Crane Bank Uganda: Growing to serve, my ass!

sdfasdferfect drivers, such as I recently was, do not know this, but when the law gives you a ticket, you need to pay your fine to URA, via Crane Bank Main Branch, then take the receipt to the police station to indicate that you have cleared your debt to society. At the police station you show them the receipts and then, after you say sorry and promise to never do it again, they clean your slate.
I was highly trepidations about the police station but little did I know how downside-up I had got things.
The police were quick, professional, efficient and helpful, even though I was there in my capacity as a criminal. The bank, however…
Now, I have accounts at three banks. Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Centenary Rural Development Bank, each of which has very comfortable services, which has led me to falsely believe that all banks treat you well, smile, and generally behave the way you are supposed to behave when you are taking a lot of someone’s money away from them.
But this is certainly not the case at Crane Bank.
I stood in the line with my tickets and my money to wait for my turn at the cashier. That is when one of the guards stopped me. “Sir, I notice that you have traffic tickets. You shall need to fill in a bank slip before you get to the cashier,” he said, and I am, of course paraphrasing.
“Where do I get such bank slips?”
The guard pointed me in the right direction, I found the bank slips, picked up two as I always do (in case I make a mistake on one) and returned to the queue, where I met the guard again.
“Sir, not to be nosy, but you haven’t filled in your slip.”
The first question the bank slip asked was who I was paying the money to, and the second question it asked was what this person’s account number was. Surprisingly, I had no idea what the account number of URA was. “I’ll get assistance from the cashier when I get to the counter,” I said to the askari.
He smirked patiently, since such a thing is, apparently possible, and tutted, “She’ll just send you away,” he said. “Here, let me help.”
I did not entirely believe that a cashier would really chase a customer away because he was not an expert in the account numbers of all government departments, but I gave one slip to the askari and, this is true, he filled in the form for me. Fully. Only my signature was missing.
Eventually I made it to the cashier and handed her the tickets, the filled-in bank slip and the cash.
Now, I have friends who have worked as bank cashiers, so I know that it is one very stressful job. You have to endure all manner of idiots, ingrates and impatient louts and take it all in as part of the job. I know not to take tellers and cashiers for granted. I didn’t waste her time. I handed her the things she needed, she took them and I waited for a stamped piece of paper in return, or at least for instructions on where to go next.
Instead she virtually growled that I should stand aside.
“Oh. I’ve got a bitchy one,” I thought, and was justified in thinking so, because from the tone of her voice, she was certainly insulting me in her mind as well.
I stood aside.
Several minutes of just standing there watching her pound wads of money around and shuffle bits of paper up and down, I did what anyone would do. I am not a Crane Bank Cashier, so I cannot just stand around in the lobby doing nothing all day. I walked back to the counter.
I could have said, “What the fuck, are you going to deal with my papers, or not? I don’t have all millennium. What the fuck?”
But I believe in courtesy and civility, that is how I handle myself. So, instead, I said, “Excuse me, you asked me to stand aside and wait several minutes ago, but you haven’t called me to get my receipts. Is something wrong with the documents I gave you?”
She replied in the tone and with the look you would more likely find accompany a witch’s curse the single word: “No.”
I returned to the empty spot of floor I had been warming for the past ten or so minutes now fully aware of the sort of person I was dealing with. No, you don’t argue with people like that. Let me explain.
1. A URA bankslip needs to be filled in. There are two people at the counter. One has training and experience in URA bankslips, and the other does not. How do you get the slip filled in?
a) The person who knows how they should be filled in should send the ignorant person away.
b) The person who knows how they should be filled in should guide the ignorant person
This cashier was not intellectually equipped to answer that question correctly, so I classify her as being of below adequate intelligence. There is nothing to be gained from engaging dumb people in debate.
After another ten minutes, it was beginning to look like I would have to accost this dreadful woman again. I had steeled my nerves and began to step up when another askari stopped me. “Ssebo, is there a problem you need assistance with? I notice you are not in the queue.”
I explained that I had just paid my traffic tickets and the cashier had told me to wait here in purgatory for, apparently, ever.
The askari then pointed across the lobby. “If you have paid, you should be on the other side of the room to wait for your receipt there, sir.”
And surely enough, after I walked just a few steps toward the counter he pointed at, there was a man, holding my receipt asking where Bazanye was.
I could see cashier failing another logic quzzle:
2. A URA fine has been paid, and the receipt requires collection. Do you
a. let the payee just stand in the middle of the bank for several minutes
b. Tell the payee where to get his receipt?
I have no way to understand why she didn’t just tell me instead of making me stand there like that. Did I look like an ex-boyfriend she hated? Was she just a very thick person who just could not figure out how to point at a counter? Was she a Sunday Vision reader who recognized me and didn’t like something I wrote?
Either way, it’s a very very sad commentary on you as a person and as a professional and it says even worse things about the bank you work for if the jobs of the cashiers are being done by the askaris. Your job might suck, but if you suck at it, you suck too.
Crane bank advertises heavily on radio, and there are billboards with Gaetano grinning all over the city. Their slogan is “Growing to serve and serving to grow.”
My ass.

