It looks like a boat with spears attached to the face and the rear. But it is not a boat.
When finished, it will ride the same roads with ordinary cars. This car has been pimped. The owner left it in the garage four months ago. It has been given new features, and all that is left is the finishing and colouring.
“This is a Benz. The owner wants it to look unique,” says one of the workers.
Jeffery Nanonyi, 28, Dan Bolingo, 30, and Christopher Ojambo, 29, are the brains behind the pimping business. Their garages are located in the Kampala slums of Makerere Kivulu and Namuwongo. It is in these lowly places that they think and create designs that may change the look of Uganda’s capital city.
Car pimping, as the process is known, is already a big business in Kenya, and now seems to be catching on in Kampala. The process starts in Namuwongo, where they put together the designs using fibre imported from Kenya. Thereafter, the car is transferred to Kivulu, where they do the finishing work.
The three partners started as panel-beaters at a garage, earning peanuts. Then, Ojambo went to Nairobi, where he worked with an importer of car-pimping fibres. And that was it.
“When I came back, I showed my friends how to do it,” he says, “and we started from there.”
In 2011, the primary school dropouts started pimping cars, although business was slow. Now, though, things are looking up. At their garages, there are different brands of cars, ready to acquire new features.
Their customers are usually celebrities and those who love attention – musicians, politicians, pastors and ordinary Ugandans, among others. But also, there is a growing number of Ugandans who want customized cars. On the day I visit their garage in Makerere Kivulu, a group of young people has come to see what these men do.
“I have accepted. These guys are doing something here,” one man says.
The three can recreate bumpers and bonnets, among others. Work can be accomplished in less than two months, depending on the design. But also, they say, there are some complicated designs that might require your car to spend close to a year in the garage.
“We had a VX land cruiser here. It spent a year here. It really depends on the customer – if he/she loves the design, they can do anything to have it,” Nanonyi says.
It is not cheap to have these designs on your car. The cheapest goes for Shs 2m, while for the sophisticated designs, one could easily fork out Shs 40m, they say. But are there people willing to spend that money to change the car? Yes, there are many.
From 2013, they have served at least 30 customers, and are able to look after their children. While some customers needed a few changes on their cars, others wanted a complete overhaul.
The designs are searched from the internet. They look at different car designs and build on that. Besides pimping cars, the three men, who directly employ 15 youths, also design phone booths, portable tents, water tanks and fibre iron sheets.
“We want to grow this into a big company,” says Ojambo.
However, the business has faced a couple of barriers, such as dealing with defaulters. They also say they do not have enough land. They rent space for Shs 350,000 a month.
Ojambo, Nanonyi, and Bolingo have big dreams for the future. They say Ugandans have started to love and go for car pimping. “It is definitely the next thing here,” says a beaming Nanonyi.
They also want to start a school that would teach youths to pimp cars, but also want to build car bodies.
“We want to do things the whites are doing,” Ojambo said. With growing celebrity statuses in the country, this could be a promising venture.
Source: The Observer