This being the end of the Holy Week, and the end of a period in which we have been engaging in prayerful fasting and thoughts of Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice for humankind, perhaps it is a good time to introduce the idea of a small sacrifice some of us can make for fellow man without shedding even a drop of blood.
From driving around in Kampala on rainy mornings, I am sure we need to have a national discussion about the people who walk in the rain.
This discussion should be amongst us – the car drivers and owners, including operators of taxis and minibuses, and even boda-bodas – rather than amongst them, those cold, wet, sad-looking pedestrians out there.
Just to be clear, this discussion should not be about them. The discussion should not, for instance, pay any attention to that annoying propensity they have of walking so close to puddles by the roadside that we can’t escape splashing water all over them as we drive past. We
should acknowledge, though, that the experience is very discomfiting since we drive off feeling quite unhappy about having made them suffer so badly. They need to stop doing this to us.
Neither should it focus on their habit of speedily attempting to cross roads almost always at the same time we are driving through. Yet that is another characteristic that inconveniences us heavily with the anxiety that comes with the thought of knocking them dead.
This discussion should be about us and how we deal with the people who walk in the rain.
They could do with our sympathetic consideration – not enough of it, of course, that we would stop and let them into our vehicles, because that would be plain silly.
Anti, you see, by the time we get onto the road and begin encountering them, they are so dripping wet that within minutes of entering our cars they will have drenched the seats and carpets of the vehicles; and we all know that irritation aside, it is downright impossible to rid the car of that smell of wet carpet, especially during the rainy season.
Many times, these people who walk in the rain don’t even bother to avoid muddy patches or even more questionable dirty stuff, so letting them into our vehicles brings more than just smelly wetness!
And here is where we find the crux of this discussion of national importance; since we can’t let them into our cars in spite of the amount of space we have on the seats beside and behind us as we drop off our own children and proceed to work, let’s make a few sacrifices:
First of all, every time we come across a person walking in the rain and waiting to cross the road, WE should be the ones to stop our vehicles and let THEM go across the road first. Whizzing past them is almost always useless if these are the people with the keys to the offices, or the cleaners or tea persons, because we will get to the office but then have to wait for them to arrive before the day can properly begin.
Then, where the person walking in the rain is a school child, absolutely STOP and let them go first in ALL instances. They have school to attend and life is already wretched enough that they have to walk through the rain in soggy shoes, while we are encased in vehicles that even have carpeting!
Rather than hooting them off the road or brushing dangerously close to them while muttering impatient obscenities under our breaths, perhaps we could even offer them a lift every so often?
How about slowing down every time we get to those puddles that are inevitable given the state of terrain we operate in? Most of us, in any case, are not speeding to a job where our time of arrival is crucial to world peace and development, so slowing down a little bit so that pedestrian humankind can also get to work clean and decent is a small sacrifice.
Small sacrifices for small people.