Vespa Club Uganda

Vespa Club Uganda

Once seen as a status symbol in Uganda and the capital Kampala, the iconic Piaggio Vespa is now derided as an anachronism. For devotees, though, old habits die hard

Christopher Kiganda

When the Tel Aviv-based photojournalist Ariel Tagar travelled to the Ugandan city of Kampala, he spotted a couple of men riding Vespa scooters. He struck up a conversation, and was surprised to discover they were part of a tight-knit community. Photographs: Ariel Tagar

Andrew Kayondo

Kayondo is often heckled by passing boda boda (taxi-bike) riders: ‘You got an old-looking bike there, my friend! Time to get a new boda!’

Rama Nambufu

There is little appreciation of restoration in an increasingly modernised Uganda, says Tagar, ‘but these are proud men who appreciate the quality of their vehicles’.

Rev Christopher Kasule

Some of the older riders remember a time when owning an Italian scooter would spin heads. ‘When we were young we used to ride them wearing bell bottoms and big disco shoes!’ says Kasule

Gerald Nsimbe

‘The country is full of boda boda, but none of them are like the Piaggio Vespa,’ says Tagar

Alex Bashiaja

Tagar: ‘The Vespa is one of the perpetual symbols of mid-century design, and as such it is very close to my heart’

Micheal Osendulu

The vehicles are reminiscent of happier days in Uganda, currently ranked one of the poorest countries in the world

James Kigundu

The landlocked state has one of the world’s highest fertility rates, at 5.8 children per woman, but an average life expectancy of only 54 for men and 55 for women

Zaidi Sembaaga

A leader of a small Muslim community just outside Kampala, Sembaaga says: ‘Vespas gave us much amusement in the past. We’re happy to give them a new life’

Rider unknown

‘Originally I was looking for interesting car stories to shoot until I was shocked to find these passionate Vespa owners,’ says Tagar

Nathan Mubiru

‘Vespas are strong, unique and attractive,’ says 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’


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