let’s #BeatPlasticPollution – and justify our so-called wealth and education


AHEAD of the World Environment Day celebrations this Tuesday I found myself in Masaka last weekend along the route of the Uganda Marathon playing the part of sponsor representative while working up sweat.

The Uganda Marathon is so-called because it doesn’t attract the very same crowd as the MTN Kampala Marathon.

Try not to get dizzy as you read this, because we will be on Mars at some point. In fact, have a bottle of water handy.

The organisers – the Masaka Marathon – are the same people who signed up a partnership with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa to collect plastic waste from around Masaka to deliver it to the Plastic Recycling Industries plant in Kampala.

They registered their organisation as the Masaka Marathon because of their interest in running and have a surprisingly vibrant running club in Masaka. Besides that, though, they worked out that running is so popular that there are millions of people out there willing to come to Uganda to run and do more besides.

Hence the Uganda Marathon, which only forms one part of a long tour to Uganda that includes seeing gorillas, chimpanzees and other animals, rafting on the River Nile, and doing some volunteer work for charitable organisations.

People like me who simply drove over from Kampala paid just a few thousand shillings – if any – to take part in the marathon run itself. After that we drove back to live our normal lives.

But some of the people who take part in this Uganda Marathon pay hefty sums of money to come in from far-off countries and take part in the event while enjoying the tourism and life experiences here.

Among the voluntary tasks they performed were the collection of plastic bottles from within Masaka. At one point along the route I saw a young person from Britain actually going along and collecting water bottles that runners had discarded.

The plan, in general, was for the Masaka Collection Centre to collect the used bottles we had contributed and deliver them to Plastic Recycling Industries. They certainly did so but it bugged me that to a casual onlooker it appeared as if Ugandans were dropping bottles for foreigners to come and pick up for us.

That led me to the theme of this year’s World Environment Day – “Beat Plastic Pollution”. It was chosen by this year’s host country, India, for good reason.

Plastic Pollution is a global problem that is only getting worse because of how much plastic we use in packaging all the stuff we keep buying (and, in our case, importing). For us in Uganda the focus is normally on the bottles we take our sodas, juices and water in, that end up in the drainage channels.

Companies like the one I work for tend to step up and take responsibility because they feel it is the right thing to do. But WE Ugandans need to discuss our personal bad habits, terrible behaviour and the dismal culture we have developed.

Why do some Ugandans think it is alright to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle over hundreds of kilometres, stocked with drinks and then occasionally press a button to lower the window so they can toss an empty bottle onto the ground?

A person who can afford to drive that car with the air conditioning on full-time and buy drinks for the journey should surely have the brain power to see that this is wrong?

Dropped Plastic.png

How come that in our Universities – institutions of higher “learning” – we don’t have waste separation with some bins taking organic waste, others for paper and others yet for plastic? In 2018 where there is a man actually putting cars and other machinery onto the Planet Mars, we have University students and professors who can’t keep two bins side-by-side and differentiate between two types of rubbish?

The questions can flow in hundreds without comfortable answers – but YOU should stop and think about your waste disposal situation, considering that YOU can read and comprehend the language this is written in.

Two months ago my eight-year old stopped all conversation at home to raise a major objection.

“Remember the project homework we did about the environment?” she asked, quite upset.

I did.

“Remember we said people should not cut trees…?”

I did.

“Today at school we found they had cut the trees near the gate!” she protested.

I was happy. Her education is working. I told her to raise it with the Headmaster, and she did. So her education is really working well. And her Headmaster explained why the trees had to be trimmed – not cut down. That pleased me even more, because it meant I didn’t have to suddenly change schools.

We should stop focussing these major days and awareness campaigns solely on adults – because we might be a lost cause if all the education and experience and wealth we’ve gathered has failed to make us do simple things like dispose of rubbish properly.

