Of poverty, bribery and corruption
I had with me the usual stuff people carry to relatives and friends who live abroad - salted smoke-dried fish, inter alia. The man at the security scanner looked dejected and kind of mean when he asked why i was carrying a lot of dry fish. To him, ten pieces of dry fish was a lot! He said that i must be taking it for export.
Well, i explained with due humility that it was for home consumption and of little value, to say the least. Then he kept asking this and that question, and quoted airport and aviation rules against fish. I found it incredulous and i told him as much. Matter of fact, one of my sisters had flown out with lots of fish with her only a couple of weeks earlier. My explanations fell on "deaf" ears!
Then he suggested that i buy him soda (or tea?) to allow me take my fish. I did not pay attention to that and proceeded to zip up my luggage. He stopped me from zipping the bag and insisted i get him some money first. I hate bribes. I preach against bribery and corruption. Anyway, i just told him i have no money. The man insisted that i go back out and get money from my people outside. Strange!
When i showed that he was wasting my time and that i was not going back, he left everybody else pass and he zeroed in on my bag like it had a special interest item. At one point i thought he wanted to plant drugs on me and get me behind bars for fun or something. So i asked him: "By the way, how much money do you want"?
"Fifty thousand", he said.
"Oh, i do not have that with me." The man became even more serious. I could now see tears of poverty or sheer greed welling up in his eyes. Mr Festus Kananura, shame, shame, shame! On a good day, i could give you twenty dollars without doing anything for me, but demanding a bribe from a law-abiding citizen is way off.
Poverty is a disease. Bribery and corruption are driving our country down the drain of backwardness. Entebbe is the gateway to Uganda and to the world. Simple minds like that of Festus Kananura should not be there, stamping mind-dirt on hardworking jetset personalities.
I missed my flight and of course caused a few heads to roll. To my face, Kananura denied asking for money. He has a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2)! The Civil Aviation Authority's security department personnel showed clear absence of impartiality when they refused to play back the CCTV footage of my time at the security scanner. I wonder whether the CCTV even works. The automatic ticketing gates were working on and off. Someone must have "eaten" the maintenance budget!
When i came for my flight two days later, no one made a fuss over my fish? Why? Oh, Uganda! For me it was just dry fish, but some people fly around the world to save lives. Delaying them causes death.