The other day, I witnessed a crime, on my way to work. Robbery. I saw this man put his hand inside another man’s pocket and walk away with just his nasal drops. It was sad,that at about 8 am, when most people were trying to get to work, one man was already stealing. It had me thinking, maybe, that is how he makes his living and he too has to get up early. The city is crowded; and passing through Kampala everyday, is enough to give one a headache. There is someone on every side. From a distance you can hear someone screaming out the price of a hanky and others are selling everything from shoes to ladies’ under garments. Transportation is also another story, at this time of the day, the taxis will not go beyond a certain point because there will be too much traffic jam, so one has to settle for walking.
That is Kampala’s central business district,crowded, everyone looking to make a living and not any ordinary living, people come to the capital city looking for a better life. But who says that is where it is found? On the streets, competing with about 10 other people to sell a handkerchief at a measly 500 shillings, what will that even do for you? The strange thing is, most of our peers who decide to go abroad seeking this thing called a better life end up in either similar or worse conditions, doing all kinds of work but determined to remain in the place that you think is the promised land. It is not uncommon to have a person be away from their family for years, missing all the important events simply because they are still trying to get their resident’s permit, so they cannot leave.
Ugandans are busy chasing the Kampala dream, it is not even the Ugandan dream because if it were, we would be ready and willing to embrace much more than the city center. I am a city girl, born and raised here and I often wonder if I would not enjoy myself else where. If I took everything I love about the city with me, to a less crowded place, would life end? Usually, by the time I get to work, I’m already exhausted because my journey, just like the Israelites, involved dodging armies that seem determined to end your life (taxis and boda bodas), rivers( you should see that place outside the former new park) and kinsmen who are so angry and it is every man for himself(everyone!)
I seem to just be ranting about what I go through everyday and I have no idea how to remedy this. Would life be any better for anyone if these traders were indeed chased off the streets? They are people too, they are simply looking for a better life. Shouldn’t we just take the things that make the city to other places so that no one feels the need to come here; only to steal nasal drops?
Do we love the city because of what it has to offer or do we just love being in the city regardless of how we make it happen?