alexa MAN IN THE HOOD: The six types of boda boda riders - Daily Nation

MAN IN THE HOOD: The six types of boda boda riders

Wednesday August 22 2018


A boda boda rider in Nairobi Town. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Motorbikes, popularly referred to as nduthis, are a necessary means of transport in the hood. These nduthis are useful when you need to move around quickly and walking happens to be your least favourite activity.

They used to be called boda bodasbut that term has since become too old school. In fact, you should withdraw the word boda boda out of your stash of nouns; unless you grew up when “Stella” was the biggest hit song of the time.

In my few years of riding on them, I’ve encountered different types of operators. Some are jolly good-fellows while others make you wish you were a filthy rich earthling with a limo and a 24-hour chauffeur to take you wherever you want to go.


There is one I refer to as Mr Disciplined. He rides as carefully as a first time Toyota Vitz owner and the fare is always reasonable. There are times when you might be going to a distant location and he tells you the only damage to your pockets will be 50 bob. You are almost tempted to ask “50 bob pekee?” but you remain hushed lest he changes his mind.

This kind of nduthi operator is super friendly and tends to form a deep-abiding connection with customers. He is also a silver-tongued charmer and creates delightful conversation. He makes stories that you would have dismissed as mere mushene- exaggerated gossip- into authentic discussions.


Most of his customers ask for his phone number at the end of the trip so that they can contact him the next time they need a ride.

Even slay queens who are too lazy to go to the shops are now using this kind of nduthi operator as a courier.

Once a slay queen has his number, she will keep contacting him and asking him to do little shopping for her and deliver it. You will here weird delivery orders like: “Niletee pilipili moja nitakupea pesa ukifika.” (Bring me one pepper I will pay for it on delivery).


Then there is the other turf of unruly nduthi operators; the need-for-speed nduthi operator. He rides like he’s heading to the hospital where his wife is in labour, about to give birth to quadruplets. Any request to slow down is usually met with temporary obedience, only for him to resume his Grand Prix speeds a few minutes later.

The scariest part is the way he manoeuvres in between moving vehicles causing your heart literally to riot in your chest. If you ever owned the brick game console when you were a kid, you definitely remember how tense and fast the racing game was at level 5. That’s how you feel whenever you pass each car with this nduthi guy.

He makes no distinction between rough roads or tarmac. Even when he is on a bad road full of rough patches or mud, he still moves like he is in the Fast and Furious film.

Riding with him is like watching a circus clown walk on a long tight rope with his eyes completely shut. You thank God severally once you arrive at your destination safely.


Next on the list of nduthi operators is the moving night club. This one has decided that the music he’s listening to on his nduthi is what everyone else should listen to.

This nduthi operator is the most annoying person after high school dining hall prefects.

He believes that he has the undisputed duty to deliver wonderful music to your lucky eardrums. He thinks he’s a delightful, lovable twinkle of morning sunshine but he is not.

He has installed high-base subwoofers on his bike that are always on maximum volume whenever he is on the move. It’s worse when the music is that of an overrated artiste like…shhh...I won’t mention any names.


I cannot forget the clueless rider. He isn’t quite sure where your destination is and you end up going around in circles as he tries to figure this out.

Most likely, he’s new in the business.

You get pissed because he lied that he knew where you were going but you fight to keep your cool.

There’s also the stinking nduthi operator who rarely showers and never washes his clothes. The conflict between him and water is greater than the one between Israel and Palestine.

The worst thing about being on a nduthi is that wind always blows backwards, so all his body odour courses through your nose and corrodes your lungs.

Finally, there’s the total villain. He enjoys ogling at ladies while he’s waiting for customers. He also likes to quote a high fare and if you try to bargain, he’ll dismiss you rather rudely: “If you don’t like it, you can keep standing right there.”

If you decide to ride with him, you’ll witness more of his misdemeanours. He’ll insult one or two pedestrians or motorists along the way, even if he’s in the one on the wrong.

He suffers from extreme mob mentality and should you step into disaccord with him, he will threaten to call his fellow gang of nduthi operators to back him up. Trust me, you don’t want that.

Most people would prefer to ride with Mr Disciplined but the problem is that he isn’t always available due to high demand and people calling him all the time. More often than not, you will be forced to settle for the other types. Sad, but it is what it is.