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.

Friday, 28 June 2013

The glamorous and unglamorous side of riding a boda.

Check him out, a totally "pimped-out" boda, in the words of Hillary Heuler, who found him. Pics: Hillary Heuler.

There's a glamorous side to driving a boda in Uganda (if we can call it that) and an unglamorous side (may be a bit of an understatement), and Bodaboda Baby has seen both of these, as the photos below show, over the past few weeks in Kampala. 

Thanks to good friend and brilliant journalist Hillary Heuler, for sending in these pics illustrating the former - a bike complete with fake rabbit fur (glad it's fake, although what would Anna Wintour say?) Note the pink bit of carpet on the engine.

Check out the helmet which says Fire Base (apparently this is a Bobi Wine song - anyone heard it?) And I thought Hilary Heuler's own helmet, which she spray painted herself, was hip enough.

Isn't that your carpet? Check out the handlebars.

The unglamorous side of riding a boda in Uganda can be seen in these new billboards below, apparently known locally as "road stars" (anyone know why they call they them that?) erected across the city in hot spots such as Wandegeya by the Uganda Helmet Vaccine Initiative (UHVI). 

Uganda Helmet Vaccine Initiative, a local NGO, has recently erected these billboards and "road stars" across Kampala.
According this really well-written and informative report by Ugandan science journalist  Esther Nakkazi, Injury Control Center, a local NGO, said there were five to 20 boda-related cases every day at Mulago hospital - 7,280 cases a year in Kampala alone. Meanwhile 570 boda drivers died in 2011, a local traffic report found, although these figures are likely to be higher UHVI say.

Not to bog readers down with stats, but according to the Uganda Police Annual Crime and Traffic/Road Safety Report 2011there were 22,272 traffic accidents in Uganda in 2011, 8,743 of them involving motorcycles.

The boda industry, they warn, will soon be the leading cause of deaths and traffic-related injuries in the country, but streamlining them requires efforts “far beyond” what the force can offer.

With the Luganda words "Obulamu bwe bugagga" - "your life is your wealth" - written on the billboards, UHVI is trying to persuade Kampala's hundreds of thousands of drivers to wear a helmet while on the road so they can stay safe and continue earning a living for themselves and their families.

"These are people that are really working for hand to mouth, like the money I make today is the money I’ll actually use to feed my family tonight," country director Barbara Mwanje explained.

"Then tomorrow is a fresh day."

A "road star" has been put up at a boda stage at Wandegeya.
UHVI, a local branch of Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative, have been working in Uganda for three years. They have Bobi Wine as a Goodwill Ambassador. Besides rolling out the billboards across the capital, their ad has started running on three Kampala radio station. They've also been holding safety training workshops for boda riders in Kampala. So far they've trained 1,800 riders, who are selected through their local divisions.

The day begins with riders completing a survey, which includes questions on helmet use. They repeat this at the end of the day to see what they've learnt. Drivers also watch safety demonstrations on a projector and do exercises in pairs.

"We observe these riders pre-workshop and post-workshop, two months after the workshop. We want to understand is there a change in behavior after they’ve been to the training and they’ve been given a helmet," said Barbara.

"We’ve had fantastic results."

When Bodaboda Baby visited this stage to take a photo of the UHVI sign, many riders said they'd already heard about the workshops and asked how they could attend.

She said before UHVI intervened in Kampala stages last year helmet use was at 38 per cent. Three months later it was up to 55 per cent.

 Boda drivers are given a transport allowance, an incentive to attend the safety training workshops.

"They show up and you find they're very focused throughout the day and excited to be here," said Barbara.

UHVI holds safety training workshops for boda riders, which end in these shiny helmets being given out for free. Bodaboda Baby had wondered how all these helmets  ended up on the streets of Kampala, after snapping this one in Munyonyo in March.

The day culminates in each participant being given a new, shiny canary yellow helmet.

"In the beginning (of the workshops) they found out they got the helmets at the end, but then the word spread," said Barbara.

The white inner part of the helmet - the most important part as it absorbs the impact from a crash -  is made from EPS or polystyrene, a very dense form that we know of from Styrofoam food containers, according to Lotte Brondum, International Development Director of  Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, who is based in Hanoi. The outer shell – the yellow part-  is made from plastic called ABS. The helmets are produced in Vietnam at AIP Foundation's non-profit factory Protec, where interestingly up to 30 per cent of the workforce have disabilities.

Bodaboda Baby attended a UHVI workshop a couple of weeks ago in St Joseph's Community Hall Mulago - coincidentally on the same day as visiting the neurosurgery section of Mulago Hospital, where she met many boda-related victims. She cannot describe the sheer jubilation - and the tooting, and the showing off - among the bodas, from the Kawempe division of Kampala, at the end of the workshop when the free headwear was given out.
Where is everyone - out to lunch?

Never! They're just doing their safety training.
There was much posing and strutting when these helmets were given out at a UHVI workshop recently.

A collision with another boda and a hospital stay didn’t convince Ronald Katetemera, 27, a driver of three years to buy a helmet. After today’s training he says he won’t take his new headgear off.
“Everyday it’s going to be my first clothes," he said.
“They say life has no money value.
“I don’t want to die because I have my children."
Boda driver Ronald was very excited to see his new helmet.

"New helmet! So exciting!!"
More posing.

I'm still in touch with one rider, Michael, and pleased to report he's wearing his helmet - there have been some reports of some attendees trying to flog theirs for sale. Michael has also me to church with him this Sunday, advising me to come with "captivez (captives?) and demonz possessed". I wouldn't have it any other way.

Boda driver Michael sporting his new helmet.

Besides the yellow UHVI on the streets of Kla, which make Uganda even sunnier, there's the elusive red GHVI helmet, harder to find. Although the author of this blog did meet a rider wearing it, the day after the UHVI workshop. Winning.

Boda driver Roger, whose stage is in Muyenga, sporting his red GHVI helmet.

UHVI says it would love to do more to spread the word about wearing helmets on the road, if they secure more funding.

"It’s not right that they continue to die and become seriously injured. Something has to happen for them, for the passengers that they carry, for the mess in the city," said Barbara.

"It’s all-round unnecessary.

There'll be more on the UHVI and Bodaboda Baby's trip to Mulago Hospital on this blog later, but while we're on the topic of helmet compliance, Anna Kucma has sent in this great pic of herself wearing her vintage helmet which she picked up at a Green Shop in Kampala. Yours truly nearly jumped her for it when she first saw it and is still jealous, but is working to overcome this.

Thanks to Anna Kucma and Will Boase for this great snap.

Although the main injuries sustained in motorbike crashes in Uganda are head injuries, it's important to also look after your legs - the author of this blog knows this after her two boda accidents. Poor mzungu in Uganda, Catherine Warner sustained a nasty injury to one of her limbs, see below, after having a boda accident recently. Pass the iodine (but don't become addicted).

Pic courtesy of Catherine Warner. Sidenote: noce shoes. 

But if, as a passenger, you are injured in an accident perhaps you could ask for a "cash back?" One Garden City boda driver, see below, appeared to be offering this last week, but alas when Bodaboda Baby enquired, it was too good to be true.

Customer "cash back?" I wish!