It was probably my fifth time to fly, unlike some of my friends whose names I won’t dare to reveal. Not at any cost as I do not want to be accused of patronizing. Anyway, it was last Friday.
On a fine evening, my line editor asked me whether I was ready to travel to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda to cover the sixth edition of the Pearl of Africa Music Awards (PAM awards). The answer was an obvious ‘BIG YES!’ I immediately accepted.
One could be wondering already what the excitement I am talking about anyway. It is an enjoyable flight!
As an advocate of the old saying: “chance comes once!” I definitely had to grab it before it passed to someone else.
Check in time at Kanombe international was 5:50 am, and I made it a point to be there on time. We were kept in the transit for an hour and we later boarded the flight (Rwandair).
There were no hassles throughout my journey. Smiling airhostesses served us to our favourite refreshments. We landed at Entebbe international airport after 45 minutes.
Wow, I couldn’t believe that I was in Uganda again after some time. Everything looks new and exciting. I was welcomed into an amazing, but busier country. All my time was spent in the capital Kampala, where I lived for two days.
At the hotel, I was welcomed in a very cozy and comfortable manner by a hotel manager. The people were extremely friendly. I was impressed by the city’s nightlife.
Traffic jam is part of any trip to and out of the city, and people are rushing to different places. The order of the day is, ‘work hard and earn a better living, or die poor’.
In many ways, the Uganda I visited is not the Uganda I left almost thirteen years ago. Impressively this neighbouring country develops every single month.
As I manoeuvred through the congested city, I managed to pass by Pioneer Mall, one of the busiest malls in Kampala. It has vendors selling local fruits and vegetables and mainly an interesting assortment of dry goods outside.
The interior of the mall is packed to capacity with people of different age, sex, race and status, trying to shop. I stood aside, trying to figure out the safer path to use but was interrupted by an idler who yelled out as he pulled my arm: “My size, come over here. I’ve the best clothes for you!”
Disaster! I quickly concluded, “It would be better if I left this place before I get robbed”…I whispered to myself.
Most women and men that crossed my path were balancing all sorts of items on their heads for sell. Such items included enormous bags of potatoes, basins full of pineapples, live turkeys, mattresses, and etcetera.
There were all sorts of people, women with babies strapped to their backs, little feet poking out on either side of the mother. When evening came, I took time to watch students, and working class people rush by the roadside to return to their homes from there undertakings.
At major taxi and bus stops, people were scrambling to squeeze into the few available taxis such that they can be taken to various parts of the city. It was a “survival for the fittest” kind of situation typical of many African cities.
Sooner than later, it clocked to 4 pm Ugandan time. The time was finally here and I had to quickly dash to the hotel and get ready for the long awaited Pam Awards.
The gala attracted tens of artistes from the region, and was attended by thousands people, including the country’s high profile figures.
I still cannot believe that in just a single day, I was able to connect with different people, a temporary lifestyle. Frankly, the short journey I had while on The New Times assignment in Kampala, gave me a fantastic experience.