The city of Kampala is built on several hills, each giving their name to a district. We first stayed on the outskirts of the city near Port Bell, before moving closer to the centre, to a house on Sezibwa Road, Nakasero hill.
We unpacked the crates and aired our clothes on the washing line – this included all six of my father’s suits. Within minutes, we had our first burglary, all my dad’s suits were stolen. This didn’t bode well as my father couldn’t use the excuse “I haven’t a thing to wear” for his first day at work.
In our first year in Kampala, we had a total of six burglaries or attempted burglaries. The windows had grills on them, and our servants lived adjacent to the house. This wasn’t a deterrent as when our gardener challenged the next thief, he had a knife pulled on him.
My sister walked into her bedroom, only to find a burglar trying to reach through the grill. This time both our servants were prepared, in a bigger way, with a panga, a two-foot broad blade with a curved end narrowing to a point. To cut to the ‘point’ of the story, our servants were arrested for putting the pointy bit of the panga into the culprit’s skull.
Dad went to the police station, paid a fine and had them released. Then, he encouraged them to prove to any future burglars that a panga is much larger than a knife.