Instead, perhaps we should target the children and get them to develop the right habits to shape their behaviour and create a culture that will secure the future of this nation and the world. That will not be a waste.

ideas are harder to destroy than bricks, steel, concrete and mortar


Benedicto Kiwanuka - independent.co.ug
The late Benedicto Kagimu Kiwanuka (Photo from http://www.independent.co.ug)

Dear Uganda,

Please let’s drop this fixation on Real Estate as a sign of prosperity, presence and relevance?

Besides our awkward daily focus on buying land as an investment, and erecting properties as a way of storing our variously-acquired gains, this week we have read numerous stories about the residential home of the late esteemed Benedicto Kagimu Kiwanuka (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedicto_Kiwanuka), Uganda’s first Chief Minister, President of the Democratic Party, and first black/African/indigenous Chief Justice, being razed to the ground.

Most things about this story are as painful as they are wrong, but the ones that hit hardest are the ones that appear to define us as a nation.

I’m not going to mention his family members because there are numerous articles about that situation that need no repeating here, but that one must share with one’s own children in lieu of the traditional ‘I curse you’ statement. (http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/Ben-Kiwanuka-was-an-astute-politician/689844-1492508-bfx33jz/index.html & https://skaheru.com/2012/09/29/ambassador-peter-maurice-kagimu-kiwanuka-kiri-wa-nnaku/ and even http://williamkituuka.blogspot.com/2011/12/exclusive-interview-with-his-excellency.html).

The people speaking up in outrage are numerous – including both Government and Opposition officials. Reading their statements in media reports so far convinces one that they are clearly being misquoted.

Benedicto Kiwanuka’s house was razed to the ground and does not exist any more. It was razed to the ground and the photos being published are all of the cleared ground – no rubble.

Minister General Jeje Odongo is quoted, for instance, saying: ““Government got concerned about what is happening here. At first, we thought it was a private family issue until we learnt that the house had been demolished. This is a historic site; it is here that the people who fought for our independence lived. Ben Kiwanuka’s name is historic, his house is monumental, it belongs to Uganda, government cannot simply watch.”

This is exactly what the Government did. Or maybe not, since it happened without their knowledge and we can therefore argue that they did not actually “watch”.

The Kampala Metropolitan Police Officer, Luke Oweyesigire, “said they got to know about the matter when the area chairperson took the late Kiwanuka’s old cars to Wakaliga Police Station.”

Not BEFORE it happened.

And according to Daily Monitor: “(DP President Nobert) Mao said if it was like in other countries, the home would be made a historical site given his legacy.”

Which other countries?

In organised countries that one would presume he would be talking about, this conversation wouldn’t be happening 46 (forty six) years after the great man’s death!

It is disturbing that this issue had to first get to the media before both Government and Opposition leaders knew about it. Is our entire political class really so far removed from people on the ground that a house so seemingly significant can be demolished without ANYONE raising a red flag right here in Kampala City?

Officially, don’t we have laws and regulations governing the alteration or, worse, demolition of property? Surely a local government authority is supposed to issue a permit and assign a cross-functional group of people to ensure the work is done properly – security, architecture, safety and legality all being catered for?

I’ve seen that the Kampala Capital City Authority, in whose jurisdiction this former house once stood, has Demolition Permit Applications online (here), so why wasn’t the Police aware? What about the KCCA Councillors, some of whom one would expect to belong to DP and, therefore, to give a damn about this?

On behalf of the DP, Deputy Secretary General Gerald Blacks Siranda reportedly acknowledged that the Party only learnt of this through the media. Just like Gen. Odongo, this must be malicious reporting on the part of the journalists, because there is no way a politician can say such a thing about an occurrence in his stronghold constituency.

Siranda should clarify that he was misquoted rather than appear to have told the world that DP is so out of touch with voters that…

But it gets worse when he is quoted as saying,

“As an institution, we are devastated and believe that what happened is trying to wash away the memory and image of Ben Kiwanuka; you can take away his home and body but cannot take away his history and contribution to the country.”

