I MUST have been five when
I proved that a window pane
could break. I got out of
bed running. I dodged the
maid and I headed for the
pile of stones in the compound. My auntie and her husband were long gone to work. I threw a stone at the window and alas, the glass came down crumbling.
I still remember the whacking I got that night. The â€˜post-war effectsâ€™ lasted a week. I also remember the scent of the stuff the builder used to replace the window pane the next morning. Today, such civil servants, considering the state of most government houses, are hard to find.
â€œWhen we finally shifted to our long awaited free accommodation,â€ a certain government employee complains, â€œwe found that the last occupant had been using the bathtub to brew malwa (local potent gin) or such other brew.â€
â€œI know some state-owned flats in Nakasero residential area that have not only been â€˜thirstyâ€™ for a coat of paint for the last 20 years, but some of them have complete eco-systems on the flat roofs, that are irrigated by rusty water tanks,â€ she added. Many residents in these houses can only flush toilets by use of the bucket!
â€œNew occupants normally come to the rescue of these relatively old buildings,â€ Jamiru a plumber says. â€œThey normally come with this sense of a new beginning and spend massively to make the beginning new enough.â€
I know of a lady on Lugard road in Nakasero, who went an extra mile. She painted the inside and outside of her newly-acquired and also did repairs too. She changed it from the near medieval shack that it had been, to a shining colonial residence that it was in 1942 when it was first occupied. She literally sent all the reluctant neighbours to the paint shop.
The pains of renovating a government house