A friend of mine whose mop of hair would threaten the career of any Reggae artiste happens to hold the opinion that I think a lot.
For that am guilty as charged, and yet again to prove her assertion, I sat in a taxi over the weekend and caught a glimpse of a boda boda (motorcycle) rider squeezing in between two huge trucks to probably beat his previous record for reaching his destination on time.
The sight of a Boda boda rider squeezing in between a parade of large vehicles with the potential to mince his flesh into numerous pieces Is nothing new in Uganda.
In fact, its one of the Pros of traveling by Boda Boda; their ability to maneuver in between vehicles and beat heavy traffic is a quite exceptional trait that makes them unique or rather heavily sought after.
Nonetheless my aimlessly busy brain opted to put a pattern to it and blow the whole thing out of proportion by linking it with a scene that had caught my attention earlier on when a Karamojong beggar and her kid had stood on my window.
She was kindly requesting for one hundred shillings which happens to be the smallest denomination in Uganda’s currency- or rather to be precise the second smallest considering the fact that we still have the devalued fifty shilling coin that can’t purchase even the least valuable of items.
The way my brain set it out was that one day a Boda boda rider who out of habit likes to beat traffic by negotiating his way in between the crevices left by vehicles jammed in traffic pulls off a similar feat and this time runs out of luck and gets either knocked or suffocated in the process.
As an aftermath of his accident he probably breaks his legs and motorcycle, or in the worst case scenario loses his life in the process, either way he loses more than the couple of shillings he was hoping to gain by doing his riding rounds a little faster.
Now to bring in the beggar and her son, my delusional mind put her at the scene as the cyclist’s wife who happens to be a sit-at-home house-wife just like most women in this country..
As a result of the cyclist’s irresponsibility, his wife and kids are definitely deprived of a steady source of livelihood, they don’t get to enjoy even the smallest of basic necessities, if their spouse broke his legs in the accident (which is likely what is bound to happen) they lose their ability to work either temporarily or permanently.
If the cyclist happens to lose their life in the accident, then the family is subjected to even more gruesome consequences, their nightmares get to bask in the light of reality in lieu of the fact that the wife to the deceased cyclist has no marketable skills or knowledge.
She resolves to beg, it an ugly world and when it doesn’t go well for her she recruits her children who add a key ingredient to her practice; the ability to evoke empathy.
After a while she gets so good at it and decides to make it a permanent venture as she solicits money and alms from prospective sympathizers while she begs on the very streets her husband should have driven safely on to keep her in her home.
Since the widow can barely survive, her kids begin to lack even the most basic of necessities and as a result education at this point appears to be a luxury she can’t afford.
Her children are exposed to dangerous life on the streets and are without a formal education as they grow, their die is cast against their prosperity which makes life almost impossible for them.
The poverty cycle continues into the next generation, and it might even go on unless an enterprising and hardworking descendant steps up.
It was a hostile sight to envision and with a deep sigh I dimmed my vision whilst hoping that drivers and cyclists alike would think about not only their lives but also the existence of siblings, their spouses, children and even their co-drivers whose lives could be changed in an instant because of negligence and carelessness.