By Eunice Nankwanga Kasirye
The pangs of a poor city child are never ending; the child doesn’t know the true meaning of being a child. The poor city child in Kampala knows no right to play, no right to learn from mistakes, no right to be forced into mid-afternoon sleep- the child literally crosses from being a baby into maturity.
The Kampala poor child earns the food, the clothes, health care, school fees and everything that would look obvious. This is the child who dares all types of weather and all insecurity to earn his child hood.
The poor child in Kampala knows no child mythical scare every child seems to go through during the innocent years- myths like:- Don’t cry or make noise at night the Night dancers will eat you…because making unnecessary noise at night is luxury to a poor city child
Nakate (not her real name) is a poor city child, the first time I met her, was one of those wet cold evenings with heavy traffic jam in Kampala city.
She was hawking sweet banana at the sidelines of the heavy traffic jam. I saw her from a distance, a girl of around 8 years of age; she was shivering from the cold wet evening, with a slightly heavy basket of sweet banana on her head, one hand supporting the basket on her head, the other curving around what looked like a waist wallet tied close to her chest. she slowly came closer, trying to peep into each car she gets closer to and then in a faint shaky small voice would ask whether one would at least buy from her…it was almost 8pm, her wet cold face could easily be seen with city lights…she was wearing a school-like sweater…not thick enough to make her warm from the wet evening, her legs seemed shaky as well, since they were bare, the dress she wore was above the knees, her feet were only protected with slim old slippers…what a sight! .. I made a sigh…She was getting closer…but before she could talk to me …the traffic lights gave way and we had to move… then she fidgeted to get off the road and narrowly missed a run-over by a speeding motorbike… her sight never left me…throughout the night till the next day when I drove to the same route with hope to speak to her.
The following evening was cold but not wet, at almost the same spot, I see the same young girl. Nakate, this time sitting on the lawn between the road lanes, it was almost a half past 8pm, made a short prayer for the traffic to get slower as I get closer, indeed it slowed, and I signaled her to come over…
With excitement she grabs her banana basket to rush for a sale…she must have imagined, since her basket still looked full…before she could get close enough, the traffic was released…she frowned her little face with sad eyes glued on me as I slowly started to move…I signaled her again to follow the traffic to the next parking space.
From my side mirror, I could see her trying with hardship to cross the busy road with her basket resting on the knees supported with her two little hands as she struggles not lose the sight of me…. The traffic seemed to fail her with a heavy basket on her knees- I see her resigning to the middle lawn…then she tried stretching her sight to make sure she could still see me… then someone helped her lift the basket to her head as she starts walking towards my direction……
I got packing as I waited for her.
To Be Continued….