Potholes used to feature a lot in newspaper columns. Even by those written by my favourite columnist and Ian Clarke.
The two of them would often, when their hacks were raised, thrust their fists quivering into the air. And harrumph loudly. And belch plumes of fire into the sky. While doing all this, they would simultaneously type spirited and beautiful tirades about the state of Ugandan roads all over my newspaper.
I couldn’t relate. Potholes, schmotholes. As a member of the public transit class, such a set and confirmed and prolific taxi rider that I even had a favourite seat, I had no idea potholes were anything but picturesque deviations to the general grey of the road.
Taxi drivers are, as we all know, forged in the fires of hell. They are not humans created by God. The other guy made taxi drivers.
The dark one who created them also endowed them with certain powers, including the ability to float over, snake round, or teleport through potholes. I could sit in the back left seat with my wap-enabled mobile phone and facebook at my cool friends and the other friends, too, as the taxi vroomed and rattled along, never knowing what this whole pothole hullabaloo was about.
Then I, myself, me who you see me here, me, I got a car. Her name is Fiona, The Silver Queen of Kyali, and my love for her is real.
Now, when I drive her, I drive her in Kampala and, consequently, on Kampala’s roads, which Doctor Ian Clarke and Angie Kintu had kept warning me about when I was all being stubborn, all acting like I already know everything I need to know about life. He who knows not and knows not he knows not. Those things.
I would say, “Banange. There greater potholes on the road to development than potholes,” and think I was being clever.
But then you get a car you like and try to move down a Uganda road with it and you will see things other ways.
These roads are ridiculous. First of all, they are narrow as sewing thread. And there are two long streams of cars trying to use this road that is as narrow as sewing thread and these cars are moving in opposite directions.
Some of these cars are ridden by Ugandans with whatever kind of major malfunction it is that makes a person buy a gigantic four-wheel-drive vehicle and then try to squeeze it through a road little more than half a foot wide.
That same road is being shared by pedestrians because roads in Uganda don’t like to have pavements. Most of them just assume footwalkers can go (do rude things unto) themselves. Where a pavement somehow manages to occur even against the odds set up by our cherished traditions, it’s soon filled with hawkers and traders and merchants selling underwear, hats, shoes, roasted maize, old magazines, jeans, transistor radios which make every song they broadcast sound like it’s being performed by cockroaches tapdancing on the corpses of other cockroaches and, soon, copies of my upcoming novelette, The Adventures Of Chandler And Fraisier (Yeah. I’ve started advertising. Haven’t even finished the book itself).
The pedestrians cannot walk there. They have to walk on the road. Well, they are either walking, or they are leaping out of the way of bodabodas, which are piloted by the effluvium that was left over after the dark one created his taxi drivers.
I shall also mention that there are fools who PARK their cars on the sides of these roads.
How can this possibly be made worse?
By potholes. Potholes just roll up one night and sit in the middle of this and every other road in the city.
I presume the potholes in Nairobi and Dar and Arusha and Kuala Lumpur and Little Rock and, well, other parts of the world, just show up and be. Our potholes don’t be. They do. They perpetrate actions. These things are alive.
They exhibit what my biology teacher Mrs Nakayima (Shout out!) taught me were the signs of a living thing. They eat and they grow. They feed on shock absorbers and then put on weight. They not only expand in breadth; some of them buck the trend and decide that growing wide is for losers. For them they are going to grow deep. When your wheels plunge into them you hear echoes.
Kampala potholes are dangerous and merciless and vicious. They should be deployed for national defense.
In other, unrelated news, I hate Abba so much I wish they were food products so I could shit it out of my ass. I may have to edit that sentence out of the post a bit later.