Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Day 7/7 Traditional Ceremony Humor

The times have changed since we were young but then again some things remain the same. In this case the former is true as we enjoyed the comfort of our tightly packed seats at a recent traditional wedding ceremony. We had only been settled and started the festivities of the dance between both the spokesmen, when the clergy man present was called upon to say a prayer for the day’s events. 

That in itself was no problem but when the clergy man flanked by his assistant concluded the prayer and brought out 2 baskets to collect offertory – that was a shock for me.

Sister: ‘Who collects offertory at a kwanjula?’

Me: ‘I do not know.’

Sister: ‘Have you ever seen this happen before?’

Me: ‘The prayer yes, the offertory no.’

Murmurs went on through our tent but as we were the guests, not wanting to seem rude we complied and went on with the ceremony. It went on up until the point where the spokesman on the brides side excused the sheikh who had to go and lead prayer in a nearby mosque and so some Muslims from our tent rose up quickly  and non hesitantly to join him only to return about an hour and a half later. It is an understatement for me to say that they missed the most important aspects of the entire event.

But what took the cake was when the spokesman made these remarks in the heat of the moment albeit attempting to sound funny after 6 / 7 groups had already come out to greet us as is customary in a Kiganda traditional marriage ceremony.

Brides Spokesman: ‘Owaye let these young girls go to the house so that the next group of important people can come out.’

Grooms Spokesman: ‘But before they leave let me thank them for having good manners and welcoming guests.’

Queue music and the 20 something girls danced off beaming from ear to ear as the next batch prepared themselves to come out and face us in the middle of the courtyard.

Brides Spokesman: ‘Eh but let me wait and see whether you will also give this next group gifts after all this is group 7, but then again muko looks like a mugaga.’

The whole time these words were leaving his mouth I was in shock and my mouth fell open because the entire time leading up to this point he had been making subtle hints to issues regarding the grooms financial muscle. Forgive me if this does not bother you; but what purpose was this event set up to serve if not to unite 2 families and officially hand over the girl to her suitor. I did not think this was an opportunity to milk your guests for every last coin they came with.

After all the gifts were waiting to be exchanged, the live cow’s presence was yet to be verified and a tree of remembrance planted; it was time to have a meal. We waited patiently as the spokesman laid out the order in which we were to queue up for our meal. Nothing was out of the ordinary at that point aside from what the DJ played when the instruction was given for us to head to our serving point.

DJ: ‘Hello the foods is now available, but please avoid the sausage rolls,’ was played over the sound system

My and sister and I burst out into laughter and could not wait to check and see if there was indeed any sausage roll or sausage  based aspect of the meal. I am sorry to say we were disappointed.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Day 6/7 Kwanjulas bring out the best and worst in people

I know you must be wondering why I am writing quite a number of my tales on kwanjulas (traditional marriage celebrations) but it is to give you a well rounded view of what actually happens away from the spotlight. 

The behind the scenes stories of the most annoying and hilarious conversations that people do not often share after the fact.

So on a normal sunny day after a great deal of hustle and bustle getting ready for a kwanjula, we set off in high spirits and arrived about an hour and 15 minutes later than expected;  but to my surprise we were not fined. After a long and drawn out dialogue between the omwogezi's (spokesmen), we were ushered to our seats.

We made a bee line for them only to attempt to get seated in an orderly manner but it proved quite difficult and uncomfortable. The chairs had been staked so close together we barely had room to get through the seats and sit down. Also the fact that this situation was made only even more dire with tables fitted within our sitting tent that was expected to sit about 100 people. The table had taken up space for probably 15 – 20 people so we were all squashed like sardines in a tightly wrapped package.

Sitting arrangements aside I was unfortunate to sit behind a lady who decided to travel with her infant to this event, all I can say is that the day was quite the experience. Initially we arrived and waited to be asked to sit down by the spokesman from the girl’s side but as soon as we were granted permission it all began. I was the one in charge of handling the flower for identifying the bride as is now an unwritten tradition in our family. The lady with a child handed him over and began fussing about where the flower should be put and all.

