A-Z: One of the problems of Uganda’s education system is that it has always been detached from the local context. It lacksthe ability to capture the nuances, it lacks the connection to the local man or woman. It taught us prairies in Canada, it taught us the dikes in Netherlands, only for us to meet with potholes in Salaama and floods in Bwaise. Now that we are older and less stupid, we are rewriting the Ugandan Alphabet.
A is for the Actuallys. The ones who drop ‘actually’ in every statement. A is for the arrivalism, the syndrome that disturbs most of our lawyers. The ones who keep reminding us, ‘the law is the law’. The ones who keep serving us with ‘intentions to sue’. Actually, Actually, Actually, we are all suffering together in our Uganda! A is for the airports and aeroplanes and the endless photos Ugandans take while they are in one.
B is for Bandali Rise, for the nights we will not remember, for the nights that our friends narrate to us. B is for all the bad and good choices we have made on this rise. B is also for the babandana, the badilibada, the chaps who wake up to try every day, the ones who have decided to make it work here no matter how. For what is life if not a conquest of one’s challenges? What is life if not a choice against any retreat or escape of a kind? B is for Bobi Wine, the social consciousness, the eye opener. B is for Besigye, the resilience, the ability to stay the long drive. B is for the boda boda, the loyalty of our boda guys, how they pretend to know nothing about our escapades. Your boda guy knows your partner more than you do.
C is for Campus. For the many degrees we are accumulating, and for the many hopes that we are about to deflate.
D is for Downtown; Owino, Kikuubo, Kisekka, Kisenyi, Katwe. We got you covered all year-round. We have all the brands, the Pradas, the Guccis. We dress your celebs, we dress your granny. Come we dress you! D is for death, the only thing that sobers us up in this country, the only thing that reminds us to be humane!
E is for Ebola. There is a myth that whenever there is an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, something big is always in the pipeline. What is it this time round? Mwekume!
F is for Full Figure, and all the celebs we manufactured without reason. What was their claim to fame?
G is for the Generals, General Mega Dee and his friends. G is for the Gs, the gangos, the friends who have not left our sides. G is for the Generals who have made ranks on Twitter, integrated East Africa on Twitter. G is for the gamba n’Ogus, the ones who rescue us from the bites of the system.
H is for Hell, for the hospitals, for the fact that most are one sickness away from a fundraising. H is for the hype, for all the highlights we post on our social media while we crack away in isolation. H is for the hope, that one day, one day, the sun will rise once again on the good side of things and set on the bad side of things.
I is for I and I. You can fill in the blanks… I am who I am? Right?
J is for the jobs, the hustles, the trials and tribulations, the CVs that we have written, re-written, changed fonts, played with accents, changed referees yet they still elude us.
K is for Kabaka, our pinnacle, the summit of our unity, the belief in our highest self. K is for Kampala, the capital city that was, is, and will always be. We have done everything to Kampala but it is going nowhere. When you think it is about to break apart, it shows up like a rose on the concrete, screaming aloud parte after parte, eno parte yaani, tugenda waani? K is for kifeesi and the attention they have drilled into us, and the discipline they have driven among iPhone holders. K is for the kadamas, the ones who escaped from the frying pan only to land into the fires of Middle East. We have you at heart. We will not judge you, return home in peace! At least you tried.
L is for Land, for the friends who see cement in every decision we make. For the ones who get shocked when they realise our car engines are 2.5L. Yes Ben, you who drives a 0.6CC, how many apartments do you own? How many acres have you acquired?
M is for M7, MK, the ones we love to hate and hate that they love us. M is for the boldness they display, the pregnancy of their imaginations in the quest to lead us so far… to nowhere.
N is for Najjera, Nansana, Naalya, Namasuba, Ndejje. Najjera for all the demons we fight with, the beautiful apartments with no proper parking. N is for Nansana and the ability to hold, despite all the mockery. N is for Naalya and its massages, house to house, knowing there is something in a body to body, and the mystery of Nuru. N is for the Northern Bypass and the individual meaning it creates in each of our heads. N is for Nyege Nyege, the one place when we remember that we are magical, we are made of more.
O is for Obsessions, for all the beauty and art we had in the 90s and early 2000s. What has happened to the industry today? Where has all the talent gone? At least we dared ourselves, even with a G.Snake! O is for the Ogas, our Naija boys and the grand lies they have told, and the places they have traversed. We dey see you eat all our things ooo! O is for Oliwa for all the memories that started with just that question!
P is for the Pill, the emergency one, the birth control one. How many it has saved from entering Uganda! P is for the pastors and prophets, for the heaven they see in our pockets and wallets, and eyes they get us to close, the heaven they create on earth while promising us one upon our death. P is for the pledges, the traps they set for us, from church pledges to wedding pledges.
Q is for you to define…. Why do Ugandans want someone else to do all the work? Do something!
R is for Rolex. For being there for us the singles, for hearing our cries for a balanced diet, of protein and carbohydrates and the nyanya mbisi playing the part of the vegetable, oba fruit? Not that we care much, at the least, we live to see another day.
S is for Subaru, for the car sent from heaven, the car that has split marriages, the car that has traversed all areas of Uganda, the car that inspires one to ramp up, to disorganise slay queens, to not give transport money, and to always make false promises.
T is for Transport money, the one we have given and lost, money that went out and phones got switched off. T is for traffic police and the conversations, the negotiations. T is for the taxi, the attempt at public transportation when the government abandoned us. T is for the ‘emabega muziwereeze…. wesikeemu…”
U is for Uganda. The country we found ourselves in, its tribes, its people, its culture, its mediocrity, fun, its madness, its aspirations. What else do we have other than this Uganda? Oh Uganda, may God uphold thee! U is also for Umeme and the magic wand it displays during the rains.
V is for Vayolensi, the one that permeates Twitter. The Twitterazis and their boldness to go for the jugular of anyone. To squeeze tight the bigodo of our heroes. Oh bold children, who birthed you? V is for Vitz and the fact that it could have been a boda boda.
W is for Waragi, aka Uganda Waragi. If you have not pounced on a botulo, are you one of us?
X is for the letter we have searched for since nursery. Find X, we have looked for X in bars, in shrines, in houses, in every possible place. Anyone found X in Uganda? The last we heard was a song that said; “Ba X bonna baffa!”
Y is for You. At the end of the day, you are alone. We are all just trying to fight through. Do not hate me if I bruise you along the way, it was never personal. We are all just surviving! We are all Ugandans.
Z is for the Zero bank balances on most of our accounts, for the zeros on the mobile money accounts for the chaps reading this. One day, one day, yes one day you will wake up and it will still be zero!