SHOPPING 101: Nothing is as frustrating as shopping downtown with a partner who will want to haggle in English. You will not only be hit with a high price but also spend more time trying to purchase that item. If you are a shopper, there are some rules you must have mastered to get good bargains.
Once you graduate from university in Uganda, there is a sudden flash of sense that will go off in your head. You will realise that your university left out some of the crucial courses. For example, when a Kampala girl visits you, it will dawn on you that you always have to give them money for transport. But what about the thing we cannot avoid? Shopping? Anyone took you through the rules? Worry no more, the King of Yoruba exists for such reasons. Here goes the commandments of shopping in Uganda.
Never be in a hurry
If there is one place where patience pays, it is in the shopping arena. Ever bought something then your friend mentioned that they bought the same item at a much cheaper price? Ever felt so ashamed that you had to mention a lower price just to appear like you got a great deal? If you are going to be a certified shopper in Uganda, you must awaken your snail skills. Drag on as much as possible. Pick up an item, place it down again. Pick up another, then return to the one you just placed down. Ask for the price, hear it, then walk off. Tour other places, ask for the price, keep moving, turning around, checking in with the first sellers and then just walk back home. There’s no need buying what you need the same day. Chances are high if you buy something the first time you see it, you will be cheated. Or at least the gods of better deals won’t be awake yet.
Never mention the first price but if you do…
You will always be tricked into mentioning the base price. Avoid this trap as much as possible. But if you cannot avoid the trap, then you need something called guts. You ought to have the guts to mention the lowest price possible, the price that will annoy all the hell out of the seller. You must be confident while you mention this price and ready to walk off. Mention the price and even show off the actual notes in your hand as all you have to spend on this item.
Once this is done, shut up and say nothing. Play deaf to the cries of ‘yongerako’. If you begin to walk away and he does not call you back, there are two things involved. It is either your price was too low or you mentioned a price that does not match your looks.
Never dress to kill
Avoid things that will conjure up other impressions. If you are going to shop in downtown Kampala, you must dress up in some of your fake attires. Never shop while in a suit. If you wear eye glasses, kindly try to survive without them. Eye glasses have come to represent the corporate lifestyle, of people who cannot speak the trade languages.
Avoid English at all costs
You are not in London or New York, why the heavens are you using English? You think native languages exist for no reason? If you are in Mbale, try to bargain in Lugisu, if in Mbarara, stick to Runyankore, and if in Kampala, your guess is as good as mine, it is Luganda! Learn some bargaining phrases such as; “awo siyitawo, nsalilako” to mention but a few. Unless you are ready to be a big spender, leave English in your house on the shopping day.
If you see something you love, criticise it
In the course of your shopping, if you come across something you love, then do the opposite, begin criticising it. Point out all the fake qualities. Speak about the fact that the material will fade. Narrate stories of how the last time you bought this item, it did not even last for a week.
Pretend like you hate it but you are going to buy it just for just. Stir up fear in the eyes of the seller. Let her think she is selling the worst of items. When you are satisfied with your blackmail, wait to hear about their proposed price. Be certain, it will always be lower than before. Never show desire in anything you are buying. You will pay the price for your passion.
Prepare for the name-calling
Now if you venture into the areas of downtown, then prepare to be called all sorts of names. Avoid dressing up in bright items, in fact anything that draws attention to you is not proper shopping attire. You are going to be called; “mummy, auntie, mukadde, girl, brother, uncle…” If you do not respond to these nice titles, some verbal abuses may follow you. For the ladies, prepare to kick some people, you will receive all kinds of bad touches, you will be pulled in the most harassing of ways. This is the time to stand up and fight. Kick, slap, and walk off.
Do not forget the pick-pockets
As you drool over items laid on the floor, someone is drooling into your purses, bags and pockets. As you are trying to shop, someone is also shopping at free cost in your bag. With this in mind, do not walk with anything on your backside. It is the front side or nothing else. If your phone is stolen downtown, do not cry, do not report to police, move as fast as possible to the upper mall and buy it back.
With these seven rules, you can confidently go shopping in Uganda. If you are buying edibles, do not forget to sample. You can eat grasshoppers in Kampala by just sampling from every buyer. Until next time, the emperor signs out…