The lunatic Line

The Supa’s family have a tale passed down through the generations of a very great great and venerable Grampa who helped build the railway along the Rift Vally escarpment. It is said that he was sleeping he was pulled out of a railway box car by lions one night and was never seen again. The boy never forgot the goose bumps he felt as his grandpa told the tale around the camp fire in the relative safety of their small Kampala garden. There is no doubt that from that time onwards the Supa loved trains.

The Lunatic Line Poem written out by his Grandma was nailed to his bedroom wall. When he is quite young she takes him on the two night trip down to Mombassa. He remembers her laughter when he asks 

‘Why the windows have EAR written on them.Grandma?’ She tells him about an artist who cut off his ear.and sent it to a friend. 

‘I think he did it because his friend wouldn’t listen. He was a lunatic too and now we are on the Lunatic Line!’

This didn’t really make any sense as an answer but they both laugh anyway. They say the rhyme together again to the rhythm of the train to pass the time.

What it will cost? No words can express,
What is it for? No brain can suppose,
Where it will start from? No one can guess,
Where is going?  Nobody knows

What is the use of it? No one can see
What it will carry? Not one can define,
And in spite of some lectures by an MP
It is nothing but a lunatic line.

Huge sums were invested in the Uganda Railway project. The many fatal accidents deadly disease, tribal opposition and wildlife attacks led the Uganda Railway to be dubbed a Lunatic Line:

This “gigantic folly” cost an estimated £3 million in 1894 money, which is £650 million in 2016. However Winston Churchill thought it “a brilliant conception – through the forests, ravines, marauding lions, famine, war, and five years of Parliamentary debate, marched the railway.”

It was named the Iron Snake comes from an old prophecy”An iron snake will cross from the lake of salt to the lands of the Great Lake to quench it’s thirst.

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