Sunday, 30 March 2014

Boda boda men are handy and imbeciles all at once.

Have you ever been pressed for time and need to get somewhere urgently? Everyone knows how that feels and has experienced this in one way or another while doing business within Kampala. Whether it is to rush a child to school, get to an important business meeting, or for those studying who need to make that mad dash to get into an exam on time, no one can prepare you for this kind of Boda boda man.

As I was in a mad dash to get to a 10:00am interview, I employed the services of a much needed boda boda man from a stage nearby. I assumed that since I had not been to the given location for the interview before, although I had Goggled it – I thought it would not hurt to get on a boda boda since they usually know the correct directions to many places within Kampala. 

Little did I know that there could be a possibility that this boda boda man and I were in the same boat in the sense that both he and I did not know the actual location where we were going. This was because of the enthusiasm with which he nearly ruptured my ear drum when he hooted at me and screeched to a halt when I flagged him down.


Me: “Boda!” (Motorbike man)

Boda boda man: “Sister, honey ogenda?” (Sister, honey are you going?)

Me: “Ye sebo njagala kugenda ku Kisozi Complex, omanyi yo?” (Yes sir, I want to go to Kisozi Complex. Do you know where it is?)

Boda boda man: “Ehhh nyabo manyi wo.” (Yes madam, I know where it is)

Me:  “Kale sebo tugende. Naye  ndi ku bwangu.” (Okay sir, let’s go but I am in a hurry.)

Boda boda man: “Kale mwana okitegera!” (Alright chic - you understand. This was in slang to imply he understands what I am saying.)


A part of me was amused by this gentleman’s Rastafarian references in his language and I hoped this would make for an interesting ride. Little did I know that this ride would be amusing for other reasons altogether and you may want to stay around to see why.

The ride went without incident for the most part except for when we went up the steep incline from Wandegeya heading Buganda road, the boda boda began to cough and freeze as it thrust us forward every other second. Then with no warning the rider pulled to the side of the road and the boda boda’s engine came to an unexpected halt (For Ugandan’s the phrase is it died).


Me:  “Kiki ekibadewo sebo? (What happened sir?)

Boda boda man: “Honey, kiri easy nyo. Kati vayo ko ndabe. (Honey take it easy. First get off the motorbike and I have a look.)

Me:  “Ogambye ntino tuli bulungi, naye kati ogamba ntino onjagala okuvayo?” (You said that we are okay, now you are telling me you want me to get off the motorbike?)

Boda boda man: “Ojakuvayo nga dakika emu netugenda.” (You will only get off for one minute and then we will leave.)

Me: “Naye sebo, ndi ku bwangu naye kilabika ntino gwe oliku mizanyo.” (But sir, I am in a hurry and yet it seems you are playing games.)

So I get off the bike a disgruntled customer and step to the side as then the rider took a hold of the motorbike handles and tilted the entire bike to the side all the way until it was lying flat on the ground. Then it finally hit me, he had not run out of fuel in his motorbike and I thought to myself this surely was the worst possible time for this to happen. I started to look from one side of the road to the other in case I needed to flag down another boda boda man to get me where I was going so that I could leave this comedian and be on own.


Just when I was about to raise my hand to flag down an oncoming boda boda man, I heard the revving of his bike as it came to life and my Rastafarian rider finally spoke up.

Boda boda man: “Nalo…, Honey nakugambye tuli bulungi.” (Rastafarian exclamation, honey I told you that we are okay.)

Me: “Eh, kale sebo naye ndi late kati. Kansubire ntino pikipiki yo tegenda okufira kukubo….” (Eh, okay sir but I am very late. Let me hope that your motorbike is not going to die on the way…. )

Boda boda man: “Neda mwana ndi steady, tokilaba?” (No girl I am steady, don’t you see it?)

He cut me off before I could get a full sentence in and I decided it was better I left it that way since he was now quickly picking up speed on Buganda road and swerving past motor vehicles on the  road in reckless abandon as he chanted some Bobi Wine song playing in the background. I felt that needed more of my attention than the episode that had only transpired a few brief moments earlier. 

We approached a cross road that we were supposed to turn down at to the right, only for him to pause briefly and then speed straight ahead as if we were heading to the city centre. I quickly tapped him on his shoulder and said,

Me: “Sebo, ojukira bwetugenda….? Nakugambye Kisozi house, kati ogenda wa..?” (Sebo, you remember when we were going..? I told you we were going to Kisozi house, so where are you going now…?”

Boda boda man: “Ehhh mbadde nerabide.” (I had forgotten.)
Me: “Kale dayo tu kirire wansi nga tugenda ku KPC.” (Okay go back and then head down the road as if you are going to KPC.)


Within a few seconds we were at our final junction and I assumed that the Rasta man had finally gotten the handle on his spats of madness but I would continue to be surprised. For once again he past the point speeding and was heading straight for Kampala road as if  that was where I was going - I tapped him firmly on the shoulder this time as I asked.

Me: “Sebo, manyi bwetu genda.” (Sir, do you know where we are going?)

Boda boda man: “Bade manyo ntino ogende okungamba, Anti oli pilot!” (I thought you were going to show me, after all you are the pilot.)


With that statement from him I almost went into a rage as I checked my phone screen and watched my clock strike 10:00am exactly.

Me: “Stage, yimirira awo.” (Stage stop there)

Boda boda man: “Wa wenyini mwana?”(Where exactly girl)

Me: “Maso awo.” (Right there ahead)

Boda boda man: “Mukubo!” (In the middle of the road?)

Me: “Eh awo!”(Yes there!)

Before he could even come to a full halt, I jumped off the back of the motorbike and I was already holding out his 3,000 UGX shillings for the fare.

Boda boda man: “Eh honey, lwaki tompa tano?” (Eh honey, why don’t  you give me 5,000UGX shillings instead?)

Me: “Tano! Eyaki, nga tomanyi wetugenda. Sebo kwata sente - oyagala sente oba toyagala?” (5,000UGX shillings! What for when you did not know where we were going – do you want the money or not?)

I dropped the notes from my hand as I turned to walk away, his hand quickly shot out to receive it while he grumbled the whole time.

Boda boda man: “Eh naye mwana onsede nyo, naye njakuleka nanti oli honey nyo.” (Eh but girl you have cheated me anyway you are such a honey)

Me: ….. (No response as I was too distracted by how late I was)
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