Thursday, 4 December 2014

The other side of the Ugandan taxi driver.

Every one of us is thankful for the sacrifice that our parents made to ensure that we attained a good education to support the living and lifestyle that we enjoy today. However, don’t think that everyone has the same dreams to go through school and go into traditional employment system of 8am to 5 pm daily.

 I have run into factory workers who read Shakespeare literature on their down time and are finalizing with their thesis in order to graduate from the university. The taxi driver who is well educated, uses Whatsapp and owns 5 taxis at the local stage. Do not think that the taxi driver you are sitting next to in the front seat of that often filthy car is illiterate and has no hope and dreams of his own, you will be greatly surprised.

Here is one such encounter that will changed the way you approach people.

Me: ‘Wasuzotya sebo,’ I said to the driver as I jumped into the front seat next to him. (How did you sleep – Also means good morning)

Taxi Driver: ‘Bulungi mwana, how are you.’ (Fine thank you, girl)

I could only afford to grin in shock at the seamless transition from Luganda (local language commonly used by the majority of the population in Uganda) to English. I was wearing a pair of jeans that day so I assume he felt it suitable to adapt his use of language to suit this chance encounter.

After about 400 meters, I felt my phone vibrate and pulled it out to take a call and respond to a few emails before safely returning it back to my bag.

Taxi Driver: ‘Mwana, ehh simu yo enyuma.’ (Eh, your phone looks nice)

Me: ‘Webale okusima.’ (Thank you for appreciating.) At this point I tightened hold at the straps of my hand bag because I had become paranoid that he may hit me senseless and make off with it. I know a few of you must be laughing, but you cannot blame me for being paranoid after all the horror stories I have heard.

Taxi Driver: ‘So what do I do to also get a phone like yours?’

Me: ‘You work very hard.’

Taxi Driver: ‘Eh!” I smiled as he responded because of the face he made as he responded.
A few minutes later I was about to alight when with no warning I heard him say..

Taxi Driver: ‘Kale mwana, let me go and work have so I can also have some swagger.’ (Okay girl…)

This did not entirely change my perceptions of taxi drivers but allowed me to remember that they are also human beings who seek to enjoy the finer things in life and not all are ill mannered and crass.

Then on another completely different occasion, I stood at a bust stop waiting to be picked up by a colleague for a meeting, only for a couple of taxis to pull up in front of me.

Conductor 1: ‘Nyabo ogenda?’ (Madam are you heading in our direction/ are you going?’

Conductor 2: ‘Sister yanguwako tugende mu towuni.’ (Sister hurry up so that we can go to town.)

Me: ‘Neda sebo,’ (No, sir) I swiftly responded as I shook my head from side to side and stayed firmly planted where I was. A few passenger jumped out of the taxi as I continued to typed away on my screen.

Conductor 2: ‘Ahh tumuleke nanti ali ku Facebook.’ (Ah let’s leave her she is on Facebook)
I could not help but smile as I keyed away on my phone waiting patiently for my ride to arrive while the rest of the passengers began to peep through their windows to catch sight of me as the taxi sped off.

So as you go about your business remember to take each person as they present themselves and don’t throw around blanket judgments, you really never know who may actually surprise you.  

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