UGANDA, PLEASE!

Please let’s stop equating ‘LEGACY’ to ‘WEALTH’ and ‘PROPERTY’?!

As Uganda’s first Chief Minister and first black/African/indigenous Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka’s legacy cannot be just that house!

It won’t even be the one that Nobert Mao announced in May last year was going to be built in Benedicto Kiwanuka’s honour – the construction of which was supposed to begin in July 2017 and that must have started but without too much fanfare amongst the general public…(I read that here: http://allafrica.com/stories/201705290434.html)

The legacy of an intellectual revolutionary like Benedicto Kiwanuka should be in our hearts and minds, as absorbed through consuming his writings and memoirs, and hearing renditions of his speeches and public statements made by erudite professors and scholars of law and politics.

Where are the books about him written by all the elderly politicians who were young men alongside him back in the days when he was leading Uganda to Independence and self-rule? Where are the memoirs of the people that took cover in the mental trenches and exchanged political fire with the mighty colonialists and triumphed?

At the very least, let’s have some compilations of the papers delivered at the annual Benedicto Kiwanuka lectures that were launched back in 2011 since when I, personally, can’t recall many more. Someone, not his unfortunate son, but someone should take all those compilations to the Uganda Museum so that they can be installed on the bookshelves of the Uganda Society, lazima!

We should stop thinking about putting up a monument on Ben Kiwanuka street – which is non-existant even if it sounds likely. Nobody should even suggest establishing a Benedicto Kiwanuka section at the Law Development Centre or the Uganda Law Society buildings.

Those who have studied law in Uganda might have heard a lot more about Benedicto Kiwanuka during the academic lectures there since he was so influential in Uganda. I suspect that if you stop any lawyer and ask them to tell you about Benedicto Kiwanuka they will effuse greatly about his ideals and knowledge.

Try it.

These lawyers might even have – each of them – a secret copy of an anthology containing all the tens of thousands of theses and dissertations that addressed Benedicto Kiwanuka’s work.

Ask them.

If none of this exists, and we are going to lament over a house that is razed to the ground without even thinking about what condition it was in the day before demolition began then, again, we are being unfortunately defined as a nation.

Seriously speaking: WE ALL need to write more books and organise our thoughts, ideas and value systems for posterity. Ideas are harder to destroy and last much longer than steel and concrete, brick and mortar.

non-Ugandans are out here loving uganda more than YOU


A while back I spotted a little boy vending colourful cloth rucksacks and shoulder bags in the environs of Kkungu, in Kira District and I bought one up with glee. I used it so hard that it got stolen at the Village Mall in Bugolobi but not before I had spread the word about his grandmother Rose Nakitto, who makes the bags (she was on 0777 460 854).

In the same breath I mentioned another discovery – a little shop called Ricci Everyday operating out of Prunes Cafe on Wampewo Avenue.

Ricci Everyday sells the same type of Kitenge or ‘African cloth’ bags of varying styles and quality levels, at vastly different prices. Nakitto’s were going for about Ushs35,000 a bag while Ricci Everyday sold theirs ranging from Ushs200,000 to more than Ushs1million!

Two weeks ago I chanced upon an article online about Ricci Everyday in Japan, and my heart applauded them. This outfit had taken Uganda to the first world whole sale and was bringing money here to pay the people, presumably women, who do the actual work stitching the bags!

And they’ve been doing so for YEARS! In 2016 they exhibited these Ugandan-made bags at a premier fashion show in London and have done so consistently ever since.

Three weeks ago the Ricci Everyday proprieter, Chizu Nakamoto, was featured in the Business section of The Japan Times in a story titled, “Startup’s colorful Ugandan bags take off in Japan, lifting the women who make them”. In Japan the popular Akello bag goes for about US$93 – and the entire range is doing extremely well.

