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Boda-Boda's whizzing to-and-fro is a common sight in Nairobi, but they also help the wheels of rural Maasailand turning
Anyone who has been crazy enough to brave Nairobi’s infamous traffic will surely have witnessed boda-boda’s nonchalantly weaving their way between 10 ton trucks, usually with no less than two passengers clinging on for dear life. They are lethal – that’s an understatement.
But Kenya simply couldn’t operate without this most convenient and affordable mode of transportation – small gaily decorated motorbikes endearingly known as boda-boda’s. The term originates from a time when travellers used mopeds to cross the half-mile no-go-zone between the Kenya-Uganda border. Drivers would shout “Border-to-border” to customers looking for a lift between the two outposts. When these mopeds became available on the open market, the name stuck.
At Angama Mara, out here in the middle of nowhere, boda-bodas play an invaluable role in our daily life. Although the majority of our produce comes from farms all across Kenya and is consolidated by a supplier in Nairobi for weekly trucking to the lodge, there are many fresh products we source from local farmers. Our favourite is Joseph Oseko. He comes from Sabaringo, about 35 minutes from here, and strapped to his motorbike are sacks of cabbages, tomatoes, onions and avocados. How he can fit all of this onto the back of a small bike, I have no clue. Delicious and fresh from his farm, we serve our guests bowls of whole avos at our Forest BBQ and it’s wonderful to see their eyes widen in amazement at the sight of whole avocado pears plonked in front of them. And boy, do they ever tuck in.
Our staff are fuelled by Kenya’s famous chai – tea stewed with fresh cow’s milk. It is an acquired taste. The mother of our Maasai gardener, Joshua, delivers fresh milk daily for 4 o’clock tea. That’s 5 litres every day rain or shine. Our staff simply couldn’t operate without their chai fix. Mama Joshua usually walks from her manyatta to the lodge but should there be a boda-boda puttering along she will certainly hitch a ride.
Guests and staff alike are mad for our delicious locally harvested organic honey. Julius Mokita, from the neighbouring community of Kawai, works with a collective group of Maasai bee-keepers and honey producers from the villages surrounding Angama Mara. Together they combine their honey, 100% pure with no additives and with a lovely smoky flavour, to produce enough to supply lodges around the Mara. And of course the honey is delivered in 5 litre buckets swinging on the handlebars of a boda-boda. Honey is after all the key ingredient for a Dawa. And if you don’t know what a Dawa is then it’s high time to come to East Africa!
Perhaps most bewildering of all is seeing an mbuzi riding pillion on a boda-boda. Strapped to the back or draped across the driver’s lap, Maasai goats don’t seem to mind a bit as they watch the world whizz by. Semeyoi Ole Meriayu, who lives near our airfield, provides us with our weekly order of mbuzi, the staff’s favourite meal. If you’re keen (some may even say brave), swing by on Thursdays for goat and ugali. Our treat.