For the past three weeks I have been attempting to break down and share some of the commonly used words and phrases that pop up in and around Kampala. While there are hundreds of words that I managed to pen down, I was only able to share a few owing to the limitation in terms of word count and blog length. In this final installment of the Kampala Lingo series, we revisit the lingo while carrying on from where we left off last week.
Part 3 (Q – Z)
Q – Qwela Band
Qwela is a Ugandan band with a very unique afro-fusion flavour of music. The word Qwela means ‘pure’ in Rukiga- one of Uganda’s ethnic languages. Anyone who has listened to and seen these guys perform will testify to the fact that they take this music making thing a bit more serious than most. They are in the habit of making music that is described as ‘unique’, ‘strange’ and often times described as ‘complicated’ and ‘elitist’. Their music has however struck a chord with a group of Ugandans who are keen to drink from the fountain of pure music; the ones who will part with an arm and a leg to listen to authentic music.
Other Q words / phrases – Quick fix, Quiet mode sex, Quality bums.
R – Rolex
There are very few things that are more popular, more beloved and more depictive of the lifestyle of people in Kampala than the Rolex. Relatively few people in Kampala own Rolex watches so you can take your mind away from the expensive and obscenely expensive watch. What we are referring to here is a delicious dish. A Rolex is a meal made up of an omelette rolled into a chapatti, usually accompanied with Cabbages, onions and tomatoes among other little ingredients. This meal, together with its close cousin the kikomando (chapatti and Beans), are the dominant meals enjoyed by low income earning banaKampala. Occasionally these meals make their way to the menus of top class restaurants because of their popularity and thus cease to be low-income-people dishes.
Other R words / phrases – Ruhanga Wangye!, Rakai, Round game, Rrruuu, Royal beauty.
S – Ssebagala
There are very many people who go by this name but there is one who instantly comes to mind at the mention of this name in Kampala. Nasser Ntege Ssebagala is probably one of the most accomplished mobilisers this nation has ever seen. He single handedly rallied nearly the entire city to believe that he was the perfect person for mayor only to learn later that he could not communicate in perfect English. People who have listened to his press conferences and interviews in English have had to visit their doctors because of cracked ribs. His grasp of the English language is dangerously hilarious and just so damn amusing. His press conferences usually garner the largest crowds because of the humour and ability to make the most serious matters as light hearted as possible. Ssebagala is also the true definition of a hustler; very enterprising and strategic in his dealings.
The man himself
Other S words / phrases – Straka, Small Pin Charger, Ssenga Nantume, Sipi Falls, Ssabasajja Magulunyondo, Stress.
T – Tugabane
The word ‘Tugabane’ is a word in Luganda that means ‘let us share’. The fact that Ugandans are generous people is one that can be seen not only in their day-to-day lives but even in the workings of certain companies. A certain telecom company (Airtel Uganda) has curved out a campaign where users are able to share data amongst themselves. Anyone who is a data whore has now started to switch over to the said network not just to benefit from the ‘Airtel Tugabane’ concept but also to experience what is said to be one of the fastest internet connectivity networks in Uganda. The Airtel Tugabane campaign has made people start using the word ‘Tugabane’ to refer to any situation that involves sharing.
Not too sure if the guys would also kugabana the woman …
Other words – Tuliwano Tutuuse, Thirst trap, Tirinyi, Twakowa, Tonkuba nakuyo
U – Uglish
Uglish is a language spoken exclusively in Uganda, born of the confusion between understanding proper English and breaking it down so the average not-so-highly educated Ugandan can relate. Many of the words and phrases in the Uglish dictionary can easily be understood by anyone who has worked or lived in central Uganda for a while. The beauty about this language is that it is very descriptive, quite hilarious and above all – it is unofically official. Some of the words and phrases one will encounter in this beautiful dialect include dating a pensioner, woman with Warrez, launching rockets, eating money, well done, falling in cups, and so on and so forth. Actually many of the words used in the 3 blog series are adapted form the Uglish dictionary.
