VIBE ON WHEELS: Owning a car in Uganda is just no ordinary thing…it is an achievement — a huge one — so when you finally get there, just don’t take it for granted, flaunt it! There is a culture or some secret code to being a car owner and if you are to fit in, you have to get on board.
We have spent a good part of the year receiving numerous complaints by older car owners about a serious matter. It has been noted that there is a disappearing art and science, a dying culture among new car owners. It is the simple art of owning a car in Uganda, the hows of being a car owner. It is our duty at #SOUG to always carry out refresher trainings when we notice such declines in culture. So here is your starter pack to being a car owner in Uganda.
Latest number plate at all costs
Unless otherwise, unless the gods of poverty have beaten you into submission, there is no reason starting off your car ownership journey with a UBA when people have moved to a UBG. If it means going months without food, so be it. But the ancients demand that you should have some moments as a holder of the latest number plate. For then, you will get to understand what they always meant about driving ‘aka numba’.
As an owner of aka numba, you are entitled to some privileges. You do not have to indicate before you make a turn, for example. You can beat traffic lights at will. And you can be certain that everyone will try to avoid driving very close to you. In your first weeks, you must strike a deal with a washing bay and make them vow never to leave any dirty spot on your car.
As a new car owner, you must also use this chance to resurrect dead friendships, for one reason, to let them know that you have arrived. Invite them out and drop each one home. You should pray that it rains, for how else will they be grateful for the ride back to their homes. You ought to make a trip to the village just to assure the witches that you finally broke the spell. Once this is done, take time to visit your former school, show up for an ex’s wedding. It is your time to drive, make the best of it.
Dial up your conversations
Now that you own a car, you have the right to engage in conversations about cars. In fact, if you cannot find those conversations, you must start them. During the lunch break at work, randomly drop the fact that Subaru is taking over the country. You must be ready to answer the question about your engine capacity and the fuel consumption. Defend your car with all your might. Even if you drive a Vitz, this is the moment to blow its trumpet. You can narrate a story about the time you bought a sachet of fuel and it took you from Kampala to Mbale and back. Make people fall in love with your car. Complain about the mechanics.
Find something to start a conversation about cars. It could be as simple as a rant about the Kampala potholes. You could even tell people that if it were not for the messed up public transport, you would not have bought a car. Complain about the URA taxes at importation. It would be better if you imported your own car. Ugandans enjoy paying attention to this value chain. Take them through your experience, how your car landed with everything intact, with a very low mileage of only 90k.
Your social media
Since everyone in this age has a social media presence, you must find ways to introduce your car to your followers. Find ways to hint about your car ownership in subtle ways. You can, for example, speak about the grid-locked traffic jam and why you are thankful for the boda boda option. This is the time to become a motivational speaker. It is not too late to become the inspirational version of a Ddumba. Record a video in your car that captures the steering wheel. Talk about anything, about the hustle, about discipline, until someone asks you to show evidence for your own sermons.
If this fails, let it show in your photos. If you are taking a photo of your food, make sure your car keys are somewhere on the table. If you are standing, make sure they are visible in your hand. Once offline, you can also intentionally forget them on a table just so they call you. You can also intentionally park badly and block other cars just so they come looking for you.
Do not forget the hooting
New car owners have become dull over time and forgotten the sweet language of hooting. Hooting is how car owners talk while on the road. If someone annoys you, hoot at them. If traffic lights go green, just hoot at the person ahead of you. If you are confused about what to do next, just hoot. If you see a friend, once again, hoot. If you want to buy something, please, do one thing and hoot. A normal car driver in Uganda should be hooting at least 24 times a day.
The one hand on the steering wheel
When all is said and done, you must at all costs master the one hand technique. You should be able to make a complete turn with just one hand. You should be able to overtake with just one hand. If you still have to use two hands to drive even in traffic jam, then you need to go back to driving school. In fact, if you own an automatic, you should not be using hands while in traffic. Above all, do not forget the phone when bored; it is the millennial’s contribution to this art of car ownership.
See you on the road….