Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2.00 am solicitation on Kampala’s streets

I often write on issues affecting the every day Ugandan, from topics to do with transportation, revenue and DMV (Driving Permit registration) as well as cultural experiences.   

However this time allow me to share my thoughts on a completely different topic. This is one that is not spoken much on and yet can be experienced in the early hours of the morning on our streets within Kampala city and notably Kabalagala suburbs.
One such night we rushed to Entebbe international airport at 9:00 pm to pick a family member who was scheduled to arrive on a flight coming in at 1:00 am. We were both excited and anxious to make it on time because we did not want to arrive late and make her sit in the airport waiting area after such a long flight. Luckily we beat the Entebbe road traffic mayhem and arrived 10 minutes to her arrival time. We rushed to the arrival area only to get there and check the screen and see ‘1 HOUR DELAY,’ for the specific flight she was on.  A little frustrated that we had an hour to kill at Entebbe airport, but we were relieved that we were there and so we resorted to 
looking for a way to occupy our time. However, that one hour in the Entebbe International airport waiting area is another escapade of its own for an entirely different blog. 

After the hour, there was an additional delay for check out since a Kenya Airways flight arrived just before hers but we eventually hit the road heading to Kampala shortly after 1:00 am. The better part of the journey went without incident until we got to the city center around Sheraton Hotel and down the road along Fairway hotel. As we got here my sister who we picked from the airport noticed pedestrians on the side walk about 100 meters apart in dark colours almost disappearing into the background given how dark Kampala streets are at night at 2:00 am.

My sister from abroad: ‘What are these people doing by the side of the road this late at night?’

Me: ‘Which ones?’

My sister from abroad: ‘These ones ehh.. ehhh but look at what they are wearing? That one over there is literally naked.’

Me: ‘They are ladies of the night.’

My sister from abroad: ‘So they just stand here and parade themselves at the side of the road scantily clad with their underwear showing?’

My sister driving: ‘Yup!’

My sister from abroad: ‘Eh... look at this one he has stopped right in front of one. What is he doing?’  she said as she pointed at the vehicle a couple of meters ahead of us.

Now I pulled forward from my seat where I had comfortably reclined to get a better view of what she was pointing at. My other sister who was driving slowed down since the driver ahead of us had come to a complete stop right in front of one of these ladies at the side of the road.

Me: ‘Talking to her,’ I said innocently.

My sister driving: ‘He is soliciting for her services.’

My sister from abroad: ‘When did this start on the streets of Kampala? Is it even legal?’

Me: ‘No it is not but it continues to happen.’

We slowed down as we continued to approach the Golf course round about due to the Subaru right in front of us whose occupant was having a conversation with one of the ladies. He did not seem bothered by us approaching until we were within 40 meters when our front lights hit his vehicle and cast its  light against his number plate and we could also confirm that it was a gentleman driving. Before we could indicate to over take him on the side he backed away from the curb of the side walk and sped off much to our surprise. It did not make sense initially for the first few seconds and then it did and we all began to laugh in the car with the exception of my sister from abroad.

My sister from abroad: ‘Ehh now where is he running, who chased him?’ she said.

This was owing to the fact that the Subaru driver had sped off and in a bid to create some distance between us and him since I assume he was embarrassed to be seen soliciting a prostitute. As my other sister and I continued to laugh, we slowly passed by the lady of the night he had been chatting up only for her to hurl insults at us.

Me: ‘I wonder where he is flying off to now,’ I said as I giggled and pulled up my window expectant that a random object may be thrown at me from the lady of the night.

My sister driving: ‘Let’s see how far he will run away from us,’ she said as she accelerated and ensued in a chase.

The occupant of the Subaru pulled on to Acacia Avenue flying almost as if we were on a race track. We eventually caught up to him between DFCU Acacia branch and Bubbles Pub where he slowed down due to the multitude of night owls (revelers) who were looking parking.  As he pulled to the left side of the street looking for parking, we got alongside him on the right and as we passed by him I pulled down my window to get a better look.

When I caught sight of him I was rather happy to find that his window (the driver’s side) was pulled all the way down so I whispered, ‘hello rally driver.’

My sister from abroad on the other hand was too shocked by the entire experience but managed to shout out of her window, ‘Go back we were not chasing you, go back.’

The expression on his face was priceless after which we sped off with us all laughing hysterically. Now I completely agree with the statement – nothing good happens after midnight and in our case 2.30 am.

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