By Fadhili L Ogova
Published October 19, 2008
As I walk through the Ngong Hills market on the outskirts of Nairobi, I hold my nose. The strong smell of fish is too overwhelming for my liking. Going home is a challenge under such conditions, as I always have to pass through this market to and from school, church or town.
The shouting matatu (public service vehicles) touts never fail to attract your attention with their “Beba 30 town, 10 Karen”, meaning special Sh30 fare to Nairobi instead of the usual Sh50 and Sh10 to Karen instead of Sh20 to pull passengers away from the attractive new generation and expensive PSV like “Citi Hoppa”, “Sun City” and “Golden Edge” that have almost put the hitherto unchallenged Kenya Bus Services vehicles out of business. But these vehicles are also catching up fast with the matatu modus operandi.
The market has been here as a trading centre between the Maasai and the Kikuyu for as long as most people can remember. Like most markets in Africa, you can find anything here: from erasers to chicken. Ours is no exception as any one can tell you.
On a normal market day, many goods are on sale. From trousers za finje (trousers worth fifty shillings) to expensive hi-fi systems, it is not difficult to find whatever you are looking for cheaply.
Most common items in the market are fruits and vegetables that come in many displays of colour ranging from deep-red tomatoes to dark-green spinach and from orange carrots to yellow sweet bananas. Unless one is careful, one may easily mistake it for a fireworks display.
My brother, sister and I usually go with my mother to shop every Saturday. Little, shiny trinkets always catch my sister’s eye however she isn’t always bought what she wants and ends up crying.
As we are going home one Saturday, there is a commotion behind us. We quickly whip back our heads hoping to find out what is happening. There is smashed glass on the road. A lorry supposedly rammed into a large bus that was heading towards Matasia. Many a time, the market is the scene of many accidents as the stage runs through it. Most vehicles involved are buses and, yes, matatus.
Going to the market is not always bad for us, for at times entertainers, fire-eaters (or are they flameÂ swallowers?) and acrobats visit. They are always received with open hands and crowds form at their stands the whole day, sometimes blocking vehicles from using the road.
There are public toilets but a person has to pay to use them. Those whose homes are near the market can go home for lunch or some other matter, while leaving someone to watch over their stands.
Who knows, maybe one day Ngong market may become a worldwide brand name.
About the aurhor:
Fadhili Ogova wrote this article when he was 10 years old