Another Nairobi Adventure

Yesterday night at around 9 P.M. on Ngong road, close by Nairobi Chapel, my friend Aaron and I were returning from getting some pizza when I noticed that my motorbike was starting to sputter, and then it stopped entirely. Now I had been thinking that since I haven’t filled up for like a month, I should probably get gas soon, but I didn’t…I miss having a gas gauge. Anyway, this happened about 200 meters from a gas station, so I was like no problem, I’ll just push it down there and fill up and we’ll continue on our way. Now as I pushed the bike down the road, I remembered I had to walk right through the police checkpoint. To give a little context, I live, or rather drive, in fear of the police. I long ago determined that unless he has a gun and looks like he’s really going to use it, I will never stop for the police. I haven’t had to put that to the test until this past Sunday, when I was going down Ngong road in front of Junction and there were like 4 policemen standing out in the middle of the road, and one of them flagged me down, pointing right at me. I floored it and went right through. Like really, you’re on foot and I’m driving, and you expect me to stop…sorry, you can extort me some other time.

There were about 4 police on our side of the road, and only 1 on the other side, so I pushed the bike across the road and continued towards the checkpoint. Of course, they noticed me, and called across the street, asking what was wrong. I said I was out of gas, and was going to fill up. They said there was no gas there. I said, what do you mean, of course there’s gas there, and continued undeterred on my way. They asked me my destination, and I called back, actually that doesn’t matter, and hurried past them.

Getting to the gas station, prominently marked 24 hours on their sign, I see they are clearly closed. Now I had to think what to do. We are right by a heavily forested area known for bandits who carjack those going through. One of my friends lives not far away, so I could leave the motorbike there, and then we try to catch a matatu home, although they run less frequently at that time of the night, and it is more dangerous. Or I could call someone to bail me out and bring me gas. I called Ben, and he said just wait there.

While we are waiting, someone comes up and asks if we need any assistance. I said that I would really like some gas, and he informs me they are actually closed. I asked why there were closed when their sign says 24 hours, and he says that it is too dangerous to stay open after dark. Cool… So the two of us defenseless mzungus continued to sit by the gas pumps by ourselves, alone with a rather expensive piece of equipment, discussing African church history and marriage in the African context… But then Ben showed up, and I fueled up, and we drove home. Another Nairobi adventure.


7 thoughts on “Another Nairobi Adventure

  1. >i'm laughing at peter's comment, but not your story…so scary! i'm glad you made it. (i'm thinking of the scene in "children of men" when those people jump out of the woods and attack their car.)

  2. >Dana, I did think of that…and I mentioned to Aaron, um I don't need a license to push a motorbike past them, right? But I just dislike any interactions with the police…

  3. >It is true that I probably have an overly negative view of the police. I have since been stopped by the police, right by campus, and they were really nice and friendly, just wanted to chat. I was a little nervous, and was like "yeah, so I live right here, I'm a student here," and they were like "oh we know…" I got the impression they had been trying to stop me for a while to have a good chat. So that's wasn't so bad.

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