Struggle: There are hard jobs, but nothing in the world ever prepares one for adulting in Uganda. It is the hardest job in life. If you can adult in Uganda, you can do any job in the world. You can fight at the frontlines in Ukraine, you can work at an oil rig in Canada or worse still, be employed as the crisis management consultant for the Tweeting General…
Adulting in Uganda comes in phases. You must graduate through every phase, you can’t bribe your way out. You just have to adult.
Beginner stage (20 to 25 years)
This is the induction period to adulting. Some are lucky to be cushioned by their parents. The biggest struggle at this stage are those university transcripts, the endless missing marks and yes, the fear of getting a retake. At this stage, one is allowed their mistakes. You can get away with a hangover on cheap alcohol. After all, if you are just a campuser, we cannot blame you for the urban excitement.
From pursuing a degree in Archives management, you are shocked with the news that the course is now scrapped. Ugandan university prepares you for the queuing phase of life. Life in Uganda is about queuing and jumping the queue. Queues in Uganda exist for one primary reason; to fund those in charge of clearing the queues.
It is at campus that one learns about the importance of knowing someone in high places. It is at campus that one learns the power of secretaries and office administrators. Data entrants at campus are like demi-gods, as though they hold the keys to heaven.
Do not forget the handouts! Forget about thinking, forget about exercising your brain. In Uganda, you must buy the handout lest you fail that course unit. God forbid you join the secondary school in Mukono, it comes with extra requirements. At that school, you are still a secondary student until proven otherwise. There is a daily roll-call, you must seek permission to go for a short call. Remember those curtsies in primary school?
The awakening (25 to 30)
Finally, you are now a graduate. You awaken to the fact that education is no longer the key to success. While you were studying, some chaps were playing with the locks. It is time to listen to endless promises by uncles and aunties. It is time to listen to motivational speakers who say one thing and do another thing. It is time to join a fellowship to be assured of the breakthrough annointing.
If you are not careful, you will move from fellowship to fellowship, seek miracle to miracle, until it hits you that in Uganda everyone is trying to make money off the man next door. Everyone in Uganda is selling something, everyone in Uganda claims to know someone who matters.
Then comes the times of endless applications. The pressure keeps getting ‘worser’! You begin to dread the Linkedin updates, as your fellows keep posting their new jobs and promotions. Then weddings start. WhatsApp statuses become littered with party after party, travel after travel.
Meanwhile, you too cannot be left behind. You start to force the standards. One day, towards 30, you wake up and realise it was all a lie. We were all suffering and smiling in Uganda. We were all acting, it is all fine. We were all keeping up appearances. You realise that most of the pledges at the wedding meetings never get honoured. You realise it is a world of lies and illusions. You just must see through the lies.
The acceptance (30 to 35)
At this age, you stop denying the facts of adulting. You accept that life may not always work out. That regardless of how much you think yourself better than your boss, it is not by chance she is your boss. That you have something to learn from people who are better than you in life.
At this age, bubbles also start to explode. Remember the couple that acted like everything is goals, well, the husband lost a job, and the two are now separated. Remember the other fellow who had a nice job, well, the company is now downsized and she is back to the ground with you.
Meanwhile, you get a lucky breakthrough. That hustle you pushed for the last few years now starts to pay off. The losers then start to become the winners. You begin to meet some of your school mates in places that matter. You go to a police station only to meet that noise maker in school now playing the part of DPC. You are shocked by the transformation.
People start to die. Fundraising has become normal. You realise you too are a serious sickness away from fundraising. You become humble about some things in life. You appreciate every day as it comes. Nothing is granted. You realise in Uganda it can always get worse. The President can order the whole country to take bushera and cassava for breakfast. You are reminded that there are no more Baganda, we are all from Burundi.
The miraculous (35 onwards)
In Uganda, if you make it to 35 without escaping from this country to a foreign land, count yourself lucky. If you make it to 35 without being scammed by some ponzi scheme, go give the gods your tithe. If you make it to 35 without a denied pregnancy, go dance harder. If you make it to 35 without finding out that your father had kept some of your siblings a secret, jubilate harder. Once you make it to 35 in Uganda, you have graduated. You are now among the most hardened species in the world. Nothing scares a man or woman above 35 in Uganda.
You never want to dare a 35-year-old and beyond in this country. They have that thick skin. They have tasted silver fish in all forms. They have suffered with the spaghetti and eggs of the weekend relationships. They have seen it all. Tolina kyobagamba! They finally qualify to wear the badge of Ugandans with honour! What say you? Olina Kyogamba?