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The wackiest fifty things about Ug

TOTALLY UGANDAN. We might not be able to export them but we certainly have a number of traits and habits so wacky and unique to only Ugandans. The rest of the world would be amazed writes Christine W.Wanjala

Actually, the headline is supposed to be The wackiest 50 things about Uganda, but you know after 50 years, things just have to change and calling the country formerly known as Uganda, Ug is one of them. This can be pronounced as uj-ee or u-gee depending on which nursery school you went to.
There are so many things that set this country from the rest of the world. You may think of some in your little hood and feel free to add to the 50 we came up with.

1.   Every time is party time. Ugandans take their right to party very seriously. And partying is anywhere that they can gather with some music. Maybe a beer or two. It may be goats racing, or it’s a hot day or just for the heck of it, any excuse that promises a party! If partying could be exported, the annual revenue would sky rocket.

Everyday is party day

Everyday is party day

2.What the rest of the world calls mini bus, we call taxi and what the rest of the world calls taxi we call special hire or simply special with the pronunciation being spe-shoo.



3.You can say there are two types of Ugandans. Those who say ‘traffic’ and those who say “Jam”. No in-betweens who say ‘traffic jam’. Funny enough the jam is more likely used by those who speak Luganda, e.g. jamu mungi while the word traffic features mostly in English sentences.

4.It is only in Uganda that second-hand clothes and shoes are more expensive than new stuff. You find a guy trying to tell you that the reason he is charging an arm and a leg for a shirt or shoe is because it is second-hand adding anti eno second-hand original” (meaning this is a second-hand item so it is original).

5.In Ug, we greet people “well done” even when the person is doing or has done nothing.

6.The word please is used as punctuation. Yes please is okay seeing as it is gentle and polite but to add it to everything… Thank you please, sorry please, welcome please…

7. Ugandans love discounts. A Ugandan will never be satisfied with a price even if they clearly know it is a bargain. They will ask for a discount in the supermarket and even where there’s already a sale

8.While haggling, a trader will first let you walk away then call you out sasula (meaning pay), the very same price he had said no to.

9.Paka chini is like the standard move for anyone who wants to prove they can dance. It doesn’t matter is you paka chini in a stiff stick format. Uganda has seen many dance moves in its day, and night too. But ask a Ugandan of any age to stand before people and dance and they will start the paka chini. It doesn’t even matter which music is playing.  Ugandans find ways to shimmy to any tune, hip hop, techno, rap, reggae, lingala, the standard is paka chini.

Speacker of Parliament dancing

Speaker of Parliament dancing

11. Traffic  policemen sign for motorists to stop when the traffic light is green and let them go when it is red nullifying a good chunk of driving class. It is only in Uganda where traffic lights which cost millions to install and maintain don’t serve their purpose.

Motor cyclists

Motor cyclists

11. Accents are made in Katwe, Najjanankumbi and whatever other funny hamlets around Uganda. You will see someone posing to have an accent, behave like JayZ or Rihanna while the closest they have ever come to leaving the country was visiting Entebbe Aero Beach. Must I add that it is near the airport?

12. “Don’t signs” are all over the place. “Do not park here”, “no chicken sellers”, “this land is not for sale”, “don’t litter here fine 100,000”. Even “tofuka wano” (meaning don’t urinate here) but with no sign to point you where to do all these things.

13.Birthday parties for children are an adult affair. It is only in Uganda where someone will throw a  thirds  kids birthday party and more than 90  per cent of those in attendance are over 30 years old each with alcohol in hand.

14.After seeing something funny or hearing a joke, a Ugandan will laugh then tell the person right next to them “I have laughed” or I have hahad” or “I have loled”  in case they didn’t know that’s what happened.

15.There is an obsession with outside countries. If a Ugandan travels, then be sure you will never hear the end of it. In (insert country they went to even if it is South Sudan) it is like this, or they have this. They also feel better than those who have not gone and will keep talking about Uganda’s shortcomings!

