Posted by: zdy1 | 19 September, 2009

Getting around

(Oops- it has been a bit long since I wrote anything here. I will work on improving!!)

This weekend I am in the process of buying a car so I thought it was about time I explained how I have been getting around so far.

The main public transport system here in Mbarara is the “Boda boda” . Basically a guy with a motorbike who will take passenger(s). The system is quite organised, there are “stages” where bodas hang out waiting for customers (or you can just hail one down) and the pricing system generally is quite consistant (once you get past the fact that although I am white I am not going to pay 4 times the normal price). However whether these boda drivers have ever had any lessons in driving is questionable considering what I have experienced and more importantly what I see in the hospital!!

So to get to the hospital goes like this…

I walk down the road for about 5 or 10 minutes until I see a boda. There is a stage about 5 minutes away and if there are guys there they will compete to get to me, so I can have 3 or 4 motorbikes speeding directly towards me! I feel it is only fair that I get on the first one to get to me although I think my preference would be for the slowest!! Then comes the price negotiation although now I don’t have to as they know me so well. It costs about 50p to get to the hospital. I then get on the bike side saddle (This is necessary when you are wearing a skirt but I do it even when wearing trousers…I feel it allows a quick exit if needed!) and off we go. Riding can be a bit bumpy and hairy on the busy road bit but generally I enjoy riding them as you get to watch the world go by and it is like a daily cheap Alton Towers ride!! Then there is also the entertainment of the conversation which goes usually something like this… (Mzungu means ‘white person’)

Boda man: Mzungu – how is America?
Me: I don’t know I’ve never been there.
Boda man: (just very confused).

Boda man: What is your name?
Me: Whitehouse
Boda man: as in Obama!
Me: yes as in Obama.
Boda man: But you are not American
Me: no I am not American.
Boda man: (just very confused)

Boda man: When you go home you take me with you.
Me: (“Usually some politish response but thinking ‘Why would I want to do that??!’)

Boda man: Are you married? (yes this is normally in the first 2 minutes of the conversation).
Me: No
Boda man: you find a nice black man.
Me: I’m very happy single.
Boda man: (Just very confused that happy and single could be put in the same sentance).

And on it goes…

Now you don’t get that fun on an Alton Towers ride!!


The use of boda transport is wide and varied. For example a family of 7 can all fit on a Boda and they are also used as the local ice cream van complete with music, sadly the ice cream is not worth risking.

Alternatively they can be used to carry a car door (!?!):

boda - car door

or the method of transport home from hospital for a grandmother with a broken leg!!

boda - broken leg



  1. That’s brilliant!!!

  2. I absolutely love these photos!

    Zillah, you are very brave. Few of us could stomach the high speed flirtatous conversation that you have obviously learnt to master. I’m assuming here that you won’t be returning to the UK accompanied by several attentive boda drivers… Jx

  3. Really enjoyed reading that!! SOOOO funny! David thought the car door was neccesary so you could wind the window down when you get too hot!!

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