By Timothy Bamwita, Uganda:
Blame it on urbanization or distraught minds seeking solace in staying awake all night through; but the discretion is left to the beholder. Kampala has grown into the same noisy city at night as it is during the day. But that's not the problem. It is in fact perhaps a plus to its glory. More likely than not, it is thrilling that most businesses at almost every corner of the city are in the same line of trade.
Bars! This is where most evenings start: from professional clubs and wedding meetings to catching up with friends resolutely as a way of eluding the traffic jam. The rhetorical question is, why bars? My very honest answer often is – it is where most deals are cracked, relationships start and end with the inspiration of alcohol. We live up to one of the many reasons our good airline – Air Uganda flaunts thus “The night life is filled with the young and old alike, dancing their night away with absolutely no room for dull moments” and ends with “the reason I love Uganda”. That, in my opinion is almost enough to market the Kampala night life.
That notwithstanding, Uganda is ranked eighth world over and tops Africa at the consumption of alcohol according to CNN as of march, 2013. In fact, the per capita alcohol consumption stands at a staggering 19.5litres, which I think of, in itself as an understatement. I wouldn't be wrong to say: when you think of a bottle – think about Uganda and more so Kampala; that is if you're passionate about your bottle considering how dormant the enguli act of 1965 is.
It is actually amusing that it is not only bars that contribute to the night life; Churches, mosques, clubs and many more all have a part to play. Every evening, at least one has a place he/she affiliates with to visit. On William Street, there are shops selling all kinds of merchandise, a church, a mosque, law firms, banks, bars that can pass for brothels and thigh vendors – all on the same street. Amazing! Imagine if all went into sweet pandemonium at once. Who wouldn't want to catch a glimpse of such a street?
I am equally certain, each passing day of the week has a particular theme night at different bars with almost a similar catch phrase “Happy hour: Buy two, get one free”- usually at the early hours of the evening that instead translate into one-too-many to errant beer froth lovers. Thereafter, we delve in bemoaning about the looming poverty yet each evening almost follows the same trend; the way politicians intone pieties of the rule of law to the entire citizenry but instead act otherwise. I know of someone who actually attributes the night behavior to income inequality. The poor are purported to stay awake because of hunger while the rich keep awake because the poor are actually awake: A spiraling vigilante syndrome that has driven wakefulness into the bar obsession becoming the better of the average Kampala resident.
The beauty about it though, is that the Kampala night life is an obvious way of broadening one's social network which is certainly integral in building remarkable friendships based on common interests; needless to say, identifying a niche of professionals to relate with even when matters many-a-time discussed aren't Nation building per se, locally known as wolokoso. At the end of the day when whisked off by the police into safe custody, in fear of being a danger to yourself as a motorist under the influence or a pedestrian staggering your way home, it is those club mates that always come to your rescue. Oh, do they?
So spend your twelve days of Christmas in Kampala and figure how its nights are worth a holiday destination for the very free spirited. And if your plane lands late, stick around Entebbe since it's the dangerous substitute for Kampala. Be the normal Kampala fish and drown yourself in the frothy waters of the land. Advice; have someone on speed dial for rescue purposes lest you are forever dimwitted about the Kampala festive season. Merry Christmas Kampala!
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