Among the kinds of coping you expect to see from a griever, the reaction that seems to surprise people the most is humor. At a time when one expects to feel only extreme sadness and somber reverence, they find themselves laughing nervously or making a joke.
This is the reality of what’s happening among some social media users in Uganda.
The phrase balance the boat has taken Ugandans on social media by storm following the tragic boat cruise that left at least 33 revellers dead.
Most of the victims of the November 24 ill-fated boat were young, affluent Ugandans enjoying a raucous end-of-year party thrown annually by businessman Freeman Kiyimba, according to survivors.
Now this is how you balance the boat pic.twitter.com/WrODKVjXba
— Robert.K.Circles AFC (@circles_k) December 4, 2018
As afternoon turned to dusk the onboard DJ kept the music pumping while the drinks flowed and the revellers danced.
“It was a party atmosphere. Lots of free drinks: whiskies, Baileys, Amarula and everything else you can think of,” narrated one of the survivors, Alex Niyonzima.
However, the phrase balance the boat was reechoed in narrations of some of the 26 survivors including singer Iryn Namubiru.
Like most survivors who talked to the media, the Nsiimye singer said before the MV Templar capsized, the DJ kept telling the revellers to balance the boat.
This was because most passengers were either dancing or seated on one side of the V-shaped ill-fated boat.
In a bid to balance the boat on water, the DJ advised the revellers to dance or sit on both sides.
However, some social media users in Uganda have invented their own interpretation of the phrase, with many humorously relating it to their economic, political or social life.
Let’s balance the boat now,
“You can’t get rich in politics unless you are a crook”.
(Harry.S.Truman)@KagutaMuseveni @samkutesa pic.twitter.com/gYcu1GNYJJ
— Kemmy! (@Tracy25879284) December 4, 2018
Others have described it as a disgusting joke given the fact that many people lost their lives in the tragic accident.
One netizen with username Cimpo kis Mi on twitter said: “Am I the only one that is disgusted with the balance the boat joke…what’s wrong with this nation? Few days back it was a sad nation now it’s a joke” while one Francis said “balance the boat……… The most important piece of advice you can give to any one…. Be it marriage, academics, anything!!!”
I’m I the only one that is disgusted with the balance the boat joke…what’s wrong with this nation..few days back it was a sad nation now it’s a joke??
— cimpo kis Mi ? ????????? (@cimpo_kis_mi) December 5, 2018
However, many writings have showed that humor is both a defense mechanism in times of crisis and a tool for coping long after the event.
After bracing yourself for sadness and seriousness in light of a traumatic loss, it may be surprising to find humor instead; but I assure you this type of reaction is normal, according to whatsyourgrief.com.
You can’t be the 8th on the table and expect to beat the 4th.
Man U fans balance the boat ????#Matchday pic.twitter.com/wo8ZXeEu9D
— MUSH?? (@musheruradaniel) December 5, 2018
“Balance the boat”…. The most important piece of advice you can give to any one…. Be it marriage, academics, anything!!!
— Francis (@frankavuma) December 5, 2018