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Not far from Akii's street we came to a soccer stadium. Knots of frantic Ugandans, worked to a frenzy by the cheers exploding from within, pounded on every gate. People stood on rooftops. Akii led me around to a small iron door. He knocked and a plate snapped back, revealing a single brown eye. Then the door flew inward and we stumbled into darkness. Men embraced Akii amid waves of Swahili and ushered us down a passageway into the rear of the officials' box. A game between Uganda and Kenya had just begun. The box was packed, so we went to the end of the field where rows of state limousines were parked. Between cars stood sober policemen. Chains led from their wrists to the collars of nervous attack dogs. Whenever the crowd responded to a play the dogs snarled and strained against their chains. The policemen stepped on them, driving the animals to the ground.
"Don't get too close," said Akii, "and don't wander too far away from me."
He showed me where a track, now overgrown, had once circled the ground. "They moved our track to small stadium four miles from here. We protested, but they said this stadium was to be only for football. There is so little interest here in athletics. When we finish running in a race we go to the stands, so the others will have someone watching. I help as many young athletes as I can. I give them my training programs. But the standards are not high. We have six athletes on the police club. We fight the other clubs like the army, the prisons, and we win with just our six. I do both hurdles, relays, 400, javelin. I want to try the decathlon, but my coach is not encouraging me."
"What are your goals now?"
"I want to stay well for 1976, to try to defend. I'll only be 27 then, still able to run. Next year I'd like to better the record. All I would need is some more good training on a Tartan track. We have the hills here. I have my heavy coat. But you need to sprint on that Tartan.
"After I finish with sports, I want to concentrate on police work. I haven't any other good career than that." He demonstrated his aptitude later in the day. When we stopped for gas, Akii leaped out and caught the station attendant in some hanky-panky behind the pump. "They hold the hose high so it fills with petrol you have paid for," he said. "Then when you have gone, they pour it out and sell it again." This time there wasn't quite enough gas in the hose to press charges. The man got off with a blistering warning.
At dusk we stopped by a gathering at a local tavern. Singing, shoving matches and the swigging of millet beer seemed well under way, but Akii assured me the party hadn't started. He spoke into the ear of the proprietor, whose face fell, and we left. "I was to come later and crown Miss New Kampala. But I am a policeman. I cannot do those things without permission from my superior officers. Besides, I am tired. Tomorrow I have to lead the Olympic athletes in the Independence Day parade. And we must get you to Entebbe early."
Early, because the departing Asians jamming the airport made it necessary to reach Entebbe two hours before my nine a.m. flight. I bravely considered taking a cab and letting Akii sleep, but he wouldn't hear of it. "It will be better that I go," he said.
At six a.m. on Independence Day it was night in Kampala. At 6:15 the sky was purple velvet brushed with pink, and filled with birds. Crows, kites, canaries and eagles dipped and wheeled and darted above the greening silhouettes of kalitusi trees. The driver for whom Akii had arranged did not appear, so he ran a mile and a half from his police-academy quarters to the nearest cab stand, and called for me in the only vehicle he could find, a groaning Peugeot driven by a 16-year-old. Before leaving town we had to stop at a service station to fill the radiator. The first roadblock was peopled by a handful of nodding, chilled sentries who waved us through. Vultures prowled beside the checkpoint. One flapped clumsily into the air and our driver had to swerve to avoid taking it in the windshield.
On the open road he whipped the car up to an earsplitting 120 kph. After 15 miles the radiator blew, spattering the windshield with steam and rusty water. The driver calmly turned on his wipers. When the vehicle started banging and missing, he pulled into a clearing beside the road and shut off the engine. Huts enclosed a bare earth yard. We sat in the suddenly bright morning, listening to the car hiss and drip. Akii said something sharp in Swahili and the driver got out and went behind the huts. A mass of yellow birds shrilled from a small, denuded tree. I counted 54 swinging, woven grass nests. An old bicycle leaned against an oil drum. Akii and I looked at it, and at each other.