Writer: Chris Tenderi

The second phase of the Lockdown has opened my eyes to many things: supportive friends to exposing fake friends to a loss of opportunities. I have continuously hustled to stay afloat because bills must be paid. I believe that the phrase “Survival for the fittest” best describes these times where inequalities in standards of living are a reality.

Each day, if you are an optimist like I am, means waking up with plans and schedules with hopes that nothing goes wrong. Some days do go as planned while others get messy. Today, I am going to share a personal experience. I will be telling you about the event that changed the lives of two people in a few hours. The first person is Samuel (Sam), the other is I.

Samuel is in his early twenties. He is dark skinned and speaks fast Luganda. He was raised in the city much as he didn’t study much. His English entails adding up key words to make a meaningful English sentence. On this particular day, he wears a red head sock, a black face mask, he is wearing an old Barcelona jersey shirt, dirty black jeans and plastic open shoes. This vibrant young man works at a charcoal wholesale market in Ntinda as an employee to the business proprietor. Samuel makes about 10,000/= a day.

It is Wednesday morning; Samuel has to deliver charcoal in Kisaasi. He actually passes me by as I walk to the hardware shop. My morning starts at 8 am sharp. I am working from home and clad in old jean trousers, a T-shirt because I have some furniture work to do but first I have to buy a few paint brushes, sandpaper then vanish. I place my phone in one pocket and money in the other. I set off for the hardware.

At the hardware store, I purchase what I need and get back home. Unfortunately, I realize that my phone is missing (A very expensive phone I must admit) I get a panic attack and search my pockets thoroughly only to find a hole in my pocket that I hadn’t noticed before. That is when it hits me that my phone is missing. I try to trace my movements but all in vain. Samuel had already picked the phone. He had kept it in his waist bag and rode back to his work station in Ntinda.

I got very nervous and uneasy. The thought of losing all my information and a very expensive phone as such was unbearable. It literally drove me mad. I immediately reached out to my neighbor who used his phone to call my number. It went through several times but no one picked and later on the number was switched off. When your number is switched off, it usually means forget the phone. It is gone.

My neighbor kept on calling my number several times from 9am to midday. At this time, I had lost my mood and was literally depressed. I quit the furniture work and decided to take a walk to cool off a bit. I had hardly moved a short distance when my Neighbor called out to me. “Someone has answered the call”.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I ran back and I was told Samuel had given directions on where to pick the phone. It sounded unreal for a Ugandan to do this. He had claimed to have reported the issue to his area LC 1 (with a rare name) which was off. I didn’t believe it because he had given us 20 minutes to pick the phone since he had another appointment. For a moment, I knew he was a con artist (Mufere) but I had to give it a shot and my neighbor joined me in the trek.

In a Lockdown where public or private transport for a non-essential worker isn’t allowed, the feet were the way to go. The average time from where I stay to Ntinda is about 30 minutes which meant that the 20 minutes weren’t sufficient to get there plus the whole thing felt suspicious. What if I walk all the way and bounce?

Alas, we were in Ntinda and to my shock; the directions are spot on. I will cut the story short because it was an emotional journey. I should have carried a media crew for the shock that I was about to receive. I get to the LC 1’s office and indeed Samuel is waiting for me. The LC 1 witnesses the handover and Samuel never asks for a single coin. He instead says in Luganda that if I were him, I would have done the same.

I looked at Sam and I couldn’t believe it. I wondered for a moment if he was real! What Ugandan is this? Sam didn’t look illiterate or dumb. He was a city boy. His friends didn’t look trustworthy. Samuel looked the type that was sharp and he would have utilized any opportunity to get ahead but he didn’t want to make quick money the easy way. He told me he believes in hard work.

This is a young man who works in Ntinda centre where he is surrounded by several phone repair shops. Sam would have sold that phone for spares and made a lot of money but he didn’t. Samuel put me before self. Samuel was so empathetic that he put himself in my shoes. He felt the pain I was going to experience, the money I would have spent looking for the phone, he relieved me of the pain of losing contacts. Samuel had a chance to break out of servitude and start his own business but he didn’t. He thought of me before him.

I know of people who wouldn’t have returned the phone. They are selfish and greedy. They only think about themselves and their well-being. They always wish others ill yet they pretend to be good people. Sam gave me another chance to believe that people can actually be good and not just say it. Don’t think that Samuel returned the phone out of fear. He didn’t owe me anything because he didn’t know me. I was going to track the phone that easily.

Sam is a breed of Ugandans in Kampala that make up 1% much as you find a church every 30 steps. To me, he is a hero and I will forever talk about him. He made me question my humanity and love for my fellow humans. Sometimes a single act can change the life of someone and he did save me. It also showed the character and personality of Sam. He had overcome temptation and won. I am very sure Samuel and his friends had three hours (9am when he picked it to midday when he picked our call) to contemplate what to do with my phone until he chose to do the right thing.

Samuel showed me that there is still hope even in this lockdown. He also showed me the power God has over my life. I believe God sent me a message that day. Many things have happened to me but this was one of the miracles I least expected. I will unveil Sam to the world very soon and I want to make some of his dreams come true.

In the end, Sam had handed over a phone worth 2 million Uganda shillings. If he is not an angel then think twice. To everyone reading this, please and please let us try to BE A SAMUEL to someone Be a nice person in actions not just words. Let us be there for one another and most of all put others before ourselves. Samuel, I know you can’t read this but I will never stop thanking you.


Chris Tenderi is a Communications Specialist

Twitter: @MrTenderi

Leah Grace Oketcho, is a highly talented Communication specialist, gifted in leadership with over 3 years of leadership and management experience at different levels. She is a team player and has demonstrated ability in mobilizing and organizing others to achieve desired goals. Oketcho is well vast in the art of creating alternatives for ways to get results. She has over the years grown in the art of corporate communications and also participated in the development of performance management materials for various professional institutions. Leah received training in research, scripting, international relations, and data analysis as well as public relations. She is passionate about solving public health related problems. She has offered training to youth in oral and written communication, people management and mentoring, editing and documentation skills, public speaking.


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