I've never had much in the way of hot cars. This was just about the most sporty I've ever gotten. Note the right hand drive - Kenya follows British practice.
This car was in the shop as much as out of it, it seemed. We had a round of experiences with all manner of 'shade tree' mechanics. Note the broken trunk lid. One time the hood came undone and flew up on the windshield at speed.
(Click on the photos - some have larger images. All photos and commentary apply to 1984-86 time period.)
A feature of rural life is the one-day-a-week market town. Some are ghost towns until market day arrives, others are part of a village. Merchants lay out their wares on the ground, from trees, on a box. All sorts of goods get put out - clothes, utensils, tools, plastic wear, metal tubs - it goes on and on.
Rural market towns often contain a mill for processing the grain. Here, in western Kenya, a group of women wait their turn and catch up with each other.
Many rural people lived in these earth huts. The first improvement was to replace the thatch roof with a corrugated metal one. Solves the leak problem, but man are they loud in a rainstorm.
People who lived in this way were not ignorant of the existence of the modern world. They often had a relative who worked in Nairobi, for example. They typically had access to a radio. They knew about airplanes, the United States, cars, and so on.
The matatu was a common way for ordinary people to get about. Typically way overcrowded - once one of these went head on into a semi and 37 people were killed, or so the story went.
The US embassy prohibited peace core workers from riding in them - but it was the only way for some workers to get to their sites.
Kenya had a comprehensive network of buses. Here in Western Kenya, one has come in and the "tout" (standing at the front side, is urging people to take his bus. Luggage is tossed on top.
That's what I think of when I saw this. The guy on the left is likely the 'tout' for this matatu, the one in the middle a passenger. The photo was taken at 40-50 mph.
Yes, of course it is dangerous. But, living in a world where everything is governed by regulations and the fear of lawyers, it was sometimes nice to appreciate the more open way of life in Kenya.
So I see a daredevil attitude, an attempt to do a basic job with some style, not recklessness. And yes, people would fall off, from time to time.
|Last modified 9/30/16; posted 10/15/07; original material © 2016, 2007 John P. Nordin|