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Four One One

The Ugandan social lifestyle redefined

Events. Any opportunity to lounge, chill, and vibe will have them all dressing up. PHOTOS / COURTESY

Changing trends: Every generation has its own drugs, its downtimes, its release occasions. For the millennials and Gen-Zs, there has been a twist to their modes of release. Everything has been redefined, and in a way, subcultures created, new tribes formed. Ian Ortega takes us through the new age of Ugandan social moments.

1. The hikers/mountaineers
In the past, it was almost unheard of for Ugandans to climb to the peak of Mt Rwenzori/Stanley. Not anymore, mountaineering has become an active hobby among the young generations. There is a race for someone to have a mountain under their belt. From Sabyinyo to Elgon to Kadam, there is a mountain to hike every week. “Have you done Elgon?” has become a normal conversation starter.
For the less daring, there are easier hikes to shoot for. Thanks to clubs such as the Mountain Slayers, there is always a package to kickstart a newbie. Why not a Kampala religious sites hike? Walking from Rubaga Cathedral all the way to the Bahai temple? Hiking has become the new normal. With more challenges to it, think of someone being able to hike to the peak of Mount Elgon within a day, or being able to dance your favourite song while on the glaciers of one of the mountains.

2. From hard clubbing to lounging/vibing
Forget the days when one had to fight hard to gain entrance into a night club in the age of the discotheque. Although the discotheque will continue to exist, several millennials have opted out of that experience. It is no longer about the hardcore partying, it is about the ability to lounge, twist to a vibe while giving it one’s best when the top songs get played. The spaces have been redefined to give people a bit more privacy, with the lounging fellows having space to fake out their own dance moves.
Sunday mornings, afternoons and evening have been redefined by similar concepts. It is now the Brunch session with those afro beats. The reggaeton has been left for the older generations. Why make money and then struggle hard to spend it? You can spend it with some laziness. The new experience is also about flaunting something on one’s table. What expensive drinks get to line up one’s table? It is vibes on vibes.

3. The creators movement, aka the TikTokers
In future, we would all become creators. And now we are in that future. The new generations are closing the gap between work and leisure. They are having fun while creating content with possibilities of exploding into monetary outcomes. At every hotel space, at every corner in the city, the cameras are always in recording mode. The virtual world has also become a new release moment for the millennials.
What is fun? Well, fun is finding those costumes to shoot the next TikTok video. What is fun? Fun is finding time to record the next episode for one’s travel vlog. The new generation is heavily documenting their life. The physical and virtual lives have merged.
But the virtual freaks are not just about content creation, they are also fighting international wars. With thousands of clicks on their keyboards, it is meme fights with other countries; Uganda vs Kenya, Uganda vs Nigeria, it’s Facebook group wars, or TikTokers pouncing on each other, dissing each other and having a replay of the East Coast-West Coast rap battles.

Weddings. One of the things keeping Ugandans busy. PHOTOS / MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

4. The travel enthusiasts
If you spend a minute on the Tulambule Facebook group, you soon realise how so little one knows about their country. You realise that you are the only one who is not travelling as much. Why? Every Ugandan is into travelling. Forget trying to travel after spending millions. The millennials are redefining travel. Travel is now a lifestyle. It is not a one-off. It is something intertwined with their daily lives.
Travel to Karamoja, travel to Arua, travel to Ssese Islands, travel everywhere in this country. There is not a single corner that has not been covered, not a single spot that hasn’t been unveiled. Thanks also to Covid, the local tourists are outperforming the foreign tourists. They may not spend as much, but they are doing it more frequently.
The travel enthusiasts also share a thing or two with the car enthusiasts. The Subaru guys are now a tribe. They will acknowledge each other even in traffic jam. They are all about a need for speed, a need to prove that Subaru lives matter.

5. From festivals to house parties
If not for the Covid-19 Pandemic, Nyege Nyege would probably be the biggest festival in Africa, if not the world. We are certain once concerts open, Ugandans will immediately resume with the festivals craze. Why party for just a day? For the young, it is non-stop, it is parte after parte. Parte is something you can do, have some sleep, wake up and continue the parte.
If a Ugandan from the early 90s was told that today’s generation spends days at some lake resort dancing to music, grooving to different genres, they would be in shock. How does one spend days partying? Not for this energetic lot. They want it all, they want it with twists, and they want this liberation from self, from all forms of control through these festivals.
The toned-down version of the festivals are the house parties. Not your usual house parties; – some of these are being organised in some of the most expensive apartments in town. Why drive while drunk? Why risk driving past curfew hours? The group can always rent out a three-bedroom apartment and have a weekend party to remember. Apartment owners have listed on Airbnb, it makes more financial sense to list on Airbnb than rent out to a long-term tenant.

6. The massage parlours
Now Uganda should take the award for Uganda’s leisure capital. Massage parlours are now competing with churches. We always thought Uganda would have the highest Church per capita, now it looks like we could be having the highest massage spa per capita. Have Ugandans become addicted to stress-relief? We can’t tell, but there is a package for everyone.
Whether it is a Brazilian wax, a Swedish massage, or even a pregnancy massage, you will find it. Not forgetting that it is all now digitalised, and always one app away.

7. The experimenters/adventurous
This is a generation that believes every line about ‘one day you will leave this life behind, so live a life you will remember’. They are daring, only living once, and pursuing the limits of the extremes. They are willing to take a bold bet with their drinks. They will cocktail everything and anything. Tried drinking high alcohol beer? Trust this generation on that. Given a shot at bungee-jumping? It’s the new normal for these groups. Experimented with some psychedelics? Ecstasy? DMT? You don’t want to go down that rabbithole with the Gen-Zs and millennials.
If it’s scary, they probably want to try it out. You will find them at shooting ranges, if not Kapeeka then it’s Nakawa for them. They want the novel, the things that twist the fabrics of reality, something to add to their courage bragging basket.

8. Weddings and birthday parties
In the past, weddings were nothing but two families finding a reason for unity. The décor was modest, with some cupcakes, popcorn and some samosas. Now, there is a whole journey to the wedding. It all starts with the engagement party. It must be a novel surprise idea. You could choose to emerge from a waterfall, jump out of a plane, if it’s something that is completely unique in her world.
Then you have the photography – it’s a whole new deal. Don’t forget the bridal shower. The introduction ceremony is now a moment to make a statement. You must ‘litter’ the compound with all kinds of bridal gifts. Then the wedding… another moment to empty the coffers to make an even bigger statement.

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