Most people I know in this beautiful country had the blessing of being Ugandan thrust upon them and they had no choice in the matter. The decision was made by two consenting adults who decided (or in some cases were unlucky) to consummate their love and bring forth a child. Fast forward to several years later and it would appear that some folks are still oblivious to the fact that they are Ugandans. Every now and again, I walk down the Ben Kiwanuka street or Parliament avenue and come across someone who bears a Ugandan name but does not carry themselves around like they are from the Pearl of Africa! This is not only infuriating but also criminal because it borders on impersonation. If you are trying to be Ugandan, be Ugandan through and through. Do not attempt (and fail) to be Ugandan. For those who are new to the concept of being Ugandan, especially those from outside-countries who have recently touched down in UG (pronounced Yuw-Jee), you might want to take a hint on how you ought to behave if you are to be one of us. Now grab a drink (preferably one with a fairly agreeable alcoholic content), wear your reading glasses, and learn how to keep it real – Ugandan Style!
1. The way you dress matters!
In Uganda, the way you dress is almost as important as your blood group or HIV Status. There have been cases where ladies get jobs and guys lose jobs because of the way they dress. Without necessarily assuming that you have to be skimpy to get around easily (which is mostly the case), you might want to be keen on what you wear. If you are headed for a Kwanjula (a local event where the groom is formally introduced to the family of the bride so the father of the bride can no longer chase him around with a panga), be sure to dress appropriately. Do not wear t-shirts to such an event unless you are the DJ or the sound guy, in the very least, a party crusher – in which case you can come in just about anything but only come in after dark. For all other events, stay away from the colours Yellow (for political reasons), Black (for superstitious reasons) and Grey (for no reason at all, I just hate Grey). If you really must dress in local fabric, make it a routine to appear in such a fabric, and you might even get a congratulatory phone call from a one; Olara Otunnu – the godfather of local fabric and colour .
2. Don’t just sit there, say something, and say it loud!
The word silence is not synonymous with Ugandans. We do not and cannot stay in quiet neighborhoods. Therefore if you are attempting to be Ugandan, everything about you should scream noisy. Wear outfits that scream colour, speak very loudly and play your music at full volume. Don’t worry about the landlord; he probably won’t hear you because he will be across the street in a local church overnight belting his vocals out in even louder sessions of praise and worship. Feel free to scream at your neighbor for soiling your verandah, at your wife for leaving you the smallest piece of chicken or even at your self for losing a bet in a local game; but do not under any circumstances scream at anyone for screaming. It is who we are; we are screamers.
And this brings me to this rather small matter ….
3.…the louder she is, the more Ugandan she is.
You will occasionally be compelled to have sexual relations with a Ugandan woman because after all, they are irresistible. Be sure to be prepared for events that follow because unless you are Ugandan, you are about to have the worst time of your life. For starters, Ugandan women hate to be rushed. Why do I say this? (a majority of Ugandan women might want to skip the next sentence). Well, I say this because many are actually very slow … at certain things. So the slower you are, the better for her and eventually you. Secondly, if a lady is quiet for most of the time you and her are playing video games (euphemism for doing the dirty), be afraid. Be very afraid. There are only two reasons why a woman in Uganda will remain quiet during the video game session. Either she has passed out from your excessive boredom or she is simply not Ugandan. If you hear strange noises coming from your neighbour’s house, do not, I repeat, do not attempt to call the cops. They are simply being Ugandan. If you specifically hear “Oh My, You are killing me!” the better thing for you to do is start your own noisy session or request to join the party – whichever is easier for you.
4. Mark these words “Do You Know Who I am?” … and Never Ever forget them!
In every society, there is hierarchy and there are those who are considered the Lions while there are those who are fed on by the lions and the chain continues till when you get to the insignificant ones who ironically are the most important (but that’s an issue for another blog post). The Ugandan society is no exception to this rule of life. There are individuals who will regularly ask, “Do you know who I am?” especially if there is any doubt about their identity or if their identity does not seem to bother those around – which can be disastrous to their egos. The first thing you need to do when someone asks you this question is very gently respond with “uuhhhm not so sure, could you be King Kong?” If after this they brandish a well polished Ruger Vaquero single-action .357 Magnum revolver, just smile coz its probably fake. We do not have those in Uganda. What we do have though, is the AK47 and in case someone asks the question “Do You Know Who I am” and they follow it up by corking the AK47, run for your life. It’s as simple as that!
