Saved From the Doldrums

According to the office messenger at The Observer, it is only the stability provided by a job he has done for the last 10 years that has brought some comfort to the last decade of his eventful life.

“If it was not for this job, I don’t know where I would be by now because life was very difficult before I got this job,” he says.

His life joys were throttled at an early age after losing his father and dropping out of school in senior three. The family’s sole breadwinner thereafter, his mother, was a primary school teacher and could not afford to take care of all her 12 children single-handedly. Mukhwana, a father of six, took to a hustler’s life. In 1987, he became a cross-border trader (between Kenya and Uganda) dealing in merchandise such as beer, bread and salt.

“I would be at Lwakhakha border by 3am, cross to Kenya and be back to Uganda by 6am. I made good profit within months because I would buy each beer at Shs 500 and sell it to Ugandans at Shs 1,500,” he recollects.

A year into the trade, however, he was arrested and his merchandise forcefully taken by law enforcement officers. His crime was smuggling goods across the border. Mukhwana would later become a bicycle mechanic and a bicycle boda boda (bicycle taxi) rider until his elder sister, Linda Nabusayi, currently the deputy presidential press secretary, sought to get him some kind of a regular, blue-collar employment.

After several false starts and aborted attempts, she helped him become office messenger and cleaner at The Observer, a dual role he performs to-date. Since then, Mukhwana has found stability.

“I get a monthly salary from The Observer, which has helped a lot with paying rent, school fees and to take care of my family. I also have a medical insurance card which I use to go anywhere to get medicine for free when I am sick,” he says.

Recently, when The Observer was disposing off some company items, Mukhwana says he got an opportunity to purchase two motorcycles, something he would otherwise not have been able to do on the open market.

“The company sold to me two motorcycles at a cheaper price,” he says. “They gave it to me cheaply instead of selling to an outsider. I paid half the total and then the rest was taken in instalments from my salary.”

Mukhwana says he sold one of the motorcycles at a profit and continues to deploy the other as a boda boda (motorcycle taxi), earning Shs 50, 000 each week from it. Mukhwana says with his earnings from The Observer, he is now able to sustain his family and provide his children with basics, including education and healthcare.

“Life has been going on well [since he started out at The Observer,” he says, with characteristic modesty. “Now there is no problem.”

Source : The Observer

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