KAMPALA - UGANDA
The whole country is awash with excitement.In a few weeks we shall make history.Uganda has been preparing for years.This is big.It is huge. New roads have been built.Old ones have been patched up.Schools have closed early.TV sales have shot up. You cant miss this!
Despite the heightened breath-holding,the lay people[read poor and /idle] have been denied use of the city in the days close to the big days.Boda bodas shall transact all their business in the suburbs.Flights have been controlled at Entebbe airport.Even the ladies of the night have been forced off Speke Road. For once,in many years Kampala City is actually clean.The town has flowers along the streets.You can even count the pot-holes,a task impossible before,and God-is-great no boda- bodas on Kampala streets.
This town seems strange! All the things which make Kampala..well Kampala,the traffic jam,human jam downtown,the cops controlling traffic lights are gone.For once traffic lights work on their own without any help from cops. In fact,instead of Policemen,the streets are lined by heavily armed soldiers. A revolutionary idea had occurred to some one in a high office and traffic police uniform had also changed,from the usual drab dirty -brown to snow white outfits complete with white gloves.Just face masks to complete the image-they could pass for surgeons.
Seven months earlier,this young man had made a visit to the Registrar General's office. The incident was forgotten soon after.
Now he has been asked where exactly he lives-(just to confirm,don't worry) ...and did you say you had an office? Can we check it out too?
Auditors must undergo paramilitary training in those schools of theirs.These guys do put up a scare! If they didn't dress smarter and more expensively than our average soldier,one would think they switch roles sometimes.
My two-roomed home is ransacked for information I didn't quite remember I had. Soon after,my 'guests' leave.Satisfied that the information they have collected will do.They can form an opinion with that.
I run for my Rotaract fellowship to cool off.
Kyamu made the announcement. I still remember his name.Kyamu. He made the announcement what changed my life.There,in a hotel conference room,with most media houses in presence.For the next month or so,the news was all the rage.In my opinion. People tend to pick up even the smallest scraps of information when someone they know is involved.
Just in case you are wondering where this is going.....
Barclays Bank,East African Breweries and Celtel(now Airtel) sponsored a business plan competion for small businesses,like mine in partnership with Enterprise Uganda and Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) in the run up to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala.
As ususlly is the case,people talk and we got talking with friends when the promotion opened. Most believed it was a sham or at worst a plan by business delegates to poach ideas and business plans from unsuspecting young business people. Just for the heck of it,I gave it a shot. It was to turn around my life for ever.
Not many business people give back to fellow businesses.It does not make sense.But when it happens the recipient gets much more than the award. It made me realize that there are people out there who notice whatever we do and sometimes even cheer us on.
Since the award for Best Business Person in Rubaga Division came with a plaque and a few thousand dollars,I was ready fro CHOGM, just like the message screaming from billboards allover town when the Queen visited.