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A boda boda life...

Owen and I were invited (although we really invited ourselves as we wanted to shoot some film of Jeffrey’s daily routine for Owen’s documentary on boda boda) to our friend and test rider Jeffrey’s house. We were eager to see his place, meet his family and better understand the daily life of a dedicated boda boda driver. Arriving in the early evening, we were warmly welcomed by Jeffrey’s wife, Rose, and their five children. Their house lies about 15km from the town of Kitale in a sea of maize fields. Jeffrey has maize planted on the acre he owns surrounding their house leaving a small trail through corn stalks that connects their house to the dirt road a 100 meters away.

Rose prepared a wonderful, traditional Kenyan meal of ugali (corn flour paste) and sakuma wiki (collard greens) which we ate with Jeffrey and his children. Dinner was followed by several cups of piping hot chai (tea with milk and plenty of sugar) and stories about biking and life in Kenya.

Owen and I had prepared to spend the night since we knew Jeffrey’s day of work begins before six. However, we had not anticipated spending the night together, in their family’s only bed. Jeffrey and Rose insisted we sleep in their bed (which occupied over half of the second room in their house) while they slept on the dirt floor of the living room with the children. We awoke at 5:30 with Jeffrey to wash our faces in water Rose had heated for us and take a few more cups of chai before hitting the road. Sitting around the small living room with the children still sleeping at our feet, we enjoyed a couple of hot cups of chai as Jeffrey wiped down his bicycle. We left the house with Jeffrey just as the path through the corn stalks became faintly visible in the early morning light.

Jeffrey stopped at a neighbor’s house to pick up a couple of school kids which he carried in to town for school. With both kids firmly seated on the boda boda seat, Jeffrey began a bumpy and muddy 6km climb to the paved road. 20-30 minutes later, with the sun quickly heating the morning air and Jeffrey dripping in sweat, we reached the paved road littered with potholes. Only another 9km to town.

This morning commute is how Jeffrey begins his workday six times a week. He continues ferrying passengers around town until 5pm when he will again pick up the students and take them back home.