Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Taxis have got nothing on Campusers.


Many of you who have travelled by taxi to or from anywhere must have experienced this problem - the supper loud passenger. So here we were leaving Kamwokya taxi stage and there was a young lady of university going age who was seated by the window taking in the scenery as we went along heading towards Ntinda. After a couple of minutes her phone rang and it is the conversation that ensued that made my day or rather the day of all the passengers in the nearly full taxi.

Campuser: “Hello! Ndi mu town. Gwe oli wa? Toli eka kubanga nabadde kumpi ate njagade okulaba.” (Hello, I am in town, where are you? You are not home …. I wanted to see you.)

Campuser: “Oli ku Campus… Ndi kumpi oku tuka! (She paused and listened for further details) campus eya Kyambogo? (You are on campus … I am close by I am about to arrive)

This back and forth went on for a couple of minutes with her trying to convince the person on the other end that she really was on her way.

Campuser: “Nanti omanyi, natambude ku kyalo okulaba mamaa wange. Kati ndi mukubo”“Ndi kumpi, ... kale nvudde Jinja kati ntuse Jinja Road mu kubo naye nkomawo.” (I had travelled up country to see my mother but now …. i am close by I on my way back from Jinja around Jinja Road.)

Mature male Passenger: “hhmmm ehh wano Jinja Road aha abana ba nakuzino.” (hhmm this is Jinja Road aha children of these days.)

3 minutes later

Campuser: “Neda sigenda kujja mu lecture.” (No I am not going to come for the lecture.)

Mature male Passenger: Eh owaye (Chuckled under his breath and let out a sneer as he shook his head from side to side in disbelief.)

Camuser: “Eh na kubide simu …., mbadde nerabidde naye nkoye nyo na kera okutambula okuva Jinja.” (Oh I called you …… I had forgotten about that but I am very tired I travelled quite early from Jinja.)

It only dawned on me then that this young girl was probably calling a classmate to hang out at her home which was somewhere in proximity to Ntinda since that was the stage which we were fast approaching, only to be asked about her attendance of class. I grinned a little and my mind wondered off to my university days to a scenario quite similar to this kind.

We were seated at a restaurant adjacent to our faculty for lunch after which one of my classmate’s phones rang loudly and she quickly silenced us.

Aida: “Hello, sweetie. How are you I have been very busy with class and course work? Nanti i just walked out of a lecture. Can you please hold on my lecturer is talking to me.” (She checks her phone and there was another call waiting and hesitated for a while and did not take it.)

Me: “Aida could we go or we will miss getting good seats for class.” (She shushed me quiet.)

Aida: “Ahhh now also this one, he keeps disturbing me and yet he does want to give me money for airtime.” (She said this as she quickly declined the call and returned to her other call.)

Campuser 1: “Eh Aida your phone keeps buzzing.” (She paid no attention to the comment continued flirting with the gentleman on the other line)

Aida: “Tonight …..ahhh okay! What time but i need airtime, money to photocopy some notes and do my hair. Remember I told you last time nanti I want to look hot for you.”

Campuser 2: “Eh owaye, that had better be Daddy or …..” (This was said to imply her actual father in a satirical manner.)

After her call Aida checked her call logs and found that she had 6 missed calls and a message that read something to this effect.

Mukwano, nga njagala okulaba. Nga tokwata simu yange Njagala okutwala out. (Friend - to imply intimate friend, I want to see you but why are you not answering my calls? I want to take you out.)

Before Aida could even respond the phone rang once more and she rejected the call, I thought this would be the last of it only for the phone to ring again and this time Aida looked like she was considering taking the call. But first she had very explicit instructions for us to carry out.

Aida: “Mwe kati you are going to help me. I do not want to talk to this one I took his money and now he wants to see me but I do not want his rubbish. He is so old and he has a big stomach and he is so ugly he looks like my father naye he is chasing me. So you are going to make sounds like we are in a taxi down town and there is a lot of traffic and we cannot hear. Kale let me answer now.”

Me: “What! Aida are you okay?”

Aida: “Yes, just like we are in a taxi and it is very busy like in the park okay. Now I am going to answer when i tell you then you make the appropriate noise.”

She said this as she nodded and gave us the necessary signals but none of us thought she was serious at all; little did we know we were going to get the shock of our lives in a couple of minutes as she answered her mobile phone.

Aida: “Hello, mukwano ki sweetheart. No no I did not hear my phone ring I am in a taxi going upcountry I am out of town.” “Ehh hello, I cannot hear you properly.”

From nowhere Aida leaned forward and hit me on the arm.

Me: You… that hurt! (I exclaimed while wincing in pain)

I had not been paying attention to her and had diverted the rest of the girls to a fashion magazine display that was now in front of us. She had retaliated by hitting me on the wrist as means to remind me of our cue to assist in her well thought out plan.

Aida: “Make taxi sounds.” (She said in a hush tone as she covered the mouth piece of her phone.)

Me: “What!” (Aida eyed me and repeated her instruction in a firmer tone with pleading eyes)

Campuser 1: “Jinja, Kamuli,….  Nyabo ogende beyi …..” (Jinja, Kamuli….. madam are you heading in our direction…the price is…)

Aida: “Yes, yes..” (She nodded vigorously as if to further rally us on and offer encouragement)

Me: “Tugenda, tugenda, sebo ogenda owaye kanvemu njagala okugenda mu taxi endala nanti temugenda.’’ (Are going, Sebo are going, let me get out since you are not going anywhere.)

Next thing I knew I was doing both male and female voice depictions to respond to myself and the other girl’s conversations as they were now other taxi passengers.

Campuser 2: “Owaye Charlie, jangu wano ompe amazi ekyokunwa. Zibera meka…..” (Young man! come here and give me some water to drink how much does it cost?)

Aida: “Mukwano  I cannot hear you, nanti tuli mukubo mu taxi.” (Friend I cannot hear you since i am on the journey upcountry using a noisy taxi)

Campuser 1: “Conductor maso awo.” (Conductor I am getting out just ahead.)

Aida: “Eh I have to get out and let a lady pass, eh but the network is so bad and I have a lot of luggage so I cannot hold the phone for long.”

Me: “Quack, quack,….”

As soon as she said luggage I instantaneously I began to quack like a duck and crow like a cock but it got so hilarious that the minute I started to quack the 2 other girls could not take it anymore and just burst into laughter which was punctuated with t heir ranting of passengers boarding and alighting different taxis. To this day that is one of my fondest memories of my undergraduate degree days, it is a priceless memory.

Note: The names used in this account are not actual so as to protect the identity of the young ladies.
For my non Ugandan readers, the term Campuser is for a University going students either a young lady or gentleman but is more preferably used for a female. (Ugandan slang)

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.