Thursday, February 26, 2009

City Of Angels

I have always wondered about how life goes on in certain parts of the world... you know?
Kampala is the kind of city where nothing will move unless you bribe people; the trauma of owning anything and always being insecure about whether someone will steal it; the fear of achieving lest you court envy from even the most kindred of souls; the constant threat of being run down by a speeding cyclist, because in fairness, there is no way to control those blighters.

The argument has been for a long time that they need to earn an income and the elitist Kampala populace which had now become very lazy, encouraged them. Now the boda boda takes you right to the doorstep of where you want to go. The ease. The convenience. The sloth.

Then they started hitting people on the head with iron bars, mugging handbags, robbing innocent members of the snobbish elitist populace that would not ask government to put in place a proper transport system. But then maybe its not the population's fault that the leaders they elect don't represent them in government and instead end up aggrandizing themselves.

And so the pressure was on to ban the boda bodas from the city centre, which quite frankly was a measly-hearted move since they were not offered any option. Government said they should not come into town without permits, helmets, carriers, etc. And they hounded them like animals.

But yesterday, in the midst of an otherwise silent night, Owino market was razed to the ground. A market that has seen women and men educate their children by providing a source of income, a market that has given Uganda's middle class populations a vestige of self-respect by clothing them in western apparel albeit being second hand. Nearly the only place where you could get something unique; something without the multiplied feeling of Chinese copycat fabric produced for 1 billion people.

I shopped there growing up [no i didn't stop, I just haven't bought clothes in a long time] and I was told by the guy who sold me shirts that the suits they unwrapped which were good were actually sold to the upmarket stores to go for upwards of UGX 1 million! Now this population is caught without an out. They have taken loans, borrowed, burried their life savings into this. 25,000 lives changed by one action. What of all their dependents, families, their children at school? This is tantamount to terrorism!

And the politicians have the audacity to howl empty promises while hurling insults at government? To mock our parents, our neighbours, our wives' mothers, our friends, our fellow countrymen? Can any nation sink any lower in its sh*t and filth? Can we be more callous to people who genuinely want to earn an honest living? We forgave Mabira, we overlooked Temangalo, we turned the other side when the valley dams burst [wait, were they ever built?]; and the helicopters that never flew? We were even willing to bail out Makerere, an institution drowning in mismanagement and incompetence!

It has been said that a country gets the leaders it deserves. A filthy, pilfering country led by kleptomaniacs, so fragmented its tottering on the smoldering precipice of ethnic clash outbreak does not deserve good leaders does it?

Or does it? Because Tukacungura Jesse, founder of Charaterdot inc. says no. He says leaders are the torch bearers for the people they lead. Despite the fact that they are selected from amongst the rotten populace, they must rise above their larcenous genealogy, the impulse to pilfer, and become models, icons if even only for the purpose to inspire.

In the end, these are the people who work and toil and sweat and eat the sewerage that runs through their workplace. They are the ones who pay for everything that the politicians enjoy and covet. They are the ones who vote, the ones who take loans, who send their kids to school, who buy all that investor -produced sugar and tea! Who bloody buy airtime! They are the reason that most of these banks exist! These are the reason there is a tax base in Kampala! They support this city and almost this country on their shoulders! On nothing but those lean shoulders. When the rains fail, or the dollar falls or an investor is sold the very land they have been trying to buy; they close ranks and hold tight and the politicians dance on the table atop, puckering their lips to the top leadership's Gluteus Maximas.

They are our angels. Watching and complaining but never failing to pay taxes, never running abroad, never going to war. Our silent economic guardians. The real heartbeat of this city. This city of filth, and drama and fear and oppression.

Kampala is a City of Angels.

Ps: Liz has erotic dice as her profile? People help me lay this chic. She needs to get it and get it good!