Diaspoman: When road test yielded no results

I am enjoying my ‘Kiraka’ in Kigali. My boss has been surprisingly tolerant with me as I tend to enter office a few minutes late every morning using the old-lame excuse of traffic jam.

I am enjoying my ‘Kiraka’ in Kigali. My boss has been surprisingly tolerant with me as I tend to enter office a few minutes late every morning using the old-lame excuse of traffic jam.

I also claim that I have been suffering with boda bodas under the sometimes harsh weather. Whenever it rains, I decline jumping on that moto so I end up reporting to work late. But my boss has surprised me by suggesting that he would like to offer me a loan so that I can buy myself a motor cycle – wow!


This reminded me of a similar boss during the mid-90s. This boss beckoned Aggrey and I to his office. He then informed us that the NGO that we were working for had decided to buy for us motor cycles to enable us travel easily in the field. We were thrilled! We assured our expatriate boss that we knew how to ride the bikes. The truth of the matter is that we didn’t know how to operate such machines! So, we hired some street guys to teach.


Within a few days, we were all experts! So, one Saturday morning, I rode my bike to town. I was off duty and I needed to spend some of my dollars on new Jeans and Jackets. So I parked my bike along the busy “Quartier Commerciale” street. I firmly chained my bike on a pole across the street with a padlock and walked into the shop. I was lucky to find a good helmet. I did not hesitate to pay for it. Then I spotted the leather jacket plus the Levis jeans. Being too eager to impress upon the onlookers, I requested the shopkeeper to avail a room so that I could change clothes immediately.


A few minutes later I stepped out of the shop. I stretched my arms out wide to show the whole world about my satisfaction! I fastened my new helmet and mounted my bike. I kicked the starter with pomp. I kicked again. Again and again. However, the bike refused to start. I got off and checked around the bike. Had someone spilled some water in the fuel tank? With the little knowledge I had obtained from the NGO drivers, I opened the tank lid and sniffed. Was it pure petrol? Had it been contaminated?

As I pondered the next move, a young man approached me. He had been standing idle all along as I fidgeted with the bike. He claimed to be a mechanic. Did I have five thousand francs for the job? Being so desperate, I agreed and handed him the money. He then bent down and touched some wires, twisted them around and hammered some into place. He then told me to try again.

I kicked once, twice, and thrice! No way. The bike refused to start. The mechanic once again fixed some wiring. After some minutes of hammering, the mechanic asked me for the keys. He sat on the bike and kicked once. The bike started. Wow! Before I could thank my Good Samaritan, the bike was already speeding down the street. I convinced myself that the mechanic was on a road test.

So I waited for him. It was after 1 hour that I realised what a fool I really was. I had been conned out of my socks! By the time I called out for help, the motorcycle was history. Onlookers came to console me. They told me that the trick was a very common one indeed. They explained to me that the quack mechanic had eyed me when I first entered the shop. He had quickly disconnected a cable so that when I tried to start the bike, it would not work. He had then waited for me to sweat with it before coming to my aid. He had calculated his moves smartly and had indeed outsmarted me. 

With my new helmet sill fastened, I walked away in misery. I called out for a taxi to take me back home. When I searched my pockets, I realized that the only cash I had was paid to the “mechanic”. I was stuck. But thanks to my good old Rav-2, which transported me safely back home.

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