Dutch Photographer Documents Eccentric Costumed Motorbike Taxi Drivers In Nairobi
Imagine calling for a ride on a busy day and a furious bike emerges leaving a veil of dust behind as if you are in a real-life scene from Mad Max. Sounds like a dream? Well, not if you order an African-style uber boda boda.
This urban means of transportation relates to motorcycle taxi riders commonly found in East Africa. They are believed to operate hundreds of thousands of boda bodas in Kenya alone providing quick and inexpensive transportation. There are so many of them that some drivers take their vehicles to the next level by customizing them in order to stand out in the busy streets and attract more customers.
Dutch photographer Jan Hoek and Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case shared their appreciation for these drivers’ creativity and joined their skills to collaborate on a project called “Boda Boda Madness” that turned boda boda drivers into striking fantastical characters you wouldn’t miss a ride with.
Mad Max Rider
“Well, I was in Nairobi for another project. When I was visiting Kibera, which is known as the biggest slum area but also very thriving, I suddenly saw the Ghost Driver. I was immediately so fascinated because he made his whole bike like this himself. I got his number and from that moment on, he was my motor driver. Because of him, I found out that other motor taxis also customized their bikes in order to offer a unique riding experience,” Jan Hoek explained to Bored Panda about how the project originated.
“When I met Bobbin Case, an avantgardistic fashion designer, we both had this fascination for customized motor taxis, but we also thought that they forgot one thing in their whole appearance and that was themselves.”
The duo then came up with a brilliant idea to design eccentric outfits that matched their motorcycles and completed their characters to make them look like real-life action figures. They approached 7 of the most creative boda boda drivers whose dazzling bikes were inspired by famous films such as “Ghost Rider,” “Mad Max,” and “Machete,” music legends, and football teams. Jan Hoek created a photoshoot for each of the badass drivers and their unique matching bikes resulting in surreal photographs with Nairobi landscapes in the background.
Red Devil Rider
This unusual marketing strategy paid off as extravagant outfits in combination with pimped motorbikes attracted even more attention and the drivers’ income sufficiently increased. “Most of them still drive around like this” – said Hoek. If you are ever in Nairobi, don’t miss an opportunity to take an authentic ride that could be one of the weirdest and most exciting lifts in your life.
Jan Hoek and Bobbin Case with Boda Boda taxi riders
“Boda Boda Madness” will be participating in the pop-up exhibition NOW LOOK HERE – The African Art of Appearance along with other African artists who tell deeply rooted stories through outward appearances.