Sunday July 27 2014

Soul snuffing boredom

By Rogers Balamaga

I had never stayed in a camp until I got a job with a company working on an upcountry project and I had to join the other 500+ camp residents. Before I packed up my bags to leave Kampala, colleagues at office took the initiative to highlight the perks of what they described as an adventurous journey. “It’s like going on vacation.” One of them said “the food is like nothing you’ve seen before and there is someone to do everything for you, you won’t even have to wash a vest or lay your own bed.”

This sounded exciting, considering how much I hate washing. What everyone forgot to mention, purposely or inadvertently, was the soul snuffing boredom I would find. It gets worse when you’re the queer kind who neither cares for football nor finds the idea of drinking away the evening appealing. This limits your options watching movies and cyber loafing.

In the evenings, while the macho men head out of the camp for binge drinking and seek the company of female escorts, the lifeless retreat back to the dormitories to pakalast, or skype their loved ones.
The rooms are well furnished, depending on the class of the employee. But privacy is one thing you have to forfeit the moment you set foot in the camp.

With the plywood-thin-walls, you can even hear your adjacent neighbour release gas under the illusion that they are alone in the room, but you get used eventually. In the evenings, my expatriate neighbour on the left likes to play a particular selection of arabesque music, periodically interjecting with the sound of what I believe to be his butt trumpet.

On my right, one of the roommates, a Ugandan and a staunch Catholic at that, likes to play local church music. Usually, he downloads a song or two that he likes so much and saves it on his phone. Then keeps it on replay for a period of a week or so. This week, he revised his preferred genre to something a little more eccentric. On Wednesday, I was trying to sleep at around 11 pm when I heard my neighbour humming to local church burial music. I found it weird that of all songs, one would choose to play such eerie music in the middle of the night. But then again, people deal differently with this boredom.