KAMPALA, UGANDA

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When I heard that my all time favorite band, Boys II Men was going to be in the neighbouring country, Uganda, I just had to go and see them! I know most of their songs by heart. I had replicated their lyrics when writing letters to my romantic interests. I had dreams of one day marrying a guy with a deep goosebump-inducing  barritone who sang ‘Thank you in advance’ to me and made my heart skip a beat or ten. I know…I know….I was a hopeless romantic and believed in love then. All because of Boyz II Men. The show was scheduled for 6th December, 2008, so I planned my trip for 5th December. I packed and left everything ready for pick up in the evening. The plan was to go home after work, grab my bag and head to the bus station. As fate would have it, this is one of those days that my inbox was overflowing with work assignments and a report was required ‘by c.o.b.’ so I had to work late. While leaving work hurriedly, I realized that if I went home to pick my luggage I would get late so I boarded a matatu and headed to town. I met up with a friend for dinner and he was kind enough to give me his jacket. He thought I was crazy for travelling on a whim like this, but if spontaneity equals craziness, then I am certified crazy. The good type of crazy I would hope

Boyz II Men

I boarded the Kampala bound night bus at around 8 p.m. I took my seat and promptly fell asleep as bus snaked its way out of Nairobi city. It took us about 8 hours to get to the Busia border town. We got off the bus to go through immigration and since I had left my passport at home I had to get a temporary pass so that I could cross the border to Uganda. I paid about 500 Kenya shillings to have passport photos taken, filled in the forms , paid the fee and was granted the pass. Currently it is much easier to go to Uganda (and Rwanda) for  Kenyan nationals as they can use only a national identity card as the travel document. We crossed the border on foot and had our travel documents stamped on the Ugandan side. Once everyone had gotten through, we set off towards Kampala. As the morning wore on, the sun begun peeking through the clouds. Every time the bus would slow down near a busy area, dozens of vendors would throng our windows holding out meat skewers, water, soda, biscuits, groundnuts, and more meat skewers.  6 hours later we arrived in the busy Kampala town

Uganda skewers
Vendors selling meat skewers along the Busia-Kampala road

My first stop was a shopping mall because, well, a girl did not have any clothes lol! After walking through a couple of stalls I picked out two pairs of jeans and three tops. I then boarded a mini-bus and headed to a guest house recommended by a Ugandan friend, checked in and freshened up. I had not bought the ticket to the Boyz II Men event so I called the concert organizers to find out how to get a ticket only to be told that the concert had been cancelled. What!! Cancelled? How? Why? When?? Why didn’t anyone tell me this like 16 hours ago? Joe Thomas who was supposed to be the curtain raiser was now going to be the main act instead but my heart was already broken.  Nathan, Wanya and Shawn….after years of memorizing all your songs word by word only for you to stand me up on our first date….you really did me wrong!! I don’t even like you any more. Ok, I still do. Lol! But you really hurt my feelings. Anyway, I went to a nearby restaurant and had some breakfast then decided to take a nap and figure things out later.

Later that evening I decided to check out Ange Noir which was a popular club in Uganda and it did not disappoint. I remember being so amused that there was a carpet in a club. Haha! And so I am dancing the night away to mostly Ugandan artists’ songs and then Kenyan artist Nameless’ song comes on. ‘Commit a crime and I’ll be your defender….Nasinzia nikikuwaza’ ….Now every time I am outside Kenya and a Kenyan song comes on in a club I jump, scream and yell at the top of my voice ‘that’s my sooooong! that’s my sooooooong!!’ and then start dancing like crazy. So I did exactly that and noticed there was this guy who also went into a similar frenzy. I figured he must be Kenyan so I made sure I angled myself perpendicularly and kept dancing while moving towards him until we intersected and were dancing together. I had a great time and in the wee morning hours I made my way back to the guest house. I woke up later on that day and went out to have some lunch. I found it interesting how you can order a dish of rice and meat in Uganda and get a full plate of rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, matooke, vegetables, meat and groundnut sauce.  Later that evening I got on a bus and headed back to Nairobi as I needed to be back at work on Monday. That, my friends, is the story of how I found myselefu in Uganda the first time.

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