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Ugandan taxi conductors can see ghosts.

I’m in this taxi to Najjera and once again I’m reminded that taxi conductors can see ghosts. It’s a phenomenon I’ve witnessed over and over again and it never ceases to amaze and frustrate me in equal measures.

You reach a stage and a passenger or two disembarks. The conductor starts calling out for someone to take up the vacant seat(s). You look out at the window to see who he’s calling out to and see nothing.

‘Yanguwa tugende!’ he calls out to the air.

You squint your eyes at the horizon but, no, there’s still nobody approaching the taxi.

‘Ba bano babili bagenda’, he insists as he slaps the side of the taxi. The driver revs the engine small small to reassure the inside passengers he will take off as soon as the passengers enter the vehicle. As if he’s driving a gate away car for a bank robbery.

You squint your eyes some more but still, there is no approaching passenger. At about this point, one of the inside passengers refuses this foolery and asks the driver to go.

The driver revs the engine some more and even lets the car roll forward a bit while the conductor retorts, ‘Temuleka bane baffe! (Don’t leave our colleagues behind. I hope that’s what I typed). Babano batuuse’

By this point, everyone else apart from me who knows the ghost theory is mukowu and they start grumbling. Me I watch as the conductor says, ‘Mujje tugende’ one last time before jumping into the taxi after his ghost passengers and we finally take off.

You gotta stay alert in this Kampala. Strange things be happening all around.

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