October 9th, 2018
This journey was done on the eve of the 56th Independence Day for my country which falls on 9th October. This is how I spent my independence day in Kampala.
I had a pile of filled questionnaires with data to organize into a report and I needed to go to office to have it done, but it was a public rest day around the country and I was not obliged to go to office for work. I chose to relax a bit at home first. NBS Television, an aggressive local news channel, was already broadcasting clips of the national celebrations in Rakai district by 9am when I got out of bed. I wanted to compare what was showing on NBS with other stations. NTV, another TV station and my favourite local news channel, was not showing anything about the celebrations yet. I kept changing stations to benefit from the different styles of news reporting. Most of the stuff I watched brought childhood memories of when, as a child in school, we used to sing national songs praising our heroes, Uganda’s natural beauty and cultures.
At the celebrations, I could indeed see choirs of school children doing similar songs. I listened in to a few of the speeches being delivered by representatives of different government departments in the rural district surrounded by huge masses of people at the event. The begging tone and lamentations to the president by politicians in their speeches was the most distinguishing, yet disturbing thing to watch. Leaders were asking government to do certain things as a way to remind the president that unless those things were done, their political seats as well as government support were at stake. I wondered who I would have to approach to also ask for a reward or gift for my hard labour as a taxpayer in my country. Unless leaders begin to present solutions that will bring their people out poverty, and stop their selfish lamentations to government—presenting solutions rather than seeking for things from government as political gifts—the communities they serve will likely last many decades in poverty.
On a refreshing note though, I was able to count the many Independence Day rewards that God has freely given me over the years; life being the biggest one. I also counted the sweet Independence Day gift from my girl friend, which was none other than the breakfast she served me in bed today. It was milk topped with tea and cinnamon plus Katogo – stewed fresh beans, carrot, and green peppers, in bananas mixed with cow ghee. As I extended my sleep, she got out of bed and fixed us breakfast while I slept. It was delicious.
I decided to look for my friends to have some fun and catch up. But first, I saved a few moments to drive to my office in Mengo Kampala to drop off some important documents that I didn’t want to leave lying around in the house. So, I drove towards Mengo in the western part of Kampala in light holiday traffic. The weather was cloudy, but it didn’t rain. I could feel the high humidity in the air through the sweat on my skin.
After dropping off the documents I drove past the Catholic basilica, catching the beautiful scenery of the Buganda kings’ lake in the valley below. It was now approaching 2:00 p.m. My friends had indicated we were going to meet up at ODZ bar, in the busy neighbourhood of Najjanankumbi. In the densely populated Ndeeba area is also located a company dealing in body-shape enhancement products and solutions. “This is your chance! Why don’t you pretend to be a client and check it out?” I asked myself.
But going past the FACO body-shape enhancement shop, which was open on Independence Day, triggered something in me. I followed the guiding signs and headed for it. I was well prepared mentally to play mental games with anyone I found there in order not to be discovered as a fake client. And guess whose questions I had to answer first: the receptionist’s.
I have no self-image issues. The thought of enlarging muscles or changing the size and shape of any part on my body has never crossed my mind. I swear to this. The flat demeanour of my buttocks is just fine. I always tell myself I am okay when a more endowed man in this part of the body walks by. And to erase any lingering doubts in my mind about how miserable my butt may be, I always say to myself, “Your brilliant brain inside your balding head is compensation for your miserable behind.” It always works out perfectly for me. I also figured out early in my teens, borrowing from my father’s wisdom that a man needs not a large behind but a smart brain to survive. He once said to me “You are not a stage dancer to need large buttocks,” he mused; unless of course you want to start dancing, he told me.
“How can we help you, sir?” she inquired in a friendly tone.
“I am worried about the size of my buttocks,” I answered bluntly.
She smiled. Her assistant behind the desk had a calmer and funnier communication style which temporarily put me at ease.
“Do you really need a bigger ass?” she asked jokingly. This question caught me slightly off guard.
“Do you know how many men would wish to have a better figure than they currently have?” I replied, hiding my embarrassment behind a wide, beaming smile.
“Like yours?” she inquired, prompting laughter in me.
There was a lady waiting on a soft bench in the large room across from us. I was sure she was listening in to the whole exchange because she kept smiling every time I spoke. I started feeling really embarrassed, but decided that I was doing fine and needed to go all the way.
I asked the lady on the bench if she thought I would look good with a bigger behind. She leaned forward and said, “That was your question sebo (sir). Not mine.” We all burst out and laughed. It was an incredible moment and I enjoyed it very much.
Sensing that I had succeeded thus far in creating a friendly rapport, I pointed out flatly that I was going all the way to meet the doctor for advice, which made all of us laugh even harder. Next in procedure was to take down the “patient’s” details, and then I was sent to a small room to wait.
Soon a lady entered who employed a swift questioning technique to inquire about my issue. She looked so serious that I lost my sense of humour. And with the humour, all the questions I needed to ask disappeared as well. Feeling the urgent need to leave, I told the doctor that I accepted everything she said. I told the receptionist that I had an emergency, and that I needed to go and attend to it. She thanked me for coming and requested that I return soon. I paid the consultation fee and took off.
I headed for ODZ bar to meet my friends. I recounted to them my escapade at FACO to a lot of laugher as we enjoyed drinks together. I ordered roasted chicken and kachumbali – chopped tomatoes and onions to go with it.
We watched the president’s address to the nation at the national Independence Day celebration in Rakai district. He emphasized the urgency for households to engage in commercial rather than subsistence farming before asking local leaders in Rakai district to directly present to him their areas’ development issues. We remained glued to the television—this was not the usual way he made his speeches. When the issue of a vessel for transport and commerce to assist with developing trade in the Lake Victoria basin came to the fore, the president said that a ferry was budgeted for next year.
Such were the Independence Day gifts we sang about as school children. Finally the communities of Rakai, where the national celebrations were held, got their gift, even if it might take them a few months or years to receive it. I hope someone will remind the relevant office about the president’s promise to the people of Rakai.
We had many rounds of drinks. Somehow, as the day wound down, the idea of Independence Day faded off quickly. Our usual stories of life’s hassles took over.
Instead of drinking my usual Bell Lager beer, I switched to Club Pilsner after a silly joke from my buddy and great friend Salongo – a father of twins. We both had the luck to have a set of twins among our children, which makes us a special pair among our friends. On arrival as I was just about to place my beer order, he teased me that my usual Bell brand was as “watery” as Club Pilsner, and added that I should start taking mineral water instead of deceiving myself that I take alcohol. Having laughed it off, I decided to give Club Pilsner a try. I was going to drink Club that whole day, certainly not mineral water since I was not a fish. By the time we parted ways, it was past 11 p.m., and another memorable Independence Day celebrated.