It’s a Sunny day on the streets of Kampala. Traffic buzzing as usual, it’s a Friday; one of the most looked forward to-days by the working class. End of week means start of the party and yet ‘bars are still closed’, anti COVID SOPS.
While walking down the street, my shoe snapped and just like that, the cobbler at the end of that street was in luck! I quickly made it to his spot, agreed on a price and he gave me a seat which I gladly took. My shoe turned out to be in such bad shape that I wished my birthday was around the corner so that I’d get new pairs for gifts. While sitting meanwhile in fear of using my phone lest a thief snatches it away. This kind of paranoia lives rent free in the heads of every one walking the streets of Kampala. I caught sight of a woman fleeing what we call a mad man. Let’s call this woman Jane because what follows might be an interesting story and my character would need a name.
Jane seemed like she was from shopping but like any person without a car she was suffering with all her bags. Jane is probably in her mid twenties, clad in a little yellow dress, her feet in a pair of black heels with shades on her face. Also why do you dress up for shopping like it’s a party?
The cobbler noticed I was staring at Jane and signaled to me with his mouth a seemingly mad man approaching Jane from behind. And this bred a conversation with my cobbler.
Me: eh bambi ka slay queen kaffe nga kalabye. (At this point, Jane had just seen the madman and was attempting to flee from him)
Cobbler: Naye oyo si mulalu.
And our conversation went on and on as the cobbler explained to me how this wasn’t particularly a mad man but a shabbily dressed street beggar. The men and women we see on the streets every day, the ones we call mad. Have you ever stopped for a minute to wonder if they are really mad? Or perhaps, how they got there? Definitely a story for another day…
Cobbler goes on to explain to me how he has watched this guy grow up on these streets. A fact unknown to many passersby like Jane. Most of them fear him because he looks mad so they are always running away from him.
Back to pretty likkle Jane in yellow. She seemed to be waiting for a means of transport when ‘madman’ decides to make his move. The look on her face is beyond mortification as she can barely run in those steep heels with that many bags. That’s when she notices that Mr. ’madman’ is not on a chasing spree. He stretches out one arm to the now brave Jane as another hand is making rounds from his mouth to his stomach, as if to express his need for food, hunger.
This is when the cobbler’s theory comes to life. He wasn’t a madman but a street beggar. To my shock Jane quickly shoves her hand into one of her bags and hands the guy a big bottle of soda. Also in disbelief, Jane watches the man probably murmur a few thank yous and walk away in peace.
Soon my shoe mending is done and out of gratitude for a good conversation I let the cobbler keep the change. I got into a taxi and headed straight home, excited for the weekend too. Later on that night sipping on my tea while recollecting the day’s events, it came down to one question for me.
How do you treat the less privileged?
All the way from your ‘inferiors at work’ to the people you find cleaning the streets, picking your litter, the house help at home…
Do they even matter to you? Does the fact that they are inferior to you make them any less human? Rhetorics really…
Watching Jane sacrifice her soda for a man she barely knew could have definitely been understood in so many ways. I mean this was a shabby guy roaming the streets with absolutely nothing to give back to Jane. You could say that she was scared and eager for this man to leave her presence, that’s why she gave him the soda. But life is how you perceive it. I chose to inwardly appreciate Jane for what I preferred to term as kindness and a sense of humanity, bravery too. With my gold-medal cowardice, I don’t know that I would have acted similar to Jane. It’s not every day that people show kindness and respect to less privileged people, especially those that look like that.
Majority of us have grown wings from amassing physical wealth and declared ourselves too high and mighty to mingle with ‘low lives’. We make it seem like these people were handed a sheet with choices and they ticked the box that corresponded with ‘less privileged’. No, see if they had a choice they’d be riding in Mazeratis too. As long as we are all flesh and blood, I don’t see so much of a difference. I mean the almighty God dined with sinners and washed his disciples feet. Who do we think we are?
Yet really, it’s the same oxygen we breathe, our blood is all red! But we step on their heads just because we can. We push them to the wall well knowing that even that wall might just crumble on them.
I have lived to learn and appreciate each and everyone’s value in society. The same way your health would be in jeopardy due to absence of a doctor is just about the same way your home would rot away if the garbage collectors were absent. And, don’t even lie to yourself that you can do it all by yourself. Because the truth is you can’t do it by yourself. That’s why you’re willing to pay someone else to do it. The trash probably smells so bad; you wouldn’t even want to walk past it. Or your nails, they are too manicured for them to dig into trash. Orrrrr your suit is too boujee for you to sweep your own office floor. So take it or leave it. We can’t do without each other; our dependencies are like an endless chain.
So what does this mean?
We need to be able to coexist and do this very peacefully. Coexisting starts from respect to kindness to love and so many more virtues that make the world a better place to live in. we are similar yet so different and these differences depending on how you see them, make us very unique. But what is it about these differences? TOLERANCE!!! Let’s create a safe space where each of one of us can lay down our weaknesses and strengths so that we protect each other but most importantly grow each other. Let’s tolerate each other keeping in mind facts such as different opinions should never be ground for conflict.
Life can be so hopeless but when you see someone begging on the streets completely unsure of whom the next giver will be or if there will be any giver at all, it’s got to make you appreciate the littlest things like even having a fully functioning toilet at your place.
Dire situations undress your soul for us to see who you really are.its safe to say that Jane is helpful and kind.
How you treat the less privileged people when no one is looking, that’s the real you! Reflect and fix yourself, our eyes are closed!