I haven’t yet stopped Chizu or her mother, Ritsue, to thank them for the great work they are doing for this country. Even when I do, my word of appreciation won’t be as valuable as a medal from a national authority or some big incentive from the Uganda Export Promotion Board, Uganda Investment Authority or one of our Ministries of Trade, Investment and so on and so forth.

I was full of wist over this many days later when an email came to me promoting a Mother’s Day online purchase.

The day I signed up for updates from ‘Rose & Fitzgerald (Est. 2013)’ has long faded out of my memory, so when I saw their offer I had to stop and think.

“Win the Ultimate Mother’s Day Ethical Gift Pack – valued at more than US$1,000!” read the banner.

I love my mother more than US$1,000 but I don’t normally have that amount of money on hand to prove the point, so who were these Rose & Fitzgerald who believed this kind of email warranted an exclamation mark?

Besides, I wondered, what kind of “Ethical Gift Pack” was this and how did it link to my beloved mother?

I read the email further, past the pretty images, and one word stood out: “Mugave”. One of the gifts was described as a “Mugave Geometric Bottle Stopper from Rose & Fitzgerald”.

This isn’t the one, but I found that they have made and sold many other such pieces in the years they have been in business:

Rose-Fitz-Design-02
Photo from: http://www.coolhunting.com/design/uganda-rose-fitzgerald-design

Those two are not Ugandan names but it was difficult to imagine that Mugave was a word in common use outside of Uganda.

So I headed to their base site and found that their main outfit is called ‘Thirty One Bits’ (www.31bits.com), offering many nice-looking items that I couldn’t recognise from my many years in Uganda.

So I went to read their story under ‘About Us’.

These three white women, from the photograph, included one Kallie Dovel who came to Uganda for a bit as a university student and went back with stories that blew her friends away.

“She met women who grew up in a war and had nothing. They were single moms with no education and no job, and they were our age. OUR AGE. Our lives couldn’t look more different,” they write.

And then, they continue writing with a perspective totally lacking among US – the Ugandans who live right here with and amongst our fellow Ugandans:

“The women may not have had an education, but their skills and resourcefulness were astounding. They were making incredible jewelry out of old posters. Kallie brought a box of jewelry back, and we fell in love instantly!”

These were Caucasian women from America who met Acholi women in Gulu and created an enterprise.

They sold out within a short time and voila! There a business was born selling small pieces of jewelry and decor at pops of anywhere from US$15 upwards of US$80.

The girls came to Uganda and spent time with six ladies developing products and living together in their homes as they built up Thirty One Bits. Today, they are in “hundreds of stores across the United States” and have endorsements from names such as Sophia Bush, Candace Cameron Bure, Jessica Alba, and magazines like Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.

PLUS, they built an entrepreneurship training element into their business so that the ladies creating these jewelry and art pieces don’t rely on just being suppliers, but develop their own businesses.

The girls of Thirty One Bits have graduated 100 artisans over five years, says their website, who have started additional businesses doing poultry, tailoring, agriculture and “One woman even opened her very own restaurant, called none other than ’31 Bits’!”

Not only that – using this experience they found themselves doing the same in Indonesia (which is why I couldn’t recognise many of the items on their online store).

That Indonesia bit is what worries me now. If we don’t have more and more Chizu Nakamoto’s and Kallie Dovel’s coming in from Japan and the United States to discover highly creative and hard working women in Uganda like Rose Nakitto and those unnamed jewelry designers in Northern Uganda, are we ever going to have more superb, high quality products than the Indonesians filling up shelves in foreign countries?

Besides that, how many of us in our twenties (that’s how old Chizu and Kallie were when they started) and thirties and forties are out there creating businesses like this or, at the very least, supporting them by buying their products?