Perfect drivers, such as I recently was, do not know this, but when the law gives you a ticket, you need to pay your fine to URA, via Crane Bank Main Branch, then take the receipt to the police station to indicate that you have cleared your debt to society. At the police station you show them the receipts and then, after you say sorry and promise to never do it again, they clean your slate.

I was highly trepidations about the police station but little did I know how downside-up I had got things.

The police were quick, professional, efficient and helpful, even though I was there in my capacity as a criminal. The bank, however…

Now, I have accounts at three banks. Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Centenary Rural Development Bank, each of which has very comfortable services, which has led me to falsely believe that all banks treat you well, smile, and generally behave the way you are supposed to behave when you are taking a lot of someone’s money away from them.

But this is certainly not the case at Crane Bank.

I stood in the line with my tickets and my money to wait for my turn at the cashier. That is when one of the guards stopped me. “Sir, I notice that you have traffic tickets. You shall need to fill in a bank slip before you get to the cashier,” he said, and I am, of course paraphrasing.

“Where do I get such bank slips?”

The guard pointed me in the right direction, I found the bank slips, picked up two as I always do (in case I make a mistake on one) and returned to the queue, where I met the guard again.

“Sir, not to be nosy, but you haven’t filled in your slip.”

The first question the bank slip asked was who I was paying the money to, and the second question it asked was what this person’s account number was. Surprisingly, I had no idea what the account number of URA was. “I’ll get assistance from the cashier when I get to the counter,” I said to the askari.

He smirked patiently, since such a thing is, apparently possible, and tutted, “She’ll just send you away,” he said. “Here, let me help.”

I did not entirely believe that a cashier would really chase a customer away because he was not an expert in the account numbers of all government departments, but I gave one slip to the askari and, this is true, he filled in the form for me. Fully. Only my signature was missing.

Eventually I made it to the cashier and handed her the tickets, the filled-in bank slip and the cash.

Now, I have friends who have worked as bank cashiers, so I know that it is one very stressful job. You have to endure all manner of idiots, ingrates and impatient louts and take it all in as part of the job. I know not to take tellers and cashiers for granted. I didn’t waste her time. I handed her the things she needed, she took them and I waited for a stamped piece of paper in return, or at least for instructions on where to go next.

Instead she virtually growled that I should stand aside.

“Oh. I’ve got a bitchy one,” I thought, and was justified in thinking so, because from the tone of her voice, she was certainly insulting me in her mind as well.

I stood aside.

Several minutes of just standing there watching her pound wads of money around and shuffle bits of paper up and down, I did what anyone would do. I am not a Crane Bank Cashier, so I cannot just stand around in the lobby doing nothing all day. I walked back to the counter.

I could have said, “What the fuck, are you going to deal with my papers, or not? I don’t have all millennium. What the fuck?”

But I believe in courtesy and civility, that is how I handle myself. So, instead, I said, “Excuse me, you asked me to stand aside and wait several minutes ago, but you haven’t called me to get my receipts. Is something wrong with the documents I gave you?”

She replied in the tone and with the look you would more likely find accompany a witch’s curse the single word: “No.”

I returned to the empty spot of floor I had been warming for the past ten or so minutes now fully aware of the sort of person I was dealing with. No, you don’t argue with people like that. Let me explain.

