Mzungu Memoirs

Here a Boda, There a Boda

Everywhere a boda boda.

And, I do mean everywhere.  If you have ever been to Kampala, you see bodas everywhere carrying just about everything.

Apparently, boda bodas started in Busia, a town on the Uganda-Kenya border between here and Nairobi.  Many African border crossings feature immigration offices adjacent to a gate, separated from the other country’s gate and immigration office by a few hundred feet to a mile of ‘no man’s land’.  Men pedaling bikes in Busia offer their services to carry people and goods from border to border, or boda-boda.

The pedal bikes for hire, with their catchy boda-boda name, spread into other towns and cities.  Later, Indian and Chinese companies began importing motorcycles to Uganda.  The term carried over to the motorized bikes as well.

Young men driving these boda bodas here in Kampala provide an amazing service to everyone.  Most of them park at ‘boda stages’ all over the city waiting for customers to whisk around the city or deliver goods.  While I am at work, Heather uses them for transportation to grocery stores.  With mobile phones, Heather can call a boda driver to come pick her wherever she is, the store , the doctor, etc.  We have used them to take our propane gas cylinders to be refilled, to go get potatoes or go pick Caleb from school when I was out of the country.  We have even had pizza delivered by boda.  A guy named Moses brings tilapia on his boda and fillets them at your doorstep.  In a land of many inconveniences, bodas provide a lot of convenience.

All of us at eMi know most of the boda drivers at our neighborhood stage.  We see them every morning as I take Caleb to school on our boda.  They all know Caleb, most by his nickname, ‘Rocket’.  These guys do more than just garner fares for their driving.  They also stay aware of security concerns in the neighborhood.  They inform us of downtown riots, what the police are currently enforcing and other security concerns.  One of the boda guys knocked on our gate one evening to inform us they had chased some men away who were following some of our visiting family.

These guys drive for hours through dark clouds of diesel smoke, vehicle dust, rain and mud using the most dangerous mode of transportation in a country with the 3rd highest accident rate on the continent.

I wanted to share some photos of the varied cargo on bodas.  We have seen so many more awesome things being carried on bodas, but did not have a camera at the time.  If you look closely, one of the photos shows a boda carrying eight passengers – we have only been able to carry five on our boda.  The last photo shows the strangest thing seen on a boda around Kampala.  Enjoy!

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posted by Robert in Uncategorized and have Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Here a Boda, There a Boda”

  1. Elaine says:

    Hi! I’m a friend of Janel. I could really use one of these images in an upcoming FamilyLife product. I particularly like the guy with the windshield. But we need a 300 dpi image. Any way you could obtain a high resolution of something similar? thanks!

  2. Angie Comish Parra says:

    I’ve always been amazing at how much people can fit on a 2 wheel vehicle. Makes me smile as I remember seeing stuff like this. Praying all is well with you, Robert, and your family.

  3. Janel says:

    This is awesome, guys! I am so reposting.

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