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Mbale, a town of two worlds

Mbale town . (FILE PHOTO)

MBALE – The beautiful scenery, cool breeze immediately one leaves Pallisa district, the sweet melodies of numerous birds and a neatly tarmacked road, will welcome you to Mbale town.

The town and the hills around will open your eyes to endless green.

Mbale will offer you a lot, especially in terms of nature. The hills, valleys, ever green trees, the many streams will provide very impressive scenery.

Strange but real, in Mbale many a stranger will not draw a line between day and night; it is quiet difficult given the fact that the inhabitants are active throughout the night and day.

In Mbale each day will break with a crazy stuff. The moment the day breaks, all sorts of activities will take place throughout the day and then proceed to the night as though there was no time for rest.

The Mbaleans are a smoky boozy, merry making lot who love partying, partly because the town is cosmopolitan, a melting point of many tribes from all over East Africa.

However despite being smoky boozy and milling about the streets drunk, the Mbaleans are very peaceful but of course avoid provoking them as it is difficult for them to hold back their wrath.

While in Mbale, James and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A good comrade. I little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I first met him at school during our A ‘levels and then at his home in Mbale.

James leaned forward and looked out of the window, momentarily dazzled by the late light from lit bulbs, he turned away from the window, rested his head on the seat and closed his eyes.

For a brief instant, such a strong and unexpected feeling of nostalgia was evoked within him that caught his breath in surprise.

I beheld his eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as skimpily lad young girls walked and roamed the streets.

The thought cheered him immeasurably and he relaxed in his seat, the tension that had built up over what he had seen through the window last few minutes kept diminishing until it evaporated completely.

James’ face was grim and there was a cold anger in his eyes as he said, “ As teenager you go through the streets half nude at night in search of men. Shame upon those who brought you up,”This caught me unaware considering the fact that I had been in Mbale since my birth to now 44 years.

A faint smile played around my mouth, curving the line of the lips with unfamiliar softness as I thought with surprise. “This can’t happen here not the town I have known since childhood?”

At the notice of this, I and James decided to stroll out exchanging a couple of jokes, James lapped me and I slapped him, before we were confronted by young girls aged between 14-16.

“Excuse us, where are you going? Do you want business?” they asked us. “Which type of business,” I shot back.

“Don’t be shallow you are men and we are women what other business do you expect,” they shot back. “And how much do you have,” they went on.

I looked up and instinctively, raised my hand to the cheek: this was a painful sensation, which I couldn’t believe. Nobody else considering the age of these girls would have been capable of regarding these girls serious.

My friend James scowled on them and muttered; Oh! Lord have mercy.

I kept looking at these girls dressed to kill and ready for “business”. I did not move, I had to keep a steady eye on them for recognition because this is the way to know them. One sure way of losing sight of them is to blink. You will open your eyes and all of a sudden they will have disappeared for fear of being recognised.

I had always been a proud carrier of the thinking that Mbale town, the Eastern giant is a quiet town right from Monday through Sunday, until this revelation, plainly showed me how I did not know Mbale.

A walk and search through the town reveals that Mbale has got two worlds: the world of the Dark and the world of Light. This brings into place the “business” of the light and “business” of the dark.

All one notices is that while the kingdom of God is alive, the kingdom of Satan is also alive, each competing for the same species.

In other words, there are two related truths about this, our town. What is the nature of life in this town? Let us face it.

At night young girls flood the streets- so called NFV investment in Mbale; it is an abbreviation that means Nocturnal Flesh Vendors [NFV].

While during the day these girls are students and unemployed, their “business” begins from dusk to dawn and shockingly you can get one to as low as Shs.1000 because the market is inflated by primary and lower secondary school girls both Kenyans and Ugandans with the former more open in business than the latter.

The greatest suppliers of these girls are the hostels that keep them like birds that are in open free range. And whenever these Kenyan girls go on “leave” holiday back to Kenya, at times business is effected and only booms when they come back to resume both their academics and the nocturnal business.

In Mbale here the market floods and police is always on alert to register many complaints from Ugandan housewives here.

I have asked several people why these girls are becoming increasingly more and I have always got one answer, the number of “Wanters” (Men, as the young girls call them) is also increasingly becoming more.

Strange but true, Mbale girls prefer going out to big hotels and often ask for Chips, Chicken and Cash – it is therefore not wonder that many girls here are regarded as “Triple Cs”.

Buying Airtime, Deodorants and other economic demands is not an issue here in Mbale, “Just provide the Triple Cs and the girl’s biological make up shall begin working”, says Jimmy a regular self styled “wanter” whom the Nocturnal vendors (Young sex workers) regard as DC; meaning “Daily Customer”.

Don’t ask me how these are related but the social researchers of this field in Mbale have proved that one can never arouse an Mbale girl with soft touches but can only do so with the Triple Cs. This is the science of Mbale Streets.

I have gone through all corners of this town during the dark and light, and I have obtained a glimpse of what are termed (and perhaps really are) as its faults; and have gained a definite notion of how it appears to other people- strangers, who know nothing of the town; who are un acquitted with the locality where the scenes of evil and good lie.

This is certainly a “beautiful town”! In the night, it is a prostitutes’ haven; Naboa road around Mukwano Hotel, Mpologoma near Mbale main garage, Pallisa road, Republic street and presently North road are the places to watch.

And for you strangers in Mbale town, be careful while walking at night for a collision with a girl at night will be answered by the phrase; “ Excuse me sir, we go, how much do you have?”

However, despite all this, Music, Food drinks and fun is easily obtained at any joint in town as long as one can part with a few coins. But of course this is dependent on the time; during daytime the joints are restraints, in the evenings they turn into bars and late in the night they become bedrooms.

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