This a story about my journey in a matatu and how the events that unfolded on that sunny Sunday afternoon taught me the Importance of speaking up. How I learnt that as an individual there is hope and its possible to trigger the start of the change that you want to see. ” I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
As my daughter and I hurriedly walked to the bus station, I didn’t realize that I was just about to sign-up for a class that I would not enjoy being a student in. At the ticket counter I quickly inquired of the matatu fare, to which the ticket agent replied 900 KES. for one. But, if I wanted my daughter to have her own seat then I’d have to pay double the amount. Usually, I’d have her sit on my lap when travelling, but on this day, I thought she’d be more comfortable in her own seat since it had been a long tiring day.
We quickly walked to the matatu which was quickly filling up and we were lucky enough to secure the comfortable seats behind the driver’s seat. After a while the matatu was full, every seat occupied and the journey began. But, half way through the trip, the matatu came to a sudden halt. Wondering what was happening, we all curiously looked out.
We noticed two women walking quickly towards the matatu. The conductor loudly encouraging them to come along. When they got to the door, to my dismay, they were directed to the seat right where my daughter was comfortably strapped. And before I could even protest this unjust act, the matatu was already moving. And the two women were unapologetically squeezing up into the seat next to me, squashing my daughter.
And I had no option but to move her and have her sit on my lap. I was so upset; I could hardly speak. I could not understand how anyone could be so lacking of common courtesy and act in such a demeaning and inconsiderate manner. The passengers seated behind me were staring while others whispered among themselves. No one really spoke up, I guess they had witnessed similar scenarios play out like that, too many times before.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed” Martin Luther King. I took a few minutes to compose myself before addressing the conductor. I politely told him how wrong I thought his actions were and I asked that he explain why he had behaved in such a manner knowing all too well that my daughter’s seat had been paid for.
But, it seemed like my words were falling onto deaf ears. He turned his back towards us and started humming to a song that was playing on the radio, completely ignored me. But, then I decided to raise my voice and as if he had just been struck by lightning. He suddenly turned my way looking angry, grabbed the tickets I was holding in my hands, tore them to pieces and told me to stop being dramatic.
There and then a gentleman who had been silently observing the whole scenario unfold, spoke up. He asked me if I had paid the full fare for my daughter, to which I responded yes. Suddenly everyone seemed concerned and I could hear them speaking in hushed tones at the back of the matatu. Then the gentleman offered to help since my stop was just about.
He said he would report the issue to the public transport association as soon as he got to the city. And all he needed was my contact number so he could inform me of the outcome. I reluctantly gave him my mobile number, not sure of how genuine he was and if he would actually follow up. But I was hoping he would, since I didn’t have any idea on how to follow up on the issue.
The Silver Lining
A few days later, to my surprise he called and told me he had reported the matter .The conductor and driver had been arrested and the matatu had been impounded .The fare I had paid for my daughter was to be refunded in full. He went on to inform me that, apparently the matatu had not been in good condition to be on the road. But the conductor and driver had sneaked into the garage, picked the vehicle without the owner’s knowledge and decided to make some quick money before taking it back.
And at that moment jumping happily I realized what I had done. I had unknowingly opened a Pandora box. I had taught these two criminals a painful lesson and I had learned one too. To this day, I don’t know why the gentleman chose to help me. But, the happy ending would not have been possible without him. Strangers can be caring.
The reason I shared this story, is to share my lessons, to encourage and let you know it can be done from your small corner in the world. You may be thinking ” Am only one person, my actions and efforts don’t matter, I will not make a difference” But, you will never know how effective you can be if you don’t fight for what you know to be right.
You will never know, if you don’t break the silence and speak up for what you believe. The world may not be instantly or dramatically changed by your single act, everyone else may be going along with something you don’t necessarily agree with .But, it only takes that one act, that one moment when you sum up the courage to say something. And that, may just be the beginning of something big to bring the change that you are dying to see.
“In a world full of fear, be courageous. In a world full of lies, be honest. In a world where few care, be compassionate. In a world full of phonies, be yourself. Because the world sees you. The world hopes for you. The world is inspired by you. The world can be better because of you” Doe Zantamata
Be inspired to live your best life everyday