Meaning of matatu in English:


Pronunciation /məˈtatuː/


  • (in East Africa) a minibus or similar vehicle used as a taxi.

    ‘The government was particularly targeting the vehicles known as matatus - usually 24-seater vans and 32-seater omnibuses owned by individuals.’
    • ‘He reappears with a matatu (which in a more touristy place has the wonderful name of ‘tandala,’ as that is how much it costs without pre-barter), which is a mini minibus, basically a van with seats.’
    • ‘These are matatus, the most popular means of transport for Nairobi's two million people.’
    • ‘I waded through the taxi-park bedlam into a matatu, and was squashed up on all sides by strangely comforting fat hips, warm arms, moist breaths.’
    • ‘Hooting matatu taxis add to the confusion with their somewhat tumultuous chaos.’


Swahili, short for mapeni matatu ‘thirty cents’, a flat fare charged in the early 1960s.