Sunday, 30 July 2017




Less than five years ago, on a date, month and year which I cannot remember very well, I was inside the North Coach, seated comfortably, with a considerable level of arrogance and a sense of entitlement. After all, I had parted with Ksh 800/= for that ride. What was that? Are you rolling your eyes? huh? I was heading to Eldoret from Nairobi. On the screen inside the bus, the driver had decided to play us a re-run of Churchill show and everyone was fairly happy, because they were laughing happily. It is possible that they were laughing, not because the jokes were hilarious, but because they were well fed, after all we had just made a brief stop in Nakuru, where we took overpriced but delicious meals at Nakubreeze restaurant. Get me right, I am not trying to belittle any comedian here, but I believe we are all in agreement that it is very difficult to make a Kenyan laugh, so we cannot just assume they were laughing as a result of the jokes. A kenyan can only laugh when they are well fed and they are not broke, period.

Now, come closer guys, come closer and listen very carefully. Somewhere, not far from Sachang'wan (the famous road accident black spot), we came across an accident involving six vehicles. Apparently, a 22 wheeled truck ferrying maize towards Nakuru, had developed a problem with the braking system and lost control, hence ramming into oncoming vehicles on the opposite lane. It would have been better for the lorry to hit, vehicles of similar size and make, but no, it rammed into smaller and weaker passenger vehicles and hence there was no way the incident could come to a happy conclusion.

Our bus stopped shortly and that is when curiosity kicked in. Half of the population in the bus alighted and each of them wanted to see the accident scene for themselves, with their own naked eyes, as if seeing it from the bus window was not real enough. As expected, the impact of the accident was great, because it had claimed the lives of more than eight people and many more were injured.

Some professional eye witnesses were already at the scene, speaking to journalists from various media outlets. They were narrating the story, point by point, ending with their own opinions on what might have gone wrong. Some said the truck driver was drunk, others said the vehicle was faulty. I think I even overheard someone blaming the force of gravity for the accident or may be that was a product of my imagination.

Our impatient driver kept hooting, trying to remind us that it was time to leave. It seems drivers do not want to be reminded of what could possibly go wrong on our unpredictable roads.

Once all of us had trooped back into the bus, we encountered a number of changes. First of all, there was some uneasy calm as the previously noisy passengers went mute, with a few, murmuring softly about how short life is, while shaking their heads.

The driver immediately switched off the T.V and started playing the old school gospel songs such as 'Kila mtu atauchukua mzigo wake.' - Everyone will bear his/her burden and 'Bwana nipe uvumilivu' by Rose Muhando. Those songs that seem to draw you closer to God. The kind of solemn songs which I sometimes like to imagine the 24 old men surrounding the throne in heaven, usually sing.

A middle aged man called Kangethe, who had made it known to us at the top of his lungs that he was a rich man, went mute. In fact he switched off his phone and proceeded to wipe his face several times, to get rid of the sweat. He was no longer interested  in making loud phone calls and discussing lucrative business deals, at the top of his voice. I mean, this is the same guy who a few minutes ago had been calling a number of people and introducing himself loudly, for all and sundry to hear, as Kangethe. I had started to imagine him as one of those guys who own a number of businesses under the roof of a single tiny structure. You are getting the script right? I am thinking of something like Kangethe wa Kangethe enterprises, deals with: Motorcycle spare parts, car tyres, 'Thufu' (Soup) and Mutura, Stationery, shoe repair, photocopy, printing, photography, key cutting, coffins, guidance and counselling, artificial teeth, fresh vegetables and fruits, sugar, mobile phone repair, shoes, farm implements and electrical repair and installations - ALL UNDER ONE ROOF!

Some drunk fellow in the next row, also seemed to have sobered up, thanks to traumatizing images from the accident scene. He had all along been our only 'public noise maker' in the bus. He had severally pestered  the passenger next to him, trying to force stories down his throat about his daughter in Nairobi called Brenda, until that passenger threatened to beat him up. He momentarily recoiled, but shortly thereafter re - emerged, loudly singing praise and worship songs off key, to everyone's annoyance. I still do not understand why some fellows get drunk while travelling. I mean, do we really need alcohol induced confidence in order to travel these days? Is travelling that scary? huh?

I know you are wondering how I was doing myself. Was I shaken by the accident, especially bearing in mind that we would possibly have been victims, had we arrived at the scene 10 minutes earlier? The answer is yes. In fact I was so shaken that I forgot the name of the lady seated next to me, even though we had introduced ourselves earlier. I could not recall whether her name was Celina or Mary. I do not even know whether it was any of the above names. Thankfully, she also went mute for the rest of the journey, otherwise I would have had to call her 'Wee' or 'Nanii' if we were to converse about anything.

The prayer warriors in the bus were not left behind. There is a woman for example, who was seated behind me, praying silently in Kikuyu language, while hurriedly mumbling 'Ngai Fafa' and 'Ngai witu' in between her statements. Most of the other passengers remained mute but very much alert for the entire journey. It was as if their alertness would help the driver drive softly.

I learnt something about we the human beings that day, that we are very afraid of death although we sometimes like to think we are brave and immortal. This fear of death is always more pronounced, whenever we witness those of our kind dying or we encounter those who are dead. I hope this fear of death  remains, even as we go for our elections on 8/8/2017. Let this fear remind us that no one is immortal, hence we should not be the ones contributing to the deaths of other people, just because we have some ideological differences. It is good to acknowledge that this world is nobody's home and hence we should let everyone live to their fullest potential, before they proceed to the next world, other than forcing them to proceed prematurely. Vote wisely and keep the peace!


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