Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Gift Scroungers

We all like gifts. And we like to be gifted. Back in the day when corporate companies were still splashing load of cash about, one thing that was certain is that whenever they had a function, at the end of it, you just had to walk away with a gift bag. They gave you everything from polo shirts, muzinga’s of JW, dairies, umbrellas to 4x4 tyre covers.

And whenever I attended one of those functions, people always made sure they caught the eyes of Usher because once the function came to a close, it would be Usher handing out the gift bags. She would remember you and set a bag aside for you. If you didn’t catch her eye as you walked in, she might say, “They are over.” 

Which, neatly brings me into the next phase of today’s ramble. I have always been miffed when I walk out of customs at Entebbe airport to find hoards of people waiting for just one person. Last time I walked out, there were fifteen people benching (slang for waiting) One Chap and on his trolley, One Chap had four over sized suitcases and a number of duty free shopping bags.

Obviously when Peeps saw him, they screamed in delight and rushed up to him. But wait a minute. Save for two of them who showered him with hugs and kisses, the rest were more concerned with relieving him of his luggage. They scrambled for the duty free bags and they almost fought over who should push the trolley. I felt sorry for him.

Arrivals At Entebbe International Airport
People go to the airport not to meet you but to lay claim on what you might have bought for them from your travels. They feel they must be at the source and if they are not, then they will miss out on gifts. One chap who I know – let’s call him Julio, cut work to go to Entebbe to meet his sister. Upon his return he narrated he might miss out of gifts because he found many of his siblings and extend family also waiting and going by the solitary suitcase that she flew in with, there wouldn’t be enough gifts to go around.

The man with the hat – M7 that is, is a frequent flyer. Had he be using a commercial airliner, he would have chalked up enough air miles to travel the world for five years after his retirement. And whenever he comes back, there are always people to meet him. Even when he decides to sneak in during the dead of the night, people sit looking at the skies for his plane and dash to the airport.

The people who do that include IGP, Kale Kayihura, army commander, David Muhoozi and prisons boss, Johnson Byabashaija.  I asked those in the know what the story is behind the trio always going to meet him and they tell me it has something to do with State House protocol. They say that whenever M7 returns, the trio have to be hand to brief him on the state of the nation – especially on security matters.

Vice President Sekandi Meeting M7 At Entebbe 
But it’s a lie! And I know better. You see, once Cabinet learns of an impending trip, they lobby to meet M7 and if they can’t meet him, they make do with approaching his ADC and slipping him their shopping lists to pass on.

Like the 15 people I told you about earlier on who went to the airport to meet One Chap and those who catch the eye of Usher, Kayihura, Muhoozi and Byabashaija also fall into that category. That he who goes to the airport and catches M7s eye, will be remembered and a duty free gift bag will be saved for them. 

David Muhoozi and Johnson Byabashaija
Pictures: New Vision, PPU

                          

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