How to Tame Kenya’s Rogue Matatus

If you are in Kenya and want something to rant about online, our beloved matatus will never disappoint you. The industry is fresh fodder for daily frustration, both to those who use them and those who are privileged enough to drive themselves around.


The government seems to have given up on “enforcing” the various laws and regulations about loud music and overloading (on some routes). The mostly ceremonial Saccos are letting conductors have a field day with fare prices. What can the “ordinary” Kenyan do? Beyond lobbying the government and agencies to “do its job”, is there really much else we can do?

As a journalist, I wrote a fair share of stories about the woes of Kenyans on matatu-ridden streets and highways. A quick search on Google reveals that it is not for the lack of highlighting the plight of Kenyans who have to deal with matatus daily.


This post is a work in progress, a pathetic attempt (if you insist) at encouraging us to “do something” about the menace. If you claim to be a responsible citizen, or even just a responsible human being, you would agree that throwing up your hands is not an option. The following are some of the ways I am going to “do something” about it:

1. Silence is not an option

I will speak up and out against loud music, Orbit (PK?) seating and arbitrary pricing. I expect to be mostly be ignored, insulted or even asked to take the next bus. But may it never be said that it was for my lack of voice.

2. Contact relevant authorities

I will pen that letter, type that email and make that call to NTSA, NEMA, Matatu Owners Association and whoever else is supposed to be an authority on these matters. I will air my grievances and call them to account. I do not trust the traffic police, so I don’t see myself having much use for them. However, when I am in a good mood, I might occasionally also ask the police to shape up.

3. Sacrifice convenience for justice

As far as it depends on me, I will wait for that matatu that observes the law, the one with turned down music and with the same number of passengers as the number of  seats. I will get up early, plan my daily schedule so that I won’t have to contribute to breaking the law out of “convenience”.

4. Look at the bigger picture

No one may notice me waiting for that rare quiet matatu. The conductors may never care nor feel any loss if I decide to step out rather than squeeze in. But this is not why I am choosing to be a better citizen. My goal is beyond changing the behavior of a single matatu conductor, bus driver or even Kenya’s transport industry. I am living for an entirely different Kingdom, a bigger and more lasting Kingdom than the nation of Kenya. Every step in the right direction is a step for rather than against that Kingdom.

My ultimate reward is not a comfortable ride or a shamed matatu conductor. I am not doing these things so that I can boast about the changes “I helped bring”. I don’t mind failing in the here and now. Ultimately, I am doing this for God’s kingdom, which includes this world, but is thankfully not limited to this world.

Would you care to join me? Come on board and let us go fight a losing battle; because the victory in the war (which is already guaranteed). You see, in God’s “economy”, what we need to tame a world that has gone rogue is to live lives that don’t follow suit. Do the little you know to do. Take the time to learn better and more effective ways to achieve the change you yearn for.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8



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