I’m writing this while watching an episode of QI (Quite Interesting) hosted by British Actor, Author, Screenwriter, Comedian, Playwright, Journalist, Poet, Comedian, Television Presenter, Film Director, Board Member of Norwich City Football Club, and celebrity-most-recently-photographed-next-to-Simon Kaheru, the one and only: Stephen Fry.
First of all, I must stress that I am the type of Ugandan that will not run around trying to get photographed next to celebrities. I have only done it with, besides Fry: Bono, Chris Tucker, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and his wife, MANY Ugandan celebrities such as Isaiah Katumwa, Maurice Kirya, Juliana, Iryn, and others.
So when Stephen Fry tweeted that he was coming to Kampala, I pretended a little that I didn’t care too much and even warned him in passing that he should avoid the sins of Jeremy Clarkson.
I therefore went about my day quietly hoping that Fry wouldn’t be chaperoned round Kampala by some idiot focussing on brothels, slums, and funny places run by the worst possible Ugandans available. I actually hoped at one point that he would get to eat at The Bistro at Kisementi or Java’s Cafe in Kamwokya, and when Cedric Babu called me up to ask if I knew the man’s programme, I denied but we discussed our shared hopes.
Still, I didn’t make it my business to do anything about it right up to the second he tweeted a photograph of Fat Boyz.
The guys behind Fat Boyz should pause and think a little bit about what this opportunity really means: Fry has 5,481,924 followers. That means that there is a likelihood that that many people now know about Fat Boyz and that Stephen Fry said, “Mmm…inviting” about it. The value of that advertising?
THIS IS HOW TO PROMOTE TOURISM or MARKET A PLACE!
Anyway, I happened to be rushing back to the office out of the debilitating sunshine, having missed lunch due to the speed of shopping attendance at some Kampala shops, and had just turned down a mental suggestion to pop over to the Java’s to pick up a quick bite when this photo appeared on my timeline.
The effort required to catch up with him was the following to my driver: “Turn to Kisementi instead.”
Just as we turned into Kisementi, even sitting there in the Toyota Progres (not mine, the wife’s) I looked up towards the Kisementi buildings and saw the fellow towering over the cars in the distance making his way as-if to The Bistro.
My heart leapt – not at the thought of meeting him, but in the hope that he would have only good things to say about Kampala and Uganda if he was going to lunch at The Bistro rather than (too many places to name).
But then, right there where the policemen normally open your car door and engulf you with the air of their malodorous armpits, was a Rwenzori Water truck parked across the road. Long story short, the truck appears to have knocked the boom gate at Kisementi and its driver and turn-boy were now fixing it up using their tools. In order to do the job uninterrupted by people driving past, they had parked their truck across the entrance/exit and therefore blocked all traffic.
Apart from Stephen Fry, the rest of you probably have a good idea how bad the parking and driving situation at Kisementi is, exacerbated by the construction of the Acacia Mall.
Now, here were two buffoons voluntarily adding to the chaos, having stupidly driven their truck into the gate. The two polite policemen who explained to me what was going on, of course, were not to blame for having NOT opened the boom gate in time for the truck to go by, and pretended that their ‘block-the-gate-with-truck’ solution made full sense.
As I was engaging in this inane discussion (straight out of a comedy plot, I tell you, but this was real life!) I noticed that Fry hadn’t gone into the Bistro and seemed to be approaching a car.
I abandoned mine with the driver and moved in for the kill, not sure exactly what I was going to tell him but planning to speak up for Uganda and against any Jeremy-Clarksonism, while campaigning for anything positive from him.
Unshaven and in shorts, he was clearly on holiday, and his genial smile told of a very good lunch behind him.
“Of course,” he gently acquiesced to my request, but with his car door open and clearly in a hurry to get on with the holiday. Luckily, Kampala being as small as it is, the brother-in-law of one of my brothers happened to be walking by and obliged us by taking a few shots.
Very kindly, he positioned himself to provide me with some shade from the scorching sunshine, and stayed still long enough to take some inane banter that will NEVER qualify me for a panel shot on QI, and shortly thereafter said his goodbyes and entered his own Toyota Progres.
Into which he easily fitted and sped off…to join the traffic jam caused by the Rwenzori Water truck, the two idiots driving it, and the lazy policemen stationed there.
Enjoy Uganda, Stephen Fry! And don’t say anything bad or we’ll be on your case like you’re a Jeremy Clarkson. Go see the wildlife, eat the local food, and if you meet any daft Ugandans doing stupid things, join us in laughter but believe me, they don’t represent ALL OF US unless you happen to be in Parliament.