We can imagine what the first cars must have looked like to Africans and the kind of reactions they must have elicited. From referring to the cars as metal horses, the train as the giant snake that swallowed people and vomited them at varied intervals and so on, even today, many bizarre happenings involve people, animals and cars.
Speeding – no speed camera
First, it is only in Africa where a policeman, especially in Kenya, will stop you and accuse you of speeding whereas you can see clearly that he doesn’t have a speed camera. Do not dare ask how he knew you were speeding as that is bound to be taken as a confirmation anyway. If you are Kenyan, you will most certainly know the drill. If you are not, and if you happen to be a mzungu (white person), smile nicely, even if it is a plastic smile, talk real nice and refer to the afande (traffic dick) as sir or ma’am and you just might slip away.
Kenya is one weird country. A policeman will wave you to the side of the road and if he wants to impound your car, he will demand to ride in the front with you. Now, many a lady motorists have issues with this and one time too many, drama has been witnessed in the central business district where a motorist bluntly refuses to allow the traffic officer to ride in their car. The claim is that if you direct me to the police station, I will drive there and you can book me in, but you are not riding in my car.
Brand new car towed to police lot
In Kenya, a police officer will wave you to the side, call for break down assistance (most likely one that he owns or that is owned by a colleague) and tow a brand new vehicle to the police station. Who foots the bill for the towing service? You, of course!
Enough about making the Kenya police the butt of our jokes here. When you ride in a bus in Africa, be very careful whom you sit next to. They could have been to see a witchdoctor and he could have given them a serpent, yes, a snake to take to the city with them. Snakes have been known to slip out of luggage. Some people also claim that some bus lines use juju to boost business. Just so you know, do not be surprised if a reptile slithers out.
Lastly, cars, buses and even trucks in Africa carry anything, and everything. In Kenya, buses will carry goats, people, farm products, charcoal and many more items. Don’t be surprised if you see a goat pop out of the luggage compartment of a bus arriving from upcountry, wearing that weird, puzzled look that only a country goat would wear after finding itself in the city, without any idea how it arrived there.
Beware town service buses in, Nairobi, Kenya! They are dark, carry a lot of graffiti and play loud music. This will disorient you and you could lose your wallet. Tip: watch the person closest to you, and make sure you see their hands, all the time. However, you will find the town bus ride in Nairobi very enjoyable, and unlike any that you have experienced elsewhere.