1. A URA bankslip needs to be filled in. There are two people at the counter. One has training and experience in URA bankslips, and the other does not. How do you get the slip filled in?

a) The person who knows how they should be filled in should send the ignorant person away.

b) The person who knows how they should be filled in should guide the ignorant person

This cashier was not intellectually equipped to answer that question correctly, so I classify her as being of below adequate intelligence. There is nothing to be gained from engaging dumb people in debate.

After another ten minutes, it was beginning to look like I would have to accost this dreadful woman again. I had steeled my nerves and began to step up when another askari stopped me. “Ssebo, is there a problem you need assistance with? I notice you are not in the queue.”

I explained that I had just paid my traffic tickets and the cashier had told me to wait here in purgatory for, apparently, ever.

The askari then pointed across the lobby. “If you have paid, you should be on the other side of the room to wait for your receipt there, sir.”

And surely enough, after I walked just a few steps toward the counter he pointed at, there was a man, holding my receipt asking where Bazanye was.

I could see cashier failing another logic quzzle:

2. A URA fine has been paid, and the receipt requires collection. Do you

a. let the payee just stand in the middle of the bank for several minutes

b. Tell the payee where to get his receipt?

I have no way to understand why she didn’t just tell me instead of making me stand there like that. Did I look like an ex-boyfriend she hated? Was she just a very thick person who just could not figure out how to point at a counter? Was she a Sunday Vision reader who recognized me and didn’t like something I wrote?

Either way, it’s a very very sad commentary on you as a person and as a professional and it says even worse things about the bank you work for if the jobs of the cashiers are being done by the askaris. Your job might suck, but if you suck at it, you suck too.

Crane bank advertises heavily on radio, and there are billboards with Gaetano grinning all over the city. Their slogan is “Growing to serve and serving to grow.”

My ass.

Verbatim Vs Verbatim: 99 Problems

Our hero is standing at the traffic lights having a chat with a traffic police officer at around eleven on Saturday night.

  • Hi Jake, what’s up?
  • Jake? Who’s Jake?
  • You know. Jake. Like slang for police. It comes from old cowboy westerns. The sheriff was always called Jake. If you don’t know that word, how about, um… Five-O? Po-po? One-Time? (Singing) Bad boys-bad boys whatchoogonnado?
  • Enough of this gibberish. You have committed a terrible traffic offence.
  • No, I haven’t. I have committed a stupid traffic mistake, granted, but the road was clear, no one was in danger, and it’s the guy in front of me who made me think…
  • Enough of that gibberish, too. I’m going to write you a ticket for a 40 thousand shillings.
  • Well, I’ve just been at the ATM looking at my bank balance. I’m rich as hell, son. I can pay your ticket.
  • And I’ll impound your car until you pay the ticket.
  • I wouldn’t like that so here, let me give you a long winding cock-and-bull story about how I am on my way to deliver milk and mineral water to a relative who has just been admitted to hospital. Munange, they just called me half an hour ago. I have to make it there immediately.
  • Yeah, like I haven’t heard that one before. That’s what they all say. I’m impounding the car!
  • Okay, but you will impound the car for like four seconds, cos I have the money in my back pocket right now. Did I mention my bank balance? It’s gigatintic.
  • Oh, you don’t pay here, tonight, on Saturday. You pay at Crane Bank on Monday, and then take the receipt to Central Police Station and THEN you get the car from the impound there.
  • Oh, well. I’m still rich. You stopped me right next to a Special Hire Taxi stage. I’ll just use this 40K to jump in a cab and head off on my way.
  • I am going to so write you a ticket, it’s going to be a ticket like you’ve never known tickets could be written.
  • Why aren’t you writing it then? Why is your hand just hovering over the paper? Why do you keep saying it and not doing it? Are you waiting for me to offer a bribe? Okay, let me cautiously probe your intentions by putting my hands in my pockets and shuffling them around.
  • I didn’t tell you to put your hands in your pockets! Harsh Tone!
  • I was just checking my phone. I thought I heard it vibrate.
  • Okay. That does it. I’m writing this ticket. I won’t impound your car, but I’ll hold onto your Driver’s Permit until you pay up.
  • It’s a fair cop. Snigger. I will pay the fine on Monday as agreed. I don’t condone corruption, at least not much, but I would much rather have bribed you. My misjudged action didn’t endanger anyone; it was an honest mistake, not a grievous felony act. Besides there are loads of reckless drivers out there and you traffic cops are our only defense against them and for that you get paid pathetically. I would rather have given the money to you so you can do something for your kids than give this money to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but hey, it’s your call. Let me go deal with the public sector. Later Jake.

