March 8, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION


Johnson Grace Maganja






It’s a city built on seven hills, bragged those who had lived there

Then I laughed; but Kabale has more than seven hills

Others urged that it was the city with most cars in Uganda

No, it’s the city with the most important buildings in Uganda

It’s a city of the educated and rich

No wonder those who travelled there didn’t want to return to the village, I thought

Except when the ancestral god’s called on them


One morning I decided to pay a visit to my uncle in Kampala.

As the bus contoured around the hills of my mother and Kabale

I could see trees, people and houses move in fast motion from the opposite direction.


Soon I was overtaken by sleep, waking up occasionally during stopovers.

I looked out through the open window and from a distance saw vast plain land.

I wondered why it wasn’t hilly like Kabale.


Soon we came to a place with so much noise and hooting of vehicles.

Never have I ever seen so many vehicles in my life!

I saw a raised rectangular board near the roundabout: WELCOME TO KAMPALA CITY.

Then I remembered a place called Busega my friend had told me about.

I excitedly said to myself; ‘Yes’, this is Kampala City


About 5 o’clock I disembarked and was welcomed by strange faces at the bus park.

Then I approached a tall, bald man at the gas station.

I gave him my uncle’s phone number and humbly asked him to call.


He arrived in a white saloon and I sat quietly at the passenger seat admiring the tall buildings.

“Next time make a phone call first before coming to Kampala”, he barked.

That was my first lesson about Kampala.


People seemed not to be afraid of vehicles

They walked slowly while crossing roads. Everybody seemed to be going somewhere.


Then as we passed another tall building, he said, “That is Bank of Uganda.”

I thought that’s the place where all the money in Uganda is made

Wait… Please wait! Is it true what I just saw?

“What?” He asked. A young woman carrying a baby begging money from passersby.

She was dressed in a green tattered dress.

All of the sudden our car came to a halt.


I saw many cars lineup from the opposite direction like garden ants.

“Raise the window up” he said.

“Pickpockets are common,”

Soon I was in a large mansion guarded by a security man.


I wondered whether Kampala was a city full of insecurity

I was told never to leave the house and I did all the chores at home.

One night my uncle came to my room and tried to rape me.

After two weeks I said goodbye to Kampala, back to my village Kabale.








Johnson Grace Maganja

Johnson Grace Maganja

Mr. Johnson Grace Maganja is a Journalist, Author and Teacher, in Kampala-Uganda. He holds a Diploma in Journalism and has worked with several advertising agencies and media houses in Kampala-Uganda. He has authored: ‘100 quotes through life’, ‘Passage to Destiny’ and ‘The Adventures of Maganjo’. He currently works with Capital radio in Kampala as a Field Research Assistant. He can be contacted at [email protected] or via facebook.


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