one morning last week while on the way to the gym [in kampala, the capital. no, kotido does not have a gym] i noticed the large presence of guns in my everyday life and (re)realized that this isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ for a lot of people.
there are numerous, almost countless, security guard companies in uganda. if you have the cash you can hire your very own security guard(s) to protect whatever it is you deem needing protection. many compounds (be they single home/business or multiple home/business compounds) within and outside of kampala have their own security guard that comes with his or her very own gun.
they do not have small handguns, no no. these security guards generally come with lightweight shot guns that tend to be lazily slung over their shoulders, sometimes dragging the ground when they walk.
the bank next to the gym in the garden city mall has anywhere from three to five guards sitting out front, all with sleek, black lightweight machine guns that clash with their navy and orange uniforms.
while using the elliptical at the gym i was gazing out over the golf course below and noticed another security guard, wandering between the greens with his (her?) short-handled shot gun lazily flopped over his (her?) shoulder.
an interesting time of day in kampala is early morning or early in the evenign when the shifts change, and lorrys-full of uniform clad guards are schlepped around the city for the daily “changing of the guard” which, i can say from experience, is not as exciting as the changing of the guard in england.
the ever-present UPDF (army) has been spotted around kotido with non-lightweight machine guns harkening back to at least WWII, with one man carrying the gun and another the extra rounds of ammunition. in the market. no, i don’t know why.
and then there are the police, in their mismatched and varying uniforms with their ak-47s or aging kalashnikovs stationed everywhere around the country. from your neighborhood grocery store, the atm and haphazardly on the street one is bound to see a gun-toting individual most times of the day.
not seeing guns all the time, everywhere will be a welcome change when i return to the united states. fair-thee-well, mr. kalashnikov, i shall not miss you.