We were at Javas Café in Kampala for an evening of coffee when we sat through one of the most intriguing stories of our time.
The narrator, an elderly woman, probably in her early seventies, was awesomely articulate. She must have been Kenyan or Zambian but had that stereotypical childlike face of a Rwandan.
Meeting her for the first time, we never bothered about these otherwise curious details. Traces of beauty and grace were still visible on her elegant and well-built frame. Her neat set of crystal white teeth was such a spectacle. Her sharply curvy body had so far, successfully, resisted the wrath of time. Her easily noticeable sophistication with the teas and coffees, alongside her erotic power completed the image of a truly urban belle.
I would never have focused on her erotic side were it not for that tale she told us that evening. We had started off talking classical music and cuisine, but quickly moved to African politics. On this topic, her demeanour changed. She became more serious and wrought with emotion.
This was the time after the 2016 election, and Museveni had won. There was some noise in the corridors about a court case and all, but we knew it was just noise. We laughed about the 1990s new breed of African leaders, and how quickly the dreams of independence had turned into terrible nightmares.
“I should tell you about my contribution to the struggle in my country,” she started.
“Men tend to forget the major subtle things we women do that give them life and power. Under the blessing of darkness, our cookies give life, you know,” she said light-heartedly. “Even when I never picked a gun, I boldly contributed,” she continued. On this, her voice cracked. She took a deep breath, and looked at us to see if we had noticed. We busied our eyes away to allow the moment pass.
“See what they became. Murderers. Tyrants themselves. They have no respect for life; have no respect for women. I wasted my vagina on these idiots; you know, I cheated on my husband. I should have let them roam about and get killed like dogs.” While her thoughts were intriguing, we were barely following. Realising our misfortune, she paused to begin afresh.
“During the 70s, my country was struggling to depose an autocrat. I lived abroad with my husband who was an ambassador. While we both hated the dictatorship, my husband had a job serving the same dictatorship. It was during our mission that the main fighters on the scene back home – men in their early 30s – had run for their lives to the country where my husband was serving. These men had been our hope in the struggle. I was too passionate not to enter their network – and quickly became a strong pillar for their financial support and information. This country to which they had sought refuge was not necessarily hostile but had serious trade and political treaties with our country. They were not safe either. There were hitmen everywhere with explicit orders.
One day, one of them died in his sleep after a night of partying. The story was that starved for sex, he had roamed the nearby bars. But the ‘girl of the night’ he picked simply ended his life. As the news of his death spread back home, the remainder of the men were in absolute terror.
“But as you know, men tend to lose their heads after long periods of no sex. It becomes difficult for them to concentrate on anything. Although they silently coveted me – from the pitiable stares – they but never dared try anything silly. Since I was married to a government person, matters would be worse if they suggested seeking sexual healing on me.
“One day, after failing to find trustable night-girls, I took matters in my own hands. I must have been crazy. I convinced myself that giving these men sex would be part of my contribution to the struggle. These boys were sexually unattractive. But needed help. They had six months more in this location, and I worked out a timetable for their erotic healing. Every week, I got one out of hiding on the pretext of either a fitness workout, or some other assignment. I would then allow this dude have my cookie at any silliest trick. Neither of them knew I served them all. They healed and steadied to the end. Every time I look back on this difficult contribution of mine, I cry.” she concluded.
The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.