Lugogo has finally been bowled out for enjoyments

Author, Benjamin Rukwengye. PHOTO/FILE. 

What you need to know:

  • ... we now suffer a dearth of talent in urban centres and lost opportunities for our schools to pass on vital life and people skills.

Did you watch ‘Mind Your Language’, the 1977 British sitcom? It is by far one of the greatest acts of comedy to ever air on television. Here is Mr Brown, the English teacher, trying to explain the game of cricket to his class of adult multinationals.

“Well, it is quite straightforward,” he starts. “Now there are two teams of eleven men each; and one side goes in and the other side has to try and get them out.”
“I didn’t know you could play it in the doors,” Max, the Greek student chimes in.
“It’s not played indoors,” Mr Brown responds.
“Yeah, but how can somebody be out when he is already out?” a bemused Max retorts. 
“I will try to explain it,” Mr Brown offers. “So, the team that is bowling is out in the field and the team that is batting is in the pavilion. Now the first two men, batsmen, come out to go in. The first one of those to go out goes back in and another batsman comes out to go in. Is that clear so far?”
“Oh sure. When he is in, he is not really in. He is out. And when he is out, he is not really out. He is in,” Max replies, concluding, “It is confusing!”

This explanation makes sense if you know the game. It is confounding if you have no idea what the game is about. Unfortunately, most Ugandans are no different from Max. So how about an analogy that might make sense to a typical citizen of The Pearl. Let us say you are an enterprising fellow who realises that Uganda is the party capital of the world. So acclaimed that many visitors are often warned against going toe-to-toe with Ugandans on a night out. It doesn’t take you long to decide that your gateway to middle-income status will be uncontestable if you invest in the entertainment business.

So, you open a bar and call it The Hoenda. It is doing really well, for a while, but it hits you that you could make a lot more money renting it out as a church. You will likely never run out of clients because this is Uganda and millions of people have millions of problems to pray about day and night. Do you change the name or not? 

It is Shakespeare who, in Romeo and Juliet, mused, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In many ways it is to say that names matter, but also, that they don’t. As jokes go, few are as unfunny as the management of the Lugogo CRICKET Oval writing to the Cricket Association to share dates when the stadium will be out of bounds to the sport. The only reason it makes sense is that this is Uganda – and this sort of madness is a staple.
In this case, it is literally in the name, so not even a fool would need explaining to on who the priority user is and should be. Cricket, as Max found out, can be quite confusing – but the fact that it is the major sport for tens of countries with billions of people, should tell you about its allure.

And yet, no amount of protestation – short of getting a court injunction – will make a difference to those bent on destroying the game for short term, selfish gains. The fact that your average Ugandan does not understand or appreciate the game and wouldn’t mind gyrating and romping upon the grounds on which it is played doesn’t make up for the negligence of duty that those charged with maintaining the grounds are certainly guilty of.

This is the same fate that befell many of the green spaces and pitches that littered Kampala in the 1990s, when the mafias took over. As a result, we now suffer a dearth of talent in urban centres and lost opportunities for our schools to pass on vital life and people skills, which you can’t teach in the middle of squeezing a D1 out of a child.

It is negligence. It is incompetence. It is greed. It is the kind of public service moral turpitude that we have come to expect but should not accept – even at the cost of enjoyments. But, since we are here for a good time and not a long one, it is what it is.

Mr Benjamin Rukwengye is the founder, Boundless Minds. @Rukwengye