You have never stepped on shit on bare foot, talk of real fresh warm shit, not shit that has already dried and decomposed into what agriculturalists call manure. In fact some of you, your girlfriend just pranked you that she missed her last month’s periods, such a trivial issue provoked so many butterflies in your belly that you started thinking of ignoring her subsequent calls and texts. You thought that was the worst moment a second-year campus dude could ever go through. And there’s this buddy who called to notify me how he was going through hell after losing a SportPesa bet – a bet that he placed using his school fees. I told him off, I think his was just profound stupidity cause how could he even think of gambling on his school fees? How?
My friend, life has never kicked you properly in the arse to the extent you forget your nationality – instead of saying Kenyan, you say Kenyatta. The three officers burst out laughing and ask you to come again, you say the same thing. You realize your mistake after mentioning the Late Kenyatta the second time, you start wondering why Jomo Kenyatta is forcing himself into your mouth when he should be peacefully chilling out with his age mates like Tom Mboya and Bildad Kagia somewhere in town. “Damn! Kenyan, not Kenyatta.” You rant. Isn’t that shit? It’ll be fair if I started this story over.
It’s a fine Tuesday afternoon, you are in Busia town again. This time you came here not to purchase a suit but to make arrangements for your next year’s internship. And, you see, a trip to Busia town without setting foot in Uganda is never considered a trip to Bez (folks this side call it Bez, not Busia). For you to brag that you were in Bez, you must cross the border to Uganda, stroll there a bit, or hire a Ugandan bodaboda chap to take you around at a small fee – usually 30 bob, walk into their cheap hotels and eat and drink as much as you can, buy your girlfriend a cheap but quality necklace (for folks that are lucky to have girlfriends), and generally enjoy the way Ugandan beautiful chics approach you with utmost respect, and kneel before you and salute you “ogambachi sevo?” which you’ll be required to respond “vurunji nyavo.” Sevo means bro while nyavo means siz.
So by 2 p.m. you are done with what brought you here. What next? Cross over to Uganda? Yes. You say to yourself.
You pass by the Kenyan Custom and say hi to the ever happy officers before proceeding to where adventure is leading you today. Mind you, no passport or visa card is required to cross over. Busia has already set the pace in the campaign for East African Open Market. You make for the Ugandan gate and from nowhere, a boda boda comes for you. He tells you he can ferry you to Kampala cheaply. You tell him that you are not travelling any farther, you’ve just come to stroll around this place. He doesn’t hear that, maybe he hears, but he doesn’t leave you. He doesn’t give up easily on potential customers. He becomes your tour guide and teaches you the basics on how you should behave – since you are new here. He tells you not to turn around and look at the tall buildings, and not to behave the way girls behave on their first date, little does he know that you live in Nairobi and know all the bullshit he’s drumming into your big ears. You are even wondering where the tall buildings he’s talking about are, you can hardly spot a three-storey house. You listen anyway.
By the way the Ugandan Busia (Busia- Uganda) looks more developed and neater than the Kenyan Busia (Busia- Kenya). So before crossing over to your less developed Busia, you ask the police seated at the entrance if it’s lawful to take pictures there. He tells you he isn’t getting you – he doesn’t comprehend Swahili. Actually that’s something that had eluded your mind. Ugandans and our fellow Luo brothers and beautiful sisters have one thing in common: Kiswahili was just not meant for them. Completely. Kiswahili is not their mouth. So you translate your query into English and shoot it. He asks you to explain the intended purpose of the photos. You shower Uganda with praises – how beautiful it is, how neat it is, how a developed infrastructure they have, how cool its occupants are, and how cool their Police officers are. You also add that you’ll send those pictures to a few investors so they can come and invest in Uganda. Who is he to deny such an honest man to take the pictures he want?
You embark on a photo session. Ugandans see you snapping photos of their town and tell you “otasikwa,” that’s how they pronounce ‘utashikwa.’ You point at the officer seated over there and inform them that he’s allowed you. They go their way. You go over and show him the pictures you’ve taken, he demands something small. You sort out your issues and leave.
Hardly past the Ugandan Custom check point, this tour guide of yours taps your shoulder and tells you those officers want to see you. You confidently bounce there smiling. The officer in dark glasses demands your phone, he stresses to view your phone gallery. This guy’s tone isn’t in any joking moods. The gallery part sinks deeper into your mind and nerves, you’ve no otherwise but to hand over your Tecno. He logs to your phone gallery and instructs you to input password. You do as he commands. He goes directly to the camera folder and goes through the recently taken photos. He then asks you to follow him to some chamber for questioning.
“Your Identity card?” You sink your fingers into your wallet and hand him your ID.
“Where do you come from?” he barks. You don’t understand why he’s asking where you come from when the ID you’ve just given him has all details about you.
“Just from within Busia.” You stutter.
“Where are you taking these pictures?”
“I like taking pictures, they will remind me that I was once here.”
“Show me your yellow fever immunization card.”
“I don’t have.”
“My friend, you will rot in the cells,” (you are wondering how you’ve just turned friends abruptly). “This is against the law, you’ll be jailed for terrorism, these pictures are enough proof.” The other tall police pokes his nose into your dialogue and instructs the man in dark specs to check your bag, and to search you everywhere. You unzip the pocket that houses your Compac laptop, she’s blinking cause you didn’t switch her off completely – you logged her off. She stares at you with her sexy eyes and with a broad sheepish smile, she’s missed your ugly face for the three hours she’s been lying in that bag. She looks ready for anything, you tap her on the back with your middle finger. Little does she know the hell you are going through out here. Little does she know that these lads are being too hard on you, and want you jailed for taking pictures of their country. And they’ll jail her too for accompanying you. So that guy checks you everywhere.
You inform these guys that you sought consent from the officer at the Ugandan entrance before shooting these pictures, and that he even checked them before allowing you out of Uganda. They don’t listen to you. They just want you to listen to their crap.
They demand a KES 5000 fine failure to which they’ll take you to court, where you’ll now be fined 5 million in Ugandan currency which translates roughly into KES 200,000. The dark specs guy asks you how much money you have, you tell him “200 bob.” He reminds you that you’ll rot in jail, and turns to the book on his desk and starts recording your details, that’s when he inquires your nationality and you say “Kenyatta”.
It’s only when things have become this serious that you pull out the Ksh 1,200 in your wallet. But he still doesn’t listen to you. You beg for your phone from him so you can call your kin and ask them to send you money to settle that fine. He’s reluctant to hand it to you for the fear that you may delete those photos, there will be no evidence to charge you. He gives it to you for five minutes and monitors you closely. You click on your phone dialer and type in 072, you then tilt you phone a bit so he can’t clearly view your screen. You quickly scroll down the notification bar, go to Settings, Backup & reset, Factory data reset, Reset phone, and finally click Ok. Your phone restarts. That’s how you lose all the data on your phone memory – including phone numbers and important Apps. The lad in dark glasses asks why you’ve switched off your phone, you tell him, “the phone is not responding.” He snatches it from you.
The tall officer realizes what you’ve just done and demands your money. You part with your 1,200 bob unwillingly. They take back your phone and ID as you take off. You check your gallery and realize that all photos are intact, only the data on your phone memory was erased, nothing on your SD card was tampered with. You send your bro a text message to give you fare, but it doesn’t go through since your phone network is roaming.