IS IT possible that there is a massive conspiracy out there between the telecommunication and fuel companies that has dazed us and stopped us from thinking clearly about certain things?
Surely there must be a link between the fumes from the fuel that powers our vehicles, the electromagnetic waves that run our cellular networks, and our stunned approach to certain matters?
The suspicion has been marinating in my mind for a long time till Tuesday morning when I found myself blowing through thirty minutes of precious time within a small urban village in Ntinda.
I wasn’t being foolish – I was following directions drawn onto a map that was downloaded from Google and that named the roads quite clearly. The map was clear and uncluttered, and the words written thereon equally so. The attachment was not handwritten – it had been generated by a computer and, most certainly, input by a human being.
It even had a red toggle symbol indicating where we were supposed to end up – two of us in two different vehicles – and we circled around a two kilometre radius without arriving at our destination.
Along the way we were even accosted by a well-dressed, light-skinned woman who asked us for a pint of milk. It was inconceivable that she had a car robbery scam going on, and she appeared so well-spoken that we both parked our cars and paid her some attention.
Because of our need for information, we stopped and listened to her story that involved her own car (mbu) having been stolen the evening before. She did not know the directions to the location we were trying to find, but we each gave her money for a litre of milk as she talked around in circles worse than the way we had been driving.
After hearing her story and finding that it meandered far more treacherously than the Ntinda roads we had gotten lost in, we interjected with specific queries about the location we were trying to get to.
She had no idea where it was.
That was when we realised there was no logic linking her allegedly stolen car to her need for so much milk in the morning, and her composure gave way to a harsh reality that had nothing to do with sobriety.
By the time we actually found our desired location my suspicion over the conspiracy between telecommunication and fuel firms was concrete.
They have connived in certain ways that we must find a way of revealing to the world so that we join efforts to end it.
This conspiracy is the only way one can explain the absence of road signs in neighbourhoods such as Ntinda.
Now, pause for a minute and consider that a few weeks ago I got into a small fracas with some friends after someone alleged that in Kampala we can only give directions by way of the positioning of our fenne trees.
During the argument I protested heartily and hotly, because I long ago rejected the notion that we were too mentally deficient to put up our own road signs. In any case, I had moved into a neighbourhood where the residents were so aware of their personal responsibilities that some had gone ahead and laid tarmac on their roads, let alone erect road signs, without waiting for the government to do so.
When I got tired of telling visitors to count how many gates stood before mine in order to find my place, I checked with a metal worker nearby and found that a sign post at my little house would cost me only Ushs25,000.
I promptly made four – one for me and three for my neighbours. (Only one has so far erected his, besides my own for which I mixed concrete and dug the hole with my bare hands and those of a few of the children visiting that weekend).
All these thoughts raised my temperature, in Ntinda that morning, as I could not understand for the life of me why roads were so clearly named up in the world of Google Maps but not labelled on the ground at a cost of Ushs25,000 per label!
The answer must lie in the existence of a very large profit motive on the part of people or companies that benefit from this.
And my two biggest suspects, I insist, are the telecommunication and fuel companies – obviously because of the amount of time we spend on the phone giving and taking directions, and the amount of fuel we burn driving up and down looking for indeterminate landmarks.
We, ourselves, have been so dazed by the acquisition of mobile phones and motor vehicles that we cannot remember how we used to get from place to place without the help of either.
We are now thinking so unclearly that the cycle will not be broken, and we remain directionless not just by way of the lack of signposts, but mentally as well.