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Nairobi's Matatus, pimped-up rides like no other

Copyright © africanews
Ronald Oduor


This is Nairobi, Kenya's capital. A city that is rapidely growing in the Eastern Africa region, with a unique identity cemented in its public transport sector.

With a population of slightly over 4 million people, movement from one part of Nairobi to another is facilitated by many buses popularly known as Matatus.

Over time, the Matatu industry has evolved from a simple mode of transport into a flashy and controversial culture.

"Matatu culture is about completion on which ride will be the best," says Moses, a Matatu Driver

The matatus bear signature displays of graffiti varying from movie titles and characters, religion, or even local and international celebrities among other art representations.

Their interiors are fitted with sophisticated sound systems and boom music for loyal clients as they enjoy the cool ride to their destinations.

But why do industry players go the extent of pimping these matatus which are seemingly just meant for public transport.

"The customers that we target are of a specific age group", says Moses.

"The vehicle gets filed up fast and people get home or to work in good time," adds another driver.

Brian Wanyama is the founder of Matwana Matatu Culture, an organization that is tasked with documenting new trends in the matatu industry and also with the promotion of its culture beyond Kenya.

"The people in this industry do lot of amazing stuff. It's not just about carrying commuters from one point to another, but if you dig deeper you will find there is more than that", Brian Wanyama tells Africanews Nairobi Correspondent Ronald Agak.

Matatu Culture has gained international recognition with Forbes recommending that riding in a matatu is one of the best experiences that one should not miss when they visit Nairobi.

With matatu culture being defined by pop culture trends, players in the industry believe that the evolution of the matatu culture is still ongoing and the best is yet to be seen.

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