Business as Usual on the Roads

With dire warnings about the state of the Kenyan economy appearing everywhere, it is nice to be able to report that Kenya’s finest have not let the country’s political and ethnic crisis affect their entrepreneurial zeal.

Muindi, my driver, and I were flagged down by traffic cops today just a few miles outside Nairobi on the road to Naivasha. There was not a speed gun in sight, just a scrap of paper thrust through the window with 118kmh and our licence plate number (scribbled down, I noted, as we drove up not while some unseen colleague with a speed gun radioed it through) written on it.

In my experience these things are usually not helped by an angry mzungu so I sat in the car to let the ever patient Muindi deal with things. He reappeared a couple of minutes later asking for 500 shillings to speed us on our way.

I’m afraid at this point I could not resist. I pinned my press card to my top pocket, got out of the car and asked the officer dealing with the matter exactly what the problem was. I have never seen an African turn so white. He turned even whiter when I asked him for his name. Within seconds his senior officer appeared to inform us that we had been “forgiven” but that we should take more care in future.

These are strange times in Kenya and I found the whole thing strangely reassuring.

2 thoughts on “Business as Usual on the Roads

  1. Funny… and kudos for your bravery, which could’ve turned out to be time-consuming. When I was an “informant” for stubborn wazungu like you, I used to bribe Congolese traffic cops in their backs. Once I found one of my bosses threatening to call the U.S. Embassy for being stopped by Kinshasa firefighters for not having a fire extinguisher in the car! Again, unbeknownst to my mzungu boss, I bribed our way through the checkpoint…

  2. Well I say, good for you! I would have enjoyed seeing that.

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas

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