Truth be told, boda bodas are not a sign of progress!

By XN Iraki | Sep 27, 2023
A boda boda rider transports milk on the Gilgil–Nyahururu Road. [XN Iraki, Standard]

In the countryside, the motorbike has more work than taking people from point A to B. 

It transports everything, including milk and foodstuffs to collection points. It’s also a status symbol having displaced the bicycle.

Some confided to me this status symbol has led to school dropouts as young men see quick money and prestige. Girls are also attracted to men with “means.” Is this a fact or a stereotype? 

The motorcycle has transformed the countryside, but this has not been appreciated as much as in the urban areas, where they have helped beat traffic jams. We seem not to mind their “chaos.” 

In the countryside, motorbikes are also ambulances. Hopefully, the time saved from having to walk is put to good use.

The motorbike has no “waiting time” and can access places cars can’t. Even Uber could not resist incorporating motorbikes into their model. Curiously, the police knew the advantages of motorbikes long before all of us. 

The motorbike, also called boda boda, epitomises our path to modernity. We should now graduate into cars and later planes.

The motorbike in the photo is plying a route in the white highlands where wazungus (whites) once owned planes and airstrips. 60 years after independence, we should not be celebrating the motorbike! Surprised?  

Should we not have improved on what the colonialists had? After independence, we should have flown better planes and started flying into space, long before Elon Musk. We should see the motorbike as a symbol of stagnation.  

Sixty years after independence, we seem to have over-celebrated instead of extending the frontiers of possibilities.

It’s not just in transport where we stagnated. Think of our agriculture, we are still prisoners of maize. Why does everyone grow maize in Kenya?  

Think of education; we still have not settled on the best system and do not appreciate the fact that capitalism is about making money as you better the society.

Why else is corruption such a popular „economic sport in Kenya?“  

Sixty years after independence, it’s time to reflect on where we are and where we could have been and start running. 

Remember by 60, we have gone through the major phases in life. Kenya’s old age is coming. How shall the country renew itself? Noted the muteness over the 60th anniversary of our independence? Or it’s a sign of old age?

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