Lady: ‘Muteke kimuli wansi,’ she said in a bossy tone. (Put the flower down)

My sister and I looked at her stunned at ho w she all of a sudden was giving us instructions at this point but decided to be polite about it all. There was no need to fuss.

Lady: ‘Kiteke wansi,’ she repeated a couple of seconds later in a very insistent tone.  

Now at this point the 3 of us were still standing while the rest of our team was seated because we were waiting for her to pull her chair forward and sit down so that we could follow suit but she was fussing about something so trivial. So the next time she turned around I tugged at my sister’s hand and urged her to sit down as we set the heavy flower on the table next to us.
As though on queue the lady turned around and began to eye us shifting and turning from side to side and could not sit still in one position.

Lady: ‘Mukatadee awoo,’ (you have placed it there) she said in a tone that made it seem to be a question but was instructive as well.

Me: ‘Ehhh nyabo!’ (Yes madam)

Lady: ‘Naye bagenda kilaba, mukateke wansi.’(But they are going to see it)

Me: ‘Nkatekewa, (where do I put it?) I responded as I directed her gaze to the space that remained between my sister while all this time I was asking myself what all this fuss was about.

Lady: ‘Kabera bulungi nga okitadde wansi.’ (It is nice when you hide it down)

Me: ‘ Ehh, I responded politely but did not lift a finger to move the flower anywhere else.

 I silently thought to myself, why the fuss after all they already saw the flower when I walked in past their tent as I headed to my seat. My sister only shook her head and smiled as she watched the staring match that ensued between the lady and I.

Moments later it was something else; in the midst of all the activity she began to move her chair further and further behind until a point where she almost maimed my leg with that of her chair about 5 times. The 5th time I shot out my hand and shoved her chair forward instinctively and continued to pay attention to what the Omwogezi (spokesman) was saying. Kindly understand, I was not picking a fight but neither was I going to entertain this silliness and trivialities any longer.

About an hour and a half later we were taken to serve food and my sister and I decided to go among the last because we did not want to stand in line for a long time. Now she on the other hand went in the first batch and so returned to her seat when we were heading to the serving area. When we got back her chair was back to back with mine and my sister could not get to her seat that was on the other side of mine.

She looked stunned as we stood over the lady who was demolishing her luwombo and chattering on with her company for about 2minutes. When I realised she had not noticed our presence, I asked my sister to excuse me and step aside and I dealt with the issue.

Me: ‘Nyabo, katuyite ko.’ (Madam, could you let us pass.)

The lady finished her piece of chicken before she got up and excused us and I made sure that before she sat down I intentionally moved her chair forward so that I could actually sit down. The moral of this story is when you are in Rome do as the Romans do but when you are at war pull out your gun and get ready to shoot.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Day 5/7 The policewoman who pulled me over 3 times

Driving on Ugandan roads can prove to be quite the hustle and it is not for the fainthearted. Having gone to  a local driving school with a senior citizen as my instructor, I was fortunate to be thrown into the deep end right from the get go and was  taken on to Jinja road right on day one. So you would be right to say that I am quite comfortable on Ugandan roads and no conductor, truck driver or trailer will ever bully me on the road.

However, one group of people we often forget to take into account are our angelic custodians of the law dressed in white.  I was fortunate to be charged with the task of dropping my nieces and nephews to and from school for a period of a week while my sister was away and I grew accustomed to using the road less travelled from Kamwokya market to where it connects to Bukoto stage near Bemuga near Kabira country club. 

On the first occasion as I drove down the hill into the valley riddled with garages and washing bays, at about the midway point I was pulled over by a female police officer.

I indicated and exited the main road to the side and once I had parked I let down the co drivers’ window. The children were at the back and jolted out of their seats wondering why we had come to a halt far off from the super market where we usually got their snacks.

Niece: ‘Why are we stopping?’

Me: ‘Because the police woman has asked us to stop.’

Niece: ‘But where is she I cannot see her?’

Me: ‘Sit up and look ahead there, do you see her?’

Niece: ‘Uh hmm.’

