If you have access to a TV, you have seen at least one clip of the #Tweddeko campaign by Vivo Energy and NTV Uganda. If you are among the redeemed who don’t watch TV at least you are here so you are about to find out.
I will not bore you with the details but if time and data allows, you can check out everything about the campaign here. What you need to know right now is that Tweddeko is Luganda for “let’s reconsider or change our ways”. Which ways you ask? The bad ones all of us road users are guilty of. #Tweddeko suggests that you know what you should be doing but you are not doing it.
I have been traveling to Kampala from Fort Portal for more than 10 years for school. Every bus ride to the city, preceded a prayer by mother dearest for safety. The prayers worked because I still have all my limbs intact and except a mechanical break down here and there, I have not had any major incidents happen to me on the road, but I can’t say the same for a lot of people.
It’s sad, that every day on most of our roads, someone dies, or loses a limb or two because we have bad road manners. In October of 2014 on a hot afternoon, I was sitting in an excruciatingly boring lecture, praying for it to end, when I received a phone call from one of my friends. I was grateful for the distraction and walked out of the lecture room hoping she had enough air time, so I didn’t have to go back to class so soon. The conversation was short, sad and shocking. She had heartbreaking news. A friend of ours had died from an accident. She was on a ‘boda boda’ when she was hit by a trailer. I remember my first instinct being dialing my dead friend’s number, so she can tell me herself why she thought, the prank was funny. The rest is history like they say, she remained dead despite all my hysterical denials of the fact.
The stories of lives lost due to accidents, keep growing, faster than the price of sugar in this country and they are all just stories until we are directly affected. #Tweddeko should be our way of stopping the number of stories from growing. And I am going to tell you how.
If you drive, behave like you would want all the ‘lumpens’ on the road to. Just assume you are the only, qualified, sane and sober driver on the road and the existence of the entire human race on the road depends on you. That should be great motivation. There is such a thing as waiting your turn and staying in your lane, and it hasn’t killed as many people as skipping lanes has.
If your plan is to go out and drink not tea, then leave your car at home instead of dodging the traffic officers conducting, ‘kawunyemu’. I am sure there are enough apps or people who love you to make sure you get home without getting behind the wheel. Finally, if you want to be on your phone while driving, first exercise your right to park. It also helps to know that the seat belts in your car are not for tourist attraction.
Tell your ‘boda guy’ to slow down when he is moving too fast. Tell him to stop and you get off if he insists. I find that getting to know the guy on whose ‘boda’ you are riding helps. If you talk to them humanely, chances are that when you ask him nicely not to overtake a trailer he will listen. We would all rather be late than in a hospital or dead. If you doubt go do some research at all the causality wards at a hospital near you.
Get yourself a helmet. This is a bit of a double standard, considering I don’t have one myself, but I am working on it. If your problem is that they are ugly, I promise there are some really cute and colorful ones too. If you are worried that, it will mess up your hair, get yourself a comb and a mirror. (I know a nice place down town where they sell a set cheaply, I can show you).
Until then safe boda is your best friend if you are in Kampala since they have a helmet for you or a nice walk if you are out of the city. I used to think I would die from using a shared helmet until I visited Rwanda, used the helmet and didn’t die.
Remaining safe on the road is obviously bigger than one individual, it’s a combination of luck, prayers, good manners, law, law enforcement, policy e.t.c. The target of #Tweddeko is primarily road users who are, all of us and if each person pledged to be intentional about playing their very simple part we can reduce the number of accidents in the Police Report of 2017 immensely, and get to stay alive while at it.
So while we wait for the bigger players to expand our roads, make sure there are no DMC vehicles or drunk drivers on the roads and work on safer road use policies, #Tweddeko, because every life matters.