How to enjoy a boda boda ride in Kampala

What you need to know:

Believe in your rider who at this time is your leader, trust in him, pray for him and cheer him on

Many people consider taking a boda boda ride in Kampala during rush hour a death wish. Unlike some of our experts who pull facts from the air, these people have witnessed crashes and the dare devil antics boda boda riders get up to, which most certainly always end in tears. During slow traffic hours, a boda boda rider does stunts as daring as for actors auditioning for a Fast and Furious movie. This means during rush hour, you better not have a weak heart.

Yet there are moments even their biggest critics cannot avoid them; they are a convenient solution in a country struggling with bad roads.  When you find yourself with no option but to use a boda boda, just pray and hope St Peter is not expecting you that day. But to make the boda ride less stressful, which is important for you to get to your destination in time and in one piece, here is a simple guide:

Choose your rider carefully

There are tale tell signs that define every rider. Before you jump onto a boda boda, take a good look at your rider, do they have scars? If they are scar ridden and are even missing some teeth, that is an indication they are rough riders and unless you are looking for that particular thrill, do not use them. Take notice of their demeanor and attitude, you do not want an angry rider or a depressed one because they will try to infect you with their emotions.  These riders will always get into the middle of every argument or start a fight with anyone for no obvious reason; you do not want to be the duck sitting on his back when he provokes equally angry or depressed people.

Similarly, stay away from zealots; political, cultural and religious. You can tell them from their stickers and clothing. These fanatics will be more involved in converting you to their cause than the ride. Anyone who looks dirty, has no helmet, reflector jacket or proper shoes does not take his life or job seriously and will not value yours either; do not entrust it to him.

Choose your machine carefully

You might not be a mechanic but a casual look is almost enough to determine the status of that boda boda. If it looks battered and unkempt, chances are it will perform as badly as it looks on the road. Size matters too; for both the rider and the machine.  If you are on the heavy side, do not expect a feather weight rider to carry you through situations that may require kilojoules than luck to surmount.

Keep eyes forward

When riding on a busy street try not to look behind because the scenes are usually scary and could cause you to make an unwise decision that could put you in danger. I have seen women, especially those who ride sidesaddle, jumping off a boda boda only to end up in worse fray because they thought they were safer running on foot. Always focus ahead and trust your rider to carry you through.

Believe in your rider who at this time is your leader, trust in him, pray for him and cheer him on even when he cuts in front of the trailer or jumps the light or overtakes on the wrong side. Arguing with him or castigating him will do you no good because you are in this position together until you alight. Any regrets or corrections in the middle of the journey are worthless and can be counterproductive.

Enjoy the ride while it lasts, as we grow older life offers less and less thrills. Food that once tasted heavenly becomes bland or unhealthy. Nights at popular night spots make you look silly and immature. A nice pair of heels or jeans that used to make heads turn now leaves many wondering about your mental health and worried about your safety. So, there is nothing as thrilling as a boda boda ride to give you that adrenaline rush.

Enjoy the chat; some of these riders are actually philosophers who were dealt a bad hand. So, when you encounter one that is not so pensive as philosophers are, do not be uptight and rude, listen to them and you will be surprised at their insights.

It is possible to get addicted to these joy rides but if you are not a millennial, try to minimise the trips because as the forty days of a thief, you might have already utilised yours in your other youthful adventures. You do not want your grandchildren getting spooked by boda bodas because one put you in a wheel chair. Do not push your luck.