Posts, Urbanization. African life in 21st century. Stuck in cities and cars, with no way out!

“OH, so sorry! It’s been just traffic jam…”

March 23, 2018
“Traffic jam”. This is the keyword when being late for an appointment in the centre of Nairobi: it’s enough to avoid disappointment.
In Kenyan capital, life is scheduled by traffic and driving for hours just to make a single kilometre is getting more and more usual.
Symbol of urban metamorphosis, vehicles’ flow forces people to reorganize their meetings and appointments: lots of professionals, hanging around the centre of the city, have learnt some useful expedients, such as going out their houses at 5 am to get to the office at 6 am, avoiding being stuck in their cars for three hours – a situation which is likely to occur if they depart just an hour later. Only on Saturday and Sunday the roads, empty with workers, show distances as they really are: short.
Just two trips, from the suburbs to the centre of the town, are enough to notice an established mechanism: car is the space for Africans to do any kind of things, while they optimise the time spent inside it. A matatu crowded with people, cars carrying vegetables and a crowd of tireless people walking to work. From your car window you can see lives on the move: career women working on their laptops while being stuck in the traffic jam, two colleagues having their first meal, someone buying something for the week at the street vendors – fresh fruit, vegetables, newspapers, handkerchiefs, peanuts…
The engine is off, you don’t lack time to choose.

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