By Joyce Namagembe
At home in Masanafu.The landlord has come to ask for rent from the tenants for over 3months now. Only one tenant has been able to pay since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic in Uganda. Others cannot pay because they are not working since March when the country went through the lockdown. Joyce tries to plead to the landlord for a pardon or a grace period but the landlord insists that she should vacate her house. All tenants come out and educate the landlord who later calms down and leaves.
Location: Home in Masanafu Village
Characters: Joyce, Landlord, Tenant I and tenant 2
Background SFX: Children playing in the compound.
1, SFX: Knocking hard at the door
- Landlord: (Projecting) Madam, Madam, are you inside?
- Joyce: Eh, landlord, why do you knock too loud like that?
- Landlord: It’s my door, I am free to knock the way I want.
- Joyce: But that is being rude, was trying to put my baby to sleep, he has not fallen asleep since last night… You know…
- Landlord: I know what?! Do I know anything concerning your life?
- Joyce: Please listen to me.
- Landlord: Before you explain anything, I want my money.
- Joyce: Ssebo please listen, ever since the COVID 19 pandemic broke out in Uganda, I lost my job.
- Landlord: So?
- Joyce: I am requesting that you give me some time, when the lockdown gets to an end, I will resume my work and clear the debt.
- Landlord: Whom are you deceiving?! I have seen people working though the country is going through a lockdown.
- Joyce: I am not deceiving you, please. The company I work for made selections of workers who are going to continue working as they facilitate their transport, but it was unfortunate for me because I was not selected because I am not among the senior employees.
- Landlord: I do not care just give me my money. Haven’t you been saving?
- Joyce: Please help me, my son is not well, I cannot give him proper treatment because I do not have money, being a single parent, I am struggling to feed him and my 4years old girl.
- Landlord: So, you want my children to go through what your children are going through?
- Joyce: No, that is not what I mean.
- Landlord: You know what? Can you please find means of vacating my house? Or else I will throw your property out!
- Joyce: I don’t have anywhere to take my children, please wait until the lockdown gets to an end so that I take them to my mother.
- Landlord: (Shouts) Can you stop telling me about your problems and leave my house?!
- Tenant 1: (Approaching Mic) But landlord, aren’t you human?! Ihave heard that woman pleading for you mercy from you, and you continue shouting at her? Seriously?
- Landlord: Are you the tenants’ spokesperson here?
- Tenant 1: I am just concerned about the way you are shouting to the young lady, we , the neighbors know what she is going through ever since the lockdown started.
- Landlord: You people should listen carefully, by the way… (He shouts) All of you come out…
- Tenant 2: (Approaching Mic) What is it landlord dear?
- Landlord: Stop sweet-talking me, I want my money!
- Tenant 2: Hmmm where do you think we can get it especially during this time when we are not working?
- Joyce: That’s what I have been explaining to him. (Cries)
- Tenant 1: Wamma stop crying. For me have already cleared.
- Landlord: Then why are you here now? Have I called you out? I want to talk to only those who have not cleared.
- Tenant 1: I know but I won’t just look on as you treat my neighbors like this.
- Landlord: You people should listen, I invested in these houses because I was planning for my old age, but as if you want me and my family to sleep on an empty stomach because of your problems.
- Tenant 2: No way, the outbreak of this pandemic is no one’s fault, all of us were caught unaware, so if my neighbor Joyce cannot clear the rent, you should stand with her during this time until she goes back for work and she clears.
- Joyce: He has forgotten that I have been paying in time when I was working.
- Landlord: What if you don’t go back for work? I want my house!
- Joyce: (Crying) Landlord, I will go back, if I fail to return to where I have been working, I will look for another job. But please do not throw my property out.
- Tenant 2: Stop crying Joyce, he cannot throw your property outside, the president said landlords should be patient until the lockdown is over, and people resume their work.
- Tenant 1: And if he insists on throwing Joyce out, we should report him to police.
- SFX: Baby crying
- Landlord: As if I hear a baby crying loudly.
- Joyce: That’s my baby, I told you he is not fine, but you thought I was deceiving you.
- Tenants 2: And where is your daughter?
- Joyce: She is there, playing with the other neighbours children.
- Tenant 2: Has she had lunch yet?
- Joyce: Not yet, I am still preparing porridge.
- Landlord: But its 2pm, is it for breakfast?
- Joyce: No, it’s what we are going to eat for lunch. It is the flour that the government gave us.
- Landlord: What?! (Leaving Mic) I have to go.
Joyce is a writer who works the Population Media Centre.