Kampala…the Ultimate Experience.
In years gone by, Kampala- the capital city of Uganda was defined as the city of seven hills. I cannot claim to know which these famous hills are, but one thing am sure of today is that Kampala is dotted with far more than seven hills. The development of the real estate sector and budding middle class has transformed the geography of this city. Many posh residential neighborhoods and estates are now perched on virtually every hill or raised stretch of land in Kampala. However, whereas Kampala was then defined by the seven famous hills, today as a city on the global scene and growing cosmopolitan culture, Kampala is truly defined by far different aspects than hills. In this I attempt to come up with the ten (10) things that define this dusty and filthy city of ours. They are highly opinionated and egocentric with an attempt to claim authority on the matter.
Well, Kampala city wouldn’t be complete without Kampala road. It runs through the heart of the city and the central business district. It is approximately a stretch of 2km or less, but this has equally been a subject of debate. Where does Kampala road begin and/or end? However, my conviction is that it stretches from Fido dido up to the DFCU Bank branch just opposite Railways. (I may be wrong with my conviction)Kampala road plays host to almost all other things that define this city- businesses, Office blocks, shopping malls, cosy coffee cafes, red-light districts, book stores, banks, etc. Like many other roads in this country, it has its fair share of potholes and these have given all radio presenters a lease of life, I mean if you have nothing to say on radio, then just talk about potholes on Kampala road, you are sure you will get phone-ins and thus a lively morning show. It is on Kampala road that you will see the latest fashions, style and wear, either on a mannequin in a fancy cloths boutique or a 22yr old girl attempting to champion MTV lifestyle. I mean, you meet someone and they look like they have just popped out of a Rihanna music video. Can’t we be more original? You will also run into guys who have since returned from the diaspora and are now living it large. (We like to call them nkuba kyeyos).They are the real deal- the real deal. They drive the latest American cars (mbu they ship them along as they come for holidays), party Monday to Sunday, have huge real estate investments in Kampala’s suburbs and speak like our brothers from the Caribbean. So that is Kampala road for you-complete with potholes, MTV wannabes, Nkuba kyeyos, banks etc.
Nandos and Mateos.
I will admit, since time immemorial, I have had trouble pronouncing these two correctly or incorrectly. Sometimes I will pronounce them with a z, like Nandoz, Mateoz and so do so many other people I know. However, more importantly at least I know what goes in there. For a brief history, Nandos is arguably the first fast food/ take away restaurant in Kampala and it played host to the biggest detoothing dates in this city. (De-toothing in Kampala speak means gold digging schemes- beautiful young lady vs. rich old man) Stories are told of how Makerere University babes wouldn’t give you a second look unless you suggested chips and chicken for dinner, and no one did Chips & Chicken except Nandos.(that was before some crafty guys in Katwe-downtown Kampala came up a machine that does chips/French fries, and everyone was in the chips and chicken business).Nandos revolutionalised the dating culture in this city.They held the key to many relations. Now they do more than just chips and chicken. They do burgers, cakes, African coffee, Cappuccinos, Espressos, African tea, juice and many other things that in can’t pronounce or imagine how they taste. Upstairs (but there are no stairs), may be just up slope, sits their cousin in business, Mateos(z) - a cosy up-market bar/restaurant with fine décor, fancy furniture, plasma TVs, exotic cocktails and great music. People who are well travelled say, it is like a slice cut from a street in west London. That goes a long way in defining its rating. These two places are the true symbols of Kampala’s mushrooming cosmopolitan culture. Here you will meet tourists and expatriates with their African lovers trying to get a feel of back home, Kampala’s yuppies winding down after a hard day’s work, new lovers in a corner whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears and of course, a Nkuba kyeyo fresh from the states or UK, Japan, Indi- looking every inch like Akon-complete with bling bling, baggy jeans, heavy scented perfume and a swanky Nokia phone. You may also meet a journalist from one of the international media houses, trying to edit his story on conservation of environment in Uganda over coffee or a beer.
Sex and the city
Do not be tempted to think about the famous New York sitcom about three or four elite ladies that were so liberal with their sex lives. Kampala just loves sex. From the dungy hang outs in the city suburbs where nude dances are hidden under karaoke shows, to Speke road-Kampala’s undisputed red light district, sex trade is on a slow but steady rise. No wonder, a few years ago, we had a honorable legislator in our parliament suggesting legalizing this age-old trade. Thank heavens sanity prevailed but it is an issue still murmured in the corridors of power. I can’t claim I know the reason for this steady rise in casual sex, sex orgies and reckless sex. But I can offer my suspicion-The budding middle class. In my years at university, i used to see all kinds of posh cars parked at girls’ hostels and halls of residence from Thursday all through the weekend up to Sunday evening. Am told the state of affairs has not changed at all. Universities, colleges and institutions of higher learning are endlessly flocked by young and hot blooded men, and rusty old men looking for young ladies to satisfy their sexual appetites. It is a story of willing and consenting arrangements. The girls need the goodies and money offered by the working class boyfriends and sugar daddies- to keep up appearances and the guys just want a little fun. So you have all these relations that are purely based on a strong materialistic and financial policy- sex for money. However, few of these end up in long term relationships and marriage. My former workmate in Gulu once told us a story about a security guard to his hostel who regularly bought a certain prostitute from the nearby bar. After three such dealings in one month, the lady rejected the guy’s payment. “Why don’t you use the money to buy household items and I start cooking/washing for you?” She asked the security guard. “You think i enjoy this work?” She questioned. The rest is history. They are now married with three children to show for it. Not all bad enterprises are entirely bad.
To be continued…