Uglish : A Dictionary of Ugandan English by Bernard Sabiiti
Other U words / phrases – Universal Education, Uncle Money, U-Report, Urban Legend, Ugly by unanimous decision.
V – Votability
As 2016 comes close, there are several questions being asked of people and by people. For those who are new to the Ugandan scene, 2016 will be election year. Presidential and MP elections will take place and it is expected that there will untold euphoria. However, prior to that, the Electoral Commission has launched an exercise to enable people verify whether or not they are eligible for voting. Each person has been asked to go check their ‘votability’ to ensure that they can run for office and/or can be allowed to vote. When the deadline for this process ends, there will be no additions or subtractions to the voters register and one will not be able to cast a vote or be elected into any office.
Go check your Votability TODAY!
Other V words / phrases – Vision 2040, Vumiliiya, Virgin, Vuvuzela, Village excitement
W –What about!
‘What about’ is a statement. True, the English language will have several problems with this ‘statement’ but Ugandans are perfectly okay with it. It is a statement that was famously coined by a one Oulanyah Columbus who somewhat curved out a career out of sheer stupidity, accentuation and silly mannerisms. Over time, this statement has come to be used as a form of exclamation or shock. For instance if Lionel Messi or Stephen Curry pulled a never-seen-before move with the ball, someone can easily scream “What About!” and achieve nearly the same effect as someone who says “Wow”, or “Woah”, or even ‘Fuck! That’s insane!”
Goodness! What about!
Other W words / phrases – Wale Wale, Wilson Bugembe, William Street, Water logged woman,
X – Xenophobia
No, there is no xenophobia in Kampala or Uganda for that matter. Xenophobia is however a word that has since gained popularity because of the unfortunate events in South Africa. While the situation in South Africa can best be described as unfortunate and totally inhumane, the reference in Kampala is slightly humorous. If you walk into a bar and you do not buy someone a drink, they can easily say you are xenophobic. If you undermine someone’s girlfriend in any way, you can be said to be xenophobic. If someone follows you on Twitter and you refuse to follow back, a xenophobic title may be thrown your way. Basically if you prefer one black person over another, you will easily find yourself being referred to as a xenophobic person. The humour in this reference does however have its limits as some people will look at you with utter disdain the moment you are referred to as xenophobic while others will laugh out loud; literally.
Women and their xenophobic ways …
Other x words / phrases – Xenson, Xabu Girls.
Y – Youngin
Depending on the circumstances, the word youngin is used to mean different things. In some instances, it refers to anyone who is younger than you or just your offspring. In other instances, it refers to someone who has little or no experience in certain areas for instance love, sex, sports, politics or any other field that requires expertise. The use of the word youngin is occasionally derogatory and can be meant to give the impression that one still has a long way to go before they can master a specific skill set. It however can be used in general terms to refer to anyone younger than you.
David and Victoria Beckham with their youngins
Other Y words / phrases – Yoweri, Yapping, YOLO, Yellow Bus, Yoono, Yiya.
Z – Zari
Apart from Desire Luzinda, Bad Black and Judith Heard, Zari is one of most talked about socialites in Ugandan circles. She is one of the socialites dedicated to living the good life and making sure everyone around her does not miss a single bit of it. She recently coupled with Tanzanian music star Diamond for what is taunted to be the biggest socialite couple in East Africa. She is probably most famous for her All-White Parties at a popular nightspot in Kampala. Occasionally she will be seen sending inspirational Tweets or posting tongue dropping pics of her gorgeous and light skinned self on instagram. There was explosive talk about a ‘dry’ video of her cat (sic) that made rounds on social media but that is not something that I am very keen to get into; the video I mean.
Other Z words / phrases – Zungululu, Zunga.
And thus, our 3 part series comes to an end.
“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” ― George Carlin
The Talkative Rocker
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