Boda boda riders are something else. Like seriously.
First off, here is the kind of interaction you and the boda guy should have before you embark on that ride….well, from my experience.
- Greet him. By all means, start off by saying hello, gyebale ko, ogamba ki….whichever way you see okay. But make sure you greet him. Here is why;
– at that point, based on his response, you’ll get to know if you both speak a language you understand *flash back kigali, when I took one and then we got lost and I couldn’t give him directions clearly cz he only spoke Kinyarwanda and French and myself, English and Luganda and I ended up having to call my host and ask him to talk to the bike guy in a language he understands etc etc! Scariest moment ever*….that was a random throwback, but then again it is throwback thursday today, yes? But I was saying, when he does respond, you’ll get to know how exactly to proceed with the rest of the convo. Directions too. Also, greeting people is good manners.
– that first mini chat of the greeting will also reveal to you how ‘friendly’ or not he might be. I’ve had the most hilarious responses that got me laughing away with the whole bunch at the stage. If he is friendly, then good for you. 🙂 If he isn’t, move along. Find another.
– then sometimes depending on how closely you’re standing near him, you can tell at that point whether he swam in waragi the night before and showered in it that morning or nah. Not all the time, but yes, sometimes you only realise half way the ride that boda man is a moving brewery.
2. Tell him where you want to go, agree on a price and only then should you start the ride. Here is why;
– If he doesn’t know the place, that would mean you have to give him directions along the way. Now these guys can’t be trusted that much….if you’re going to keep telling him where to turn or whatever, he’ll do it instantly without stopping to observe the rest of the traffic, or at some point while you try to talk to him, he will attempt to turn to you so he can hear you better and therefore taking his eyes off the road. Ah. Just don’t take chances. If you must take one who doesn’t know the location, then find out what landmarks he knows along that route and when you get to each, ask him to stop and you go over the directions again.
So anyway, yesterday I took two bodas which just proved to me the more, that these guys are a special breed. Well, the good kind. I know some people swear that this lot is the worst but some are really nice. And yes, some are terrible. For example the ones you take at 2am. Why are you taking one at 2am anyway?
Moving on….. The first boda had me hands in the air when he said he thought I’d fallen off the bike cz all of a sudden he felt it was weightless. He called me ‘slender light weight’. Just see..
Then I had a conversation with the second guy I took, returning from where the first guy had dropped me.
I told him where I was going, and he knew the place. Usually when I’m trying to help them understand, I use all the possible buildings near the place that might be familiar. So I told him, communication house, christ the king, diamond trust. He knew exactly where that was and we agreed on the fare.
As he rode, he probably remembered that I’d mentioned the church and he asked if I was going for ‘missa’…meaning mass. Catholic mass. At Christ the king. For some reason I told him I was, even if I actually wasn’t and my destination was comm house instead. Then the rest of the convo went like this; And I’ll have it in mainly English for purposes of my ‘international’ audience… *insert huuuuge smile*
Him: Since you’re going to church, I want to know something. What kind of prayer do you think we should say for these law enforcers who harass us in the city?
Me: Wanji? *trying to properly understand where he was getting with this*
Him: I mean these council men. They find us working and sometimes we really haven’t broken any law and they take our bikes, have us pay very heavy fines or sometimes get us locked up even. For nothing.
He went ahead to tell me how earlier in the day, he’d stopped somewhere to answer a phone call and was rounded up for ‘putting a stage’ in the wrong place. Bike put on pick up truck and he ended up spending most of the morning trying to plead with them and eventually had to give them money, an amount that was determined by them and by the way was not receipted. Your guess is as good as mine. He parted with just about all the money he had on him that morning.
I then thought about how much he was charging me for the ride and to be honest it was 2,000/= less than what I had expected. And we hadn’t even bargained. So he was taking me for a ‘little’ amount. Then my heart broke at that point, I wondered how someone is supposed to make ends meet if he has to go through his day like that. If he has kids he has to send back to school next week, a wife, a home etc…
Me: *I now didn’t know what to tell him* Omanyi ssebo, I think you just pray for good things for them, because God in his time has a way of dealing with such. He’ll definitely pay them back for their actions. But if you curse them, that will only mean you have a bad heart as well.
Him: Ekyo kituufu *that is true* because even when Jesus was dying, he prayed for forgiveness over the people that had nailed him, because they did not know what they were doing. Maybe also these council people don’t know what they are doing.
We seemed to agree on that. I was upset though. And angry. At the story he’d just told me. It was sad. So I went ahead to tell him that usually those people have numbers on their uniform and if he can, the next time it happens, he should cram those numbers and if he ever gets lucky to file a complaint, he’ll use that as his reference. He then told me, they were not even in uniform! 😦 I just shook my head. I didn’t know what else to tell him.
We got to my destination, I paid him and wished him well. And I always say a short prayer for this kind as I walk away from them; that God grants them the desires of their hearts if they are pleasing to him.
Whenever you possibly can, be kind…for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.