Every so often, you receive a beautiful message on WhatsApp or by email telling you great things about yourself. The message extols the virtues of sacrifice, love and courage. You are so touched, you want to cry. You are fighting to hold the tears in; there are too many people around and they shouldn’t see you cry. When you get to your room, you’ll wail like an infant trying to get mummy to buy him a Ben 10 watch. Mummy’s explanation that Uganda doesn’t have enough electricity to power that watch is falling on deaf ears. Jimmy, mummy’s right. Owen Falls Dam can’t power a Ben 10 watch; when we build Karuma though…
Back to that very powerful message-it says, at the very end, that you must forward it. If you don’t forward it, it usually says the same things-destruction, spoil, sadness will follow you. For whoever creates these messages, here are a few other ways you can compel us to forward them. Forward this message or else:
A boda boda guy will scratch your car in traffic. You’ll look up to give him that look that says terrible things to him and the next five generations that he’ll father and he’ll turn back and scratch your car again. And again. And a fourth time for effect. In shock, you’ll raise an alarm and get out of your car. He’ll disappear. Just like that. You’ll be left raising an alarm, having stopped rush hour traffic. Everyone around you will say they didn’t see any boda boda guy. But your car will have scratches. Forward this message
Forward this message or else the lift will get stuck with just you, your boss and the CEO in it. Your boss and the CEO will have what to talk about and you’ll feel awkward, clearing your throat every so often to remind them you are still there. They’ll continue to talk about golf and how “air in the country is so fresh”, oblivious to all your nervous coughs. They’ll even discuss a demotion.
Forward this message or you’ll be in a taxi to a faraway destination and when you get there, you’ll realize that your wallet is empty. The conductor will have already fought with two previous passengers who alighted and attempted to run off without paying. Forward this message.
Forward this message and you’ll get a phone call from the real White House, not a Nigerian one, asking what account they should wire your money to.
It has been reported before that our Members of Parliament are deeply indebted. Some, reports say, have been jailed by money lenders for not giving to Badru what belongs to him. Word started doing the rounds this week that our beloved leader has approved a cash bailout to the tune of 42 billion shillings, with a B, to remedy this. Each blessed MP, word says, is set to get over 100 million shillings, depending on how badly indebted they are. This news is arguably more exciting than that of winning 5 medals at the commonwealth games. Who needs puny Superman when you have a leader like ours? Is there a nation luckier than us? Is there a place here on earth where a mighty leader swoops in and carries your debt? One where he literally pays for your financial sins? How blessed and highly favored are we as a people to have such a visionary at the helm of things. I’d need a number of books to put my excitement in back-to-back sentences. For now though, I’ll settle for self-righteously asking every non-Ugandan I meet, “You, does your president pay your debt? Look at your sad, sad life” and then sneer.
It’s a bird…
All said, I feel compelled to be the first to ask that you settle my debt too Sir. As an aside, the bits beyond this sentence are directed only to our leader and will be written in Presidese, a special subtext only heads of state (and potential ones) understand. Why should you clear my debt?
First, like the MPs, I’m a respected member of society. I stay awake several nights on end reading through all the fan mail I get.
Second, my debt isn’t big. I won’t need over 100 million shillings. I owe Elias, my boda guy, a small sum. I owe Mama Nantongo’s grocery a tiny sum. I owe the sauna nearby a small sum-I initially thought that if I sit in it only a short while, I pay less but they didn’t agree. I also owe the owner of this house a neat figure. There’s also the car: I haven’t yet gotten it but think of it as projected debt; if you agree to pay my debt then I’ll call the bond and we finalize. It sets a bad precedent if an upstanding Member of Parliament society like me is in debt. Please save me. Alternatively I could just stand for MP next time round to make this easier for you.
Last week, we started a journey on thriving amidst heady traffic. We decried how much traffic has robbed this country of sweet time that would have been spent building the nation. We moaned how traffic has turned us into liars, making us tell the person on the other end of the line “I’m just here at the Roundabout, in traffic” yet we haven’t left home yet. Traffic, oh traffic. We explored the different tried and tested ways that the menace can be subdued. Today, we go deeper. We look at even more ways to prosper amidst hard traffic times.
Giving a turn signal, or ‘indicating’ is for losers. Weaklings I tell you. A strong, well-rounded person like you doesn’t have time to move one finger and shift that indicator lever. When in traffic, shift lanes at will. Don’t indicate-you have better things to do with your hands, like reply Whatsapp messages or replay that very funny video that has goats singing. Indicating is for people who don’t know where they are going-they indicate to get approval from others. You don’t need approval-turn and go. Then turn back. Then turn again.
Who asks before they join a lane? Do like a taxi and budge-in. Traffic will not be conquered by being timid and polite. Budge in. If you get hit, make a scene and ask if they know who you are. If they don’t, ask them what kind of person they are not to know you.
Bumper to bumper
To beat this traffic thing, your vehicle needs to make its intimate intentions known to the one ahead of it. It needs to move so close to it, a bit of the paint on that car needs to rub off on to yours. When it moves, move just faster. Think of this as your contribution to the fight against malaria-mosquitoes migrating from one place to another should not be able to use the space between your car and the next. Fight malaria, drive closer.
You are too busy to let the traffic hold you down; text, WhatsApp, watch funny videos, everything. If you carried your dirty laundry with you, do the laundry too. Life is too short for it to run past you as you sit in traffic and wait for something to happen.