Make Jinja a city, Bugembe a rolex and sleazy town

Sunday May 17 2020


By Jacobs Seaman Odongo

Last Sunday, I fuelled my Footsbishi Legsus full tank. It was past 4pm, but before I say what happened, let me remind you that Bugembe is indeed a noun but it has nothing to do with a gospel musician and many of you who took up the name of a whole town.

Bugembe is a town situated on the Jinja-Kenya transnational highway, about 7km from Jinja Town. This is where I was going to transact a lockdown business.

Now, this town doesn’t sleep. It’s busier than John Pombe Magufuli’s head and although there are many vendors of papaya and kanga (guinea fowl) in Bugembe, the items aren’t positive for Covid-19.

As I approached the Madhvani roundabout at Mailo Mbili, I noticed so many guys in luxury wheels. One even was showing off his Evo2 by zooming past everyone at such speed Lewis Hamilton would have feared for his F1 title defence. Lugabire (tyre shoes) is good, people!

There were RAV2 and Legius footrists but Subaru obviously had no place on this lockdown highway.
At Bugembe, I started looking for ATMs and bank agents. After loitering around like an LDU looking for a reason to cock his gun, I finally found one. I ingiad my card and the thing kept prompting me to the last moment. Only then did it say it was faulty and direct me to try and another ATM next door.

Next door were hordes of boda boda parked, thinking the machine was forgivable, I asked the askari if there was any ATM around. Zero. Not even for any other bank? Nothing, unless you walk to town, he said.


The punk couldn’t even notice I was cruising a Legsus and had to insult me that I walk to town? Is it because I wasn’t wearing a sticker on my forehead? Anyway, I tried bank agents and saw one whose veranda had more dust than a maize mill in Masese. It soon dawned on me that Bugembe is an excuse of a town.

This was confirmed as I hit the fourth gear on the highway heading back home. I saw a signpost that read: “Stanbic Bank Kakira Branch welcomes you.”

In July, I’m told Jinja will be a city. If that happens, who knows, Bugembe’s status as a town could get more prominence. It could even become a municipality with this our political fragmentation. I can see it in my Mbonye skills that some political heads will be arguing that Bugembe is the seat of Busoga Kingdom, the home of the Kyabazinga.

But for these Kyabazinga subjects to transact in banking service, they most likely will either be directed by the signpost to Kakira or head to town. Bugembe is between the two places. So how did Kakira come to have two bank branches and ATMs when Bugembe only has rolex makers and Tanzanian truck drivers stopping for a quickie, nyama choma and weed?

In Kakira, Madhvani not only gave free land but also helped construct two bank buildings. This was an incentive that could have made even Magufuli renounce his pawpaw specimen test talk. The banks couldn’t resist. They simply brought their service.

But Bugembe, a beehive of a town in a soon-to-be city, is content with rolex and deep fried fish from Lake Victoria nearby. Yes, it’s the era of mobile banking but have formal financial institutions lost out to MoMo so much that they can’t even afford to have more agents in a whole town?

Let’s make Jinja a city, Bugembe a rolex and sleazy town. It works.

Empty tins make a lot of noise which will very often make you laugh. Visit this page every Sunday to encounter Empty Tin and his warped ideas.