Saturday, July 19, 2014

Attack of the Boda Boda

Although it has been a few days since the onslaught and my experience has been heightened by the veil of jet lag the above photo is how I remember the boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) coming at us. In a journey without a single stop light and the only pause necessitated by traffic or the rare traffic officer, when you round a corner in Kampala this is what you see: boda bodas coming straight at you with no regard for the mass that a four-passenger vehicle occupies over their two-wheel franken-motor. Oh, they veer off eventually but not before they have gotten as close as they can to edge the other guy out. One would like to find some nobility in these daredevils. Perhaps some indication of choreographing that only they know or possibly they see the slip stream of traffic in their mind's eye and know exactly where to be and when. Nope. They bang into cars and each other all the time. The common practice of hanging your elbow out the window is not recommended in the streets of Kampala unless you want your elbow to match the dented and scraped side panels of all the vehicles around you.
There is a great affinity for adapting another culture's boldness. Even stepping off the plane it became obvious that the folks who had somewhere to be and those who who had time to wait. Americans wait quite well but we take great offense with those who step in front. If we are all waiting together we may grumble about the wait but what can you do? Some cultures have decided waiting is an option but if there is opportunity to move to the front, what is the problem? When I lived in Los Angeles creative driving was rewarded, like we were all Hollywood stunt drivers finding the quickest way around gridlock. When I drove in Texas the size of the vehicle determined priority, F-150 duallies with a lift own the road. Here in Africa it seems they all have reached the understanding if the opportunity for advancement presents itself, take it, and if you are in no hurry, wait. As the ebb and flow of the bigger vehicles created space in the streets of Kampala, boda bodas fill the emptiness because nature abhors a vacuum.
Will I be able to get over the “rudeness” of stepping to the front and making my needs a priority over those around me? Or is it more Godly to say, “no, you were here first,” to the other person? I suppose the answer will depend on the situation. As my family and I begin our life here in Africa will must remain open to the leading of the Lord and when we stand up for ourselves and when we let Him stand for us. When it is necessary to put a relationship before our rights and when someone else must learn humility. We cannot make that determination for others so we will have to rely on God to make that decision. And in the meantime we will choose the vans over the boda boda taxis.

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