6 years ago, a friend was describing to me how distraught she was as her mother had plans to buy a car. I was utterly surprised as everyone’s script of making it, involves a car in the equation.
Imagine my mum wants to buy a Probox of all cars. Afadhali tukae bila gari!
She concluded with finality.
She might have expected me to join her in the apparent sorrow as I was her then best friend. Instead, I kept mum as she kept narrating this and that. I knew a Probox was a type of car, from her descriptions, but I didn’t exactly know how it looks. I am not a car fanatic.
I can’t tell a Range Rover from Prado, is that a problem? I know a Lamborghini. I thought cars only exist as Toyota, Corolla, Isuzu and Subaru. You can go ahead and judge me but the only car I know for sure is Vitz. Mercedes Benz, nay.
Years later I finally know the Probox. Took me long enough, didn’t it? The main reason I got to know it, it’s currently propelling all kinds or businesses in Kenya. The Japanese are sure making loads of dough from their high demand in this country.
The best thing about the Probox is it is affordably Cheap! They come in various colours from white (very common), gray, navy blue, extra black and yellow too!
A few years back, the Pope himself was scheduled to ride in a purple Probox (my favourite colour!) while in Kenya as it had a sense of humility to it. Whether he eventually did or not is a story for another day.
Here are some ways Kenyans use the Probox far from its manufactured purpose when exported:
1. A Chemist!
Forget ‘dawa ya mende, dawa ya panya’ voice that usually promises to get rid of all your pest problems from your house through the amplifier.
This is your full operational chemist where the medicine actually serves you.
You also get those herbs manufactured into soaps, toothpastes and lotions that promise to end all your skin troubles, from acne to those dark spots for a clear everlasting smoothness.
Your brownish-yellow teeth, will also magically turn white, as they will not be able to resist the power of the paste ordinarily packaged into green tubes and boxes complete with a toothbrush.
2. A mini matatu.
One person at the front with the driver, four at the seats meant for 3 and all that space at back, fits about 4 to 5 people. That is only if you are ‘comfortable’ otherwise you are stashed in there like sacks of potatoes, seven whole humans!
At which point, the boot door cannot close and you are driven off holding on to your fellow passengers reciting the Lord’s prayer.
3. Transport farm harvests.
Want to move your shamba products to the market after harvesting? Hire or buy a probox!
This car will carry your sacks either of maize or beans to your desired destination.
4. Shop for your CDs.
Have you just released a song that you think will hit? Worry no more, all you need is a probox, your CDs and a good speaker.
This way you can go round making stops advertising yourself and hopefully, folks will ignore the loud music blasting from the speakers and promote you.
5. Selling electronics.
In the CBD, you are used to seeing stall after stall with young men and women calling out to you to buy the phones they are selling. On display usually are dummy phones with an attractive colour to draw your eyes to them.
Welcome to Eastleigh where there are fewer stalls and more of Proboxes (isn’t the plural of box – boxes?). And you get your phone costing between 1k-3k. If you want a durable phone, go to a well known store. For here, they only sell ‘za kushikilia’.
For socket extensions, chargers and TV decoders, you don’t have to go to town. All you need to do is choose your favourite colour of the ‘provider’.
6. Food items.
From cabbage, waru to the green bananas, all these are stocked in the boot and it is left open for buyers to pick the best.
There is no mix and match, each Probox has its specialisation. Those dealing with nyanya have them full to the brim and it is up to you to do the sampling. It would interest you to know, that these foodstuffs are sold at a throw away price!
Are fruits food as well? If yes then in Ruiru, find a man standing by his pineapples in the Probox. (I avoid saying it is his then it turns out otherwise). When he intergates other fruits and makes his ‘station’ the fruity one, I’ll start buying from him.
7. School bus.
Imagine having 8 or more school going kids. At the rate which school buses operate, you surely need your own kavan for the children to acquire an education and to reduce the costs.
Well, this is the case for many Eastleigh residents who have a staircase of kids. All 8 are packed in the ‘spacy’ car and a poorly paid driver fights to beat traffic behind the wheel.
8. Campaign rallies.
This is definitely used by the common mwananchi, the politicians ride in Rovers. In any case, they could pay you or NOT for painting your car the colour of their party with their pictures pasted all over for emphasis.
When the election season is over however, you incur the costs of remodelling it if you were not hired.
9. Miraa transporters.
Are you looking for an easier way to move your miraa produces from Meru to Nairobi? The search is over!
The Probox will do this for you. It’s an outstanding vehicle that will provide you this service of delivering without delay. Hurry, don’t let your fellow farmer hire one before you!
10. Robbery Getaway.
A gang is usually made up of 6 members and above. For a quick escape for all members together and space for the ‘merchandise’, a tinted Probox comes in handy.
Don’t start getting any ideas here..
Despite its uncomely looks and the constant ridiculing over the choice of car you might receive, you sure can make some money by owning one.
Be careful not to hire it to robbers or anyone who is into suspicious or illegal businesses as it will be registered to you.
What are the other ways you’ve seen Kenyans use the Probox or any other car for? Feel free to engage!