While people in other parts of the world were going on with their boring and event-less lives, Ugandans for the past several days have been witnessing an interesting event known as the National Census. Now if you skipped Civics and Social Studies lessons back in Primary, you might not know what exactly this census was/is. If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably will remember the census from the book of Numbers and also around the time of Jesus’ birth. However, to make things less obscure for you, I shall help you understand the census.
The National Census was an event that involved counting all people within Uganda’s borders and it was conducted by strangely dressed Government representatives who moved from one place to another skipping over puddles, going through alleys and navigating their way from one village to another. I was not counted for reasons I am yet to find out but it is safe to say that most of the people I know were counted.
No, Mr President; I haven’t been counted.
I happen to personally know 3 people who played the role of enumerator and prior to the enumeration; I had asked them to take notes as they went about their census dealings. The plan was to share these findings with the awesome readers of this Blog. Last night they shared their notes with me and I am more than glad to share them with you. I must warn you though that there are some really bizarre findings.
Pauline in Rukungiri
Pauline did her enumeration somewhere in Western Uganda – Rukungiri District to be exact. Some of the homes she approached were not too enthusiastic about the census in the first place. One man feared that the counting was because the Government was planning to engage in a war and therefore needed to know how many casualties it would have to deal with. Another was worried that the NRM Gov’t was leaving power soon and needed to know for sure the economic situation of the people it was leaving behind. One of the families welcomed Pauline rather well, then each of the members laid hands on her – for exorcism. Apparently an evil demon had possessed the Gov’t and was consequently spreading around through the enumerators. One of the homes had a single father who kept grinning at Pauline the whole time she was asking questions. The guy later confessed that he was thankful to God for finally answering his prayer for a new mother to his two sons, and the Lord had done it through the Gov’t; Pauline was about to become a new mother and wife.
Julius in Banda
Julius did his enumeration in Kampala where it would be expected that the majority of the people were educated, informed and less prone to having strange assumptions. But Alas! People in Kampala were no strangers to weird assumptions and as Julius revealed, some of them were really ridiculous. Somewhere in Banda, a family locked all their doors and windows when Julius was spotted approaching. The old man of the home was not interested in revealing his family’s possessions to a Gov’t that was ‘in the hands of thieves’. Apparently there is so much corruption going on that the Gov’t has run out of money to steal and is therefore now embarking on stealing people’s property. Before this can be done though, the Gov’t but must first find out which citizens are worth robbing. Another person (still in Banda) was short of hurling stones at Julius. This person (who was later restrained by neighbours) was positive that his ex-wife had orchestrated the whole thing. Apparently after their divorce, the ex-wife did not get as much property as she had wanted and therefore sent this random enumerator to help her fight the battle. Just when I thought this was probably bizarre, Julius shared a story of a household somewhere in Kyambogo where the father insisted that his daughters would not be counted. In his opinion, if the girls are to fetch proper bride price in the future, they ought to be hidden away from the public so they can blossom. Julius was part of the public and had to be warded off at all costs.
And then some families deployed angry dogs
Monica in Nebbi
Monica’s enumeration was somewhere in West Nile Region in Nebbi District. Monica encountered a number of problems including one of the homes not wanting her to leave because they felt that finally the Gov’t had remembered them and they were not going to let Monica leave until their problems of water, the fallen electricity pole and too many witch doctors were answered. Monica was therefore held captive for a little while until a few phonecalls and 1 or 2 cops later she was allowed to go. In one of the villages, Monica was received with what seemed like a real party. Everyone was dressed in what might have easily been their best clothes and the mother was particularly full of smiles. After a heavy and sumptuous meal, Monica got down to asking the questions – at which point everyone appeared shocked. They did not expect this pretty woman named Monica to start asking questions when she had been sent by the Lord to offer them salvation. Yes; they thought Monica had been sent by the Lord himself. Turns out the father had had a dream about God sending an Angel; Monica and she was supposed to deliver the family from the apathy they had been languishing in for a while.
Yusuf in Nakasongola
Yusuf did his enumeration somewhere near the shores of Lake Kyoga, in a district called Nakasongola. In a village called Galiraya, which is greatly a fishing community, most of the people’s assumptions were based around their favourite activity – fishing. In one of the homes, Yusufnwas asked about the contents of the bag he was carrying. Apparently the village had been told that Gov’t officials were coming to deliver wonderful fishing nets and it seemed like Yusuf had been sent to do just that. They even went ahead to state the problems they were facing with the fishing, right from the fewer varieties of fish to the overfishing by certain people in the village. In one of the villages, it became apparent that Yusuf had been sent by the Gov’t to settle a feud that had existed for several months. Both families felt they had rights to fish in a certain area of the lake. Yusuf did settle the feud but with more than just a chuckle being held back. One of the funniest stories in Yusuf’s notes was of a woman and her two sons who had religious reasoning behind refusal to be counted. Apparently they belonged to a sect that was totally against this census. Their gospel preached that the census would be conducted by the devil himself and therefore Yusuf was seen as Lucifer in the form of a strong, sturdy and well built man.
And then they ran away from Lucifer
Reading through the notes from my enumerator friends, I can safely say that certain Ugandans are not just hilarious people but people with minds that are strangely creative. And while this blog post might seem to state that Ugandans are crazy people (which we are), one must not forget that these were but a few cases of people with bizarre assumptions about the census. The vast majority who were far from crazy, simply welcomed the enumerators, answered their questions, and went on with their lives – and so must you, after reading this Blog Post.
My friend Winnie in Kiwatule even treated her enumerator guest to juice
“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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