Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: Kanyankole The Obnoxious Irritant

Studio portrait of middle overweight aged African American man on white background looking happy and full with hands on stomach

In Uganda each tribe has been labeled with very unflattering stereotypes. Take our friends the Banyankole for example. They have been branded arrogant, opinionated and obnoxious. Personally I am not one who buys into these generalizations but a ride with one man almost converted me into a believer of those stereotypes. When you enter a taxi, you do not see that there is that one person who will make your ears beg for mercy as no interviews are held as you board. It usually takes about ten minutes before you realize that you are all in for it.

On this day as we board, I take note of a munyankole man (whom I christen Kanyankole aka Kanya) for I know one when I see one. He is middle aged probably 45ish, he is wearing khaki trousers and one of those polyester Chinese checkered shirts well tucked in. He is also wearing open toed, mid-heeled shoes favored by Muslim men eager to comply with the requirements of the religious rituals.

Kanya  no relative of Kanye West but who is equally obnoxious,  has a bit of weight issue coming but obviously does not know it now and he probably still thinks that his waist’s expansion should expand in proportion to his bank balance. This makes his crouch area rather bulge oddly so when I first take note I imagine he is keeping his phone there, until I realize that he is holding it. Ok, he may be a bit of a legend there so I quickly look away.

As we wait at clock tower for the lights to turn Kanya already has the driver and other passengers enthralled. And the radio isn’t helping matters. He comments and dissects every news item and gives his own opinion on what has been read and when the news is done the DJ rewards us with PSY’s Gangnum style. This shuts him up because he probably does not know what the words to the song mean. I am hoping the DJ takes pity on us and plays only meaningless foreign songs to keep our guy quite but this is not to be.

Just as we enter Namasuba he plays Ronald Mayinja’s “Africa”. I can feel everyone mentally rolling their eyes like teenage girls as Kanya relaunches himself all guns blazing.  Our man assaults our sensibilities with his haphazard political policies on what NRM is doing wrong and how it started and where it’s going. For as you have already guessed our man has an opinion about everything ranging from black holes to the price of onions in Fort portal.

We soon learn all about him. Apparently our guy is a businessman dealing in produce in Owino. He has made a bit of money; he has several acres of land accompanied by several heads of cattle. He is on his way to check on his sick son at Mulindwa’s St Mary’s Kitende.

Soon we are introduced to his marital status and find out that he believes that more the merrier. He advises fellow men in the taxi that the only woman a man should have in singular should only be a mother.  As he disembarks we all breathe a sigh of relief.

Sometimes a taxi ride is what is standing between you and your sanity and when this is ruined by the likes of Kanya you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Hey, I am a Ugandan woman who spends a minimum of four hours daily travelling in taxis. Like you, I used to dread the taxi rides until I realized that it is a source of a variety of free entertainment and an interesting study of human nature.