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‘Shady Shakedowns’ at the WRC Safari Rally – a beginner’s guide

 Tajveer Rai navigated by Gareth Dawe during the WRC Safari Rally Kenya shakedown at Loldia in Naivasha on June 23, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

It began mid-week with a WhatsApp from one of those mamacitas who are still ‘road trip’ groupies, yet wako in their mid-thirties (n always single momskis, the ones who give us ‘Jaydens’ n ‘Kias’ – jina ka za gari huko Japan na Hyundai).

‘Smitts, kwani you will not fika Kasa kesho to see the drivers do recce?’

Now, I have no idea where Vicki got the idea that I am a guy of ‘Safo’ (I still don’t have a DL – and if ‘recce’ stops at Kasarani, I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t really ‘reggae’ that stopped at Kichinjio, as Baba used to refer to Kasa stady, back when Mzee Moi was playing them the way ‘Uhunye’ is toying wid NASA) ...

But I do know that the Safari Rally kicks off this asubuhi at KICC, and it brings back fond memories!

See, we lived right along Mombasa Road in Nairobi West.

So as tois, it was terribly exciting to watch those cars race down an empty Mombasa Road in those days (Safo was always on April hols) and scream the names of the rally drivers as they passed. ‘Karl Rainkonnen,’ ‘Joginder Singh,’ ‘SHAKAR MEHTA,’ ‘Mchele Moto’ (Michelle Morton).

But the only real rally driver we personally knew was a Jap chap called Asami – who lived in the jirani estate, Kifaru ... And in later years we knew Wayne Fernandez of Jikoni’s.

‘I have a book launch (jana aftey) anyways,’ I told Vicki, n she put those ‘rolling eyes’ emojis!

N here is where the ‘Chaser Boys’ of the strong drink that is Safari Rally come in.


First, you gotta have those half-cut puffy foam jackets, preferably with Formula One slogans on them, to be a member of this Chaser Club – who seem to spend ALL their weekendz on road trips. (When I went to Namanga weeks ago for Chelsea final with dem just for game, I waz shocked the following weekend to be called to be asked if I am ‘game for Othumo ...’ “

Most of them are the owners of Subarus – the car of choice for every boy who hopes that ‘when they grow up’ (they NEVER do, these eternal lads), they will own a proper sports car.

These Soob SOBs also have like an ice-box of ‘Savannas’ n other such sweet, light ale pints in the boot of the car. They call ‘em ‘panty removers’ n make sure the young chickas – mostly in campus to mid-twenties – are kept well lubricated with these, as they race across the Savannah.


Today, the professional rally drivers will tackle the Chui Lodge, Kedong and then Oserian – 63km of crazy road racing.

Chasing after them, like remora after a shark (hoping to get debri of sea-kill) will be ALL these Subaru Boyos, but everything they want to eat will be in those ‘chase cars’, drinking Savanna!

In other words, they may chase rally cars like chuis after quarry in the rally.

But these guys are, to use that old term, #Team-Mafisi.

Saturday – Elementaita – Soysambu – Sleeping Warrior- 65km.

Kesho is the day these FISI boys following the Safari Rally really feast, and on everything in site.

Their SOOBS are in ‘slower’ mode as they climb the hills n do the hairpin twists.

But the muzik in their cars is on FULL blast, playing suggestive songs like “anachukuwa, ana weka, WAH!” There is also a lot of stopping by the roadside going on – as Savannah saturated slay queens stop to squat n pee by bushes n Subaru tires, before they soak their thongs.

At Elementaita, whiskey will be kunywad. At Kipkopey, these convoys will stop for meat.

At Soysambu, a boy called Roy will buy samosas enuff to feed 50 carloads, like Jesus n fishes.

“Roy, where is that mbusa, man?” you will keep hearing, coz these are the ‘cool kids’ we used to call ‘you guy my guy’ - pronounced ‘yuguymyguy’, like Uigarishhh (if yur not gonna speak proper ‘omosongo,’ then invent your own slang like ‘Sminglish,’ instead of speakin’ gibberish n calling a m****f*** samosa a ‘mbusa,’ biach)!

But once the rally cars are safely in ‘Sleeping Warrior’, there will literally be no sleeping warriors in Nai-Vegas.

Now the tents will dot the landscape of camps like Cray n Fisherman’s – like a pitched army awaiting to do battle against a deadly foe at the crack of dawn.

But the only battles ‘going down’ (pardon the pun) here will be gland-vs-loin wars, because, as they say, ‘the enemy is within’ (in Swa that translates to ‘kikulacho ki nguoni mwako,’ so take off all your clothes).

And the only foe is the ‘crack’ of Dawn, dat darn road hoe, who being munched like road kill!

Tis like that Placebo song Bree Chee really liked: “I listened to those screams like s/one was being murdered ...” And here, my friends, is where the rubber really meets the ROD.

Sunday: Malewa – Loldia-Hell’s Gate – many kms ...

Sunday will find everyone looking like a bunch of zebra zombies that were slaughtered usiku.

There will be the passed out, the throwers’ up (mwauras) n the Hairs of the Dog, wale watu wanafunguanga macho, na kitu ya kwanza ni ‘kutoa lock.’

Now the rally cars are out of sight, as the Soob convoys weakly stagger in the dust uko nyuma!

But by Malewa, kila mtu amelewa ama kulemewa ...

By now, the drinks peeps are surviving on either bottles of mineral water or cans like Heineken, Tusker, White Cap, Faxe for the effed up n Atlas for those mind-mboggled with no map in their minds.

‘Shakedown’ n the Subaru just went down as cars cruise to Hell’s Gate!

But the really hell road will be that Naivasha-to-Nairobi Road as convoys of cars begin to coil their way back to the city shortly after sunset.

And end up arriving shortly before sunrise on Monday morning, with ‘jobiso’ tray full kwa ofisi.

Smitta Bonus: ALL HAIL Patrick Njiru, the black Kenyan driving legend, of this mostly brown-n-white man’s game. The man was a monster on the road, and a gentleman off it.

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