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Ugandan men and their titles

Boss is how men address strangers in an instant.

Moment of truth: You have heard them all and perhaps been addressed by some, but what do those reference tags actually mean in men’s circles? Are you bulaaza or chief?

If you’ve lived long enough in this country, you will start to notice a thing or two. One of the things you will notice is that most men do not know the names of their male friends. Ugandan men will be buddies, hang out in the same places, go on trips without ever knowing each other’s name. Instead, every dude will have a special title. Ugandan men use titles to address each other, names are secondary. But what are those titles?

  1. Professor

This one is usually reversed for our friends who have a nerdy feel to them. They are the kind of friends who you can trust for facts and some serious work. When you are a professor in the circles, it means you are probably the engineer in the circles, the guy who is stressing with the hard parts of life. Unfortunately, when it is time to have a party, there is a likelihood the professor will not be invited. When it is time to write a business proposal that is when we call up the professor.

  1. Senior

When you are the old man of the group, you easily earn yourself the title of Senior. You can get anything from a Ugandan man if you stroke his ego. When you want to pick words of wisdom from the eldest chap in the group, you simply say; “Senior, what do you have to say about the fuel crisis?”

During soccer games, Senior is also used to describe the fittest player of the day. If you are asking someone to pass the ball, just shout; “Senior, Senior…” and the message will be clear.

  1. Omugezi, aka the shrewd one

For the smooth operators, this is for the chaps who have figured out the formula for surviving in Kampala. When traffic police flags down ‘Omugezi’, you do not have to worry a bit. It is hard to arrest ‘Omugezi’, it is hard to find a broke ‘Omugezi’. But you must also tread carefully with ‘Omugezi’, he will be planning for your money.

But if you are looking for an express passport, land title, driving permit, anything where you require smoothness and speed, then you can rely on ‘Omugezi’. These chaps usually live along the Zaana-Namasuba route. It would be a miracle to find ‘Omugezi’ in Muyenga.

  1. Omuzibu, aka the Bad man

Remember the lines; “Bad man looking good in Dior?” These are the guys who only need to wink at a woman, and she will immediately respond to the wink. Among every group, there is usually that one guy with the most escapades. He knows the Who is Who among the Kampala female circles. He has broken more hearts than he has mended. He can be married but never settled. When a new babe comes to the locale, he will be the guy that will know everything about her. He will be the guy that has the number of every babe in the company and will be in the same WhatsApp group.

  1. Owakabi, aka the Great one

If you are invited for a drinks session and the guys call you ‘Owakabi’, please note that you are responsible for the bill. There is no other way to it.

As Owakabi, you are expected to solve every financial problem. You are also the guy who will drop others to their homes when the bottle gets the best of them. You are also the guy who is used as a defence when the married chaps are selling a story to their wives. You will be painted as the most honourable, most innocent, most generous of the group. When a man is telling lies, the moment he mentions your name, the lie instantly becomes the truth.

  1. Boss

Boss is how men address strangers in an instant. If you do not want to go wrong with titles, the safest is usually; “Boss”. Everyone loves to be a boss. Every man’s ego desires to reign over a kingdom.

Boss is the ultimate title of respect. Men from all walks of life will meet and within seconds, they will feel like they have known each other for years. Why? Because of the title; “Boss”.

  1. Bulaaza, aka Brother

Not to be confused with; “Bro.” Bulaaza is used by the vendors, hawkers, taxi drivers, and somewhere in Boogey-go’s church. When someone is trying to mint money out of you, the quickest way to establish rapport is to call you ‘Bulaaza.’

However, the variant to this title is “Bro”. This is used by the chaps who frequent the Bugolobi Vegas strip. When guys get high, everyone becomes a ‘Bro’. They  begin to make promises to each other. They promise to change each other’s lives. They promise to walk through the fire for their Bros. And when someone is borrowing money from you and they refer to you as “Bro”, please forget about that money. Why should a Bro pay back? Bros take a beating for each other.

  1. Omwana W’Omwami, Son of a Lord

This was popularised by Rabadaba to remind people of his privileged childhood. If you go somewhere in Luzira and ask for Kepler, you will find a grey-bearded chap who is worthy of the title. Apparently having a grey beard is the new trend in town. When a man has a semblance of a silver fox, we call them omwana w’omwami.

  1. Chief

For some reason, people from Kabale love this title. There is this insatiable desire to be in charge, to be in control, to own a hill. When a man is a chief, he is a true Big Boy. He speaks less but acts more with his pocket. A chief never lives an ordinary life, he is always shooting for the best things in life. Few Ugandan men ever earn the title of Chief except in a few instances of ‘Kwetega’.

  1. Omunene, aka Big Boy, aka Gamba n’Ogu

This was the original title for the gamba n’ogus, the chaps who wield power. It is the only title that can be substantiated with facts. Not everyone can be a Big Boy. It is a reserve for the rich, famous and powerful. You know you have made it in Uganda if there is someone who refers to you as “Omunene” in the course of the week.

In the end, every man in Uganda has a title that is dependent on their location, financial status, circles. For the men who carry breakfast to work, those we know as Papas. Men back in the days carried laptops and documents, the men of today pack breakfast.

Twitter: ortegatalks

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