For a fact: Using helmets decreases the risk and severity of injuries by about 72%; decreases the likelihood of death by up to 39%, with the probability depending on the speed of the motorcycle involved; and decreases the costs of health care associated with crashes (WHO, 2006).
We’re putting our foot into it…um…talking about it again..trying to ask perhaps, the question of the year.
On a rainy Thursday morning of 12th May 2016, I found myself jumping onto a Boda Boda (commercial motorcycle) from Kampala to Entebbe Airport before heading to Nicaragua via Juba. It’s a pizza of a mission sandwiched between my education and work struggles. Had I not used the Boda Boda, I’d have missed the flight as public transport on Entebbe road was slimmed: You know Mr Museveni was swearing in as president yet again since 1986. Eish…see, I’m not a virgin at using Boda Bodas to know that a typical commercial motorcyclist holds casual conversations particularly when the passenger initiates the small talk.
A Boda Boda stand in Kampala, Uganda.
In the thick of the ride,
Holy cow!...man, that wasn’t even close to what I’d anticipated. This response made my brain to jolt from Cairo to Capetown, Malabo to Mombasa all in 3 seconds. I froze before composing myself to remember that my reproductive health experience wasn’t a wastage afterall. Male condoms are known as ‘helmets’ especially among the ‘forever young’ urban generation in Uganda. Truth be told, I took a second eye to my rider noting he couldn’t possibly put himself in the ‘youth’ bracket. With a loud laughter, I burst out responding ‘Ssebo (local for ‘sir’), I’m not talking about condoms
Surprised he was upon the mention of the word and calmed my now overdrive of anxiety, pointing to his clean black helmet:
“Mutabani (local for ‘son’), I’m talking about this helmet not condoms. You young generation may not understand it now, but it’s not muscles, hanging jeans or the long fake hair that make you attractive. I have been doing this (Boda Boda business) for 14 years now, but I have never taken a passenger who comes along with his helmet. At the first instant, I thought you weren’t Ugandan after all.” I wasn’t interested in this seemingly great trend of the discussion, so I applied inferential reasoning, probing:
"Wait, about your wife, why does she like the helmet?”, I managed to say.
He responded with what looked like a 100% degree of confidence “My wife likes me to be safe. She tells me that knowing that I’m safety conscious was number 1 reason she chose me”. He continued reassuringly “If a man or woman is self conscious, they are serious with their lives. They want to live life up to their fullest. They are reliable and trust worthy. Is there anything more attractive in a man or a woman than that? There’s nothing attractive than a young woman who carries and uses her helmet”.
I was thunderstruck! This man deserves a hero’s award! Who’s sexier? With or Without Helmet?