respect_authoritah

Bruce Springsteen, life, words, and facebook photos. On the occasion of his 60th birthday

bruce-springsteen_1241654c

When a person makes a song that we enjoy dancing to, we adore that person. We might even put pictures of them on our facebook profiles and celebrate their birthdays. You can’t deny the value of a good, solidly funky song. It’s one of the greatest pleasures of life to get down and bust a move. I think one of the reasons I have been having such a spate of good days is that I have been dancing in the mornings to Q’s Jook Joint. That’s great entertainment. And Q is a great entertainer.

We have our entertainers and we have our artists. Art isn’t fun. It can be miserable, heartrending.
The way I see it is that art and entertainment are different ways society handles reality. To understand reality we have science. To escape reality we have entertainment. And to articulate it, we have art. There are things we feel: joy, hate, anger, confusion, despair, love, elation, wonder, grief… and not just specific emotions, but whole spans of experience that cause certain things to take certain shapes inside us, or certain situations that make us be certain ways and we know what is going on or think we do, but we can’t fully say so to our brains.
Until an artist comes along and says it for us. A good artist makes you say, “That’s it! Exactly! Well put! You’ve nailed it! I couldn’t have put it better myself!.” They articulate reality.

When someone does that for you, comes along and turns those dull echoes in your soul into clear words, you become immensely grateful, and you invest a great deal into this person. You could even say you love them.

A person like this could present his art in a song that’s funky, and then we will respond as we do with efficient entertainers: we will take the peripheral aspects of the experience of that enjoyable song, like the clothes the singer wore, or the slang it was performed in and emulate them; or we may take the image of the singer as a symbol of that experience, and place posters above our walls or on our facebook pages.

The way we treat entertainers like Q. We can treat artists like entertainers.

Bruce Springsteen has made some awesomely entertaining music. I think it’s called Stadium Rock when Springsteen and his longtime partners the E Street Band would unleash tsunamis of energy that would flood entire stadiums. Their shows are legendary epic events which have been rocked faces off for decades.

But Springsteen the songwriter, that’s beyond entertainment. He has an uncanny gift for reaching inside and seeing what’s there.

When he spoke of restless youths stuck in blue-collar ghettos of New Jersey suburbs dreaming of a freedom they only ever got a fleeting taste of when they jumped into their muscle cars and floored the pedals, shit, even I got it, and I was a Ugandan university student who was scared to drive.

When he spoke of how those dreams were broken, when he spoke of how something rose from the wreckage to defy its own doom with the mere but the glorious act of merely surviving, I got it.

From Born to Run to Growin Up to Nebraska to Lucky Town to Human Touch to Born in The USA to Darkness on The Edge of Town to Promised Land to Jungleland to No Retreat No Surrender to the sublime Thunder Road to Into The Fire to Worlds Apart to When You Need Me to Back In Your Arms to I’ll Work For Your Love, I got it. The songs this guy writes set a tuning fork in my own soul resonating.

Now, you may not feel the same way about Bruce Springsteen. Millions of people around the world have, for forty years, but, as always, that means there are millions more who haven’t. As I said about Michael Jackson, if your music is strong enough to be loved, it is strong enough to be hated.

But I hope if you don’t feel this way about Bruce, you feel this way about some singer somewhere, or some writer, or some painter, or someone.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round

