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Nairobi to Mafikeng by bus – The making of a dollar a day #Sawa Sour

I travelled to South Africa on the 30th November 2011, barely three weeks  from Thailand, as a participant in The World Jam 2011. My friend Akili Blaq(MM3rd) encouraged me not to wait for the almighty donors, to raise me a travel grant but to hit the road gangster style, on my return to South Africa.

I was not ready for this journey but home is the last place i wanted to be, jonesing to get in touch with
myself, not feeling the energies around.  Pardon me, if I sound cryptic, simply put,  i needed to look at Kenya from a distance.
My return to South Africa was not a cushy flight to Oliver Tambo airport, I travelled 6000 miles by road (yes, i did).
That’s from Nairobi-Daresalaam-Tunduma(TZ) – (Nakonde,Zambia) – Lusaka to Kazungura(Border post between Zambia & Botswana) -Kazungura to Francistown – Francistown to Gaborone and Gaborone to Mahikeng.

Biggy Shuari Vedasto the Money changer

My acquaintance, turned saviour, then friend Biggy Shuari Vedasto (The money changer), operates in Tunduma at the
Tanzanian side of the border with Zambia.  I’d not only have bandages on my ego but on my frame as well.  This brother saved my life from unscrupulous smugglers posing to be money changers -Call me for a narration of the whole story.

Tunduma has all nationalities from Palestinians, Nigerians, Kenyans , Ugandans,South Africans,Russians,Mauritanians- a melting pot of thugs,priests,rappers,children,backpackers,hoodlums,hawkers,cooks and even nuns. I owe you more than one, that’s why i shouted you out on track 18. A dollar a day -the beginning of good friendship.

Play A Dollar a day [audio https://maishayetu.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/18-a-dollar-a-day-sawa-sour-muki-garang-akili-blaq-produced-by-ghostchyld-mm3rd.mp3]
You need to note the Border between Harare and Johannesburg Beitbridge is the busiest border point in the world. I avoided it at all costs because it takes as much as 4 hours to be processed.  My only option which is actually the easiest,was the border post between SA & Bots Ramatlabama which is traffic free!

This is the part you were hoping i wouldn’t come to, you have to board the ferry and cross over to Botswana, you pay 1 pula
(ksh.13) to get a ticket to pay for the ferry. There are volunteer guides, who play the guide card and will show you the
ropes. Naturally you will be obliged to give them something, asking, “How much are you charging?” they reply “Whatever your
heart says.” Eiish, wena, from a struggling man to another ..that phrase kills me! -Back to the story,there are  no buses
plying Kazungura-Gaborone route unless you have an advanced booking,so my friend i had to hike!


Not a pleasant experience for a backpacking newbie -ne? Yes, seven hours to Francistown through the Okavango Delta with
African Bush elephants flexing their might at will on various points of the road. I was uneasy unable to remove my camera
and take photos, bundled up with locals and foreigners from Zambia, Somalia, Tanzania you name it but i did and captured
this right here. The ride costs 100 Pulas (Approx. Ksh.1300).

On reaching Francistown the hike doesn’t end there, i was still forced to hike to Gaborone only this time a BMW pulled up.
Only problem was, am i able to hop in a ride with three dudes in a foreign land? I jumped in and i was in Gaborone in 3
hours after covering 300kms. The roads are superb, well lit and smooth, quite a contrast from where i reside. The rates are
the same 100 pulas for the distance.

I love South Africa because food is ready in the morning! had me some thick juicy fries sprinkled with barbecue season, with grilled chicken and Rooibos tea (Nyana), at the Bus ranks in Gabs, after which i called Akili who wanted me to hope on the next taxi to  maftown ! Relax Mfwethu, am on my way!

I patched at Angel’s for a bit kicking it with good folk and eating munchies (Prasadam) from the nearby Krishna temple. You see my dear friend Angell is Krishna not only is he deep but your poetic aptitude has to be crisp when building with him.

Freshened up the then hit the road to the Bus ranks to board a Taxi (Matatu) to Mafikeng/Mahikeng (Depending on your taste bud’s adoption of the former country to a South African province). Accompaned by my Bots pals; Tas,Stemi,Kabo and Bryan.

