Disclosure: This blog is written in English.
Tell me where you stay and I will direct you to your stage in Paka Enkadde. For starters, Paka Enkadde is the old taxi park along Barton Street in the downtown of the Central Business District of Kampala.
So to make my work easier, I will code mix the two terms to form Park Enkadde.
You wonder why the noun in Luganda has to be made proper and the English one not. Anyway, there is something about the old taxi park that I love about it. It is “self contained”. I look at it as the belly of the fire place where all the ash sits. No matter how big the log, its ash always settles there. And such is Park Enkadde.
It is a crowd puller. It attracts the cream (minus de la cream) of Uganda’s livelihood. Regardless of the time when you walk by the taxi park, you will find business booming.
From food vendors to *nsenene temporary stalls that keep changing as taxis assume position. You will not miss the apple vendors and all the other vendors of edible and the ^kyakala kyakala of all sorts. By the way, there are a lot of under wears (on sale) somewhere near the confectioneries as you try to access Standard Supermarket. Anyway it is the old taxi park, what do you expect?(shrugs shoulders)
During the day, there is a call of ‘fasi fasi as one by one finds their way to or fro the park. This push and pull of both the people and the taxis leaves one in question of one’s safety as one leads to wherever one’s destiny calls. The same place has women who have mastered the art of balancing their merchandise on their heads as they seek out buyers mainly passengers in taxis.
One thing about the old taxi park is that you find yourself there. It is not easy to tell the entry or exit point of this scandalous place. Any route can easily substitute for the other. It is for that reason that you find the uptown girls carrying small bags in the evening containing their high heels. That is how women easily qualify for the rapid response unit. They respond as per the demands of the situation, Park Enkadde inclusive.
I have a feeling some of these researchers go to Park Enkadde and carry out various surveys about Ugandans since you can nearly find any type of person in this park without necessarily travelling upcountry. This is called cutting costs.
Twice I have been a victim of a woman with a baby on her back who comes around the Gayaza stage in this park around 8pm asking for transport. Her purse is usually stolen around that time and she has to raise her transport home. The first time she succeeded at convincing me but the second time, I had to remind her of our fist encounter and slowly she disappeared. She is representative of the very many businesses in this place that go tax free. They always bail themselves out.
And such is the life in the old taxi park. If you don’t fall a victim of the not-few business minded persons then you will emerge successful.
Future prospects of this place; It should be included on the tourist attractions especially for the kids in international schools who may not have an idea of this other part of the pearl of Africa.
You should always remember that in this part of the city, charges vary according to pick time. During the day, you may pay the amount assigned on the placard but that does not guarantee the hours to follow. Never complain of the kind of taxi that carries you unless you are sure there is an alternative. The one I boarded this last night on my way home had a phonetic symphony of something like [nye-ge-nye-ge]. At a point, I thought that maybe the organizers of the NyegeNyege Festival once boarded this taxi and were swept away by the symphony… Maybe!
Hope we meet some day around this place.
image by monitor.co.ug