This was inspired by an aritcle I stumbled upon randomly, when I googled “I love milk” and and an essay about a girl who absolutely loves milk availed itself at the top spot of my search. Like the essayist, I have a serious love affair with milk if not, a yet to be diagnosed addiction. I have it with all my meals. It is my water, my daily sustenance-if you will. Now, you are probably wondering about my google search and how it came to be.
Well, I was thoroughly enjoying my evening glass of milk when it dawned on me I needed to find out and possibly ‘connect‘ with others who are passionate about this liquid and the consumption of it. Mind you, this essay was responsible in securing her entrance into her first college of choice. So, I thought to myself, if she found enough words to shower praise on a liquid that the children of Israel were sure to find in the promised land of Canaan, together with honey flowing in copious amounts, and most importantly, managed to hold my interest from beginning to end; surely, I too could churn out a somewhat respectable essay that pays homage to the beautiful chaos in Nairobi and Lagos.
Let me tell ya”ll something,I thrive in chaos, and so do you. Huh? What is that you say, me? No! Unlike the milk essayist, I don’t love chaos. If anything I try to avoid it like the plague. But, it just so happens that my existence thrives in it, and so does yours. Whether you agree or not, I’m not here to argue the fact. Just paying my due respect to chaos, and will well be on my way. Bear with me.
Lagos is the New York City of Africa, an empire state of
mind hustlers where dreams are made and/or shattered into a million irretrievable pieces. See, I was looking at a picture online of a man drawing a cart in Lagos, better known as a mkokoteni in Nairobi when I saw nothing short of a man immersed in total beautiful chaos. If you know anything about mkokoteni traders, is that they operate in one of the most thankless trades ever known to man under very harsh conditions. This man had a hard looking face, that mirrored the texture of fufu-rough. Deep crater like crevices lined his face conveying the harshness of his trade. With a piercing look of determination, he was pictured pushing what seems like a million and one boxes of maggi, onga, Indomie noodles, and palm oil to their final destination. All this is done oblivious to his surroundings made up of potholed roads covered in parts litter, part sewer. Hidden from the obvious gaze of his Lasigidi grinding, was a man whose sole will was to survive and provide for his family.
Furthermore, I saw the beauty and power of our Lord Jesus Christ vested in those chaos. How so? Amidst an evironment that would make for yet another zillionth damning report about the dilapitated state of economics in Nigeria, and Africa at large from the Western ‘ogas’, the still picture captured a man whose body was the product of his chaotic environment. His frame was well cut, like a tailored suit with bulging biceps that were ablaze and ready to fire in the sweltering heat of the African sun. I can assure you, you’d never find that highlighted in these reports shoved in our faces to take accountability for the economic dysfunction-as if, they have nothing to do with it, but I digress.
Similarly, if you know anything about Nairobi, aka Nairobbery is that it has slowly emerged to become a very, if not the cosmopolitan city. I came to this conclusion, not based on the number of growing
expatriates and returnees with Amerrucah ‘ya know warr I’m saying Weezy, please say the baby’ adopted accents [even those that studied in Punjabi University], but the beautiful chaos that exists in Kenya’s infamous matatu industry.
For those not in the know, matatu’s are privately owned minivans used as major modes of transportation across the continent. In Nigeria, they are known as danfo’s, dala dala in Tanzania and trotro in Ghana. Simply put, they are the pulse of Nairobi’s transportation system. Without them, business in good old Nairoberry would be seriously crippled, as majority of the residents rely on them to conduct daily business. Driving in Nairobi can be an everlasting nightmare. Typically, congestion is at epic proportions during rush hours (mornings and evenings) as cars are up close and candid i.e. bumper to bumper. In my experience, matatu operators develop a mind of their own that does not have any semblance to human normality. It is not uncommon to see a matatu driver, in the middle of a two lane road, trying to switch lanes without giving care to his [industry is dominated by men] passengers nor other drivers. What’s more, if you do not give in to their road rage demands, some are quick to engage in spewing insults that will have you calling their mother something else other than mama in a hot minute.
Since the institution of the Michuki laws, which of course have since frayed at the seams because this is Africa, Shakira waka waka style, the chaotic matatu industry is still very efficient-at least speedwise. Lunch hours which are usually not busy, will shorten a trip from town to Westlands which typically takes 15 minutes to 5 short minutes. In those precious five minutes, I’ve been able to prophesy that death no be ma portion, in Jesus name, Amen, as I put on breaks that don’t exist into action and hold onto the dashboard while asking the driver about his mental health status. Although it is no longer mandatory that matatu crew wear uniform and hang their pictures for identification purposes, bus stop routes are still very much enforced. Another thing worth celebrating is, passengers are no longer packed like a herd of goats. Each person enjoys the comfort of seating in their own seat, without having to smell the body ordor of a fellow passenger-who probably has had a very fruitfoul day.
All in all, these beautiful chaos although frustrating at times, have been a mixed blessing! How does that song go, count your blessings name them one by one.