This social media website called Twitter has a deceptively innocent name. It’s not the sweet, cheery songs of little birds, it’s the shrieks of deranged vultures. Twitter is mean, ruthless, brutal, furious, demented, lawless and poisonous. Nothing good ever comes out of Twitter. Except last week.
For those of you who don’t have time to waste on OTT tax menus or live underneath various suburban rocks, or just avoid Twitter because you value your mental health, this is what happened:
A freshman reported to university carrying a modest amount of luggage in a single metal case, such as the ones we used in boarding school.
He is apparently a clever person. Clever people not only make it to university, but also know that what took them there, which is sex and studying, endeavours that don’t require that much luggage.
You can do all the studying you need with four pairs of trousers and eight shirts and you don’t need any clothing at all for the other activity.
But you know how we complain about the poor state of Uganda’s education system? One of its major failings is that clever people are not the only ones who make it to university. Schools are so messed up in Uganda that dwwanzies also get to Makerere.
And one of them, one @AupalEmmanuel, got to MUK with a camera and took a photo of the freshmen with the metal box, one Henry Ssuubi.
“Lol!” suggested @Aupal…etc, poking at his phone screen in manic glee. “Look at this wretch, this destitute, this penny-forsaken, penurious pauper with his tin can of poverty! Hah hah! A kid who has obviously not got as much money as I do with luggage that is not as glamorous as mine! Lol! This fills me with a false sense of personal superiority that enables me to look down upon him and entitles me, I believe, to mock him. I don’t think this is stupid of me at all! In fact, I think it is highly amusing. So join me and let us laugh at him, my twitter friends! Come on. Let us mock him!”
That’s what he said, but in fewer words, because Twitter limits the number of letters you can use.
I wouldn’t want to call Aupal a piece of crap. Mainly because he is not just a piece of it; he is the entire contents of the rectum of a very greedy hog that also happens to suffer from eight different worm and bacteria infections.
Twitter is normally a hotbed of pettiness, ignorance and deep-trench bigotry, but apparently, there is a depth to which even Twitter will not sink. Mocking poverty in Uganda? No. We will have none of that.
The post was followed by responses, replies and ripostes, all spitting contempt at such a flagrant display of bad manners (seriously, mocking poverty in Uganda?). Currently-successful people tweeted reminiscence about their own campus arrivals with their own metal cases. Others warned young Aupal that he could very easily end up begging Ssuubi for a job in the future. You may have more money but time and chance happen to all of us.
It escalated quickly, as things on Twitter tend to, from offering Aupal enough seats to re-furnish the MUK main hall several times over, to this: people offering to help Suubi.
“What do you need, Ssuubi?” asked Twitter. “Let’s hook you up.”
In a couple of days strangers on social media had pledged clothes, a laptop, a smartphone with data and airtime, had cleared his backlog of school debt, and had upgraded him to private sponsorship in engineering from government scheme in Educ. and other things, including a new suitcase. A leather one.
It was a heartwarming story until that point. Why give him a new suitcase? A leather one, moreover? Of all the things Suubi needed, a new suitcase was not one of them.
I, too, had a metal suitcase on campus. 20 years later I still have that case, with 20 years of memories stored in it, from my campus assignments to cutouts of my first newspaper columns. It has old photos, my recently-de-legalised birth certificate, my diplomas… they are all there, preserved in legible condition because that metal suitcase is rat proof, roach proof, rust proof, time proof. It is durable, reliable, sturdy, and firmly efficient.
I hope Ssuubi keeps his metal case, too. And when he is a successful civil engineer, motivational speaker, and Chairperson of The Henry Ssuubi Kiyimba Scholarship Programme, he will still have something durable to keep his degrees in.