I usually take enough rest on Friday after a Thursday night shift at our 24-hour store in Mengo but this time, put on a short white dress, and with my hot pink lips, pink shoes and a pink bag, I headed for the dining table. After taking some fruit and a glass of water, I lazily left home for the beautiful hill of Mengo.
It took me a few minutes from Mutundwe to Mengo and as soon as I jumped off the commuter taxi something caught my eye.
A half naked boy, with a torn short above his knees, and a rag hanging over his shoulders, was walking hurriedly with a sack of metal scrap on his head. His bare feet, covered with smudge, hit the ground with thumps of an overweight broiler. I followed him without his knowledge. In a short while we were in Kisenyi, a slummy part of Mengo many would dread to live in.
Mengo is a beautiful hill in Lubaga division, Kampala. It hosts the headquarters of Uganda’s most popular kingdom, Buganda. At the top of the hill everything smells royal, at its foot is this slum some poor people call home.
Kisenyi, where this boy returns after scavenging in other parts of Kampala, is also home to most of the foreign nationals of Somalia living in Uganda. Kisenyi is home to very poor people.
During the day I saw many women, especially Somalis, veiled from head to toe. But when I returned at night that dressing had been replaced with skimpy and flesh revealing attire.
I recognised four street kids I had seen during the day begging. This time they were dressed in clean jeans-trousers and T-shirts. The local authorities had arrested them for snatching a woman’s handbag.
Further down, mothers and their daughters stood by the streets for potential buyers of sex. The sex business was also evident in bars and car parks as couples cuddled in the blanket of the night.
I asked about the whereabouts of the veils I had seen during the day and I was told by a girl who served me a bottle of soda at one of the restaurants that some of them were the ones I was seeing in skimpy wear.
“During day they are religious. At night they are something else. That is the life here,” she told me.
I requested to be taken to the lodging section to have a look at the rooms. We passed through a narrow corridor littered with used and unused condoms. The rooms were small, with small beds, deem light, a small water can, and a basin. Each had a corner reserved for both toilet and bath.
These rooms go for Shs 10,000 for 2 hours. Anything above two hours is Shs. 20,000. A packet of condoms is provided free of charge by the lodge.
This was my unplanned journey to Mengo-Kisenyi.