I have lived in Mbale since 2003. I have attended school here right from primary three to university – where I am today. What I can say is that Mbale is a pretty place to live in. Wait a minute! I am not sure things will be the same in the coming few years.
Every day I wake up to savour Mbale’s beautiful plains, green hills and the soothing arms of Mount. Elgon. Here, my life is simple.
Bagisu form the most dominant tribe here. Lugisu, Luganda and English are the most spoken languages. Every even year we witness something special, a tradition that has been carried on from generation to generation, the mass circumcision of boys.
The official ceremony is always in August, in Mudodo village, Bungokho North sub county. After the launch, it is four months of drums, singing and merry making.
Mbale is an affordable town to live in. In Namakwekwe Cell, where I have lived since 2011, a self-contained house costs between UGX 300,000 and UGX 450,000 (Ush) to rent per month. With just UGX 25,000 per month, however, you still find a house to live in, in places like Kichafu, Mirembe and Kiteso cells. It costs only UGX 500 to move, by bodaboda, from those places to the town centre, in just three to five minutes.
From Kikindu market, in Namakwekwe, we get our food at pocket friendly prices. Most boys in the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Livingstone University don’t cook. They just come here. For only UGX 3000 you have both your lunch and dinner covered.
Most of Namakwekwe residents buy their goods from this market. Vegetables and several foodstuffs are cheap because they are grown in the nearby villages of Namanyonyi, Nakaloke, Namunsi, and Nankunsi. The major market day is Sunday when merchants from different part of the country descend here with their merchandise.
We have been living here quietly, drinking our aromatic coffee and exporting some. But in the recent times, youth gangs have been growing rapidly. They call themselves all sorts of names including Street Kings, Evil 72 and the Black Market. I hope things don’t get worse for my Mbale.