The day Redearth founder Ronnie met Benard Tomato at the local police station…

It was unfortunate to discover that I had ‘misplaced’ an important NGO document in the shift from home to office; groans escaped my lips as I anticipated the bureaucratic merry-go-round that would accompany the effort to replace the document.

But that is not the subject of this little missive from Masindi, Uganda.

The police station was my destination, to declare formally that the document was lost. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and NGO Board insist on police endorsement of my request for a copy of the disappeared document. As I waited to be ‘processed’ by the desk sergeant, 2 men and a young girl were coming to the end of their form filling. One of the men was accusing the other of ‘defilement’ of the young girl. They were ushered into an office to presumably have their case dealt with.

Within seconds, one of the men stormed out of the office he had entered and marched back to the desk sergeant, closely followed by a thunder faced woman police officer who flung a small piece of paper at the desk sergeant before flouncing back into her office. Apparently the man had been offended when the woman police woman ‘made teasing and laughing at my name!’ as he put it.

In exasperation the desk sergeant appealed, ‘ Please you are making my work very difficult and complicated….what is your name?’

‘Benard Tomato’.

After some time the desk sergeant and other officers in the room, and I, I confess, controlled our snorting and chuckling.

The man, Benard, gazed at us malevolently as we struggled to regain composure. At this point I felt I must make amends by apologising but I said to him, ‘Benard, you are truly blessed with a name that brings joy and laughter whenever you are introduced. Do you love your name?’

He said he indeed loved his name and informed me that he was given it when he was very young.

I confirmed that, by coincidence, the same happened to me.

But he returned to the office whence he had angrily emerged and, I hope and assume, he will cope better with future inevitable hilarity when his name is mentioned.

Written by Redearth co-founder Ronnie Katzler


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