nassali.

She meandered her way to the back of the dark room, muttering to herself. She needed to remind him to pay for solar, their payment run out 4 weeks ago – she couldn’t bear the darkness anymore.

She knelt on the floor and started reaching for where she had placed it. Maybe a window will do, she thought to herself. If we cannot afford light, at least nature would be useful. She found the handkerchief bundle near the mattress that was their poor excuse for a bed.

She sighed as she unwrapped it, careful not to let any of the coins roll out. She wasn’t about to start looking for coins in the dark. Candles. That is what they should resort to for now, as they look for more payment for solar.

Abaye, ka balance kabuzze?

She cursed under her breath as the mould on the bed whimpered. Putting her three week-old child to sleep took all the energy that she could muster. She waited a few minutes to see that the baby was truly asleep and also to smite the idiot who was yelling like he owned the place.

She counted five coins and the idiot walked away with his cigarette.

She turned to sit on the wooden stool by the stall, she liked the colours of the stool – yellow, red and blue. She had bought it from one of the hawker-women. She hadn’t seen them around lately, maybe the local council officials finally caught up with them, she mused.

Across the road, a dark blue pick-up was coming down the slope. A dark blue pick-up that looked strangely familiar

The memories hit her all at once and darkness gripped her chest…. The morning it had rained hard – that rain should have been an omen. A sign that nothing good would come out of venturing out when nature insisted that you stay in.

In their usual nature, the car drivers were in a spectacular hurry. Splashing water on anything and everything that was in their way. She watched him leave and yelled out that he should pay the solar before evening. The mobile money network normally had issues in the evening.

Nankya, the human siren, came knocking at lunch time. Wailing as loud as her voice could carry and beating her breast. The blood rushed to her ears almost as if in selfdefense, trying to ward off whatever doom Nankya brought with her. Distraught and incoherent muttering, was all could hear. She was beginning to lose her patience and demanded Nankya speak clearly or leave her house.

Affudde…. Kakande, affudde!

She refused to believe it. They took her to the mortuary. The dark blue pickup that brought him was still there. The blood on it’s floor now slowly dripping onto the tarmac. His friends were all there. None of them daring to make eye contact with her.

A sharp pain like never before shot through her body making her buckle to the ground. Her arms gripped her protruding belly and she let out a guttural scream. They all rushed to her, trying to be soothing, trying to lift her from the tarmac, trying to get her out of his blood.

She was inconsolable.

Four weeks later, her mind still played tricks on her, she refused to believe that he was gone.

It didn’t help that they were not clear on what had happened.
It didn’t help that she had heard the whispers at the lumbe.
It didn’t help that they all assumed he was to blame because of his trade.

Just because he was a Boda Boda rider.

***

Boda Bodas.

They are the well known ‘menace’ that almost everyone loves to hate. We need them when we are in a hurry, when we want to beat traffic. Occasionally, we shall even demand that they go faster.

Said Boda Bodas are also one of the leading contributors to the casualty ward at the National Referral Hospital.

Since they are who we have chosen to take the blame for road accidents, we hardly ever think of them as being the victim. We hardly ever think that maybe they had a family. We hardly ever think that maybe, just maybe they were not in the wrong. Maybe the driver in the car miscalculated the turn; Maybe the driver in the car just plain scoffs at giving Bodas way; Maybe the driver of the car was in a Range Rover; Maybe the driver in the car was on Whatsapp… 

We need an attitude shift.
We need to all learn to respect each other on the road.
We need to remember that all our lives matter.

Uganda needs all of us to contribute to her well-being.

 

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