By Sarah Nsiime:
It is a Thursday afternoon. I am walking up the road from home. I meet a group of young men standing by the side of the road. Two of them are engaged in a heated argument. One guy claims that the other guy owes him money, while the other guy vehemently denies the allegation. I walk past them.
Looking back after a while, the guy who allegedly owes money is walking up the road towards me, cursing and swearing.
“I can kill you, you know,” he threatens in Runyankole, one of our local languages. To which the first guy, following behind, retorts “Who are you daring to kill?” “You think you can kill me?” “Where will you hide in this city after killing me?”
The argument gets more intense as they walk past me. Ahead of me now, they grab each other in the middle of the road, oblivious to a car approaching them from the other direction and a fight ensues. The driver of the car brakes and stops the car within inches of knocking them down. After honking persistently at them, they inch their way towards the side of the road, arms still locked around each other. Another guy who happens to be walking up the road as well intervenes and is able to separate them.
“What is the matter?” he asks obviously concerned.
“This man owes me Shs.500/- and he has refused to pay me back,” replies the first guy.
“I do not owe you any money,” retorts the second guy whose shirt has almost been stripped off.
I continue my journey wondering whether these two will successfully resolve their conflict with the help of their self appointed arbitrator, but also shocked by what I've just witnessed.
What could be the problem? Is it the harsh economic times? Or is it the lack of respect for human life? How can someone fight for five hundred Uganda shillings (one fifth of a dollar)? Is that worth fighting over? Even to the point of threatening to kill? Almost getting run over by a car?
I really cannot figure this out. One thing I know for sure is that after watching this free drama, I am left with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
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