Bicycles: Transportation for Everything

One thing that I’ve always been amazed with is the limitless uses that bicycles are put to in Africa. It really is amazing to see them hauling everything from people, to 10 stalks of bananas, to coffins.

The “Black Mamba” bicycle – Low cost, steel-framed, traditional bicycle imported to Africa from England in the 1900s, revolutionizing road transport in Africa. A sturdy and reliable workhorse now to be found in the remotest corners of the continent.

Boda Boda – The bikes found in Central and East Africa used as taxis. The term came from being located on the border. The bodaboda taxis are part of the African bicycle culture, they started in the 1960s and 1970s and are still spreading from their origin (the Kenyan-Ugandan BORDER) to other regions.

Boda Boda Bicycle
Wooden Bicycles – Handcrafted, locally made bikes using wood and rubber for the tires. Yes, they do have brakes, which are much needed in the mountainous areas of Uganda, Zaire/Congo, and Western Kenya.

Wooden Bike
Banana Hauling – I was truly amazed as I travelled through the villages in Eastern Uganda to see the amount of banana stalks that could be loaded onto one of these bikes. The most I ever counted was 12 stalks, but I’m sure that someone out there can say they saw someone beat that recored. I’m digging through my archives for a picture of the 12 stalks, but until then this one will have to do.

Banana Hauling on a Bicycle
The Fundi – Ahh, the bicycle fundi, a magician with a baiskeli. Using only a pair of plyers, an old innertube and bailing wire he can make your ride new again! Don’t worry, if the innertubes are beyond repair and you have no money to buy new ones, my friend the fundi will show you how to pack grass into the tire to make it like new.

Bicycle Mechanic in Africa

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

19 thoughts on “Bicycles: Transportation for Everything”

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  2. Great post! Talk about creativity when it comes to Africans trying to get by without the crazy gadgets some could not do without!

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  5. It is quite amazing to view these wonderful pictures of daily use of bicycles as the means to an important form of transport, used actively throughout each day of a life of hardship.

    Uganda, Zaire/Congo, and Western Kenya, amongst many other poorer countries, shows here the extensive use of the bicycle, keeping the wheels of industries in these remote parts turning.

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