Thursday, 15 October 2015


 Road rage?
Angry drivers? Watch these phrases...
While a passenger in many a car rides in Dar es Salaam I noticed, what annoyed motorists were small Dala-Dala buses.  Vipanyas.
Once I was in a ride with a good friend who had lived overseas for decades. He seemed to have found a solution to Dar’s reckless drivers.

“I don’t get vexed,” he explained chuckling mirthlessly like a cook manoeuvring roasting Nyama Choma at a family barbeque.  “When we humans get behind the wheel we seem to lose our marbles. Watch that one,” he gestured towards a driver cutting in from a minor road, without indicating properly and miffing many others. Horns blared like jazz trumpets.
 The antagonist motorist was about to slit our path. My friend had a peculiar jeep. Instead of luxurious Pajeros and Range Rovers commonly slithering across our towns like crocodiles, with closed windows and air condition, he had converted his vehicle into a mini lorry, akin to those caravans that transport tourists to ogle wild animals in Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and what else? The front bumper had steel like granite that could rival a small train or a tractor. Now the reckless driver resembled a child that has seen a teacher with a stick, halted in his tracks.
We sailed through.
“This is how I handle our Bongo drivers. They think a car is a toy. An extension of their private parts...”
We laughed.

“It is not like Europe where rules are rules and if you mess up there are police cameras everywhere. This is a war zone. Mwenye Nguvu Mpishe.”
Another roar of laughter.
Not a laughing matter, nevertheless. In Europe are stricter rules, yes. Progress.
Stuff still happens, regardless.
Couple of weeks ago I was doing a long trek from London to the north of England. Like driving across Iringa plains to Arusha.  Our dear Europeans have these well-made roads called “highways” in the USA, “auto route” (France), autobahn (Germany) or motorways in the UK. Is it true that it was the dreadful Adolf Hitler who pioneered such efficient pathways prior to the 1939-45 War? Within such a process, the killer fascist developed Volkswagen. Lately Volkswagen has been in the news for technical faults. Bad emission of air. Pollution. 

So then...
I was driving at the highest speed - required on such motorways. This particular huge road had four main lanes pointing to a similar direction. Since motorways are mostly straight, after a while, you need to refresh mental buttons. I usually take short rests regularly. You have a choice of hotels, rest areas and fuel stations: suitable for meals and even toilets. On the other hand, smaller impromptu side parking islands with the P sign.  As I was about to park, lo and behold I faced something like a catchy cinema scene. Scanned the area for a film crew. My instincts expected a Hollywood celebrity. Tom Cruise. Jo’ Lopez. However, it was a large family against one man. Agitation.  All shouting.  Edged closer.  Not a movie. A real confrontation.  Lowered my window down. Saw two other motorists doing the same.  Witnesses.
“You think you know everything, mate?”
“I do,” said the surrounded fellow. He was middle aged. Forty to 60 years, approx.
“What do you know?”
There were three women and two men. Younger, robust, smoking, agitated, noisy, feisty and quite furious. Similar resemblance. (Siblings?)
It was a scream. One of the ladies.
“I know!” He yelled back.  “You should not throw plastic litter around. CANT YOU SEE THE BLOODY BIN?”

 Apparently, the man had thrown a fit after seeing the group hurling rubbish including food packets and several plastic bags onto the road. He had reprimanded them and subsequently, the verbal abuse and duel. It could have ended badly. As in it is in these parts of the world, police were soon here.
 As I drove on, I remembered three things.
A seventy- something old man stabbed to death after a road rage, three months ago.  The victim’s car had clipped the furious man’s by accident. What a waste.
I remembered the Qur’an, chapter 22: 63 (Al-Hajj) where we are advised to keep our mother earth clean.
 “Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and forthwith the earth becomes clothed with green?” 
It is estimated 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are in world circulation annually. This is, according to Health Guide a destruction of the ecological system. Lives of plants and animals are affected and eventually, us too. Keeping our earth clean is as crucial as having bees alive. Imagine a world without vegetables and meat? We are committing mass suicide.
That lone driver facing five angry siblings was doing the right thing. Like him, we should all shout and yell against environmental polluters.

Published in Citizen Tanzania -Friday 2nd October, 2015.


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