In no particular order here we go:-
It is a beautiful country. It’s lushness and fertile soils never fail to take my breath away. Whether it is the green rolling hills, the vast banana plantations, the delicious pineapples, the dark forests filled with indigenous trees and wildlife, and the sight of Nam Lolwe (Lake Victoria), the majestic Murchison falls, All of it.
Fun Fact: Did you know Uganda has the potential to feed over 200 million people; if this was taken up seriously, it could feed the whole of sub- Saharan Africa! Yep, it is that fertile. Also, It rains here 9 out of 12 months of the year.
Ugandans are very friendly and helpful. I have gotten lost a few times and never been misled or taken advantage of. They are not perfect, I mean we have had a few distasteful experiences; but overall, you feel welcomed here. Very polite. They take time to greet you properly, a simple ‘hi’ will not suffice folks, it is a proper ‘good morning, good afternoon, good evening’.
You know the saying “There is no hurry in Africa” I believe it was coined by someone who lived in Uganda. I do not mean it in a derogatory way, but folks here and life in general is more chilled out than back home. This takes some getting used to, but i think I’ve adapted to it quite well. LOL. Also there is the usual time and ‘Ugandan time,’ it takes some getting used to to arrive on time and wait for others to arrive because you did not specify whether it was exactly 1pm or Ugandan 1 pm. Ugandans also love having fun and parties last really long. Nobody can out party a Ugandan in Eastern Africa!
When driving in the city here on a busy day; it is noisy, crazy, crowded, lots of hustle and bustle, a full sensory assault that still cannot be compared to downtown Nairobi. Back home, you could have the matatu touts banging the side of your car in traffic, shouting and urging you to move inches closer to the car around you. Here traffic is crazy, but no banging and shouting, lots of hooting yes, crazy motorcyclists, yes. But no shouting and banging! Interesting difference right?
You also have to be patient here. Do not be surprised if the person serving you suddenly pauses to engage another client while you’re still there. Oooh and that supermarket cashier taking her sweet time serving you super slowly as she chews gum and chats with her colleagues? Do not even bother asking for the manager, you will be told ‘he’s out for lunch’, even if he or she is right there. Or woe unto you if you end up staying at a hotel where the breakfast buffet food is suddenly finished and the chef cannot be bothered to make sausages or eggs as ‘he’s not in the mood’. Hahahahaha!
The language. Ugandan English,(Uglish) is very interesting. E.g when making ugali, do not be surprised to hear someone say they are ‘mingling the posho’, which is the local name for ugali. And when someone wants to tell you to move over, do not be surprised if they tell you to ‘extend’. Potatoes are called ‘Irish’ and public transport minivans are referred to as ‘taxis’. a real taxi is refereed to as ‘a for hire‘. And when you order tea, there is ‘African tea, or ‘mixed tea’, you have to specify if you want it to come with milk or not. There are even whole facebook pages dedicated to the Uglish language filled with hilarious examples.
Driving in Uganda is quite adventurous; from potholes, to motorbikes too close to you, to the drivers who do not use their turn signals. The other day, someone was in front of me indicating left to turn onto the road home, but he was not moving, I hooted twice before overtaking to find out he was on phone the whole time and was not even turning in the direction indicated! Dude couldn’t even bother to park on the side of the road. Once you are behind your steering wheel you have to be on full alert! The person in front of you may decide to stop or take a sudden turn without indicating, and a motorbike is speeding to overtake both of you and the driver behind you is hooting impatiently wondering why you just won’t drive, add to that the pedestrian walking on the road with their earphones on! Men! always be en garde.
When shopping, take your time to select what you want, nobody will rush you. And do not be surprised when helped to carry stuff out when done. This has taken a lot of getting used to on my part as back home you always feel like the shop assistant wants you to select what you want and leave; I never quite understood why I would be a bother when I am the client. *shrugs*
I like the fact that there are many supermarkets. Interestingly enough in this lockdown time, I have found the smaller supermarkets well, even better stocked, and with as much variety as the bigger chains. Also the price difference is negligible in most cases.
Ah! The food! Do you love pork? Ugandans make a mean pork bbq that is unrivalled. There is a way they prepare it that is not fatty, it is tender, smoky but not dry; I do not know how it is done but it is some of the best pork I have ever had. They make a mean cup of ginger tea too, and their coffee is among the best you will ever taste as a coffee lover. Their pineapples are the best in the world, you can take that to the bank folks! Their trademark matooke in groundnut sauce, the smoked fish luwombo, mmmh, the world famous Rolex. Not the watch, but the chapati egg roll that does not taste the same when you attempt to recreate it. You need to try it from a proper Ugandan ‘kafunda’ (that is, roadside food stall). The kabalagala, a cassava flour banana pancake, the plantains, the fresh fish from the lake, the ‘muchomo’ (bbq meat skewers), Ugandan cuisine is a complete foodies paradise.
This is not exhaustive folks. There is a lot to do and experience here, but obviously with the current pandemic we can’t move around much. Uganda is indeed the Pearl Of Africa; friendly people, fertile soils, rich in its natural beauty, cultural diversity and even the peculiarities. This is a place that has to be experienced at its pace, after all, there is no hurry in Africa right?