As she approached me boy was I happy that I had sorted out my driving permit woes a couple of months earlier and now I was fully covered.

Police officer: ‘How are you madam?’

Me: ‘Fine thank you officer.’

Police officer: ‘Are we okay?’

Me: ‘Yes we are.’

She walked to the front of the car to check and make sure that my third party insurance was not expired and walked back to my side of the window.

Police officer: ‘Okay, can I see your driving permit?’ she said in a firm tone with a straight face almost in a bid to intimidate me.

Me: ‘No problem, officer,’ I said as I reached into my hand bag and handed her my permit to look at.

For about half a minute she mauled over it back and front and as she examined the details her 
face changed from the stern look to a more pleasant and almost cheeky smile.

Police officer: ‘Okay, have a nice day,’ she said as I looked at her beaming face with a feeling gratification for that brief moment of doubt she had was no more than prejudice.

Me: ‘Thank you officer.’

This routine occurred a day after the same and was pretty typical and I was beginning to look forward to it. Unfortunately for me I did not see the officer for a day but then when I was beginning to think that she had been moved to a new location, there she was moving in my direction with her hand up. This time the children had a fun filled day of school and activities so they had all passed out in the back seat.

Police officer: ‘Alloh how are you madam?’

Me: ‘Fine thank you.’
Police officer: ‘Eh mama, can I please have a look at your permit?’
Me: ‘Yes, officer I said as I smiled brightly.’
I was tempted to let this whole process go on as usual but when I was pulling out my driving permit I asked I decided to quiz her as to why she constantly pulled me over the entire week.

Me: ‘But officer, I said politely’

Police officer: ‘Yes, what is it. You do not have your permit.’

Me: ‘No I have it.’

Police officer: ‘So what is it, soo....’

Me: ‘Officer, I only wanted to know why you would pull me over 3 times in the same week.’

Police officer: ‘Ehhhh is it so, ehhh ..’

As she was pausing attempting to recollect her failing memory I decided to assist her expedite the process.

Me: ‘Officer, you do not remember me passing here with these children this week.’
She paused for a second and then leaned forward and peered through the glass of the rear window for confirmation before bursting into a smile.

Police officer: ‘Ehh mama it is you sorry.’

Me: ‘But officer why do you stop me every time.’

Police officer: ‘Nanti you look like you are small.’

Me: ‘Smalll...’ I said with a confused look on my face.
Police officer: ‘Yes, too small to drive.’

Me: ‘Small .... ehhh, ohhhh too young to drive.’

Police officer: ‘Yes madam, but now it is okay, you take the children are very tired ehhh you take them home safely.’

Me: ‘Thank you officer,’ i said in response as i placed my permit back into my wallet.

As I indicated and pulled back onto the main road I thought to myself, it so difficult to get a rapid response from police at a crime scene but when it comes to the traffic police I am being pulled over for looking too young to be driving. Isn’t this a case of misplaced vigilance and resources Uganda police?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 4/7 The craft of being an Omwogezi

Every event has its perks and draw backs and one of the few perks to enjoy from a traditional wedding ceremony (Okwanjulo) is the spokesmen (Omwogezi). 

There is the manner in which they entertain the guests while sticking to the schedule and making even the most persistent of requests seem coy as child’s play and bearable. 

I have been fortunate to attend about 4 traditional marriage ceremonies this year for family members in a span of 3 months, yes 3 months so I am on quite the over load.
At one of them I was fortunate to be on the guest side of the muko (groom) and when we arrived; we were paraded in front of the guests for about 15minutes up until our spokesman delivered 3 bible readings and answered a series of local dialect idioms to the satisfaction of his counterpart on the opposite side. This trend dragged on for the better part of the function until it got to point of the identification of the bride where I suppose he could not take it anymore and out of the blue he began to cough.

Spokesman: ‘Eh, sorry so what was I saying,’ he muttered on as he coughed violently.

Our spokesman: ‘Ah you asked the senga (the bride’s aunt who usually identifies the groom) if she knows us and if she knows why we are here.’

