Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where Is My Christmas?

I have a strong affiliation with Bank of Uganda. Not because I work there, or bank there, but another Bukumunhe, my day that is, once worked there as Deputy Governor.
When dad left, I still maintained ties with the bank – through Governor Mutebile and to a lesser extent Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende and Sylvia Jjuko.
Pause there.
Last year in the run up to Christmas and the New Year, there was a phrase or is it a language that was echoed by mostly blue collar workers at just about every place that I went to. It was: “Where is my Christmas?” or “Where is my New Year?” In laymen speak, it means a gratuity and more importantly, a gratuity in the form of a cash payment.
Pump lady at Shell Bugolobi was the first to ask for ‘her Christmas’ and the conversation went along these lines.
Pump Lady: “Eh Mister, now what do we do?”
TB: “About what?”
Pump Lady: “It’s almost Christmas and I want to go to kyalo.”
TB: “Just in case you go before I next fill up, have a good holiday.”  
And for good measure I even threw in a bonus and told her to “greet those people for me…” But she wasn’t done so she explicitly asked for her Christmas.
I had seen it coming, so I meekly smiled. And while I was still smiling meekly, a lady drove up in a Mercedes Benz ML that had seemingly spent only two days out of the Spear Motors showroom, which gave me an opportunity to flee.
Getting back. Another affiliation that I have with Bank of Uganda is with Governor Mutebile’s driver and bodyguard. As far as I can remember, since he became Governor, Mutebile has had the same driver and police bodyguard.
At many of the functions that I attend and they are there, we talk, laugh and joke about. The two are not pompous but polite unlike the drivers and bodyguards of some cabinet ministers’ that I know of. And Governor’s Driver, I have to say, is that he is exceptionally pristine in his white uniform.
Our friendship is such that if I am in a position to help them out I will, and it is a gesture that they have always appreciated and never taken for granted.
Last Saturday at Jacob Oulanya’s wedding reception in Munyonyo we met yet again. Of course we laughed and talked about what the New Year held in store for us when all of a sudden, the dreaded topic reared its head and you don’t have to be a clairvoyant to guess what is coming next. “Where is my Christmas?”
But there was a twist. Governor’s Driver was not asking for Christmas. Rather, he was thanking me for all the help I have always afforded them and wanted to give me something small in appreciation. I told him there was no need to, but he was so insistence and would not take “no” for an answer.
And just like that, he whipped his hand into his back pocket and gave me my Christmas and I won’t tell you what it was.
If I didn’t accept it, he would have felt snubbed and let down. I accepted because it was a most genuine mark of respect that I had ever received from a blue collar worker. I was touched for when he handed over my Christmas, he was very sincere, humbled and very genuine. Not that I did not respect him before, he is somebody that I will forever hold in high esteem.          

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