This story revolves around a very posh restaurant in Kampala city. I am not going to tell you which restaurant it was because I am sure I can live without all your nuggu.
Okay. That sounded unduly arrogant, and I did not mean to come out sounding as if I am a snobbish prick. I meant that to remain a secret, so let me rephrase: I would not want jealousy to poison our relationship.
I know that’s hardly better, but let’s just proceed.
I was a this restaurant with a group of very important people of high standing in society. I am not saying that to make you more jealous. That sentence got sidetracked. It ought to have moved in a different direction. It should have gone:
I was at this restaurant during a time when I was recovering from a bout of the flu. This is one of the ways in which Hugh Jackman and I are similar. He was capable of healing himself rapidly of deep flesh wounds in the movie Wolverine. I am capable of healing myself of flu in real life.
The following paragraph, by the way, may involve graphic descriptions of bodily fluids, so if you have any young children nearby, please, gather them closer. They will not want to miss this.
There are times when you think your nose has stopped running, but then you find you are wrong. As we sat down to dine in our intellectually stimulating and fashionably enviable way, my nose began to feel damp.
Slowly small rivulets of mucus began to accumulate in the little groves of my nostrils.
Now, I had no handkerchief with me. There are a number of reasons for this. I shall tell you two of them. The first is that I didn’t think I would need one that night. The second is that I am one of those people who NEVER thinks he will need a handkerchief, so he never even owns any.
I therefore had to make a trip to the lavatory. Not to do that! Of course not. I do not do that stuff. Never in my life. Not even once. That’s disgusting.
I went to the lavatory to get some tissue paper and blow my nose there.
I asked the waiting staff the way, they pointed it out and I climbed down the stairs to it.
Now, this place has a very smart lav. It was also very carefully maintained. I noticed that the tip of the tissue paper roll which I was about to tug at was folded neatly into an elegant triangle.
I tugged off a length of TP and hocked thick, slimly gobs of gooey mucus into it.
Oh, sorry, was that too graphic?
After my passages were clean, I returned to my friends and we continued with the astonishingly witty and urbane conversations we usually have.
For some time. Because a while after, soon after the food arrived, my noise was getting moist again. (Look I’m sorry if I’m grossing you out, but I don’t know how I can tell a story about nasal phlegm without being gross, okay? I didn’t go to medical school).
So I needed to return to the gents.
I found another member of the waiting staff to get directions again, because in this restaurant, which I shall not name for purposes, I repeat, of forestalling nuggu, if you don’t get directions each time, you can end up just going around in circles.
I was directed to the gents and there I reached for the TP and found it, once again, folded neatly.
I tore off a bit, blew my nose and returned upstairs.
A little bit later, after yet more scintillating and insightful and character-building banter among my friends, (not to mention the expensive food) I needed to return to the loos again.
I made my rounds back to the gents. And found that, yes, the corner of the TP had been folded into a triangle.
I went back a couple more times, but every time I spun back to that little room, ripped off some TP, I would return and find that it had been carefully folded back into that neat little triangle.
There is a guy in Kampala whose job is to go to toilets and refold the tip of the bogroll every time it is used. Those of you who use it for other purposes more filthy and disgusting and depraved than just blowing your noses (and you know who you are) just know that there is someone whose job it is to come in after you have committed your sick acts. And he folds up the tissue paper.
Museveni says there is no lack of jobs. It is just that people lack the skills for the jobs that are there. You haha.

This story revolves around a very posh restaurant in Kampala city. I am not going to tell you which restaurant it was because I am sure I can live without all your nuggu.

Okay. That sounded unduly arrogant, and I did not mean to come out sounding as if I am a snobbish prick. I meant that to remain a secret, so let me rephrase: I would not want jealousy to poison our relationship.

I know that’s hardly better, but let’s just proceed.

I was a this restaurant with a group of very important people of high standing in society. I am not saying that to make you more jealous. That sentence got sidetracked. It ought to have moved in a different direction. It should have gone:

I was at this restaurant during a time when I was recovering from a bout of the flu. This is one of the ways in which Hugh Jackman and I are similar. He was capable of healing himself rapidly of deep flesh wounds in the movie Wolverine. I am capable of healing myself of flu in real life.

The following paragraph, by the way, may involve graphic descriptions of bodily fluids, so if you have any young children nearby, please, gather them closer. They will not want to miss this.

There are times when you think your nose has stopped running, but then you find you are wrong. As we sat down to dine in our intellectually stimulating and fashionably enviable way, my nose began to feel damp.

Slowly small rivulets of mucus began to accumulate in the little groves of my nostrils.

Now, I had no handkerchief with me. There are a number of reasons for this. I shall tell you two of them. The first is that I didn’t think I would need one that night. The second is that I am one of those people who NEVER thinks he will need a handkerchief, so he never even owns any.

I therefore had to make a trip to the lavatory. Not to do that! Of course not. I do not do that stuff. Never in my life. Not even once. That’s disgusting.

I went to the lavatory to get some tissue paper and blow my nose there.

I asked the waiting staff the way, they pointed it out and I climbed down the stairs to it.

Now, this place has a very smart lav. It was also very carefully maintained. I noticed that the tip of the tissue paper roll which I was about to tug at was folded neatly into an elegant triangle.

