A few days ago, a scuffle ensued in the bus on my way home. I really wish I had recorded it all but that thought seemingly didn’t cross my mind at the time so I’ll just rely on what I can remember. It may not be much but had you been there, you’d agree with me that it would make an awesome movie. 🙂
So I was seated a few seats from the back of the bus totally minding my own business when I heard people a few seats ahead throwing words at each other. I tried to ignore, hoping it would be short lived just like others I’ve witnessed before. However, the altercation outlived itself and attracted the attention of nearly everyone in the bus. In addition, this was no ordinary bus where heated arguments are but a normal occurence. The proprietors of this fleet of buses know that though many people use public transport, it is not everyone’s piece of cake and so they try to make their buses as comfortable and conducive as possible for the working class. Many want a quiet, peaceful and secure ride home and they ensure that that is provided especially since their motto states that Customer is King.
There was no deafening music that is characteristic of most public service vehicles so we were all distracted by the ensuing battle of words. A woman hinted that it was important to respect the conductor since he was at his place of work. The statement must have been directed to a man a few seats away who did not take it seated down (literally). He stood and answered back_ adding salt to injury.
Apparently, the man had small value currency notes clearly visible in his wallet but insisted on giving a large value note. This was in spite of an instruction on the bus’ rules sheet (stuck on the walls) that requested passengers to give low currency notes/coins to facilitate easy change. In his defense, he had freedom to choose which of his monies he wanted to use to pay the fare, provided that he payed the value demanded for the service, right? After all, the bus motto ‘Customer is King’ seemed to support the man’s actions. On being given change, the man insisted that he wanted notes instead of the coins which the conductor had. It would have been easier if he had agreed to give the less value notes but he’d chosen otherwise so the conductor asked him to wait. It was obvious the conductor didn’t take it kindly but he must have been trained well.
The woman following the conversation must have found the man disrespectful, hence, the comment, as she offered the conductor notes in exchange for coins so the conductor would be able to give the man his change. When the man answered back, he was confronted by the other women around. This annoyed him further and he spoke in an attempt to protect his image; his self pride as a MAN :-D. He argued back and stated that he was on Ramadhan so they should spare him the negative energy.
The man used a few unkind words which prompted a lady to speak her mind on the need for self respect. She sounded authoritative, the kind of people who just compel you to listen to them. She spoke sense and we all seemed to agree with her. She doubted the man’s claim on his fast since Ramadhan is a period when people try to gain and maintain virtue, and such people are known to be calm and peaceful. True. However, the lady mentioned something that sparked further argument; the fact that the man is of Somali origin.
The battle then shifted to one where the man sought to protect his origin. There were many other Somali’s in the bus but most were men who did not see the sense in fighting ‘women’ battles. They tried to convince the man to let it all slide but to no avail. The man was determined to prove himself. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but from the man’s behavior, those wise men should have added ‘man’ to that proverb.
Many abusive words were exchanged with neither of the fighting parties (man versus women) wanting to be outdone. A supervisor boarded the bus midway to try and quell the commotion and it was funny how no one was able to say what the problem was.
All we wanted was a quiet ride home but clearly we would not have that wish granted. By the time I alighted, the scuffle was still on despite the supervisor’s efforts to calm people down.
For me, the whole incident looked very childish. I was aching to stand and give them a piece of my mind but I restrained myself, seeing that all who had tried to do so had only made the situation worse. I was specifically angered by how they unreasonably based the argument on nationality was. Some people were arguing that Somali’s did not even have a right to talk because they were not even in their own country!!! 😦 I’d bet that most of the said Somali’s were Kenyan Citizens but even if they weren’t, the constitution Kenyans voted in allows for dual citizenship! At some point the bus was nearly redirected to Buruburu police station to ‘report’ the ‘foreigners’ who were causing disturbance for citizens. I would have got neck pains for the many times I shook my head in disagreement. Clearly, it’s not only tribalism that is an issue.
Which civilized adult calls another ‘mbwa’, in public and expects to be treated with respect? So what if someone calls you stupid? Does it make you any less intelligent? Does it? I don’t think so. So why would you put your sanity on the line to try and argue with someone or prove to people that you’re not; people who don’t even know you, cannot pick you out from a crowd a few minutes later and chances of ever boarding the same bus with them are close to nil? Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against trying to prove that you’re not stupid but there’s a point beyond which it becomes clear that you could be so.
I alighted with a lady who had sat at the front and naturally, we expressed our opinions on the whole incident. On my part, I could not understand why people take some things so seriously. There were even threats to follow a certain woman to her home and REPORT her to her husband. Report her for commenting that a conductor ought to be respected?!! Really, what would one gain from making such a report???! This was what I found most childish since its only kids who report each other to their parents to get the satisfaction of seeing the victim get caned or punished.
I must have been the youngest in that bus and had I stood, I would have a lot of questions to ask them. The main one would be if they would use such disrespectful terms in the presence of their children. I posed that question to the lady I’d alighted with and she answered with a tone of surety and finality that they wouldn’t. Fine, their children weren’t around, but what about me and the other people’s ‘children’ who were there? If I was to learn from such adults, don’t you think I’d be more inclined to behave as they did if I found myself in a similar situation?
You may have heard older people call our generation a ‘rotten’ one. But don’t you think that all the ‘rot’ our generation exhibits must have been learned from somewhere., the preceding generations to be precise? Do not take it against me but it was such a pain to watch respectable adults (very well dressed and looking the part) argue in an unrefined manner and behave like their 6 year olds without even realizing it. And I doubt they had any apologies for their behavior. Anyway, it’s important to be a good example everywhere and more so to our siblings (and children); to teach them well.
The arguing group was only a small percentage of the total adult population; they were slightly more than ten out of a bus of fifty. It’s encouraging to know that there’re an equally high percentage of sane people of my generation; people whose behavior may not be altered by that of the not-so-sane people they may come across. Whatever the case, it’s important to realize that our maturity ought to be equal to or exceed our ages. Growth is continuous and irreversible but maturity is a choice we have to take. Maturity helps us know when to talk and when to be silent. We are able to give a wiser and more reasonable contribution if we take time to listen to all parties and only talk when necessary (an observation by @MuluThe_Don that I totally agree with).
A mature person knows that they’re beyond certain unreasonable arguments, they avoid using certain terms when referring to people and avoid discussing faults of others without necessity.
Maturity helps one exercise self restraint. With self restraint, we’re able to moderate and/or overcome desires of the flesh and desires to unreasonably protect our image.
Let our behavior speak for us. After all, actions are louder than words. Let’s also learn to live a little (see @dans_onPoint’s blog ) ; life is too short to get easily angered by little things that don’t really matter.
So what if someone calls you stupid/ a failure /a person beyond help/ ‘mbwa’/mjinga/ clever if you’re not? Don’t let it go to your head, its never thaaaat serious.