Monday, 7 April 2014

Bodabodas Somali-style

Somali women hailing bodas on Kisenyi Road in Kisenyi, aka Little Mogadishu, Kampala. 

It's been a long time between posts. Bodaboda Baby has been busy doing many things, among them exploring Kisenyi, Kampala's largest slum which is now also unofficially known as Little Mogadishu, given that about 85 per cent of its population is said to be Somali. 

And while she's been mainly looking at the suburb's businesses - from Somcity travel centre and City Star Supermarket (above), of course she couldn't happen to notice Kisenyi's colourful boda drivers - and passengers. Here's a few pics below, tales to follow.    

 According to the chairman of the Somali community, Kisenyi is home to over 4,000 Somali refugee nationals. 

Check out the style of this Kisenyi driver. 

A Somali woman (possibly Somali-Ugandan given her skirt?) on a boda on Kisenyi Road, Kisenyi.


Friday, 24 January 2014

The Ultimate Bodaboda Fashion Shoot - Part I. UPDATED PICS!

After spending the large part of three months out of Uganda, travelling around Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Zambia, Bodaboda Baby has been having withdrawal symptoms from bodas (although she did get some boda, and tuk-tuk action in TZ. More on this later)

But no sooner had she been back in the "Pearl of Africa" when it was time for the Ultimate Bodaboda Fashion Shoot. All drivers below are riders she has randomly met in the past and they are all sporting their own clothes, with virtually no styling.

Silver Tumwesige.

Silver Tumwesige, 33, has been a boda driver for 12 years. He wears a black jacket he bought from Kampala's Owino market for 30,000 Ugandan shillings (or $12USD), what appear to be Jasper Conran Jeans (10,000 UGX or $4), wellies he purchased from an industrial area of Kampala (27,000 UGX or $11) and a Calvin Klein wallet (it appears to be real) he picked up from a street seller for 15,000 UGX, the equivalent of $6.

Speaking about his coat - which I remarked looked like something I used to wear in Blighty - Silver explained, "I wear it because when we're riding it's windy. It keeps me warm and protects me. I like to be smart everyday because that's what customers like." 

Even when filling up Silver, whose real name is Sylvester, manages to look effortlessly stylish. 

Photo by Clare Wise de Wet. See 

Henry Muwonge, 25, has had his wheels for three years. He wears a bright yellow shirt which he bought in town (30,000 UGX or $12), jeans (also 30,000 UGX), SPORT label shoes (44,000 UGX or $18), Carrera sunnies (they don't appear to be real - 10,000 UGX or $4) and a hat which matches his shirt and footwear (30,000 UGX or $12).

"I wear clothes like these everyday," Henry said. "It's important to be smart. I go shopping for clothes during weekends. I always put on sunglasses. I always match the colors."

A matchy-matchy boda. 

Brian Rubega. Photo by Clare Wise de Wet. 

Brian said he hadn't been to the Hard Rock Cafe Dubai - but is very keen to go.

Brian Rubega, 20, has clocked up two years as a boda driver. He wears a Hard Rock Cafe Dubai shirt which he snapped up at the bargain price of 2,000 UGX (or less than $1), jeans (5,000 UGX or $2) and trainers (10,000 UGX or $4).

"I like my job because when I'm working I feel better," Brian said. "I spend the money I earn mostly on clothes and rent." 

He snapped up his shirt for less than $1. 

Ismail Ssemanda. Photo by Clare Wise de Wet. 

Not afraid to navigate dusty, potholed roads in a suit. 

Ismail Ssemanda, 20, was the newbie of the shoot, having only started working as a boda driver a month ago. His jacket set him back 120,000 UGX (nearly $50). He also wears a crisp white shirt (20,000 UGX or $8), trousers (again 20,000 UGX) and school type shoes (40,000 UGX or $17) which he bought from local markets. 

"This boda is not mine, I rent it from my boss," said Isma, who is married with three young children. "I was driving his car before this, but my boss got some problems and then the bank took the car." (NB: Tugende  provide loans in the form of a new bike to recommended drivers in a hire-purchase arrangement. Check them out).

Suited up and ready for passengers. 

During the photo shoot with proper photographer Clare Wise de Wet we also spotted these funky boda seat covers, below, for sale in Mengo.

Imagine putting your bum on one of these trendy seat covers...

If we go closer it's...a shoe mobile. Squeal. 

The shoot capped off an exciting week for Bodaboda Baby, who had discovered a shoe mobile, above, in her new neighbourhood (it's not technically a boda) earlier.

Of course Kampala city is full of stylish boda drivers, but these are just a few of our faves. Stand by for part two of the shoot, where we'll bring you more uber hip riders!

