Sunday June 8 2014

Sign language for brokers


By Stella Riunga

I recently began thinking about learning sign language. And it is not just interacting with hearing-challenged people, you know. I know some communication-challenged people who could do with this knowledge. In particular, house brokers. Some of you may be more familiar with them as buloka wa poloti ne enyumba.

I’m neither insane nor under a curse, but in the past two years I have moved house seven times. That is right, seven. And seven being the biblical number of fulfilment, it is only in my seventh abode that I have come to find rest and a place to truly call ‘home’.

Having moved so many times, therefore, I have interacted with just about every type of property broker/brocka/buloka/bulooka there is (no two signposts in Kampala seem to agree on the correct spelling of this word) and I have come to one conclusion about all of them: they are either deaf or mentally handicapped, or both.

Walk and walk
Ask a broker/brocka/buloka/bulooka to show you a tiled, two-bedroomed self-contained house and he (It is always a man) will lead you to the type of muzigo that even goats are scared to take shelter in from the rain.

The kitchen and toilet will be divorced from the house, each in a different direction and accessible only by jumping over a filthy drainage channel and swimming across the Atlantic (which is how it will seem when it rains). Are you looking for a house near, say, Makerere? Mr Broker will lead you so far beyond Mpererwe that you will begin to see signposts saying “Goodbye Kampala”, “Thanks for visiting” and so on.

When the broker asks you for your budget, he will instantly add Shs500,000 to that in his deranged little mind, which means that, should a miracle occur and you actually find a house you can live decently and comfortably in, you will, of course, be unable to afford it.

I think it would be easier to build your own shelter from bricks and straw than engage the (dis)services of a broker.
Beware the man in a broken suit and a feverish gleam in his eye! He is most likely a broker. Yes, I think sign language should be compulsory for this lot.

And on that note let me sneak in a huge thank you to one, A. Beine, who has seen me through all but two of my seven moves, acting in various capacities as driver, mover, bouncer and negotiator, never once doubting my sanity (or maybe never voicing it). Thank you for everything, Mr Beine.