STAY IN THE GAME

A kafunda is just that; a small enclosure. This enclosure has evolved over the years to act as a watering hole.  A place where people of common interests but not necessarily the same points of view convene to enjoy drink and camaraderie. Now unlike the fancy bars that most of you are accustomed to, you will be lucky to find the little frills that you have come to enjoy; it is void of the little trinkets of the vibrant night life that has become a drug to many of us.

Bufunda (plural) are proponents of essentialism. Can you sit? Can you drink? Can you breathe? If the answer to all the above is “yes,” then you can do without the toppings. It is for this very reason that I love the darn places though sadly I do not get to go there as much as I would like to.

However, about a fortnight ago, fate was graceful enough to arrange for a visit after what had been quite a leave of absence. The location; Bugoma in Kalangala district, a little docking point with a semblance of a trading centre that seems frozen in time for one reason or another. Possibly due to the notorious but charmingly laid back nature of island life.

After what had been a mad dash to catch a ferry that we believed we were within a hair’s breadth to miss, cruising at speeds that Vitz drivers will only ever see on their mileage and not speed guage, we arrived only to discover that we were 2 hours early. So much time to burn, hardly anything to do. But alas, there was but this solitary kafunda right in the thick and conundrum of traders and travellers alike. We did what any group of weary travellers would do after a delightfully long weekend spent taking in the sun and various tribes of alcohol all in abundance; we sat down and ordered for more drinks. True to their unwritten creed of essentialism, the kafunda had the coldest drinks, the most instant service, the sturdiest chairs…..and nothing more.

We had a pack of playing cards that we figured was our only source of entertainment for the next two hours and hence embarked on a game of Matatu. For those of you that do not know what Matatu is, it is a card came that I am certain has its roots and perhaps exclusive existence in Uganda. It is a game almost everyone in Uganda has played. A game that has made enemies of bosom buddies and thieves of honest men. Nevertheless, it is a great pastime activity. The game is played to its end, with the winner being the first one to exhaust the lot of cards dealt to him. It is filled with intrigue and malice. People create alliances against others in a form of syndicate if played amongst many people. Alliances that break down when it comes down to a knock out round and friend becomes foe.

The thing with matatu is that if fairly played, you never really know which card you will get dealt. You take what you get and make do with it. You lay your strategy with what you have and hope it works. Round after round I was dealt what I termed a lousy hand. Different lots of cards that were of little value to me. And round after round I found myself on the receiving end of punitive plays by other players, being the victim of joker after joker. The few times I got the joker, one of the other players would “cut” me out of the game. When I tried to pick and play a new card from the deck, it was never one that favoured me at that point in time. I was out of luck and low on fortune. The odds were constantly against me. Fate was out to put me down.

I kept losing. But I kept playing. And because matatu is to a great degree open to luck and chance, soon enough my fortunes changed. I was dealt better cards. I was the one issuing the jokers and even cutting out the game. It was my time to roll!

Life deals us different hands at different times and in different places; kafunda or castle. We do not have control over it. We are merely players and play we must. The cards in your hand may not be the best, but you can make them work in your favour just like in matatu. But also, you can be dealt a shitty hand that leaves you against the wall, destined to fail. The different players in the game called life may have it better than you for a couple of rounds and may even throw a few blows your end. But you keep playing. You keep picking new cards from the deck, widening your options and hoping to play better. And when that fails, you continue to the next round, and the next one and the next because eventually, if you stick around at the table long enough, eventually fortune will favour you and it will be your turn to win.

Play the hand you are dealt. Play it the best way how. Fail. Fail again. Fail a little more. Keep playing…eventually you will win.

3 thoughts on “STAY IN THE GAME

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