I have never been one to be fascinated by the matatu culture. As far as i have always been concerned, they are there to get us home and work or wherever we need to go. They are a convenient mode of transportation and just about that. Having grown up in the famous Eastland estate, matatu’s were never always available. Sometimes we had to walk long distances when the matatu’s were not on present or had decided to carry another route.We have witnessed the era of small matatu’s to citi hoppa’s to KBS’s and the once dominant Double M buses. In those days we were just getting by. I remember as a young girl my mind was telling me how much our estate needed a consistent form of transportation from a group of buses that would be loyal to our route. I never had to grow old before this day came.

shiny umo lights

One fine morning as i stood on the usual spot waiting for any bus to come, a conspicuous looking matatu with an orange colour appeared. At first i was reluctant to board it but looking on the side and seeing its name ‘umoiner’ i had to. I was surprised because that was the name of our estate rather a combination of two estate names umoja-innercore. I was deeply intrigued and boarded immediately. I could not help but look around while inside. The graffiti was amazing and it had good music. I remembered my thoughts as a young girl and thought, Lord it’s actually happening and a grateful thank escaped my mouth to Him who thinks of all things.


These matatu’s came in like a storm. I am still yet to establish how quickly they got to dominate our market though one of the reasons i know well is their consistency and efficiency. They were not another company hoping to get more clientele but a home- made transport system by the people and for its people. It’s no wonder i took a sudden liking to them instantly. I was obviously saddened by their initial behaviour of over speeding and unruliness causing the death of our dear estatemates and injuries, but they must have learned from that lesson as to maintain themselves in this market, they would have to respect and be professional in their ways.

umo marine extreme

Having been a person who was not a fan of matatu’s, i must admit this has been changed by the umoinner culture. The theme colour is orange, white and black and lately any colour with the lenient rules that are in place. I have always been fascinated by how each and every umoinner matatu uses those same colours but brings out a unique creation, yet sticking to their theme. They have been built for the comfort of the passengers with the most extreme instalments, that makes one wonder how much the investment was.

NYPDnypd nje

I have found myself getting caught up in the euphoria of the umoinner culture sometimes hanging around town for a specific matatu. The other day my dear learned friend enlightened me on the introduction of a new matatu in the estate called lacoste which has a projector fitted in for entertainment. I was intrigued. To what ends will these umoiner’s go to grant their customer’s comfort? He further told me how one day he waited at the stage with his friends until the umoinner came just to get a taste of the lacoste experience. I must admit i had to laugh as i also made it a goal for myself to board it. So far i have not been able to board it. It is always full by the time i get to it. I am still hopeful one of these days i will board it. When i do i will let you know.

.lacoste frontperfect lacoste

Yesterday as i headed home, i could not help but wonder what makes a matatu ‘THE’  matatu. Is it the music? Is it the leather seats? Is it the big screen and small screens? Is it the graffiti inside? Is it the speed at which it is driven? Is it the design? Is it it’s wi-fi service?Is it the cctv camera’s to guarantee my safety? In my case i would have to say it’s all these combined with music topping my list. Sometimes the music being played will be so good that i contemplate not alighting at my usual stage but proceed with the matatu to wherever until the record gets finished.

sumu 2sumu

As you can read from my blog piece, i am a big fan of the umoinner culture. They happen to be quite fast and long gone are the days when we had to sit in traffic for hours on end. When you make yourself that efficient, one cannot help but love your service. I love the comfort in them and their diversity in creativity. I love that they are home bred and are ours.I love that they are ready to transport us to town by 4:00am in the morning. I love that they are always there unfortunately not during matatu strikes. I love that they are very many and i wish i knew all their names and pictures i put them down.


I have a dream that one day my name or my code name will feature on one umoinner. Go ahead and laugh, my dreams are still valid. See Lupita’s dreams remained valid, look at her,on top of an Oscar, she has an umoinner named after her. When it happens i will let you know. 🙂

Shout out to all umoinners’. Thank you for making our ride not just a service but an experience.

Yours truly,

Curious Girl.




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