Boda, Boda!

Ichoo Maber,

One of the biggest features of Gulu is the Boda ride. A boda is a motorcycle that is used as a taxi and in Gulu, is the number one mode of transport aside from hoofing it. It is not for the faint of heart for there are many near accidents. I remember one incident when I thought I was definitely a goner. I was on my way to Sacred Heart and for some reason the Boda driver thought I was in a hurry because he speed demoned down the dusty, red clay road. I held on for dear life-oh I forgot to mention that women sit sideways for modesty reasons (they mostly wear skirts).  We were going around a roundabout when some nincompoop decided it was a good idea to step in front of the Boda. We were going too fast. I closed my eyes and braced for impact. Miraculously, we did not collide. The Boda driver called the pedestrian crazy and we continued on our merry little way. Whew!

Bodas are very interesting to watch. How so? Well it has to do with how people ride them. There is the curiosity of the number of people able to ride a Boda. My colleagues and I saw as many as five people on a Boda and we dubbed these the Boda bus. Then there is what cargo a Boda can carry. Bodas are not only cabs. Some Ugandans own a Boda and use them to transport anything from chickens in a crate to couches. One of the biggest things we saw on a Boda was an upright refrigerator, and one of the most peculiar-another Boda.

I have a video clip of me riding a Boda and it is filmed from the vantage point of the rider, me. Aside from a few excess exclamations (hey, I’m a drama queen), it is a fairly accurate account of my journey to work every morning. I will try to include it on this blog, but in the event of download issues, I will post it on Facebook.


Laker Runita

P.S- for those of you who don’t know, my Acoli name is Laker, which means Princess or Queen. It is common for you to use your
Acoli name first then your Christian name second. I guess Runita is my “Christian” name.


Prayers for Boda driver Ariem Simon.

I’m  including this entry here because our subject is Bodas. It’s regarding a haunting Boda ride I had going into town during the middle of my trip. I have forgotten my precise reason for going to town but I remember Ariem. He must be in his mid-late twenties or early thirties at the most. We we talking as often happens between Boda drivers and their riders. Perhaps I was asking him how I, an African American was viewed. Was I a Muno? By some accounts this is the the Acoli name for white person and others a name meaning westerner or foreingner. At any rate, as we neared town he started telling me this was his last night in Gulu; he was moving to Kampala. He told me he was an orphan and had no one. Kampala is a big city. I wondered and asked what he hoped to accomplish there. He said he would drive the Boda there and hoped he would make more money. He was from Gulu and from the way he talked, I started to worry about him in the big city. He was not animated the way many Boda drivers I met had been. I often wonder why they are so animated when many were abductees and former soldiers in the war (that’s what I was told, I’m not certain). Anyway, Simon was very soft spoken and had a far off quality about him. I couldn’t help wishing that I had the means to help him somehow. We had been warned against throwing money at situations with no real thought about sustainability. I found myself wondering how I could help, he seemed so lost. We arrived at my destination and he had a hard time saying goodbye. Not knowing what else to do, I gave him a little extra for the ride (my colleagues would balk because this practice does not bode well for locals who can’t afford the inflated price) and told him I would keep him in my prayers. With that he reluctantly rode off. I am still haunted by this experience, so I would like to ask you to pray for Ariem Simon as well. Apwoyo.

Published in: on July 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Runita (Laker), this is great! Thanks for documenting your experience in Gulu. I lived and worked there for three years right after the war ended, so I’m interested in seeing how the district’s (and region’s) recovery is going. Cheers and keep it coming. Denis

    • Did you work for an organization? If so, which one? I will not publish anymore on this trip as it happened exactly five years ago. However, I would love for you to comment on my reply.

      • Hi Laker I am actually originally from northern Uganda. Kitgum. But I worked with Mega FM in Gulu when it was first set up. I am now in DC. Thanks for documenting your experience in my natural neck of the woods. You back stateside?


        Rujos Blog wrote: > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ rujo commented: “Did you work for an organization? If so, which one? I will not publish anymore on this trip as it happened exactly five years ago. However, I would love for you to comment on my reply.”

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