In Summary
  • It is the headstone at the grave of all the errands I could have helped with, the trips we could have taken and all the nights I could have been the designated driver.
  • About 70 per cent of driving as a skill is hinged on confidence.

Driving is treated as a rite of passage into adulthood in many countries.

It is a skill that makes mobility easier, but in Kenya, owning a car, or “driving”, as we call it, is prestigious, assigning you a level of social standing that sets you apart from the plebeians and their unfortunate predisposition to our public transport system.

Rainy days and matatu strikes and the banning of boda bodas in the city centre will no longer be your problem as long as you can muster the courage to drive on our roads, that is, especially in the centre of Nairobi.

Like many young Kenyans, I attended driving school right after high school to while away the time it takes between writing your last exam paper and joining college.

I “passed” the test and got a driver’s licence, but it has been gathering dust in my drawer since, a document that has become the punchline of the many arguments I have had with my family and friends, who cannot understand why I sacrificed my ticket into comfort and usefulness.

It is the headstone at the grave of all the errands I could have helped with, the trips we could have taken and all the nights I could have been the designated driver.

About 70 per cent of driving as a skill is hinged on confidence. As a first-time driver, five years ago, I quickly realised that a lot about how people drive, especially in Nairobi, is particularly discouraging.

Fresh out of driving school, I noticed that the rules I had learnt, which were supposed to make my driving experience easy, and dare I say, enjoyable, were not followed by a majority of drivers.

Most, for instance, would make abrupt turns without prior indication, which I feared could turn deadly.

Strictly keeping to the right lane at a roundabout, a rule I mastered because the assessor at my driving test yelled at me until I had no option but to do so, is another common rule that many Kenyan drivers break.

However, especially if transport is only a matter of getting from point A to B at least five times a week, is slotting in a few hours of my day to deal with such drivers really worth my time? Must I constantly remind myself that I am the better driver?

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