Pikipiki Diary: A Bodaboda Guide For East Africa

Pikipiki

On a pikipiki tour of Kampala, Uganda

Pikipiki = motorcycle. Bodaboda = motorcycle taxi.

It all starts with a bus, to take me out of my comfort zone and into new adventures and surroundings. I left Arusha for Nairobi last September, taking a few weeks to travel East Africa, and I figured it was time for a new mode of transportation: karibu pikipiki yangu! No, I didn’t buy a motorcycle, but I rode one through each city extensively (excluding Nairobi where traffic congestion makes it a nightmare). My plan was to see every kilometre of these cities on the back of a bodaboda.

Arusha, Tanzania. My temporary home. I take a bodaboda almost every day, sometimes several times per day, to do all my activities in town (shopping, clubbing, etc.).

Nairobi, Kenya. An unfriendly city for bodaboda drivers and extremely unsafe for passengers, so I refuse to take one through the city (opting for the matatu public mini-buses).

Kampala, Uganda. A friend of mine calls it the “motorcycle city” and I couldn’t agree more with this status. It’s a great city to jet around on a bodaboda and the drivers are used to ferrying around wazungu (foreigners).

Kigali, Rwanda. Without a doubt the safest city to take a bodaboda. Drivers are required to wear helmets and have an extra one for passengers (as long as you can look past the unhygienic factor you’re good to go).

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About

Adam Bemma is a journalist and media development advisor working in East Africa and Southeast Asia.

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