Am running this errand in Industrial area at the end of which I hop into a matatu. It is heading to the CBD so I just jump in minus confirming its sacco name so as to be certain when to alight. This is necessary in Nairobi if you don’t want to be dropped off in places where you will need to hail a bike to eventually get to your destination, a few (wait sorry, many) more coins broker. The music in this matatu is good. Some backstreet DJ has assembled the finest of soulful gospel tracks, mature and way far from the noisy, empty type our ears are lately accustomed to.
Before I know it am so engrossed in the annals of the tunes blurring out of the speakers I fail to notice instead of entering Landhies Road at the Jogoo Road roundabout, the driver has taken the route that heads straight into Muthurwa market. How I even came to know of Muthurwa as a market is a wonder because I can’t even tell the name of the road we just turned into. The driver puts his foot down on the gas as traffic seems to ease and hasten, a clear indication that he might not drop passengers anywhere near there.
Am left with no chance of asking the makanga to stop him so I can drop off and hop into another jalopy going into the CBD, most of them never listen to passager wishes anyway. Just as I settle into this zone Kenyans call accept and move on, something crosses my mind from the past. I’ve lost an expensive power bank from the sides of my backpack at this market before so the mere sight of a return sends chills down my spine.
I quickly lock down the rings of my bag, sighing with relief upon realizing on this particular day am not carrying electronics of any kind with me. Even my phone was conveniently forgotten at the office. Am not sure if this is “convenient” any way, its late afternoon and my boss, clients and family could be frantically trying to reach me. Perhaps they now even think I’ve been kidnapped, that is if no one back at the office is answering that phone on my behalf right now. Jeez.
Anyway, here we are cruising right into the sprawling Muthurwa market. The haven of pickpockets. Gold mine of shrewd traders. Paradise of mitumba dealers. Clothes, mostly second-hand, and shoes form 70% of this market. The rest is taken by groceries and a teeming sea of humanity. Many people walking almost towards nowhere and everywhere. It’s the immediate information your eyes get, even before you alight the crazy honking matatus.
As it jolts to a halt, this matatu belches out a belabored chain of thick black some. Just as I begin thinking why they only allow old rickety jalopies to continue wasting tarmac on this end of the city, the makanga shouts from the end of the door way. “Hey brathe, gari imefika mwisho kama unataka starehe ya kuona nguo na viatu enda Dubai.” I squeeze my way through the seats and give him a wild look as my foot touches down the tarmac. I straddle my bag on the shoulder and barely try to make my way. Some sons of the devil have parked nganyas in the small market area bumper to bumper in rows and columns, complete with running engines.
Each noise is swallowed by the other. Muthurwa market is a symphony of a choir that proves sound was created for humanity only for us to turn it into a weapon of war. Every trader is fighting to come out loudest as they literally drag unwilling customers to their wares. The trick in Muthurwa is to walk on straight without appearing tobe paying any due attention in any particular direction. That will save your hands from being held and dragged into a corner full of wares like you were some beautiful stranger girl at a night club. The fellows selling music and video CDs have turned the place into a mini-day club, belting out all manner of tunes including the latest in Kamba, complete with video shows.
However just as my head is about to explode from the madness and brathe kam hivi salutations, I spot fresh fruits and a stand displaying chicken delicacy. My hunger pangs return to life and the sweet yellow bananas in full display start looking like a cool prospect. Aware that am already late, I opt not to go for the wishes of my stomach and instead head straight out through one of the alleys.
Just then, towards the exit, I notice this enchanting piece of blazer neatly lain on the racks of a coats vendor and the moment he mentions the price, I give him a knowing smile that says my bargaining skills will start and end with him today. Don’t even think expensive and nice is a term of the boutiques. Muthurwa separates them. It’s the best bargain I ever got all my life on a coat. So after all, next time I still want to visit Muthurwa again, but of course with my electronics left at home, again!