Village Chronicles: The State of the Roads

I envy people whose villages are literally around the corner; Gayaza, Mityana, Mukono, Entebbe. Spending an entire day on the road all in the name of going to the village was cooler when I was younger, but these old bones of mine are not sure they can take it any longer. The amount of physical stress is so intense that it almost feels like I walked the entire journey. So much for development and progress…

The moment two people decide to get married to each other; there are a number of costs that come with it. Wedding meetings are the common/popular cost to contribute to the wedding (although these days it looks like they are there to fund the entire wedding). I have never understood why it doesn’t make more sense to have the wedding that you can afford, not one that depends on contributions or getting loans, but to each their own. The second the great news of a wedding hits my ears, my mind automatically goes to the traditional wedding/introduction. The only people I envy probably more than those whose villages are near, are those that attend traditional weddings in or around Kampala. I totally can’t relate.

Traditional weddings, at least the ones I have attended are a lot of work. From the journey to the middle of nowhere, to looking for traditional outfits because outfit repeating simply doesn’t work, to every other thing that comes with being in the village, let’s just say that it’s a very trying time for me. Basically, there is always a story to tell.

One of my nieces (on my father’s side, on her mother’s side) got engaged, so we travelled to their village for the traditional wedding.

I have been absent for such occasions over the last couple of years, and so I was especially excited to be going along for this function. Despite the hassle involved, I love traditional weddings. The event is almost a play, a performance that is put on, and I simply love it.

As discussed in a family meeting a week earlier, we set off for my village, Isimba village. Kindly note, that this is not the village where the function was set to happen. Spending the night there made the most sense because we had to pick up some relatives.

When most people talk about their villages, they are referring to a location that is approximately thirty minutes to an hour away from a district/town. However, this is not the case for my village. My village is about three hours away from any sort of civilization. The gravity of this is shown by the fact that the nearest adequate shop is at a prison. The distance is probably not directly proportional to the time spent on the road, but the state of the road makes the journey longer. I don’t remember ever finding the road in the same state at any consecutive times. There was a time we had to paddle through most of the journey, but that is definitely a story for another day.

I don’t know about how family gatherings in your village are but two decades later of greetings, food that you can’t say no to, checking whether the network is sufficient in previously discovered spots (all of which are outside, in the cold, with a party of not your ordinary Kampala mosquitoes waiting for you), fighting for charging spots, figuring out where to sleep, it was time to sleep. Another kind note is that the plan was to be on the road by 6AM, so sleeping at 3AM probably wasn’t a smart idea.

Until today, I haven’t figured out how my Mzee is always dressed when we wake up. I swear he is always dressed, and ready to go. I remember the days when we would spend holidays harvesting coffee or maize, and because he was tired of us always delaying him, it was decided that showering would be done later on in the day (or never 🙂 ). So that morning, I was not surprised to see him dressed and ready to go, while I was trying to find out if anyone had toothpaste and evaluating whether brushing teeth was so important that it would affect world peace, while there were those that were trying to get a few more minutes of sleep.

At not 6AM, but thankfully before 7AM, we set off for Kagadi, Kibaale district, for the function. I think that journey is what Mohombi meant when he sang ‘it’s gonna be a bumpy ride’. I don’t think I have yet recovered from it. I scoff at terrible roads in Kampala, because I know that they are merely masquerading, riyo amateurs. That was one hell of a terrible journey, and because we travelled with older people who couldn’t handle it, there were very many stops, which only made the journey longer.

The road was so bad that I had to ask where the main road was, because it surely couldn’t be the one we were on (anti Ugandans love panyas). Because life can be a continuous journey of blow after blow, we had to go through the same roads again in less than 24 hours. I swear, I almost asked to be left behind, but that would only be delaying the inevitable.


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