Kaolack Rides

Portraits of Motorcycle Taxi Drivers in Senegal

This series of portraits was taken between January and March of 2010 documenting young drivers of motorcycle taxis (commonly known as “jakartas”) in Kaolack, the major city in the central Saloum region in Senegal. This form of transport is ubiquitous in Kaolack and other surrounding cities but is much less common in Dakar. I wanted to capture a feature specific to the region and at the same time explore the distinctly masculine subculture of this tightly-knit community. These drivers, some as young as 13, work long hours at great personal risk, as they are at the mercy of soaring gas prices, poor road conditions and the unscrupulous owners from whom they rent the motorcycles at a daily rate, without insurance. Yet they navigate the sand-strewn streets with pride and flair, and their vehicles, bedecked with accessories or stickers of popular religious figures, infuse the city with life.