So I boarded this pimped matatu popularly known by Nairobians as nganya or mathree on Saturday afternoon at the CBD, heading to my friend's home for a weekend get together.
These vibrant matatus, you can say full of life, are painted to communicate a certain theme. The matatu which blares the loudest music has the best graffiti-style artwork, custom designs, flashy lights, free wi-fi and onboard entertainment attracts more commuters.
In fact, you would find at times, commuters lining up and waiting for a certain PSV despite others being available and offering cheaper fares. These loyal passengers will always wait for that one matatu whose fares are high. Even if it rains.
It is very rare to see hawkers and pastors in these matatus due to the loud music and constant entertainment. Commuters always yearn to remain glued to the videos, watching songs the film board has been attempting to ban, year in year out.
Thus seeing a pastor hop into the matatu clutching on his bible was quite a scene not only for me but for all other commuters.
“Today we are celebrating our customers. Therefore, we have slashed fares. We are also appreciating the community and we shall allow pastors and hawkers to do their thing,” the tout with dreadlocks stated.
There were a few murmurs here and there before the chubby lady next to me stood up and lamented.
“We want music. Give us some music. We can listen to the preacher on Sunday,” she shouted, eliciting a mixed reaction from the commuters. Some jeered and others lauded her for her courage.
But the tout interrupted and asked her to either sit or walk out. She plunged herself back into the sit and muttered a few words before putting on her earphones and staring at her phone.
At that moment, my phone rang. It was my mother. She was calling to complain that her tokens were exhausted and she couldn't watch TV. As I almost responded, the preacher cut me short.
“Even you, the young man talking on the phone. Kindly put down your gadget and take off your cap so that we can pray. It’s always good to be humble during prayers,” he urged.
“Mum, I will call you later,” I hurriedly told her as I hung up. The chubby lady looked at me with some harsh eyes, maybe wondering why I was conforming to some pastor’s request.
The preacher prayed and read some verses, but seemingly hit back at some commuters who had at first objected to his mission.
“Even those who were angry, we pray that you touch them so that they bless your work. Let them give out so that we can preach in other places,” he prayed.
That was the moment this hawker jumped in at the terminus along Thika Road. The matatu was caught up in a traffic snarl and was weaving through it slowly.
A few commuters at the back rose to object again. The pastor intervened. I guess he was worried that the passengers may not give offerings as he had requested.
But I was wrong. He defended the hawker and in fact offered to assist him to sell the items. His marketing skills were on a different level.
His sense of humour and in-depth knowledge of current affairs and marketing caught everyone’s attention.
“This book was read by Isaac Newton and even your favourite principal in schools. It was in fact the game-changer for the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC). It goes at Ksh2,000 but today, customer day, we shall sell it at…,” he looked at the hawker who stated the amount … ”Ksh 100 for your children.
“This chewing gum lasts for 30 mins. Extraordinary. No need to add sugar or eat 10 of them in one minute. 4 of them at Ksh20,” he added and then picked a toy car. “This one is for the future MP, Mr President, CEO, doctor and even pastors.
“The car is bulletproofed, has a maximum of 250km/h, a turbo, speed governor and insurance. Oh my! Just imagine a Mr President driving it through the mud. Your house will be his car wash. Get one at Ksh200,” he added as he and the hawker sold shoulder to shoulder.
The mood in the PSV had shifted and it only needed a few commuters to start purchasing before others joined in.
“As you buy, do not forget to give. Give your offering. Bless the hands and feet that teach the word,” the deacon added as he passed by.
I took out some money and purchased a soft drink from the hawker and gave the balance to the preacher who slid into the empty seat next to me as the lady had already alighted.
“You can now continue with your phone conversation,” he stated as we both broke into laughter.
“Yes, you have jogged my mind. I was to buy tokens for my mother. Now see how you have convinced me into buying a soft drink. I don’t have any more cash at hand save the cash in my bank account.
“Do not worry brother. It will be provided unto you. But you can still buy tokens. The bank… Which bank is it?” He asked.
“Co-op bank,” I answered.
“Ahh, I heard about a product known as Co-op Internet Banking where you can pay for bills. In this life, I meet many people and learn many things. Check that out,” he responded and walked away to continue with his mission.
By then, the PSV was back to normal with loud local music reverberating. I felt like the side windows would shatter.
Anyway, I checked the Co-op website and found out that indeed you cannot only pay the items via Co-op Internet Banking but also all the other bills from power tokens, water, to purchasing credit and other expenses.
You can access Co-op’s internet banking platform using your laptop, tablet, or other internet-enabled devices and pay all your bills directly from your Co-op bank Account!
All you have to do is register for Co-op Online service by clicking https://onlinebanking.co-opbank.co.ke, select personal internet banking and click on existing customers to register.
For new users, registration is instant and free of charge. All you need is your National ID and any of your Co-op Bank ATM cards. I activated, paid tokens for my mother and left her a text.
As I raised my head to check whether I was about to alight, I saw the preacher looking at me and we both smiled. He knew I had cracked it.
The nganya sped off after he alighted.