By Kalungi Kabuye
It all started with a Toyota Ipsum car that was parked in the middle of the road at the Lugogo Shopping Mall, and had been subsequently clamped by Security. Whoever the driver was had seen no problem in leaving the car right there, oblivious of any inconvenience caused to other road users.
So I took the picture with my phone, and posted it on facebook. The comments came in fast and furious: “That driver is urban villager, must be.” “The grim reality is they probably don't think they've done anything wrong...#People driving the way they walk!” “Too many primitive people have migrated to the city.” And more…
That got me thinking, what is it about the Ipsum car that is driving decent folks in town over the edge? It can’t be the car by itself, because otherwise it is a really good car. When it first showed up on Kampala streets about five years ago, it was the car to have, especially for the middle income kind of people. And women just loved it.
But that’s all gone now, and it’s mostly taxi drivers and ‘down street’ guys who drive Ipsums. And because they are from downtown, they don’t really care about the law and order you folks uptown like to insist upon. Common decency? Is that one of those fake goods imported from China?
If that guy in Lugogo was in Kikuubo the next guy would just park next to him, the next behind him, and another behind him, and so on. If anybody wanted to leave, the kid selling water in a kaveera on the sidewalk would offer to look for the other drivers, as long as they bought his water.
So that driver at Game must have caused a real ruckus when he came back and found his car clamped. Bet he must have tried to hand the security guy sh2k for his troubles, after his ‘do you know who I am?’ didn’t wash.
What about these guys you find at an ATM, one is standing about four meters away, another is sitting at a rock even farther. You line up, and when you are about to enter then they shout, ‘hey we came first’. Yeah, why weren’t you lining up then? You think this is an Ipsum? Just ignore them.
In 1998, Nasser Sebaggala won the Kampala Mayoral elections, and proceeded to organise a victory parade in the streets with his supporters.
Unfortunately he did not inform the police so they could control traffic and a very bad accident happened around Bwaise when a truck rammed into his procession. There were lots of injuries, and when asked why he didn’t inform the police, he answered: “why should I inform the police?
I’m the Mayor!” If you didn’t know, Sebaggala used to drive an Ipsum, too. And of course his supporters looted all goods on the truck.
There is this guy who was putting up a structure in a road reserve along Yusuf Lule Road. He knew it was illegal, he had been told so by KCCA, and had been warned it would be pulled down, but he went ahead. When it was pulled down, he complained.
Okay, he probably doesn’t drive an Ipsum, but he must have done so at one time, and as they say: it’s easy to take the guy out of an Ipsum (probably into a Pajero), but very hard to take the Ipsum out of the guy.
And as for those very hilarious guys in the New Taxi Park, who complained forever how the park was in very bad condition and was not being repaired. So they are told to move out so it can get repaired, and what do they do?
They swore to fight if they were forced to move. But they were forced to move, and now the park is being repaired and they will be happy. An Ipsum to all of them.
One of my favourite books is La Peste (the Plague), by the Algerian-born writer Albert Camus. It is a classic study of how different people react to hard times.
It tells of a town that was hit by the plague, and henceforth quarantined from the rest of the world. Inside total chaos reigned, and there were people who thrived on the chaos, while others withered. But when the plague passed on they found they really could not deal with a society that was trying to get back to normal. They missed the chaos.
Uganda is in a way like that Algerian town, it has been in chaos for a very long time, and many people learnt how to thrive on that chaos. But now that efforts are being made to bring Ugandan society back to normal, they don’t like it.
They like the chaos, where they could park their Ipsums anywhere, throw rubbish wherever they wished, don’t care about keeping time or returning telephone calls, and could build wherever they wanted. Ladies and gentlemen, the Ipsum Generation.