The Boda Chronicles

Posted: October 19, 2007 in Blog

Snippets of conversations from recent boda-boda rides (Updated at bottom following my boda-boda trip home after writing this post…);

Scene: Riding a boda-boda motorcycle through Kampala’s crazy, chaotic rush hour traffic jam

Boda driver, while weaving between stopped cars: Do you have jam in your country?

Me: Well… yeah.

Boda driver: Really? I would not think that you have jam in your country. You have boda-bodas in your country?

Me: No, we don’t have boda-bodas.

Boda driver: How would I find work in your country?

Me: Maybe you could be our first boda-boda driver!

We both smile– he at the prospect of being ahead of the curve, and me at the image of a single Soviet-era, belching motorcycle careening down the streets of Toronto with a driver who wears a winter parka in any weather below 25 degrees Celsius.

Scene: Riding a boda-boda in the early evening to a friend’s house. The conversation quickly turns to the boda-boda driver’s fool-proof business proposal.

Boda driver: We go into business, you and I.

Me: Oh, really?

Boda driver: You come to our country, you invest in our country. You buy two cars, and I drive them for you. We run special hire business together, make lots of money.

Me: Are you asking me to invest in your country, or to invest in you?

Boda driver: pregnant pause … In your country it is easy to make a million dollars, yes?


Scene: Having driven me home, the boda driver and I strike up a conversation while I dig through my backpack for change.

Boda driver, wearing a helmet of Marvin the Martian-esque proportions: Have you been to the west of Uganda?

Me, trying to distinguish between 100 and 200 shilling coins: No, I haven’t.

Boda driver: It is beautiful, you should come visit. My village is there.

Me: Ah, that’s great. I hope to see the west sometime soon.

Boda driver: You come with me to my village. We will boil bananas in the lake.

Me, looking up from my handful of coins utterly dumbfounded: Boil bananas in the lake?

Boda driver
: In my village there are lakes that are very warm…..

Me: Like hot springs?

Boda driver: Yes, hot springs! We put bananas in the lake and they become matooke.

Me, not entirely convinced that I want to drive across the country for matooke when I already get an overload of it in Kampala: Ahhh, sounds like fun.



Scene: Going home on a boda-boda after originally putting up this post. In the middle of rush-hour, the motorcycle begins chugging, and soon coasts to a stop on the side of the road. 

Chris: Looks like we’re out of gas, friend.

Boda-boda driver: No problem, no problem.

Chris and the driver get off the motorcycle. Driver tips the bike down to the ground to pour the few remaining drops of fuel into the gas line. He then takes the gas cap off the tank, forms a seal around the hole using his lips, and blows into the tank to force the fuel into the line. Chris and the driver get back on the motorcycle. 

Boda driver, upon  starting the engine and driving off, shaking his fist in the air triumphantly: “Jesus wants us to get home today! Yes!”

*15 seconds pass*

Motorcycle again begins to chug and dies with a painful groan as we again coast to a stop.  A few more seconds pass with Chris and boda driver sitting on the stalled bike.

Chris: Sebo? (Luganda for ‘Sir’)

Boda driver: Yes?

Chris: I don’t think Jesus wants us to get home today.

  1. Kevin says:

    Aahhaha! So far, tro tro Jesus has been good to me!

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