City beggars wary of food handouts

Sunday October 20 2019


By Jacobs Seaman Odongo

Do you see any Kalooli hanging on garbage skips recently?” Tom asked with the seriousness that could defy a hamstring suffered during a 40km/h dash.
Immediately, I looked around for the birds that have become the face of garbage skips in Kampala, birds whose menace leaves one dreading the City Square and Makerere University campus. There weren’t any in sight. Turning to Tom, I admitted this but added that I would pay more attention to spot them proper.
“Don’t even bother,” he said with finality.

“But you asked something that left me curious. Did the authorities catch all the birds and relocate them to Ngamba Islands?” I asked.
“They fear poison. Those heartless KCCA guys poisoned dogs, now even Kalooli fear eating from garbage skips,” Tom said.
I now understood why this beggar I had always given coins had turned down my offer of an apple.
“But this is an apple and it’s coming from me, I don’t work with KCCA,” I protested.
“Shah! I don’t take chances. I beg because life is precious. So I won’t lose my life to poison injected in an apple. I only take money now.”

I was deflated. Tom is perhaps the only man in the form of a beggar I ever give coins. I prefer giving women because they appreciate.
The poisoning of stray dogs by City Hall left many street beggars and homeless persons spooked, according to Tom, whose begging jurisdiction we cannot reveal for fear that the notorious KCCA law enforcers could mete out their fury on him for “speaking to the press”.
October dawned on city dwellers with a rather disturbing development. Many woke up to find stray dogs strewn about like it had rained the proverbial cats and dogs. While the rain was not literal, it came in the form of KCCA poison targeting man’s best friend.

“Imagine the kids going to school, seeing these dead dogs in the streets and learning that killing animals solves man’s problems,” fumed a human animal called Abbey Rafsanjan, a Ugandan who carries the burden of an Iranian name that fell on him accidentally.
“There’s a plethora of dog rescue organisations all over the world that are passionate and dedicated to saving these so-called stray dogs, and if KCCA established these rescue programmes, there’ll be millions of people in the developed countries willing to donate, pass on dog population control knowledge and even run these shelters,” he added.

Rafsanjan is mad about animals so his anger I can understand. Once I barked at my dog and he was not impressed, saying dogs should be patted and stroked instead.
But me I understand KCCA. If these guys can bash vendors black and blue and even make others drown in the flooded Nakivubo Channel, what is wrong with poisoning a menace in stray dogs? Kampala isn’t a place for every Tom, Dog and Vendor (Tom the beggar earlier has nothing to do with this line).
Even the marabou stock, if they decide to fart and poop more than they can eat rotting garbage, KCCA should gladly do away with them. Gosh, those birds can stink! Why is it taking too long to poison them all in one swoop?

Someone at City Hall deserves a medal for ingenuity in dealing with headache. After the dogs, we all know how KCCA is going to rid the city of street children, beggars and even those annoying preachers at traffic junctions. You can say “God forbid” but how will that help?
For years, authorities have grappled with boda boda menace. Why not apply the same dog treatment to these boda and see them out of the city centre once and for all? If the boda riders refuse to eat the poison, we can poison their bikes. We do the same to taxis when buses arrive.
We must jealously protect the ingenious brains at KCCA.