It is not enough to keep your eyes open

An advert runs in the mornings before Kaliisoliiso on CBS radio that I like. It probably runs at other times as well but it is before 7.30am when I get my chance to tune in.

The ad features a man who has been cheated: he bought seven kilos of soil hoping that this would turn into seven acres of land. All he had to do was sit in a quiet place with his seven kilos of soil and lo, vast land would magically appear ready for him to take possession!

What a gullible man! I thought that as well until last Saturday! My car has been ailing for quite a while and people who know about cars agree that this situation is not so different from when you have an ailing child. You become kind of vulnerable and end up acting on all the sorts of advice given because, well, people generally mean well.

So to avoid traffic as I left the city, I took the rough stretch below Bombo road that takes you by Kisekka market area before you connect to the Aga Khan road. I was stopped by a chap who claimed that my front wheel was bouncing all over the place. That area usually has people working on tyres and other mechanical issues probably when KCCA monitoring agents are away.

When I stopped, the man quickly did an inspection, showed me the wet oil that came off his hand and reassured me that he needed to place a small connector and that would cost me just twenty thousand shillings. Of course I was reluctant especially since I had planned to meet with a few people on the way home.

But well, why risk a life through an accident when just twenty minutes were needed to fix the problem? I was coaxed into it!

Within just fifteen minutes, I knew that I was ‘cooked’! Not only had a crowd of his ‘engineer’ friends gathered, but the entire wheel plus its fittings were off and, as each bit was unscrewed, I was made to understand that that too was ‘dead’!

It was a long and arduous ordeal – watching the repairs get done, fighting off the friends and refusing to accept that my car had any more ‘dead’ parts! Two hours later after the car had been ‘fixed’ the bill was presented: Shs 2.2m in cash required!

After seeing how expertly they had removed the tyre and found many parts wanting, I had resigned myself to accepting a charge of perhaps Shs 200,000 and had already asked a friend to send it onto my phone.

Do these mechanics look at cars coming their way as potential bullion vans, I asked? Who has that kind of money in their cars today? A full forty minutes of negotiations later – and this was about 60 per cent of the time used to repair the car – we settled on a fee of Shs 650, 000.

I called a few more friends to load my phone – that took another 15 minutes because people do not have money on phones either these days! And then we headed to a kiosk deep in the area to withdraw cash.

I was very safe as I walked to the paying booth but my mechanics were not that safe. Indeed after I had paid, a fight ensued because apparently the sharing of spoils seemed rather unfair to the ‘engineer’ friends.

As I left the place, one man came along and told me that it was my fault. He claimed that to begin with, I gave too much money to just two mechanics – I should have shared out the work. Secondly, that I am part of the elites who insist on paper qualifications even for parliament.

Was it not obvious that all these people in Kisekka are experts yet they have no jobs perhaps because they lack paper qualifications?

I am yet to decipher the moral of that day’s events! Was I cheated because my ill car had made me gullible or were those boys just smart? Is it about perception?

Well, I know someone who is unhappy because he feels cheated!

Ambassador, Brigadier Matayo Kyaligonza must feel that after attacking Amama Mbabazi for contesting against the ‘Sole Candidacy’ project, his position should also be protected.

However a young contestant, who is a real threat seeing that he is from the First Family, has emerged. Odrek Rwabogo, the challenger, wishes to oust two NRM Historicals and denies any presidential backing.

His argument seems plausible: would the Historicals wish their children to contest in opposition parties? As the Baganda saying goes, our eyes are glued to the stage!

The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.

**This article was first published in The Observer newspaper:

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