About five years ago when the first national identification cards were issued, I discovered that my name had been misspelt.
I immediately pointed this out to the officials and was assured it would be rectified and within a month, I would have my proper ID. When the month turned into a year, I was forced to inquire what was holding up the process. Though no new explanation was offered, I was told to wait another month.
This turned into two years by which time I needed the ID because I was being blocked from accessing most business premises and unable to participate in certain activities.
One day, I woke up and gave myself the ultimatum to either get my ID or pitch camp at the windswept Kololo Airstrip. I lined up in one of those queues that snake around about five times and eight hours later, I reached the head of the queue that seemed like the holy of holies.
There, I stood like a supplicant before a high priestess who was manning the computers. After consulting the oracle, she proclaimed that my ID was ready and waiting for me at the NIRA registration office in Wakiso District. Off to Wakiso I trooped where another high priestess informed me that there was an oversight because my ID was indeed in Kololo. In the face of the strain and stress of the day, I ignored the ultimatum and went back home. For the next two weeks, I was ping ponged between the two spaces. I learnt that this was a war I was fighting and had to take it on one battle at a time to avoid total destruction.
Back and forth
A year ago, I went to open up an account at a bank that had opened up in my neighbourhood. After filling the forms, I was asked to present my ID and because I did not have one yet, I started the hunt once again. This time, I was told that the delay in processing my card was because my thumbprint had not printed properly. “Could I please repeat the process?” They asked. And since I needed the ID as much as I needed oxygen, I did as they asked and was assured it would be read in three months.
Three months later, I went to the NIRA offices in Wakiso hoping for better luck. I was told that a new system was being installed to synchronise all data after which, my card will be ready. It took a lot of emotional strength for me not to start singing those funeral hymns out of frustration. When I slept that night, I had the first of my recurring nightmares.
In the dream, I am at the NIRA offices in Mpala with my brand new ID and I excitedly whip out my phone to call my sister to share the good news. Out of nowhere, a gust of wind blows the ID out of my hands and no matter how fast I run, I fail to get it back. As I continue to chase after the confirmation of my identity, I am grateful that the pastors and traditional healers have not yet started offering breakthroughs for IDs because I doubt I would be able to resist the temptation to enlist their services.
I have noticed how envious and emotional I get whenever I find a lost ID being displayed. “How could they be so careless with such a treasure?”
I think to myself. For now, all my hopes are pinned on the magical year 2024 when all IDs expire and for once, everyone will be like me. I also have great hopes that this time my citizenship will be easier to capture and be given to me in a plastic card.
In the meantime, if you too are searching for that elusive perfect partner, career or friend I understand your pain. And to play the devil’s advocate, that perfect person or moment might forever be a mirage just like my nightmare.
Instead of wasting the present hoping to start living later, I advise that you look for what is working out right now and simply embrace the joy of living. As long as you have life, there is hope for a better tomorrow.