Kenyan Matatu Culture Gets Global Audience on Al Jazeera

  • The vibrant Kenyan matatu culture was granted a global audience on Friday, after AJ+, an online news and current events channel run by Al Jazeera Media Network uploaded a video on the same.

    Kevin Muchiri Nyamu, a graffiti artist for the past 17 years, features in the video that has described the matatus as ‘art on wheels’.

    "Kenya's colourful buses are art galleries on wheels," read their tweet.

    The artwork designs vary depending on the owner's preference; some pay homage to their favourite football clubs, others immortalize their favourite artists with scooby-doo getting a look in as well.

    In order to ward off competition and attract passengers, matatu owners go out of their way to ensure their minibuses are top class.

    Each matatu is louder than the next, complete with graffiti-style artwork, custom designs, flashy lights and onboard entertainment to pull the crowds.

    The customized construction of a new matatu can cost upwards of Ksh2 million as it's mostly done by hand.

    The fabricators and artists customize the matatu entirely from scratch, usually from the stripped chassis of a new truck.

    They then weld the skeletons and attach the panels, thus leaving a blank ‘canvas’ for the artists to embellish the vehicles with graffiti, hand-painted portraits and bold provocative designs.

    Cheap, convenient and sometimes described as chaotic, the Kenyan matatu is more often than not the choice mode of transport for most Kenyans.

    Images of Kenya's art on wheels:

    Image of a matatu in Kenya
    Scooby doo and dexter
    A matatu in Nairobi, Kenya
    Image of a matatu in Kenya