For first-timers, travelling to Ongata Rongai from the centre of Nairobi using public means tends to be a rather peculiar experience. As one of Nairobi’s much farther satellite towns and primarily accessed through the single-lane Magadi Road, the process of getting to Rongai can be nothing short of hellish during peak traffic hours. The town’s hard-to-reach status has given it a bad rap over the years, best summarised by the popular phrase “Rongai si Kenya.”
The other thing that stands out are the matatus which ply the route. Even though most Nairobi-based matatus have distinctive qualities, the ones that ply route 125/126 are the ones constantly extending the limits of matatu art and design. Each new matatu that is introduced to this highly profitable and competitive route brings with it something innovative to give it an edge over competitors. Be it on-board wifi, or display screens on the floor, or roomy VIP sections – you probably saw it first on a Rongai matatu. It was only a matter of time before these matatus were immortalized in popular culture. Rongai based rapper Tunji has finally done so with aplomb on Mat Za Ronga, an instant banger of a tune which blew up towards the end of 2016.
There’s a lot to like about Mat Za Ronga, starting off with its insanely infectious trap beat which has the kind of drowning bassline you’d like to hear in a freshly launched Ongata Line nganya as it speeds through Langata Road. Tunji works the beat with a couple of great verses, namedropping the most popular Rongai matatus along the way.
The much awaited music video directed by Richie-G does its job well but, unlike the matatus it features, the video needed a flashier concept to fully complement the awesomeness of the song. A few more shots of the vehicles actually moving through the city like in KO’s Caracara, or doing those dangerous donuts as seen on Matwana Culture and this would have been a masterpiece.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It has been a long while since we were blessed with a matatu-themed song as impactful as Necessary Noize’s Kenyan Gal Kenyan Boy, or a hood-specific song as refreshing as Lenny, Googs and Vinie Banton’s Githurai. So,let’s call Mat Za Ronga what it is: an instant classic.