Thought and Ideas
Maid thinks Transport minister listens to many FM witchdoctors
Posted Sunday, September 29 2013 at 01:00
Most of last Saturday was spent watching Kenyan TV channels as the hostage crisis unfolded in the upscale western suburb of Nairobi. With rank and status ignored, the frequently visiting minister’s maid bombarded me with questions about terrorism and geopolitics. In the process she was oscillating between TV and checking the more shocking unedited images on social media over my shoulder on my laptop.
She shivered at the blood and dead bodies, and marvelled at the number of non-uniformed armed white and Asian men in Kenyan security forces. I had to give a quick brief of Kenya’s history that made it evolve into a really multiracial society (not necessarily a very happy one) that doesn’t have to proclaim everyday that it is a multiracial society the way the US and South Africa do.
My bubbly maid weighed in, wrongly proclaiming that this must be the first big hostage crisis in the region, so I had to give them another brief about the 1976 hijack and rescue drama at Entebbe when Israeli commandoes stormed our airport and collected their people from Palestinian and Idi Amin’s forces. As I told the Entebbe story, I stuck to the documented facts and kept out my personal experience for I didn’t want these maids to know what a bad small boy I was.
I still shudder from the memory of the kicks and slaps the Ugandan soldiers administered on me and a couple of friends along the road from the airport where we had been cheering after the dark night had been lit up by flares when the Israeli attack started. The Israelis had long departed with their people, but we were not in the mood to return home.
Our national troops started coming in cautiously from Kampala with everything in their arsenal including tanks.
A group jumped off their jeep and started asking us what had happened and on realising we were a hapless bunch of clueless spectators, they gave us the beating of our lives, accusing us of bombing their country.
I spent the next couple of years praying that teachers and parents never got to know how we had partaken of the revenge from our humiliated military. And by coincidence, my very older sister who was a student nurse at Mulago Hospital was watching helplessly in shock as the elderly Jewish woman she had been attending to and had struck a friendship with was being roughly dragged away by security forces to be killed in revenge for the successful rescue of her fellow hostages.
I did not tell that to the maids and instead finished the story by saying the Israelis torched the fleet of Uganda’s aircraft on the ground to prevent them from pursuing them as they took away their people. That is when my maid asked if that is how Uganda airlines lost its planes, and I had to explain that the burnt planes were mostly Mig 21 fighter jets.
I explained that Uganda Airlines was just being born around that time, and that it had acquired its fleet of planes a year later, and lost the planes over the subsequent years due to mismanagement and general abuse.
“I overheard at home my boss saying that they might need some two billion dollars to buy shares in another airline to revive that Uganda Airlines of yours,” said the minister’s maid. “However, I did not grasp the logic of how you buy your own property from another person.”
“It is very easy,” my maid said abruptly. “I hear these things late at night on my ka-radio when I tune into those crazy FM stations. You really hear how those mean witchdoctors make gullible people pay them money to be told what they themselves have told the witchdoctor. It is so funny! The witchdoctor asks you a question, you give him the answer, then he repeats the answer by changing a few words and you think he has given you the solution and you pay him by mobile money!”
“A similar witchdoctor must be working on the case of our transport ministry,” concluded the minister’s maid. “Because I think Uganda should be selling shares in its national airline, not buying shares in its national airline from whoever does not own Uganda’s national airline. It doesn’t make sense.”
“And who is the minister for transport by the way?” asked my maid. “I need to get his number and call him.”
“I admitted that I did not know the transport minister’s identity, what with six dozen ministers! It is not easy to keep track. I dwelt on the large number of ministers so as to avoid being dragged into the complex subject of capitalisation through transferring equity. But I thought the maids had a point that Uganda should be the one to sell shares in Uganda Airlines, rather than buying shares from anybody else for recapitalising Uganda Airlines. I was saved from continuing the conversation when the minister’s maid realised her curfew time had already passed and she bolted out of the house.