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9 unwritten rules you should know while using matatus

One rule is to avoid using your fellow passenger's shoulder as a pillow, no matter how tempting it might be during the journey.

Matatus in Nairobi CBD

Navigating the intricacies of matatu etiquette is an essential skill for any commuter. While some rules are unspoken, they form the backbone of a smooth and enjoyable journey for all.

Here's a comprehensive guide to the often unmentioned guidelines to follow during your matatu travels:

A rule often observed mostly by men is not to sit with fellow men when there are other empty seats. This is not because they are homophobic rather it is to leave room for the other gender.


Securing a window seat is often regarded as the ultimate matatu victory. Not only does it provide a view, but it also ensures you won't be disturbed by fellow passengers requiring a quick exit.

Avoid using your fellow passenger's shoulder as a pillow, no matter how tempting it might be during a long, tiring journey.

Maintaining a respectful distance and refraining from encroaching on personal space is a key aspect of matatu decorum.


Resist the urge to glance at your neighbour's phone, even if it seems tempting. Respect their privacy and personal space, as you would expect them to respect yours. Keeping your focus on your own activities not only shows courtesy but also preserves a sense of mutual respect among passengers.

Conversations should be conducted in a moderate tone to avoid disturbing others. Being mindful of the volume of your voice contributes to a peaceful and comfortable environment for everyone aboard.


Keep your personal belongings close to you and ensure they do not inconvenience other passengers.

Avoid placing bags or other items on vacant seats, allowing other passengers to utilize the space effectively.

Accept that delays and unexpected stops are common occurrences during a matatu ride. Practising patience during such situations contributes to a more pleasant journey for everyone.


Refrain from engaging in heated debates or discussions that may lead to a disruptive or uncomfortable atmosphere inside the matatu.

Respect the privacy of your fellow passengers by refraining from staring or making others feel uncomfortable with prolonged gazes.


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