so you’re advised to take it all with a pinch of salt.
So what do I really hate about driving in Nairobi?
1. Traffic!! – it is not unheard of to be caught up in traffic for up to two hours or more. There are times when traffic is so thick that you have to turn off your engine and read a book. You might also end up developing interesting hobbies such as these. Lately, there’s a lot of traffic that’s being caused by those PNU and ODM campaign trucks driving around at 20kp/h with loudspeakers extolling the “virtues” of their candidates. I wonder why the police haven’t done anything about them yet.
2. Stingy Drivers: I dislike drivers who will not give way regardless of how much distress you may be in. What does one have to do for them to give way, flash a boob?
3. Drivers who hoot in traffic: You can clearly see that there are cars in front of me, so now you’re hooting so that I go where, sideways? Even worse are those drivers who start hooting as soon as the traffic lights turn green. Common sense dictates that you wait for the cars ahead to start moving before you get your move on. If you’re so impatient, jump over! Alaa?
4. Drivers who force issues: It is one thing to ask someone to give way, but it’s another thing to force your way in hence inconveniencing the driver you’re trying to squeeze yourself in front of. I especially dislike those drivers who join the main road haphazardly without checking for oncoming traffic. The other day I was doing 140kph on Kiambu Road (I was testing a sports mode switch on the gearbox that I never knew existed) then some idiot just turned into the main road in front of me, thus forcing me to slam onto the brakes to avoid crashing into his rear end (that sounds so nasty!) Thank God for ABS, ESC, ASR, Ferodo brakes and all those fancy gadgets otherwise I’d have been blogging from the afterlife.
5. Toyota Duets: Call me a prick, but me I can’t see how someone can spend 400k+ on a Duet. If only you had worked a little bit harder and saved up for just two more months, you could probably have bought yourself a Vitz! Or you should have cast your eyes a bit further back on the used car queues.
A Starlet is cute, a Vitz is sexy. A Duet on the other hand looks like the love child of two genetically incompatible creatures that had no business looking at each other in a suggestive manner. (Your guess is as good as mine) Those things should be used as automated trolleys at Nakumatt. What does driving a Duet say about you?
If you’re a dude:
a) You’ve probably got low self esteem
b) and a small penis – you’re probably one of those guys at the urinal who constantly peep at the next guy’s artillery to see how much firepower he’s packing.
c) you’ve got insecurity issues
d) you’ve got one of those “when I grow up, I want to be a Prado!” stickers at the back of your Duet.
e) You probably drink one of those p**** a** beers like White Cap Light. Seriously, which man drinks White Cap Light?
If you’re a woman:
a) you’ve probably never had sex in any other position other than missionary
b) you’ve probably never had an orgasm either, or you think that the G-spot is a new up-market club somewhere on Museum Hill..
c) you’ve probably also got a low self esteem.
d) you’re probably needy, clingy and attention seeking and very insecure.
e) You record all the Mexican soaps on TV and follow them religiously, and this forms the bulk of the conversation at your weekly chama meetings with your female clique.
6. Traffic snarl-ups caused by the Presidential motorcade: Ok we know you’re the prezo, the country’s CEO and we respect that. But wouldn’t it be more convenient for all of us if State House purchased a helicopter for the orezo? Alafu I don’t know how many cars a cabinet minister is supposed to have in his/her motorcade, there’s this kubaff minister who lives somewhere along my route home who has sijui how many VW Passat chase cars which always have sirens blaring. I learnt (after being forced to give way a couple of times) that the best thing to do is to give way, then follow the last of the Passats as they force their way through traffic.
7. “Kirinyaga Road” spinners: Spinners on their own are so ghetto, I’d never put such on my car. But there are these “Kirinyaga Road spinners” where the wing-shaped tu spinner is of a smaller diameter than the rim it’s supposed to be spinning on. Usually found on cheap cars (like Toyota Duets) but there’s a muarabu fellow who’s got them on his black BMW X5!!! (the way he feels so hot in his “blinged out” X5? Ha! Shagzmodo!!) If you don’t believe me, dude hangs out at Mobil Westlands on most weekends. Go see for yourself.
8. Drivers who overtake on roundabouts: I’m sure you’ve experienced those hindiots who cruise through the third lane to avoid the traffic on the fourth lane, then they try to force their way straight into the inner most lane right at the roundabout. Very sityoopid. These days I don’t smile with them, doesn’t matter how much they plead or beg. We’ll go round the roundabout, where the keen eyed traffic cop will force the offender to go straight ahead instead of turning right at the roundabout.
