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One year later after my UK visa application had been rejected; I visited my best friend Vincent at his home in Ntinda a Kampala suburb. While discussing our lives, I mentioned something about my desire to try again to apply for a visa. Vincent told me how his sister had left for the UK and that there is a man in the city who helped her to organize the trip. “This man has connections all over the world and he is helping so many people who want to go abroad,” he said. “I am very sure that he will help you too but the problem is that I don’t know how much he charges and where his office is located exactly” said Vincent. He said that by the time, he worked on her sister’s visa he was located on Wilson Street in Kampala. I asked him to take me there.
Arrangements were made to meet the visa dealer. We walked through the potholes of Wilson Street in Kampala and when we got to one of the biggest building on Bombo road, we climbed up the stairs. We spent over ten minutes walking through the building but we couldn’t easily find the visa dealer’s office. We checked several offices because Vincent was not sure which the right office was since he and his sister had visited the visa dealer a year and a half ago. At last, we went into a small stationery shop where a woman pointed at the opposite door. “That is the office you’re looking for which takes people abroad,” She said. We knocked on a door and we met the dealer in his office.
The visa dealer was an old man who called himself Richard. He was tall, fat with very dark skin and black eyes. He was wearing a blue suit and a white shirt. My friend said that he looked like a responsible person. He greeted us with a deep threatening voice. It was a very small and disorganized office with many scattered documents and files. On his desk was a telephone set, an old computer and a noisy printer. In the corner, there were numbers of different flags from European countries including USA and Ugandan flag hugging. We sat very near to his working desk. Through the office window you could see people walking around and you could hear different sounds of noise.
We found young men and women already seated on a bench, waiting. Richard called them one by one to pay and receive their passports. Vincent and I were seated on a chair and watched them carefully. “I hope you have got everything?” The visa dealer asked a young girl. “Check papers including your passport before you leave my office,” he added. In just a minute, Richard was collecting millions of shillings from his clients. You could see smiles on faces of those who received their passports with visas and those who didn’t have the money to pay the dealer were in tears. One young woman who failed to pay was told by the dealer to go to a lodge with him and pay in kind. I had not heard this until when my friend Vincent whispered to me. “Have you heard what the dealer has told the girl?” Vincent asked me. I said “No” “He has told her to follow his office messenger to the lodge where he will find her,” he said. We both looked at the girl as she was lead to the lodge by the messenger and we never knew what happened there.
The next client in the cue was a man in his thirties, wearing blue jeans, a white shirt and black shoes. He looked worried as he shifted next to the working desk. He didn’t wait for the dealer to ask him to pay but he just went down on his knees and begged the dealer for help. “Sir, I don’t have the money right now to pay for my visa but please do me a favour and give me the passport, I will pay you as soon as I get to Belgium, because I am assured of a hotel job there” he cried.
The dealer didn’t waste time on him, but instead shouted at him with a very cruel face and ordered him out of his office telling him not to stop by again: “Don’t waste your time, I will keep your passport and when the visa expires you will come for your passport,” he shouted. The man went out of the office crying and carrying his hands on his head because he had failed to raise the 5 million Ugandan shillings ($2100) to get his passport with visa.