(Craft It’s new foreign correspondent in Kampala)
#1. I’m writing this from the balcony of my room
At Chobe Safari Lodge in the Northern part of Uganda, in the middle of Murchison Falls National Park.
I can see the flow of water on the surface of the River Nile.
There are islands of trees close to each other on the river, like clusters of houses in a slum. Except, these ones are green and are more appealing to the eyes. I see shrubs by the riverbank, thorn trees with branches and leaves that look well fed. There is no way they can lack anything with the Nile close to them and shit of hippos feeding them.
Birds are tweeting, the sky is white and grey, a little bit of blue.
The air here is cooler than what’s in Kampala.
#2. I’m here for an office retreat
A weekend out of town, a treat for the hard work and effort put in during the last financial year.
But before I got here, I received an email. It read in part, “Choose who you want to sleep with”. I kid you not. My mind ran astray. I shook my head and stole a laugh.
I had a set of options to pick from.
They were all men. I had to pick a man to sleep with. Insane, isn’t it?
Anyway, what that email meant was for me to choose a roommate. I didn’t choose one so by automatic allocation, the admin paired me with my giraffe-like friend, Tom.
#3. The thing is, in Kampala, people use lingo you might not easily understand
Because it’s part of Ugandan English. Uglish, as we call it.
Someone will walk to you in the morning and say, “Well done”. They’ll smile and give you a happy ray of a face. What they mean is, “Hi, good morning.”
In other contexts, it means you’ve done a great job.
Your response? Always say thank you and smile back.
#4. There’s other lingo used too
When a friend tells you “You’re lost”, don’t spin your head out of position. What they’re saying is, they’ve taken long without speaking to you or seeing you. Although it isn’t as endearing as telling you they miss you, it’s normal English for us.
Do you know how to ask for your change from the rolex guy in Wandegeya?
Simple. Tell him, “Boss, my balance.” He’ll hand your change over.
That’s how you survive in Kampala.
#5. The sound of the flow of River Nile is as consistent as it was when I got here
I’ve turned on the lights on my balcony and there are lake flies coming to share in the love of this brightness.
I need to enter my room now now.
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