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A Leader Within

It is 6.00pm East- African time. The Kampala public car park is abuzz with noise from hooting matatus entering and exiting the park at this prime hour. At the same time hoards of ordinary working people are trying to jump on the next empty matatu to go back home after along day’s work. The traffic is unbearable from all exit corners of the park and most if not all matatu drivers cannot stand the traffic at this money minting hour! At this time it’s about the number of return routes a matatu makes that will determine the weight of the purse they will go home with.

This kind of rush and reckless driving is what most ordinary working Ugandans in Kampala experience everyday as they travel to and from their work stations. Their lives are usually in the hands of some impatient matatu drivers who care less about their safety. Probably that explains why over 2,000 people die every year due to road car accidents (Uganda Police Traffic department).

I used to go through the same experience for many years until one day when I had to stand up for my right to safety! On the fateful day, I boarded a matatu and the driver indulged in his usual recklessness. I felt so unsafe with his recklessness and could not swallow anymore. I thought about my life and the people that depended on me including my two year old son, Jerry.

In the same car were men and women who looked older than I was and for a moment I thought they would prevail over the driver and say something but in vain. At that moment, I realized that I had to say something about it if not for saving all of us at least I would have saved my own guilt- the guilt of seeing something is wrong and doing nothing about it… I picked courage and said firmly; “driver, reduce your speed or else we get out of your car!” (This was on the Entebbe-Kampala road where approximately 6 road accidents happen every week). No sooner had I completed my statement than the other passengers joined in to force the driver to slow down! He immediately did!

I realized that almost all of us were terrified but were afraid to say it. Each of them waited for someone to take the lead and happy to have been that person. From that day I realized that in each one of us there is a leader within. One does not have to be in a position of power to be a good leader. Even with a simple word or expression, you one can guide, support or save a situation and impact people positively. True leadership is about standing up for what one considers right no matter what the circumstances are.

Comments

sibusisiweyona's picture

true leader

people are afraid to stand up for their rights everyday women get abused and sexually harassed and they say nothing
young girls are coerced and they say nothing
young boys living on the streets get sodomised by strangers ad they say nothing
mothers are beaten by their husbands and they say nothing
the world has been crippled by silence and silences are echoing everywhere

we also have those taxis in zimbabwe and most of them behave the same way but it's good to let your voice be heard, if everyone would do it then we would have fewer problems to deal with. speak up in the matatu and speak up for evrything else

stay blessed

Fatima Waziri's picture

Betty I can totally relate to

Betty I can totally relate to your story. I once boarded a plane in Africa that obviously had a mechanical fault but the pilot was never the less being pressured to fly the plane and the scariest part was that this was a night flight, anyway the pilot refused to fly. The very next day, I wrote an article about about my experience and it was nationally published. Two weeks later, the plane was grounded.....My point here is that we should always speak up when ever we see or even perceive something wrong, we do not know have many lives we would save by doing that. Betty you do not know how many lives you saved just be speaking up......Good job!

Peace!
Fatima

LauraB's picture

Betty, Your story struck me

Betty,

Your story struck me - for its clarity as well as for its turn of phrases - weight of the purse and this money minting hour!
You have a way with words that allows me, your reader to see the parking lots and the gridlock on the roads.

I was just in New York City in a taxi cab that scared me...immediately I had that shocked and startled feeling when reading about the matatu you were in.

Great everyday lesson- speaking up in all situations. Feels good, doesn't it?!

Laura

Breese's picture

Courage

Betty - way to find the courage to stand up and say something! If we all do what you did, we can each make a difference to make the world a safer place.

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