Friday, January 27, 2012

It Was A Friday

It was a Friday. Normally I would like to have some sort of a lie-in on Friday’s but, the local neighbourhood Imam has so clearly ruled that out for a 5:00am, he is bellowing out on the loud speaker as he calls his fellow Moslems to prayers. I have got a funny feeling that he must be in cahoots with UMEME because they – UMEME never load shed at that hour. Would I have a case for noise pollution? I will make it a point of calling in on NEMA during the course of the week.

Robert Kabushenga, who is New Vision Group CEO, has called a strategy meeting so an e-mail from Beatrice, his personal assistant tells me. As we settle into the meeting, Kabushenga gives us his spiel and with ideas bouncing off just about everybody in the room, I hear that all too familiar sound of a phone vibrating.
Of course I had to be nosey and looked around to see whose phone it was, but with the vibrations seemingly so loud, it had to be Ernest Bazanye’s since he was sitting next to me. But it wasn’t Bazanye’s. It was mine and the text message read: “Leaving for K-Palm Island at 12:00pm. Are you falling in?”

Am I falling in?? Was the message sender on crack cocaine?? Of course I am falling in! It’s a Friday and what an excellent way to start the weekend!

But I had to first contend with Kabushenga and get his meeting out of the way. By my reckoning, we would be done just before midday which would give me ample time to make it Ggaba, hop onto the boat and be on K-Palm Island within 40 minutes.

Except, that that didn’t happen. Kabushenga was in a buoyant mood. The meeting went on and every half-hour that it went on, Nokia would again vibrate reminding me of the departure time. 12:00pm came and passed with no sign of the meeting about to end. At this point, my mind was no longer on the meeting but on a cold Club beer, pork and oldies music that awaited us once we got to K-Palm.

This is it. I boldly thrust my arm into the air with every intention of telling Kabushenga about the cold Club beer, the pork and the oldies music but when he swivelled round and asked me to go ahead and speak, it was cold feet that I got. I mumbled something and sank back into my seat while Nokia sent me another reminder.

At 1:30pm the meeting finally ended and like a church service that has come to an end, you don’t just make a mad dash to your car. You first make small chit chat outside the church with Pastor and his entourage before you bust and in this case, there was a need to make small chit chat with Kabushenga and Group Editor-in-Chief.
Chit chat out of the way and it was a mad dash across town and by the grace of god, Fuso Truck that was hurtling towards us and carrying Shell fuel didn’t ram into us as it swerved to avoid a pothole.

The boat ride was bliss. The beer was cold, the weather excellent except that there was a bit of a stiff breeze that made it next to impossible to light my Sportsman cigarette. By the way the I think the people at BAT are at last beginning to feel me because these days, they do put in enough glue to hold the packet together. So Solomon and Willo, I no longer carry a tube of super glue to make emergency repairs. Thanks.

K-Palm was bliss. It was everything that was expected of being on an island and chilling while a good number of people are stuck in a stuffy office back in town. The beers were exceptionally chilled, the pork and the fish way above par.

But all good things come to an end. We had to head back. One of the cardinal rules of going to an island and consuming beer is to make sure that you go to the toilet and pee before you clamber back into the boat. Even if you don’t feel like having a pee, you still go, ‘flop him out’, clench your butt cheeks and force life – force those droplets of susu out of him.

Except that I didn’t do that. I thought I was hard. Halfway through the journey back, the urge to do susu was very much alive and real. I squirmed in my seat, I held by breath and I bit on my lower lip. It was agonizing, but at last we made it back to the mainland.

From the pier to the nearest toilets involved a ten minute walk and with a bladder about to explode, there is no way I could have made it even if I had legged it. Time for plan B. The nearby boundary wall would suffice. The wall appeared to be a popular spot for emergency susu because splashed in white paint were the words: Tofuka wano. Fine sh50,000. (Don’t pee here. Fine sh50,000. Casing the area, there is not a soul in sight and out he flops and I do my thing. I am half way through, when I hear him shout. “Gwe, gwe, tofuka awao, genda mu toilet. Askari, askari waliwo afuka ku kisenge!” (You, you, don’t pee there. Go to the toilet. Askari, askari, there is somebody peeing on the wall).

I hadn’t quiet finished but I hurriedly put him away and melted into the dark. Having survived a 50k ‘lynching’, the next port of call was to Kansanga and to deliver Mike, back into the safe custody of his in-laws, Peter and Mrs. Mulira but more importantly, his wife Olga. Peter Mulira belongs to a dying breed of people who are a cut above the rest of us. Alumni of this breed of people would include Justice Sam Wambuzi, Dr. Martin Aliker and John Nagenda for example. They expose finesse, class, eloquence and style amongst many other qualities that most of us will never master.

And all of a sudden he pulls it out and lays it on the kitchen table. It’s a Mont Blanc. Not roller ball but fountain. Okay so Simon Kaheru of SMS Media, NSSF MD, Richard Byarugaba, Oscar Mulira, Wambuzi, Charles Mbire, Aliker and Nagenda would know what I am talking about here. A Mont Blanc, is perhaps one of the finest pens ever made. They are literally handcrafted, write like silk and can smell like Halle Berry’s bosom once she has applied her perfumes. That is a Mont Blanc!

I contemplate stealing it, but Peter won’t let it out of his sight and for the five minutes that he excused himself, Mrs. Mulira made sure she focused her eyes on it. By the way Mrs. Mulira, thank you for the supper.

So I leave minus the coveted Mont Blanc and it is off to The Woods with Oscar in tow. The Woods attracts a crowd who would like to define themselves as being young, successful and on the climb up the ladder in their respective fields.

If they are all that, then why would one of them decide to pinch my Nokia from the bar? I mean it was not an iPod or some fancy phone that costs well above the one brick mark. I mean it was cheap Nokia that retails for less that sh150k in Tim Lwanga’s MTN shop in Kabalagala. Perhaps they stole it for the airtime? Hmm, let me see. I think I had less than sh250 on it.

So that was Friday. I almost got flattened and possibly burnt to death by Fuso Truck carrying fuel, Askari almost slapped a 50k fine on me for peeing by the wall, I almost stole a coveted Mont Blanc pen from the home of one of Uganda’s most respected lawyers – Peter Mulira and to cap it all, Nokia was stolen.

The funny thing about not having a phone, is that I feel like I have gone back in time to the pre-cell phone era. Remember when we used to go to Starcom on Entebbe road to make calls? That’s me now.