It was a few minutes after seven o’clock. The radio was on kiss fm – a popular local radio station – and the presenter (the very much likeable Caroline Mutoko) was talking about the envelope that Kofi Annan gave to Moreno Ocampo, the ICC chief prosecutor. The envelope supposedly has names of leading-light Kenyan politicians who organised the bloodshed that followed the botched 2007 presidential elections. We were discussing what this means for Kenya as my dad navigated the congested roads of Nairobi – the number of vehicles in this city keeps increasing but no one bothers to widen the roads. There are no lanes on most of them, and pedestrians – like the woman who almost got run over by my dad – do not care for the barely functional traffic lights and rare zebra crossings. Everyone plays games with the many traffic policemen stationed at junctions and roundabouts.
My dad had his sights ahead and to his left, trying hard not to be scratched by this very loud matatu that was trying to squeeze into the (imaginary) middle lane when all of a sudden some woman jumped into the road from the right. My dad instinctively hit the breaks, but it was too late. The front right tire hard caught the woman’s left shoe as she tried to jump back onto the pavement.
The craziest part of all this is how calm everyone involved was – including me. My dad reversed, the woman removed her shoe and then kept walking – like nothing had happened. I am convinced that Nairobian pedestrians are the toughest in the world.