For more shots of fashionable bodabodas, follow me on Instagram - @amyelizabethfallon. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A week in Kigali. UPDATED.

The Kigali Stock Exchange. 

Bodaboda Baby is ashamed. Correction, she is very* ashamed. That is because this is a boda blog and for the first time on her travels in a boda-friendly country in East Africa (that being Rwanda) she did not (not) dedicate any time to finding boda stories and this was because she was to busy marvelling of all the other sights of Kigali. The er, clean roads (Kampala!), and some more clean roads, and some more clean roads and... Okay there were other attractions, which she will now detail. Well, she did go to every single one of them via boda.


Best. Cakes. Ever. Rz MANNA. 

OMG where does she start? Let's just say that before her nine days in Kigali was up she'd been offered a loyalty card by the* manager of Bourbon Coffee and Rz MANNA, because they'd seen her "around" (natch) and managed to fill up both. Sigh. Although Bourbon Coffee at Kigali City Tower was highly convenient for location and internet, she must say Rz MANNA, with its free samples of almond loaf and the like wins. In fact one day Bodaboda Baby actually slipped over on the floor*, much to her humiliation as all the staff rushed to help her, racing to get a complimentary piece of churros in Rz. True. That will serve her right for being greedy. Then there's the chocolate mouse at Brioche...She didn't manage to find a bath plug for the bath tub in her hotel at Bethany Investment Group (the Presbyterian Church mob) but the cakes certainly made up for it. Kigali, she'll be back. Prunes Kampala, watch YOUR back. 

*It was also raining heavily in Kigali that day, as it was most days during her stay.

The* churros that nearly led to a hip replacement.


While we're on the subject of sugar... Okay, so it's not real. But being from the land Down Under, home to The Big Banana, The Big Prawn, The Big Bull etc she also became quite fond of The Big Coke Bottle downtown. Has Rwanda learnt a thing from Oz? As one Twitter follower commented, " 2023 Prediction moves from RED to BLACK . Gotta love globalisation.

The Big Coke Bottle in downtown Kigali. 


Really, how pretty are they? Everyone else agreed. Well apart from Mum, who said, "I've got that plant growing around the pool" upon receiving a photo of them via email. 


Obligatory inclusion. If you look closely you'll see it's not real.


Love this place. Good find Anna Kućma. 

More leaves at The New Cactus. Sorry Mum, but it is The New Cactus. 


While Bodaboda Baby didn't have the privilege of being served by Micha and co, she couldn't help LOV-ING what a McDonald's rip-off it seemed to be. Good one, Micha.

Micha's Bistro-Cafe, Kigali. 


Bodabdoda Baby loved this when she first saw it (pls refer to pic at top of this post - it is nice and shiny), but she loved it even more after the bank situated in side it was able to return, pretty much pronto,  her 50,000 Rwandan francs ($74 USD) which the cash machine withdrew from her bank account in Australia then did not give her. Thanks Bank of Kigali. Is it any wonder Rwanda was voted the third best country to do business in on the continent? 

Rwandan designer Colombe Ituze Ndutiye. 


Fancy the second Kigali Fashion Week being on while I was in town - who told them I was into style. Designers whose creations went down the runway included Sonia Mugabo, South African menswear designer Sheldon Kopman (the only international designer exhibiting) and Candy Basomingera. Here's one story I wrote on KFW and another. 

Sonia Mugabo (in blue) with a model wearing one of her designs on the catwalk at the second Kigali Fashion Week.

South Africa's Sheldon Kopman takes a bow. 

 Candy Basomingera with a model wearing one of her designs. 

Counting down to the first Bujumbura Fashion Week next year!!

Nice one, Kigali. Look out Kampala, love you but you have got to lift your game after this trip.

Finally, and on a more serious note, I was glad to have spent time visiting both the  Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and the Nyamata Memorial Site and would recommend to anyone going to Rwanda to go to both these memorials. The audio guide at the Kigali memorial was informative and valuable and the trip to Nyamata - a 45 minute ride in a matatu - was also worth it. During the course of my stay in Rwanda I also read the following articles which helped me better understand the country's history:

Rwanda genocide 20 years on: 'We live with those who killed our families. We are told they're sorry, but are they?' by Chris McGreal of The Guardian. Part two, is here. 

The Global Elite's Favourite Strongman by Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times is also worth a read.

I read this piece by The Guardian's David Smith before going to Nyamata, which he describes as "harrowing" (and it is).

This report by Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI) looks at Rwanda's successes and failures (via Development Diaries).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Fish and chips, anyone?

Photo courtesy of Guy Smith. 

When I was in school, I remember this stupid joke: 

Q: "Why can't Roy ride a bike?"

A: "Because he's a fish."

