Narrow seat belts, wide bodies

Sunday July 7 2019


By Stella Riunga

One thing that I find most interesting about this strange country I live in is the fervour with which, like the infamous Pharisees, we strain at gnats and swallow camels. And you need look no further than that little length of elastic called a seatbelt to prove this point.

In a matatu you should see the collective terror that grips the passengers, driver and conductor when a police roadblock looms up ahead. The vehicle itself could be operating on three drops of fuel, one missing brake light, a cracked windshield and a side mirror swaying drunkenly in the wind, but it is the seat belt that will get you thrown into the filthy back of the police van, nothing else.

I always belt up because I love my life. However, the will to wear the seat belt does not always match the ability to do so. Case in point, yesterday this extremely large woman sat next to me in the back seat of a matatu.

She would have needed at least one and a half seatbelts to go round her, truth be told. So now that seat belt makers have decided only slim people need to stay alive, what are the rest of us to do? Well, I have decided to buy myself a good length of rope.

Whenever I get into a matatu, I shall secure one end as tightly as I can round myself and knot it, then insert the other end (specially flattened for this very purpose) through the normal seat belt so that I can buckle it in.

With practice, I could become highly skilled at tethering and untethering myself to seat belts in under a minute, sort of like a self-tethering goat. In fact, I could walk around with the rope knotted around my waist like a belt, so that I wouldn’t have to waste time in matatus.


I don’t know how this would work out for those of us forever ferrying about chicken, goats, and perhaps the odd sheep in matatus. I guess tethering could get tricky when non humans are involved...!
Brethren, this self-tethering goat wishes you a happy Sunday and a good week ahead.