Spokesman: ‘But you have not loosened my tongue,’ he uttered softly as he continued with the program.

Our spokesman dispatched his assistant hastily to bring 1 gourd of the local brew known as Tonto that we had brought with us to oil the spokesman’s wheel. At the back of my head I was thinking, couldn't he simply say he wanted the alcohol so we could move forward? But no he had to be all theatrical and cough violently over and over as if he was short of breathe and about to pass out.

There is also another aspect that bothered me – the fact that that they advertise their services to the public in the middle of the most intimate point of the function whether it be the exchange of the engagement ring or in between the parents speeches.

Spokesman: ‘Announcement, announcement I would like to inform you that if you that if you would like to hire me I belong to the ..... group. To contact us on our services for functions, please take down this number so that we can assist you.’  ‘Now please let me clarify this - do not call me a week to the function because you may not fit into my calendar schedule because you know very well this is a very busy time of the year for functions.’ 

‘This is so that you do not say I let you down or I disappointed you and ruined your function; you know we have to do this properly so call me about a moth to the function so I can check my book. But if I cannot handle your function, we are many in the company and I can get you someone else who is available and will make sure that you have a very enjoyable function.’

I thought to myself, wow this man is very bold and self assured to say this in front of about 300 people. But with no notice and with only a pause he continues only a moment later with his line of conversation.

Spokesman: ‘So I can perform at traditional marriage functions, graduations, parties and everything of that nature.’ ‘I can do it all, but wait ......,’ he said as he paused briefly.

‘When it comes to funerals, I do not take part. I say this because I have been asked by a couple of people to officiate and I have failed to accept it is the only function I do not perform at.’

Now when I heard this I thought to myself, this sure is a performance from the coughing to the bible reading and idioms it was all an act and much as we are a very animated bunch of people how much is too much. Is there a point where we draw the line because in this instance, the traditional marriage ceremony went over the designated time? 

This was because he took too long badgering us for local brew which we had already brought, to competing with his fellow spokes person from our side to see who was technically better at performing at these functions.
I thought to myself what happened to the small, quiet visits to the girl’s home to have an intimate understanding of the values from where your better half originates. 
Or I am too traditional and spoiling all the glitz and fun fare involved in today’s display of affection at these events.

I am open to your opinions.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Day 3/7 The rise of the taxi stage manager

For all of us who have used private means of transport at one time or the other know how painful a process it can be. From the long waiting periods at the stage while the taxi or bus fill up to full capacity, or the noise from the shrill voice of the conductor calling out the route he intends to take as you sit silently baking in the African heat. Nothing can be worse than a half empty taxi especially when you have to urgently get to a meeting or that life changing appointment.

With all that in mind, there is this disease that has crept up with the registration of taxi and boda boda drivers and riders respectively at their resident stage. The disease is the rise of stage managers. I asked myself; what do they manage, how do they earn a living, why are they necessary and who really benefits from their presence. However, in my opinion they are a more of a menace than a necessity and I will back my opinion with an example.

There was this day when I boarded a Wandegeya bound taxi from Kiwatule and as we approached the Ntinda stage, the conductor got weary and began to grumble audibly to the driver as pulled into the parking area.  Frankly I did not understand what the fuss was about until a fat and smelly gentleman approached our taxi from the official stage and leaned into the window as he held the passenger door shut. As I sat in the front seat next to the door he held a 3 minute conversation with the driver about how he was misbehaving and not conforming to the rules. 

I leaned out of my window to confirm that the driver had indeed parked off the road and not in a bad spot; he had indicated on exiting the main road and was waiting in queue for his turn to pick up passengers. After all it was not his fault that a passenger had walked up to his taxi and asked to get in leaving all the rest in line.

Conductor: ‘Gwe man lwaki ondemeza okukola (But you man, why are you preventing me from working)

Stage Manager: ‘Sirika njogere ne mukulu wo. (Keep quiet, I am talking to the big man/ boss– to imply the driver as he was more senior in age than the conductor.)

Conductor: ‘Vayo, kati kyo gambe ntino nze siri mukulu?’ (So what you are saying is that I am not mature enough to have a conversation with you?)

