Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ugandan's Love The Slow Lane Life

Is Uganda in the fast track or have we embraced the slow lane? As a teen in the early 80s, Dennis listed Kenya as his only place of travel outside Uganda. I had travelled and whenever I was in town from England and linked up with him, he would ask about life in the UK.

‘Speed’ was something I always emphasized. “Dennis, in Europe, nobody waits for you. You have to be in the fast lane with them. If not, you are going to get left behind.”

Dennis was not the fastest or most active person that I knew. When we were at The Grange School in Nairobi, he was a winger on the rugby team, but was so slow that Billy, who was a prop and had a fat sumo wrestler body, had no difficulty keeping up with him.

After his A-levels and with a scholarship to Iowa State University in the US, and seeing I was in London, his dad thought it a good idea for me to chaperon him in London before he went on to Iowa. “Show him the ropes. He will learn a thing or two from you” he told me.

Picking him up from Gatwick airport off the Uganda Airlines flight, we promptly missed the first two trains into central London. You see, Dennis had that slow Ugandan shuffle about him that by the time he got off his platform seat, the train’s doors were closing. So I made him stand right on the red ‘do not cross line’ in order to catch the next train. When we hit Victoria Station, it was rush hour madness and it made sense in sitting it out in the Victoria Arms pub and having a beer till the rush died down otherwise Dennis would have ended up on a “Lost” poster.

Having lunch in Wimpy, when Girl Attendant asked him what he would like to eat, there was no response. She asked again and still got no response so she rolled her eyes and went off to serve somebody else.

Over the next few days, he came very close to being knocked down on Tottenham Court Road. He almost got pushed down the escalators at King’s Cross Station because the rush hour crowd couldn’t understand why he walked at the pace of a shy never been laid Jihadist walking into a room to claim his 72 virgins. At the revolving doors entrance to Boots, he would always go round twice because he never got out of the revolve in time.

After his ten day London sojourn, I took him to Heathrow to catch his TWA flight to Iowa and as I watched him disappear past immigration all was not well. If he couldn’t adjust to London’s pace, how would he cope in Iowa which is much faster than London and with no chaperone on hand?

I didn’t hear from him for two years until I met him on Kampala Road near Amber House. His Iowa experience was unbearably fast for him. “It’s like they don’t have time for you. They ask you a question but don’t give you the time to think about an answer. They want the answer that instant - no wonder Wimpy Girl Attendant rolled her eyes at him in London. It’s a fast food eatery. If I was lost and asked for directions, nobody stopped. They would give me directions as they continued walking.”

To get back into his slow comfort zone, he discontinued himself from Iowa State and transferred to Kyambogo University. Should I have wringed his neck or simply told him: “Bibbawo and put him into a taxi going to the land of the slow. Like Kiboga perhaps?”