Who Needs Rollercoasters

Flag one down.

Get a price.

Bargain.

Hop on.

Hang on for dear life.

Against the advice of a cab driver in Lagos, I ride an okada in Kano. “If you must,” he had said, “then pick well. Don’t pick a Hausa boy. Make sure you ride with someone who has a wife and children.”

I hadn’t been able to decide if the prejudice in the “Hausa boy” reference was aimed at the tribe or at the recklessness of youth. So I had let that rest. What I had taken away from his warning was to pick a motorbike cab with a driver who looked like he has something to live for and would therefore take fewer risks on the road.

I have to admit I was skeptical of the safety bar on these motorbike taxis, but necessity is a mother. Running low on funds towards the Kano part of the production trip, I let Philip convince me there was nothing to it.

What a thrill. Forget rollercoasters Tip: wear glasses. By the second ride, I was emboldened to get some shots of Philip and his brother coursing through the post-rainfall mud of Kano streets on these rambling lithe means of transport.

-Arthur Musah / Kano, Nigeria / August 22, 2012

PS. In Ghana, a mounting demand for okadas caused the government to review the safety record of motorbike taxis. It was found to be apalling. Okadas are currently banned in Ghana, but are increasingly in use in the north and, in Accra, one can occasionally sight a rogue motorbike driver picking up a passenger.

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