Wild Matatus: Nairobi, Here I Come! Part 11

by | May 12, 2014 | Faith, Fear, Nairobi, Here I Come!, Trials

Life would not be exciting without local transportation, especially when you are in Kenya. They call their local buses “matatus”. This word comes from the Kisuaheli “ma tatu” which means “for 3”. Apparently, in colonial times anyone could travel on any road for 3 Kenyan cents.

Naturally with gas prices on the rise, matatus now charge more as well, and for 30 Kenyan shillings (about 50 U.S. cents) they will drive you anywhere on a twenty mile stretch of road. Really not bad for the price!

What is convenient about a matatu is that it will stop for anyone who waves, and it will drop anyone off anywhere that they want, literally, as long as it is on the route. It used to be that matatus would pack these 14-seaters with double that amount of people. For some reason, however, too many people died from accidents, and since early 2004, only one person per seat is allowed. Interestingly, the death rate has drastically dropped…

Riding on a matatu is literally an experience on its own, sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves roller coaster rides! In fact, they are even more filled with impromptu wild surprises than what you find at your local amusement park! The first thing you will notice when you enter a matatu, even though it may be brightly decorated, are the numerous dents and scratches on the body and in the paint. You immediately know that the driver lives by adventure. He will drive faster than you are comfortable with (usually 160 kms an hour on pot holed and/or murram paved roads), he will swerve at the blink of an eye, and he will stop with neck wrenching accuracy! Moreover, if you ride in one after 10:00 P.M., be aware of the numerous carjacking!

On one of their trips in a matatu, our mission team noticed that the odometer read 980,000 kilometres. “They sure must be good mechanics around here!” One of them decided out loud. However on the way to their destination, the matato mysteriously overheated… Could it have had something to do with the wild driving?

They were stuck in the middle of nowhere and it was pitch-black outside the van. They resorted immediately to the best course of action: prayer! Fifteen minutes later another matatu came to their rescue, one with a somewhat more acceptable odometer reading! The good news is, they did finally reach their destination.

A thrill ride? You bet.

Of course there are those of us who shake our heads and roll our eyes and wonder if it is really worth it to step into one of “those”! But then we have to ask ourselves: Is it better to proceed by faith or to be conquered by fear?

In life we are constantly facing this same type of dilemma. We can live by fear or we can live by faith. The first one will fill us with dread, the second one with inner peace. What will be your choice?

“We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7-8 NIV)

“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14 NIV)

Let’s go to Nairobi and have the ride of our lives! You bet! This is real adrenaline-filled living!

But so is living with God as our pilot! Never a boring moment!

Rob Chaffart

(To view the entire “Nairobi, Here I Come!” devotional series, please click here.)


Wild Matatus: Nairobi, Here I Come! Part 11