Two faces of weather

It is nine o’clock in Kampala and already the heat has set in it is so bright you would think it is midday I check my watch just to be sure Everyone here is complaining and wondering when the next rains are coming it is simply too hot to do any meaningful work, at day time the people selling mineral water are getting bottle after bottle off the counter, every now and then they check their remaining stock and quietly wish that the dry season continues at least at the shops they are praying the weather should stay the same. I move further down the road and see this man pushing a cart with fruits on it, from the look on his face you can tell he is disgusted the heat is simply unbearable and yet he knows that if he doesn’t move around that much it will mean a long night without something in his stomach do not even think about his family back home, he may have fruits in his cart but he dare not eat a single one for it could mean his capital gets used up.

As I drive along to work I notice most of the women are dressed in light clothes they try desperately to remain decent in the face of the heat but many are failing in this heat though everyone seems to be minding their own business so no one really seems to be bothered whatever your choice of clothes is.

In the office everyone has turned on their fans they go round and round but still nothing seems to change it is as if the rotation is producing more heat, everyone seems to be wondering what has happened we surely never used to have this kind of severe weather it would rain every other three days or so and the grass always remained green at worst it would be light green, now everywhere you turn its only the big trees that are managing to keep the green on them.

You would think the city is has many places you can hide from the suns heat, yet deep within me I get the feeling that no one wants to be disturbed in this hot weather people easily get angry so you dare not ask for shelter from the heat or you may be mistaken. The rural areas used to do well in terms of shelter from extreme heat now that is no more ever since lorries started ferrying charcoal the trees have started to vanish, now even the few shades that remain are competed for. The heat is getting so unbearable the crops are drying in the gardens, last season was the same story the old farmer looks at the distant clouds with a gaze or complete abandon, the good old days are gone he thinks to himself maybe I plant a few more trees but even that seems like a drowning man holding onto a straw there’s no more rain to make the seedlings see the next season.

As for the cattle the farmers take them out to graze not because they will actually find grass, it is the faint hope that somehow the sun will have spared the grass further afield. And yet for miles on end the grass is all brown. They cattle and goats seem to fight each other at the slightest provocation they seem to resent the idea of having to spend the little energy they have left looking for a few strips of grass here and there.

The chicken used to be plenty then, hens would lay as many eggs as the old women wanted, after a few weeks they would hatch and the whole place would come alive with little chicks running around chasing grass hoppers and other little insects for food now the numbers are countable, even selecting a chicken for dinner now that the grand kids are jumping up and down during the holiday season has to be debated thoroughly.

Ever since the bats discovered the guava tree in the compound they have changed diet, now they fly over two kilometers just to have an assured meal for the night, who fights for a few insects that are hard to come by in the night when you can have guavas for a meal. By the time the kids complain in the morning who ate their guavas we shall be long gone the bats say as they make merry all night.

I switch on the television later in the evening and guess what miles away in America they are -13 degree s Celsius they say it is the coldest weather since 1887 it almost seems like a joke to see roads frozen with snow and people with heavy jackets and teeth cluttering, my little son asks me if what we are watching is a movie, I turn around and tell him it is actually news we are watching and CNN to be exact, he cannot understand why people in America are freezing while we here are almost getting roasted by the heat, aren’t we all in the same world?

How is it that extremes like these are now part of our daily lives, have we not tampered with the natural system that controls weather surely something must be going awfully wrong somewhere, the cattle, the chicken, the insects, the man with the cart of fruits are all confused they do not understand what has happened to the weather patterns they all knew so well.

The old man still gazes at the distant clouds waiting and hoping that maybe in the night as he goes to sleep that rain will come quietly and give life to his homestead.

The old woman hopes that her baskets will be full with eggs once again and that after a few months there will not be those long agonizing mental debates on which chicken to slaughter for her grand kids when they return for holidays in a few months time. We need to take urgent action to restore the environment we have degraded at such a terrible speed otherwise we are going to be in a lot more trouble in the coming years.

Science | Environment

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