What are your more enduring memories of Kampala? What have you seen in Kampala, what experience have you had that you think will always stay with you and marks for you what kampala is in your mind? I have had a few such experiences I wish to share with you.
Seeing a thief being beaten to death
How old was I? Ten, twelve? I don’t remember. I remember I was old enough to be scared and old enough to look in wonder at the faces of the adults around me who one minute had been going about their business like, well, adults, and the next when the thief came running out of an alley with a woman's black purse tightly grasped in one fist with no longer jubliant glee at his own pickpocketing dexterity on his face but terror, into the road near the then Nakivuubo Bus Park I witnessed a frightening transformation in their faces and actions. To this day I still cannot find the words to describe the transformation I saw.
Perhaps its because I was also absorbed in seeing what they were doing to that thief. A species of human being I had never been in the presence of before. A thief, I had been taught, was something bad, something to be destroyed and on that day at midday returning home from school with my schoolbag on my back, I saw my first mob justice incident. It is one of the events that still make up wake up screaming in the night because I can still hear that man’s screams as bricks landed on his head. I can still hear his shrieks in my head to this day when I try to sleep too early, I can still hear them. And I saw this in Kampala.
"The streets are a dangerous place to be."
Undressing a woman in the taxi park
I was much older when I saw this. A hormonally crazy teenager, 14 years old in a taxi on the way back to his boarding secondary school in the early 1990s. Say around 1995 when I was desperately unhappy that I was going to be hemmed in for another 3 months with other pimply , squeaky-voiced 14 year old hormonally challenged teenagers. No more access to my 'blue' movies.
There would never be a better or worse one than the one that was unveiled (swiftly) before my eyes. It would cure me of my lust for porno films, it would erase from me my habit of lip-smackingly mentally undressing every woman who came into my view.
With the loud smack on her backside which as she tried to turn to parry extended into a full fist groping of her breast until she cried out in agony, I was disgusted at myself. Appalled that a tutored hypocritical part of me approved, revolted that I couldn't turn my gaze from this rivetting scenario. You may have forgotten and find this hard to believe now but it happened and I saw it with my own eyes. I read in newspapers and I was told worse happened. But with my own eyes in the old taxi park, I saw, we used to call them bayaye, try to undress a woman.
Yes, you read right. I saw bayaye try to undress a woman though some of the people who participated in this attempted undressing were in suits and nor high on some things their jaws were crunching on or even taxi drivers. She had made the mistake, nearly fatal then, of daring to walk in the taxi park in a very short mini skirt. I bet you have forgotten that at one time women couldn’t wear mini skirts in Kampala and walk the streets unaccompanied! I saw this.
"I'm the rose that never bloomed."
Police shoot real bullets
Before I joined campus at Makerere University and learned that strikes and running battles with the Police are nothing to be awed about. Long before all this, if you are a Museveni regime baby like I was, hearing bullets fly to save a criminal from lynching was something you had never heard. I did hear Police fire bullets in the air, real killer bullets to save a thief and risking injuring innocent passers-by in the process. After more than three years since I last had such an experience, it happened to me again not more than two weeks ago when I was visiting a friend in Bweyogerere.
"The red badge of courage."
It’s not that I don’t love Kampala, I do. I just wanted to tell you a few of the thing I have seen in Kampala in my younger years. There’s so much more I have seen than I have told you.
Maybe if the wine is right and the mood is right, next week I might be able to tell you so much more. Wonderful Kampala night sights I have seen.