Before there was Uber, Little Cab and Wasili, there was Nduthis. Nduthis are still around even now but a few years ago they were all we had if you were looking for personalized, affordable and convenient transport. I remember when the first nduthi arrived in my village, it was owned by a man we had all come to know as “Chemsha Bongo”. We called him this because those were the words that had been written at the back of his old Toyota Hiace which he used for business in the public transport sector. The vehicle broke down after only one year of business. Village gossipers attributed his failures to his young wife who had started off as a house help at his home. They also commentated that she might have enticed and seduced Chemsha Bongo with her big buttocks. But that’s just he said she said.
I guess we will never know the true reason behind his downfall. But he was on route to redeem himself after he bought his first nduthi. At first, he didn’t have too many customers but as soon as word got out about how convenient it was to use a nduthi rather than walk or wait for the matatu to fill up, chemsha bongo’s phone was buzzing all the time. He became an overnight sensation and success; it didn’t take long for him to buy another nduthi. The trajectory of his success kept going upwards and he soon went back to the matatu business with a lightly used vehicle which was branded, “Chemsha Bongo, Upate Mke”. Subsequently, he also got a second wife, this one with an even bigger posterior than the first. He became the envy of most men. With his recently immersed fortune, two beautiful women by his side, he was the lion of the village and when he roared, the earth shook.
Fast forward to the latest nduthi I was on. I had been without a job for four months after being on the receiving end of a termination due to budget cuts. It had been a tough time for me and plenty of times I contemplated going back to the village to look for employment there, possibly at the Chemsha Bongo Hardware which had been recently opened. Its sheer size inspiring awe and envy to all the people who had once doubted the now business mogul.
My girlfriend at the time was what stood between me and falling off the cliff. She was without a doubt the prettiest girlfriend I had ever been with. She looked rich, smelt rich… She’d come from riches. She was well-read, driven and smart. Because she was all these things, it didn’t make any sense for her to be with me. There was no parity between us, more so with me being unemployed and struggling to fend for myself. Though she had some genuine affection for me, the real reason behind our relationship was her need to rebel against her rich and powerful father. She’d wave me around at family events; the unemployed boyfriend from the village. She wanted her father to see that he didn’t have any power over her. #RichKidProblems
She bought me shopping, some expensive cologne and shirts for my birthday, and sometimes she even gave me pocket money. Her generosity was beautiful though it also made me a little uncomfortable, but I gladly accepted it, I needed the help because I was flat ass broke. My fortune would later change after I landed a pretty decent job at the very end of that year.
The weekend before I was scheduled to start my new job, I was taken out clubbing for a night of thanksgiving and celebration by my girlfriend and a few mutual friends. That night we all had too much to drink, we had drunk numerous shots of reasonably priced vodka, frequently toasting to me not being broke anymore. Due to us being too intoxicated, babes and I opted to take a nduthi to my place which was not too far away. We left her car in the parking area of the club. It’s something she was used to doing (leaving her car behind when she got too drunk to drive) drinking had also started off as a tactic of rebellion but had now evolved into an everyday habit.
The nduthi guy we got was a Rastaman. He was a tall, well built, brown skin man of Jah. I knew he was well built because he lifted my girlfriend and placed her on the nduthi seat like a leaf. He wanted to lift me too, but my ego had suffered enough so I told him off. His nduthi was branded with Rastafarian colours and flags. He had one of those nduthi stereos and “Ganja Farmer” was playing, which was so appropriate in the context because this guy was smelling like a bhang exhaust pipe. I didn’t like how chatty he was with my babes, telling her to touch his long hair to confirm that it was all natural.
To establish dominance and territory I grabbed my babes by her waist once we started our 20 min commute. We were all drunk, the warmth from her behind kind of got me in the mood and I was touching her all over the place. Meanwhile, this guy is still talking about how guys stop him on the streets to admire his hair, I have never hated a stranger more.
Because Rastaman was too busy trying to impress babes, we hit a pothole at fast speed and the nduthi wobbled violently. Rastaman had his hands firmly gripped on the steering, babes had her arms wrapped around the waist of the Rastaman but I, on the other hand, was trying to unbutton her blouse.
Without any solid thing to hold on to besides the buttons on babes’ blouse, I got whisked from the top of the nduthi to the hard tarmac on the side of the road. I fractured my arm, but my hands were still warm from all the fondling I had been doing. Rastaman finally had his wish, he lifted me with his muscular arms, he carried me like a groom carries his bride to a hospital that was just metres away. Maybe it was the large amount of vodka I had ingested or the fumes of marijuana coming from Rastaman as he huffed and puffed over the stairs at the entrance, but for some reason, I wasn’t in immediate pain even though I had sustained a serious injury.
I had to be admitted overnight to get some x-rays done on my arm. I reluctantly sent babes home and asked Rastaman to make sure she got there safely. She seemed to be more interested in this guy more than she was about my wellbeing. Because I was a little lightheaded, I decided to just lie down and not be too bothered. Early the next morning my babes came to see me at the hospital with food and fresh clothes. After my fractured arm was put in a cast I dressed, and we exited the hospital. I experienced some trouble walking because I had also bumped my head during the accident. I heard babes call out the name “Ras”…. you guessed right, Rastaman, again!!
He rushed towards us ready to carry me again, but I refused. Babes had chatted with Ras overnight and he had agreed to bring her car. So, Ras drove us home, I was in too much pain to reaffirm my dominance at the time, so I focused on getting my strength back. We got home and babes said she had to drive Ras back to where his nduthi was. That was the beginning of our end.
This Ras guy ended up stealing my babes and getting her pregnant. I guess she figured Ras was more dangerous and more likely to annoy her father than I was. After months of nursing a broken heart, babe and I started talking again. By this time, I had been working my new job for around two years, I was doing quite well. We’d have very long and deep talks and she apologized. She said that she left Ras because all he wanted to do was make babies and smoke that ganja. I took her back because I honestly hadn’t gotten over her despite everything. Our relationship grows stronger, but the baby looks so much like Ras that it keeps me awake at night. I haven’t gotten myself to trust a nduthi guy since.
Brian Muchiri is a passionate writer who draws his inspiration from the experiences in his own life and of those around him. He is candid and he seeks to inspire society to be more pro active and vocal about the social issues that affect us. Brian is also actively involved in pushing for awareness and inclusion of people with disabilities through his foundation; Strong Spine.