Sunday February 2 2014

FROM OVER THE SEAS: Rain is not an excuse

By Jan Ajwang

It is dark, raining and cold. If this was in Uganda this is a cue to pull the covers and sleep more.
Well, so while I debate with the same feeling, a look at the clock and it is actually 7:30 am. I should have been awake already and on the road! When I finally step out of the house, it is just dawning and the rain is even worse- enough to drawn the whole of Bwaise. Yet life goes on. The whole of Cardiff that should have been up and early at this time is awake! People are walking to work or to school or rushing for the bus, there is a traffic jam, and some braver ones are even jogging, with their dogs! It is morning and a bright new day! I should just fall in queue and also start living!

Yet in Uganda, such rain is enough for some people to say that they didn’t make it early for work, to church, for a wedding, a job interview, a press conference, or an important meeting. It is part of the conversation… ‘gwe did you see the rain?’, ‘ I am actually glad I made it, I hear people in Bwaise never made it work today’.

Just say that to some people here and the look on their faces will raise a million questions: Where is Bwaise? Who lives there? Is it habitable? Do you pay council tax? Why do you vote incompetent leaders who can’t fix the issue? Can’t you move to another place? Have you tried a night job to beef the expenses? See if you can use a boat!

And so if you don’t leave in Bwaise, the questions are just as bad: Don’t you have an alarm? Didn’t you see the weather forecast? Don’t you have warm clothes, rain coats or an umbrella? Why didn’t you text, email or call? Is this a joke?

In a nutshell if the whole of rainy Cardiff stayed home because of the rain, the city would have gone extinct. So avoid using rain as an excuse for running late, unless a tree falls in front of the train you are using or the bridge cracked just before you crossed. Regardless of who you are and what you do, the joke will remain on you for being so silly.

Ironically in Uganda in some cases, the joke is on the people who show up regardless of the rain or time for that matter. They meet empty rooms, fidgeting organisers, are at looked at as snobbish or outsiders and more. Hopefully when I return home I could pull the covers and sleep on… but here it is very important not to look silly.