16.Ugandans say “I am coming” when they are late and are asked where they are. Of course their coming may mean anything from in a few minutes to a few hours.

17.Here, a person who keeps time is treated like the odd one out. If you arrive on time for an appointment the person will be surprised. Or you will be told that they are not ready for you because they didn’t expect you to keep time!

18.People wake up get dressed and then go to town to loaf all day. This is rampant down town and around arcades where you see sharply dressed men just lounging all day.

19. Uganda’s political leaders are a comic bunch. From a rapping Prezzie to a leader of opposition who travels in the boot of cars as he tries to evade the barricades around his home. That’s when he is not being bundled into the back of a pickup as unceremoniously as a bag of potatoes! Then there’s Lukyamuzi whose antics are pure comedy gold! Ugandan is one of the few places where the politicians have a bright future as comedians when they retire. That is if they ever retire.

20.Snacks are not considered food so when you walk into a restaurant and ask for food, you will be told it is not ready even if you can see samosas or chips at the display. Ask about this and you will be told, “Ah yes we have snacks!” As if snacks fall under fuels or beverages.

21.You only learn a restaurant or cafe do not have something after you order it. Say it is a Fanta you want. The waitress or waiter takes your order only to come back and say “we don’t have it”. So you ask for a Krest and she again comes to tell you they don’t have. it After going through about four flavours she will inform you that they don’t have Coca Cola products at which point your order a Mirinda Fruity. But alas they don’t have cold ones and this goes on and on…

22.Ugandans answer questions with questions. Ask a Ugandan; “Are you going for Konshens?”  And they will answer, “How much is it?” Ask them if it true Ugandans answer questions with questions.  And they go “Who told you that?”

23.Best time is last minute. Ugandans believe, we still got all that time until the last minute when it absolutely has to be done. Want proof? Wait for the last days of sim card registrations.

24.Any metal by the road side is scrap metal. These include manhole covers and road signs especially the former which never survives.

25.Deals, deal and more deals. A good number of Ugandans especially males have a deal or two cooking. Note that the nature is never really explained. But Ugandans always have deals.

26.Ugandans do not need to know what a certain thing is all about as long as it is considered cool. Think rugby where the bulk of fans don’t even know when one team scores.

27.If you came to Uganda on the day of the marathon, you may think this is a very athletic nation. But no, they are seasonal athletes. Majority of the thousands who turn up actually walk not run and nurse aches for days after, in the name of being part of the fun. They also never train for it, or run after until the next marathon.

28.Taxi drivers stop in the middle of the road for anything from a passenger who could still be at home combing their hair and will even reverse to wait for passengers who are still leisurely strolling.

29.It’s baffling how the country churns out celebs like they are some sort of Forex earners. Oh wait, some of them are if you count Bad Black and Judith Heard. But then there are those who are celebs because they mimed to auto tune, or are big enough to be their own district. Or they have emceed several weddings while recycling jokes from the internet.

Bad Black

Bad Black

30.Uganda is the only place where tea can be dry, yes people serve and drink dry tea! According to common logic, anything dry has to be devoid of moisture and water. According to Ugandan logic, dry also means without milk.

31.In Uganda sign posts have misspelt words. Laxary instead of luxury, pamming instead of perming, and such errors  even on supposedly upmarket businesses and schools as well! And no one sees the need to correct or change the sign for years.

32.There is a penchant with international. A Ugandan will start a cottage industry, packing Silver fish (local name being mukene) for Shs500. Then label it, Mukene International packers. I couldn’t list the number of little known businesses with international that don’t even have an email address or a person who speaks proper English in them.

33.Direct translation from the local language to English language when speaking is a norm of sorts. Forget Uglish which has readymade terms that everyone uses. This is more like make up as you go English. A person will think in their mother tongue then translate it word for word to English. The result is phrases that make no sense whatsoever. Like what what, directly translated from biki biki.

