Q: How many Ugandans does it take to get a matatu (shared minivan taxi) from Kampala to Entebbe?
A: Two to maneuver your friend’s suitcase into the front seat; another to charge her 225% of the fare because she’s bringing luggage (I’m sorry, isn’t everyone else?); three to load the back of the vehicle with bags of grain and sacks of live chickens; two to strap foam mattresses to the top; one to yell at those strapping mattresses to the top about the way in which they’re strapping mattresses to the top; six to get in, properly position (read: cram into every available nook and cranny) their baggage, get settled, then change their minds, extract their belongings and leave; one to roll his eyes at the six indecisive ones; two to press water, biscuits, handkerchiefs, newspapers and other assorted, unwanted goods on the passengers; one to beg for money as you finally roll out of the taxi park; one to run over a roadside plasticware stand two blocks from the taxi park; and three to re-pack the grain and (possibly no longer live) chickens when the back comes open after running over the plastics.
A friend and I have joked about a Frequent Matatu Rider Program. I would totally cash in my kilometers for a conductor who would adhere to the little sign painted on the side of every van that reads, “Licenced to carry 14 passengers” instead of cramming 23 people and their assorted poultry into one vehicle. A guarantee that you’ll never have to sit on the crack between the bench and the fold-down seat? What about a VIP lounge at the taxi park? Front door pick-up service? Air conditioning? Waragi-and-tonics on trips longer than thirty minutes?
The program could take its cue from KLM’s Flying Blue. I can see it now:
Do you think the government could get Jay-Z (as long as he’s on his charity kick) to convince Chamillionaire to let them his track as a theme song?