by Marjorie Broce Africa everyday life: Hmm, what else might interest you?
1. The first week here when Dennis Odoi was driving us around, I asked,
"How do you know when to go?"....Because the traffic light was red, but
still people were going. The answer was, "Just follow the car in front
of you." After driving here for 19 months, (we've been here for 22
months), I know now that if I'm stopped at a green light, it's because
there are police officers directing the traffic. I might have to wait
through 3 green lights before they allow us to go. One time, on the way
to the Odoi's house, we were stopped for 25 minutes because the officer
was allowing everyone else to go except the cars in our 3 lanes!
Generally speaking, the Ugandans just accept this and don't honk, but
they finally started honking and she still would not let us go. The
cars up front finally just began to inch forward till she had to let us
go. Not only were we already late to the Odoi's --now we were VERY
Light Traffic in Kampala
2. The policemen often stop people, hoping for a bribe.
I have to say though, that MOST of the time I've been stopped, they
simply look at my license and our insurance to make sure we are up to
date and let me go. But this particular night, on the way BACK from the
Odoi's, it was almost midnight and we had just moved to a new area of
town. There was not much traffic (being midnight) and so we had no car
to follow at the traffic light. We thought that a green light meant we
could also turn right if there was no on-coming traffic. (Remember we
are driving on the left side of the road.) We saw a truck full of
policemen pass us and then pull over. We assumed they were letting one
off for duty at a particular spot. Then they passed us again, and
pulled over. I thought it a little strange, and had a little thought
that they wanted us to pull over, so I said something to Glenn. The
third time they passed us, the guys in the back of the truck were
motioning us to pull over, so we did, at a gas station.
officer came over and said, "You turned right on a green light. You
are supposed to wait for the arrow. We apologized and said we were new
to this part of town and did not know. He kept telling us that we were
in the wrong, but he was not writing a ticket. We knew he wanted money
and white people usually have alot of money, but, of course, he would
not come right out and say it. Finally, he said, "You will all have to
get out of the vehicle, we are impounding your car."
was very patient at that point, but I was like, "Sebo (Sir!) This is
ridiculous!" Glenn gave me the calm-hand motion and kept talking to him
nicely. Finally, we agreed to follow him to the police station. They
told us to take the lead. "We don't know where it is, so we will have
to follow you." Out of frustration the officer says, "You know where
you live? Go there!"