Of Combie Diaries

Of Combie Diaries

kombi

Combi/Kombi is how we refer to “public taxis” in Zimbabwe. They are basically minivan commuter omnibuses seating 18 passengers (not including the driver and conductor) They are a privately owned even though they are recognized as part of the public transport system which is the mode of transport for most people to get to work, school, home, shops, move between suburbs and some even travel between cities.

kombi

The name comes from the official name of the iconic “hippie van” the Volkswagen  Microbus/Kombi, but has now come to refer to any minibus regardless of make and model.

microbus kombi hippie van

The Kombi name itself came from the German word Kombinationskraftwagen meaning combination vehicles. These are vehicles  such as station wagons and microbus/minivans which both carried passengers and transported cargo.

 

 

 

 

 

MinibusBack to the present day Zimbabwe, a combi sits 18 people, 4 packed to a seat with four rows of seats and two passengers next to driver at the front. When the kombi is fully loaded the conductor will be standing somewhere behind the front passenger leaning next to the door which is convenient since part of what he does is not only to collect the combi fare but to open and close the door for passengers to get in and out and also telling the driver the passenger’s stops.

inside kombi

kombi

Unlike buses which can only stop at designated bus stops, combis can pick and drop passengers almost anywhere (provided there aren’t any traffic police) When you are travelling in one you have to know where you want to drop off and destinations are normally announced either by landmarks or intersections such as The Green Gate, The Blue Roof, left turn, after you turn, after the traffic lights, the conductor notifies the driver.

Pay attention to people who sit on the front passenger’s side seat of a public taxi van, who upon reaching their destination they don’t disturb the driver, even though he is closer, they turn to the conductor and notify him of their up coming stop, those are the people who understand the natural hierarchy of why some things are the way things are..

You can tell by now this mode of transportation is not without its drama mix twenty possibly random people and pack them up all squashed together like erm…. peas in a pod and you can see how every trip is most likely to be interesting.

Image result for peas in a pod

The cutest incident which happened to me, was when a passenger with a toddler sat next to me  and she kept trying to reach out and touch my hair calling me daddy (Note it was the child not the mother, just to be clear) I guess I must’ve looked bewildered cause she explained, “…..no we’ve never met but the baby daddy has locks too.” Eventually the toddler climbed over her mum and settled on my lap and promptly fell asleep with the mum looking absolutely suitably horrified and I said its ok. When they were disembarking, as I was handing her back, the baby woke up and waved “bye bye daddy…

I waved back…..

~B

Day 19 Of the blog everyday challenge themed Africa: Stories from home

Photo credits Commuter Omnibus

1992 Volkswagen Kombi

FUN Map of Public Transport In Africa  @Funmioyatogun

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22 thoughts on “Of Combie Diaries

  1. The commute back home is stressful coz I live far but Some cautionary statements are stuck in our buses like ‘don’t tell me to drive fast just because you’re late’ or ‘the devil is a liar’ crack me up. Also some conductors are a nuisance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • hahahaha public taxis are always littered with interesting stickers like the one that says
      “please the back seat is going to the same placeas the front seat” people tend to not want to sit at the back so they take a long time trying to get passengers but once the back rows get filled up it quickly gets fully booked and can leave, passengers are just weird like that..
      I suspect a far number of the conductors will be intoxicated because some of the things they say and do …. you’ll just be like you are lucky I am a praying person.
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always so interesting to learn new cultures and ways of doing things. Most interesting, however, is the similarity we share in Africa. I love that map with the different names for public transport. And I could totally relate to the Combie diaries. The story you ended with, left me with so many ‘awws’. It’s nice when such pleasant surprises happen on the bus. Well done B!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi M ^_^
      Africa shares a world of similarities, the expereinces that you think are unique only to you that are in turn actually quite common…
      And pleasant surprises are such a breath of fresh air and they make for fun stories too
      Thanks
      ~B

      Like

  3. Lovely post! I used to go to school in a combi, which was so battered the sliding door would fly open on sudden turns and the accompanying teacher once found himself standing (fortunately) on the pavement! Of course none of us kids had seatbelts…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So so similar to what goes on here. Its popularly known as Molue in Lagos. I read of a passenger who almost followed a another passenger home because he wanted to here the end of a story being told by the other passenger. Nice one daddy Rasta, wink 😉 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahahahaha Ok the part about when a passenger follows you home to hear the rest of a story means you must be very good story teller….
      Once i did miss my stop because I was having an interesting conversation with a fellow commuter.
      ~B

      Like

  5. I used to hate combis in Zimbabwe because of the speeding, that was before I experienced the minibus in Hong Kong. you also have to know the name of your stop (in Chinese) not English btw. I have missed one too many stops as a result because my Chinese is non-existent. The speed is also insane, you will be holding on for dear life 🤣🤣combi culture is universal clearly

    Like

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