Witness: The Reluctant Outlaw – Al Jazeera (2011)


Witness: The Reluctant Outlaw - Al Jazeera Documentary Film

The Al Jazeera documentary series Witness takes a cultural tour in to Nairobi in the episode titled The Reluctant Outlaw. The Al Jazeera film is an insight in to the daily battles of Drivers in the Matatu industry, which are privately owned minibuses. The film maker Mark Healy takes a trip down to Nairobi after reading a gripping article from a Matatu taxi driver that truly spoke of the pent up resentment that is in these taxi drivers and how misunderstood they are. The directors take a trip down to Nairobi, where they have a real heart to heart with a Matatu driver named James.

James takes them through his daily routine and further describes the corruption and bribery cases they have to deal with. Due to the lack of traffic control on the roads of Nairobi, James literally takes Al Jazeera team through a real roller coaster ride, cementing the fact that driving in Nairobi is almost like playing Russian roulette; considering the fact that there are so many traffic violations that go unnoticed. However, only a Matatu driver can truly provide a better insight into the country, even better than any tour guide. Matatu drivers are often associated with the criminal underworld syndicate; therefore most people find them unreliable and violent.

However, Al Jazeera team had the time of their lives while filming for the Witness: The Reluctant Outlaw with the help of James, who was a highly intelligent and even poetic at times. He did not want to break the law, but in a country like Kenya, there is no other way to get around things. Police and gang members control various bus routes ad rightfully solicit bribes from these bus drivers. At one point, the team considered installing hidden cameras and catching the authorities red-handed while committing these crimes, but it would jeopardize James life. This Al Jazeera documentary film is highly insightful and describes how the industry is misunderstood that has destroyed their reputation in the Kenyan society.

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