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Saturday, February 9, 2008

The vibrant streets of Wandegeya

The thick of dusk is at large and thanks to the streetlights, the town is enthused with irresistible glitter. It is almost 8 p.m., and taxi touts are going about their job. "Bwaise Mpererwe, Kalerwe…tuula tugende," they boom as numerous kamunyes zoom by to their destinations. Then honks, more car beeps and the endless blare of taxi horns.

This has long been the culture of many streets in the evenings, and the excitement gets higher during festive seasons. When the sun begins to set, Wandegeya becomes an interesting place with all sorts of people. From street beggars and vendors to business tycoons; all are going about their normal business.

Others strategise on how they can hook up with the university babes. Not forgetting the flesh peddlers (ladies of the night). Wandegeya has got it all.With shops and towering buildings that border the main roads, Wandegez, as is commonly known to Makerere University students, is clean except for the filthy Katanga slum nearby.

I think Wandegeya streets are the most interesting and busiest around Kampala. At dusk, Wandegeya is full of life. Just take a walk between 8-10 p.m. and see for yourself.

Newspaper vendors, second-hand shoe sellers, hawkers, vegetables and fruit sellers plus other business people line their shops.

The rib-cracking night arrives when you meet the street musician. He shakes his near to kabina-less behind as he performs. With hairy broomsticks (read legs), the clownish singer holding an imaginary microphone really has the flow! All the dirty lyrics you have heard are what he packages in rare remixes rapping in Luganda, Lingala and Swahili, much to the delight of his fans. The way he gyrates his waist to the rhythm is enough to choke you. Street people love him and drop him coins before he scrams to a different place.

From here, you wander to the market place, the darker streets where Satan dwells. Yes, the factory of sex peddling. "Jangu uncle…jangu Abwooli…," the sex workers implore. The first time I was summoned is when I realised I was a coward. Man, with rumours that some of these women are incarnate spirits, you got to slow down in Wandegeya lest you play bed-minton with a ghost. The grapevine has it that both campus lads and lasses from Makerere University master their sex lessons from here.
But the highlight on these streets is the drinking joints and restaurants.

With names like 'I Feel Like Chicken Tonight' or 'Deep Blue,' you will be hurrying home when a hand tugs at your lapel. "Hey man, long time!" Turning, you see a Secondary School Old Boy (OB,) and before you know it, he is like, "Man how about pint?" "Kawa" and there in Owenz Bar and Restaurant you patch. Muscled chaps with red-eyes are all over; the dudes look like they have been snorting cocaine. Slowly, the binge takes hold; the revelry of such self-indulgence overpowers before you feel like you want to take that toothless waitress home.

Anyway, these streets --just like a chameleon --are masters of environmental adaptation. When campus students are on holidays, it retains its gentle charm. Even when it rains, the streets are ever vibrant.

The culinary rolex remains the most consumed delicacy by Wandegeya inhabitants.

The street brawls, the sound of music, the night- charming inhabitants make Wandegeya streets nothing but a big story. Wandegeya has the kind of streets that have everything. Idlers roaming around in circles..., you will spot a pot-bellied man yawning like a crocodile or catch a boisterous babe stretching with an I-Want-You-Baby attitude.

This is why Wandegeya streets stand tall and proud as they exude that air of poetry! There is definitely so much to enjoy on these streets, maybe only the genial artist can paint a true picture but for the common man- take a walk through these streets, especially at night, it is when you will relish the real perceptual experience!

Published in Sunday Monitor, January 3, 2005