Yes I wilt! When even the palm trees are withering, you can imagine what the sun is doing to us! Contrary to the opinion I had before arriving, everybody and everything works hard for a living here, whether it is a two-year-old starting school or a matatu taxi. I experienced my first matatu ride on Sunday the 13th (“black Sunday”!) For the uninitiated, these are Toyota Hiace vans with a driver and two passenger seats up front. Entry is via the sliding side door, there are four rows of three seats inside, very cosy. So, 14 passengers in all plus a conductor, although on Amy’s last trip she had a competition with her friend for the most crowded matatu ride. Amy smugly reported her entry of 32 passengers but was trumped by her friend with 36! In a Toyota Hiace! The truth needs no exaggeration in Kenya.
Now I bet you know some Swahili without realising. “Hakuna matata” (copyright Disney’s Lion King) hakuna = none; matata = worries. This must be where the name comes from, matatu – worry on wheels!
With so many people living in close proximity, one obvious problem is litter. There is no council refuse truck to clear streets so the locals sweep their own patch maybe twice every day and simply set fire to the pile, so the air is thick with the smell of burning, especially plastic. Just remind me of the smell the next time I complain about my council tax.
In spite of the circumstances the vast majority are very cheerful and completely honest. Once in a while you meet an exceptional individual like Madam Susan. She runs Victory Academy a daycare centre at her home for kindergarten aged kids. In theory parents pay and those that can do pay, but many can’t. Madam Susan draws no distinction, they are all loved, fed and taken care of. The parents are all doing their best to support her, as is Milele, thanks to your efforts.
Next time… ‘baby-faced robber’ and goats in the high street… no ‘kidding’!