I have noted, with great regret and deep concern, derisive comments about the ministerial delegation we sent to Quebec, Canada, to receive our consignment of aircraft that will soon become Uganda Airlines.
These derisive comments are, no doubt, from enemies of our economic development. In our culture when someone has a baby you visit with them, offer gifts, make perfunctory remarks about the baby’s cuteness – even if they look like an overgrown cassava tuber – all the while trying to confirm whether the baby looks like the father at all.
If we can do that for a mere baby what about an airplane that comes ready, not just to crawl, but also fly!? Down with the charlatans, I say.
Of course, the plane could have been delivered to us in Entebbe so that we do not spend money on the delegation. But what if they changed the baby in the hospital and, instead of a Bombardier we got a Cessna? Wouldn’t the same people go around nyef nyeffing about government incompetence?
We have qualified engineers on the team who can look at the baby and tell that it is from our clan, and not the neighbours’. How dare they question our excitement? Where were they when other airlines were delaying flights or refusing to pick us up from the village?
We shall go fetch our plane if we want! In fact, I hope the fetching team had the presence of mind to find a dormitory or lavatory somewhere to etch ‘Never Forget Uganda Airlines 2019” somewhere on the walls. Viva arrivalisme! I hope the dancers are ready for when the aircraft finally land at Entebbe.
After the traditional water jet welcome, a couple of boys from that car wash Sacco we gave money should be at hand to dry off our plane, wash the footrest carpets and dry them bulungi.
Then we should organise a week of prayer and fasting climaxing in an inter-denominational thanksgiving service at Kololo Airstrip to put the plane in the hands of the gods and to pray for journey mercies.
To satisfy the Doubting Thomas’s in Parliament and prove that “the bird has come for real real”, we should hold a special sitting of the House to pass a congratulatory resolution, followed, immediately after, by a supplementary budget to cover the first tranche of losses. Since the plane is too big to fit in the chamber we could remove one of the tyres and pass it around for MPs to touch, smell and feel.
Since it might take us a few weeks to obtain the necessary permits for commercial operations, we should take advantage of this lull and bus in school children to marvel at our birds from a distance. A small fee can be charged to make up from the income we will miss from not managing baggage and ground handling operations.
In the spirit of public-private partnerships a studio owner could be allowed to set up close to the ndege to take photographs of those who want to appear as if they are just climbing down the steps on their way back from ‘outside countries’.
And when we are ready to fly we should make sure we really pimp our rides. More artistically-minded people are free to propose ideas here but I will kick things off by putting two out there: How about hand-knitted white pieces of cloth (bitambala) that we can put over the headrests, in keeping with a long-standing tradition, and with a Ugandan greeting – well done – knitted on?
A presidential portrait prominently displayed in the cabin would be entirely appropriate and, if space allows, we could add some art cryptic enough to engage restless travellers on long journeys (I’d recommend the one of a hapless man caught in a tree between a climbing snake, a crocodile in a nearby river and a hungry lion).
To cap it off, the outside of the plane should have, beyond the usual signage, a fitting epithet, similar to those on the back of trucks and matatus.
Here we can decide to be melancholic and go with ‘Fitina mbaya’, reverential with ‘Obukadde magezi’ or biblical with some chapter and verse.
A straw poll among matatu conductors, if they can find a few minutes away from groping women and throwing admittedly funny barbs, would come in handy here.
There is a lot of resurrection going on this weekend, I tell you, and we shall not let anyone rain on our parade. Down with the charlatans and financial analysts! Vive le visionnaires!
Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and a poor man’s
freedom fighter. [email protected]