By Sseggirrinya Mark Peter
Like a snail, when it senses danger it hides into its shell but that doesn’t mean he danger will leave. While in the shell, the snail can’t vividly see what’s happening outside which probably puts it in more trouble than what it is hiding from. And this is a replica in our nation, when the pandemic broke out the government started on a lockdown that was meant to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. At the start of the lockdown, the whole population regardless of tribe and political affiliations joined in and supported the government because they go always clear. At the genesis the head of state declared a fortnight lockdown twined with a 7:00pm curfew which people religiously followed because they hoped for a clear future plan. Down the road, things fell apart because the government continuously extended the lockdown which sparked off very many crimes including robbery, domestic violence, and murder due to the widespread hunger. This has forced people to default the directives of the government because the biggest population being hard up. That is my supposition.
Having finished my Alevel studies in 2019 and siting home to closely 2 months I decided to start being a little busy. At hed awn of 2020, I celebrated my 20th birthday which rang bells in my head, I was no longer quantified as a teenager which only meant I was supposed to startup my source of income because I would no longer depend on my parents on particular items. Being a boy is meant just as a caterpillar comes out of its cocoon, so I was supposed to come out of my comfort zone. With most of the jobs requiring qualified personnel, I settled for a job that would be regarded as dreadful by most teenagers in this generation.I was recruited as a teacher of Social studies and Mathematics in a community school in my neighborhood. Being passionate about changing society, I took this as an opportunity to interact more with people.
However, it being a community school I didn’t expect much financially because of the parents here were disadvantaged and couldn’t afford the other schools in the neighborhood. Due to the fact that the school fees were affordable, there were very many children and only five members of staff which roughly put the teacher-student ratio to1:80. I was supposed to earn Shs. 150,000. Luckily, I had received my February pay off which I had invested with my friends in a T-shirt branding company called BM-ARTISTIQUE and our target market was school club shirts. With the interruption from the deadly COVID-19 that saw the closure of schools, first rendered me unemployed but also meant our market was crushed. So our investment was at a loss and I had backed a wrong horse.
“If we die, we die” this has been the streets slogan. Just when I thought I was in a bad-ass position, let’s look at Taita Ryan. Having go ten the opportunity to teach and the fact that there were very few members of staff at the school, I had been assigned as class teacher of the primary five class. During the school re-opening of the first term, 2020 is when I got to meet Taata Ryan and Ryan Kalanzi his son. Taata Ryan is a 30-year-old dad, of course not very many men at this age take responsibility. During the usual class teacher-parent talk, I was able to learn very much from him. How he managed to cope up with his family responsibility, rent and school fees left me completely at sea given his occupation. He used to sell chewing gum and menthos.
On the roads in Kampala from the little he earned, he was supposed to pay school fees for his son, a foot there until for their one-room house in addition to al that he was meant to work hard and ensure his pregnant housewife had food home. On the school reporting day, he shared with me his sorrowful hustle and constantly referred to me as “mutabani” narrating to me the big hopes he had in his son. He was very enthusiastic about his son’s education. Keeping in mind that Ryan was fed at school, the only thing that he was now worried at was feeding his pregnant wife. Shutting down schools only meant he had now a bigger burden home. And within no time the lockdown was intensified by the man in a white shirt which saw the closure of public transport and at the blink of an eye, the private motorists were also halted. Remember his market as a road street vendor were the people who travel in the cars into town, now with everything closed only meant his business was no more.
He trekked a 30km journey to Kampala to see if he would obtain something little for his family but al in vain.Luckily the government had told the landlords to back off their tenants which gave him leverage to only fully focus on looking for food. After the distribution of government food which was very discriminatory, I talked to my dad and he granted me permission to give out our fair share of this food after persuading him there were people suffering worse in our neighborhood. Taata Ryan was the only person who crossed my mind soI decided to take it to him as a gesture of a caring class teacher.To my great dismay, the condition I found him and there st of the family caused me to tear up. He believes hunger will be the death of most Ugandans rather than the virus itself.
Even with the lockdown being eased, we all know it’s going to take forever for people to buy things from street vendors given the way the virus is being believed to move through contact which has made it spread like a wildfire hence no one can be trusted. What is next for Taata Ryan? While the government is talking about the stimulus package how is this going to help a Ugandan as small as Taata Ryan and the muntu wawansi? These are forces to reckon with while the government is thinking of recovery. “I can’t breathe” as statement being used to show dissatisfaction worldwide and surely we can’t breathe because Ugandans are being suffocated. Let’s join in and proclaim the usual”government etuyambe” and appeal to the government to stop playing Russian roulette with the people.