Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Drivers’ Prayer


The Drivers’ Prayer* * *

Thank you Dear Lord
For this amazing world of Vehicles
Ruled by hands, feet, mirrors
Adrenaline and sport rims

Now that I have managed to
Clear these incredible government taxes
That seem to always keep increasing
With nothing to show in return
Lead me not in the path of illegal drivers
Who do not know what a driving test is
But be in charge of my gears
So that Number one will not be five
As I balance at the Nakawa Business School rise

Help me to see the swaggering truck
Laden with sugar cane stalks
Yet devoid of any lights
In its drunken dance this night
On the Jinja Road Highway

And when this excited youth
Blinds me with his full beam
At the Gaba High Way
Whilst Speeding
As though he has a running stomach
Let me pray that he reaches his home safely
And not the morgue

Do remind me
To forgive the taxi-man
Who recklessly speeds past my left-side
And splatters sewage water
Onto the uniformed pupil
As she runs to school

Help me Dear Lord
To swerve past the boda-boda brat
Who rides towards me
Like a blind bat
And when that old tattered trailer
Starts rolling back the Namboole Rise
Let me peacefully move aside
Instead of thinking Evil and doom
For those traffic cops
Who allow such DMV's
To grace our roads

Restrain me
From those four letter ****words
As I sink
Hook, line and sinker
Into this cemetery of craters
Called pot-holes
At the Yard
In order to avoid
A brush with that
Sweating in his fake leather attire
In this hot midday heat
And blasting
His bike
Thinking it's a Harley-Davidson

Help me pray for that bumper-sticker Christian
Who displays lovely Christian messages on his car
And yet overtakes me recklessly
With horns blaring and an arrogant face
As I negotiate a corner in Kololo

And when I find my parking lights and mirrors
Missing and only to be found at Kisekka Market
Lead me not to wish ''doom and gloom''
For that hunger stricken juvenile
For you are reminding me of my duty
To You and my Countrymen

Cast away the desire O Lord
To knock the bicycle
Carrying *'ffenne'*(jack fruit) in the middle of this
Recently renovated path
Called a Road
And when ''Seya's Boys'' clean the road gutters
Let me appreciate their efforts
Instead of complaining about the
Heaps of garbage they leave
On these very narrow roads

And when this idiot, sorry, man
Decides to swerve past me
At breakneck speed
Along the Entebbe Highway
Help me ignore my testosterone
That is begging me to yell obscenities
And to do the same
For that is not the true test of manhood

Protect me O Father from the newspaper boys
Who splatter the ''Red Pepper''
Into my face
Making me stare longer at this triple-X display
Than my wife is comfortable

But give me grace, O Holy One
And *lot of self-control*
In this snail-paced traffic jam
Whilst being cooked by the sun
To park aside
As the ''V.I.P'' convoy and their noisy sirens
Demand arrogantly to pass by
And speeds past
With the 'Boss' smiling at ''Black Mamba'' filth
And reckless boda-bodas and taxi drivers
Following suit at a break-neck speed
Oblivious of my very pregnant wife

May the City Council officers rid us of the
Carrot and Orange peddling Batooro boys
Who accost us with baskets of their goodies
As we hit the gas
To speed off at the Wandegeya green lights
And when these huge Coaches and Tippers
Bully me off the road at break-neck speed
Caution me not to laugh in glee
When I find them broken down along the roadside
Or pleading for mercy from the Cops

Please caution me Dear One
Not to follow suit
When the military police
And the police patrol
Decide to amend the traffic rules
And drive at the reverse side of the road
Even when I barely miss a head-on collision
With the 999 Police pick-up
Which has decided to make Buganda Road
A-two-way traffic
Conveniently for themselves only
Inspite of the one way traffic signs
Let my mouth always find restrain O Father
When shouted and hooted at
By these gun-swinging ‘gentlemen’
Who keep Law and *Order *

Grant me patience, O Lord of Patience
For the pregnant woman
As she crosses the road
And let me not hoot at the L-plated driver
Moving at 2km per hour
Frustrating our efforts to avoid
The thick 5p.m. Nakulabye jam

And when the street kids
Jostled by their suckling mothers
Stretch out their glue-fuming shriveled hands
At Rock Gardens
For a 'Kikumi'(One hundred shillings),
Let me silently oblige
Rather than stick my nose in the air
And question why and how they were begotten
Or blame ''the Government''
Like everyone else

Do bless me O God
When I stop
And smile
With all restraint I have
At the bullish cop
Who demands to see my driving permit
Whilst asking for ''lunch''
And yet ignores my right to fresh air
Having 'forgotten' to brush his teeth

Let me not misuse my horn
At the annoying fellow
Who decides to sway his vested-chest
In the middle of the road
And when I ram my brakes
In haste
Let me manage a smile
At the stick-chewing herdsman
Whose shriveled cow
Has decided to cross the road
And defecate thereon
As though to emphasize its rights

Help me keep the biblical covenant
Job made with his eyes
Not to stare
At the scanty dressing
Of the Hot 100 FM lasses
Whose succulent thighs and tight behinds
With 'malice aforethought'
Attempt to distract my clean thoughts
To other unspeakable things?
Moreover at this Kira Road Round about

Do bless those faithful callers
On the *Radio One Talk Back Show*
Who never seem to run out of airtime?
Having talked their lungs out on *Spectrum*
The Night before
As they advocate for better roads
And deny our leaders any descent sleep

And Father,
As I try to overtake
These squeaking rufura-bound Isuzu's
With their cargo of cattle
Packed almost like timber
With the attendants seated on their backs
As though they were potato sacks
Driving animal rights activists insane
Remind me to graciously clean my wind screen
When one of these death-bound scared beasts
Squids a sloth of green stuff at me
Let me not make any New Year resolutions
That will deny my family of meat
For life

And Lord?
Teach me to be content
With my 1.8 litre Engine
And remind me that it does the same job
As the 'Hummer' and 'New Eyes'
Albeit at a cheaper price
And when Shell and her sister petrol companies
Decide to increase the fuel prices
Help me to graciously park my car
And join the huge horde of
Fellow Ugandans
Walking to work
And back?.
Whilst pondering how to book
A seat on a boat when the roads flood


*The poet is clearly a regular driver on the streets of Kampala*

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