34.In Uganda, we have a series of words  English words that are modified to have their own meaning in Uganda. It is called Uglish They include, extend, which means move over. Or she always puts on so well which to the rest of the world means she always dresses so well. In extreme, Uglish also means vowelising consonants eng LG will be elo juice will be jici. Entertainment will be entetertainmenti.

35.In this land, Mesach can be the name of a person, or a pair of shoes. Makarena can be long or pancake, and many other crazy names for  food and clothing styles.

36.With stage meaning anywhere a passenger in a taxi wants to stop, the names are as funny as it gets. Ku kasasiro, ku mbao, ku muti gwa fene, ku kyambuka and so forth. Incidentaly it is also how directions are given which means anyone not familiar with these terms is as good as lost.

37.Everything deserves a launch in this land. For videos and songs, and albums, Ugandans will announce a launch. The really wacky part is that while launch is meant to out something to the rest of the world, the launches here are of songs that have been riding the airwaves for months!!

38.It is only in Uganda that you are declared broke because you didn’t board a taxi. If a conductor shouts “ogenda” (loosely translated to mean are you going?)  and if you decline because you happen to be going in the opposite direction or prefer taking a boda boda, the conductor just shouts to all “Oyo talina sente” which means that one has no money.

39.There are so many pot holes  that some stretches actually have more pot hole than road. Motorists go around them by driving on the pavement or squeezing on the pothole free areas bringing a unique type of traffic jam, made up of pothole avoiders. And it is only here where the the roads upcountry are mostly okay, the capital city is full of potholes.

40. Ugandans send greetings to people sitting right next to them. Ask one to send shoutouts on radio or TV and they list people right next to them. Mbu so that they also feel they were mentioned. Crazy just!

41.A Ugandan will say miles when they mean kilometres and kilometres when they mean miles just because the two mean distance.

42.In Uganda, hawkers will literally beg you to look at their wares, saying “looking and trying is free” then turn around and hurl insults at you if you do not buy anything.

43.Music concert posters promise all artistes. Yes all over 100 of them on one stage. Only for some washed up have-beens to show up maybe with a few never-been-heard of.

44.Local, besides meaning something made in Uganda is also a derogatory term. Like local swag, or a local chick!! All of them meaning whatever subject comes after the word is not up to standard, or is backward.

45.The copy cat syndrome is everywhere. If a Ugandan goes and holds a My Child is a Superstar event and it is a success then you can wait to see another chap bring, My Baby is a Hero, or My Little One has Swag, all poor imitations. It doesn’t stop at copying other Ugandans, and includes everything they see in other countries and then add Uganda in the title. Need I say the results are almost always disastrous or sad?

46.It’s trendy to marry twice. It is only Uganda where you go for an obscenely expensive introduction which you called meetings for to marry your wife, and then hold another extravagant ceremony for the wedding!

47.Ugandans eat expensive meal out, then go home with beans and complain about  how costly beans or matooke is, not to forget skipping breakfast at home to eat delicious Katoogo at work or in town.

48.People have phones that can handle four sim cards and pose as if they have the iPhone 5. Ugandans also expect everyone to have a Warid line so they can make use of the free calls they provide. After you have given them your number, they ask “Do you have Warid?”

49.When a Uganda says I love grasshoppers (locally know as nsenene), ants (locally called nswa) or termites he doesn’t mean that he cares that their natural habitat is preserved and they stay safe from predators. Because he is the predator, who will make sure every time the season rolls around they obliterate every single one of them. Insects are delicacies in Uganda. The nsenene and nswa are so much loved that they cause traffic jam as motorists haggle on the road side. It is the one time on Ugandan roads when no one complains because the time in the jam can be happily spent chewing away.
50.You have to look left and right while crossing a one way street because Bodaboda go both ways everywhere.

  • Mikael Musoke

    A “No parking” sign doesnt mean you cant park your car there. You just have to argue for a while with an askari(security guard), and he will move the sign for you to park.

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