Saturday, August 22, 2015

When Saying "Goodbye" Is Tight

Jajja Ernest used to say ‘O’kuwerekera’. When I was growing up, we said, ‘escort’. Today, Teen says ‘a push’. Three forms of saying goodbye.

Back then, whenever I went away, Mum was my biggest escort - even to the neighbours - the Galukandes’ in Muyenga. She would escort me down the three minute walk because it was something that was expected of mums.

It didn’t stop with escorting me to the Galukandes’. Whenever I would fly back to school, she was always on hand to escort me to the airport – putting on hold whatever she had to do. And so it became the norm. At home if we had Guest and it was time for them to leave, if they came by car, we would escort them from the living room to the car. Sometimes Dad took it a trifle too far that when Guest was in the ride, he would escort them from the compound right up to the gate or to the main road.

In the village it was kind of different. Jajja Ernest would tell us to O’kuwereka the visitors. We did and sometimes we got so carried away that the O’kuwrekera went right up to their door step which had them in a fix, because they would then have to O’kuwereka us back to our home.

Just before I hit my teens, I grew up. Suddenly it was un-cool to be seen off at the airport by Parent. If I recall, it was Masembe Kanyerezi, who one day turned up at Entebbe airport without his mum that got the ball rolling.

Eventually Mum and after tearfully accepting that she was a persona no grata in escorting me that I grew a King Kong chest, became an adult, took control of me and became responsible. Responsible? Hmm!

Today we don’t give peeps a push or escort them to the airport like we did in the unreliable days of Uganda Airlines.

But while Masembe, many others and I have grown up that we take ourselves to the airport alone, others have not.

Enter President Yoweri Museveni.

M7 fought a six year+ bush war with a mere 27 others and against the odds, captured power. Then he had to contend with Alice Lakwenya, ADF, Joseph Kony and all, but he didn’t wilt. He persevered.

But the machismo he displayed in the bush and dealing with Lakwenya ADF and Kony, always deserts him whenever he travels abroad. Just like I may have my tights – Oscar, Nodin, Paulo and Doc see me off, M7 has police chief - Kale Kayihura, army boss - Kataumba Wamala, and chief incarcerator - Johnson Byabashaija and sometimes Edward Sekandi at Entebbe to see him off – or to welcome him back.

I did call State House to ask why, but Switchboard declined to comment. Anyway, whenever I have had to escort somebody to the airport, it’s not because I want to escort them. It’s because I feel that if I am the last person to talk to them before they cross the immigration line, without anybody noticing, I could slip them a note of what I want them to buy for me whilst they are abroad.

Though they will strenuously deny it, Kayihura of course slips M7 a note asking for water cannons. Byabashaija wants the entire season of the TV series Prison Break while Wamala wants a drone.

But I could be wrong. It might not be about water cannons, Prison Break or drones. It might be about nostalgia and M7 wanting to relive his youth and the times that people used to see him off whenever he left Rwakitura to go to school or to university in Dar es Salaam.     

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