The Rules of Engagement

Saturday August 31 2019


By Mark Kawalya

We were on this access road heading to a barbershop last Saturday. Beanstalk was in the front seat strapped in like a good boy. He was on his best behavior since he is now on holidays and doesn’t get the opportunity to leave the house much.

“Daddy look.” He said pointing out of the window to a woman frying Cassava. “I want.” He added. I brought the car to a stop and we had a real father son conversation. I told him “Son, friend Cassava is great but you need to observe some rules of engagement when eating it.

Otherwise, if you eat friend Cassava carelessly there is a possibility that you will not see another sunset.”
“Do you copy?” I asked him but his eyes were all glued to the woman frying Cassava. He didn’t seem to care that I was dispensing worthwhile information this little human being.

I got out of the car and walked over to the lady and bought some fried Cassava of Shs2000. Now I hadn’t thought about it but Cassava for Shs2000 is a lot of Cassava. The lady handed me a plastic bag with about twenty pieces of the tubers inside.

I immediately knew the little man and I were out of our depth.
Back in the car he wanted to start eating. “Slow down son.” I said to him. “We need to first get some water. I said as we made another stop at another Grocery where I bought some mineral water.

“Eating fried Cassava is not something that should be taken lightly” I lectured on. “You need to mentally prepare yourself.” I continued. The child looked on probably wondering why I was wasting so much time with food in our midst.
I broke a small piece and handed it to him. He devoured it as quickly as humanly possible leaving me impressed.


“You have skills.” I said to him like a proud father whose son had just finished some sort of right of passage. If he wasn’t my son, I might have thought he was a builder. You know how builders are the undisputed eaters of fried Cassava of this generation. Those guys don’t even need water or Chai o clear a bagful of the stuff.

The child ate one stick of cassava and washed it down with some water. “Don’t want anymore.” He announced rubbing the sleeve of his shirt across his lips.