Stage Manager: ‘Mpa byange tukole fena.’ (Give me what belong to me and we all work.’

Driver: ‘Naye gwe kati oganye omuntu omu okuyingiri mumotoka.’ (But also you, now you have refused to let only 1 person get into the taxi,’ he said politely.

Before he could even finish his statement, the stage managers enforcer flew from the taxi that was parked ahead of us to where we parked and right into the middle of this conversation. Without knowing what was going on he began to thumb the side of the taxi with full force like a rabid dog with his fists.

Enforcer: ‘Tuwe sente za fe.’ (Give us our money.)

It was only when he said this that it finally made sense; the stage manager has to be paid by the taxi drivers - almost something similar to a stage affiliation fee of sorts so that they can operate here. Now remember this is early in the morning and we were all in a hurry to get to town and go about our business. So after wasting an additional 10 minutes and reversing and moving forward continuously, when it was clear that this situation was not being resolved or going anywhere I began to exit the front seat only for the manager to push my door shut.

Stage Manager: ‘Ahh neda nyabo mugenda, bera steady’ (No madam, you are leaving relax.)

Driver: ‘Kwata ezo, said the driver calmly.’ (Get that)

 I was about to give him a piece of my mind when I saw a 5,000 shilling note in the drivers hand being issued to the stage manager and then in a flip  of a second, we were welcomed into the fold.

Stage Manager: ‘Kati oterede! Wandegeya, Kamapala Road ne Park enkadde. (Now you have shaped up! Wandegeya, Kampala Road and the old park), he called out. He did this as he flung the passenger door open and ushered people in speedily. His personality flipped as distinctly as night and day and we were off in a jiffy.

After a brief moment of reflection it dawned on me, all these positions that continue to creep up at stages and in government ministries with 2 0r even 3 people carrying out the same work, it is a problem that cuts across all levels of society in Uganda. It is an evil that exists even at the level of a taxi driver and boda boda man at his stage – Uganda we need to change and fix this.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Day 2/7 The spaghetti test

Have you ever been famished beyond sanity and wanted a quick but wholesome home cooked meal to go right away? Today i found myself in that same situation with my insides churning as the hunger seemed to rise from the bottom of my stomach. It felt like my stomach enzymes were more active than usual today of all days; or was that only my ulcer talking. 

Anyway i digress, unfortunately i had one quick meet and greet before i could settle for a bite but i was fortunate enough that this meet and greet was a drop by a friends residence. On confessing how hungry i was, Mat my long lost friend pulled out a batch of uncooked spaghetti packet and began to whip up a meal. So as i sat down and opened my documents and laptop we progressed on the business front as he got busy in kitchen. 

After about 3 minutes, it finally sank in that this man was actually cooking a quick meal from scratch or so i though until i walked in his direction and saw him pull out a fully cooked frozen batch of fried liver stew – yes it was edible.
The spaghetti had now come to a boil and he waited a couple of minutes before asking me this random question;

Mat: ‘Do you think the spaghetti is ready?’

Me: ‘I don’t know, how long has it been on the stove at a boil?’

Mat: ‘Enough, how do you know when it is ready?’

Me: ‘I taste it.’

With no warning, Mat got a fork and picked up a strand of spaghetti from the boiling pot and flung it on his tiled wall and it stuck to it like glue sticks to paper.

Me: ‘You are kidding me, so that is the test. So when it sticks to the wall it is ready and when it does not it is still raw. So where did you learn that from.’

My Scandinavian neighbors taught me the trick and sure enough when i tasted the spaghetti it was ready. So i briefly thought about it before my meal was served and placed in front of me; cutlery and all with an aroma from the liver that i could not have imagined possible from this towering giant of a man. Suffice to say that i will never judge a book by its cover and this was one of my favourite meetings ever as we sat down to discuss his marketing plan for his artwork.

