Nakasero market. Man wraps banana’s in fibers to keep them intact and protected from the sun rays. Photo Credit: Mary Ongwen
Sweat trickled down faces, armpits and backs as the sun baked Kampala. Body odors danced in the slight breeze. Sudden whirlwinds raised dust and sprinkled it over the city. Book and handkerchief vendors consistently dusted their merchandise. Bottles of cold Rwenzori mineral water and Safi sweated in the hands and cardboard boxes of street vendors. Cars hooted, taxi touts called “Nakawa, Nakawa, Ntinda” as conversations trailed in and out of my subconscious. The commotion of the city center drowned out the loud growls in my belly.
I shuffled through the crowds down town, passed the men that sat idly waiting for business deals, others carried sacks of cement or was it charcoal. They pushed wheelbarrows and conversed with vendors and girls at the mobile phone booths. Ladies sold suitcases, and babies’ clothes, they sold fingers and bunches of matooke, cooked in dark corners and crossed the streets in aprons and shower caps to deliver covered plates of food to customers.
I strapped my rack-sac tight to my chest, I wasn’t taking chances with my possessions. Little things I took for granted at home – the tube of Vaseline, the book I read while waiting for an appointment, all tripled in value down town. When someone bumped into me, I’d check to ensure nothing had gone missing. I was alert and eager to get out of the muddle.
The green gardens of City square were a respite just like a diver comes up to the water surface for air. I found a spot in the shade of a tree and sat for a while. A cool breeze swept over us.
City Square. A public space for citizens. Photo Credit: Mary Ongwen
I watched the two guys asleep in the grass, one face up with one leg straight the other bent. The other faced down with his arm folded to soften the place he lay his head. The man in the corner sat with bent knees and faced the street. The lady in front stood and looked ahead, while the man seated next to me stared into the air. It was a quiet space and yet intense – everyone trying to figure out next moves, to handle life’s complexities.
Speech bubbles popped up all around filled with stories of hunger, hopes for the future, money deals, investment schemes. Conversations were held in the recesses of the mind and the intense stare of pupils. Just another ordinary day on the streets of Kampala. Young men and women seeking jobs, a little money to catch a taxi to their next destination. Entrepreneurship ideas hopes for a future.
Tomorrow, it will be on repeat, hoping and praying for better luck, to hit the deal. Life in Kampala.