Sitting on the balcony of Tangu Café, I eye the plate of steaming Katogo nestled on the glass table and salivate. Huge fingers of Matooke, swathed in Bacon stew, the best around town. I proceed to open the small green flask and pour out the tea and the aroma of Ginger wafts up my nose. “… with a lot of ginger” is what I had said and it seems the fleshy waitress had followed my directions to the letter. I try to focus on my companion, to hold his gaze but the chair across is empty. I am alone. Did I just say that out loud? Am I running mad?
Anyway, mad or not, the phrase still holds true. I really don’t think Bobi Wine should have mowed off his dreadlocks. The devil is in the details and a man is usually as good as he looks. Often, we try to convince ourselves that we are different from what we present, that just because we look ‘like thieves’ doesn’t mean we are. The older I get however, the more I am convinced that when one looks like a thief, trust him to snatch your wallet. You can always thank me later.
Those dreadlocks stood for an idea. They were a symbol, a symbol of hope. Those dreadlocks were the idea that a simple ghetto child could rise up and somehow negotiate his way through the dimly lit corridors of power to the legislative body. The hair and the music. That’s why he was voted. It is what the people had come to associate with words like gladiator, the ghetto freedom fighter.
On his last rally, after being arrested, hundreds of people flocked the premises of his detention and demanded to have their ‘Lucky Dube' back. The devil lies in the details they say. As far as I know, the South African reggae maestro had little in common with our own ghetto gladiator. The music notwithstanding, their dreadlocks were the common factor.
Then our man succumbed to the pressure, to the stereotypes. I was disappointed, although I tried to hide it, looking at our man ‘smartly' decked out in a three piece black suit, the dreads gone, waiting to be sworn in. Looking at him, the way he blended in, I tried in vain to identify how different he looked from the fat cats he will find in the legislative house. In his sleek black three piece suit, our own ‘ghetto gladiator ‘ could have passed for a Saville Row dummy, or a lawyer perhaps, an Abdu Katuntu or a young version of our beloved president.
A biting question is presented at this time.
“What makes us sure that he will not change?”
Yes, I am aware that it’s a long shot, that I am just being dramatic and paranoid in the least but think about it. The way the struggle began, our ghetto hero at the beginning, soliciting for votes and we the ghetto people hopefully trusting our ghetto Jesus. And now he does look different to be honest. Do we have any guarantees that he will not change, that he will not evolve into the crop we already have? Anyone remembers Kato Lubwama? Yes, the gecko eyed comedian had gone into the house as the commoner’s voice and weeks later, he was on Television, rationalizing about why he as a legislator needed an 180 million car and an IPad because as an honorable, he had to ‘eat honorably’ and to ‘dress honorably’...
|Still ghetto gladiator?|
The version of Bobi Wine I would have loved to see in parliament is the weed smoking version, probably downing a few sticks outside parliament , before swaggering in to represent his common ghetto people. I mean if he was sure that that was him, that even with his weed and dreadlocks he could agitate for the needs of his people, why change? Why bend in to the stereotypes? Who said anyway, that for a legislator to be effective he must be clean shaven and decked out in suits?
My Katogo is getting cold. I reach for my earphones that had fallen out as I was reasoning and I realize that I had not posed the music. Tupac’s is playing in the background, nearing the end.
Some things will never change, eh?