It’s a 2 hour ride from Gabs to Maftown and i alighted at Mmabatho palms Hotel where my brother Akili Blaq was waiting for me. We then took a walk to Unit 6 where my boy hosted a brother for a month plus change. With every day that passed Akili wiped the
smudge off my face – he was not taking any excuse, i pleaded “Bra its been four years since i rapped, how do i start again?”

We wrote lyrics, made beats, invited other artists,friends to build and record music with us, first MC to come visit was Apu Sebekedi. Apu made a song from what he had me say, about feeling so old in the club nowadays. With chorus “I woke up feeling mad old!” genious kid that one!

Lerato Mosimane is a trustee of Platinum African Youth Tourism together with Maisha Yetu we organized an exchange program that brought together friends who birthed A dollar a day. Alongside Boni and Phillip Anokye we helped in community activities such as her golf clinics held to mark the 16 Days of activism. During this time a number of MCs and poets come and record for different projects at Dextraw studio.

Whilst in pocket, i broke bread with peers Augustus Assan, Phoebeh Phokompe, Mpho Ya Badimo, Kholisile Lizwe Khlangwana,Attmattatva Das,Emmanuel Aro, Bra Sam Bass and our brother TLS on the current state of the New South Africa (The rainbow nation).  On Issues pertaining to Xenophobia, ethnic diversity, historical and economic injustices in the post apertheid nation, amongst other topics such as; why Pap in South Africa is all soft and Mushy and has to be cooked with salt! -It’s all about your gologoshe ne?

Mafikeng’s policy makers and stake holders did not miss out, Sylvia Liabile the Chairperson for the Northwest Business women’s chairperson and South Africa Business Comittee on Hiv and Aids, caught wind of the on going recording of A dollar a day and gave us her input.

Time waits for no man,had to hit the road,left Maftown and my dear brother Akili Blaq,Lerato,their beatiful bundle of joy Boo boo bear-Our cover model for the album and Regos. To be honest i had no zeal for hiking, so when i got to Gabs  I booked a bus from Gaborone to
Lusaka for 500 Pulas (Approx. Ksh.6500). The Gabs -Lsk bus only plies the route on Thursdays so i had to patch at Angel’s for a couple more days.

At Kazungura (border post with Botswana and Zambia) the sun is right above your head -thanks to the Kalahari desert. African Bush elephants roam at will, hanging around the police at the road block,they seem cool. Au contraire to the immigration officers very unfriendly to their black kin –This immigration officer asked me to return to the back of the queue, when i got to the counter for my exit stamp on the passport  –yes and the bus is almost leaving, boarding the ferry crossing into Zambia.

It gets worse while in Zambia at the immigration office, a crowd of travellers queue waiting for declaration forms which are not handed out by the attendant.  During this time the bus is being offloaded to determine what requires to be taxed by the Zambia revenue authority . It iss very easy to loose your luggage in Zambia, folk around customs are very hungry men!

Lusaka,Zambia reminds me of Kenya in the 90s. On arrival i was unable to get a bus to Daresalaam, so i had to spend one night in Lusaka. I thought of checking in at Kalulu backpackers hostel but i needed to be around, just incase the booking offices had one of their bookies show up in the middle of the night. I tucked in my stuff at the luggage bay, remaining with my backpack watching events of the night unfold.

Ke Survival for the illest mfwethu

My adaptation skills required me to get a local, who would give me tips of survival at the Lusaka intercity Bus terminus. So i made friends with the loudest guy, an average height dark man by the name Deshen powers – he insisted on both names called out.  Deshen powers owns a shop right in the middle of Lusaka Intercity bus terminus and he is always rapping.  So i went and bought myself a cup of coffee and buttered bread at his coffee shop -he was picking his nose then but (shrug).  I asked him if he was a rapper and he  immediately began kickign a verse. I pulled out my digi cam and recorded him in action, kicking 16s non-stop.

