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Where did we go wrong? Ol’ Kampala weyayu?

Dying away: There are things that have come to define Kampala over the years but as time goes by, some are either dying out while others are just getting more pronounced.

Dear Kampala,

It is not so often that idle men from Kisaasi get to write to you. But when the winds of time have not treated these men with utmost care, they are left with no option but to shout out; “Kampala weyayu.” In Kampala, there was once a city. Now it seems that the city got on the first flight and flew out to some random state. So Kampala we ask, what happened to…

The potholes

We prided in being the generation that had witnessed a pothole-free city. We bragged so much about it, that for a moment, the Timothy Kalyegiras of this world run out of content. But as they say, things can be fleeting and fleecing. Now we are back to the times where you drive on more potholes than roads. It is rumoured that potholes are the most efficient display of service delivery. They are very inclusive, everyone from all walks of life gets to pick a share of these wonderful beauties.

We have so many potholes that it is now illegal to dodge a pothole. In fact, the system of pothole distribution is mistake proof, it’s impossible to dodge them. So they say, instead of wasting time trying to dodge one, it is better to choose your own flavour of pothole from the full course.

We could get more creative about our potholes. Who knows, we could be sitting on the next tourism attraction. We could rebrand as the city of potholes. We could claim that instead of using humps to control speed, Kampala is the first city to innovate around the use of potholes to achieve the same goal. Instead of giving out medals on Independence Day, we could give out potholes to our national heroes. Imagine we give Full Figure, Big Eye, Catherine Kusasira and Bebe Cool all the potholes on Port Bell Road? Then the competition will be around which musician has the most potholes. May be instead of spending time whining about potholes, it is high time we stopped living in denial. It is high time we accepted these potholes for what they are, and gave them some sweet sensation.

But if everything fails, we could get a ministry for potholes. We could also appoint a special presidential advisor on potholes. We just need to reframe how we look at potholes.

The flowers and the gardens

Nairobi was always meant to be the city of pickpockets while Kampala was the city where love blossomed. It’s for this reason that we have fountains allover the city, we had flowers alongside our roads and public parks to ice up the cake. Not anymore, it is now harder to be romantic in Kampala.

In the good old days, all you had to do was invite her to the famous Watoto fountain, pick up one of the flowers and recite a beautiful poem for her. It was the time when words moved girls. They were words based on reality. Today, there is nothing on which to base one’s poem recital. As fast as the fountains dried up, so did the hearts harden. The only flowers left are the Snapchat flowers. And they come at a cost of paying OTT.

The festival

Okay Kampala, we can withstand all the other forms of torture. But what happened to the festival? What happened to the day when Kampala came to a total shutdown for just one reason — celebration?

At least we had this one day where we could forget all our troubles in Kampala and simply thank the gods for granting us this city. We partied, we danced our worries away, we wore our dreams on the sleeves, and simply just loved being in Kampala. Now there is no more festival. Instead, we have been hit by a swarm of ‘festivals.’ We have the Slay Queen Festival, the Don Bahati Festival, the Full Figure Festival, Bottle Pelting Festival, you name it. We even have the Broke Nigga Festival. But what went wrong? Why did we have to be punished like chicken thieves? We suspect that this could be revenge on Erias Lukwago’s part to have every person in Kampala screaming out; “wuwi wuwi…”

The buses

Then came the Pioneer buses. The buses brought sanity. “Bulaaza Ogenda” had become history. As soon as you boarded the bus, off it went. The rates were standard and the buses were plenty. There was order to the buses, they were inclusive with specific spots for the elderly, disabled and expectant mothers. Then the buses became extinct. Then they returned albeit in an ailing form. The death of these buses marked the death of public transport in the city. Now, we are left to the one sure option, the merchant of speed aka boda boda aka Bulindo’s version of a Subaru.

It is clear that we need to make Kampala great again. We need to recruit new basummers. To imagine that the festive season came and went without a shattering bang from a musummer. We need to recruit new slay queens, we need to recreate the good old days of the Judith Heards. The times when slay queens fought with actual assets not Instagram filters and Facebook likes. There was once a city called Kampala, now we are left with ‘asatu mubanga, abiri kunyama.” Kampala has become the defining imagery of ‘omwavu wakuffa.”


Kisasi Idlers Association (KIA)


Kampala Subaru Drivers Association (KSDA)

Slay Queen Association of Uganda (SQAU)

Malaria Survivors Union (MSU)

Weave Wearing Union of Bulindo (WWUB)

Twitter: @OrtegaTalks

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