“Ah! You’ve been lost,” he told me, as he removed his sunglasses and took in my face, which he used to see nearly every day. “Where have you been been?”

He is a boda-boda (motorbike) taxi driver, one of a number that park their bikes in Kisementi, a dusty parking lot surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops that I would go to often and from where I would hire a boda since it was close to my house. The minute I roared into Kisementi on a boda my first day back in Uganda, and even though I was cloaked under dark sunglasses, I heard a shout behind me.

“Hey, hey!” I turned around to where a group of my former boda drivers sat on their bikes. I broke into a huge smile, walked over and grasped their hands as we exchanged greetings.

Boda drivers, restaurant waiters and street vendors that I used to know: they all tell me upon seeing me again, “You’ve been lost!” It’s a common phrase in Uganda that is an odd way to describe the disappearance or departure of a friend. Yet it somehow eloquently captures the feeling of losing touch with someone you knew dearly and well.


Comment 1

  1. amnesy June 16, 2010

    “You’ve been lost!” is a common phrase in Uganda.

    I wish i could understand what it means, even it is fairly well explained through the rest of the post.

    Do I dare a remark : “i’m lost, i have been lost, i’ll ever be lost”. It is my weight on this earth. In France we have the poet Francis Cabrel who sings :
    “quand leurs ailes sont mortes /
    les papillons vont où leurs ailes les portent”
    May I translate by :
    Once their wings are dead,
    butterflies let themselves go wherever the wind make them go

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