Wednesday, 15 July 2015

When I “pick pocketed” in a nightclub

Karaoke in Hoima
Sunday July 5, 2015, found me in a fix. First, I had two ill people in the house. My other half was nursing malaria and one of my girls had been sent home from boarding school for what turned out to be typhoid. Secondly, that morning, there was to be played in Kanyanya a long awaited friendly football match between my club Command Post CC and another  based in Lugogo. Thirdly, I was that afternoon to travel to western Uganda for a 4-day training for National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NW&SC) employees in Customer Care and Team Building. I wanted to cook for my patients and my little children, I wanted to play football and, I wanted to travel for work. In the end, item number two was to be foregone. 

After doing the house chores, I went to the pitch to wish my colleagues a good game and bid them farewell. As I walked away, my head drooping towards the exit, I felt like a child being dragged from a party they had just started to enjoy. In my heart love and pain were boiling together. I loved what I was leaving behind; I loved and looked forward to what I was going to do in Bunyoro.
The afternoon drive was along a familiar path, the road that leads to Gulu from Kampala. We were to spend Sunday night in the town of Kiryandongo, about 220km north of Kampala. Our driver was fast and steady. We stopped in Luweero to buy some fruits and continued. We were interrupted between Luweero and Nakasongola when a traffic officer stopped us for over speeding. We escaped with a caution.

Ronah of Hoima presents a product of team work
The following four days were what some describe as “marathon”, having a long ground to cover in the shortest time possible. There was only one day per station. My colleague Hadijah and I had to rely on our experience to deliver knowledge that would bring positive change in NW&SC Bunyoro region. The trainees were fantastic. From Bweyale, to Kigumba, to Masindi, to Hoima, they were enthusiastic and full of energy.

Senior Human Resource Manager Atanazio Tugume addresses staff during training in Masindi
Customer Care class in Kigumba

Team Building in Bweyale
The active participation of all the area managers underlined the importance of the course. As we packed our boxes to return to the hotel after the final training in Hoima we could hear people tell each other “identify your stressors” or “you are one of my stressors. I have to deal with you.” So they were starting to put what they had leaned into practice.
My trips hardly end without extra adventure and this time I wanted an outing in a ghetto. At about 10:00pm I asked a boda-boda rider where fun could be. “There is karaoke in Thunder Plus Club,” he told me. This was in Kiryatete, on the outskirts of Hoima town, where the poor mix with the poor and together they are happy in their poor world. 

Outside the club were several revelers making noise. So close to the nose was the smell of marijuana, cheap alcohol and cigarettes. I had been through Kiryatete nine months earlier to buy a goat for barbeque with colleagues back at Coronation Hotel. That time my guide and I sat in a little bar as the goat was being skinned. The girl who served me a drink was just about 16 or 17 years old. I decided to investigate her lifestyle by teasing that I wanted to take her to my apartment in the middle of Hoima town.

She said all I had to do was to give some money, about Shs 3000 (1 USD) to her “sister” to cover for her absence. The “sister” was, apparently, the owner of the bar. I asked if she did not fear pregnancy and she told me that “sister” had put her on a three year contraceptive arrangement four months earlier, before leaving her parents’ home in Mbarara for Hoima. When we were called for our meat I gave her Shs 3000 and promised to return. That was a lie. Thunder Plus was for people such as this girl, I thought.

There were three people at the entrance including a young lady – dark skinned and big in size. I approached her and asked to pay half of the Shs 2000 they wanted as entrance fee. She accepted without hesitation. I don’t know why? Inside the dancing was on amongst the revelers. The body odour was at first repulsive but as time went on I became part of the environment and everything was now normal. At a pillar near the stage I chose to stand, with a bottle of Guinness, as I waited for the night’s performance to start. After some time I was joined by a young couple that looked drunk on a mixture of things.

The young lady, ugly by the fairest of definitions, felt that it was upon her boyfriend to chase me away from there. “What does he want with us?” she asked while pointing at me. “Why don’t you throw him out?” 

For a couple of minutes it was eye to eye between me and the young man – no blinking. I wondered what he was thinking. I wondered why the ugly thing had chosen to be enemies with me. In all the countries I have visited I am friends with the ghetto but why was this “whore” hostile to me? I wondered.
At last the guy spoke. “You look to be from Kampala. You are a thug from Kampala,” he said before stretching his arm to me for a handshake, which I rejected. In a drunken tone he concluded his speech thus: “I know you have already robbed me. You must have picked my pockets already but it is OK.”
He grabbed his girlfriend by the waist and they danced. At about 1:00am I left the club— but not with the man’s money!

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