DOWN KABAKA STREET

DOWN KABAKA STREET

Something, I suppose, was unique about Daniel Defoe (1660-1731). As the donor knows the recipients’ dire needs, so too did he know his contemporaries’ longing. They helplessly longed for stories from once-distant zones. Off in Uganda, life is no difference. Pain and laughter mingle noticeably, thereby expressing the pitiful sensation of abundance alongside scarceness.

Congested like anthills, Kampala is audible and slow in traffic. Never speed up nor turn deaf. Why? This is a special time to learn or, as a curious tourist, you risk debarking untaught. Days are better times as the city comes to light. And nights sporadically brim with indicative harlot-like noise. For you, the world ought to be within sight on a grand scale but speed confines your sight. I walked with dignity along the streets; happily theft was unimagined as the polyglot city is its Calvary. However crooking is allegedly possible. Most importantly, business is never slow in the city. Along sunny crowded streets, life is active and lunches are taken in the open air by aspiring businessmen.

Street begging was endemic back home, now I was to see if this was also Uganda’s open wound. In truth, Uganda beggars are no subtle. Without panhandling, they reach out their hands to arouse sympathy as people pass by. Alas, the streets are free bedrooms! My question got answered. I know begging is a leveller; wealthiest nations have given in to it as well. You will not believe it. New York, among others, is home for thousands of beggars and homeless. To my surprise, the 8 wealthiest persons in the world  live in America now on the pinnacle of world power. Kigali and Bujumbura reportedly attempted to wipe out begging with rather a child-like zeal, there was no lasting success in either country. Off the bus, for instance, I saw a woman beggar in Kigali. Her hope was the bulk of traffic; her despair was the number of fellow beggars—more fellows less “income”. Begging is as old as humanity; begging monks were Germany’s shame in Lutheran days. There are over 3 types of begging to my knowledge. First, handicap-led begging. Second, laziness-motivated begging. And last, begging to top scanty earnings. Though English speakers are relatively the well-off home, beggars speak English in Uganda. On an April morning, out at Bujagali Fall, a younger beggar spoke English and nearly busked.

The gap between the poor and the rich is meticulously kept wide. As Mrs. King and Martin Luther King flew to India, they were appalled at its misery. “ …we drove in from the airport through narrow, odorous streets,” she wrote, “we saw thousands of people dressed in rags sleeping on the sidewalks or huddled in doorways, lying wherever they could find space.” She concluded that it was due to colonialism. Either had never seen such abject poverty in Africa. And the cost of Iraq war is an indication. To illustrate, Iraq was destroyed to be rebuilt”. The U.S. federal price tag for the war alone was roughly $ 4.8 trillion. People may say otherwise but the U.N. said this hefty sum of money could provide clean water worldwide. Eradicating panhandling was no priority to America.