Mystery: Are ghosts waiting to ambush us on the road?

The ghosts of Jinja road; It has always sounded rather illusive in the ears – not to say, ridiculous. I mean, you merely laugh out loud to whoever turns up touting the story of the spirits; you just can’t help being amused.

Ghosts are the last thing you want to have time for if you are a person who regards things only in the realm of reality.

“It is a myth,” I have conveyed to my friends time and again.

Yet when all is said and done, the mystery remains; is Jinja road a haunted road? Or any places on earth, for that matter? The Bermuda triangle? Do ghosts really exist? Why even this conversation?

These are the questions I was obsessed with when I set out to find out about the secret world of the spirits that have purportedly darkened generations on this [Jinja] road.

This is a road in Uganda, connecting the cities of Kampala and Jinja. Sometimes referred to as Kampala–Jinja Road; it is a busy road, with several towns, trading centers and other points of interest along the way. This highway is an all-weather tarmac single carriageway road in good condition. The highway forms a section of the Northern Corridor, a road system that connects the East African cities of Bujumbura, in Burundi, Kigali, in Rwanda and Kampala, in Uganda to Nairobi, in Kenya and ultimately to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. The road is a vital commercial link to the outside world for the three land-locked countries. It is also a vital road link to the sea, for many parts of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But Jinja road is also said to be haunted. Or is it?

Wednesday March 4, 2015

Somehow I’d woken up early, again at 5:00 O’clock, like every other day. I was okay and thankful so – I’d see the light of day again.

On the other hand, a man had just lost his life between Namataba and Walusubi, villages on Jinja road. It’s a typical tale around these communities though. This man would simply join the myriad of others who found a sudden finish of their lives at this very spot.

“It’s all the work of the gory spirit,” a resident’s murmur, noticeably filled with an immensity of dread snaked hrough the crowd that had gathered to empathize.

The actual place is infamously known as Kibaati, by the locals, just adjacent to a factory, Kampala Cement and opposite to a swamp that is said to be the address of an “angry demon”.

This accident happened just this very day when I’d be travelling to Kitega, a town in Lugazi that is itself famous for the slaughter of men in automobile mishaps.

Well, there was no way I’d get there – before 8 O’clock I’d be made to know over the radio that confusion was way over the top just before Lugazi. The road had been closed and I would never go beyond the carnage except in a few hours. At ten-thirty I boarded off the taxi and tried to beat the jam on foot. In a while I reached…

It was really a bloodbath. Five heavy trucks were involved and you’d never find a good enough answer to explain why. Mama Sauda, a resident in this area tried to draw out for me her version;

“Bang! Bang! Bang!” she exclaimed, “a speeding truck crashed into another and another” Mama Sauda never saw the accident with her eyes – no one did, as she and rest of the residents had been sound asleep.

But when they woke up, it all made sense.

Except they had never known that before the collisions, the reckless truck driver had hesitated to check the speed of his vehicle even as he neared to the place that would be an accident scene in the morning and have him and colleague nurse severe wounds.

Dalia, an older friend of Mama Sauda’s insisted, Walumbe is the day, Wednesday, that the Swamp demon cared to observe and offer a [routine] sacrifice to himself; although this is where the driver should have been less reckless in the first place – to deny the demon a chance – to save a life – a fellow truck driver. Apparently, the deceased victim had just pulled over his own grain-filled truck to the side so he could replace a punctured tyre; at what time a speeding “trailer” came from behind, ran into him and creased him on the tarmac like minced meat; before it slammed again into a loaded truck ahead which also knocked the one in its front.

The police once blamed such on bad roads and they keep evolving to the more practical jargon given the times, like reckless driving and anything else. However, locals have always insisted; the demons are witch-hunting Jinja road.

The Namanve forest ghost

Once upon a time, there lived an elderly man, always fully clad in an off-white robe also known as ekanzu. He is said to have been a strange man that used to make rounds, ambling in the onetime eucalyptus packed Namanve forest, along Jinja road – the location of the Coke Company today. That he had long blonde hair, a visible yet ghostly body.

