Let me tell you the story of how I went to Kabale and almost set my underwear on fire.
My reason for going there was one of the most common reasons anyone ever has for going to Kabale: It’s freaking gorgeous out there.
It’s the most beautiful part of a beautiful country, guys. If Uganda is the pearl of Africa, Kabale is her left boob.
At this point I am assuming that Pearl is the name of a very sexy and beautiful woman. Beyond that I know next to nothing of pearls.
I do understand that leading 18th Century coloniser Winston Churchill named Uganda the pearl of Africa because the place reminded him of something extremely beautiful, but we don’t have oceans and oysters around here. The only beautiful Pearls we know of in Uganda are Pearl Karungi, Pearl Kimuli, Pearl Agiro, Pearl Kentaro, Pearl Aber, Pearl Kirabo and the likes.
Please do not tell me to google what an aquatic pearl is. I already muted and blocked that search result because I don’t need coloniser propaganda.
If it were me branding Uganda as a colony, I wouldn’t have used oceanic jewelry. I would have called it the geopolitical Destiny’s Child of imperial acquisitions, because, like Destiny’s Child, when Uganda’s colonisation was just getting started it showed promise, but elsewhere there were other, more dominant colonies, like Kenya, the SWV of Africa and Ghana, the TLC of Africa, and, of course, South Africa, the Britney Spears of Africa.
Uganda would become even more aptly the Destiny’s Child of Africa because over time it would undergo much inner turmoil and then a series of unprecedentedly rapid changes in key personnel positions.
But if Uganda was Destiny’s Child of Africa, Kabale would be the Kelly Rowland of Uganda.
Kampala, of course, would be lead singer Beyonce, since, like Beyonce, everyone makes a huge deal about Kla, everyone acts like it’s all about her and her alone, she has all the money and all the attention, and yes, she was always, even from the very beginning the main point of the whole band and so on so forth, but being real here, being really real here?
I mean furreal foreyo?
Kelly is the most beautiful of them all. But, like Kabale, Kelly just peacefully does her thing on the side, being a lot more beautiful than Beyonce, but staying cool about it.
So that is the reason I was going to Kabale. The excuse I was going to Kabale was to write this piece:
I was still a journalist with the New Vision at the time and had bagged an assignment to write about an island school in Lake Bunyonyi, (I bungled up the process and did not actually ride the schoolboat with the kids, which was the whole point. Maybe next time I will finish the job before I resign from the profession and become a free ebook novelist.)
I began my journey in Old Kampala, where there is a bus terminal that dispatches buses westwards on a daily basis.
Due to the absolute, utter, full and ultimate depletion of all desire to wake up at 6:00am mbu just so I can get there by 9:00am mbu because that is when the bus leaves nga why since when of where shyaa, I booked the night bus.
“Good afternoon, handsome yet rugged middle-aged bus ticket-seller,” I greeted the man in the window.
“Good evening famous journalist and newspaper columnist E. Bazanye,” he replied, for at the time I was indeed those things.
I asked him, “Would you be so kind, and if not so kind then at least so competent as to furnish me with a ticket to Kabale, the most beautiful part of Uganda, arguably Pearl’s left titty?”
“Well, I, myself, am from Bushenyi, and hold the competing view that Bushenyi is in fact more beautiful than Kabale,” he replied. “But how much money do you have?”
I told him how much money my employer had given me as transport and per diem. He grinned slyly. “This is can be enough for a ticket to Bushenyi, you know? You have options.”
Our conversation was interrupted as one of his colleagues, walking past the ticket booth, stopped to inquire: “Is that the famous Bazanye of Sunday Vision?” She peered in through the ticket window. “He is even more roguishly good-looking in person than he is in that cartoon. Awobi ma leng, itye nining?”
“He says he wants to go to the most beautiful part of Uganda,” explained the ticket seller.
“He wants a ticket to Acholiland?” she asked.
When I explained that I could only take in Kigezi out of all the nation’s beauty, due to this being a work assignment, they gave me a ticket for a nine pm departure ride and sent me back on my way to my home in Najjera. I did the whole journey to Najjie with a sad and heavy heart. All the talk of beautiful parts of Uganda had dampened my spirit and it made me sad to have to see Kampala roads.
