Uganda is a lush country with amazing rainfall, soil, and crop diversity. It has deep valleys, is crossed and bordered by stretches of mountains and dotted with a few huge lakes. In fact Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest with 26,000 square miles of surface (Lake Tahoe in Calif. Is 191 square miles of surface!). Uganda’s capital Kampala is a nice small city much safer than Nairobi. Like many other African cities, it has a modern, compact downtown, which spreads out to attractive suburbs, then is surrounded by dirt roads with colorful low buildings in semi-industrial sections with lots of street markets and low-income crowds.
Boda Bodas and Piled-High Bicycles
To accommodate this diverse city, besides the typical cars, taxis, and small minibuses, transportation also includes “Boda Bodas” and incredibly burdened bicycles. Boda Bodas are motorcycles acting as taxis that dart into and out of street traffic,
often carrying up to 3 adults and sometimes a couple of kids perched on a rather small flat seat behind the daring driver. Supposedly the name comes from Border to Border which refers to the fact that these motorcycles would transport truck cargo—perhaps sometimes illegal—from Uganda’s borders to anywhere inside the country in order to save the trucking companies time, money and perhaps scrutiny.
As for the overly-burdened bicycles, picture a beaten up, old-fashioned street bicycle with a tray or shelf on the back and/or side packs and/or basket on the front. Then picture the back piled high with crates of soda or household products or sacks of flour or charcoal, or a stalk of bananas. Add a few more items in the front—just enough to allow the cyclist to see and control—and possibly a few hanging off the sides. The strength it must take to steer in traffic up and down Kampala’s hilly streets while balancing these loads is quite impressive and always colorful.