I registered for my National ID with two other relatives. They got their IDs, mine, never came to be. In a surprising twist of events, when we went for elections, my name was on the Voters’ register, their names were missing. I seemed to have the last laugh.
Here we are again, I still don’t have a National ID. A part of me suspects that my information seemed to bedazzle many. First, my name is Ortega. It has its origins in South America and Spain. But that’s not all, it also usually falls prey to the usual Ugandan stereotypes of every person with an “O” name is a Northerner. Time and again, I have corrected people. They never listen.
But if you think it’s just about my name. The greatest of all absurdities is that my village home is in Buikwe District, formerly part of Mukono district. Thus, they must have wondered how an Ortega could come from Buikwe District. Perhaps they suspected I was forging information and chose to delay my ID.
Then it came to the issue of religion. I was forced to settle for Buddhist because I no longer identified with any of the other options during registration. Again, I suspect the powers that be must have smelt a pair of buttocks on this one. As we speak, I have no idea where my National ID is stuck. Did it ever get printed? Was it rejected? I thus don’t know where to start off the search.
But I have chosen to prepare myself for the worst. Here’s how I plan to survive post-SIM card. I have thought out in detail how I will be reached, how I will communicate and I seem much ready for life after SIM cards.
I will send letters once again
In the event that my SIM Card is blocked, I will go to Post-Office and apply for a Post-Office Box. Then I will start to send and receive letters. But that’s to assume that having a Post-Office box doesn’t require a National ID. So, I have started collecting P.O.BOX numbers. I am going to go back to the old life where we took time to scribble our thoughts to friends and relatives. I apologize to my friends in advance, I will be sending messages much later than before. Expect replies after weeks. Don’t forget to dedicate those songs to me. Team Snail Mail all the way.
I will use Email more often
I am lucky to have free internet access at work. I will use this platform more often. My friends will have to reach me through email. They will have to set up appointments through mail. Life after SIM cards will require trust and punctuality. If we agree to meet at a certain place by a certain time, then be there by that time otherwise I will assume that the meeting has been postponed.
I am buying a Carrier Pigeon
I am buying carrier pigeons for myself and for close friends. I will take off the next month training them in the art of carrying documents. Each pigeon will have a specific direction. One will work in between my residence and my village home. Another will work between my residence and my work place.
I will invest in a two-way radio
You know those things we call; “radio-calls”? I am gonna invest in a number of them. I will run my own command centre. I will then hand out handsets to a number of important friends and relatives and we shall run our own network. If you want to be part of the Ortega Telecom, apply in advance. I won’t ask for a National ID. Alibaba seems to sell a couple of these at cheaper prices than I had imagined.
Gossip, Tell-a-friend to tell a friend
I know friends who know other friends. I will always pass on my messages through friends. If I know a friend who I meet often and this friend knows someone I need to reach out to in Naalya, I will pass on my messages through them.
You remember those death announcements on CBS after lunch or at night. I am going to use these more often. Omwami Ian Ortega ategezza ……ab’oluganda, n’emikwano…. All you will have to do as my friends is to always tune in for my weekly announcements.
I will buy a Satellite Phone
It is much harder for government to listen in to my Satellite phone conversations. Considering the incompetence of the Ugandan government, this seems to be my biggest bet. Yes, it costs some good dollars but I will sell all my phones and invest in a satellite phone.
Rely on Wireless
Considering that my phone can still work with wireless service and Whatsapp will still be very active, I will base on wireless going forward. So kindly start sharing all passwords to different wireless networks around the city. I will be at the mercy of these in the coming days.
Installing Bluetooth Connection Apps
I am currently researching about Apps such as FireChat that enable messaging even without internet connection. They form a mesh of sorts with whoever has installed them. I am going to be testing it tonight and see how well it works.
I will just become extinct
Considering that UCC thinks without phones we are not citizens, I will choose this option in case all else fails. I will pretend I don’t exist anymore. I will only meet people randomly. As I become scarce, my demand will skyrocket. I will rely on friends with phones to make my own calls. In the end, I will be able to save myself from the distraction that had become my phone. As a result, I will focus more on useful things, I will live more in the moment and be present. I may even decide to quit Uganda. Some friends will assume that I have travelled to ‘outside’ countries. Huh. Others will have to rely on what I am wearing on a particular day to find me.
There was life before phones. There surely is life after the SIM cards are switched off. I will not kowtow in UCC’s poohoo. I am not going to re-register my SIM card. Let my SIM card be switched off. This could be the peace that had always eluded me. It could be found through life without a SIM Card. At least, I will have better excuses to give for all my failures in life. Let me hear from you at email@example.com on how you plan to survive without a SIM Card.