A man posing with his Vespa T5

Bikes in the City Part Two: Kampala Scooter Club


The capital of Uganda, central Africa’s landlocked nation, is a city like any other.

Its citizens need affordable transport – that’s fun and stylish too. Kampala city is well-known for its Boda Boda – the colourful taxi bikes that transport Kampala residents from place-to-place with a certain amount of panache. It should really be no surprise that there is a vibrant culture of Vespisti.

The heyday of Vespa sales in Uganda were in the dark but economically relatively affluent days of Idi Amin – and they represent the burgeoning modernism of the era in which they were first popular. Now, the bikes are testament to the resourceful make-do-and-mend attitude of the Kampalan people.

Photographer Ariel Tagar documented the scene.

A member of the Muslim community with his Vespa
Vespa’s service all of Kampala’s diverse neighbourhoods. This rider is part of a Muslim community just outside the city.
A member of the Vespa Club Uganda shows off their badge
‘Vespas are strong, unique and attractive,’ says Nathan Mubiru. ‘One we have is 54 years old, but it can serve at least 20 more years with the right care. With other motorbikes you simply cannot do that. Young people here don’t like it, but for me it is exactly what I’m after – something that is strong, beautiful and economical.’
A reverend outside his place of worship - with his Vespa
‘When we were young we used to ride our scooters with bell bottoms and disco shoes!’ says Reverend Kasule.
A green Vespa shines in Africa.
Uganda’s average life expectancy is as low as 55 – but there is a vibrant creativity and love of design in Kampala despite the troubled times.
A man posing with his Vespa T5
This T5 is one of the newer Vespas on Kampala’s streets – its colourful patchwork testament to the resourcefulness of the Vespisti of Uganda.