You think you’ve seen busy streets? You haven’t been to Africa. I keep thinking if only I could get an aerial view of how the people actually look, it would be something like this.
Everyone is in a big rush, it’s like a mega mall just opened and everything was ‘selling’ for free. There is a very interesting chaos all over the place, people walking on roads, motorbikes ridden where people are trying to walk, cars overlapping and honking at every opportunity. The streets are busting with activity, especially in the evening, the central business districts have mobile shops all over. And by mobile shops I mean men and women laying their goods on the floor (placed on pieces of cloth) or on big boxes and setting up shop. The buyers are mostly impulse buyers on their way home from work or wherever, you’ll find just about everything from oranges to balls to curtains to seedlings and best of all, BBQ sausages. It’s amazing! A real life amusement park!
Even more impressive is the people’s ability to not be bothered with all that’s going on. There is a certain rhythm to how things work, people have almost formed walking lanes, they perfectly evade the mobile shops and know what angle to stop so as to let everyone else pass when they need to stop for say a BBQ sausage and snack on a budget. It’s beautiful and at the same time, you can go insane if you are new on these streets. There’s public transport vehicles ferrying people in and out the city, passengers are boarding and dropping off on a whim, if you are driving behind one of these, you had better have one leg on top brake pedal permanently because they stop with no regard for the cars behind them.
Then there’s the traffic police in uniform carrying the very useful wooden cane which is a multi-purpose “instant-justice-tool”. The cop out of frustration bangs these public vehicles because of their disorder and if you really vex them, well you will take the bang – the motorbike riders are especially good at driving them up the wall, with the way they ride their bikes you’d thing they’re invincible. The police sure keep things moving though, its easy to tell when there’s one of these police ahead, because all motorists are very well behaved, their absence on these roads is pure torture.
Market Street of Kampala, Uganda (East Africa) Photo Credit: http://www.csquared.com/
The city council occasionally deploys city cleaners with broom in hand and wheelbarrows; they sweep the litter and dispose the garbage at garbage collection points. You can pass a street with the most confusing smells you have ever come across, smells of car fumes, roasted meat, dust, you almost want to hold your breath and run.