Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."


I’m running late. I have just lied to baba again. I do that a lot nowadays. Baba doesn’t understand that I am a girl and that a girl has needs. I have to look like Barbie—the one beside my bed. That’s the only way I’ll find my prince charming.

My prince charming? I’m smiling as I think about him. I write about him every day in my diary. I have a list, and he’s everywhere nowadays. In my dreams, my girlfriend’s sleepovers, he’s everywhere expect in real life. But what is real life anyway? Real life is what you make it.

I’m 22, and I’ve scored a blind date with a guy. He’s no prince charming, but he’ll do for now. I don’t know what got me hooked? Maybe it was his robust online presence since it most certainly wasn’t his carton avi. Maybe it’s his interest in politics, the economy, and his flawless knowledge about almost everything. My heart skips every time I see his toon avi on the timeline. I know baba won’t have none of this online strangers shenanigans, so I have told him I am going for a book club meeting. I have even called my best friend Wairimu to act as my alibi.

Wairumu is tall, impressive, and effervescent. She’s the mischievous and bubbly kind who gets away with murder. She says she envies my body, but I don’t understand…because she has the body of a skinny lingerie models walking a Victoria Secrets runway. Boys say I am thick, but I feel fat…fatter when I am curled up on the couch with my bowl of ice-cream watching E!

“You know that new catch I was telling you about. I am seeing him today,” I whisper into the phone all the while giggling.

“And how do you plan to get out of your dads house madam new catch?”

“We have a book club meeting today or have you forgotten?” (More giggling)

“Do you want us to review Zukiswa Wanner or Ben Okri?” (Giggling getting out of control)

“I’m in a British mood today. I’m in my sundress, so let’s try Paula Hawkins.” Line goes dead after chuckling.

“Dad! Dad!” I’m screaming frantically as I head towards his study. “Your driver is saying the family car has issues. Can I use your car?”

“No, I’m already running late for a meeting. I’m sure you have enough money to take a cab.”

I am already feeling frustrated and annoyed. Of all the days the family car could break down it chose to break down today? Arggh! I pick up my Givenchy handbag, that same handbag that I can’t imagine living without, and whiff out of the house trying to get a hold of my cabbie.

I always pride myself on keeping time, so I get jittery when my cabbie doesn’t pick up. I try him again. He picks on the fifth ring, and I have to subject my ear to his mood-killing Lingala ring back tone. He’s out of town, something to do with a wedding or is it a birthday? I didn’t listen very well, must be the Lingala ring-back thingy. Public transport? No no no no no! There are Matatus blitzing off to the city. I reluctantly hop onto one.

The Matatu is visibly empty. I sit on the first row seats without knowing that’s where the engine is located. Two minutes into the journey, and my Mr. Price flats are burning and raging together with my feet. I try bearing the heat for a few seconds, but I give in and change seats. I’m now seated behind the first row seats. I stick my earbuds into my earlobes, shuffle Adele’s album on my iPod, and begin reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Before I know it the Matatu is full, and by my side is a seat mate.

He seems like a nice guy with an almost descent dark suit. A cute haircut and a nice watch to match it. To be completely honest he looks like one of those chaps who irons his boxers. He has a nice look to him too, the kind that screams mommy’s boy. The kind that whispers annoyingly into your ear while you’re on a date, “Mommy wants help getting the things in the top shelf. I’ll be right back hon.” I roll my eyes and burry myself deeper in my book and within minutes of his sitting beside me, I feel his elbow on my hip. He’s sort of using me like an armchair of sorts. There is little space between me and the Matatu’s window, so I move a bit. He notices and moves his arm from the armchair that was my hip and puts his hand on his knees so that it rubs my thigh. I move again, and he removes his hand completely and folds both of his hands on his chest.

I can finally relax. The pervert has realized I’m not up for his little tricks. But before I can say “Christ on a donkey,” his hand has moved to my chest and is now rubbing against my side boob. “What are you doing?” I bark and he withdraws his hand embarrassed. Perhaps thinking I would scream, he alights on the next stop.

A lady enters and seats next to me. I can finally relax, I think to myself against my better judgement. She’s in a skimpy blue skirt, the size of a hand towel and a flimsy top, almost see through. It looks like a fuck me top. Maybe she’s visiting her boyfriend judging by her over worn perfume. Maybe she’s nervous, maybe it’s her first time. I open the window to get some of that Morten doom she has on out and have some fresh air in. And get back to Gladwell. “People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to patronage and….” I’m half way through the sentence when madam booty call removes a whole slice of watermelon from her handbag and starts sliding it down her throat. Spilling most of the stew on her tight blue dress leaving dark stains all over it.

When it rains it pours.

I flip the next page, but I’m stopped in my tracks by a kerfuffle. A woman in the matatu has refused to pay her fare. “Ulisema gari ni mbao na sasa unaniambia ni hamsini silipi.”

“Madam wacha kisirani, shuka utumie hio mbao kununua ovacado ujipake uteleze hadi tao.” The conductor howls back. I chuckle. The madam is at a loss for words, “Hii gari na venye ikona joto unalipisha hamsini?”

“Shuka upande fridge.” The conductor shoots and the whole Matatu bursts into laughter. The woman then reaches deep into her bra and miraculously finds the 50 shillings she apparently didn’t have.

