As a kid I knew it wasn't a good idea to visit a Muslim family. I had been told if I sat on the mat in their sitting room, I would fall through and land on spears, swords and broken glasses that would welcome me with a kiss of painful death at the bottom of the pit. In short, Muslims had traps in their sitting rooms that were aimed at killing any Christian who would be stupid enough to want to eat pilau with them. And I believed it. And I feared Muslims. And almost loathed them. And I wasn't the only one. No Christian I talked to back then told good stories about Muslims.
But I pitied Catholics too. I had been told they wouldn't go to heaven because they worshipped idols. Sure I always saw them with my own two eyes bowing in front of the Virgin Mary portrait. They were evil, hell bound and brainwashed and I was not to associate with them.
I wasn't supposed to associate with people from other tribes either. Most other tribes were carnivorous and anyone who didn't speak my language could well be a man-eater. My friends from Northern Uganda were called bakoko (literally translated as human-beasts)
Mzungu was smart and superior while mufirika was strong and dumb.
All the elderly ladies in my village except my grandmother were witches. Every kid seemed to think like me. So I'm quite sure they feared my grandmother as much as I feared theirs.
And that was before I was told I wasn't supposed to associate that much with girls either. They were meant for the kitchen and the bedroom while I was meant for the sitting room and outdoors.
Those age mates of mine who weren't going to school or had dropped out of school were also introduced to me as undesirables that I shouldn't be caught having a conversation with. Those who went to a different school suddenly became not, my friends.
Come political parties and I was supposed to be suspicious of anyone who subscribed to a different party.
It slowly dawned on me. The only person I could consider for friendship would have to be a protestant male from my tribe who went to the same school I went and didn't live with his grandmother. And we would have to have the same political party foundations and like the same games.
What a small sample space. And that was before homosexuality came to the limelight, further narrowing the sample space of desirable friends I thought my society approved of for me. Being male was no longer a ticket to the list of people I would consider for association. You had to be a straight male.
And then the protestant religion too started developing some protestors with-in. Those who were born again wouldn't want to be on my already malnourished list. I was a born-once and they were born-agains; we suddenly became protestors or rather Protestants in different protests.
And yet it seemed no one in particular was telling me these things. I just found myself aware of them – or so I thought.
By the time I was twelve years old, I had so many implanted prejudices that my society preferred to call common sense. So yes, I was a very sensible boy who knew that mzungu was superior to me in all manners and that I should aspire to at least be like him by learning his language and speaking it like him and copying his ways on television, that people from other religions were bad, people from other tribes were dangerous, all elderly women were witches, girls would put me in trouble, anyone with a different sexual orientation was cursed, immoral and fit to be hanged, those who didn't go to school were lumpens; the dregs of society – as our great Nagenda puts it – the great unwashed of the slums and that those who subscribed to different political ideologies were my worst enemies – nitwits who couldn't see beyond their noses.
When Milly and her friends told me that in their new religion they believed that it's the devil who is ruling over the world and that it's God who gave him the authority and then went ahead to show me the verse in the bible that alluded to their claims, I thought they were using a duplicate bible. But now that they burnt my books I'm reconsidering that verse. Only the devil would cause people to do such, only Mr. Lucifer would be happy to rule over a world so full of petty divisions that are taken way too seriously and unnecessarily wedged further.
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