the makings of the idea of making an umbrella

FOR most of you guys who’ll read this, the worst direct effect of the heavy rains is the floods, traffic jams, and delayed or cancelled meetings.

It’s highly irritating and annoying stuff, no doubt, but compare those to my problem as communicated by the guy at my ‘farm’ yesterday.

Two weeks ago a hailstorm hit parts of Kampala and Wakiso districts. It was a heavy storm and in Kampala where I was I gathered the children and frolicked a little bit with packs of ice gathered up from the grass at Lugala, in Rubaga division.

It was fun.

And then the guy at the farm called to say that the hailstones in Wakiso had fallen so heavy that even the ground was not ready for it. First of all, the hail stones fell fast and heavy, chopping up leaves and some matooke suckers into a threshed mess.

Then, he continued, the ice sat there for two days, during which time it froze some of the young seedlings we had just planted, and melted to wash away a couple of others.

I am not entirely foolish, so I did hold some reservations about his report and in coming weeks will be checking the neighbourhood for evidence of freshly-planted mango tree seedlings in a number commensurate with the ones the hailstorm destroyed.

Is hail a result of El Nino?

Apparently, yes (see, for instance) – you can google other articles on your own, but basically El Nino results in extreme weather patterns including heavy rains and hailstorms.

Now, I’m happy that some government departments responsible issued notifications and advisories around El Nino, but I was dismayed that there are still things that will surprise us about this weather.

My guys at the farm, meanwhile, have no idea of El Nino and that’s my fault. I will be appraising them this coming Saturday and hope they take it seriously.

I, myself, should take El Nino more seriously: I should read the weather forecasts with a more scientific mind and stock up on umbrellas and warm clothing.

This weather has put me between a flooded pothole and a thick downpour in many respects.

For instance, right now I don’t have a car so I must walk around a lot more – which is hard to do with confidence when it rains so heavily. Yet again, if I were hostage to driving around I would be caught in life-sapping traffic jams that my patience is not configured to withstand.

I have a pair of gumboots in the boot of the car, for instance, but I can’t use them when I am operating on foot – yet I would need to wear the gum boots when walking through certain parts of town… #kwegamba.

Then I keep losing umbrellas – because every time I stop somewhere I furl them up, prop them in the corner and the rest is a blur that leads me to three days later buying a new umbrella.

So why am I not making umbrellas, you ask, and selling them to all these people out there who are like me and keep buying them? What materials do I need? What type of engineering or design graduate or student should I hire?

According to the internet, umbrellas have existed for 4,000 years. I am not clear on whether anyone in Uganda is making any but I have checked in many supermarkets this week and found ZERO made in Uganda.

My imagination tells me that there are many buveera somewhere in Uganda wondering what to do with themselves after the kaveera ban, and there are many jobless youth out there who know (or can be taught) how to manipulate a sewing machine, and there is a lot of cloth all over the city, and there are many kids who know how to make wire cars.

Put all those factors together on one side, then put all of us umbrella-buying-and-losing-frequently people on the other side, add heavy rain into the mix, and the solution should be clear.

Am I the entrepreneur who is going to make this happen? Are you that entrepreneur? Or shall we continue to drown under showers whose very existence is foretold on every platform available to us?

By coincidence, as I typed this out I noticed right next to me a good example of this being a possibility – a bag lined with kaveera and Made in Uganda:

Photograph by Simon Kaheru; product available at Endiro Coffee in Kisementi

6 thoughts on “the makings of the idea of making an umbrella

  1. Did you know that when you walk downtown and then it begins to pour, guys who sell umbrellas just materialise. Like out of thin air!!!

    PS: I am currently fascinated by your titles. They are all lowercase, curious to know why?


    1. The lower case thing is a secret, so don’t tell people: It’s simply because everyone knows I am a grammar nazi, so they approach my stuff with care. If I kick off with lower case headlines, it helps them relax – it’s my writing equivalent of not tucking in my shirt all the time (no wise cracks about the bulge, please?)

      Liked by 1 person

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