LOLAFRICA journey to Uganda

Glory to God, who's power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or Imagine....

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Location: Kalagala, Uganda

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The environmentally friendly means of transportation...a simple,practical thing...even a luxury for the odd joyride every now and then...but herein Uganda, the bicycle is a marvel, a wonder, a is gold.
To own a bicycle means you have some way of making a living...strap on a cushioned seat behind the rider and you are now a bicycle-taxi. You can carry men, women and children and their cargo through congested streets to their destination in relatively good time. You can haul everything from Matooke to lumber, charcoal to bails of banana leaves, spare tires, steel poles , rods, car parts, firewood or boxes of goods piled up to seven feet high!!
As long as the tires are full and the chain well oiled, a bicycle can carry almost anything to anywhere. If your load is too big, you just jump off and push the bike to where you need to go. Balance is a key ingredient in this scenario and great care must be taken not to topple over with your heavey load - as re-loading is time consuming and dangerous in the middle of traffic!!
Given that a bicycle has can be fashioned into almost any human-powered machine for sanding,grinding or mixing! As scrap, the bicycle is useful in making homemade wheelchairs, tricycles or reinforcing existing machinery or vehicles.
I have never seen such resourcefulness, such imagination, or so many uses of a bicycle, than I have been witness to here in Uganda.
You name it - a bicycle can be the answer to the problem. A mere means of transportation? Hardly! In fact, the Ugandan bicycle is rarely used as a simple means to get around...the option is just an added bonus. IN Uganda, owning a bicycle can mean life, hope for the future, food on the table.

I think of all the bicycles in Canada- Yes, they know the joy of laughing children, the glee of riding down a hill, the simple pleasure of an easy ride on a fall day...the energizing speed of an athlete training...wind in the wheels....or the noisy fun of a playing card or piece of plastic in the spokes. The frivolity of streamers, bicycle decorating contests, handlebar bells, baskets and lunchbox holders.... the classic scene of boys racing or jumping their BMX bikes...
My memory brings to light my first bike..a surprise from my parents...a beautiful blue shining wonder! Fast as a bullet -I never even needed training wheels!! I loved that bike - it felt like freedom. Now,imagine how precious the bicycle that can help you pay your rent...feed your your life...
I have taken for granted this wonderful, strong, ingenious invention...the simple yet amazing Bicycle.

"I have come to realize that it is the small simple things that are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder


Blogger Jeremy said...

Lola, I've so enjoyed your writing here -- it's an inspiration.

I also think of all the bikes neglected and discarded here that could have second lives in places like Uganda. I wonder if it would make sense (economically, I mean) to ship containers full of fixed-up ones over there?

7:02 PM  
Blogger Garth said...

Very cool post Lola - I happened to stumble over to your site through Jer awhile back but seeing as I too share that passion for two wheels was delighted by your post on bikes.

It seems long ago but I too have seen the creativity of Africans & bicycles when visiting Ang in Ethiopia - may you continue to be blessed as you serve in Uganda!

11:52 PM  

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