“He was indistinct,” said one, only identified as Mike, a 29 year old resident of Namanve who confessed to having ever seen this being, “he had ability to appear and disappear. He was like air.”

Mike continued that his eyes were different and they glistened like glittery marble.

This man’s name was Namanve and he was the ghost that had charge over the entire forest and the well that used to serve the area, also known as “Oluzzi lwa Namanve” – where people of all walks of life used to fetch water, worship and pledge allegiance to this creature, leaving behind live sheep, chicken and other gifts as sacrifice.

“He was not like us. He was exaggerated, and scary to look at,” Mike continues, “but harmless. Except when he got angry!”

And that was the most scaring part. Apparently his anger accounts for all the fatal accidents that ever happened at this spot, and might still have a hand in those that happen barely after every month in the same location.

Katabira Fred, 31, another resident, born and grown in this area shares similar belief;

“Accidents always happened here whenever Namanve crossed the road in the same breath with a speeding car. He sacrificed those for himself.”

What’s more, this man believes, the Coke factory should have a hand in having had the ability to quiet that spirit. Otherwise he’d have been impossible to subdue if not hugely appeased.

A different school of thought

Other residents also believe that the tyrannical regimes that ever came before now were responsible for the mass graves that were created in Namanve forest causing many out-of-place ghosts that later went on the rampage, protesting being buried in the wrong places, and in turn causing accidents.

Mike remembers pensively when he led a team of mates to excavate remains of people that were later transferred by one, Fr. Bakka and buried in Kitovu.

Mabira Forest Demons

Relatedly, there is consensus among the locals around the areas of Mabira forest that the automobile accidents that ever happened in this neighborhood are largely because of outraged spirits – spirits of the people whose bodies were dumped in the forest in masses after being brutally murdered by the criminal armed forces of the state.

Uganda’s turbulent past claimed people’s lives by the thousands. And residents who have lived here for some time question very keenly how so much blood – innocent blood could be shed so recklessly and for no one to feel the pang of guilt.

Those people were never buried in their proper places, turned out lost souls and little wonder; they are restless at slaying people too – to avenge.

Therefore, if any demons be responsible for the death of any people on Jinja road, certainly the former repressive regimes had quite a role to play in this entire chronicle, and a fair number of Ugandans have believed this with a zeal.

Namawojjolo is just another one in the line of the Jinja road curse!

Everybody knows the deliciousness of the town; very famous for gonja and roasted meat. However, Namawojjolo is also a town drowned in a pool of tears because of the endless strain of accidents that have gripped this area for some time. It is just another one in the line of the Jinja road curse, haunted by demons that claim lives almost on a weekly basis; the responsibility of all the people who were killed and dumped into the Namawojjolo swamp.

Most common victims are definitely the meat vendors who run back and forth, trying to make another shilling.

Mukono Roundabout

Could be that witches really know their craft and the ways of the demons because they take credit and they are the only explanation why accidents at the Mukono roundabout are nowadays not as frequent as they used to be. Hardly a week passed in the olden times before an incident occurred, and it was common knowledge among the residents of Mukono that this place was haunted – as it was home for two ghosts – a male and a female.

It turns out, one could probably survive if caught one of them crossing the road but when they crossed as a pair, it’d mean the climax of their wrath and the driver and his passengers would never reach home safely.

A spot around Banda in Kampala, Ntaawo in Mukono have also been referred to as demon spots. The world of the spirits has us all look rather clueless… no one can tell for sure if the domain of the demons is to be in close interaction with us who are noticeably not demons, or otherwise. However, too creepy as it all sounds, men are not about to stop hankering after the resembling of “Dracula” or “Walking Dead” – humans are curious and will always have room for a little adventure – doesn’t matter if it turns out all a chasing after wind – in any case, that would prize well, the suspense man so earnestly extols – because ghosts are “wind” anyway!

Meanwhile more pragmatic deductions will continue to come from Police, varying from bad roads, thin roads, potholes or even pit holes, to drunken drivers, reckless drivers, tired drivers and they’ll certainly have scientific backing or another. They will not stop any beliefs in the intervention of demons in our sphere. Futility always lingers by the side just in case we need a straw to grab while drowning.

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