Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: Lessons From Dumb Beauty And Broken Promises


Does anyone else find David Lutalo’s  “mubbi bubbi” tedious or it’s just me?  I mean what do you expect when you marry a girl you find wandering by the roadside with all her worldly goods  in a kaveera?  This woman could have been anything including an ex axe murderer. In fact, he was lucky that the only thing she took was his property.

So Mr Lutalo please take this like a man and compose a song like Whitney Houston’s mega hit  “I will always love you” which  at least spares us the details of that first encounter which eliminates any sympathy the listener might have otherwise felt for the poor lovesick singer.

As I try to make sense of why people hanker after lost love, my thoughts are rudely interrupted by the girl seated directly in front of me. She has just received a call from a one Harriet whose name she says after every two words in that way really livid people do. I soon gather that Harriet and front passenger were once friends but have now fallen out, what hurts is that now Harriet goes around not only bad mouthing front passenger but also spilling all her secrets. Sensing a good story, my ears cock up.  Front passenger tells Harriet that she cannot give back the things which she lent her because they either broke i.e the basin, lost the kitchen knife or the old mop. Lesson number one: anything you get from a friend which is not classified as a gift should be wrapped in cellophane or cling film and deposited in the nearest vault in case the owner wants it back.

Front passenger tells Harriet that she is saddened that she is even talking about the visit to “mutura ku ngo” i.e witchdoctor because she thought she understood the circumstances surrounding that decision.

Lesson number two: things that would alter your public image if they were ever known need to be done alone.

Front passenger is also disappointed that Harriet who encouraged her to terminate a pregnancy is now giving it as an example of her loose behavior.

Lesson number three: never let people make the big life decisions for you to avoid unnecessary regrets.

Front passenger tells Harriet to stick to the facts concerning Mama Brian and what happened at a “lumbe” in Seguku.  The way she was squirming you could tell that the Mama Brian in question was capable of ending front passenger’s life in one way or other.

Lesson number four: never say things you are uncomfortable with about people who can ruin your life.  As American poet Khalil Gibran once said if you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

As we disembark at Total Shoprite I crane my neck out to take a good look at front passenger properly. I am shocked to a tall, beautiful girl with a perfect skin. I am shocked that someone so beautiful can be so dumb as to air her dirty laundry in a taxi at 8:00 am on a Monday morning. Oh Uganda.

Lesson five: Every girl needs to know that it’s okay to invest in your outer beauty but your brain needs work too.

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.