What is a boda-boda?

The boda-boda is to Uganda what the yellow taxicab is to New York City: the best, door-to-door mode of transportation for people in a hurry.  Only instead of a roomy back seat in a Ford Crown Victoria, on the boda-boda you’re straddling a motorcycle behind an over-zealous driver who – with or without a helmet – seemingly knows no fear.

I once was an over-zealous boda passenger who knew no fear.  Swerving in and out of bumper-to-bumper traffic was just part of the daily commute.  I got so comfortable riding bodas that could write text messages on my cell phone at the same time.  But the horror stories abound: the mythical hospital ward dedicated solely to victims of boda accidents; the tell-tale “boda burn” on the inside of the calf, from getting scorched by the motorcycle’s over-heating exhaust pipe; passengers falling off as rickety bodas flail on Kampala’s incredibly steep hills.

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It's those underage boda drivers that you really have to look out for!

I’ve since wised up and I now take the slower, relatively safer, matatu buses around town.  So consider this a virtual boda-boda ride, as I try to impart some of my experiences in Uganda without hitting a pothole or leaving anyone in the dust.  Like most boda drivers, I have no license certifying that I’m any good at what I’m doing, and I don’t really know where I’m going.  So please bear with me.  At least you should be able to simultaneously send a text message without endangering your life.

One response to “What is a boda-boda?

  1. Hey Katherine,

    Nice blog. I was on one of those boda-boda’s about a year ago with your dad going out to meet an old friend of mine one evening. They are a crazy but yet efficient way to get around town and keeps the young guys on the street occupied by fixing up their bikes. I think you made a good move going over to the the buses!

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