Monday, July 11, 2011

The Bakiga Window: On Any Given Day...

The view from the step of the Royal Supermarket, Kabale.
On any given day, the main street through Kabale loudly plays its song. The rumbling of trucks’ tyres provides the beat, their engines the bass. Over this the boda-bodas provides a dissonant scream of a melody. Occasionally solo riffs are mixed in and out by a people asking, ‘osiibire gye’ and ‘agandi’.

It is Thursday 14th April and I am on the covered porch area of the Royal Supermarket in the middle of Kabale town – a kind of focal point for Bazungu resting on the Ntungamo-Kisoro road.

The man in charge of the shop, Bunty, is an Indian. His little brother having been raised most of his life here regularly switches between Rukiga, Punjabi and English, much to the relief of the high number of customers who frequent the store.

At this store Bazungu come in all varieties, much like the flavours of juice. You can choose, English, Irish, American, German, Dutch and even Slovenian. They shuffle in, give a 'knowing glance' to any other bazungu in the shop, buy their goods and shuffle out again. They make me laugh and swear under my breath in equal measure as my instinct is always to be suspicious of people's motives - doubtless they may think the same as me.

Regardless of the little white dots who pass in and out, punctuating the vivid colour of Kabale, the Royal Supermarket is a great vantage point for watching people go about their business. As I sit here I see a dad on boda-boda laden with shopping and a couple of primary school-age children. I see two noisy and glamorous Orange mobile saleswomen talking about everything but mobile phones. I also see some familiar faces of street children nibbling at a raw cabbage.

The beauty of life here is the vibrancy of the people. The cadences in people's voices as they greet each other in Rukiga - a sound a lot more melodic than English spoken by Englishmen and women. The colours of their clothes. The beautiful postures of people walking to or from work.

I could sit and watch this show quite happily until the sun goes down.

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