Matatus, Music & Relationships

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Matatus, Music & Relationships

February 10, 2020 Uncategorized 0

On Relationships… #Beware

Our matatus here in Kenya are quite something. Somehow, they believe that loud music is absolutely palatable and welcome, and guess what, by people who are going home after a long day’s work. After having an extremely tiring day, somehow the passengers are expected to bob their heads to the loud, blaring music in these, our Kenyan matatus. Okay, well, maybe not bob, but listen to it and say nothing unless it’s a request for the volume to be increased.

Many times I have observed older passenger requesting the conductors and drivers to lower the volume as they enter the vehicle. The touts around the vehicle sometimes dutifully do so, because, anyway, they need the matatu to fill up and get moving.

But no sooner does the matatu begin moving than the volume is increased, to such high levels that sign language becomes the medium of communication when collecting the fare, and the tout develops partial blindness. He can’t see the older people flailing their hands or covering their ears or asking in all the way they can for the volume to be reduced. Such a torture-some journey it must be!

But you know what, really, as they boarded the matatu, they’d already seen the true colors of the matatu – how it was using the music to attract customers, the rogue behavior of the touts and driver, perhaps even the graffiti on the matatu – but they ignored that anyway, and asked for the volume to be reduced, boarded, and expected their singular request to cancel out all other attributes of the matatu. Only for the volume to get louder, the songs more vulgar, and the vulgar images even more vivid now that the matatu is already dark-tinted.

It’s the same thing with relationships, only many degrees higher, and with infinitely greater consequences than a headache and irritation for several kilometers. It’s a journey of life, with life-long consequences. That potential partner may stop lying for a while, dress decently for a while, quit cussing for a while, oh hell yes, even go to church for some time!


Then you settle down and the real vampire shows up. That little white lie disguised as forgetting becomes cemented as part of your life. Those quirky comments about your physical appearance turn into verbal and emotional abuse and sometimes downright physical abuse. All because your emotions didn’t let you see beyond their marketing gimmicks, lowering the volume for you before the real journey began.

Young ones, ladies and gentlemen, as my Mum-in-love says, “It is me who’s told you.” (Ni nii ndera we!)

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