Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: Remembering Our History Of Wrath And Revenge


We’re supposed to learn the lessons of history. But which lessons?  The first history lessons I learned in my primary three were nothing but macabre tales of child abuse, wrath, revenge and infanticide.  As an adult I feel that the whole Kairu, Kahima and Kakama saga of carrying milk pots throughout the night was just pure child abuse. I mean how you can determine a person’s worth based on their capacity to carry milk in their sleep?  Fools them for not just drinking the milk up and going to sleep!  And then Walumbe and Kaikuzi, Nambi issue just filled me with terror. But nothing caused me sleepless nights like the Gipir and Labong saga which culminated into the disemboweling of a toddler to extract a bead. Now let me ask, who would give a precious bead to a toddler to play with unless they were psychos looking for an excuse to commit infanticide?  As a matter of fact I have a sneaking feeling that the bead was just planted on the slaughtering surface to justify the cause.

Anyhow, all these memories are stirred up by a conversation I overheard in a taxi today between two Bakiga women. Fortunately for me I can understand each word not that they were trying to be discreet at all. So the conversation could as well have been a discussion for the whole taxi except of course as per Ugandan style, we just keep quiet and pretend to be minding our businesses. So it transpires that a Gipir-Labong row is brewing up somewhere in western Uganda. Apparently these western Gipir and Labong are cousins and are both very involved with the church; one is the organist while the other is the chief warden.  Everything was going on smoothly until in2008 when Labong an Irish potato trader bought a Sahara double cabin, emblazoned the word Ebenezer on it and promptly drove it to church to have it blessed.  So after the service the archdeacon asked the congregation to move out and lay hands on the car and bless it. The congregation obliged including Gipir the organ player.

Last year, another Ebenezer moment arose when Gipir bought a Toyota Harrier and also brought it to church for blessings. As usual, the congregation was asked to move out and participate in the laying of hands on the car. Apparently everyone obliged except Labong who remained behind tinkering with the organ which he had no business doing. This fact was not lost on some of Gipir’s friends and family but when they confronted Labong, he just brushed it off as a none- issue.  Others thought it was a very big deal indeed and sides had to be chosen thereby ripping apart the once close knit congregation. I am not an expert on canonic law and I wonder what  Archbishop Ntagali will say when this issue is brought to his attention.  But honestly I think Ebenezer or not, we should draw a line on what should be done at church and what belongs in our homes. I hope that no child ends up as collateral damage in this battle of vehicles.