Sadly, not enough to change an entire economy just yet; even more sadly, so few that the Nakamoto’s and Dovel’s will deservedly continue standing out. Thankfully, they do so while putting quality Ugandan products on international shelves to great acclaim, and for that they will be greatly applauded.

give me azulato over blankets & wine any day…for the children and the future


WhatsApp Image 2018-05-04 at 18.31.06

I HAD three tickets to last weekend’s Blankets & Wine festival but let them go to other people who were bound to find the entertainment there more to their weekend arrangements than I could – what with three charges all below the age of eighteen and their mother all being in charge of my schedule on such days.

Instead, I chose to walk my heavy luncheon off by accompanying the crew to the ‘Azulato Children’s Festival’, organised by the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala (the Ugandan German Cultural Society).

Anne Whitehead sent me the flyer earlier in the week after we had recorded a podcast at Skyz Hotel and it agreed with me – not just because entry was free.

WhatsApp Image 2018-05-04 at 18.36.41

She described it as “a bunch of fun arts and science activities for the kids”, which she knew would make me bite.

My larger family had questions, led by my little sister Freda Agaba who was born to be an Auditor and grew into the role at a level that terrorises many.

“But what is it supposed to be?!” she asked.

I was happy to discover what it presented, even though the definition for ‘Azulato’ didn’t show up anywhere at the venue or on the internet, though @BigEyeUG on Twitter defined it for me as “an amalgamation of two words…kuzuula and abato” – which Anne explains in detail and Luganda at the Meeting In The Skies podcast.

The website read: “Expect a wide range of fun and interactive workshops and performances, hands-on activities, such as mural painting, 3-d-printing, dance and music workshops, learning about robotics, science experiments and digital animation among others. The festival aims to promote the arts and sciences as a learning experience for children to develop their talents and grow their self-confidence, meet and make new friends and have fun. Azulato Children’s Festival is an inclusive festival for all children regardless of background and differences in abilities.”

I generally say things like ‘each to his or her own’. But by the time I got to the last tent of the Azulato festival I was questioning why so many of us are more willing, eager and likely to spend vast amounts of time and money at certain other types of events and not even swing by a free-to-enter high impact one like this.

The array of amazingness (accept that word as one that now exists in your life) was stunning even though the selection seemed scant and almost random. I knew some of the offerings – like the 40 Days over 40 Smiles Foundation people (Esther Kalenzi is still upset with me but we will clear issues up soon so I get back into her good books) and Alex Twinokwesiga’s ttpafrica.com (Turn The Page Africa).

The two young organisations work together to grow a reading culture in Uganda and Africa – 4040 raising funds to build literacy (and libraries) countrywide, while ttpafrica.com promotes reading – Ugandan authors – by way of an online library that served me up two books at Azulato itself.

Alex Twinokwesiga also has another project – www.somethingugandan.com – and when I spotted him I thought he was there for that.

somethingugandan.com is an online shop promoting Ugandan-made products across the board to the rest of the world.

Azulato had a large array of these – many of the kitenge and fabric type of products that people call “African” but of a markedly distinct quality. 

Nzuri Afrik had me gawking and gasping for their shoes but they don’t make them in my size.

IMG-8924

Still, the young fellow there offered, I could take any of my own shoes and for a small fee they’d decorate them colourfully with bright fabrics to add a spring to my step and light up every path I walk on. I am selecting fabrics this week and have already put aside the items they will be sprucing up for me.

The children would have impoverished me if I let them linger at that particular stand, so I moved them along quickly but I know what they’ll be wanting for their birthdays, Christmas and any incentive to come.

If I had anyone to turn to for such treats I would have chosen the seats made out of used tyres – not just tyres stacked together and painted as I have done before; a young lady, Allen Nabukenya, operating under the name Njola made these extremely comfortable, wide rubber seats that go for Ushs500,000 a pop.

Besides those, she presented some handy and chunky bags that caught everybody’s eye.

What we didn’t see but you would have to probe for is her vision of training 100 young girls per month this year in how to make products out of waste materials, giving them a livelihood and cleaning up Uganda at the same time!

Like I said, we have amazing Ugandans out there but we seem not to focus on them at all.



