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Ugandans and the travel demon

The haggling, the sweet endearments, the lugambo…

And we go: There is something about traveling that unsettles Ugandans. Worse, when it is to do with air travel. A Ugandan will keep a clean Whatsapp status update until the day they get to travel. It is this urge to assure witches back in the village that finally something has happened. Every Ugandan has an endless circle of enemies and haters (imagined and real). Every Ugandan has a virtual circle to whom they must prove a point. Today, we take you through the phases of traveling like a Ugandan!

  1. The passport hurdle

When God said the poor man’s reward is in heaven, He ought to have heard Ugandans in mind. In Uganda, we rehearse for that heavenly queue in everything we do. In other countries, governments serve their people, they are obliged to do so. In Uganda, you are glad to be of service to your government. Everything in Uganda has a process to it.

It does not matter whether you are a Malaika like Winnie Nwagi, the passport office has no friends. Do not be fooled by the express payment. Whether you pay for express or ordinary, in Uganda, we are all on the same footing. The beauty about hell is that it never matters how well you upgrade, it is all fire. If you wish to travel in Uganda, you must jump this hurdle.

There will be a time for a tribal interview. This is the time of reckoning when one suddenly remembers themselves as Bakidaawo instead of Baks. Please note that when dealing with a government office in Uganda, anything you say can be used against you. Always be as humble as they come. Plead ignorant. You must massage the ego of the government official. Praise them, be delighted by everything they do. Once you have gone through this interview hurdle, it is time to brace yourself for the collection. With a passport in hand, you get to pass the nursery level of travelling in Uganda.

  1. The airport hurdle

Entebbe International Airport is among the most confusing in the world. It is a mix of solitaire, monopoly, chess, name it all. You must figure out your way. You can easily find yourself on the runway. You could enter through Departures only to find yourself at Arrival.

Once you figure out your way, you get to the starting point where some individuals will not clearly mention the documents they are looking for. You just bring anything and everything. Carry a land title, a birth certificate, carry your UACE papers. You just never know what is needed at the airport. Once the official is done checking everything, they will remind you that it was all about the yellow fever certificate. Without mentioning a word, you will both stare at each other. After such a stare, one of you ought to decide that it is time to move. Yes, officials at the Airport are always in meditation. They hate to open their mouths. Attention here matters. You blink only for the official to whine that they have been asking you to scan your four toes. Our officials speak with body language.

Once a Ugandan is done with all the checks, their true self comes out. It is time to start reporting live. Every Ugandan is an undercover journalist. In Uganda, we do not need spies. All our lives are peppered on our social media profiles. We have suffered so much that even the simple act of boarding a plane is now a celebration, a symbol of success. But who would not celebrate after all the hurdles?

  1. The awakening

Be warned that you must always exchange your Ugandan shillings shortly before you exit this country. Otherwise, you are in for a mother of shockers. No one wants a Ugandan shilling. Even slay queens are now rejecting shilling payments. Yes, the mother of shockers is when your UGX 200,000 can make for $100.

Unlike Kampala city roads that massage you with potholes, in other countries, the roads sing lullabies. We are so used to pain that normalcy now shocks us. When was the last time a Ugandan drove through a city and did not hit at least a dozen potholes? Now, when a Ugandan is driven around a Kigali, he will be in tears. He keeps wondering whether these countries worship a different God.

  1. In comes SWASA

Social administrators have come in the direct line of fire in these few days. We must be lucky people have not dropped out of school. At least their only crimes are missing transcripts. We are almost getting there. There used to be a time when someone without a qualification to their name would be at the helm. Now, we have something to pride in.

SWASA lives matter. Motivational Speakers have spent the past decade telling you to believe in yourself, to fake it till you make it. When our dear friends were listening to this motivation, where were you? Busy studying your sciences? You thought learning to dissect a cockroach, reciting the dichotomous key would get you at the helm? You thought knowing how to integrate and derive would give you the edge? Relax yourself. Be thankful that at least you even have a chance to take a swipe at the SWASA graduates. We all know man is a social animal. The Airline industry deals with social animals. Does it not seem to you that a SWASA graduate is the best fit? At least we can also argue that it is a Ssenyonyi dealing with things of ‘nyonyi.’

Twitter: ortegatalks

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