9. People who drive on full beam: It’s only common sense that you shouldn’t mulika oncoming motorists by driving on full beam, especially at early evening hours. Notorious offenders include matatu drivers (you’re excused, we understand) and 4x4s. Others include drivers of Land Rover Freelanders, Discovery 3, Range Rovers and Range Rover Sport, Mercedes C, E, M and S Class. We know y’all have got neon lights, but that’s no excuse to drive on full beam permanently! I’ve decided that one day I’ll fit my car with landing lights for an Airbus A340. Woe unto you if you refuse to dim your lights, I’ll mulika you so hard that you’ll see Jesus coming back to earth driving a convertible Toyota Duet.
10. Bootleg modifications: It’s good to want to soup up your car, but there are some cars yaani even Pimp my ride can’t saidia. I’m sure you’ve seen those multi-coloured Japanese cars with humongous spoilers, sideskirts, spinners and boom twaf equipment that probably costs more than the car itself. Don’t force issues jameni! If your car isn’t suitable for a bodykit, don’t just ensconce one by force!! Plus cars are like women *****ducking stones***** the lesser the better. A lady doesn’t have to pile up everything on her make up table to look attractive, a bit of lip gloss here, some mascara there and you’re good to go, otherwise she’ll end up looking like a ho!!
11. Matatus: Love them or hate them, but they’re here to stay. We love them when we’re inside and the driver bends all the rules in the book so as to get us to our destinations on time, we love them for their colourful graffiti, but we hate them when we have to compete with them. I take issue with the ones that have turned themselves into porn arcades with all the lewdest lyrics and videos playing at the loudest volume possible. A few weeks ago, my aunt and I were in a mat which was booming the uncensored version of Akon’s “I wanna f*** you”. I requested the kange to chuck the track, only for him to put on the video for that song where that G-Unit fellow (50 Cent I think?) and Ciara are topless and both kamataing each other very seriously.
12. Potholes: I wonder how potholes in Nairobi can be allowed to grow into sufurias. Many are the times that I’ve had to take my car to the garage for broken driveshafts, fallen gearbox, bent rims, punctures, wheel balancing, wheel alignment etc.
13. Cab Drivers: these are some of the most shameless drivers in Nairobi. The most notorious of these are Jatco and those idiots who park outside Prudential Assurance building on Wabera Street. Cretinity does not even begin to describe them.
14. Confused drivers: particularly middle aged Asian women (and drivers of Toyota Duets) If you can’t drive like a Nairobian, stay home!
15. Being stuck behind a slow moving vehicle which you can’t overtake: Imagine being stuck behind a pick-up ferrying vegetables to heaven knows where, on a narrow road where you can’t overtake due to poor visibility eg Red Hill Road and Thigiri Ridge Road. And you’ll be forced to follow this vehicle for several kilometers until you get to a section of the road where you can overtake. Worse still is if it’s a garbage truck, it’s hot and your air-con isn’t working, so you have no option but to roll down the window.
16. Passengers who cannot give meaningful directions: My old lady and my bro are serial offenders when it comes to this (unfortunately, so are most women). Ati “you go down XX road, then you come up, then you go straight then you turn down…” There are only FOUR directions, and these are: straight on, left, right and back. It’d be much better if you know the names of the roads. What’s so hard about that?
17. People who drive on 40kph on any lane other than the first lane: I’m sure you’ve all experienced this, when there are two slow moving vehicles on both lanes of the road. Slow cars move to the left and leave space for those who want to drive faster!
As I said earlier, this list isn’t conclusive so feelanga free to add your own pet peeves to this list.
What I love about driving in Nairobi
1. There is always an alternative route to get to your destination: I tend to be very monotonous with the routes I use while driving. Sometimes I get surprised while in a friend’s car that certain panya routes exist!
2. Bullying other motorists: you really need to get into the lane and the car next to you is a Duet, surely, won’t you give into the temptation to nudge it off the road? Or while overtaking, you can see that there’s a car approaching (a Duet) go ahead and overtake, after all, what will he do? And who doesn’t have fun harassing learners in those ultra slow driving school cars? (No prizes for guessing which model I’m referring to) “WEE!!! CLUTCH!!! KIRAAAAAAAAACH!!!!”
3. Listening to radio: A few months ago, being stuck in traffic was actually enjoyable coz one could tune into Marcus and Chris on The Jam, but since Marcus left and was replaced by some mediocre fellow, The Jam has lost its lustre. Being stuck in traffic isn’t so bad while tuned into Chit Chat with Eve D’Souza and Solo/Alan from 7 to 8pm on weekdays, or Maina Kageni and Mwalimu King’ang’i on Classic 105. Kenyans have visangas I tell you.
PS: Be kind to Toyota Duet drivers on the roads today. If you own one, be proud coz you worked hard to buy yourself a car. Most Kenyans do not own a car. But please drive like a Nairobian, otherwise the rest of us can’t help but bully you.
Picture of the day
Does this qualify as getting off the BT?
What’s on my playlist?
To and Fro – Mattafix