Family reunions are both a joy and pain and by pain, I mean all the organizing that goes into it before the big day. All in all, they are well worth it when you look back at all the memories that you have built over the years from deliberately making time to come together and bond, it is priceless.
However, I must focus on the preparation process that leads up to the actual event. My family and I recently decided to have an all sister’s get together as we always do once a year but this time we wanted something different. We eventually decided on having a roast/ barbeque themed lunch to limit the cooking required. I thought this would be simple, never did it occur to me that this could all become a disaster if all the fine details were not followed up.
To cut a long story short, it was the night before the get-together and we did not have a barbeque guy for the day and it was not for trying. We had previously worked with someone a couple of years ago and secured a number of another just in case but the former did not confirm while the latter was not reachable via mobile phone (his phone was turned off). This then led to a dicey conversation between my pal and I who needed to troubleshoot and sort out our 13 hungry children and 6 adults on the way to the lunch in 4 hours.
So I woke up this pal of mine at 8:00am and showed up at his gate at 9:00am and we headed off to Mukono in search of his barbeque guy who would be closer to our get together venue (Mukono). Let’s just say that we bounced around picking one item, then another, to his friends home and then to the market. By 12:00 noon I had the 6kgs of pork and 5 whole chicken cleaned ready for roasting. To cut a long story short, we found the barbeque expert in Mukono straight from a church charity run and ready to dive in and sort out our predicament.
My Friend: ‘’Sebo, nga wabula (Sir, as you are lost?)
Barbeque guy: ‘’Neda, nabade ku churchi lani.’’ (No, I was at a church run) Now he said ‘’lani’’ but meant church-run forgive the mother tongue influence he is a Muganda by tribe. Every Ugandan knows what I mean.
My Friend: ‘’Kale, we have meat to roast here in Mukono and bagenyi are arriving anytime.’’ (bagenyi - guests)
Me: ‘’Yes, actually in 30 minutes. Let me take you to the house so we get started with marinating and set up. So, do you have the sigiri for roasting?’’
Barbeque guy: ‘’ Neda, naye njakuyiya.’’ (No, but I will kuyiya – find a way/ figure something out).
You must be wondering why I was asking him questions in English and he was answering in Luganda. The barbeque guy is educated up to about S.6 but prefers to use his local dialect which I clearly understand so I did not see an issue.
Me: ‘’Kuyiya, ne kiki – figure something out! How?’’
Barbeque guy: ‘’Kakana, tu tambule abagenyi bali mukubo.’’ (Relax, let’s go the guests are on the way.)
I was amused that he was now very concerned about ‘’our’’ guests who were about to arrive especially given that he did not know any one of them and had made us look for him for nearly 2 hours. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to witness when we arrived and started prepping the pork and chicken for roasting.
The barbeque guy dug a hole in the un-landscaped section of my sister’s compound and asked for ash which they laid down with charcoal from a lit stove that we provided. This was being done as my friend and I were prepping the marination that consisted of freshly grated ginger, garlic, pineapple, onions, royco mix, salt and sima mbili. I must say that the bricks served quite well in containing the heat needed for the fire to remain a light and the pork and chicken were roasted really well on skewers over the metal rack ordinarily used over a charcoal grill.
The moral of the story for me was that there is always something to learn each day from even the simplest of people. Keep learning so that you never tire and in the words of my new roasting buddy as he calmed me down at the start as we set up,
Barbeque guy: ‘’Kakana, tujakikolako bino si binji, temulya nga ba masasi/majja.’’ (Relax, we will work this out since this is not that much meat, after all, you do not eat roasted meat like – in similar quantities to my army men.)