There is a hashtag for that.
If people are interested in a topic or talking about something on social media, there is usually a hashtag for it. Half the time, the hashtag leads to a more humorous take on what is actually happening, showing that Ugandans will always find a lighter side to life.
Grace Kenganzi writes.
On February 29, Spice Diana, while appearing on NTV and Spark TV, said she got 32 points in History, Art and Luganda at A-Level. Now, we all know that the most points someone could get at A-Level is 25 points, in fact it is 20 points these days, so Spice Diana’s results were way off the mark. The fact that she said she was one of the best students made matters worse. The Internet went wild with #TweetLikeSpiceDiana. From the person who said they want their first daughter to be a girl to memes reacting to her blunder, this hashtag got us in stitches for a while. Even when she had a wig malfunction a while later, the hashtag stayed strong. Spice Diana later explained that it must have been 12 points but by that time, we could not hear past the shade being thrown.
Valentine’s Day this year was more than roses and chocolate. It was the day Jacob Zuma resigned as South Africa’s president. Our friends in ‘Satafrika’ reacted with #ZumaResigns and #ZumaExit comparing the resignation to a boyfriend breaking up with his girl on Valentine’s. Soon the hashtag spread to Nigeria, Kenya and finally Uganda. “If Zim did it, and South Africa did it, then we can did it” was the running line in most of the memes from Uganda.
Marvel’s Black Panther turned out to be more than a movie. Usually, not that many people are into superhero movies. But this marvel with an all-black cast, scenery inspired by shots of Uganda’s beauty and the fashion, got people interested. Whether people actually watched the movie or not was not the point. It was the pride the movie inspired that got #WakandaForever trending. Crossing the arms in an X became the default photo pose; those who went for the movie did it wearing kitenge or any other outfit that says I am proud to be African. This hashtag trended all over the world.
Remember that time TV presenter, Betty Nassali better known as Bettinah took her first bite of the rolex? It was so hard to believe that someone at her ‘big’ age who went to our universities had never had that egg with nyanya mbisi roll. Soon the #BettinahChallenge was trending. The memes oh the memes! People parodied her clip, pretending to do common #SoUg things for the first time. That guy who shot a video of himself taking a boda boda for the first time, even asking for AC was the winner!
After the President signed the Constitutional Ammendment Bill, more commonly known as, the age limit Bill, into law last year, several people petitioned court to quash it. These petitioners came together and made their submissions in Mbale, where the case was heard. While the case was ongoing, social media was mildly following. Mildly, because some of the updates had nothing to do with the actual case and a lot to do with people expressing their scepticism about the outcome. After the ruling, netizens were all praises for Justice Kenneth Kakuru, the only one of the five-person panel of judges to rule against the constitutional amendment. Some even crowned him the Internet’s man of the year. But that was back in July. Not sure many people on social media even remember his first name.
Rwanda is that sibling who is always trying to outshine everyone. You know the one who gets very good grades even when no one in the family is that big on academics, and finish all their chores on time? At least that is what Ugandans on social media made of Rwanda’s deal with Arsenal. Through their Rwanda Development Board, the country became a sleeve sponsor for the English football team. This means that the team’s jersey sleeves will have ‘Visit Rwanda’ on them for the next three years. While some congratulated Rwanda on the deal and lamented the different ways Uganda’s tourism board should step up its game, others chose to hate on Rwanda, saying they were just showing off. Whatever side you were on, you made #VisitRwanda a thing.
Budonians, as those who went to King’s College Budo are called, have always had a reputation for being ‘swellers’. They like to behave like they do not breathe omuntu wa wansi air since the school was built for kings. Indeed they have enjoyed royal status for years. Yet it is that royal status that saw them receive shade of epic proportions this year. This year was the Silver Jubilee of Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi’s coronation. A few schools affiliated to Buganda Kingdom came together to mark the occasion with the social media hit, Jubileewo. The style of the song and its video is what we have come to expect from Budo SS or at speech days –never from the Budonians. Yet here they were, swaying and singing, their school emblem pronounced for all to see. Some Budonians first argued that the students in the song were not actually Budonians but people hired to perform. But this denial could not be sustained for long. The first short clip was just the beginning. Soon the full three-minute video was released and social media had a field day roasting Budonians. From memes about the lion in the school’s emblem dancing out of its shield to tweets about that Budonian ex who dumped someone because she ate maize in his car, social media used this chance to roast and humble Budonians. To this day #Jubileewo is used to tell a Budonian trying to get airs to take several seats.
In August, fracas broke out on the last day of campaigns for the Arua by-election. Five people died, others injured and people were arrested in connection to the fracas. In the days that followed the hashtags #FreeBobiWine #Arua33 trended, with people asking for the release of the people who had been arrested. This was one of the sombre hashtags of the year. Images of the suspects appearing in court while cringing in pain was not something people could turn into a joke. Instead, the hashtag was used to keep track of the different suspects and their health condition. After Bobi Wine went abroad for treatment, the hashtag fettered out.
This thing started like a joke – or at least we thought it was a joke. President Museveni had made what sounded like an off-hand remark about taxing Ugandans for gossiping via social media. By May, the thing had become serious. Not only were Ugandans going to be taxed an OTT of Shs200 daily for using all social media sites, a 1% tax on mobile money transactions was also announced. Enter #ThisTaxMustGo. Social media was rife with insults at our leaders and their ‘bright’ ideas. Parody accounts of government officials announcing bogus taxes such as the breast milk tax came up overnight. These trended alongside #SocialMediaTax #MMTax and #OTT. These three are likely to spring up every time someone says something that affects omuntu wa wansi.
This year brought us the enigma that is Bryan White. This skinny guy just showed up on the social scene throwing money at people. Soon our celebrities were seen hanging out with him and giving speeches at a podium. We won’t even pretend that we really heard what they were saying. We were trying to figure out who Bryan White is, what he does so well that he has a foundation in his name and why all these celebs were fighting to be on his podium. Soon the hashtag #podium was trending, especially when some celebrities fell out with him. We still haven’t figured out what Bryan White does or where we get his money but we know that if you are on the podium if you are in his good books, and off when you fall out. We have clearly not yet made it to the #podium or we’d be throwing a Sqoop bonanza.
Not sure how this became a thing. But #IfYouKnowYouKnow. This mysterious hashtag is still trending, especially if you are trying to be mysterious. It has no boundaries. It can be used to intimate political goings-on, relationship status, travel plans, what someone had for dinner –anything that you choose to be mysterious about. The hashtag is as used as much as it is loathed. Used because #fomo on a trending phrase, loathed because half the time we really do not know!
#Silimuzukulu. After the President got into the habit of addressing us as his bazukulu –grandchildren, people went to social media to trace their family lineage. Some people threw in the king of Zamunda, Wakanda even Zinjanthropus to distance themselves from the President. This hashtag did not last long but it gave us loads of laughs.
Then there were topics which did not develop into hashtags but got conversations going online. For instance, that time Onesimus Twinamasiko, the Bagangaizi East MP made that remark about women needing to be streamlined. For a while, there was an online petition for his resignation. But this did not bear any fruits. The MP apologised and streamlining became a euphemism for domestic violence.
The other topic was whether kneeling is humiliating or part of our culture. The topic started trending when Winnie Byanyima tweeted her disconcertment at one of her neighbours kneeling to greet her. She said the act was humiliating and must stop. Social media were of two minds but the loudest were the ones who asked the Oxfam executive director to respect people’s cultures.