Uganda’s famous slung ‘boda boda,’ becomes a legit English word!
The ninth edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary describes boda boda as a type of motorcycle or bicycle with a space for a passenger or for carrying goods, often used as a taxi.
In this picture; Is a bicycle with space for carrying goods. High way transportation.
A bicycle with space for carrying goods. High way transportation. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
The picture below shows a motorcycle with space for carrying a passenger.
A motor cycle with space for carrying a passenger. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
In Uganda, boda boda’s were initially known to be bicycles which provided a cheaper means of transportation for both people and goods. This means of transport was first used by traders to cross goods like sugar, soap and cooking oil from Busia (Kenya) to Uganda in the early 1970s.
A man transports his merchandise on a bicycle boda boda. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
Boda boda transport later became a lucrative business, especially in rural areas where the bicycles were used for a series of activities from transporting water fetched from distant places at a fee to ferrying farm produce to the markets for sell.
In this picture, a man transports matooke from his farm to the market on a bicycle boda boda.
A man transports matooke from his farm to the market on a bicycle boda boda. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
The picture below shows men transporting water on bicycle boda bodas for a living.
Men transporting water on bicycles as a source of income. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
The lucrative element in boda boda business that was quickly becoming one of the largest employers of the youth in Uganda later ushered in the emergency of motor cycle boda bodas. These offered more stability on the road, safety (in comparison to bicycles), speed and convenience because they required less effort to ride unlike the bicycles. The emergency of motor cycles also meant business to fuel stations, revenue to city authorities, and above all more employment opportunities.
A queue of motor cycles in accelerating motion on a highway in Uganda. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
In Uganda now, motor cycle boda bodas are a universal friend that cuts across the low, middle and upper income class of people. The boda bodas come in handy on both the good and bad days. They are a trick to beating the traffic jam and catching events in and on time. From the student at University, to the security guard at the bank and the corporate in a National office, motor cycle boda bodas are openly embraced, regardless of the vulnerability presented in this mode of transport.
An official from UMEME heading for duty on a motor cycle boda boda. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam
While motor cycle boda bodas have had dominion in the urban centers, bicycles have majorly become a domestic tool that is a household must have in the rural areas. In some homesteads, owning a bicycle even came to be seen as a symbol of wealth.
A man pushes his bicycle to retire at home after a day’s long work. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam.
Men in the Eastern parts of Uganda like rural Busoga own bicycles as a home / domestic tool for purposes like getting children to school in time, transporting the family to health center facilities, getting produce to the market among many other family transport needs and demands.
Photo taken somewhere in rural Busoga. A man heads out to his farm, with his bicycle in play. Picture taken by Watsemba Miriam