I am still in shock, I feel shaken and traumatized. I am in denial! When my former boss called me on Wednesday morning, all I guessed was that she was going to check on me. But no, she had bad news! “Patience, have you heard about Mutunga?” she asked. “Mmmm, what about him, I haven’t talked to him.” As I answered back, I sensed the grief in her voice and the next words left me shaken. “He is no more, sad he got involved in a road accident this morning on his way to work and died on the spot.” She said.
“Oh no!!” I responded! “Let me call you back shortly, once I have confirmed the news.” She hung up on me! Not so long, calls streamed in, my former colleagues at Baraka FM, Mombasa where we worked together with the late John Mutunga, were all in shock. In denial is the probably the best word to describe the sense in which we all received the sad news. The news of passing away of Mutunga, a great friend to many, a staff at the Standard Media, a husband and a supposedly a father to -be.
Messages of condolences were immediately posted on his Facebook wall, his wife’s Facebook page and one page that connects all of us as former employees of Baraka FM. “I have been trying to comment here but I guess R.I.P would be the most accurate thing I can say for now. I couldn’t believe it until the morgue attendant rolled the cot away. Once again R.I.P.” Wrote King Nzomo a former colleague at Baraka FM and a close confidant of the late Mutunga.
Life Cut short
Since the fateful Wednesday that saw a young life cut short, we have all been bitter and sad. According to his wife, Marion Mutunga, together with her husband who served as the Traffic Manager at Radio Maisha, the two were on their way to work when the accident happened. “Patience, I am thankful to God He has strengthened me. The last thing I remember is John pushing me away! Then I fell down. So he let his life for me and our unborn baby. John was the best man, a friend and a husband God ever gave to me, I have never regretted any day of our young marriage. A reckless driver hit him and he died at the accident scene along Mombasa road!” Narrated Mutunga’s wife who is seven month pregnant with their first-born baby.
I remember Mutunga as the friend who always supplied me with music during my stay in Norway. He was so fast and when he delayed, then an explanation always followed. “I am sorry Patience for the delay, I have just seen your message but I will do so once I get the songs you are looking for.”
This is the second incident of road accidents that have left me so tortured! Such is tragedy! On the 25thDecember 2011, I lost a younger cousin on road accident too! The whole of December and even this January, many lives have been lost through road accidents. News stories narrating how many people have been pronounced dead at the expense of some reckless drivers! I am so bitter and with too many questions unanswered. How does a matatu driver hit a person on the pedestrian lane? Honestly what takes you there??? Why can’t these drivers remember that all the time they are carrying lives that are fragile? Why can’t they understand that life is too precious to be taken for granted? Why can’t these drivers simply follow basic traffic rules? For how long shall we keep losing thousands of people on careless driving? How can we teach these drivers a little patience while on the roads? I guess Kenya is the only country where drivers speed on the Zebra crossing while pedestrians cross running just in case!
Road Safety in Norway
Feeling sad about the whole story, I feel this is the time that I so miss the peace that I experienced while in Norway. I enjoyed my travelling, road accidents were rarely heard of. Drivers were conscious of their driving; they all seemed very responsible at all times. Discussing this with some of my friends in Norway, they had a few suggestions. “Maybe you need to champion for the introduction of such an organization. In Norway we have something called, Trygg Trafikk or Safe Traffic in English which has contributed a lot to increase the traffic safety by having different actions to make awareness on the road challenges and problems, working with people’s attitudes by teaching even in kindergarten and schools and through media. The organization is also working with the politicians to make them give attention to the traffic challenges and make them responsible to improve the roads. Now the young men from 18-25 are getting attention because they are causing most of the accidents and are also most often getting killed.
So Trygg Trafikk has made a computer-game to teach people to work on their attitudes. So this is about improving traffic culture and also roads having strict traffic rules which are followed up by the police and all the road users.” Advised a friend. You can get more info on the same by clicking on this web page. http://www.tryggtrafikk.no/w/English/
“Use your media power to change the situation in Kenya. With your colleagues, come together and champion for changes in the transport industry. It can be done Patience. Do not just stop at the point of feeling frustrated,” wrote another one.
“You have an obligation to change that society! Capitalism and corruption does not care for human lives. The government of Kenya can reduce traffic accidents by 80% in Kenya if they want to!” Advised a Norwegian Journalist. They all seemed to agree that is it is something that needs be changed, and therefore it shouldn’t be the norm.
It starts with you and me
As I come to terms with the loss of my dear ones, young lives cut short by some reckless drivers, my dear Kenyans, please, I beg of you, let’s be conscious while on the roads. I know accessing the internet to read my blog might be a privilege that some of the drivers might not access, so you who is reading this blog post, take it upon you to change this situation. The Kenyan traffic madness must stop. The change we so need, starts with you and me. Talk to that reckless driver and give him some sense, let him stay on course and remind him how precious life is! At a blink of an eye, one is no more!!!
“What has this death done this time round? God should punish it severely. RIP John” Koome Inyingi, John’s former colleague at Baraka FM.