In the 70s , at the peak of General, Field Marshal Idi Amini Dada, VC DSO MC, CBE’s regime, public transport had been rendered non existent, commuters used to walk as long as twenty kilometres to and from work places.
There was this lady who had a very sick child and she was forced to trek a distance of over twenty kilometres from in Kikagati to Mbarara in a bid to seek medical treatment for a seemingly dying baby.
As the ways of our creator are very strange, he (God) decided to take the child (after the poor lady had laboured so hard to get to the hospital). There was a dilemma, no vehicle owner or driver would willingly transport a dead body for normal fare.
Worse still, no sane passenger would board a vehicle carrying human remains. They normally say that, a dead body is heavier than a living person (owner of the same body); the lady decided to board a taxi back to her village.
In those days, the “Twegerane” minibuses had not yet been invented, most probably, their inventor was still wearing nappies. There used to be the Peugeot 404 Estates which used to carry from nine passengers onwards.
The dilemma was how she would transport a dead body inside a passenger vehicle! A brilliant nurse at the hospital advised her to buy a suitcase (not the wooden coffin), but the travelling type, she carefully wrapped the body in clothes and locked it in the suitcase. She proceeded to the Mbarara main Taxi Park to wait for a Taxi to her home area.
Heartbroken as she was, she could not keep carrying the case and so, she rested it on the ground and sat next to it. In those days, Mbarara was well known for its thieves or are they pick- pockets?
She must have been lost in deep thought, and when she returned from ‘thoughts land’, her suitcase was gone. Imagine someone stealing a dead body, where was he taking it to? Of course the thief didn’t know.
This also reminds me of an elderly man hailing from the South Western part of the Republic of Uganda, who went by names of Pawulo Ngorogoza in the 1970s. This gentleman had a Volkswagen (beetle) car.
One day, as he was driving along the Kabale – Mbarara highway, misfortune befell him in that, he ‘caused’ an accident.
The onlookers who rushed to the scene to assist him instead assisted themselves first; by going straight for his pockets in spite of his cries for help (don’t they say that charity begins at home?).
As if that is not funny enough, in the week that began this month (September), a good friend of mine lost his beloved mother, may the good Almighty God grant her eternal peace; and may he (God) comfort all the bereaved family and give them strength to carry on.
However, there is an episode that prompted me to put pen to paper. One of the sympathisers who volunteered to cook food for the vigilants ended up embarrassing everyone when she was found with pieces of raw meat in her gomesi (traditional Buganda wear).
The search in her clothes followed the incident of one of the pieces that had fallen as she was leaving for her home claiming that her children were in need of her.
There were also a number of people moving around with baskets for collecting “mabugo” (funeral contributions), some of them were impostors, prompting the organising committee to announce that, no body was supposed to pay such contributions to any other person except the lady seated at position X and dressed in such and such a manner.
By this time, some guys had already made off with enough money to see them through a few days. As the funeral proceeded, the thieves were mixing with the genuine mourners in such a manner that, it was very difficult to differentiate between the fake and genuine mourners.
I tell you, by the time the burial was over, people had lost several valuables and cash amounting to millions of shillings, thousands of US dollars, hundreds of thousands of Rwandese francs, several mobile phones etc. True, as others were deeply in sorrow, others were busy reaping benefits out of the same sad event.