Compatriots, and also, any Kenyans reading this (Niaje!), any Rwandans in the house (Muraho neza! We love and miss you guys so much!), just because Uganda is beautiful, I am not going to pretend Kampala is not hideous. I had to trudge through the tangled chaos of Namirembe Road and into the miasma of the taxi park and then eventually find myself embroiled in the morass of Nakawa. Kampala can be ugly. Kampala is unkempt, disheveled, chaotic and dirty. Kampala is a mess of a mess. I know I said Kampala is Beyonce earlier but Nakivubo, Nakawa, Nasser Road and Ntinda junction? Those are the enkyakya hairs on Beyonce’s feet.
I regret that I didn’t pick an bus that was early enough to take me through Masaka and Lyantonde at around 6:00pm because the sight of Masaka and Lyantonde around sunset is so enchanting, it would have completely cleansed my palate of the aftertaste of having to squeeze through the kaloli’s cloaca of the Northern Bypass roundabouts to get out of Kla.
But that was not to be my only regret.
You see, I did not look at my ticket properly and therefore did not see, properly or otherwise, that it was actually a ticket to Kisoro.
And I did not realise the mistake I had made until 3:00am when the bus guy– what do you call them? Bouncer? Maitre’d? Flight attendant? Sorry, I have not used public transport in so long that I have forgotten– until the bus MC announced, “The guy getting off at Kabale, disembark now. Gerrout quick so the rest of us can proceed to Kisoro where we are going.”
It was the most 3:00am I had ever seen in my life. It was so dark and empty that I felt as if I had stepped out of the bus at the end of the credits of Uganda.
But that was not even the problematic part.
I was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and sandals. I had a jacket in my bag, and back then I always wore a hat. This ensemble is usually enough to protect me from what we in temperate tropical zones like Kampala consider cold.
But when I stepped out of the bus onto the tarmac of 3:00am Kabale town I felt something I had never felt before.
Even my eyeballs felt cold. My eyes felt cold as if they could see it. I felt cold in the hair follicles in my nostrils and ear canals. I was detecting it in my ears and nose as if I was hearing and smelling cold.
My brain said, “Baz, it’s cold.”
I replied, “Th-th-th-thank you for the met-tt-tt-er-olog-g-g-gi-cal ana-l-l-ysis C-c-c-aptain Obv-v-ious.”
“Shut your sarcasm, dude. Let’s go back to Kampala.”
Unfortunately Kampala was 400kms away and I could not even tell which direction to move due to how inky the darkness was that surrounded me. I think it was that dark because even photons could not work in that temperature.
Delerium is the state when a clever man starts getting stupid ideas and thinking they are intelligent. This is what set in. I dropped my bag, opened my luggage, took out every item of clothing I had packed and put it on. Two pairs of jeans, three t-shirts, a jacket and two hats.
It did not work. I was still freezing.
So I thought of fire: If I burned the outer layer of clothing… but no, not these jeans… I like these jeans… Maybe if I put the vest and boxers on the outside, and set them alight…
Luckily a roving boda smoking a filterless cigarette (That is what I am going to call it, cos I ain’t no snitch) cruised up just in time to save me from setting myself alight and was able to convey me to a woteli, where I spent what was left of the night.
I was able to finish my assignment the next day, and even swim in Lake Bunyonyi.
So, the moral of the story: You guys Uganda is such a beautiful place. It is full of areas, sections, parts and regions that look so nice that it is a shame to spend all the time and optic energy we waste living in guKampala. There is so much splendour out there. We have such an amazing country.
I know you are cramped up and claustrophobic and tired right now, especially, but when this is over, let’s go out and see Ug. North, south, east, west, middle, over, under, left and right.
My plot is to get to Ssesse Islands on a moonless week where there is no light pollution. Because this is what the night sky looks like there.
Today’s post is not sponsored because that would mean I was given money to say this. Let us say, today’s post endorses the following tour outfits that you should check out on twitter for a fun affordable Ugandan adventure.
and if I find any more, I will update that list, then I will holler and we go and dance the jabba under Sipi Falls.