A few minutes after the soap opera, the Matatu screeches to a halt. The boom boom sound of “Leo mi na dandia tu kama mat.” The song coming out of its speakers is killed. From where I am seated, I can see three boys in blue, one of them goes to the driver’s window and the driver comes out. They walk briskly to the other two cops and from my vantage point I can see them chatting, having a conversation like four buddies. The driver then goes into his pocket three times and shakes each of the boys in blue hands, and they laugh heartily and tap him on the shoulder and then they depart like long lost friends who were catching up.

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it doesn’t have meaning.” I let that sentence swish and swirl in my brain. I like how it fits in my brain like an exquisite wedding dress. I like how it hugs and caresses me but before I can finish having my brain orgasm the Matatu stops. “STAGE! MWISHO! The conductor sings.

I get out clutching my book and my Givenchy handbag. Dark clouds are forming. The sky looks ominous, like it’s going to rain torrents.

We had planned to meet in a restaurant called “Mzungu Bay.” He’s running late, so I order a glass of something and wait. A few minutes into my drink my phone buzzes, “I’m here, I’m in a dark suit can you see me?”

I pick my jaw from the floor. It’s Mr. Pervert from the Matatu. My heart sinks. I hang up and leave a two hundred bob note on my table.

“Something came up and I can’t make it, raincheck?” I text as I brush right past him. ‘This is the last time I’m doing blind dates,” I whisper to myself.



Post image by Casey Hugelfink via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - Kimuyu KariukiKimuyu Kariuki is a Kenyan reader who writes. A staunch Pan-African who likes to think with the tips of his fingers, but when he’s not molesting the keyboard he is usually destroying PIZZA or taking long walks.

On-line Presence: Wakimuyu

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

7 Responses to “A Matatu, a Blind Date, and a Haughty Girl | by Kimuyu Kariuki | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Hannah 2016/05/04 at 03:23 #

    Ha! I think I saw the end coming. Guess her search for Prince Charming continues. Also, I must be the only one who doesn’t understand a word of…Swahili?

    Two things, though: the excessive giggling and the Barbie. She seems too old for them?

  2. A-jay 2016/05/04 at 09:59 #

    Why would a girl go on a blind date with someone and not demand to see his picture beforehand. That seems unlikely in this day and age. Interesting read, kudos.

  3. Felicia Reevers 2016/05/04 at 11:09 #

    She’s looking for her Prince Charming but doesn’t sound like a Princess – LOL! Fun read!

  4. Gathoni wa Wairura 2016/05/05 at 04:22 #

    I love the story – easy read 🙂 So nice to read about Nairobi life.. and the swahili…great. Well done Wakimuyu.

  5. Victor Chinoo 2016/05/19 at 01:59 #

    A good read. Well done Kimuyu. Reminds me of those hectic bus rides back home!

  6. Imani 2016/11/12 at 16:03 #

    Beautiful story..with a Kenyan touch. Loved it!!


  1. A Girl A Matatu And A Blind Date - 2016/05/05

    […] By Kariuki Kimuyu, also published on Brittle Paper […]

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."


Demons in the Villa | Excerpt from Ebenezer Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic

pentecostal republics ebenezer obadare

Pentecostal Republic takes a hard look at the influence of pentecostalism in Nigerian politics. Prof. Obadare is a sociologist, who […]

Yasmin Belkhyr, Romeo Oriogun, Liyou Libsekal, JK Anowe Featured in Forthcoming 20.35 Africa Anthology Guest-Edited by Gbenga Adesina and Safia Elhillo

20.35 africa contributors

In February, we announced a call for submissions for a new poetry project. The anthology, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, […]

On Black and Arab Identities: Safia Elhillo’s Arab American Book Awards Acceptance Speech

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

Safia Elhillo has won the 2018 Arab American Book Award, also known as the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award, for her […]

Attend the Second Edition of the Write with Style Workshop with Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (2)

Following the first edition of the Write With Style Workshop, the award-winning writer, critic, and journalist Oris Aigbokhaevbolo is hosting […]

Ngugi’s Novel, Matigari, Is Being Adapted to Film by Nollywood Director Kunle Afolayan

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine, is on the short list for the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, for xxx(add phrase or blurb here from award announcement; 

Chancellor quote? Christine writing and getting approved quote).

Ngugi, whose name is pronounced ÒGoogyÓ and means Òwork,Ó is a prolific writer of novels, plays, essays and childrenÕs literature. Many of these have skewered the harsh sociopolitical conditions of post-Colonial Kenya, where he was born, imprisoned by the government and forced into exile.

His recent works have been among his most highly acclaimed and include what some consider his finest novel, ÒMurogi wa KagogoÓ (ÒWizard of the CrowÓ), a sweeping 2006 satire about globalization that he wrote in his native Gikuyu language. In his 2009 book ÒSomething Torn & New: An African Renaissance,Ó Ngugi argues that a resurgence of African languages is necessary to the restoration of African wholeness.

ÒI use the novel form to explore issues of wealth, power and values in society and how their production and organization in society impinge on the quality of a peopleÕs spiritual life,Ó he has said.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 1987 novel Matigari is being adapted to film by Nollywood director Kunle Afolayan in a co-production with yet undisclosed Kenyan […]

Safia Elhillo Makes a Fashion Statement at the Arab American Book Awards

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

From Taiye Selasi’s dreamy designer collections and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s flayed sleeves and Dior collaboration to Alain Mabanckou’s dapper suits […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.