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A Day On Luthuli Avenue

Street Life

You are walking down Tom Mboya street. You ask yourself," how much longer will I have to walk?" ahh not any longer. You can see it. Yes you can. Luthuli Avenue( I wonder why they called it an avenue), one of the fast-life areas in down-town Nairobi. You fika the corner and stand to catch your breath while surveying the area. You see a #9 manyanga( public service vehicle) turning onto Luthuli avenue, music blaring, close to 30 fellows hanging on the doors, school bags hung on the side mirrors of the matatu swinging here and there pelting pedestrians with staedtler pencils, haco rulers, oxford sets and Malkiat Singh textbooks, high school teenagers sticking their heads out of the windows...etc. as the matatu passes by you, it drives into a healthy pothole filled with filthy water and sends the liquid straight at you! shwaaaa!!!! all over your suit. You don't care because you bought your suit for 20 bob at St Peters (pick-pocket haven) bus-stop near machakos airport(country bus station). The matatu goes along and you then see a group of fellows crowded round a store across the street. You expect there to be a new electronic device in the display case or something close because this street is full of tv, radio, and video stores. Apparently it's a fast food caf'e. You wonder what has attracted peoples attention ( apart from the smell of fried kuku( chicken)) only to realise that the mob is staring at those rotating grills which have kukus going round and round. You laugh to yourself, then begin walking down the street. You see the line of close to 100 people waiting to buy chips( fries) at luthulis fish and chips. You sneak in past the line and grab your packetof chips. You find a place next to a fat mama who seems to be eating a meal approximately worth 3 stomachs. You look around and shake your head at the way people are feeding. People of all classes meet in luthuli fish and chips. School kids, proffessionals, subordinates, hawkers, makangas, etc.( by the way, you eat standing). You see a jamaa who is enjoying his meal mpaka he is dancing to the music playing from FM 101.9. the place is soo hot and stuffy lakini no one cares.Sweat is driping everywhere and clothes are wet, it's all about the chips. You proceed to unwrap your food from the gazetti and start feeding. You enjoy your meal mpaka you also start swinging to the music. you wipe away the salt on the gazetti which had wrapped your chips so that you can read it while eating. You soma the funeral announcements on the ka newspaper and you feel sorry for the dead, all the same, you continue feeding.
When you're done you chuck outside, go across the street to Ramogi Studios to collect some pics, then continue walking down the street towards river road. The sidewalk is almost unwalkable because it is packed from head to toe with hawkers, booksellers, miraa sellers etc. Far ahead a lorry appears out of nowhere, then you see manenos happening. One mama screams, " city council!!!!!" soon there's pandemonium everywhere! you wonder if everyone on luthuli avenue is a hawker because everyone is running away. You decide not to run because you aren't a hawker. Soon you realise that you made a big mistake. In a matter of seconds, a group of fellows wearing green uniforms set upon you with every solid matter you can think of. They beat you with everything, you even manage to catch a glimpse of someone beating you with a gazetti. You are then bundled into the lorry among close to 50 other people. All these people are supposed to be hawkers lakini you see chokoras, some well dressed people, drunkards etc. You then realise that when these jamaas( city council) appear, anyone around the vicinity becomes a hawker. So you are bila choice but to endure the trip to central police station in the lorry next to the mlevi throwing up, the chokora who has pooped on himself, the fat mama nyamba nyambaring, the jamaa holding the railing next to you with your face all up in his fried onion smelling arm-pit!!etc. don't worry, it's all about Luthuli avenue!!

MEZESHA 2000