If you have just crawled from under a very heavy rock where you have been hiding since a few weeks back, here is an update about what is happening in Uganda at the moment. The Cranes got a new coach (well, not really new coz he has been here before), Daily Monitor and Red Pepper were re-opened, Ofwono Opondo still has a job with the Government, General Sejussa is not yet back, Iryn Namuburi was innocent after all, and Denzel is coming back home sooner than we expected. Now that you are fully updated, you might feel the urge to check your Calendar just to make sure you have the date right; well, worry not coz I’ll tell you – its 3rd June 2013 and this means one thing – it’s a public holiday.
The exact public holiday we are referring to here is Martyrs’ day. It is basically a day when Christians remember their fallen soldiers who were hacked to death by a one Kabaka Mwanga II who did not tolerate foreign influence in his court, especially if they were turning down his homosexual advances. So this day is meant to celebrate the bravery that the Martyrs displayed in not cowing to the demands of the rather ruthless Kabaka Mwanga II. The major destination for observers of this day shall be Namugongo Shrine which is somewhere on the outskirts of Kampala but that does not really matter right now; we are not here for a Geography lesson. Besides, you can always use Google Maps to find out where that is.
Onto the issue at hand…
If you have a keen eye, you should have noticed by now that Ugandans love public holidays almost as much as South Africa’s President Zuma loves to keep freshness in his bed. The only difference of course being that while Zuma usually receives £1.2m for “spousal support”, Ugandans seem to lose quite a lot during public holidays. But then again, this is not the issue; I am not here to talk about how much we lose or gain, I am here to talk about our love for public holidays.
I have realized over time that our love for public holidays is deeply rooted in our culture or our way of life. It is brought about by a number of factors which intertwine to create an unending love for days when all we do is sit back, relax, do nothing constructive and just consume the free oxygen around us. After some personal research I have uncovered some of these reasons. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the reasons why Ugandans love public holidays.
The Screaming Boss
For many people, the workplace is not the first location that comes to mind when referring to places they would like to be. The work place is very much at the bottom of the list; somewhere between a police cell and a school examination room. People go to work because they really have no other option. It doesn’t help that many of the bosses are actually the screaming type. If the boss does not scream because of late, poor or missing work, they will scream because you are using up company toilet tissue a little too fast. How they are able to tell who uses what quantity still beats me but it’s safe to say they are a little too nosy. And if it’s not about the company tissue or company electricity, then it is probably because of your self-imposed “casual Monday” where you decide to wear moccasins, jeans and the occasional t-shirt even when everyone else is chocking with the suit and tie. If a Ugandan can have a day when they do not have to dress like primary school kids reporting for the morning roll call, they will welcome such a day with open arms, very little clothing and wide grins.
Traffic Jam Madness
Outside of tear gas and Marabou storks, the other problem about Kampala city that is quite outstanding is the issue of traffic jam. The traffic jam in Kampala is usually too much that even people who foot from work to home will be complaining about the traffic jam! A majority of the Kampala population does not even drive but the few who own cars make it a point to create the most frustrating traffic jam. Of course you might find a few people who own two or three cars and will do everything in their power to make sure that all cars are on the road at the same time, even if it means marrying three wives so each of the cars can be driven at the same time. In addition, everyone wants to go to work at the same time and everyone is enthusiastic about leaving the office at around the same time. No one wants to arrive late for happy hour at the local bar. It doesn’t help that half the taxi drivers on our roads are mad drivers while the other half find excitement in breaking whatever traffic law they come across. If a public holiday comes around and a Ugandan does not have to endure the madness of the traffic jam, this is a reason to smile.
Ugandans are terrible liars
It is not so often that you get a Ugandan calling in sick at work. They will work their assess off for a company they hate, a boss they loathe and a job they despise. They will work every day of their lives with the single motivation of a salary at the end of the month. Most times, the salary is even quite pathetic but nonetheless, they will sweat day in day out just so they can pay the ATM a visit at the end of the month with a grin on the face, albeit a short lived one. This is how Ugandans are wired – we are hard working folks. Occasionally you will find someone calling in sick or attending a little too many funerals of relatives who have died six times over. But this only happens rarely and it happens in extreme conditions, for instance when there is a must-not-miss concert by Radio and Weasel (a duo of singers who are strangely everyone’s favourite despite how much I despise their music). On the most part, Ugandans are terrible liars so they will probably work their socks off while habouring hopes and dreams of one day breaking away; but they will never break away until the Telecom Company they are working for goes bankrupt or gets bought off by another Telecom company. The loyalty that these people have is just mind blowing. This means that a public holiday is their only chance to break away from the office they otherwise call hell – if only for a day.
Excitement for series
The TV series bush fire that has spread over Kampala is one that can best be described in one word – FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). When someone announces that they have their hands on Game of Thrones Season 3, half the city will do everything in their power to have it by sunset and the other half will by all means have it by the end of the next day. The problem though with these series is that once you start them, you will need to be dragged away with threats of tear gas or jail time. It is uncommon to find someone volunteering to give the thing a break before the DVD has reached its end. During the week, there is not much time to sit down and devour the bulk of series that float around. The weekend is usually spread out for attending album launches, weddings, barbecues and other social events. So any public holiday that comes around is nothing short of a blessing from the gods of series. Obviously you will come across a few folks who are a little too addicted that they will skip even their own wedding just so they can complete that extra episode of Scandal. It’s a surprise not too many children have been named Olivia Pope yet.
There is a saying that “You have no right call yourself a party animal unless you have been to Kampala” … actually such a saying does not really exist, I made it up. But surely something to that effect should be in existence by now because Kampala is one place where the party literally does not stop. In Kampala, there are bars that are closed for no more than 4 hours because when they close at 7am, by mid day they have to re-open because folks need to resume the party. You don’t make it to the CNN list of the World’s 10 best drinking nations in the world unless there is concerted effort from all citizens. The public holiday is just another great day for Ugandans to rise higher in these rankings and I am confident that sooner or later, we will be top of the pile. All we need are a few more public holidays. At the moment we sit 8th in the World rankings and 1st in Africa rankings but we can and will do better; just a few more public holidays. Prior to a public holiday you can almost see a memo being sent out to all country folk to do their part in keeping Uganda in the drinking news. The Kenyans, Rwandans, Burundians and Tanzanians are probably reading this and feeling jealous, you ought to; we run the drinking show not just in East Africa but in Africa!
The Side dish business
Generally speaking, the practice of having more than one partner is something that people all over the world seem to have perfected. In Uganda however, the business of managing more than one partner is not very easy to pull off because the speed at which rumours spread is nothing short of super fast. Between having to convince your partner that they are the only one and staying away from the probing eyes of the press, there is just too much work to do. However, the thirst for a side dish never ceases to exist. For this reason therefore, people must find a way to survive. There must be some extra time created somehow to give one the yearning for a side dish a little satisfaction. This is the part where the public holiday comes in handy. It is the perfect day to attend to the needs of the side dish because on such a day you can opt to neither be at home nor at work and still not have eyes brows raised by your legitimate partner. You can very easily tell your partner you are attending some family gathering or something of the sort and you will get away with it. For people who are intending to have more than one relationship, unless you are going to create 8-day-weeks, you are not going to manage to pull it off. However with a public holiday, you just might have an outside chance.
There are about eighty three other reasons why Ugandans love public holidays but of course we cannot go into all of these right now, for obvious reasons – I am Ugandan, I can’t spend my entire public holiday blogging! I must go do my part in pushing Uganda higher up in those CNN rankings. I am doing my part, are you?
..and for your customary weekly quote
A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. – Earl Wilson
The Talkative Rocker