There are things that only Ugandans do that you won’t find elsewhere. We are the only people who bend all the rules, as long as we don’t break them. It’s the only country where you can pee by the roadside during broad day light and no one will point a finger at you, despite the strong warning “Tofuka wano, fine: Shs 10,000”, which loosely translated means you will be fined Shs 10,000 if caught red handed peeing here.
A bold man once stood at such a place with a Shs 10,000 note and held it up high, but nobody dared to ask for it. But then, Ugandans fear witchcraft. Having failed to stop people from peeing on his wall fence, my neighbor decided to write on his wall: “we collect urine for witchcraft.” Nobody dared to pee there thereafter.
Ugandans are the only people who refer to money as “balance” when they actually want “change.” We are the only people who have turned loneliness into business. You find posters with messages such as, “Do you need a lover?” pasted all over the city. Others advertise their loneliness. You find two pages of a newspaper dedicated to lonely hearts. “I’m short, dark and looking for a financially stable lady”. The man is unstable and is looking for financially stable women! This is broad day light theft.
A true Ugandan will always respond “I’m fine” even when they are admitted in hospital or have lost a beloved one. We are fond of adding the phrase “well done” after greeting you, even when you haven’t done anything. We call a box of matches “a match box.” When it comes to our roads, only drunken drivers drive straight. They only have two problems, starting and stopping the car.
It’s only Ugandans who look left and right before crossing a one way road. It’s only in Uganda were rainfall is an excuse for going late to work. That is if they are lucky to see you!
Ugandans are very innovative. We refine empty mineral water bottles to pack fruit juice, empty insecticide tins to make tadoba (locally-made paraffin lamps), used tyres to make shoes (lugabire), and empty tins to hot-comb hair. We never put anything to waste.
We also have our own kind of English. We are the only people who end questions with the 5ws. E.g. “You said what?” “You are going where?” “It’s for who?” “He did it how?” A typical Ugandan, especially one in a taxi, is likely to tell you to “extend” when in actual sense they want you to push up.
We are good at throwing birthday parties for five-year olds and 80% of the guests are above 40. Women marry hoping to change the men and the men hoping that the women won’t change. You hear a lady say, “when we get married, I’ll make sure he eats home every night.” Visit any fast food place after 9p.m. and you’ll see how many married men are rushing to finish their chips before heading home for burnt offerings.
Before marriage, the men enjoy walking behind their fiancées, but after two kids in the marriage, the guy is moving fast forward ahead of the wife!
We are good at listening to a football commentary on radio and tell it like we watched it live on television. It’s only in Uganda where I have seen restaurants where the day’s menu is in the waitresses’ mouth.
She’ll lean over you and rap the menu like 50 Cent or Eminem. Once in restaurants, we always grab the opportunity to use tooth-picks even when we have only taken water. Ugandans, especially those from the central part of the country, are the only people who say, “kankomewo” which means “I’ll be back shortly” and never return.
- Geoffrey T. Muhoozi is a Ugandan trained Public Relations Practitioner and Journalist. He Studied at Makerere University Kampala and read Mass Communication with a bias in Public Relations. In between the course, he studied the Art of Public Speaking. He joined Uganda’s Leading Daily, The New Vision during his second year and practiced journalism till he left for The United Kingdom.In the UK, he persued an NCC International Diploma in Computing at London College of Business Studies and Computing. He went on to do a Masters Degree in Business Administration [MBA]specialsing in Marketing. In spite of being in The United Kingdom, he still contributes for The New Vision and The Sunday Vision newspapers when time allows.