It looked something like this
It looked something like this

I tugged off a length of TP and hocked thick, slimly gobs of gooey mucus into it.

Oh, sorry, was that too graphic?

After my passages were clean, I returned to my friends and we continued with the astonishingly witty and urbane conversations we usually have.

For some time. Because a while after, soon after the food arrived, my noise was getting moist again. (Look I’m sorry if I’m grossing you out, but I don’t know how I can tell a story about nasal phlegm without being gross, okay? I didn’t go to medical school).

So I needed to return to the gents.

I found another member of the waiting staff to get directions again, because in this restaurant, which I shall not name for purposes, I repeat, of forestalling nuggu, if you don’t get directions each time, you can end up just going around in circles.

I was directed to the gents and there I reached for the TP and found it, once again, folded neatly.

I tore off a bit, blew my nose and returned upstairs.

A little bit later, after yet more scintillating and insightful and character-building banter among my friends, (not to mention the expensive food) I needed to return to the loos again.

I made my rounds back to the gents. And found that, yes, the corner of the TP had been folded into a triangle.

I went back a couple more times, but every time I spun back to that little room, ripped off some TP, I would return and find that it had been carefully folded back into that neat little triangle.

There is a guy in Kampala whose job is to go to toilets and refold the tip of the bogroll every time it is used. Those of you who use it for other purposes more filthy and disgusting and depraved than just blowing your noses (and you know who you are) just know that there is someone whose job it is to come in after you have committed your sick acts. And he folds up the tissue paper.

lolmuseveni. Are they out of fashion yet?

Museveni says there is no lack of jobs. It is just that people lack the skills for the jobs that are there. You haha.

P.S. If you are interested, I have a couple of updates on Never Man if you feel like dropping by.

Verbatim Vs Verbatim Decaf

Verbatim Vs Verbatim Latte
In a Café in Kampala. One of the characters in the story is sitting at a table alone reading a book while a solitary cup of cappuchino steams away in on the table. The other character swaggers up.
So, are you waiting for someone?
What?
Mind if I join you?
What?
Mind if I join you? What’s that you’re reading?
But I haha you guy.  It’s such a habit with you that when you see someone reading in a coffee shop you have to swoop in and start hitting on them?
Maybe you could give me your number.
You don’t even check to see who you are hitting on, you just can’t help yourself?
So, do you come here often?
Mutha***** can’t you see that I am a guy? I am a guy like you! Go and hit on chicks, not me!
What? Oh, goodness. So sorry. I hadn’t noticed. Now that I think about it, the moustache and the necktie and the lack of boobs do seem to suggest that you are not the sort I should be hitting on.
Well, so are you going to sod off now?
Um, problem is that people like me don’t sod off that easily.
You mean I’m going to have to kick your ass.
Probably.
Sigh. Okay, here goes. Biff bang pow.

In a Café in Kampala. One of the characters in the story is sitting at a table alone reading a book while a solitary cup of cappuchino steams away in on the table. The other character swaggers up.

  • So, are you waiting for someone?
  • What?
  • Mind if I join you?
  • What?
  • Mind if I join you? What’s that you’re reading?
  • But I haha you guy.  It’s such a habit with you that when you see someone reading in a coffee shop you have to swoop in and start hitting on them?
  • Maybe you could give me your number.
  • You don’t even check to see who you are hitting on, you just can’t help yourself?
  • So, do you come here often?
  • Mutha***** can’t you see that I am a guy? I am a guy like you! Go and hit on chicks, not me!
  • What? Oh, goodness. So sorry. I hadn’t noticed. Now that I think about it, the moustache and the necktie and the lack of boobs do seem to suggest that you are not the sort I should be hitting on.
  • Well, so are you going to sod off now?
  • Um, problem is that people like me don’t sod off that easily.
  • You mean I’m going to have to kick your ass.
  • Probably.
  • Sigh. Okay, here goes. Biff bang pow.
(The true story is a friend of mine told me that every time she sits alone in a cafe guys come and hit on her.)

