Sunday July 27 2014

Size yange also happens here!

By Jan Ajwang

Well, there were times, I could avoid passing by certain places in Kampala. That taxi stage, or the parts of the taxi park where there are idle men, playing ludo or cards. The boda stage where the men make all the cat calls and say all those silly things to girls or women who pass by them. No one stops them, the girls don’t even turn to wag a finger at them, well I guess because it could get worse and the one man who made the first ‘pout’ sound could suddenly get the support of all the men around him.

We have accepted it and so it is part of the drill by the stage or the men at the building site. Speaking of which, a lot of construction is going on along my street and so the same trend is happening here; when a girl passes by, these constructors, stare, whisper, throw complements, chuckle and all. Of course, most of the girls all tanned up, simply ignored them. I haven’t been bothered either until; I just couldn’t bear with this consistency from different groups across the same street.

So I turned at one of the ‘complements’ I got from this particular guy who was calling out from a window above me. I looked up to him with the toughest face ever and all he did was smile and say what he said again in a calmer and equally annoying voice. Exactly like those boda men in Uganda. Why did I even try? I had barely gotten over this one when a few hours later I pass by another team of builders and this one was on phone, but changed his conversation telling or describing to the person on the other end of the line, what he had seen.

Unfortunately, I had to go past the place at least twice and these guys were happy! It is happening everywhere, men just reach out to grope, frustrate on public transport some times, on streets and to whistle out or call out women, like another of their sports.

There are intellectual words for this, ‘sexism’, ‘misogyny’ etc. There are online forums where women vent all their frustrations about this, which are a good place to go, but I like to get things out of the way. So this week I will be reading a peaceful Riot Act to somebody, of course, no one will get hurt, but the message will sink till the next generation in his line. Then next will be the boda guys when I return…!