I am a Member of Parliament. Representing my fellow Ugandans is something that I do. In the three years I have done it, it has transformed from a humble idea and attempt at relaying the interests of my constituents in the national assembly to a consuming job. Thankfully, one that I get paid for, and exorbitantly too.
Today it was one thing that I did, typically well. It was an important day, not only to me as a shrewd businessman but the country as a whole. The fast becoming prominent finance minister, like those that have come and gone before her, showed off her briefcase which contained reflections on the past financial year and projections for the next one, and to pertaining stakeholders, read it out in her richly accented voice. I am, of course, one of them, the important ones. I was invited and had to be present, in person. The others – the not so important ones – must have been either missies criticising – positively or otherwise – her forever bad hair day look, and printed African dresses or broke armed chair economists, critics, commentators, and journalists who were tweeting away.
Before all that happened, I had a few personal errands to run in preparation for the day’s big event.
At eight o’clock, I paid allegiance to a habit I have developed lately: staggering out of my house every morning to patrol my fortress while eating a mug of porridge, and checking ifnit is still intact especially from any possible damage that soul have been occasioned by the noisy tabloid photographers.
This, I do and did without a shirt on. I wonder why I never feel naked going about my business without a shirt on. The maids aren’t aware that my volcanic hearing has enabled me to learn that they have nicknamed me kanyama.
With an innate haste, I asked a young man in the quest for useful employment to join me for a drive to a new residence I have found him to occupy as a tenant. It is an expectation that as a representative of my people, I am generous with all resources available to me.
Shortly before nine o’clock, we left my residence in Rubaga and headed to Natete where I have found him a house in which he will be staying. Later, we proceeded together to Mengo Hospital for a regular check up on my eyes that the business of representing my people has kept me from having. We were unsuccessful. My health card had, unbeknown to me, expired way before the time we got there. We even failed to say the parking fee. Not because we could not afford, or that we are necessarily bad people who did not want to but, unbelievably, we did not have the little monies required, especially on a day like this of talking about big monies.
We returned home shortly after ten o’clock. The budget speech reading ceremony, I was well aware, was scheduled for eleven o’clock but I had to find a lasting solution for an ache that was not going to help me keeping. It is then that at twenty five minutes to the hour, I instructed my driver to drive to the International Hospital, Kampala regardless of the fact that it is miles away, in Muyenga.
A two hours wait for what was originally a regular check up on my eyes turned into a preparation for a sleeping session that gradually started in the corridors of a fancy hospital and eventually climaxed in the comfortable seats of Serena’s Victoria Hall where I looked my honourable colleagues in shaming ourselves.
The long wait enabled me to read, in detail, two daily newspapers; The New Vision – for government’s propaganda – and Daily Monitor – for an alternative but unfortunately reserved and not so bold opinion. When not reading the freely available office copies, I purchase them on a daily basis to look out for either constructive feedback on what my honourable colleagues and I do while, admittedly, wasting away national resources and also to find out if by making their pages, I have made it. As a representative, I have to be seen as working.
It also gave me an opportunity to to, by the help of spying system I had had inserted in my phone, listen in to what my driver and the young man in my car were conversing about. Be it their own loose delights or anything that might be of interest to me.
The driver, an immediate past garage mechanic before he started taking to his wife and child a fair share of my, and in effect, the country’s money, is a reflective young character. He talks like he is illustrating a great poem I am certain he has no knowledge of; Barlow’s Building The Nation.
“These are the problems of Honourable. The man is so disorganised. He moves around with no schedule. He is also stubborn and adamant. He has no time at all. In fact, he has the dirtiest vehicle at Parliament. The other day, it was towed away by the President’s guards. We went to Parliament late mad parked by the roadside become the parking lot was full. They simply unlocked spit from that door at the back and pulled it away.”
He said, before adding, later, in a distorted speech that…
“Presidents want to stay in power. They want to stay in power for a long time. After the first term, they ask for reelection. They always say that they want to offer change and economic development. Museveni has not even built a single hospital. These guys here! They spend time in Parliament but do nothing. OK. We have enjoyed stability in Central and South but the North has problems. To get five hundred shillings in Kampala is a hustle but that cannot buy you lunch.”
They took a breather and then a random statement from the other young man in the vehicle came through.
“I want to buy a car. I am tired of walking and feeling like being held hostage by these very important people.”
The driver had a quick retort. He always has one.
“Become a Member of Parliament or join a government agency. You will buy it even tomorrow. The ones who work hard do not get anything. The ones who do not apply their fingers onto work get everything.”
I believed him. He is in the same boat and on the same sea with most of the people I represent. I wish I could have heard more of what they had to say it is from people like them that I learn how to represent my people better.
However, a phone call from my wife who needed second opinion and my consent to effect an important business decision interrupted us.
At about a half past the hour of one o’clock, we left the hospital and headed home. We took quite a while in traffic jam that had built up on Entebbe road and all its feeder roads because of the day’s special event.
I lamented to and with m two young mates about how we are still a poor country without good roads that could comfortably deal with the traffic. A poor country in which people queue up, like we had seen, in both private and private hospitals. I told them about the day I took my ailing mother to the same hospital and we left at about midnight, much to her angst.
Five minutes past the hour of two o’clock found us arriving home where I had returned to suit up for the budget speech reading ceremony. We found a road construction vehicle parked right in front of my residence’s gate. It’s driver did not excuse us. He talked and behaved like a clerk with a PhD. Little did he know that he was sabotaging a representative of the people.
Because of my now well known disorganisaton, I left my bedroom door ajar and asked the young man to tell me whatever he was watching on the television as I dressed up and had a quick lunch concurrently.
He told me that the all important finance minister had arrived, anthems had been sang, and His Excellency, the chief peasant, was inspecting a guard of honour.
I rushed out of the bedroom with an unbuttoned shirt, unkempt hair which I combed in the corridor of the house. I must have left the comb in the vehicle or the kitchen like I often do. I grabbed a pen on my way to the car, and apologized to the young man who had wished to join me. It was an exclusive event. Attendance was only by invitation. He could only keep up with the proceedings on the television. As for me, I had to hurry up and represent my people.
I asked the driver to move as poorly as possible, try to use any shortcuts if available, and get to the Serena as quickly as he could. Thanks to African timing, I was in my allocated seat before the first speech and doing my job; representing my unfortunate people.
On the day of reading the FY 2013/2014 budget.