Owino Market was the craziest and busiest place I have ever visited in my life! It is the largest, somewhat-covered market in Kampala and boy, was it an unforgettable sight. (My photos really do not do it justice..) It sold everything from secondhand clothes, to fruits and vegetables, to live chickens, and let’s not forget the blankets and kitchen appliances. There is an order to the market, definitely, as each section appeared to sell similar things; had David, our regular bodaboda driver and my tour guide for the day, not been there to lead me through it, I would have definitely gotten lost in the midst of the organised mess.
Funny story time! As we were walking through the market, a man approached David and started speaking to him in Luganda, the local tongue. I had no idea what they were saying, other than the fact that it must’ve been about he as the man gestured to me several times. And though the man sounded reprimanding and somewhat angry, David was smiling and laughing at various times during the conversation. The man then switched to English and asked me how I was, what I was doing and what my aim was. I figured that he was curious as to why a Ugandan man was showing a foreigner around the market so I explained as best as I could that I was merely a tourist, here in Kampala for the first time, taking photos to show people back home what Uganda looks like. [I figured that explaining my internship would have been too much detail for a complete stranger.] The man then replied by saying that I had overstepped my rights when I walked into the market with my camera, taking photos without permission. He then said that he would confiscate my camera. At this point, I was starting to understand what was happening, especially with David’s forced laughter and silent urging me to move on:. I nodded at the man in understanding, apologised for not asking permission prior, and then thanked him for his advise. David then began leading me onwards and we said our goodbyes to the man and walked onwards. Not 100m after, another man came beside us and said, “You keep taking your photos. Ignore him. He’s nobody.” At this David started cracking up and proceeded to explain to me what just happened.
It turns out that the first man had been trying to assert his (non-existent) authority by saying that he was someone important in the market and that we needed to pay a fee in order to take photos in the market. David called him out for trying to extort us/trying to make us bribe him so that he did not ‘confiscate my camera,’ saying that we were standing right in front of the security office in Owino Market. In the end, the man backed out and tried to intimidate me by asking those questions. Knowing the whole story made the second man’s comment of ‘he’s nobody’ all the more funny, and made me all the more glad that I had David there to help me out of what could’ve been a sticky situation.
(Unfortunately) forever a tourist,