Recently I was fortunate to be a part of a traditional marriage celebration (known to Japadhola as Nywom) in the Eastern region of Uganda and it amazed me how different the local populous are these days in stark contrast to when we were younger children. Back then I recall being given gifts whenever we were leaving for Kampala and knowing everyone by name but this time there was such a difference as every face seemed new even though the dialect remained the same.
However what amused me the most was the change in the status quo of human interaction, every act of kindness is driven by a selfish desire to obtain something from you in return as this following conversation lets on.
Elderly woman: “My goodness how big you are right now – you have surely grown,” she said while I only responded with a vacant smile.
Elderly woman: “Do you know me?”
Me: “No,” I politely responded which caused a frown to flash on her face within in an instance of the words leaving my lips.
Elderly woman: “I am your grandmother the one who carried your mother a long time ago when she was a young baby.”
Me: “Ohhh okay,” I calmly responded as she continued to give me the history of my family line going 4 generations back almost in the same manner a teacher of history would.
After this brief interaction of a couple of minutes I rose from whence I was kneeling and went about my business that had been abruptly brought to a halt by the old ladies education of my family tree. A while later after I had finished everything I needed to in the house as I walked out to the car after saying my goodbye’s I felt a tug at my arm from the side and so I stopped and looked in the general direction.
Elderly woman: “So you will give us a lift up to Nawire.”
Me: “Huh!” with a bizarre look on my face as I tried to understand what had happened in a brief span of 5- 7 minutes since I left her seated at the front of the house.
Then it all made sense - for the brief history she had given, she felt she had created rapport and we had bonded enough thus she was now entitled to transportation to the next sub county on our way out of the village and towards Tororo town and eventually the highway back to Kampala. I was amazed but also saddened that the sweet memories of a place of sweet escape I once called home was no longer the same but before I could take a minute to wrap my head around it all I received a phone call.
Village Person: “Eh hello, where are you?”
Me: “Home but we are about to leave for Kampala.”
As I was having this conversation, my mind was racing trying to discern the voice so as to match it to a face. Then it hit me this was a person that used my phone to take a call at an earlier function.
Village person: “Eh, okay let me hurry there to see you before you leave.”
Me: “But we are packing the last bits of luggage now and are about to drive off.”
Village person: “But you did not give me anything – send me something.”
Me: “Something what something – but where are you.”
Village person: “You know I just got out of church in Paya.”
Me: “I see, now if you had finished there early and been here you would have received something.”
Village person: “Eh but can’t you wait for me to come before you leave?”
Me: “That is not possible – we are travelling in convoy and I cannot make the rest wait.”
Village person: “Ha but I know you will send me something.”
Me: “But didn’t you know there was a function up to very late yesterday night at home?”
Village person: “Yes!”
Me: “So why didn’t you find out the program for today before you left?”
Village person: “Eh but cousin, it is okay I know you will still send me something.”
Me: “Now how do I send you something when I brought it all the way from Kampala and we have been distributing here at home. The mistake was yours not to be here now.”
Village person: “Hhhmm but I will wait because ... I am sure you will find a way to send me something.”
Me: “Ok I have to drive now – bye,” I said as I hung up the phone bewildered over the conversation I had just had.
I barely know you and then because of a chance meeting where you followed me around almost the entire day and hounded me – all of a sudden we are close! But for all of you who may be reading this and wondering what ‘something’ means – it is the way that village folk ask you for financial or material items or assistance before you leave for Kampala. So the next time that you are in the East and someone asks if you have something tread lightly or your money purse may be a little lighter or even worse something from your person may go missing if you do not seem too keen on sharing.