An ardent reader of this column, Mr. Michael Hatego, recently wrote to me mourning his watchman and his newspaper vendor. I felt his pain, because I know how hard it is to get a decent newspaper guy for my old man, Grandpa Richard.
The deaths, Mr. Hatego noted, resulted from collisions with young men and women driving on our Nairobi roads between 5 and 7 am on Saturdays and Sundays. The drivers, it is understood, are usually pumped with drugs that take them higher than the Times Tower. Their motto in life is: “Why drink and drive when we can smoke and fly?”
Mr. Hatego, your concerns are not isolated. Grandpa Richard has been bristling with rage for ages ever since someone decided it was a good idea to put reprobate graduates from Peddle-Happy Driving School on our roads. I blame it on the unregulated driving schools that are so corrupt in that one can get a license in under ten minutes. Ten minutes did I say? Yeah, that’s what they call a crash course, pun intended.
And today’s comrades are let loose on the roads even before they hit puberty. At this age, all they are proficient in is chocking on shisha fumes and twerking till they lose bone cartilage. Now, picture a scenario where a comrade of mine is doing both of those things, while driving! It’s disgraceful, illegal, vain and hazardous.
My comrades are always racing on the roads, driving (pun intended too) each other mad. They swerve past Grandpa Richard who is respectably driving at 20 kilometres per hour, honking their horns and screaming names. “They don’t even think of signalling while making a turn,” the greybeard mourns. It’s a damned national disgrace and he wants something done about it.
Grandpa Richard’s speed, by the way, has nothing to do with his age. Slow is safe. He has not had an accident in his over 40 years of driving.
And what is it with my comrades checking their phones even while driving? The insta-dummy generation just won’t stop tweet-farting and snapchatting. They fly around corners taking selfies and applying make-up while checking themselves in the rear-view mirror.
What about the nasty riddim music that thumps out of their car stereos? If I ever turned up the volume on Grandpa Richard’s a.m radio while he was driving to his chiropractor, he’d eject me instantly off the moving 1962 BMW sedan.
To curb this menace, my old man suggests that young people should only be allowed behind the wheel at an age when they are old enough to run for President. “Give them bikes and let them know how to jog to the mall,” he argues, adding that it will help solve the issue of perennial traffic jams. While at the university, Grandpa Richard walked ten kilometres to and from his campus (both ways were uphill, mind you).
They drive like drunken fruit-bats, that’s the problem with my comrades.