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Published:January 19th, 2009 10:51 EST
My Matatu Rant against a Misogynist Driver

My Matatu Rant against a Misogynist Driver

By Juliet Maruru

I am writing this after a day full of people throwing comments about the lack of rationale in women`s thinking.  I`m kinda angry.

This morning I was in a matatu, a bus or minivan used in Kenya as public transport (yeah, again). The driver was the impatient types who do not care much about the human lives he carries every day. There was a traffic jam, about 6 miles long, moving at a crawl, just barely moving on a two way, one lane road. When the matatu driver could not handle the waiting anymore, he roared into the lane meant for cars traveling in the opposite way. I`m used to seeing this every day, and as I still haven`t bought my own car, and the traffic police are only interested when they want to be I usually just close my eyes tight and hope I`ll get where I am going.

Today, I opened my eyes just in time to see a driver at the head of the oncoming traffic brake to a halt, just in time to allow the matatu driver to swerve almost clear into the bush. In the process, he grazed the other vehicles front fender and badly scratched his own car. When he managed to right the matatu, he got out swearing at the other driver, at which point he noticed that she was a woman. The light skinned lady watched in perplexed surprise as the matatu driver heaped abuse on her for being a woman driver and not having the capacity to reason that he was in a hurry therefore make room for him to violate traffic rules. What could she have done to avoid his maniacal driving?

I was not very heroic today, so I did not say a word. But another lady spoke up; pointing out that the matatu driver was at fault. A man countered her, echoing the words of the matatu driver. The matatu conductor however stepped in defense of women, and for that was left behind when the matatu driver jumped back into his matatu and drove off, with whoever had stayed inside, or whoever managed to jump back in.

The matatu did a few more dangerous turn, and skids, convincing me that I have to buy my own car, or give in and marry a guy who owns a car, and drives safely. Well, that still is not a failsafe plan. So back to the matatu driver.

As we turned the corner from Uhuru Highway into Haile Selassie Avenue, a young pregnant lady stood up. Don`t forget, we did not have a conductor, so the lady had to holler and someone else had to echo her call for the driver to stop at the Agip Bus stop. The matatu driver just drove on, and when the women pleaded with him to let them off, he cursed at them, asking why they did not tell him earlier on. Dumbfounded everyone in the matatu watched as he sped off all the way to the Railways Bus Terminal.

I had given up on all the men in the world. They were redeemed by a young man who promptly took the matatu`s registration number, and walked straight to a Police man and reported the driver. I have continually had my faith in the Police System built up then steadily eroded. Today, I just watched with satisfaction when the matatu driver was arrested, at least taken into custody for a while. He just happened to have another misdemeanor on his sleeve. Not his best day.

I left the scene, heading to the office, hoping that at least there I would find more civilized minds. And there I was over lunch break, listening to a conversation about the weird thinking processes in women.

All men are incapable of fidelity. All women are irrational. Can we really function on those extreme conclusions?

Men and women are different from each other. They think differently, act differently, and react differently. Some men are incapable of keeping promises, acting with integrity, and showing respect. Some women react with lack of ration, allow themselves to be carried away by emotion and allow their judgment to be impaired. That could be said of either gender.

Yet, there are men and women who display extraordinary integrity, who show respect, who take care of their families. There are men and women, who may be, human as they are, prone to emotion and sensitivity, but who carry out their responsibilities with level headed ration, intelligence and balanced judgment.

They are all human, so they are likely to fail once in a while, to veer away from the `accepted` but in the end, it is not a matter of women over men, or men over women. It is a matter of individual character, individual strengths and weaknesses. No man and no woman should be held accountable for the failings of his or her collective gender.

© Juliet Maruru 2009