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Anecdotes from decades of long distance travel

By Ted Malanda | June 14th 2021

Machakos Country bus terminus, December 23, 2020. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Until Covid-19 punctured my wallet, I have, for the last 22 years, been a constant traveller.

Not to the sandy beaches of Mombasa, or the rustic hideouts of the Mara Game Reserve, where fisis haul illicit prey to maul stealthily behind thorny acacia.

The villager in me has instead always been drawn to the land of my ancestors each month without fail, sometimes even weekly when I can afford it, for nothing other than the smell and sounds of rural dawn.

I swear I have travelled the breadth of the Nairobi-Kakamega road for so long and so often that I have crammed the highway’s every bush, road bump and police road block. And what a journey!

I have been peed on and vomited upon by cute babies. I have stood the entire journey in buses crammed with more than 120 passengers.


I have eaten foods along the highway that exploded in my tummy even before hitting the duodenum (what was that, by the way?).

I have endured bogus preachers and seen hawkers shove frilly, wild coloured inner wear in old people’s faces at bus stops.

Heck, I have even wound up in Kitui, yet the touts had sworn the bus was going to Kakamega.

My favourite travel memories remain two, though. One, of the suited middle-aged traveller who leapt after his “escaping” chicken across the highway in Nakuru at midnight.

I will never forget his coat and tie flapping comically in the wind, or how he managed to keep a tight hold on his briefcase at that terrific speed. He never caught the chicken.

But tops is the young, heavily muscled tough who swaggered into the bus like a god, hissing at everyone, snarling at the crew, biceps vibrating ominously.

Until an overtaking bus loomed dangerously in our lane, and Mr Biceps grasped both sides of his seat like it was the last straw and, fear written all over his face, screamed, “Mummy!” at the top of his lungs. Epic.  

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