Park Yard Market, My Trench Coat and A Story Pitch

A year ago on a trip to Fort Portal with a group of friends, I saw a one Patra wearing a beautiful and classy, ‘New York Week style’ black trench coat. My fashion instincts kicked in immediately so I had to ask where I could get myself one and at how much. Psychologically I’d prepared for a huge amount at a fancy town boutique but that didn’t phase me. I’ve known myself to invest more than permissible by the economy and my pockets, on fashion. I will have you know I’m not apologetic about that. Fashion is a huge part of who I am and I don’t intend to change that. But I’m not here to talk fashion today so let’s move on.

I learnt from Patra, to my surprise, that I could get that trenchcoat for about UGX 40, 000 from either Owino or Park Yard Market in downtown Kampala. Now, I ordinarily do not like to go downtown later on walk through it on a shopping mission- mainly because it is quite frankly as chaotic as can be. From trucks letting out car fumes, taxi touts screaming their heads off, boda boda riders like ants winding through every available space between the trucks, people walking everywhere not to mention some of those people, common thieves. Even with that knowledge, I was now willing to brave it all in search for a trench coat. I’d asked Patra to accompany me sometime so that I’d own this fine piece of clothing.

At the end of last week I’d hear media reports of strikes happening in Park Yard, strikes whose cause I hadn’t bothered to get knowledge on. For me, it had been an idea that occurred to me in which I was most interested. My storytelling instincts had kicked in; how about a story of the traders of Park Yard – a day in life? When do they wake up? How do they get to Park Yard? What are their encounters with customers, law enforcement and their colleagues? How much do they earn a day? Interestingly, I had an avenue through which to present my idea. I’d been applying for a writing opportunity that presented different stages like interviews, to participants. I was close to the end and the current stage assignment had asked that we pitch 3 story ideas. This for me would be one of them.

Fast forward to this morning. I saw the front page of the Daily Monitor newspaper: a visibly anguished man pointing out his index finger as in if in warning and in the background, the rubble from the demolition that according to the article had began at 4am in the night. Park Yard Market is no more.

I shall no longer make the trip to find my desired Trench Coat- in fact I am afraid that one day I will wake up and not be able to get that coat at an affordable price,  I have since edited my to-be-submitted document for the writing opportunity and omitted the story pitch but most importantly, a MAJOR part of this city and nation- in history, people, representation, identity, blood and sweat, livelihood and economy; has been erased.

It’s a sad day.