The Ugandan Meaning


A “project manager” is a little-known person who steals donor money to share with his political godfathers.

“Fashion designer” means any female who can afford to hire a hall for her “exhibition” and has wealthy parents to cajole a
few VIPs to attend the “grand” show, which gets extensive media coverage.

A “political heavyweight” is a malicious politician who is bent on destroying a rival politician from the same tribe with whom he or she is competing for their party leader’s attention.

“I am a Member of the First Family” means I am one of the few thousand distant relatives to in-laws or cousins of the real
First Family.

A “pastor” can be anybody who constructs a makeshift church and gets up a congregation of more than three members. He
becomes “bishop” when he builds a second shack down the road under a junior pastor whom he supervises tightly.

A “supermarket” is any grocery shop. But a “shopping arcade” is a bigger, rowdy market with a roof where fake Chinese
goods are sold. A “shopping mall” is slightly different — it means a crowded concrete market where traders complain
daily about lack of a toilet, but fear the ruthless landlord more than the riot police.

A “doctor” means anybody who works at a hospital and dresses better than a “professor,” who is a witchdoctor from
neighboring country.

“Diplomat” means a smart white person; a tourist is a casually dressed white.

An “NGO” is an idea being promoted by any broke fellow with a cut-and-paste project proposal for seeking foreign assistance.

A “convoy” means two cars moving dangerously with hazard “double indicators” on with siren blazing and carrying a minor officer.

A “presidential advisor” is one of the one hundred no-longer-employable fellows on state “welfare” who spends a good number of years without talking to the president.

“My container” means a few kilos of imports in someone else’s consignment awaiting to be cleared due to unpaid Customs dues.

“My site” is a half-developed plot belonging to a friend, usually shown to people you need to impress.

A “fiancée” is the person you met yesterday and suspect to have rich parents. A “mzee” is any potential customer regardless of age.

“Family friends” means a prominent family whose kids you went to school with though they no longer remember you, while

“Uncle/Auntie” refers to a wealthy acquaintance.

“Do you know me?” is a way of telling people in a bar that you have the phone number of a bodyguard to a senior security officer.

“Health-conscious” means walking around with a bottle of “mineral” water, but “very health-conscious” is telling everyone how you stopped taking sugar long ago.

Now you can confidently mingle in Kampala without anybody detecting that you are not one of us.


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