Chilling with Doshen Powers was quite an experience, especially when he decided to set the record straight . A drunk man whom i came to learn was a Malawian witchdoctor, kept hustling me for change. In exhibiting a gesture of good will for our new found relationship based on our love for the Hiphop culture, Doshen pimp slapped the drunk witchdoctor putting and end to his dunken stupor.

Doshen being well known treated me with some beer, like Nyati beer for those who grew up in the 80s. It is not legal to consume alcohol at the Lusaka Intercity Bus terminus but my host is well know and somehow we did.

During summer the sun comes up as early as 4am, sipping on watered down milk coffee,Doshen Powers explained to me how lots of African fall victims to Aids.  He was saddenned by how ‘weak Africans’ intoxicated their bodies with ARVs. He told me “I am not scared of AIDS, when i was young, i went to the bush , after my initiation the sangoma put something on my thing, it was painful but now i am safe.”

He continued to explain, “I have a friend of mine who is sick right now from sleeping with a girl who has H.I.V., i slept with that girl but nothing happened to me, i do not fear AIDS.” Yes keep on imagining how my face looks like at this point. Its finally morning,cant wait to get to Dar.

On my way to Tanzania after passing Mbeya and Iringa  National park , rich with animals. Usually when visiting game reserves you have to drive lots of kms inside to see the prized lions, not this one, i saw lions sprawled on the grass by the roadside, how about that? So what are the tips again when you get a puncture?

Nakonde, the Zambian side of the border with Tanzania is hectic! The Zambia revenue authority literally empties a 150 seater bus and all items in it to determine what requires taxation.

Ubungo bus station in Dar-e-salaam, is a bee hive of activities young men trying to make a living selling bread and water in that exact order.  During their short breaks they make hiphop  beats on fruity loops from PIV PCs and rap their hearts out on some hardcore beats.

Unfortunately Doshen made sure my battery ran out so i do not have a pictures or videos from Ubungo. I freestyled to a couple of their beats and they spoke broken english with me. Most people often assume i am nigerian (i wonder why? is it my nose, my build or i got that Yoruba, ibo mojo on the real?) Wahala dey!

Since no buses travel at night in Tanzania i had to wait till morning to hit the road from Dar to Nairobi. So now here i am,pondering over my next movement. Thankful that i made it back alive with a Musical project recorded by friends who left all the challenges, the hand of the world has dealt them, and  put in positive contributions, that will not only affect them but also you the
listener. Thank you dear friends for sharing with me.

I got things to do here before i leave again,promote the distribution of A Dollar a day, Hiphop parliament workshops, volunteering here and there, put in more community work. Deep down my heart longs for Bolivia, living in the Amazon connect with nature, chew coca leaves and break bread with the Shamans in lucidity, learn to live simple seeking purity,partake in the Ayuhuasca ritual, tap into the spirit world and battle with my inner voice and repair this wounded soul. This is my wish, Bolivia!

About maishayetu

Maisha Yetu is a Cultural Organization that was registered in 2006 with the aim of using its objectives in a creative fashion to involve Kenya’s youth in participation towards National development.

5 responses to “Nairobi to Mafikeng by bus – The making of a dollar a day #Sawa Sour

  1. Sam ndegwa ⋅

    Yo tht filz real like hiphop z a root that establishes many ends..u jus av 2 choose urz>ur an inspiration 2 many..Big up!

  2. Pacman ⋅

    Yo Muky, that’s quite a story man, keep walking through to every corner of this world man and through the rains and darkness of the tunnels that you have to go through, don’t ever forget to carry your torch coz you might need it sometime, peace God and a shout out to my nigga Akili all the way down South, and to all of those making him feel at home along corridors of maffikeng, peace.

  3. Pingback: ZEEK NATION (zetu east kwetu) – A DOLLAR A DAY COMPILATION

  4. Eugene 02 ⋅

    yo dats quite a story there, nw dats wat i call cal real hip hop hustle, inspiring stuff, kkep yo head up n keep doin wat u do, peace love n happines yo, #RESPECT

  5. Pingback: Sunray | Maishayetu's Blog

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