We like our taxi drivers skilled, we like our taxi drivers experienced. When we are late for work, we like them cunning; aware of the shortest route. When we are on our way home late at night, we like them honest and law abiding. In short we like our taxi drivers like Gayaza Moses.
Nairobi’s large population and crazy traffic might be some people’s reason to move out but it s the reason Gayaza chose to stay. It’s the reason he moved from Kampala to Nairobi, a bigger city, bigger challenges , bigger expectations. Nairobi awed him by its fast life and versatility. If he would make it Nairobi, he would surely have made it.
As the nation came to birth under new leadership in 2003, Gayaza crossed the border in his taxi. He crossed the border hoping that the next time he would cross it in a plane which he later did.
Gayaza came, saw, hustled his way in and settled. He blended in fast. With time his taxi business caught up. Time made him an expert of the city. He’s been to the slums and leafiest of suburbs. The years have seen him move from his old rusty taxi to a better one. He worked long days and long nights to earn it. The years have seen him develop the arrogance and cunning habits of a Nairobi driver. His courtesy is still intact though.
The backseat of his cab has seen both the good and ugly habits of Nairobi. The cab’s backseat has seen its occupants pray on the way to hospital or a job interview. The backseat has hosted drunk couples engaging in baby making activities on the way home. The cabs back-left seat has been occupied by the famous and celebrated as well as low-lifes with an inflated value of themselves.
His cab has almost sent him home to his maker twice, once during an accident and later during a carjacking ordeal. Hair raising experiences. It is the carjacking incident that shook him most. Never in his 38 or so years had he had a gun pointed at him. Never in his life has he prayed like he did that night. Never in his life has he promised God so many things as he did on that night. Its the night that he learned that the whip under his seat was more of a decoration than a weapon. His taxi was found abandoned two later in the city’s outskirts. Being the man he is , he put the incident behind him but occasionally glances at the rear mirror to remind himself of the animal that the city could turn it’s inhabitants to.
Nairobi has made him both soft and hard in the right ways. He has seen the city at its high moments and during its ugly times. Only once has he conteplated moving out-2007. Most of all he has come to realize and appreciate the value of hard work.
The personal and financial progress Gayaza has made have not come without a price. His fiance of three years broke the engagement. Their ‘love’ would not stand the distance between them. It doesn’t bother him anymore. Nairobi is full of pretty women, he is spoilt for choice. But he is in no hurry, he has his priorities right. He has bigger priorities that include taking care of his mother, seeing his siblings through school and a fleet of taxis. He has learnt that the best way to hold a lady, is not to hold her in the first place.
After every few months, Gayaza heads home to get his mothers blessings. He is a little supersticious. Who isn’t? She is proud of her son. She doesn’t care for what she does but how he does it; with passion. Whenever he is going home, she wears her favourite dress and lines up his siblings at the airport. She recieves him like she is the most important person she will ever meet. He sure is.
As things stand, her next trip to the airport is uncertain. It may be a sad one, only that she doesn’t know yet. No member of his family knows yet.
On monday morning he was returning to his work station after dropping off a client along Waiyaki Way. He had been up all night but didn’t look weary. He has a strong soul and will. In his line of work, he is always supposed to be alert, no matter the number of nights he has been up.
The number of accidents he has seen or witnessed on Waiyaki Way are countless. From minor ones where people only trade words and move on to fatal ones where lives are lost. How they occur has never kept him up at night. This year alone almost a hundred incidents have occurred on that road. Some have made it to the news’ headlines and others have only been a rumour. Another one occurred on Monday morning. His seatbelt wasn’t fastened but it wouldn’t have changed much even if it was. He didn’t see the truck coming behind ‘him’. He didn’t have an opportunity for repentance or prayer. He didn’t have an opportunity for fear. It just smashed into him. Only Gayaza knows how it felt. Hopefully he will tell it some day. For now doctors and nurses are waiting for him to come around. He is in a coma. An hour after the incident, traffic continued to flow without a care of the battle of life and death going on. But there had been many occasions when he had seen an accident scene and only slowed down with the rest of traffic then carried on. He had carried on wishing the victims well without thinking how it had occurred or how he would stay safe. He had carried on without any precautionary measures. But it wouldn’t have changed much even if he had. He wasn’t at fault.
Minutes earlier he was balancing uncooperative financial accounts in his head, now he is fighting for his life with the aid of machines. Another drivers fault put him in a coma. In a perfect world, he shouldn’t be there but of all of the world’s characteristics perfections is none of them. We cannot make it perfect but we can drive with caution. We cann’t make the world perfect but we can avoid putting innocent and not so innocent people at risk. We cann’t make it perfect but we can make it a safer place. Drive safe people.
Soundtrack: Of Monsters And Men – Little Talk