Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bodo Boda

You can get them other places, but Uganda is the true home of "boda-boda" motorcycle taxi.

Originally boda-bodas were bicycles that gave you a ride between the Kenya and Uganda border ("boda" get it?) posts back in 1960s. You can still get bicycle taxis in Kenyan towns. It's a very pleasant way to travel. It has the advantages of cycling but without the work. They put a padded seat on the back of the bike. In Nakuru rush hour doesn't mean noise, stress traffic jams and pollution. Businessmen read their newspaper as the bicycle taxi man ferries them to work.

But these days the word "boda-boda" means a Ugandan motorcycle taxi. They are everywhere. It's very conveniant. Even if you have your own car, you will find yourself taking the occasional boda when you are in a hurry. Traffic is terrible in Kampala, but the boda-boda men can pass between cars or on the sidewalk so you reach your destination on time.

I sometimes ended up taking bodas late at night. It's a dangerous thing because they could drive you somewhere dark, where their friends are hiding, beat the crap out of you and take all you stuff stuff. But it's also exhilerating because the town is deserted so there is nothing to hold you back. The boda-boda men love to race. You fly through the silent sleeping streets and you realize that life is a glorious thing and short.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sabaot Land Defence Force

These stories are so old it's not even funny.

For example I was passing through Eldoret, Kenya in 2008.

One thing on the television back then was the leader of the Mount Elgon rebels making pronouncements about justice and so on. It was very local news for El Doret. You can see the mountain from town. I was going to cycle out that way the next day.

They interviewed a general from the Kenyan army afterward and it reassured me. He looked annoyed. "I don't know what he was doing on television making these outrageous pronouncements. The only thing I know is that he is dead. We shot him and then we checked his finger prints. He's definitely dead."

The next day was sunny and good cycling. People were out and about in droves.