Next to her stand was another Nabukenya – Hellen, this time – whose fabrics I will be wearing soon in their mixes of denim, cotton and kitenge. She was humble and soft-spoken maybe because her pieces spoke loudly on their own.

She was also being distracted by a little child and almost missed my astonishment at her products – which increased when I found the articles about her having exhibited her art in Denmark, France and Uganda.

She has flown Uganda’s flag with success but guess how many times she has been on page one or the podium for a national medal?

Perhaps as many as the animation and graphics designers behind the Crossroads Digital projects who told me their newest project, a TV series with an edutainment objective, was targeting the continent and globe and not just Uganda.

David Masanso is the farthest one can get from being arrogant while evoking an air of self-confidence that clearly relies on the quality of his team’s animations.

Next to him were ‘A Kalabanda Ate My Homework’, a short film by Raymond and Robin Malinga that would make you think Pixel or Disney if you saw it unprepared.

The voices behind the animation, though, are all too familiar, and when you read the credits you will stop to ask yourself why there is still so much foreign media inside our TV sets.

Martha Kay Kagimba, Daniel Omara, Salvadore Patrick Idringi, Patience Logose…all IMG-8911household Ugandan names and all listed up on glitzy websites declaring that this Ugandan production will be at the world’s most prestigious film festival, the Festival de Cannes from May 8 to May 19, 2018!



They said nothing about this world class status they had achieved, and focused on giving the children a good time.

I couldn’t begin to compare them to the braggarts that fill up our social space in this country over ‘achievements’ like buying cars and bottles of drinks in dim lighting.

There was more to be seen and enjoyed at Azulato, by adults and children alike, including the robotics display and getting the chance to print something off a 3D printer for the first time ever!

IMG-8902Discovering the Social Innovation Academy and their plastic bottle recycling that includes building entire houses was even more exciting when I found that they package roasted coffee called “Kyaffe” – grown by women farmers groups.

By this time the children had dispersed to take part in activities such as art and crafts, clay pot moulding, robotics and science experiments, so I had time enough to gather contacts for later use until we all converged at the Breakdance and Rap/Lugaflow workshop.

There, the mind was blown afresh at the sights and sounds of children ad-libbing rap and lugaflow that would make you cry at how well the dedication and hard work of Abramz Tekya is paying off.

His Breakdance Project, targeting vulnerable children, has built such a confidence in his young charges that if a Kalabanda ate their homework they’d challenge their teachers to a rap-off and win deservedly!

At the end of the day, my choice of a festival that spoke to children learning and developing over one that suggested alcohol and slumber was well made.

good Ugandans are orderly…can be more orderly and organised


SOME people consider the compulsion to keep things orderly to be a personal disorder and they use that connotation to intimidate people within our society who insist on having things done properly.

Wikipedia confirms this by saying of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), “In English, the phrase obsessive–compulsive is often used in an informal manner unrelated to OCD to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed, or otherwise fixated.”

OCD from buzzfeed.jpg
Photo from buzzfeed.com

I don’t encourage the intimidation and often find reasons to highlight the value of ordering things a certain way. My children now being old enough to get sent to my wallet, for instance, approach it with repeated warnings that the privilege will be withdrawn if they don’t order the notes therein following the pre-set rules.

Whereas we are used to seeing that predilection for disorder in ordinary places, it is particularly disturbing when it shows up where people are educated and carrying out activities for which they are paid serious money.

For instance, when the person in a shop is handing me back my change (or balance) and places the notes in any order facing different directions and upside down and with some of them folded two ways, one folded three ways and the fourth with an ear bit bent back, I show little surprise.

The habit I have of then slowly making a show of unfolding and flattening the notes, then re-organising them so they are in order from the largest to the smallest note could be considered to be “Passive Aggressiveness” but I take it to be a brief practical demonstration or orderliness the shop attendant might benefit from.