Ladies a new breed of man has been unearthed - the well adjusted domesticated kind. Potayto – potato who cares how it is pronounced, the bottom line is he got the job done and my stomach is much happier for it.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Day 1/7 The Cinema Villagers

Every once in a while we all want to take some time off to enjoy life and relax, for many it could be through sport, dancing or entertainment such as going to the Cinema. 

The latter is my poison of choice as I do not care much for alcohol or loud night spots, so when I go to a cinema I look forward to those 120 or so minutes of uninterrupted bliss where I immerse myself into another world and forget all the potholes on Jeniffer Musisi’s city roads.

So last week - mid week, I went to watch a movie in the company of a friend and made it just in the nick of time to enjoy the last infomercial before the opening credits. Surprised as I was that the cinema was not full to capacity for its 7 pm viewing, I was happy that I had an extra seat next to me to put my handbag and really enjoy the movie. 5 minutes in I felt a thud at the back of my seat but decided not to think too much about it until it happened again almost in succession. 

I turned around and caught sight of a Caucasian mid teen boy kicking the back of the chair to my left after which he rested his feet atop it. I was stunned but decided to zone out and ignore the uncultured matter in which he was sitting owing to his juvenile disposition.

About 3 - 5 minutes later a gentleman walked in and headed towards my aisle while he was still on his handset and all the way to my row right next to me. This is when I realized that in fact I did have a neighbor so I quickly removed my handbag to give free up his seat.

He hung up his mobile phone and stared at the lad and instantaneously without any hesitation shouting in his direction, ‘gwe sit properly.’
The young man begrudgingly obliged as I wondered why he was barking.
I briefly glanced in his direction before I returned back to the plot that was about to thicken in this Denzel Washington movie only for his device to beep on 15 minutes into the movie. 

He did indeed finally pick it up and after a few chum remarks and intense Whatsapp messaging to whoever was on the other end of the received; he got up and walked off only to return 10 minutes later with a full figured corporate lady. They initially sat down quietly next to me but at the mid way mark began to hold a conversation. I could not believe it, I decided this was not going to interfere with my movie and pressed on peeling myself away from their chum conversation and flirtation between the two.  

As if that was not enough, a few moments later I caught a whiff of a foul odor but when it did not last long I thought to myself that my sensitive nose was being too irritable however; that was not the case.

The stench resurfaced and it was back with a vengeance amplified by the Air conditioning within the auditorium. This time I asked my company, ‘Can you smell that?’

Friend: ‘Yes I can, he responded and covered his nose with his hand.’

The stench was familiar but I could not place it only for the gentleman seated next to my company to begin to wiggle uncomfortably in his seat.  Then it struck me, someone had taken off their shoes and I thought to myself who does that in a cinema.

With all this going on the couple that sat to my left could not stop talking all through and even with such a captivating movie I had already lost my marbles.

‘Hahaha’ a giggle escaped her lips and no stare I gave seemed to let them know that they were being extremely rude.

Gentleman: ‘Omulaba agenda okumu ta.”

Lady: ‘Denzooo anyuma owaye, naye gwe tugenda okulya nga tumaze.”

Gentleman: ‘Kakaana tumale.’

Lady: ‘Ehh banange, did you see the other chic ......’

Please be advised that these 2 individuals well dressed and put together corporate about 30 years old. I spaced out at this point and decided this cinema experience was a total disaster and all that came to mind was a statement that my mother would repeat over and over as she taught me etiquette, ‘you can take the man out of the village but you cannot take the village out of him.’

By this point my hand had been over my mouth and nasal passage for a good 10 of minutes as I braved the next 35 left to the end of the movie. By the time it was finished, I was queasy and disgusted by the whole experience and made a bee line for the exit.

I think it is safe to say we all know who my mother was talking about in this context.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

MTN Customer Care on Independence Day

As you all know Ugandans always look forward to public holidays because we get to stay home and rest from our often hectic lives. For some it is as simple as some alone time from Kampala’s daily hustle and bustle, TV time to catch up on your favourite series or have friends over for lunch.  Now for the tech geeks or social media platform junkies, a public holiday translates into uninterrupted data and telecom service from our provider. 

