Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Ugandan Context of Valentines Day


On one of my usual taxi rides, I was fortunate enough to find the front seat next to another passenger and the driver available and so I took it. It seemed like a regular day with no drama in the offing but all of that changed when I paid attention to conversation that was going on from the driver and passengers.

The driver was recounting to the rest of the passengers a conversation he had earlier listened to that morning on a radio show and it went something like this;

Driver: “Nanti tubade okuwulira radio, wadabbe omusajja nga kubye ku simu.” (As we were listening to radio there was a gentleman who called in…)

Conductor: “Aha.” (Yes!)

Driver: “Titi nagamba, jebale ko sebo mulimutya eyo? (Titi a popular radio presenter said - how are you people over there?)

Caller: “Wano Kamwokya tuli bulungi enkole nungi kati tulinda Valentine.” (The gentleman said, everything is fine over here in Kamwokya we are only waiting for Valentine.)

Driver: “Titi nagamba, Valentine! Valentine kati etuse Kamwokya. Temulina okusasula school fees.”(Valentines! Valentines has even reached Kamwokya. Have you finished paying school fees?) Now Titi the presenter asked this specifically because children had only reported back to school about a week earlier.

Caller: “Owaye, Valentine kubanga mama wa bana taja kufumba oba to muwadde ka Valentine. School fees tujakulabe eda” (My goodness, Valentine because my children’s mother- wife will not cook supper if you have not given her anything for Valentines. The school fees issue we will see later.)

This month is known as the month of love and yet all you love struck puppies celebrate only one day in the entire month so I do not know how accurate that phrase ‘month of love’ is but that is for another day. However, my heart went out to the caller as his wife (baby mama’) priorities were clearly misplaced and he would suffer as a result.
Sadly the resounding roar of laughter which spread like wild fire to the entire taxi was cut short as a lady shouted out from the middle of the taxi.

Lady: “Conductor masawoo kukyambuka” (conductor right ahead at the junction with the road going inwards) to imply she would be alighting shortly and the taxi comes to a halt. I thought nothing of it even when she jumped out with a 12-13 year old girl quick at her heels as they trod up the incline.

Then the driver who had been quiet for only a moment began to bellow away in his now familiar base.

Driver: “Eh oyo muwalawe oba …! Amufanana” (Eh, that is her daughter. She resembles her.)
Front Passenger: “Uhmm, yeee” (Yes) to imply that the young girl must be her daughter but no one else responded and I thought it would all end there.

Driver: “Eh naye ali myaka ki - oba kumi nabiri?” (I wonder how old she is? Maybe 12.)
Front Passenger: “Neda, oyo ali nga kumi na satu. Agenda ku s.1.” (No 13 like she is going to senior 1)
Driver: “Ehhh naye oyo mama we…. nga omwana we ali kumpi kutuka mamawe.” (Eh but he mother is short, her daughter is about the same height as her mum.)

Front Passenger: “Nanti a bana ba nakuzino” (You know how children of these days are.) The passenger said this as she chuckled and I thought to myself but these days have no children we only have children in this day and age.

Driver: “Anti mu kyalo omwana nga oyo kati nandibadde ne omwana.” (In the village a child such as her would already have a child.)

Then the conversation about the differences between children in the city and those in the village ensued between the female passenger at the front and the conductor for over 5 minutes almost oblivious to my presence. It would have continued on and on had the conductor not seen a lady standing by the side of the road waiting.

100 meters from lady
Conductor: “Mama ogenda?” (Madam are you heading in our direction?) To which she did not respond.

50 feet from the lady
The driver flashed his flood lights and honked his horn and both he and the conductor made the necessary hand signals so that she could see where we were heading and flag them down to stop and pick her up. It did not shock me at all she did not respond not even with a nod, all she did was blankly stare at us as we approached and now we were only about 10 feet away from her but even that did not matter. So the driver made the executive decision to pass by her as she did not seem to be heading our way and funny enough as soon as we passed by her, she turned and threw hands up in the air frantic that we did not stop to pick her up.

- 5 feet from her (after we had past the lady)
Conductor: “Parking boss, agenda” (Find parking driver she wants to board!) he yelled and this is all the driver had to say in response.

Driver: “Atulabye nasiriki, nkubye ku ngobe na siriki, owaye tali mumbejja” (She saw us - I honked my horn and she kept quiet, spare us she is not royalty.)

The front passenger and I burst out into laughter and so did a few of the other people in the mid- section of the taxi as he summed up my ride filled with humor with this statement.

Driver: “Owaye a tambule ko asale weight nanti tugenda ku Valentine.” (Let her also walk a little to reduce on her size after all we are heading towards Valentine’s Day.)

Only in Uganda!

Note: Any names used here are not actual as per the incident.
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