It’s really hot as I am writing this. It is as hot as a cocktail of lava, the breath of a hundred firesides and Michael Kiwanuka’s voice. This means that while you’re likely to get several shades darker the moment the sun makes contact with your skin, this heat wave is not entirely un-enjoyable. There’s a fantastic breeze every few minutes, chilled bottled water in every shop and maybe 50 decent swimming pools peppering the city. A good pair of sunglasses isn’t hard to find or hard on the wallet of its finder.
This is preferable to the wet season when half the country is producing so much mucus that appearing in public places is like sticking your face into a bag of death. When it’s rainy, life enhancers like ice cream and beach sand are not as effective in manufacturing joy.
Earlier today as I was walking towards my taxi, bobbing my head to Nneka, feeling young and free, I heard shouting behind me. Turning to look, I found myself the focus of much attention. I panicked. What could be the matter? Was I trailing toilet paper? Was the back of my dress tucked into things it had no business being tucked into? A quick inspection assured me that everything was in order.
Meanwhile, the shouting had not abated. If anything, it had adopted a more disturbing note. On taking one earphone out, this is what I heard, “Words in Luganda. More words in Luganda. Oyambade! Toddangamu! Even more words in Luganda” and even though I couldn’t understand half of the ugliness this dirty man was coughing in my direction, I got a strong impression that he was objecting to the length and cut of my dress.
The only reasons I didn’t beat him into an unrecognizable pulp, didn’t unleash indignation, disgust and rapid slaps upon him were that I looked too cute for such and I was running late. I replaced my earphone and sashayed away as languorously as the Ntinda dust would allow.
I am, however, still confused. How can an adult bray so hysterically, to the extent of foaming at the mouth in protest of the display of such gorgeous legs on such a hot day? If I were a white tourist (who Ugandan men don’t ever bother for wearing even the shortest clothes, as if their thighs are less thigh-y for being white), I wouldn’t have received flak for wearing my sundress. It also annoys me that he wouldn’t have had the guts to even lift his fat top lip from his shriveled bottom one if I had been walking with a man.
I’m sure that I speak for all Ugandan women when I say that we’ve had it. We’re sick of taking deep breaths and bracing ourselves for assault whenever we see idle men standing in a group or when we’re passing by taxi stages. Whose suppurating orifices did these men drop out of? Their mothers should be found and flogged for neglecting to teach their sons manners. If you notice in a few years that taxi conductors and stage lumpens are getting older, it’s because I’ve branded them with a curse which goes, “May you never develop and may your condition be permanent” as a result of their bad manners.
We are not going to bake in bikoyis to accommodate the ridiculous, irrelevant sensibilities of lumpens and we’re never going accept that popular theory that such unwanted attention is really ‘appreciation’.