Thursday, April 15, 2010

My last blog from Uganda

Ugandan Humour

This is my last blog from Uganda and to close my blogging in a lighter vein, here are some excerpts from a piece written by Pablo Kimuli, who loves to poke fun at Ugandans.

There are things that only Ugandans do that you won’t find elsewhere. We are the only people who bend all the rules, as long as we don’t break them. It’s the only country where you can pee by the roadside during broad day light and no one will point a finger at you, despite the strong warning “Tofuka wano, fine: Shs 10,000”, which loosely translated means you will be fined Shs 10,000 if caught red handed peeing here.

A bold man once stood at such a place with a Shs 10,000 note and held it up high, but nobody dared to ask for it. But then, Ugandans fear witchcraft. Having failed to stop people from peeing on his wall fence, my neighbor decided to write on his wall: “we collect urine for witchcraft.” Nobody dared to pee there thereafter.

Ugandans are the only people who refer to money as “balance” when they actually want “change.” A true Ugandan will always respond “I’m fine” even when they are admitted in hospital or have lost a loved one. We are fond of adding the phrase “well done” after greeting you, even when you haven’t done anything. When it comes to our roads, only drunken drivers drive straight. They only have two problems, starting and stopping the car.

Ugandans are very innovative. We refine empty mineral water bottles to pack fruit juice, empty insecticide tins to make tadoba (locally-made paraffin lamps), used tyres to make shoes (lugabire), and empty tins to hot-comb hair. We never put anything to waste.

We also have our own kind of English. We are the only people who end questions with the 5ws. E.g. “You said what?” “You are going where?” “It’s for who?” “He did it how?”

We are good at throwing birthday parties for five-year olds and 80% of the guests are above 40. Women marry hoping to change the men and the men hoping that the women won’t change. You hear a lady say, “when we get married, I’ll make sure he eats home every night.” Visit any fast food place after 9p.m. and you’ll see how many married men are rushing to finish their chips before heading home for burnt offerings.

Before marriage, the men enjoy walking behind their fiancĂ©es, but after two kids in the marriage, the guy is moving fast forward ahead of the wife! We are good at listening to a football commentary on radio and tell it like we watched it live on television. In restaurants, we always grab the opportunity to use tooth-picks even when we have only taken water. Ugandans, especially those from the central part of the country, are the only people who say, “kankomewo” which means “I’ll be back shortly” and never return.

The Pearl of Africa

Winston Churchill was so enchanted by the natural beauty of Uganda that he called it the Pearl of Africa. These pictures reflect the stunning landscapes of this country.

Tricycles and White Canes

As part of our campaign to help some Ugandans with disabilities, we have now given away thirteen tricycles to mobility-impaired persons. Seven of these tricycles have been given to men and six to women.

Here they are:

  • Biira Gatrida (W)
  • Gabriel Agaba (M)
  • Bihanda John (M)
  • Baluku Fauza (M)
  • Biira Rebecca (W)
  • Bwalhuma Masiah (M)
  • Salim Masumbuko (M)
  • Mohindo Verone (W)
  • Josia Kinene (M)
  • Oliva Kiiza (W) (from Shirley Sauve)
  • Kabugho Yeresi (W)
  • Sefas Muhindo (M)
  • Valeria Kyakimwa (W)(from Suzanne Sauve)

Twenty white canes have arrived and the distribution has begun. But, the process has been slower because many vision-impaired people find it very difficult to arrive at the KADUPEDI office to collect their gifts without assistance especially those live in the villages. Office staff is arranging for them to pick up the canes or to deliver them to the recipients.

I have taken pictures of some recipients of tricycles and a couple of white canes. I will be glad to share these pictures with the donors on my return. But, my camera broke down accidentally and I have not been able to photograph every recipient.

Once again, I want to impress on Canadian friends who have donated these gifts how grateful the recipients have been. Everyone, without exception, kept repeating to me how the gift will change their life or open up a new chapter in their life, or allow them to be free, allow them to be independent, and so on and on. Thank you, folks! Your gifts are making a difference in some unfortunate people’s lives.

Final thought

This placement in Uganda has been an incredible experience in more ways than I can put in words. Personally and professionally, I have been enriched beyond my wildest expectations.I am now looking forward to the next ten days of traveling around Uganda and Rwanda with Neil who arrives here this evening. Then…back to Canada to enjoy my grandchildren (and the spring and the tulips and...)