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Make a break with the old, go with the new

By Julie Masiga | July 17th 2018

So, after four years of putting it off, I finally took my car to an authorised dealer for diagnosis. It has had a recurring ‘misfiring’ problem which many a mechanic has claimed to fix. In the end, I couldn’t take my foot off the pedal without the car having a fit. This is how I ended up at the dealership talking to a very nice lady, who I’ll call Rihanna because she was a real badass.

I told her my tale of woe and she tried her best not to roll her eyes at my ignorance, and unmatched incompetence when it came to cars. When I was done she concluded that the golden thread in my story was a string of unscrupulous mechanics. Mechanics who were aided in a big way by the casual manner with which I treated the whole garage-going process.

I was the type to call the mechanic and say, “Johnny, gari yangu ina-miss, unaeza kuja lini?”

And he’d respond, “Heh. Leo imeshikana kidogo, wacha ni kuje kesho asubuhi.”

And I’d reply, “Sawa.”

And that would be that.

He’d show up the next morning, I’d hand him the keys and go back to bed. A couple of hours in, he’d call back and reel off a list of things that needed to be replaced, and how much money they cost. I’d then remark, “Na si hio ni pesa mingi bana?”

Poking around

To which he’d respond, “Unajua ukitaka kitu mzuri lazima bei itakuwa juu kidogo.”

This happened more times than I’d like to admit. The car would come back feeling as good as new, but it wouldn’t be long before it was having fits again. So this last time, I decided to bite the bullet and get some expert advice.

Rihanna listened to all of this and decided that the best thing to do was to have the car checked out by a technician. She called one in and he popped the hood and started poking around. After about half an hour he had made his diagnosis. He’d also discovered a wide range of faulty spare parts that had been fitted over the years. There was a bit of everything in there from Honda to Toyota.  I own a Japanese car, but still, who does that? The only parts that didn’t make an appearance were the high-end BMW, Mercedes types. Go figure.

I now had a choice to make, buy new parts and ask one of the old mechs to fix them, or leave my wallet, a kidney, an arm, and a leg on the table to have the experts fit the car with genuine parts.

After much consideration, I decided to make a fresh start and do things right. Now the car runs like a race horse. All systems are go because of one simple decision: to make a break with the old, and go with the new.

Random candidates

It cost me quite a bit of time, especially when you consider my previous non-garage-going shenanigans, and a helluva lot of money. I had to make both sacrifices to get the car back on the road. If I hadn’t, sooner or later it would have stalled for good.

This got me thinking. I live in a constituency where the weak arm of the county government is neither seen nor felt. The only development I’ve seen in years is the construction of a national road, one which has now been overshadowed by the spectre of mass evictions.

So you see, I went into my polling booth in August 2017 a disgruntled citizen, grappling with inconsistent water supply and a plethora of other niggling issues. Unimpressed by the long line of hopefuls, I did a quick ‘eeny-meeny-miny-moe’ and landed on random candidates for governor, Member of County Assembly, and Member of Parliament.

I voted for all three without a second thought. And I can report that nothing much has improved since their swearing in, unless you count a massive fire in a nearby informal settlement, and the now complete absence of water services.

Since then, I’ve been moaning and groaning about the fitful workings of my leadership at both levels of governance. I’ve watched them play around with the moving parts of government with the clear intent to defraud the public so as to line their own pockets.

But I haven’t quite gotten to the point of absolute frustration that would see me demand a complete overhaul of our twisted systems. We’re all still willing to carry on, on this broken road of fits and starts. Oh well, bora uhai. Also, Viva Les Bleus! Sasa fungueni server.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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