It is a question we’ve pondered since independence: Why do women go gaga over makangas? It’s not like their careers have upward mobility and high social standing. Their ignorance on matters etiquette can fill a library. Most cannot win awards in the hygiene department either. Some only speak sheng as their first (and last) language. Is it that women genetically have a thing for men who hang on matatu doors? Or is the sight of bus fare notes being collected from grumbling passengers before being folded around the makanga’s index finger and thumb enough to tip the balance? We explore the reasons why women cannot resist makangas and matatu drivers.
He gave me free rides
Joyce Chelanga said that “I met the father of my children when he was a tout on route 46 (Kawangware). I was in college then. Sometimes I did not have bus fare and he would give me a free ride. We got married after college and by then he was a driver. When I got my job, we saved together and bought a matatu.” But Joyce later separated from her baby daddy when he refused to leave the matatu business.
“It’s addictive. He did not want to leave and I kept hearing stories of him flirting with passengers in the matatu. I had to leave him,” she revealed.
Makangas got lugha
Makangas have mastered the art of sweet-talking, not only girls but passengers in general. How else do you think they manage to fill a bus despite the competition? His tattered clothes and broken English notwithstanding, a tout has the confidence to walk up to a woman and tell her that she’s got a diamond mark of quality from Kebs!
Alice Omondi, a pharmacist, does not understand how her sister dropped out of school to get married to a konkodi.
“My younger sister broke our parents’ hearts. She was a medicine student at the University of Nairobi but dropped out to get married to a tout in Huruma,” Alice explained, adding that, “Her friends told us that the man convinced her to leave school and promised to take care of her. She did. She does not even talk to us anymore.”
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They are bad boys
Kanges can be ruthless. Aren’t they the same people who were accused of stripping women for wearing some years ago? Well, some women just love bad boys. It’s like they crave to be treated badly by men who openly flirt with other girls. Cindy Nasieku lost her sister to a violent tout.
“My sister ran away from home in 1996. She was in class seven when she discovered that she was pregnant with this tout’s baby who used to ply route 126 (to Ngong). Our father begged her not to leave, but she chose a mabati house where the tout lived over my father’s bungalow,” Cindy said, adding that her sister got three children with the man who later abandoned her in Kinangop where she lived with her mother-in-law.
“Kinangop was too cold and so she developed some respiratory complications. She came back to Rongai and he started beating her up whenever she questioned why he was not providing for his family. One day he beat her to a pulp. He killed my sister.”
He owns the mathree
Some girls assume that a well-dressed makanga probably co-owns the matatu with the driver. That he collects all the money might also mean it all goes to his bank account.
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“Women used to love me and mostly high school and college girls. I could easily buy them lunch since I always had loose change with me. That’s the advantage of being a tout. You will never lack a shilling or two in your pocket,” explains Pius Wafula, a former tout turned accountant, on how easy it was to pick up girls when he was hanging on mathree doors.