With the pace at which Nigerians are now fond of calling tricycle ‘Keke‘ as against ‘Keke NAPEP‘ or ‘Keke Marwa‘, adults in southwestern Nigeria would have to answer questions like: “Why do we call bicycle and tricycle Keke?” from younger generations. The linguistic explanations behind Naija names for tricycle will be a story for another day.
Tricycle is gradually dominating intra-city commuting in many Nigerian cities. Keke has taken over in some parts of the north where there are certain restrictions on commercial riding of motorcycles. The cool breeze that a ride in the Keke offers has also made them commuters’ preference over a taxi. Oops! They also know how to manoeuvre their way out of not too tight traffic, but there are some weird practices that are prevalent among Keke riders. Probably, you are not a fan of taking Keke in Nigerian cities if you’ve not noticed any of these practices.
1. Stickers across Windscreen
Keke riders have redefined the purpose of the windscreen; they make it look like the primary purpose of having a windscreen is to display stickers of their favourite celebrities. Stickers of hip-hop stars, fuji artistes, football stars, popular clerics, among others, are plastered left, right and centre on the windscreen of many Keke, and you will be wondering if the rider could actually see through the screen.
2. Having Petrol in a Small Bottle
Ever wonder what the bottle hung by the rider’s side is meant for? It is their auxiliary fuel tank. The fuel consumption of tricycles is so minimal; they abuse this by sharing the two litres of fuel they buy between the fuel tank of the tricycle and their fuel bottle. Having the remaining fuel in the bottle gives them the chance to go with the remaining fuel when handing over the tricycle to another rider or the owner.
3. Extending the Front Seat
4. Blaring Music
If you are not a lover of music or loud music, you really need to look before you leap into a keke. To enjoy music in a semi-enclosed vehicle like keke, the volume of the audio player needs to be on the high side. Riders often thrill their passengers to different mixes of unsolicited music. You might enjoy some if you are not allergic to loud music.
5. Keeping Rolled Naira Notes at the Edge of Headliner
The space joining the front edge of the headliner to the windscreen serves an unimaginable purpose to Naija keke riders; it’s an open wallet where they put rolled naira notes. In most cases, the notes kept there are usually lower denominations, making it easier for them to hand change to passengers. So, when next you were about asking a keke rider whether he has change to your larger denomination, watch him check the front edge of his headliner first.