Friday, April 8, 2016

The Melee At The Family Gathering

There is, something about family gatherings that brings out the best in us. While we look forward to spending holidays like Easter, Christmas, Idd, kwanjula’s and weddings with the greater family, it’s not a straight forward affair. We are supposed to turn up and make merry, but most times, we land with a plastic smile, stretching out one hand to greet while in the other, we have a ‘meat cleaver and jar of acid’ at the ready.

Years ago, I covered the kuhingira of Politician’s Daughter in the west. From the onset, there was not a hint of trouble. The visitors were warmly received, shown to their seats, served drinks and a bite to nibble on while Politician, sat in his tent with his family and looked on intently as Visitors spoke with the microphone being passed from Visitor to Visitor to have a say.

When it was being passed down from last Visitor who had spoken and back to MC, one Visitor didn’t hand it over to him (MC). Instead, he held onto it for dear life, stood up and started talking - except, it wasn’t kuhingira talk. It was a mortifying rant, accusing Politician of not coming to his aid when he was still Minister of Defence to stop his cattle being rustled.

Visitor sitting nearest to Ranter Visitor tugged at his kanzu to get him to sit down. It didn’t work. When MC tried to step in and politely wrestle the microphone away, that too didn’t work. It was when the audio was cut by Silk Mobile that the ranting subsided. The silence that followed was so chillingly deftly, you could hear literally hear a pin drop onto the damp grass. For the rest of the day, Politician swung an acidic look, it would have put the shivers up Vladimir Putin and got me contemplating leaving the function and driving back to Mbarara for a stiff drink just in case I got accused of not doing anything to stop the rant.

Last year, I was at Friends crib for a luncheon to celebrate his mother’s birthday. One of his brothers who I knew to be the family black sheep, sat in the corner – eyes all blood shot and drinking gin in silence.

I didn’t have to have affande Felix Kaweesi’s riot police training to suss there was tension and a melee was in the making. The moment the sun disappeared, Black Sheep shot up and hurled a bottle into one of the circles.

Before anybody had a chance to react, the first punch landed on Uncle followed by rantings of how the family estate was being run since his father’s death and that as musika, Younger Sibling had no respect for him. When somebody shouted out: “But you are just a waragi drunko”, the melee kicked off proper bringing the birthday to a premature close.

We were heading to Mbale in a hired coaster. When we set off from Shell Bugolobi, there was no hint of trouble. Indeed, drinks were being passed round, the music was thumping and jokes were rife - until we got to Namawojolo. There, Elder Brother in the joke theme, told Cousins Wife that the reason she had four sticks of chicken is because Cousin couldn’t afford to buy her a half kilo of kidneys. The joke back fired especially at reference to the half kilo of kidneys and it opened up bitter five-year-old+ wounds.

Sisters-In-Law vilified, screeched and scratched at each other while Brothers and Cousins traded slaps and punches. While all this was going on, I was up front with petrified Conductor and Driver who were intent on driving us to the nearest police post.

These days, moment I hear ‘family gathering’, I just don’t want to know. would you?


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