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How to be a Ugandan

FROM THE PEARL OF AFRICA. There are things that are just so Ugandan we don’t even think or try hard to do them, writes Ian Ortega

After months of dedicated research, we have just discovered a gene that is present in every Ugandan. There is a Ugandapronesis hormone that will make you act Ugandan. We have no artificial inducers for this hormone but making these tips your daily habits, will trigger the production of this hormone.

Get books you will never read:  Borrow books from friends, stock them up in your home but never read them. You can move around with them. Actually get those books with complicated titles. Titles like, Stranger Stinging Musings.  Grab any book with a title that makes no sense to the average Ugandan and just move around with it, but never ever flip a page.

Complain but don’t act: Complain about everything. Complain about the well-dressed vice president, complain about our young-president. Complain about our free and fair elections. Just complain. Complain about our good roads.  And when the worst comes to the worst, complain about our good universal primary and secondary education. Complain about all the electricity Umeme is providing. Just never take action, because then you will stop being Ugandan.

Technical know-who: Know someone big. Know at least one managing director. Try to create a blood relation between some big politician and save their numbers in your phone. When that policewoman flags you down, dial the number and make sure she reads the name on the phone screen.

Kutijiisa: Kutijiisa is a Luganda word that means praising and liking anything new that comes up, until another  new thing comes up, then you kutijiisa with that new thing.  For example, praise Eddy Kenzo as an international artiste because he has released Stamina, and then when Young Mulo comes up, praise young Mulo and even blast Kenzo for not knowing English. When a new bar comes up, you kutijiisa with it. Frequent it every evening, just keep doing the kutijiisa, even call your friends and tell them to find you at the new happening joint. Then when a newer joint opens, call your friends and tell them how this older bar has the lousiest service in the world and tell them about the newer bar.

Reading the paper:  When you buy a newspaper in the morning, correction, true Ugandans don’t buy the newspaper, they borrow from a friend in the taxi or find one at the office. So when you finally land on a newspaper, stare at the front page, look out for any entertainment gossip and afterwards rush to the sports pages to see the odds so that you can bet your way to poverty. Who cares about the headline anyway?

December spending spree: Work all year round saving all your money from January to November and when December arrives, spend that money like there is no tomorrow. Spend it like there is a pending Ugandan coup.

Efficient MP: If you are a Member of Parliament,  don’t complain when the president calls you a thief. But when he decides to call you an idiot, rush and sign the petition papers to re-call Parliament. And by the way, an efficient MP is not one who articulates issues in Parliament, if you are a good actor and can get yourself in the news for any dramatic incident, then you are the people’s MP. Walk to work, as long as the TV cameras are rolling, hold hunger strikes  and blast the government on talk shows.

Shorten your name: Shorten it to make it sound stylish. Shorten Jonathan to Jona, Innocent to Inno and so on. Even Museveni wasn’t saved. We still wonder who came up with Sevo. Shorten Ortega to Oats (okay this sounds crazy, naturally cool names can’t be shortened).  But rest assured, some names when shortened can turn vulgar, we better not tread into those grounds.

Speak our Ugandan English: Just like in primary school where we would bend down a little before asking for permission to go for a “short call,” keep saying those funny statements. Ask your neighbour to extend so that you can sit, ask the conductor for your balance. And many others like you’ve always done.

Typical bachelor: To be a Ugandan bachelor, eat bachelor food. Rolex, Kikomando, and all sorts of funny foods that bachelors eat, as long as they are not proper meals.

Brand issues: Refer to every toothpaste as Colgate, every petrol station as Shell, every newspaper as Monitor.  Keep thinking Khaki is a fabric. Yes that’s being a Ugandan.

Oral hygiene: When you wake up, brush first then take your breakfast but don’t brush your teeth again. Clever we are, aren’t we?

Stereotype:  Stereotyping is a Ugandan trait. Ugandans keep thinking that everyone with a sharp nose is ‘eating’, that every Musoga makes rolex, that every Muganda has a big nose and that every Mutoro babe is loose. Just stereotype everything. Who cares? This is Uganda, we are a free country.

Boda bodas: Use a boda boda, nothing shows a true Ugandan like using a boda boda. It is only in Uganda where ladies sit on boda bodas sideways.  Also, you have to learn the public transport lingua. When in a taxi, master some words to signal stopping. For example, “Mu Maaso awo, W’ofuuna Parking, Ku kikiriira” and many others.

Going through the week: On Monday, complain about how you hate Mondays on your Facebook page. On Tuesday whine about how the week is taking too long, on Wednesday, talk of how you can’t wait for Friday. On Thursday, get excited that Friday is the next day. On Friday, party like nobody is watching and wake up with a hangover on Saturday. On Sunday, get to Church, and let your spirit shout out to the Lord. Sing songs like, “Jesus You are all to Me”, never mind that you are polluting the church air with your alcohol reeking breath.  The bottom line is, to be a Ugandan, you should be a hypocrite. Oppose the government but when you are appointed to a juicy job, keep your mouth shut. After all, a mouth that is eating can’t talk, that’s not good manners.

Day dreaming: Keep thinking that MC Sevo will actually release another song. Keep thinking that he won’t be a one hit wonder. Perhaps in 2016, there may be a follow up tune to You Want another rap? and this tune will actually be, Here is the Other Rap You asked for…”  You should also keep thinking that Red Banton will resurrect, that Maddox will release a hit song and that Prof. Big Eye will actually win a Grammy. That’s being Ugandan, after-all we still think Uganda Cranes will qualify for African cup.

White supremacy: Just have this feeling that every white person is extraordinary and financially strong. When you write in the lonely hearts sections, specify that you want a white man. And when you see a white man, just assume he is so intelligent.

Childhood games: Play some games before you grow up. Not like those games of Captain Dolla. I am speaking of vintage games like kwepena, kawuna, kwiso-Bando, kakeebe and many others like Mama ne Taata.”

Premiership fanaticism: Support a club in the Premier League but none in the Ugandan league. Know the names of the players in your club, their wives, how much they earn and their history. Keep believing that actually Arsenal knows of your existence.

Rubbish: Litter, wow, litter that polythene bag (kaveera), and complain of having a dirty city. Litter your ignorance all over the city. Keep thinking that Uganda still has 54 districts until you wake up one day and find out your own house is a district.

Self pity: Finally, keep believing that every successful man sacrificed someone. Keep thinking that a degree will earn you a job. Keep thinking that Bobi Wine bought a yacht at one billion. And keep waiting for that Ugandan ID. Just keep observing. Keep looking for jobs instead of creating one. And when misery gets hold of you, console yourself by singing Abantu Bakoowu.

If you don’t feel Ugandan enough after practicing with these tips, then apply for a Visa, go for kyeyo and come back with an accent. Just like … yeah that name that came to your mind.

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