Till Human Voices Wake Us

What is your reason for leaving Uganda?
“Emigration,” I said. One word is what it all boiled down to.
The man at the desk didn’t think one word was enough. Traffic was light at the border at this time. He felt that there was room for some jolly banter among compatriots. So he began with the small talk.
“Really? And why do you want to run away from your home?” he said, flipping pages, wiggling his stamp in the air.
I looked out of the window at Uganda. The sky was too hot, the sun baked the murram and the trees were thin and old under the cruelty of the heat. It had been ten years since I had come back to settle in the land of my birth and for ten years I had been read y to leave. I can’t remember a single day I felt like this was home.
Home is a difficult concept, you can’t manufacture it, no matter how badly you want to. It has to be given to you. Most people are lucky. You are born into a place where you belong. For others, without roots, you will float aimlessly whenever a breeze sighs or a gust blows and you will never be at rest.
“Um… work,” I replied, turning my eyes back to the immigration officer.
“You are going to work in Kenya? Meanwhile all the Kenyans are coming to work in Uganda.” He laughed the way people laugh when they think it is an appropriate time for mirth, when they think it will punctuate a conversation nicely, not when they think something that has been said is funny.
I thought of just saying yes, but the stamp was already on my passport, so something was relased in me and I wasn’t so tense. I was able to exhale and speak the truth. “No, I’m just passing through Kenya.”
I am on my way to Mombasa. I will get on a ship there, and sail into the ocean. I don’t know what it will feel  like on a ship in the ocean. Like away, perhaps. Like gone. Like free. Like forever.
Kenya is another country. The hills that race you all the way when you drive through Uganda stop at the border and after that you are slicing through wide plains. The sun setting on plains is larger than over hills. I parked beside the road and sat on the roof of the car and looked at it.
There is a road in Nairobi called Mombasa Road. I got to Nairobi in the smallest hours of the night, so I passed through without feeling it.
Several  hours that felt like just one single gesture and we set off from the coast.

What is your reason for leaving Uganda?

“Emigration,” I said. One word is what it all boiled down to.

The man at the desk didn’t think one word was enough. Traffic was light at the border at this time. He felt that there was room for some jolly banter among compatriots. So he began with the small talk.

“Really? And why do you want to run away from your home?” he said, flipping pages, wiggling his stamp in the air.

I looked out of the window at Uganda. The sky was too hot, the sun baked the murram and the trees were thin and old under the cruelty of the heat. It had been ten years since I had come back to settle in the land of my birth and for ten years I had been read y to leave. I can’t remember a single day I felt like this was home.

Home is a difficult concept, you can’t manufacture it, no matter how badly you want to. It has to be given to you. Most people are lucky. You are born into a place where you belong. For others, without roots, you will float aimlessly whenever a breeze sighs or a gust blows and you will never be at rest.

“Um… work,” I replied, turning my eyes back to the immigration officer.

“You are going to work in Kenya? Meanwhile all the Kenyans are coming to work in Uganda.” He laughed the way people laugh when they think it is an appropriate time for mirth, when they think it will punctuate a conversation nicely, not when they think something that has been said is funny.

I thought of just saying yes, but the stamp was already on my passport, so something was relased in me and I wasn’t so tense. I was able to exhale and speak the truth. “No, I’m just passing through Kenya.”

I am on my way to Mombasa. I will get on a ship there, and sail into the ocean. I don’t know what it will feel  like on a ship in the ocean. Like away, perhaps. Like gone. Like free. Like forever.

I put on for my city. On on for my city. I put ooooon. I hate Jeezy.

I could say this eruption of violence and chaos was the result of an underswell of political disaffection bubbling to the surface, but I have lived here too long. It’s something that bubbled to the surface, yes, but it wasn’t political grief.

Kampalans set up roadblocks and stripped their fellow Kampalans naked, sometimes taking their money. They threw bricks into each others shops and stole each others stuff. They caned and whipped and insulted each other. It wasn’t disaffection with the way we are ruled. .

When you drag an old man out of his car and beat him up, that is not an oppressed party seeking justice. That is a bully: a person who just likes hurting other people. And Kampala has a lot of those. There’s violence in this city. It’s always been there.

Of course there is real beef with the government. And there is real (I don’t share it) love for what this Kabaka is supposed to represent, and there are some people who were acting out basing on this, but let’s not let the assholes off the hook.

Looters and thugs and robbers are just that. Bayaye.

And now, because I don’t want to break the theme this blog has been taking, let me add, this.

This is Ernest Bazanye, reporting from Victoria, The Seychelles.