a man pushing a heavy bicycle full of banana
In the mornings, as we walked several kilometers to school without shoes, we often met them pushing these heavy bicycles. My friends and I had had to think of a way of building rapport and friendships with these men for, especially, company and safety through the bushy, scary valleys along the way to school. We trusted them not to hurt us. We knew they were from our village.
Ours were little weak hands but they helped. We pushed, especially on the steep hills. This could delay us but we never minded for we knew it wouldn't be in vain! There was one man called Matiya who eventually became my good friend. He often told me stories while we pushed up the hills and warmly spoke of his kids and wife and how he loved them so much. I still close my eyes to see his emphatic hands accompanying his lips saying he would do anything to see them happy. I had never met a man that spoke of his family the way Matiya did. Maybe it's because I had no father.
Several questions on this "father" topic carried my mind away as we kept pushing up the hills and as though in a blink, I would be waving "good day" to Matiya, and off to school I went. Matiya and colleagues sold their babanas in the little township, Katimba, which neared Katimba Catholic Parish where St. Mathew's Katimba Primary school was. That's where I went for my early primary schooling.
Later in the day, after school, as we walked through the mall shops on our way back home, we often found Matiya and colleagues under tree shades, catching up or in conversations on the day's business. They would be done selling off their goods and were set to go back to the village. Save for some shopping they would make from these shops, these men didn't have so much to carry on their bicycles on the way back. That's when the friendship and morning pushing paid off; they would give us a lift back home. My favourite part of the return journey was always the slops (that were hills in the morning). Nothing can explain the thrilling feeling as we sped off downhill with the wind cooling the scorching sun off my head…and tomorrow would another day.
God bless those men. I heard a number of them have passed on since! I've been trying to find Matiya's whereabouts in vain. I'm still trying. The man in this photo is not Matiya or one of those men but he reminds me of Matiya and those kind men!
Mr. kawoya .SSembabule
Did you go to school in rural upcountry Uganda? What are your cherished memories of those days?