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.