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Kenda Mutongi: MATATU: A History of Popular Transportation in Kenya

October 20, 2021 at 4:00 pm5:30 pm

Kenda Mutongi

The Humanities Forum and Department of History present the annual Robert K. Webb Lecture, featuring Kenda Mutongi, who will speak on matatu, a popular form of transportation in Kenya.

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. This talk will focus on the various ways in which matatus offer a window onto the socioeconomic and political conditions of post-colonial Kenya. In their diversity of idiosyncratic designs, they reflect multiple and divergent aspects of Kenyan life—including, for example, rapid urbanization, organized crime, entrepreneurship, social insecurity, the transition to democracy, and popular culture—at once embodying Kenya’s staggering social problems as well as the bright promises of its future.

Kenda Mutongi is Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of two award-winning books: Matatu: A History of Popular Transportation in Nairobi (Chicago UP, 2017) and Worries of the Heart: Widows, Family, and Community in Kenya (Chicago UP, 2007). She is currently writing a book tentatively titled Reading Under the Covers, which focuses on the history of secondary schooling in post-colonial Kenya.

A link to this free online event will be posted.

UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Live-captioning will be provided at all online events. To request additional accessibility accommodations, please contact us at dreshercenter@umbc.edu.

Sponsored by the Department of History and the Dresher Center for the Humanities.

Photo provided by speaker.


October 20, 2021
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
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