26 Jun 2019

 

Victor Lugala At Large Somewhere In Western Uganda

"A cab driver whose greying hair disappears in a blue baseball cap grins at me as if he has more than 32 set of teeth. He is trying to win me with a fake smile as if made in China."

If you come from the sky you are welcome to this part of Africa. There is life here too. Red earth. Red dust. This place must be South of the Sahara. Definitely. Dragon flies. Arrows and bows and wood carved crocodiles for local tourists.
Bodabodas, these road tyrants, will greet you at first sight. Hurtling over potholes, three passengers to a boda stuck together like a bale of cotton, plus the captain - dark, topped with kinky hair and covered in red dust like a Black Panther character. Black biceps bulging like a sweet potato.
Isssh. Africa is sweet. We invent things and leave the project halfway and jump on bodaboda business, the Chinese will steal the idea to make $. Very loud local reggae music rises to the sky where you just came from.
How's the weather up the cloud curtains? By the way, feel at home. But wash your hands. Ebola is in the news.
Under a stunted pygmy tree grey smoke rises from the ambers of early morning nyama choma strips of beef to clear hangovers of the Christmas night and Boxing Day.
A cab driver whose greying hair disappears in a blue baseball cap grins at me as if he has more than 32 set of teeth. He is trying to win me with a fake smile as if made in China.
"How much is it to the town centre?"
"Don't worry, boss. Feel at home. I don't charge much."
My sleepy eyes sweep the scenery through the car window. A woman with a baby tied to her back trekking the sidewalk reminds me of Africa's refugee crisis. Chickens. Untethered goats roam about. This is the heart of Africa near the Congo forest. Chimpanzee paradise!
 
"NO TO WAR. YES TO PEACE"
Where did I see that? Did Ernest Hemingway pen something like that posthumously after FAREWELL TO ARMS? Copy and paste makes life easy.
I seem to be following in the footsteps of Pernille Bærendtsen, a modern-day explorer from Denmark who is very much at home in Kigoma, Dar es Salaam, Unguja island, Juba, Morobo, Bor.
 
IDI AMIN ROAD
My sister Pernille sojourned in this place which has a history because of that World War 2 veteran who made John Okello look like the bricklayer he was before he stormed Zanzibar in 1964. Amin Dada!
 
SHELL. V-POWER. 4015/Ug shs
Suddenly I remember there is some place called Eazy Fudz - whatever - I must visit. Before I could say Maurice Muki the cab driver locates the place. He knows it. The yellowing signboard stands forlornly, beaten by the tropical sun, which is harsh as if born in hell.

The building near the signboard is being painted milk-white etc. I look inside but I don't see any sign of eazy fudz - no organic foods. No Maurice Muki either. Nothing! I feel sorry for myself. There's empty space. White paint. Where is Muki? My appetite for porridge from organic millet is killed instantly.
Beggars. Hawkers. Ethnic life. Yellow bananas. Mberenge. Mvara!
Some kind of exotic poverty is developed & maintained like a sub-culture on African streets. Hipsters.
(Darkskined Ajak , did the dead poet resurrect on the moon? Finally, the poem will roll out with drumbeats in 2019.)
Radio Pacis - The Peace of Christ for All. God in heaven and earth. Everywhere. Poor old Judas Iscariot is still hanging from a tree.
Walai Maurice Muki. You! Where is that plate of basiko? Surely! How did Colin Akim's wedding go?
Summer time in the Savannah.
Birds. Lizards. Cobra. This must be South of the Sahara. Where else? Molokonyi soup will repair my appetite later. I hope. Where do cows come from in this place? Short, brown Soroti cows with long horns.
Mvara!
Then this place. It is called Desert Breeze. An oasis in the desert. A tawny flower. Wilting yet fragrant. Desert flower.
Post Office. Post Bank.
P.O. Box Private Bag.
Mvara!
The afternoon sun is like born in hell.
"Bodaboda! Take me to Awindiri Market. How much?" (I have not been to that Market with a name like Alur trinkets... so I don't know the direction).
"2k only."
"Ah, but it is not far." I even don't know how far it is.
"It is far."
Riding on a bodaboda is cool but the boda guy is scaring me. He is speeding as if he is rushing to the Congo border to smuggle gold. I feel like telling him to slow down but I'm tight-lipped. Bump. Bump. Bump.
 
DON'T LITTER THE STREET.
The bodaboda guy's shirt sleeve slaps my ear. Aaagh. His shirt smells like Africa in the afternoon heat. Man, are you a sadist? African brother, why are you subjecting me to such torture? Mvara!
FORGIVE & FORGET
MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR
I like that slogan. Give me a break. Give me space. I want to make love in the street. In the park. In the jungle. In the sky.
 
HOME BOYZ GYM
Cassava. Mukalu. Noise. Buxom market women with big breasts are gossiping and laughing loudly. Meat sellers in dirty singlets are busy swatting flies. The market nonsense has just started. Mvara!
"What interesting sites can you show me around town? Where's Idi Amin's house, is it a museum, or an art gallery like Juvenal Habyarimana's?"
 
SMART PHONE S13
I walk the dirt path like Tonton Skol. I'm thirsty. Give me a tank of stream water to quench my political space.
Mvara!
Idi Amin's house is not a house, but a shell of red bricks swallowed by the Tanganyika slum. A towering, rusty water tank is the only standing symbol of his footprint. "The leaders of those days were not very corrupt like the presidents of today." The cab driver whistles the way Africans whistle to express abomination. I like that word.
 
ABOMINATION.
Corruption is abomination. Power abuse is abomination. Coup detat is abomination. Political prostitution is abomination. Vote rigging is abomination. Neocolonialism is abomination.
 
DORCUS INZIKURU. RUN. GOLD MEDAL
My cousin sister and her fiance had to come all the way from Bratislava to wed in this part of Africa. Red earth. Red dust. Mvara!
Flowers. Confetti. Flower girls on stilettos. Tawny flowers yet fragrant.
I'm representing elders in absentia. I must wear a suit and a necktie. The sun is like made in hell. I need a walking stick. And a phony smoking pike. Mvara!
 
ABIRIGA.
The wedding went smoothly.

This morning the sun is like made in paradise: its orange rays are just kissing and kissing an arch of mist over Idi Amin's town where the people have moved on since. 

Posted in: Opinions
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01/01/2019, 2:50 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
This is a more colourful adventure/experience than my own was around that area many moons ago Victor. Recall page 230 of Burden of Nationality: "With media now fully primed, the competitive spirit of the Western media kicked in. Journalists queued for hours each day at the Uganda/Rwanda border for a chance to get into Rwanda with the RPF. Suddenly there was an avalanche of news about the genocide. Money poured in and aid agencies joined the queue of the 'frontline' relief agencies. It was not always easy to get in as the RPF was anxious not to compromise their military operations...Journalists and aidworkers would return to the White Horse Hotel inside Uganda and complain with no end about 'the RPF arrogance' in screening off their plans from the media and for their 'uncaring attitude' towards victims of the genocide. They were just 'another of the African warlords'."
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