Kampala Traffic: I am not a cow.

Recently, I was weaving through traffic, just trying to get to the other side of the road with the breakfast muwogo I’d bought from Kamwokya market.  As I was about to plant my foot on the pavement, a boda boda whooshed past me. You guys the bike passed so close  that it would have hit my belly I hadn’t contracted it in fear.

No I do not have a potbelly. It’s an adorably round affair that contracts when I’m terrified.

Now this bodaman, instead of riding away grateful that he hadn’t caused an accident, turned his head and yelled, “You stupid woman! You cross the road as if you are a cow!”

To be honest, I am not a great road crosser. I like roads best when they are empty. Anything but that and I’ll (usually) either skitter across like a large dudu, or make fast friends with whoever else is crossing at the moment. Roads make me nervous, but not stupid. I wasn’t to blame this time. The man and his motorcycle appeared out of nowhere and tried to kill me dead. Full of annoyance and  embarrassment, I squeaked something at his disappearing back about his mother and her morals.

Later that day, after I’d mostly forgotten about this incident, I clicked a link that Ukamaka Olisakwe posted about three peoples’ experiences in Nigerian traffic. The stories painted what I thought was a fascinating picture of  Nigerian city life that I was determined to do a Ugandan version.

I wrote a blogpost and a few thousand updates/tweets asking  y’all to share some of the interesting experiences you’ve had while using public transport in Uganda. It wasn’t easy. The stories came dripping, then trickling, then rushing in (thank goodness). I will post some today and others on Thursday.

Ugandans survive this everyday! Picture from tugendedriven.com

Ugandans survive this everyday!
Picture from tugendedriven.com

Darlyne: One time, before getting on a boda, I politely greeted the rider. We chatted some on the 10-15 minute ride to my house. It was just polite conversation. Weather, traffic, such things. When I got off and paid, I also wished him a good day. He then asked me to marry him. Apparently, his other passengers don’t greet and bid adieu. I told him I was sure he would one day find a good woman but I was already taken.

For all those interested in finding marriage partners, you now know what works. A few Good mornings and Goodnights should get the object of your affection brimming with desire and thoughts of marriage.

Ronald’s story features those curious people commonly known as brokers. They hang around taxi stages, selling their time to drivers. For a small amount of money, they will enter a taxi to make it appear to be filling up faster than others. This makes customers gravitate towards it. He says:

I entered a taxi in Wandegeya that was full of brokers. When it was finally ready to leave the stage, the driver paid the guys and off we went. But alas! When we reached Mulago stage, three quarters of the passengers disembarked. The driver started to cry and lament. He had paid the brokers and hadn’t gotten a profit. I was too amused.

Kawuki:  I was crossing the road one time, walking on a zebra crossing when this impatient and impudent taxi driver almost ran me over. Seriously, he only braked when he was a few centimetres from my nose. I yelled (in Luganda), “Don’t you see this is a zebra crossing?” to which he loudly replied, “Oli zebra?” I was stunned. I had no words. I just walked away shaking my head and holding back laughter. The driver was laughing. I didn’t want him to see my amusement.

There are tons more so check back, will you?  Have a safe week .

P.s: Feel free to share your own traffic tale in the comment section!

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So I inhaled a bunch of catshit.

There’s nothing more disappointing than when your body fails you. I’m not talking about the times when you fail your body by wantonly eating junk and refusing to exercise and then it protests by contracting incurable “rich man” diseases. I’m talking about your averagely fit, young-enough-to-be-alive pillar of flesh deciding that some germ is stronger than it is, and recording this failure as illness.

I am ill, disgustingly so. I am so germy that I can’t stand to be near myself. When I enter a taxi, I mentally apologize to everyone who has to breathe in my carbon dioxide. When I enter a supermarket, I try to touch as few things as I can to minimize possibility of infecting some innocent. Well, that’s when I’m not feeling malicious. You see, disease attacks your mind too.
One minute I’m feeling sad about all the people I might zombiefy by accident and the next, I’m walking with arms outstretched, trying to brush against as many healthy people as I can. They just seem so smug with their shiny cheeks and clean noses.

I’ve also been having disturbing fantasies, for example: I imagine myself marching around office and punching all the healthy people to a beat of that Tutuuse track by Ruyonga. I Imagine calmly brewing a nice cup of honey-ginger tea, smashing it against my computer and then rubbing my face in the chaos while wailing about how nobody loves me. Mostly, I’ve imagined what my funeral will be like if I die of flu and how hard my enemies will laugh.

Some people are really nice when ill. Even from their sickbeds, they radiate kindness and consideration and do all within their means to appear a-OK because they’d hate for you to worry. I’m not one of those. I want a pity party complete with chocolate muffins and get well soon cards and this time, I kind of deserve one.
This is how I got sick. Last Saturday, I walked into the garage that my little brothers have been sleeping in since it was converted into a bedroom. Nothing could have prepared me for the madness.

Because they have a lot of space, we’ve been slowly filling their bedroom up with junk. A tall, wide bookshelf leaned against one wall and not one, not two but three bicycles were leaning against the opposite wall. The shelf was overflowing with cat poo, old newspapers, old clothes, old school books, clothes bought from the green shop…all kinds of rubbish. My heart wept a tiny bead of blood that pushed it’s way through the layers of my clothes and surveyed the situation. “This just won’t do”, it said, and so I got to work.

It took an entire day of constant arrangement, sweeping, wiping, dusting, burning and gagging to get the place looking as great as it does now. Because I was dealing with things that hadn’t been touched for years, I inhaled a lot of dust and powdered cat poo. I’m now disgustingly, stickily sick.
All is however well with my soul because during this burst of motivation, I discovered many awesome books; the best of all being ‘Conversations with African writers’ by Lee Nichols. It was published in the 1980s and contains an interview with one writer from every English speaking country in Africa! Although my body is sick, my mind is blown and that is good enough for me.

All donations, (pledges of ) chocolates and get well soon messages are welcome in the comment section.