By Raphael Okello
I have always known too well of Wandegeyaâ€™s sinister face of dusk; of market corridors and open car parking space turned into yards for drunkards, of men whistling at and ogling skimpily dressed university girls, of pork and loud music in bars, of sizzling roadside chicken and beef grills oozing smoke, of university moving about in passionate embrace.
Today, on a late sunny afternoon, as I walk through, I take a minute out of my subconscious. Wandegeya divulges a peculiar face.
Parked cars, commercial motorcyclists and human traffic occupy every inch of space. Hawkers, food and fresh fruit vendors compete for clients and space along the main streets. Women in backyard alleys lure every passer-by for a hairdo, each promising a better price.
Wandegeya is acquiring the fashionable and glitzy facade befitting of a metropolitan suburb. A first-time visitor would be overwhelmed by the speed of life. There is something to see, learn or buy in every corner.
However, more profound is the vibrant fast-food industry. There is a fast-food eatery vverywhere. New ones like Palz and Tavyâ€™s Dine and Dazzle, have emerged to cash in on the 24-hour business. If McDonalds were to be established here, Wandegeya would be a suitable home.
Wandegeya is also the home to fashion and design. The love of second-hand trendy clothes and shoes by University girls has remodelled Wandegeyaâ€™s shopping arena. Huge goods containers turned into boutiques, are planted in the peripherals along the busy streets.
Inside the boutiques, fluorescent lights lend a brand-new look to the collection of cheaply picked trendy clothes from Owino Market, and the prices instantly change to fit their new profile. The target buyers are squeamish campus girls who cannot mingle with sweaty, smelly bodies in the Owino hustle. This is the place where women get their hair and nails fixed from any of the numerous beauty parlours in no time. Five girls often work on a womanâ€™s hair while the manicure and pedicure vendor polishes her nails. Men stroll along verandas with piles of knotted ties in their hands. A lucky buyer could get a designer tie at sh3,000.
An assortment of shoes, fruit and vegetables are beautifully sprawled on the ground outside shops selling second-hand electronics and supermarkets. The cut-throat market environment notwithstanding, Wandegeya is a world of business coexistence, an exciting bazaar for the avid shopper.