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Four One One

Something feels like ‘99 in UG: Something about the air

All over: Something goes on in the writer’s mind. It is many things; the people he has encountered, situations, life lived and not, his mistakes, fumbles, flaws, shared experiences. It is the writer remembering that she has all these things, all the known and the unknowns. And sometimes after she has penned that story, she remembers, she could have written about that other ache, that other dream, that other possibility.

I tell you what? I am starting to fear words. The power in words, in those symbols we call letters, the arrangement of those things. Now imagine we spell them. So yeah, it is true, words are spells. And writers can point us to a hell, but writers can also pull us out of hell and tell us about heaven, or at least the possibility to find little heavens in our big hells. Wait, I am running around in circles.

You know I wanted to complain. My friends (not many) and I were at this nice cozy place in Entebbe. And something about the place; it was so ‘White’ as with all beautiful places in this town. And that is not the problem. But there is always something that disturbs Ugandan waiters and waitresses in these places that are ‘so White’. They tend to hate everything ‘black’. It is as though black is reminding them of themselves. It is like making it in life and someone posts photos of your humble childhood.

I imagine when they serve the ‘Whites’, they get this feeling they have escaped. Escaped everything, the troubles of this skin, everything that does not plug right in this country, in this city. And then as they are escaping, boom comes these Black fellows, the Ugandans. It must be traumatising. I thought of it this way because I could not rationalise it any better. Otherwise, what else could explain our struggles with service at this place?

But my friend (she identifies as German in Ugandan skin) told me that she is not letting any perception kill the moment. And I agreed. We enjoyed every beautiful thing that came with the place. Like that band, it almost was performing for itself. But they were enjoying it. They did not care if no one was listening. And is that not life? That we should not be doing things for ‘bampane.’ Things in life require more conviction than opinion. And in Kampala, in Uganda, there is too much opinion, less conviction of late.

Now that my life was already beautiful with better perspectives, it could only get better. It could only climb more hills; it could only see itself somewhere at a Mbuya Hill watching everything that is nothing about Kampala. A friend recommended a book to me. Something titled; Miracle Morning. I had an excuse to visit Acacia Mall. It could be the only thing closest to a mall in this country. The female askari asked; ‘Are you safe?’ That is how to check things in this country. By the time I answered, she had waved me off.

And I went looking for this book. Found it, then I was shocked that the famous Aristoc has styled up a bit. It has one section that makes sense. In the sense of the classics. It is a section of the legends, of the ‘if you know, you know’. And there was James Baldwin’s book; ‘If Baele Street could talk…’ I picked up that thing and started reading it. Could it really come down? No way. And the way the book ends, it ends without ending. It is like it has ended but then it has not ended.  I hate writers who love to torture their readers. I guess, that is also the point, it is for the reader to complete that book. To put the ending to it. But then, what would be the equivalent of Baele Street? Would it be Bukoto Street or Cooper Road? Forget those things, there are no more streets in Kampala. The streets live within us.

As a matter of fact, I had planned to write about everyone’s title in this town. Because we all have different titles on different occasions. Boss, for example, is the title that is used when one is about to be detoothed by all genders. If you hope into a ka bar and all your friends start shouting, be sure they have prepared the ‘luseke’.

Okay some styled up girl also told me that everyone in town has endearments. Mbu it is like the second thing after you find out your love language. But when did these things happen? Wives, you should know your husbands’ endearments. You should have a ka title for him at end month. Husbands too, you should have some bu famous ones. Something like my ka smooth pothole. Can you imagine I even miss some bu potholes? Like you grow some attachment to a pothole, perhaps because you have learnt to dodge it and you always laugh at those who have not mastered it. For this week good people, go listen to some blues, to some funk. Look up a Ray Charles, a BB King, because from now on, we are going to create beauty and greatness with them words…

 Twitter: ortegatalks

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