However when she landed foot in the West African country, she was dumbfounded by the flashy outfits she saw....
Teaching French by day, boda boda hustler by night: How teacher juggles his double life
Brian Baraza, the middle-age teacher of French like most Kenyans, leads a double life. If you met him looking dapper in a three-piece, well-tailored, black suit matched well with a black tie, you wouldn’t guess his side-hustle.
Baraza, a resident of Rongai town in the outskirts of Nairobi City, is a teacher of French by day and a boda boda rider by night. During the day, he enjoys the ambience of Olerai School, where he joins other teachers to deal with curious learners. Teaching, is Baraza’s main hustle.
When night comes, he ditches fancy suits and formal settings to join noisy adults fighting for that one pillion passenger! Headache enough.
Baraza, 37, started teaching in 2003. “I taught both English and French but I chose to follow French after I graduated from Alliance Française,” he said, adding that, “Between 2007 and 2008, I had the privilege to teach in high school.”
Currently, he teaches five-seven classes a day. After school, he takes about ten-minute break at home before hitting the road to milk his evening fortune from the boda boda hustle.
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“I leave school at 3:40 pm, go home for ten minutes then proceed to my other work as a boda boda rider,” he told The Nairobian adding that rest is not a luxury he can afford.
On why he needs the second job, Baraza explains: “The salary range from private schools is always Sh35,000- Sh50,000. After bargaining, we end with Sh38,000 gross salary and when deductions are made, you pocket Sh31, 000 - Sh34,000.”
“If you are running a family where you pay school fees and health covers aside from feeding your household, that money won’t be enough,” he explains why he decided to buy three boda bodas.
One is leased to a rider based in Rongai who pays him Sh400 daily. Baraza sold one motorbike when business was not performing.
Besides managing tough economic times, the father-of-two decided to become a boda boda rider because he wanted to improve customer care in the boda boda industry.
“Most boda guys fail to understand that this is a business and it requires ethics; they are not diligent to know that they have to treat people nicely so that you get better deals with the customers,” he said, explaining that he makes, “At least Sh300-Sh400 every evening from my boda.”
Looking back, Teacher Baraza says It was a risk worth taking. “Without the boda, I would not have managed, the money I earned was very little, even if I decided to join Chamas, it wouldn’t have helped much because of accrued debts.”
He adds that the little cash from the boda boda settles little debts and takes care of small needs in the house.
“When my salary comes, I use it to plan ahead and not pay bills,” Baraza said.
For nine years now, Baraza has tasted both the warmth of French classes and the biting cold nights on the road chasing clients. He started doing boda in 2012 December after experiencing a bathroom accident.
“While bathing, I slid and broke my toe when it got stuck in the Indian toilet. I got a tendon cut and couldn’t walk,” Baraza told The Nairobian.
Baraza thought the worst would happen at work because of the injury and he had to think of a solution.
“I used my Sacco savings to buy my first boda which I used to commute to school after my injury. Meanwhile, people would ask me to carry them to different places,” he said he saw an opportunity and has never looked back.
Baraza says that challenges in the boda boda business keep changing. “Initially we were dealing with police crackdowns, now the business is crowded and the influx in the number of riders means decrease in cash flow. I don’t make a lot of money because many people are in this business,” he told The Nairobian.
Meanwhile, at the beginning, Baraza had a hard time juggling work and family.
“My wife did not take it lightly because after school, I am expected to be home with my family enjoying quality time but instead I was out chasing clients,” he said.
Even though his wife eventually understood, they still had to deal with mistrust and fear of being misunderstood.
To buy the motorbike, Baraza used Sh125 000 off his savings. Service and maintenance of the bike costs Sh1000 per month. Ideally, the bike should fetch Sh1200 a day but, “I make half of that because I work partially,” Baraza said.