15 January 2018

Uganda: How I Sold Green Houseflies to a Butcher

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They say desperate times call for desperate measures. And Waigulo was not going to sit on his hands and sulk as his butchery runs out of business because of formalin fuss. He had to do something and the first idea was his best bet.

"Younger, come over," he said, beckoning at me.

I was sitting nearby with a betting list in hand digging for the best. Waigulo, the butcher, said he could help me earn instant cash instead of the anxious wait in betting.

"How will you do that?" I asked.

"Just find a way to catch for me houseflies. The green ones are even better. Big green houseflies, if you know what I mean," he said with the seriousness of an election. (I grew up in Busoga so L and R are used interchangeably, it's up to you to figure the rest). I thought Waigulo was joking but he repeated himself.

"How much per fly?" I asked.

"We are in business. I will pay Shs200 per green housefly, half of that for the other types," he said.

"No, Shs500 for green, Shs300 for the others."

"Shs400 and Shs200, take or leave."

"You are the bizarre one asking for flies, not me."

"Okay, deal. Shs500 and Shs300. Just make sure they are alive and healthy."

"What are they for?"

"Just bring them, you don't have to know."

I carried them in the white kaveera. I had pierced holes in the kaveera to keep the flies alive and healthy as Waigulo demanded. The butcher proceeded to count them but it was not easy. He would count to three and the flies would move in the kaveera, cutting him in his count.

"Eh mama! How many are they here?" he asked.

"Thirty two green flies and 47 others."

"Gwe Younger, I can't pay you that much. I didn't mean you bring all the flies from Kireka to my butchery."

"You wanted flies, I brought flies. Pay."

Just then, a big car pulled up. I couldn't make whether it was a Toyota Pajero or a Suzuki Prado. It looked nice. UAZ something. But what I couldn't mistake was the man who stepped out holding a yellow MTN paper bag. He was MP Ibrahim Abiriga.

"Customer, welcome," Waigulo said, grinning from ear to ear. I noticed he was hiding the kavera of flies I had delivered behind him.

Abiriga scanned the butchery for something. His eyes roamed like he had something of particular interest. As a boy, I recoiled to let the elder be served.

"Why are there few flies, don't tell me you are also using forms," the MP said.

"Ah, onrebel, not me. I am super clean, that is why there are a few flies around otherwise I can't use formalin."

It is then that it dawned on me why Waigulo had sent me for houseflies and that Abiriga's roving eyes were searching for presence of houseflies. I liked the fact that Waigulo, a butcher, had pronounced the honourable perfectly, but I wasn't sure why he has said formalin when Abiriga said forms. Which was which? I wondered.

"Or have you brought some used Mujaaja around," Abiriga went on, scanning the corners of the butchery some more.

Now Mujaaja, what was that? Is that the thing Winnie was praising as being multipurpose among the Banyankole? For us we used anthills. You just slid on one and pulled up your 'mama njagala kupama' shorts. Elders used maize cobs and such things. What was Mujaaja?

"Sir, I'm legit. No formalin. The healthiest quality cuts in town," Waigulo said.

"Three kilos of meat and two of liver," Abiriga announced. And then as an afterthought, he said to us more than to himself: "If only this forms thing could preserve Yoweri Museveni for Uganda so that he just keeps leading our motherland for eternity and forever... "

Chuckling, Waigulo said something and Abiriga asked in a terse voice: 'Are you sure?'

I pulled up my wiseacre skits and said Abiriga could help Museveni drink the formalin, maybe it would preserve his internal body organs and he lives to welcome Jesus back. He didn't like the joke.

"Unrepentant child! Go and play!" he said.

"Wait, my money... " I opened my eyes to see my daughter pulling at me.

"What money? Mummy says it's time to go to work," she said.

Interesting dream. Houseflies and returning to childhood? By the way, how much did Waigulo owe me if it wasn't dreams? I could claim my money. January is bad. Thirty two green flies and 47 others. And Toyota Pajero, Suzuki Prado!

Uganda

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