Remember, I grew up in Australia. Obviously you may not be able to make the same joke in Uganda, because for all you know Roy could be riding a bike, even if he is a fish.

Check the shot, taken by Guy Smith of Kimbla Mantana, and sent in by The Pearl Guide. "Notice how the boda seat had to take a seat on the fish!!" they point out.

Bodaboda Baby did see a bloke with his leg in a cast riding a boda last week upon her return to Uganda. He was also holding a pair of crutches. But she thinks this Nile perching on a boda is better.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Bodaboda Baby had a break from bodas while she was in London, in case you were wondering.

Fab shot of a London boda, courtesy of my mate Nat Davison. 

Duh. Although while there she did meet up with her clever friend, Nat Davison, who took this awesome pic above of a London boda near Borough Market. 

The good news is that she's now back on the continent (Africa!) and is clocking up plenty of boda time - not just in Kla but across the border in Kigali too. Check the photo of this boda (or should that be moto?) below! Get on it.

Aussie colours. I think this bike was made for Yours Truly. 

Coming soon will be some boda stories from Rwanda, and more tales from the "Pearl of Africa", Uganda, including a look at a female boda driver from Arua District. 

How's the serenity...roads in Kigali.

Safety over style on the road in Kigali. 

No secondhand Zara or Topshop for them...

But who says you can't still be decorative?
See you soon - and safe travels.

Monday, 2 September 2013

We need a photo caption FOR THIS!

A couple of my mates in Kampala have been a bit boda snap happy, lately.

Firstly my good friend from Child's i Foundation, Sue Allan, who has sent in this shot of a coffin-on-boda (not a bike-on-boda), above. We need a photo caption. Can anyone please suggest one (apart from "death on wheels?')

The wonderful Dr Wolfgang H. Thome has offered up "The last journey...Uganda style." (Quick, give him a job on The Sun newsdesk pronto!) 

Artha WassWa has thrown in his five cents worth: "Make way for the Grim Reaper's apprentice" or "The Grim Reaper's Joy Ride". 

John Hanna has suggested (via Down Under) "Heavy Boots".

High profile Ugandan media analyst Simon Kaheru reckons we should have "The Inevitable" and "What you REALLY look like" (clever). 

Henry Rugamba wants "Oh when the saints come riding in". (Bodaboda Baby does like this). 

Well-known Ugandan journalist Daniel Kalinaki also jumped into the conversation in the Twittersphere, saying he thinks "Riding in the sunset of life" would be suffice.  

If anyone thinks that they can do any better, please do go ahead. There may or, er, may not be a prize for the best caption. (A drink at the aptly-named Boda bar, perhaps?)

Oh, and if anyone wants to tackle the photo above, which my good Aussie friend in Kampala Ellie kindly gave me, go ahead. Bodaboda Baby is lost for words on this one. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

How far is too far on a boda?

"Taxi!" The stylish Tinka Teddy, about to get on a boda.

Yesterday I went to Kabalungi in Lwengo District for an AFRIPads school visit. I went on a matatu (minibus) taxi as it's the cheapest and quickest way of getting there from Kampala. A round trip of about 15,000 shillings and a five hour trip. 

But I could have, should have gone on a bodaboda, my good friend Tinka Teddy, who travelled all the way to nearby Masaka, about 100km outside the capital, on a motorbike just two days earlier. Coulda, shoulda, I thought when she briefly relayed to me her epic journey when I later saw her. I didn't think much more about it, but as I was sitting in the taxi park, meat-on-a-stick and various holograms of Jesus being shoved in my face, waiting for the vehicle to fill up (game of Stacks On, anyone?) I had one thought: how the hell could you go so far on a boda? Not one of those cross country bikes, but a boda. So I asked her about this:

I think the ride was great knowing that the driver was a careful one. That was my first time to ride on a boda (for) such a long distance.

Why did you go?

I was researching places to go to for interviews about people who make barkcloth, and Buddu in Masaka is a place known for that. I went to Butende, Masaka, Natita and Nkoli .

What was it like?

Riding at the back of the bodaman was so cool. Of course at first I wondered how safe it would be, wondered if the driver wont doze (off) on the road. But after we'd gone about 20kms all felt normal and so (I) concentrated on enjoying my ride.

But wasn't it a difficult journey?
Not at all, it was great.I mean the feeling (was great). Maybe when I first came up with the idea it scared me, but after a while I got used to it. To make it even better,t I went with a friend and so only spent 40,000 shillings. I would have spent 60,000 if I'd used a taxi or bus. And in less than one-and-a-half-hours I had reached where I  wanted to go. I moved to three locations, each distant form the other, still on that 40,000.

Would you do it again?
For sure. I saved a lot of money and time.