Boda Boda Riding 101

The Iranians and Persians are excellent at the art of negotiation.

-Donald Trump

Boy please, have you met a Ugandan?


You can thank me later. Or send me Mobile Money. Or I don’t know, put me on a billboard on Jinja Road thanking me. No pressure


If you’re standing say around Ntinda stage (because that’s where I stand) no matter how hot it is, do not look frustrated. Just look like you’re minding your own business and generally appreciating the sun as if you are a mu summer from London who’s only been used to it raining every day.

When the guy comes, just look like you didn’t want to go but okay since he’s here you may just as well.


Do not go to the stage to get a boda no matter how much they call you. Those boda guys are tricky. Even if you look like a dry hunk of chicken that got left too long on the fire because the cook was facebooking, the boda guy at the stage will call you byutful. And then you may start to think that mirror has been lying after all. And that maybe you know, if you stopped being too hard on yourself then you would be more productive at work. No. Take my advice and stand as far away from the stage as possible and wait for the ones who are riding fwaa. Those are more likely to be open to negotiation.


If anyone calls you mama or aunti do not get onto his boda. Everybody knows that. Operative words here have to be sister or sweeti, if that’s what you’re into.


Once you have agreed on a fee, get onto the boda and shut the hell up. Don’t try to be nice and get a conversation going. You may find yourself being told all the problems that the boda guy has. Simanyi he has five kids and a wife who is in Mulago just now as we speak. That even just now as we speak, two of his sons have been chased from school for not having brooms. Aalo! You have to keep your eye on the prize.

Or you might find out that he is Byamugisha’s son from your village and he’ll namedrop a few people you know too and suddenly you guys will be chummy and stuff. The result is you will end up as if tipping him. When you do, you’ll be wondering why and probably feel a bit cheated but you will do it. Then of course, you might get hit on. You know how they start. “Eh bebi, (stealing a quick glance) “Omuwala omulungi ngagwe lwaki olinya boda?” And when you don’t reply, he will turn around again and flash you a winning smile all the while weaving in and out of traffic putting both your lives in jeopardy.


When you get onto a boda, don’t assume you’re in an air-conditioned Range Rover. You’re responsible for your life, sometimes even that of the boda guy. Let him know straight up to go slow. Make him repeat it. I’m not kidding. At that point just before you swing your leg over the seat, you hold the power. You could tell him anything and he’ll agree to it. By now, you should have mastered the art of swinging your arm around intersections to ask for faasi. The boda guy can’t do it coz you know, both his hands are on the handle bars. And also, I guess drivers feel sorrier for passengers.


If he insists on going faster than you guys agreed, employ a trick my brother Tom Asiimwe taught me. Steadily knock on his shoulder bone with your knuckles, almost as if you’re knocking on a door but more insistently until he gets the point. He’ll more or else ride at the speed you want. It’s great. My whole family swears by it.


Lastly, no matter how good your haggling game was, if he smells like he has a whole box of Empire Dry gin in his jacket pocket and the smell of weed is starting to make you a little high; abort mission. I repeat, abort mission. The story of how you managed to get through this dry April month isn’t going to tell itself.

Be safe.


Written by Precious Gwindi

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