It’s 6.45 pm along Bata Street in Voi town in Taita-Taveta county. Evening gloom is rapidly thickening into darkness as night approaches. The cloudy skies overhead cast a funer al air over the town. Street lights flutter to life. All over, shops are hastily closing down; windows are shuttering. A palpable sense of panicky urgency is in all these actions. Crowds are hurrying home as if fleeing from a coming plague. Taxis and tuk-tuks hoot frantically, calling out to passengers. Boda boda riders add to the bedlam as they dart in and out of the streets, hunting for last-minute passengers before the 7pm curfew falls.
“The curfew has hit us so hard that we still don’t know what is happening,” admits Kennedy Mwazala, a night passenger attendant working for Chania Genesis Bus Company at Voi main stage. He is not alone. All night workers share his predicament. From miraa sellers, Kahawa Chungu brewers, boda boda and taxi operators, the curfew is nothing short of an unfolding nightmare. When night falls, Voi town instantly transforms into a ghost town. The deserted streets are hauntingly empty. In the darkness of stalls lining the stage, dozens of mentally-challenged people can be seen as they hide