OF recent I have taken up a new daily commute down a road that presents nostalgic value that will be the subject of another tale some day.
This marram road, going through a small trading centre whose real name I am yet to establish, helps me cut my commute by about half on most days.
Sometimes, though, the strategy is confounded by external factors such as heavy rain and truck drivers who care very little about anything five metres away from their steering wheels.
One such time a couple of weeks ago, a couple of container carrying trucks got stuck into the muddy marram and blocked progress at rush hour. We found ourselves turning around and following a fellow who knew a route that went through a village called Kireku – and I still don’t know how we knew to follow that driver.
As we navigated the narrow dirt road squeezing past houses angled randomly, we got to a group of little children chanting and waving us along. I was astounded when I got close enough to hear their chants.
“Mutuviire! Mutuviire! Mutuviire!” they repeated, all smiles as if they were singing that “You are wellokam” song. (‘Mutuviire’ means, “Depart from us” or “Leave our space”!)
There are horror movies that follow this theme – using small children doing surprisingly cold things while smiling to catch you off guard. I drove home silently pondering over who could have coached those children to gather and chant like that.
Back in the day, or in most other places (I presume) little children like that would wave smilingly at you as you drove past.
Then last week, driving through the dust in the evening behind one of many reckless drivers along that road, I noticed him swerving quickly into the centre of the road. I normally drive slowly because of visibility through that thick brown dust, and I am outnumbered by the stupid, selfish people who speed right through it from one end to the other.
Those are the drivers who don’t care at all for the residents along that road, always raising piles of dust that settles quickly onto the clothes, food and wares of the people living and operating in those shacks, kiosks and houses set admittedly too close to the road.
The idiotic driver in front of me that day, who was speeding behind an equally idiotic driver, was forced to swerve quickly into the middle of the road because of the realisation that there was a boulder in his path. I saw that boulder, about three metres high and a couple of metres thick, in good time and calmly evaded it.
In the morning, going the other way, I noticed that there was an increasing number of such rocks and boulders in the road. They were placed specifically at points designed to force drivers to slow down and raise less dust or splash less water, depending on the weather.
That was a fair enough intervention, I thought to myself, and even though I could only imagine the discomfort of the residents from the speeding vehicles I was worried about the malice involved in placing the rocks and boulders.
Many of the small piles were positioned, like the boulder of the evening before, in such a way as to trap cars one way or another. That malice, was borne out of those residents being fed up of the mindlessly selfish manner in which drivers speed down that road raising dust or muddy water with little regard for the little people living and working right there.
Personally, I continue to drive carefully and pledge to always be mindful of those residents so that I don’t run into one of those boulders, and I hope other drivers take this into account as well.
I have a lot to say about how mindless we are as road users, and how we will fully deserve to run into massive boulders one day. Those who speed around with convoys and sirens, the ones who skip lanes and create traffic jams, the ones who drive up on our miserable pavements and push pedestrians off…the list is long.
And I fear this is not just about roads, but soon we will hear more chants of “Mutuviire” from the most unlikely sources. And if we are not well mannered enough to think of others as we do what we do, we should be scared or threatened into being mindful of the little people by the side of the road…before they pick up those boulders and actually throw them at us.