There are other instances where I can’t do this because it is impractical and because I freeze up in horror – like when a financial institution or an educational one pays tens of millions of shillings for newspaper advertising to publish lists of names and numbers.

I share this pet peeve with, among others, Paul Bagyenda, an ICT Guru with a penchant for orderliness that he hides from the general public. There was a time when we’d act as a support group for each other on the days such publications interfered with an otherwise good tropical day in the sun, because he is as avid a reader as I am.

We once called up a Kampala bank that kept doing this – publishing pages upon pages of names arranged in no specific manner even though they had the option of alphabetically using Surnames (most logical), Forenames (harder but do-able), or numerically using Account Numbers (well…).

Our wrath once got directed to another financial institution for listing defaulters alphabetically by district, but then using some randomly illogical method underneath the district title – not even attempting to list them using an ascending or descending order based on the amount by which they had defaulted.

This week I found a lesson in patience when I experienced first-hand in person the time-wasting result of this lack of orderliness.

Back in November last year I made a decision to quit using the Gaz petrol station nearest to my home because the attendants refused to discourage people from driving in using the ‘Out’ side of the station – which always caused exit angst when one wanted to drive out having entered through the ‘In’ side in an orderly manner.

Gaz
The Gaz at Seeta – taken from http://www.nileenergy.co.ug

Worse, they had no problem using the first pump when a single car drove in, even though that blocked access to the second pump ahead – causing delays in the fueling process as one had to wait while two pumps with pump attendants in front of you stood idle.

By the time I quit I had signed up for their loyalty card service using a phone app and was accumulating points as I awaited the card itself. So for months now I’ve been getting notification messages that my card was ready for pick-up but was too pre-occupied and disinterested.

Until I had ten minutes to spare this week and had a Christian urge to forgive and forget.

I was asked to park my car and go into the office for a few minutes to sign for my card, which was fair enough so I complied knowing I would be telling a manager that day about how to improve their service.

The young man in the office had clearly had a long day and didn’t mind making this obvious to me but I kept my cool and watched as he commandeered a lackey to sift through a box of plastic cards wrapped up in bundles of 200 each.

At the start of this process I hoped to myself that these were thousands of people who had also quit the station on the same premises or principles as I had.

After many minutes of observing the process my optimism gave way to despair. They had identified my card number using the details I gave them and now needed to physically go through each stack of cards to find the individual one assigned to me.

A third person had been added to the list and, because the office was too small to hold many more people than the four of us and six other people doing similarly tiresome paper-laden tasks, nobody else could join the assignment.

To make matters worse, the fellows were ripping the rubber bands off the stacks, shuffling through the cards to identify my number, and then putting the rubber band back and placing the stack in another box – without placing the cards in better order, following their numbering.

“They are all mixed!” complained the manager, which the other two fellows echoed verbatim.

“They are all mixed!” they said.

I could believe that, watching them mixing the cards up even further as they sought my single card, and had to take matters into my own hands.

Sifting quickly through two batches of cards told me the numbering sequence of each batch of 200 within two minutes and I tested two others to confirm it, then simply checked the top card in two other batches to find the one that most probably held my own.

I found it.

The manager was somewhat astonished, because at first he had watched me and seemed to roll his eyes at how I was too lazy to go through each and every card in each batch I had held up.

By that time I didn’t feel generous enough to launch into a session of lugezi-gezi and just signed documents in a couple of places but insisted on walking him out to the forecourt to explain the reason I had left the station in November last year – hoping that at least that simple level of orderliness would one day be enforced.

He politely appreciated my issue, and promised to effect change. Right there and then, the fellow who should have taken up my first fuel purchase using the loyalty card attempted to exhibit his deep-seated disorganisation but the manager was on hand to set him right.

For the next five minutes, at least, I observed utmost organisation at play, and I kept hope alive.

One day, we will all be organised, orderly and we will all stop thinking that it is a disorder. ‘We’ being Good Ugandans!