Well, there isn't any "road rage" in Kenya except for me.  They don't honk, they don't know how to drive, they think nothing of passing on hills around curves and expecting that you will "let them in" with about 2 inches to spare or the whole drivers side of your car is gone. 

Someone once said "I would give a million dollars to be inside an African's head for 10 minutes".  I don't think that would do it.  I will NEVER get it.  The "Africa Nice" way of living lends itself to rudeness, selfishness, and just plain nonsense at times.  Now don't get me wrong.  There are wonderful things about "Africa Nice" too - people care about each other, families can be counted on to help, and they are almost too nice at times for their own good.  I suppose we can all learn from each other.

But this road nonsense makes me crazy.  I am the ONLY crazy mzungu (white person) that lays on my horn and mutters loudly in my car - "IDIOT"!  My good friend from England doesn't lay on her horn but does mutter loudly "BLOODY IDIOT!"  The road rage comes when I see them completely ignoring me and probably shaking their heads and laughing at the crazy woman.

I read the other day that over 2500 people were killed on the roads in Kenya last year  INSANE!  Kenya is the size of what ... Minnesota?  Most of those deaths were from IDIOT matatu and bus and lorry drivers who take unbelievable risks and seem to think they are invincible.  Unfortunately, when there is a fatal accident many people are usually killed.  So why?  Well, lack of enforcement of traffic rules doesn't help - the policeman (or woman) who will look the other way for "something small" from the person who does not have the money to keep their vehicle in good shape or pay the insurance or whatever.  It kind of reminds me of the mafia asking for "protection".  But none of this is a surprise to most of us who live here.

So I was on the road to Nakuru about an hour from Eagles Wings, and as my blood pressure was just on the way down after almost wearing out my horn needlessly, a bus passed me (on a curve uphill as usual).  It was a new shiny white bus with the school logo and name emblazoned on the side...Ruiru Boys Secondary School.  For the next 10 kilometers I dodged paper bags, yogurt containers and even a dirty baby diaper (Pampers have come to Kenya - shame), as they were casually tossed out the windows of the bus.  Now the rage really hit me!  I was furious!  This younger generation of privileged, fairly wealthy children at a very good high school didn't care. They didn't care about the environment, they didn't care about personal responsibility, and what is even worse if that they probably never even thought about it.  After all, it wasn't THEIR highway.  I doubt if they even thought selfishly that someone else would come along and clean it up.  There IS a law against littering here but of course it is never enforced.

I thought to myself..."I am going to board that bus at the first opportunity when it stops and chew them all out".  Oh oh - it's a crazy old mzungu woman.  But I've learned that my age will get their attention - I'm sure most of those kids are scared to death of a mother's rage.  Then I thought to myself - it won't make any difference at all.  But I AM going to write an article for the Nation, our newspaper here, and I will name the school.

SO what is it?  Do they not care?  Probably not.  It is not a learned value yet.  Heck, I remember as a high school student in Wayzata, Minnesota going to the first McDonald's in St. Louis Park and casually throwing the hamburger wrappers and the red cardboard carrier out the window of the car and never thinking about it.  So values development happen over time and habits die hard when replaced with them.  

But this crazy mzungu woman is NOT going to stop honking her horn, muttering IDIOT or challenging people (mostly drivers) until then!  (Actually, there are matatu drivers who tell me I should be one of them because I'm such an assertive driver.)  They don't intimidate me at all! 

And as for those kids?  Well, I'm going to send a letter to the Headmaster of Ruiru Boys Secondary School and tell him to find a way to instill values and pride in those kids as future leaders of Kenya! 

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    Deb Snell

    I have lived in Kenya for 16 years and I still know very little!  Every day I experience things that change my presuppositions about how things should be and wonder why life isn't easier.  Living among people not from my American culture exposes me to these "teachable moments" - I learn something every day - the whys, the hows, the values, the lives of those living in mostly difficult situations.  I hope to give you a glimpse into the dilemma, the hope, the ever present questioning, the learning... in these occasional blog posts.


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