A matatu tout at work.

Years back, owning a TV set was a symbol of wealth. Who would have thought that years later public transport vehicles would have this pieced possession?  From cramped ‘force-me-by-force’ matatus to ones with VIP sections. Indeed the Kenyan transport industry imetoka far and so have the operators.

Donda,konda,makanga call them as you like. They are the tax collectors in matatus. Although we interact with them on an almost daily basis, many Kenyans have misconceptions about them.

I remember boarding a mat and the lady sitting beside me started complaining; “These guys are too loud, they need to tone down on the shouting”.

“Forgive me lady, but he gets paid for being loud. Are you paid for your loud makeup?” I whisper in my head while nodding my head.


Depending on the route you are travelling, this might be true. However, dondas are turning into the trendsetters in terms of fashion.  Have you ever boarded a Rongai bound mat and looked at the attires the dondas dorn?  Man, those brothers sure do know their way around Gikomba.

After complimenting the look with some cologne and a smile, what will stop your girl from falling for the jamaa?


Who said dondas are unschooled?

While in a matatu plying the Kasarani route, I spoke to the donda.  Mwas, as he is referred to, is a fourth-year student at the University of Nairobi’s school of business. In a bid to supplement the money sent by his parents in Western Kenya, he decided to be a donda.

Hii wera iko fiti” (it is a nice job) the charismatic tout said.

READ ALSO: Employment opportunities for youths in the matatu industry

So next time you board a mat, don’t think your degree makes you better than the donda, you never know.


Some time back, two visiting lady friends came to my crib (sic) in tears. “What happened?” I ask, the vigilante in me roused.

“Kwani Justin Bieber amekufa?” (Talk of die-hard Beliebers), I further enquire after getting no response.

“Aki imagine the konda in the mat we boarded (sob) ametuibia”, Jane said, her European accent suddenly forgotten.

Yes, some are thugs but why be so stereotypic? After all, every market place has its mad man. The same way every parliament has its made men and women (feminists, hope you are happy).


Dondas are generally viewed as being broke kuliko watu wa ofisi. On a good day, a donda in a souped-up mat can go home a cool Sh3500 richer or even more! Yes, you heard that right.

The least amount such a donda can go home with is Sh1500. I can read your mind; are you thinking about quitting that office job?

You better give that donda respect because he might be earning as much as your boss.