My papers arrived last week and now I am a resident alien. I did not see the need of sleeping on my ears, as my people say, and therefore wasted no time but immediately embarked on tarmacking. Well, call it bus-ing since I am mostly using the city bus to look for a job. Now the art of riding on the bus here is a story for another day.
All I can say for now is that you can tell the time by the city bus; it is so predictable and never fails, like the old Kenya Bus Service (KBS) that plied the city of Nairobi when it was the city in the sun. Now all that is history with the entrance of the matatu followed by the Probox and now the ubiquitous motorcycle taxis. Very soon, if it has not happened already, driving in the city of Nairobi will compare well with Bangalore, India.
The few times I have ridden on the city bus, I have not failed to notice that the windows are quite wide and low, making me wonder whether they were intentionally designed to make whoever is riding on them suffer the embarrassment of being stared at by those driving cars the size of a house. As most drivers zoom by the bus, they peek inside to see who is riding on it. I can swear that they are left to wonder who in Maili Nne, USA cannot afford their own four wheels. Very soon I will find myself at least a â€™94 Camry and bid bye to the city bus. But first thing first.
I was about to tell you that it was during one of the rides that a senior citizen sat next to me. After talking to my friend, Miheso, on the phone, the elderly man engaged me in a conversation about this and that, which does not happen often here.
â€œI tried hard not to eavesdrop on your conversation,â€ he said, â€œbut I have never heard that language my entire life.â€
â€œThat was Swahili, an African Language,â€ I told him.
â€œOh, it sounded so melodious. Where in Africa is it spoken?â€ He asked.
â€œEast Africa and some parts of central Africa,â€ I answered.
â€œI have always wanted to visit Africa, but all the news about the wars kept me off,â€ he said.
As a student of History up to Form 2 Longonot, I know that the continent of Africa has been bedeviled by wars; from Biafra to Eritrea, Sudan to The Congo; Mozambique to Somalia. And we are still counting.
So there I was, seated next to a senior citizen in a city bus, and I was expected to play the role of public relations for the whole continent of Africa. The load weighed heavily on my jobless shoulders.
â€œI also heard terrible things about America before I came,â€ I said after a moment of thought. â€œMurders in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities. Drug abuse and rowdy students in public schools. It scared the hell out of me before I came. But now I know that if I stay away from the trouble spots, trouble might not find me. It is the same case with Africa.â€ I ended my preaching.
â€œI will think about what you said,â€ he said.
I would have wanted to engage the senior citizen a bit more, but I arrived at my destination. I hoped that I had changed one personâ€™s view of Africa. Off I went to be interviewed as a parking lot attendant. I will share in these pages the outcome of the interview.
By Mkenya Mgeni
Previous Mkenya Mgenis Blogs:
- Mkenya Mgeni: By Coming to America, I am not Rich, Yet
- Mkenya Mgenis First Day Out in America
- In His Second Week in America, MKenya Mgenis NaivetÃ© Exposed Daily
- Coming to America: Mkenya Mgenis Experience of First Week in America
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