On one of our recent ‘walk-for-fitness’ activities, a colleague pointed at a small block of flats in Kololo just below the Independence grounds otherwise known as Kololo Airstrip.
He reminisced about a time way back in the early 1970s when his brother, a newly-appointed state attorney, had rejected a flat (we call them apartments now) on the block because it was not in good condition. The paint was old and toilet seats needed to be changed.
In those days, state attorneys were allocated houses as part of their entitlement. Indeed, the said apartment was quickly painted, other repairs were done and the new attorney took possession. Those were the days, as many an older Ugandan would say! And Kololo was Kololo in that time!
Today, Kololo seems like a Greater Kampala Central Business District (CBD). Very soon offices, restaurants and nightclubs will exceed the number of residences in Kololo. Perhaps one day we may stop referring to the place as a high-end to-die-for residential area.
On the once quiet Elizabeth Avenue, there is a Chinese built, newly completed high-rise block allegedly comprising of up to 50 apartments. Imagine if each household has two cars; even if there is underground parking; think about the new traffic generated on that road!
However some things have not changed in Kololo. It is said that the land is even more expensive than ever before and that most houses are far cheaper than the land on which they are located. That is why there is demolition work all the time to pave way for new structures.
The road network and sewerage system have also not changed! Most roads are still small with no room for pedestrians or cyclists – of course, because this was designed for rich Ugandans and expatriates. Traffic congestion is assured nearly all the time.
Further on from Elizabeth Avenue going uphill to Ridgeway Drive, you will find some splendid looking apartments. However, the stink of sewage leaks kind of spoils the Kololo aura and not just in that area! Yet, more apartment blocks are coming up!
If the rich and mighty of Uganda are unable to plan better for or look after their Kololo, who will mourn it! Perhaps it is only the fond memories of my ‘walk-for-fitness’ in Kololo friend that will remain.
Last week, a good, long-time friend was laid to rest somewhere in Maya at his grandfather’s home. He was very friendly and knew how to make everyone believe that they were his deep friends, genuinely! Some people have that naturally and he did.
He was the chairman of Kampala Club, a private members sports and social club, and had served on many boards. He was also loved in the world of sports, having served on both squash and tennis national bodies.
There are many lessons to learn from his life but I will highlight a couple. Despite coming across many times as ‘aggressive’, he always advocated the softer approach to problem-solving with a good phrase: give it time!
Secondly, he vigorously engaged in the activities he loved. Consequently, he played scrabble to a high standard, read at least three novels a month and frequently travelled to attend Rotary Conventions, lawyers’ conventions, tennis tournaments and went to two football World Cup tournaments.
At a memorial last week, John Donne’s classic poem, Death, be not Proud was dedicated to our gone friend. In this poem, Donne personalises death and denies that it is invincible. We must not fear death because it releases us to greater pleasure. We shall not die forever and we shall not stay dead!
One short sleep past, we wake eternally. And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Rest in eternal peace Stephen Musisi!
The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.