In Summary
  • One of the passengers was a young, light-skinned woman carrying a baby, aged three months or so, and it appeared they were heading to or coming from a hospital.
  • About four times, the woman told the conductor to head to the matatu cabin to ask the driver to reduce the volume of the music.
  • He would do so, or at least he would pretend to, but the volume never seemed to reduce by any noticeable margin.

Dear Jijee,

What a sad thing it is to have a baby without your own car!

Months before you were born, I was in this Nairobi matatu plying the Ngong Road route. Its speakers were blaring so loud I was sure anything living in the mass of gas called Pluto was hearing every word of it.

One of the passengers was a young woman carrying a baby, aged three months or so, and it appeared they were heading to or coming from a hospital.

About four times, the woman told the conductor to head to the matatu cabin to ask the driver to reduce the volume of the music. He would do so, or at least he would pretend to, but the volume never seemed to reduce by any noticeable margin.

Dancehall music was playing full blast, and this helpless woman with a poor, suffering child had to contend with the torture.

The volume was loud enough to irritate anyone who had some use for their ears after the trip. I alighted before the volume had been brought down and I often wonder how the “booming” business went.

Ukitaka starehe, nunua gari lako.” I saw that message pasted on another matatu plying Nairobi’s Route 58 a few hours before I sat down to write this.

And I was holding you inside that vehicle. Yes, they want us to buy our own vehicles if we want to ensure our children’s eardrums finish trips in one piece.

Thankfully, the music in the matatu that had the notice was at a reasonable volume. So the notice sounded more like a joke than a blunt statement but the jury is out whether it can be music to any passenger’s ears.

There are days when your mum and I fear for your eardrums. You are at your 10th month as I write this and I am sure the development of your ears is still inchoate. That is a cause for alarm because most Kenyan matatus fancy loud music. They believe it is a selling point.

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