I am Joe Walker aka Joseph Beyanga, a road safety enthusiast raising awareness about saving lives on the road.

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Reliving walk from Kampala to Mbale

By Andrew Mwanguhya

“I’m doing this. All in,” I declared on the Daily Monitor sports WhatsApp group on the morning of January 6, exactly a month before the long walk to Mbale, some 240 kilometres from the starting point in Kampala.
My declaration came with a link to a tweet by Nation Media Group Uganda’s head of Radio, Joseph Beyanga, where he was drumming up his upcoming walk to Mbale from Kampala in a road safety awareness drive.
Many colleagues applauded my resolve to join Beyanga, who – for the second year running – is walking under the Joe Walker moniker. Safe Roads Save Lives and Too Young To Die were the taglines.
But one man, whose journalistic antenna to dismissively contest everything can sometimes test your patience, could have none of this.

Not even after Beyanga and friends had walked a whole 340 kilometres from Kampala to Bushenyi the previous year!
That man is our sports sub editor, Jacobs Seaman Odongo, who is so good at his job he even edited this piece, including the previous two paragraphs… ha ha.

Just do it

“I don’t believe that thing,” came Seaman’s brief, sharp and dismissive response to my excitement of attacking Mbale on foot, “Guys take good rides at night.”

His last line not only left me in stitches, it doubled my desire to do it. Seaman doubled down, too. “Maybe I’ll ride along and see.”

I told him not to worry. “I’ll walk and write the story,” I promised. “This is good,” he responded, “I will believe you.”
I had, a few years back, taken a deliberate decision to be more intentional about my fitness and overall well-being to combat other health challenges by taking on working-out as a lifestyle.
And just two years earlier, out of an argument with colleagues, myself and some six others had – without any training, which later came to haunt us – walked to Entebbe from Daily Monitor headquarters in Namuwongo.
So mentally, I was up for Mbale – although that would mean an equivalent of a walk from Kampala to Entebbe six times in as many days.

Yet, deep down, I needed help. Mbale was an unchartered territory. But I had Joe Walker, and Joe Walker had the Bushenyi walk experience. Besides, this was his forte, and he surely knew better.
Beyanga shared a month-long training program with myself and other friends and as they say, the rest is history.

To be fair to Seaman, I knew for sure that not everyone who starts the walk may, indeed, walk the entire distance – fully.

Injuries, tiredness, body giving way and other factors will always interfere with the program and the affected will definitely get help along the way.

But also, I know there are – indeed – people who walk every step from start to finish, because a good number of my colleagues and I did, to Mbale.

Perhaps, what Seaman and a few doubters should be humble enough to do is stop and applaud the decision to even start.

Again, fair play to him. “These guys walked from Kampala to Mbale, some 250+ kilometres in just six days,” Seaman tweeted after we conquered Mbale last week, adding in his jab-jab style, “I still don’t want to believe it, but what to do…” Ha ha.

I had bought two new pairs each of light, sporting shirts and shorts, shoes (although one pair was enough in the end), vaseline to apply on areas susceptible to friction and sunscreen among other basics. Read more