Muzungu Musings on Miscibility

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Fri, 03 Oct 2014 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Some things mix well – and others don’t.

Such opinions are mostly subjective – for example my negative opinion regarding tomato sauce in an otherwise beautiful fresh bap, or one combining jam and cheese are at odds with other members of my family.

However I discovered a new bad combination in Kampala today – power outage and rain. For those not in the know, mains grid supplied electricity is not available here all the time. It is normal to have power cuts a number of times a week. We are all used to it – so much so that when in Ireland we can find ourselves at 9pm preparing for lights going out and are refreshed to be reminded that such preparations are unnecessary.

A few years ago Kampala demonstrated a new level of development when it put up a number of traffic lights at busy junctions. It was then discovered that an experienced traffic officer directing traffic could get a higher rate of vehicles through the junction than the lights left to themselves. Thus when you approach traffic lights in Kampala, before stopping at the red or even more importantly before continuing through the green light, it is critical to ensure that there is not a traffic officer overriding their authority. Most of the time, the lights are still changing over their heads, but whether it is green or red we are meant to ignore them and do as we are bidden by the directing officer.

Thus the poor disempowered traffic lights are only allowed to take charge of the junctions in the absence of traffic officers. Usually that means early in the mornings or late in the evenings. Now we are used to being directed, by either officers or lights so at these busy city junctions we have become de-skilled at looking for gaps and accelerating bravely through them.

Today in Kampala there was a power cut. The traffic lights were down. It was during the day and as the traffic officers were around, the lack of power shouldn’t be an issue. However it was raining – something at which Uganda can excel. Thus the three traffic officers at the old clock tower roundabout were sheltering from the deluge with no intention of stepping out to be drenched on the road.

After a brief pause for courage it was back to confidently driving into the torrents of water and vehicles. Life before technology may have been less safe, but it is still more fun!


Gillian Maganda said Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:38PM
Thank God for Ugandan rain! Showers of blessing. Thinking of you all xo

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