On a Sunday night several years ago, I drove past one of Kampala’s popular night hangouts, Kisementi.
I was surprised to see large crowds of middle-aged men and women partying the night away when the following day was a Monday – a working day.
Uganda’s nightlife is, of course, unrivaled. Last year, I met a Ghanaian paramount chief from Kumasi who told me how he often made trips to Kampala, just to party and enjoy the city’s nightspots.
Several friends from across the continent have attested to the same. When it comes to partying in Kampala, it is always hard to tell when and where the party stops or when and where business or work commences.
Back in 2006, a long-time buddy, Harry Sagara, once took me out for a drink at one of Kampala’s nightclubs, Club Silk, on a weekday. We hit the entrance of the club at around 10pm; it was such a party-filled night that we only walked out of the club at 7:30am.
And I had to be at work within half an hour. I wonder if Saggy (as he’s popularly known) remembers that night. I still have never forgiven him and myself.
I made my way straight from the club on Seventh Street in Industrial Area to Adam House on Kimathi Avenue in the center of Kampala where my office was then.
I was at office a few minutes to 8am – albeit the ‘not-so-good’ state of mind I was in. On my desk, I could hardly keep my eyes open for an hour; I was totally spent. I had to file for a day-off and go home and rest.
A workday had gone will never be recovered; it is time gone, money lost!
Just like me, then, many human beings out there never know when the party has to stop. That’s why in countries like the United Kingdom, there are increasing council restrictions on nightlife and out-door partying.
Bars, clubs, and other social places have to adhere to strict time limits. I know in some London boroughs, for instance, clubs and other party places have to close at midnight.
The reason for these stringent restrictions is because, as human beings, we always fail to know when to say Kwaheri (good bye).
Part of the reason humorous Uncle Bob (Robert Mugabe) of Zimbabwe is in a sticky situation now is because he and his cronies probably refused to hear the siren that signaled them the party was over.
If they heard it, they probably thought it was an ambulance rushing opposition nemesis Morgan Tsvangirai for one of those regular medical emergencies.
And because humans do not want to accept life’s warnings, especially those that signal the end of the party, structural restrictions come in handy.
Today, it doesn’t look like a happy ending for the ‘all-wise’ Uncle Bob and his close comrades. His contributions towards the independence of Zimbabwe will remain in the books of history, but his legacy will have been terribly dented by how he left power.
During my short stay in Zimbabwe in 2013, I learnt that Zimbabweans hate and love Mugabe in equal measure.
His stance towards the white man’s rule will, for generations, be remembered both within his country and across African. He was the revolutionary hero (but) who refused to heed the call, even when the DJ hollered, “the party is over!”
Simply because the music is still playing doesn’t mean that the party is still on. No matter how good a dancer you have been, know when to leave the dance floor.
Like country music legendary Ken Rogers says in his Gambler song, …you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and when to run away. I wish we all had the instinct to know when to say ‘goodbye’. Very few do!
And because our forbearers knew how hard it is to have the predisposition to know when the party is over, they set out restrictions – legal, administrative and otherwise – to gently and graciously walk us away from the party, even when the DJ is still churning out the favorite songs.
Probably if Zimbabwe had limits on the presidential tenure or even age caps for the presidency, maybe it would not be in the uncertain state it is in right now.
Are there lessons to pick from the current Zimbabwe situation back home? I think there are! One key lesson to bag for many of us is: don’t shoot the DJ when they yell out the “…party is over” line. Gracefully walk away; or else, you will party your life away in disgrace.
The author is the coordinator, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU).