Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Punk Ass Landlord

How about this for a strange little story that kind of changes my perspective on everything:

First the backstory: I don't like my landlord, he's kind of a punkass. Everyone hates their landlord and thinks theirs is the worst ever, but this one is on another level from home. He is allegedly the richest man in the district (vaugely like a state), and allegedly gets personal phone calls from the president. He is very fat, in a country where being fat is a major statement of wealth. Everytime I see him he tries to renegotiate the terms and fanangle us out of more money, contract be damned. The last time I paid rent he said he was tired of dealing with us and that he'd just evict us that night unless I paid him more money on top (I didn't). During the months it took to get him to sign the contract and my organization to clear the funds to pay the rent, he would just randomly show up at our house unannouced at like 7 am ready to do business and demanding money. I had thought he was just generally difficult and kind of an a-hole. Turns out the rabbit hole goes a little deeper.

I was driving up in the village the other day with some of my roommates and our friend Juliet who is super well connected around Mbale. I pointed out the house where I was told our landlord lives. Since Juliet knows virtually everyone and everything in Mbale, she chimed in. "Oh really? Who's your landlord?" I told her his name, and she of course knew who he was.

"No, that's not his house. His one is that one there, with the really high wall and big gate. He has to have a house with very high security." Ok, fair enough, he is pretty rich. Had the conversation ended there, it wouldn't have been anything worth writing about. But then:

"I don't know if you know this, but your landlord is one of the 'wanted men of Uganda'. He's known to be a very bad man and is very dangerous. It's common knowlege that people who cross him get killed or die mysteriously, but you know how Uganda is- people with money never go to jail."

This is the same Punk Ass Landlord that I hate with a passion and have habitually been crossing for the last 6 months. Maybe next time I'll just fix the sink myself.

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