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TBT Photos Of the ‘face-me’ Matatu That Were Used In The 80’s And 90's

New York has taxis, London has red buses, the Philippines has Jeepneys, New Delhi has auto rickshaws, while Nairobi has its matatus.

Matatu is a slang term for minibuses used as public transport in Kenya. In Nairobi, public transport is standard for most residents and matatus play an important role in providing transport to the city's residents.


Immediately after independence, public transport was not yet developed. London's only Overseas Trading Company (OTC) operates a fleet of buses operating on selected routes. People walk miles just to go to work or travel from one place to another.


This prompted former President Jomo Kenyatta to commission the first matatus – a fleet of pickup trucks and trucks – in Nairobi. 

Decades ago they were the face of rural transport in Kenya. Nicknamed “face-me”, they were matatus designed for passengers to sit in two rows facing each other.


Passengers had nowhere else to look at but the person sitting opposite them. Sometimes, obscuring that view would be excess passengers clinging on horizontal reinforced metal bar running along the roof of the passenger cabin.

There was no specification on the number of passengers they could carry. It depended on the size of the passengers and how far back the vehicle could lean without pulling off a ‘wheelie’. I tend to think the kondas preferred lean people, because you could stack them like wood.


Those pieces of work the matatu encouraged conversations between travelers since you would be seated facing each other. If you were Team Mafisi back then, hitting gold was easy- slip a few ndururus to the conductor to be placed across from the beauty who just had a swim in Lake Vaseline.

They also had the annoying habit of stopping frequently and randomly to pick up and drop off passengers. The "face-me" matatus has been removed.


Below are some of the tbt Matatu photos;


Content created and supplied by: BBGHOTNeWs254 (via Opera News )

Jeepneys Matatu New Delhi Overseas Trading Company Philippines

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