As I was tuned into the spirit of the holiday; patriotic and all – the social media junkie in me decided to check in and chat with a few of my friends, tweeps on my networks only to realize I was about to run out of data. For the next hour or so I enjoyed the last dregs of what I had left as I attempted to activate a new bundle.

3 hours later
With no luck at activating my data bundle through the use of my mobile money account or airtime, I was now frazzled and in dire need of data to catch up on some much needed study time. I decided to call MTN customer care and get this sorted out quickly before losing an entire day of study especially since my data bundle had finally run out an hour earlier. After a few tries (4 to be exact) of dialling in to get in touch with MTN customer care finally paid off as I was put through to a very polite male 
customer care agent.

Customer Care Agent: ‘Hello, this is MTN customer care ..... Speaking how may I help you?”

Me: ‘Hello, I have a problem. I have tried to buy a bundle using both my mobile money account and airtime for half of the day and I have failed. Is there a problem?”

Customer Care Agent: ‘I am sorry about that madam, we are currently experiencing a problem with our service and it will be rectified within 24 hours.”

Me: ‘24 hours, huh well I need to activate a bundle right now so is there a way I can do that because I wanted to use funds from my Mobile Money account.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘I am sorry; our system is down madam so that is not possible. Maybe you can load airtime and then I can assist you further.”

At the back of my mind I was thinking, while he was trying to be helpful he sounded like a broken record as he repeated himself over and over.

Me: ‘Fine, I already have about 12,000 on my account right now so activate a 200mb bundle with that then, is that possible?’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Let me have a look at your account and see if it is possible.’
Within less than 2 minutes, I received messages confirming the activation of my bundle that I had previously attempted to activate for the last 3 hours.

Me: ‘Okay so that is sorted out, so why can’t I use my mobile money account to buy airtime and this is not the first time.’ ‘I always have trouble withdrawing my funds from your mobile money agents, I have only managed to do it from Lugogo centre and this has never been rectified.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Is that so, well did you try another agent.’

Me: ‘yes I did 7 agents but I still had to go to the Lugogo MTN centre. When I asked the lady what the problem was with my account or device she said there was no issue with my account. So why they had I failed to withdraw funds and I am having the same problem now.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Well maybe you forgot your pin/ verification code.’
I chuckled in the back ground as he said this but decided that since he was so polite I would let that go.

Me: ‘No I am certain I did not.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Did you try removing and replacing your sim card and restarting your device after 5 minutes.’

Me: ‘Yes I did.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Did you try to clear any drafts and excess messages from inbox and outbox from your device.’

Me: ‘I have no drafts on my device and I have no excess sms messages – my excess sms’ come in as spam from MTN from your promotions and I delete them as and when they come in.’
Customer Care Agent: ‘Okay madam, what device do you use?’

Me: ‘Samsung Galaxy ....’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Well since you have a recurring problem you need to try using a new phone – remove your sim card from your device and put it in a new one and try again.’

Me: ‘So I need another phone?’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Yes.’

Me: ‘If I may ask - so what would be the point of me coming to your service centre to do settings on my device after purchase if I will need a new one for this service to be fully functional?’

Customer Care Agent: ‘You need to try a new phone because I cannot report this problem until we have exhausted all possibilities.’ Your problem may be very technical but until you have tried everything I cannot forward it.’

Me: ‘Okay then, let’s leave that issue then.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Oh and madam did you know that we have a promotion today where if you buy our 50mb daily data bundle you get double the bundle?’

Me: ‘No, I did not but then again I have not been online and how was I to utilise that promotion when I could not even buy a bundle in the first place.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Oh I am very sorry madam.’

Me: ‘Well have a nice day then.’

Customer Care Agent: ‘Thank you for calling MTN customer care and have a nice day.’

Now telecom providers much as it is wonderful to make a sale try to ensure that you provide a fully functional service in the first place because in my case i was stunned that the agent would even make a suggestion of the promotion when all my problems were not sorted out.
Only in Uganda

UMEME “ate” my Yaka units

On 24 th February 2020, my husband paid for my Yaka and I totally forgot to load it on our meter that night since I still had a few units...