What matatu to board, according to mood

What matatu to board, according to mood

Matatu Marketing

Zusha! Angukia Chapaa! Zephania 3:17, JayZ, Obama, Malcolm X…

These are some of the culture establishing pieces of art in minibuses that take me to town.
I remember a time when Maina and King’ang’i awarded matatu drivers for simply tuning in to their morning show.

It’s a small, intimate space in a 14-seater matatu. Some are well furnished and others… well: roughed up! What you never miss, though, is art. Stickers are my best. Some have encouraging messages while others are just utterly rude. The older the matatu, it seems, the ruder the messages.

One reads, “ungekuwa na haraka ungeenda jana (if you were in a hurry you would have travelled yesterday”)
Another one says, ” hapa ni kusongeana, kama hutaki, shuka ununue gari” (if you can’t squeeze, get out and buy a car!)

The older the matatu, it seems, the ruder the messages.

Most prominent however is artists’ artwork. The one I am riding in has Shiro was GP, the magnanimous Ring tone and Bishop T.D Jakes. Another has Bahati and Shusho and our legend, Sonyanga Ole Ngais!

Branding goes with the type of music. It sets the tone and distinguishes the target clients from the word go.
Bob Marley and Lucky-Dube ones carry young, mostly hairy ones while the quiet RnB ones with pictures of Alicia Keys often carries the soft-skinned ones (lol)!
This also sets the tone on how bumpy the ride will be.

When I’m in a hurry, don’t expect me to jump into a car playing Blues. I will be found in a Mavado-boomer or one ear-drum breaker playing Lucky Dube’s…I am a slave…Slaaaave! Prisoner!!!

So next time you want to move… think about how they brand themselves.


Jeremiah Kipainoi is a Communication for Development expert that makes films, transcriptions, podcasts, online strategies, and radio content to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bisau, Mali, The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Liberia, and tackles climate change through resilience building, and championing for community-led development.