What driver are you? We all have stereotypes about people and their cars. And even as you read this, you are probably thinking about Subaru and Mercedes drivers; yeah, what’s wrong with those people and always wanting to make a statement wherever they go?
I have been holding back from writing about this. Ugandans hold their cars dear, they treat them as babies, some treat them as wives and husbands. These are the kind of topics where you tread carefully. They are the topics where you could be hit by grenades. But once you remember the General that you are, you summon the courage and write anyway. Without fear or favour, for all those who own cars, this is what your brand says about you.
These people are risk averse. They sat down and made up their mind never to drive a car that is expensive to maintain. They have humbly accepted their fate and settled on a car that will give them a semblance of a graduating lower middle class yet also won’t break the gates of the wallet. Premio people will never stop reminding you how it is easy to resale their car for almost the same price they bought it.
If you live in Uganda long enough, you begin to realise that it is a country run of a bucket of lies and myths. So one day, a mechanic sat down, created a lie and sold it around to other mechanics as truths. The lie was that Premio transcended everything in resale value and maintenance costs. So if you spot a Toyota Premio, you are closer to someone who is ready to resell the moment their third baby gets born.
One of my biggest regrets in life is accepting lifts from Mercedes driver. Psychologists are beginning to suspect that Mercedes drivers are trying to fill an empty hole in their lives. Imagine having a short man, driving a Mercedes. Now imagine that same man giving you a ride in their Mercedes. They never shy away from taking you on a historical discourse of German excellence.
If you want to annoy them, act like you have not recognised it is a Mercedes. For they expect you to have a face of wonderment. They are waiting to answer all your questions. They will even want to show you some practical road stunts that the Mercedes pulls off. In a world of low self-esteem, in a world of disappearing identities, for most Mercedes drivers, the car has become therapy, evidence that they have done something with their life. But at 40? Is a car an achievement?
Now I am entering ground that I doubt I can handle. But come, let’s reason together. Shouldn’t there be a special lane for some of these cars? The Passos, the Vitz. Perhaps the bicycle lane could be shared with these cars. One thing about Vitz car drivers is that they have inner peace. They have nothing to prove to the world. All they want to do is get from point A to B (assuming that does not include the great Kampala floods). They are humble even as the other big cars bully them in traffic jam. But if you are the rabbit of the road jungle, all you can do is keep calm and let the lions create extra queues. If the world had the contentment of these drivers, it would signify the end of crime and depression. Like you can’t find a depressed Vitz driver. Depressed over what? The banning of fuel in sachets? Or the fact that even a boda boda mechanic can repair a Vitz?
If this rant ends, let it end with Subaru drivers. One thing about Subaru drivers is the burning energy. They are constantly looking for an outlet for this energy. They love the thrill of things. That is why most tend to prefer that South African music. It is rare for a man or woman driving a Subaru to settle down in life. Like which one person in the world can contain all their energy? And if you look closely, the energy begins to eat up the hair. They tend to bald early. Yes, that is the Subaru. Respect them for driving a Subaru like a Subaru. Nothing is annoying as seeing a Subaru being driven like a Spacio. Like the car is made to ramp up speed and here you are driving it softly.
To confirm that they are not the only ones suffering with excess energy, the Subaru drivers even created a Facebook and WhatsApp group. To discuss what? Pork plots, high energy plots. If you want energy, get closer to Subaru drivers. They are always an explosion away.
If you want to become an Uber driver, there is one car that will immediately get you confirmed into the trade— the Spacio. If you are dancing around the drums of poverty and salary, then Spacio is the car you buy. It is called the car for those who “kwebelelamu”. You know you have two children, you have rent to pay, you have school fees, you have hair to plait, then be wise, webelelemu and buy a Spacio. Just as a Spacio car will never abandon its driver at his or her weakest point, the drivers too carry the same values. If you want a friend who may not make a monetary contribution to your wedding but you are certain will attend every wedding meeting, will do the different errands, it is the Spacio driver. These are friends indeed. They are there through thick and thin. Their car has taught them a thing or two about life. Bushenyi people can testify to this. Most have climbed to become Clan heads.
Life has evolved over the years. Rav4 used to be the car one was gifted in appreciation of their co-curricular skills. It is now a car for independent ladies to make a statement. It is simply to say: “I make my own money, I make my own rules, I do not really need you.” But for some reason, men have not healed from the memories of ‘wampomedde.’ But that is perceptions, they take long to clear. Most Ugandan men can never believe that a woman can buy a car using her money. That is the patriarchy.