In my beloved country Kenya getting a driving license is only half the job. Obeying the silent rules of the road is the key to surviving the Kenyan road. Every day is like the fast and furious comes to town. To some extent it’s actually really amazing to witness the kind of mad skills the common ‘mwananchi’ has on the road. They say u don’t value life if u haven’t had a matatu experience. It’s an ultimate thrill ride maybe a little too much for the few who think they are better than us; from unruly touts na ‘majibu zao’ to dare devil drivers with nothing to lose. And how can I forget the passengers with an attitude. Driving in kenya is basically a way of living and you probably need to master and hold a few things to heart, and only once you have perfected this simple yet tactful rules will you crown yourself ‘king of the road’.
- Perfect the art of the swerve; Picture it is 6 am in the morning, there is traffic for miles and you have to get to work in 45 minutes. No Kenyan will board just any ordinary matatu cause their ass is on the clock and even the personal vehicle owner knows that to swerve is the only way forward. Going from lane to lane taking advantage of every space and mistakes of your fellow driver.
- Every overtaking attempt is liable to be considered a race; have u ever tried to overtake someone and just when your close they hit the gas on you and all of a sudden no one is backing down and in some very normal circumstances if you’re lucky enough you get to play chicken when there is an oncoming vehicle on your lane. Either you go on and see what happens if you actually make it to the other side or you hit the brakes and live to fight another day but hey you might be late for work so step on it.
- Let the horn work for you but just in case arm yourself with verbal diarrhea. You can hoot as much as you like and to some extent no one really cares but do it enough and you get on someone’s nerves and for some reason if they don’t move then they will throw some insults your way. Even the police get hooted at. Simply if someone is on the wrong hoot on them and if they talk shit then talk shit right back and if they happen to be bigger than you then speed away. There is more to life than broken jaws and black eyes.
- Your needs almost always come first; There is no time to wait for a car coming from a service lane to join the highway yet ur going at roughly 90km/hr. There are probably only four kinds of vehicles the Kenyan driver are forced to respect: government cars, police cars, ambulances and the fire trucks otherwise even a hearse gonna need to learn some patience and stubbornness. You must adopt an I don’t care attitude or you will always be bullied on the road by someone who is probably only going to the supermarket 10 min away while you’re struggling with you’re pregnant wife at the back. So yeah, be a bully its allowed.
- The art of the lotus flower dragon is mandatory. Calm your horses it is not an ancient Japanese karate move. It’s the art of the inch miss. As much as there are a lot of accidents it is still fair to say that they would be even triple the amount if it were not for the subtle move of the inch miss. When u hit your brakes an inch from a crush or to swerve an inch from the taillight of the vehicle ahead. It’s a very crucial skill that comes in handy more often than not especially in traffic jams where everyone wants to get past you so you have to be on high alert whenever the car ahead of you moves a centimeter.
- 50km/hr is the unsung speed limit on all public roads. No one has the time to wait behind you as you cruise on the road. No one is willing to wait for you to hold up the view of the road when no one is technically in front of you on the road. I mean if u want to hog up the road then please travel either at my speed or faster than I. But I secretly like to think ur speed is ur pride, to hell with anyone else. Well you’re going to an appointment; I have an urgent phone call. That’s life get on with it.
- Multitasking; this is quite self explanatory.
- You must be a sharp sensed sentinel. Everything must be on you radar for every little detail matters and a lot of calculation goes on in your mind when ur driving on the Kenyan road. Calculating the trajectory of your next swerve or how fast your next overtake will be are very crucial part in surviving.
- Ignorance is a gift, embrace it; You can probably get out of an almost mistake with the ‘I didn’t know’ response or in more familiar terms ‘sikujua’ .
- Take risks to break the law but always be prepared to handle the Kenya police. ‘kitu kidogo’ could take u as far as u wish to go.
With these life hacks you will be fine.