Book ID: CBB364867318

Matatu: a history of popular transportation in Nairobi (2017)


Kenda Mutongi (Author)

The University of Chicago Press

Publication Date: 2017
Physical Details: 350
Language: English

Drive the streets of Nairobi and you are sure to see many matatus colorful minibuses that transport huge numbers of people around the city. Once ramshackle affairs held together with duct tape and wire, matatus today are name-brand vehicles maxed out with aftermarket detailing. They can be stately black or come in extravagant colors, sporting names, slogans, or entire tableaus, with airbrushed portraits of everyone from Kanye West to Barack Obama, of athletes, movie stars, or the most famous face of all: Jesus Christ. In this richly interdisciplinary book, Kenda Mutongi explores the history of the matatu from the 1960s to the present. As Mutongi shows, matatus offer a window onto many socioeconomic and political facets of late-twentieth-century Africa. In their diversity of idiosyncratic designs they express multiple and divergent aspects of Kenyan life including rapid urbanization, organized crime, entrepreneurship, social insecurity, the transition to democracy, chaos and congestion, popular culture, and many others at once embodying both Kenya's staggering social problems and the bright promises of its future. Offering a shining model of interdisciplinary analysis, Mutongi mixes historical, ethnographic, literary, linguistic, and economic approaches to tell the story of the matatu as a powerful expression of the entrepreneurial aesthetics of the postcolonial world.

Reviewed By

Review Jennifer Hart (2019) Review of "Matatu: a history of popular transportation in Nairobi". American Historical Review (p. 392). unapi

Review Emma Park (March 2019) Review of "Matatu: a history of popular transportation in Nairobi". Transfers (pp. 118-119). unapi

Review Gordon Pirie (June 2018) Review of "Matatu: a history of popular transportation in Nairobi". The Journal of Transport History (pp. 132-134). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Jones, David W.
Roess, Roger P.
Sansone, Gene
Thompson, Gregory L.
Ovenden, Mark
Mike Ashworth
The Journal of Transport History
Railroad History
Technology and Culture
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology
Indiana University Press
Elsengold Verlag Berlin
The University of North Carolina Press
The MIT Press
Local transit
Land transportation
urban transportation
George Smith Duncan
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
18th century
21st century
United States
New York City (New York, U.S.)
London (England)
Paris (France)
New Jersey (U.S.)
Berlin (Germany)
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Key System Transit Lines (Calif.)

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