As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Vehicools series (2) – Kenya’s MATATU

My son and I were on a recent visit to my hometown. My nephew Liam was eager to entertain his 2 year old cousin so he went on a treasure hunt around the house and found these  toy-like objects-  miniature vehicles that are almost too beautiful to play with. These miniature models became the inspiration of this week’s posts “Vehicools”. We look into vehicles that are ‘cool’ and ‘noteworthy’ because of how they came to be and what they have come to symbolize.

Today I feature Kenya’s MATATU. I got this artwork from an African-Canadian’s garage sale in Calgary. This is a wooden sculpture handcrafted by a Kenyan folk artist. I gave this to my sister Edna to add to her collection of folk art.

handcrafted wooden sculpture
Artist Unknown

handcrafted wooden sculpture
Artist Unknown

handcrafted wooden sculpture
Artist Unknown
“Matatu” comes from the swahili word for “three.” It used to cost 3 shillings to ride in a matatu. But what is a matatu? These days, a matatu is usually a minibus, or other public transportation in Kenya. In the past, matatu was usually (and probably still is, especially in places farther from the larger cities) a pickup truck, with a cover on the bed. For just a few shillings per person, as many people can cram in there (with their baggage, and perhaps some livestock) and get to where they need to go. And often there would be baggage and perhaps some chickens loaded on top, and several people hanging out the back door.(Info Source)

The Kenyan Matatu

Info Source

In Kenya and neighboring nations matatu are privately owned minibuses although pick-up trucks were in the past pressed into service as these East African share taxis. Often decorated, many matatu feature portraits of the famous or slogans and sayings, some religious.

These minibuses ply set routes, and are used for both inter and intra-city travel. In addition to a driver, matatu may be staffed by a conductor.
Image Source

The Matatu
Full capacity?
Looks like there’s still room on top

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This entry was posted on June 4, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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