If an AK47 is wielded at you, run like the Hulk is chasing after you. Those things never miss their target!
5. Be Like Everyone Else.
Standing out in Uganda is not a very welcome idea. Matter of fact, if you attempt to stand out, there are chances that the rest of the country folk will gang up against you. If you attempt to succeed financially, find a way to disguise your wealth or else your local neighbor will find a way to get in on the action. Sometimes even your partner will beat everyone to it – especially if you hide it under your pillow. If you succeed in any field be it in sport, music, finance or education, you can be sure that a huge company will approach you to be on one of their billboards. And this is simply making you an easier target for the haters; yes there are many haters. People will hate you even for the tiniest reason. Pass your exams highly and they will assume you cheated, get rich and they will say you are in bed with the devil, marry a beautiful woman and they will say you used your money, grow a nice body and they will say you are using steroids, win a marathon and they will say you are Kenyan. Your safest bet is to keep it simple and be like everyone else. You can be like the rest by saying you like Chameleon even though you secretly loathe him, claim to love Rock Music even though you would rather slit your throat than be left alone in a room with rock music, wear suits even when you would rather go to work in pyjamas, loudly pronounce that you are a blogger even when all you do is copy and paste other people’s work, make a noisy presence on Twitter even when you secretly have no clue how to use it, be sure to hang out five days of the week even when half the time you are taking one drink for 6 hours, own a luxurious car even if you will spend the rest of your life servicing the car loan. . The point here is; pretend all you can. If you can curve a career out of pretence, you are most certainly Ugandan. If you can’t, then you need to check your roots – one of your parents is probably from Central African Republic or Gabon or even Myanmar; who knows!
6. Make it a point to have an addictive hobby.
Every Ugandan somehow has a hobby. Some hobbies are unfortunately unhealthy and others are life threatening but that’s besides the point, just have a hobby. If you have an interest in sport, be sure to indulge in sports betting; throw away half your salary on this because after all, you have to feed your hobby and this activity seems to be trending. If you are into having fun, hang out as much as you possibly can. If you are lucky you will curve a career out of this and you will always make it on the front pages of the tabloids and we shall call you a socialite. You can be sure that at least every weekend, there is an album launch here, a concert there, a fashion gala somewhere else or just an event some other place. You can never run out of options here but always make sure you are away from home for as much time as possible because only then will you be validated as a true Ugandan. If the worst comes to the worst and there seems to be no event, fake a baby shower, throw another birthday party for yourself, organize a barbeque, do something. Always make sure you start a facebook page for whatever event you have. Whether it is your house warming, a bridal shower, an old school reunion or the birth of new puppies by the neighbour’s dog – a facebook page is the only proof that your event is actually worth attending. If you have the time (which you must, after all you are Ugandan; you own time) start a Twitter account for that little event and follow every Ugandan on Twitter. That should get you going.
7. Finally, every Ugandan is a Photographer
The first thing a Ugandan always does when they have just purchased a new phone is learn how to use the camera. A phone with no camera is not a phone. It is that simple. Why? Well, because everything that happens around us has to be documented. When a baby is born, post the pictures on facebook 10 minutes after the mother emerges from the delivery room or else people might think you gave birth to a baby chimp. When you are graduating, post the pictures or folks might think you were expelled from University a while back. When you get married, post every little detail of you and you partner on facebook or else people might assume you married a rock. When you have a house party, put up the pictures so that other Ugandans can see what they missed. Make sure you get the attractive spots like the blender you borrowed, the neighbour’s dog, the office PC you carried home, the kingsize bed you rented for the weekend as well as the laptop from your parents.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have grasped these few aspects, you are now ready to exercise and enjoy your Ugandanness. Go on and keep it real – Ugandan Style!
The Talkative Rocker