The other day I got into a Kasarani-Mwiki’s nganya nicknamed Flip, I tiredly dropped onto one of the cushy beige seats. I don’t like seating by the window because of fear of being robbed at a helpless drug-point or losing my bag to thugs outside a matatu who stake their unsuspecting preys. Anyway, I sat down and took out They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, a gripping book I’m currently reading.
There was a huge screen on my right and four more hanging intermittently, playing music that I hadn’t listened to for years. That is the thing with nganyas. They either take you back to the good old days or new skool tunes that you haven’t heard of yet.
For instance, I never knew there was a song dedicated to Ongata Rongai javs until it played in one I was in. The song is called Mat za Ronga. It was later on picked up by radio deejays and has frequently been on music charts and even played in clubs and festivals.
There are songs you may not particularly go looking for, but you will hear them play in a matatu. Flip was playing a mix of old skool Kenyan hits such as Dandora L.O.V.E by Zakah Na Kah, Tuendelee by Kleptomaniax and some more by the irresistible Ukoo Flani.
I mean, there was a bunch of amazing songs followed by American hip-hop oldies. It wasn’t even a Thursday or Friday, but the throwback jams were killing it. At times I would stop reading just to listen to some songs that I last heard of when I was a 12-year-old.
The booming speakers, hanging from the sides of the glistening mustard ceiling with decorative impressions resembling halved jars, were, however, not friendly to the eardrums. They never are. What I usually do in this case is put on my headphones to block out the sound burst.
Matatus are not just a great source of music playlists, but also help in the promotion of local and international artistes. With all the chaos this industry comes with, we can’t deny the fact that it also does a lot of good that it should be applauded for.