In valley of death, there’s also booze  

Saturday March 06 2021
By Philip Matogo

I tip-toed out of my office, onto Kampala Road and into the amber sunset. Like a cowboy at the end of a western, I felt revitalised.   

Joining the ‘walking class’ on the pavement at that time reveals an ever-changing flow of individuals going this way, and that. 
All of them, it turns out, are dodging or trying to avoid the many street children on the streets at that time. 

There are those who thrust their hands in their pockets, gaze heavenward and simply whistle as a convoy of homeless children expand in their wake.

Then there are those who choose to make eye contact with the children: this ensures the children latch onto them and don’t let go until they hear: Ka-ching!

Walking fast when these street children approach you is a no-no. For it’s a telltale sign that you have some ka-money and are trying to escape the guilty conscience which comes with not dishing it out. 

I saw a White lady walking at the speed of light while being shadowed by about six homeless mothers and a small nation of their children with hands outstretched for a big payday.
I thus crossed the road to escape this horde, as one of the children in this group approached me. 


Big mistake. 
The child made sure he followed me to Shell fuel station, about a 100 metres away. All the while, he kept calling me: “Baba.”
When I reached a boda boda parked beside Shell fuel station, the child suddenly disappeared!
“How much to Wampewo?” I asked the boda guy. 

“Shs5,000,” he replied. 
“Why so much?” I asked. 
He then pointed behind me and, right there, the street child was seated on my boda ready to go with me!

This reminded me of a scarier time. 
The reason why I hate commenting on that killer who appeared in CCTV footage strangling a boda boda rider in Rubaga Division last year is because I had a similar experience.

It was so harrowing an experience that when I saw the suspect, John Bosco Mugisha, alias Mukiga, my underwear filled up courtesy of a flood-tide of urine. 
Fourteen or so years ago, Steak Out Bar in Wandegeya, Kampala, was the place to get drunk and hook up with bosomy belles. 

I was chilling at the counter, drinking beers and winking lewdly at every lady who seemed like she was floundering in a Sahara of minimal male attention. 
However, the more I winked; the more the ladies rolled their eyes and stormed away in a huff like they were Shamim Malende being offered pork by Stella Nyanzi. 

The more I got rejected, the more I drank. 
So I drank myself into a blind state and staggered out of the bar at 3am. 
Jumping on a boda, I told the cyclist to take me to Ntinda on the double…which matched my vision. 

As we sped off, I vaguely recall him making a phone call slightly before we reached Shell fuel station in Nakawa. 
At Shell-u, as he corruptly called it, a tall, flat-stomached man with black jeans and white T-shirt materialised out of nowhere and joined me on the pillion of the boda boda!

It was strange him jumping on the bike with us, but I was so high and just assumed we would be dropping him along the way to Ntinda. 
Besides, Nakawa was completely deserted with not a person or means of mechanised transportation in sight…so I thought…why not?

Moments later, we were on the dipping and rising road the locals call “Stretcher” and we were approaching Ntinda. 
The boda guy suddenly slowed to a near stop as he turned down a gravely road, off the main road.

This wasn’t where I was going, so I assumed we were dropping off the guy whose crotch was too close for comfort as we rode. 
In gay-ward motion, I realised we had turned down an otherwise empty road, so I instinctively felt something was wrong. 
Although as high as Snoop Dogg on weed and wing, I got a little scared. 

The intensity of the situation was amplified, as I was thrust into a world in which the safe-looking suburbs are anything but...

The boda boda stopped and the guy seated behind me wrapped his arm tightly around my neck as he put me in a choke-hold so that I couldn’t breathe easily. 

Then, he violently lifted me off the bike as I instinctively emptied my left pocket of my phone, wallet and house keys and flung them into a nearby bush. 
Physically, my body was soon paralysed. 
My mind then drifted into nothingness; I was unconscious. 

Later, I awoke in the darkness with a start, gasping, panting, confused. 
“Toka hapa!” a night watchman ordered me as I realised I was lying in a suburban bush in Ntinda. 

I suddenly searched frantically around me and found my house keys, phone and wallet untouched. 
I then jumped up and walked back to the main road, grabbed another boda boda and then rode to the nearest pub to celebrate the fact that I didn’t die that night!