One of the best things about life on earth is time; the passing of. I no longer want to break my work neighbor’s imitation beats by dre headphones. I no longer fantasize about stepping on them “by mistake”. My heckles are resting and show signs of staying down as far as this issue is concerned.
Walking Kampala’s streets with noise cancelling headphones wrapped around your head changes the way you experience many things.
First and most importantly, the headphones disarm street hecklers (who henceforth shall be referred to as Lokodo’s brothers).
Lokodo’s brothers have one method of operation. They identify their prey, line their ugly words up, wait for the lady to get within hearing distance and then attack. If they are feeling particularly creative, they grab some part of her body. Usually, she’ll just walk away struggling with a thousand and one feelings like “Should I turn back and slap? But what if they gang up and beat me? Should I just sit down and wail?”
The first time I walked past Kamwokya stage with my headphones on, I was nervous. The usual suspects arranged themselves along my path and everything from their body language to their eyes emanated lechery. When the moment of attack came, uncertainty danced on their faces. They froze for a couple of seconds and then one of them shouted, “Nyabo, owuliira?”
I sauntered on undisturbed and jubilant. The power of these men lies in whether or not the victim hears their disrespectful words. They couldn’t tell whether or not their talk would reach me and were thrown off balance. Somebody ululate with me!
The stings of Lokodo’s brothers have been blunted. I can happily wear whatever I want (short skirts, anybody?) and walk with as much “efujjo” as I desire.
Let me make it clear that these nasty men bother me even when I’m wearing maxi dresses. Anybody who believes that clothes cause rape and/or street molestation is a supporter of rape and deserves jail time for endorsing the behavior of rapists.
When I confirmed that headphones could save me from all kinds of unwanted street attention, I became addicted to them. They were like a curtain between me and the world, a curtain whose parting only I could control. The only time I didn’t wear them was bath time.
One evening after work, I stopped at a Tuskys. My plan was to visit a friend before heading home, so I wanted to get something fun like muffins. I bounced into the supermarket, picked what I needed, paid and left. Because I was feeling so energetic, I decided to walk to her house. So far so good.
A few meters from her gate, I realized that my hands were empty. My kaveera had vanished. I have never been more confused in my life. I retraced my steps and accosted not one, not two but three people, inquiring if they had perhaps seen a kaveera lying around. I’d say, “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you with such an absurd question, but could you have seen…or picked a kaveera with bread and muffins around here?” They were all carrying kaveeras that were shaped like mine. I suspected them all of picking my groceries and now withholding them from me. They all looked at me like I was mad.
When I arrived at Tuskys, I was received with a lot of laughter. It turns out that after paying, I’d swept out of the supermarket without my bundle and because of the music blasting into my head, hadn’t heard the workers calling me back.