You’ve probably read about Uganda from; where its located, average number of people, to the times of Idi Amin, to it being a great destination in Africa to being known as the pearl of Africa. But this post is not about the history or the places to see in Uganda and all the other normal stuff you’ve heard about it but rather the quirky, interesting and fun facts about Uganda that you probably didn’t know about.
But if you still want to read more about the other side of Uganda, check out my Ugandan posts from here.
* Disclaimer* I am a proud Ugandan and I wouldn’t have it any other way! So this post is not to shame my country but rather to bring out the quirky and fun things we do that make Uganda feel like home.
Fun facts about Uganda
1. Uganda has its own time!
You’re probably now wondering which kind of time that only belongs to Uganda. I am not talking about the EAT, CAT or PST time; our time is called “Ugandan time.”
Ugandan time differs a lot from the typical international time in that when you’re setting an appointment with someone, you have to clarify whether you mean Ugandan time or international time.
International or normal time as many call it is the real-time( for example if the appointment is at 3 pm, normal time will be at 3 pm.
Ugandan time can range from an hour to 2 hours from the set time. So if the appointment is at 3 pm, and you take Ugandan time, that will be anywhere between 4 pm to 5 pm!
Shockingly on this same note, you might find everyone coming up late because they thought the other person will show up late- and the magic, they all appear at the same ‘Ugandan time’.
But if you’re a foreigner, you might be tempted to think that the appointment was changed and you were not informed since everyone else shows up at almost the same exact time.
2. We have upgraded our words!
Don’t follow? read on! In English, the word “now” has one single meaning! In Uganda ( since we’re all about diversity) we’ve upgraded the “now” word into 3 words and they all have a different meaning!
We have “now”, “just now” and “now-now”
You may be wondering what the fuss is all about since to you they’re the same words! Before I explain the meaning of the Ugandan “nows” here is the meaning of the word “now” in the English dictionary.
And here are the meanings to Ugandan “nows”
“Now”- A word that means that something should be done in a period of 2 hours to even months
“Just now”-this means that something needs to be done between 30 minutes to 7 hours.
“Now-now”– this means things are seriously getting heated up and we get the urgency in the tone, that means something has to be done that very second!
So if you’re traveling to Uganda and you need something urgently as in that very second, ‘now-now’ will get the work done.
Related post: Fun facts about Turkey
3. Twins are a big deal in Uganda!
Not in a sense that 2 kids have been born at once, we go overboard by giving them special names that can distinguish them from others! We don’t stop there, even their parents get titles immediately that portray a great level of respect!
The names given to the twins are determined by which twin is a few minutes older than the other.
The names include; Nakato for a young girl twin, Wasswa for the older boy twin, Kato for the young boy twin, Babirye for the older girl twin.
The name given to the mother of the twins is Nnalongo while the father is called Ssalongo.
Since we have so many tribes in Uganda, these are the basic names from Buganda kingdom and for other tribes, names are translated into the native languages.
You might not recall all those names but this shows you how much of a great deal twins are in Uganda.
In fact, traditionally, when twins are born, a special celebration is carried out to welcome them into the family.
On a personal note, I have siblings who are twins, and every time I tell people that I have twin siblings, they are always like ” wow, you guys are so lucky to have twins in your family”! The reason, it’s a huge deal to have twins in Uganda!
4. People are always on the move!!
One time a friend of mine who had traveled to Kampala asked me; “where are all these people going?”
The irony is, I am also still figuring it out but when I find the answer, I will come back and let you guys know!
So if you ever got a chance to pass through Kampala downtown, you realize a huge number of people ( close to thousands) coming to the city center and other thousands going out!
You might think they’re carrying out businesses but the funny thing is that this goes on every single minute of the day!
So if you’re headed to downtown Kampala, be ready to wrestle it out to get where to pass.
5. You can get a thousand titles in a minute.
One of the other interesting facts about Uganda is that you can get a thousand titles in a minute if someone wants you to pay for their commodity/ service.
This is basically common during transactions! For example; A taxi conductor can call you names from; Sister, Aunt, Nurse, Professor, Doctor to Engineer as a means of convincing you to board his taxi instead of the counterparts’!
So for a foreigner, if you hear this, you might wonder how one person can have all those contradicting titles, but in the real sense, that person might not even hold any of those titles but rather a selling language.
But Yeap, that’s how creative we are! Though this normally happens in the informal sector.
6. Uganda is unofficially known as the Matooke republic
When you travel to Uganda, the most common local food you’ll hear about is Matooke.
We pride ourselves so much in having matooke and that’s why a photo of Matooke used to be the face of one of the Uganda shillings note.
When I asked a few friends that don’t come from Uganda, what they think of the taste of Matooke, to them it’s tasteless and it’s only the source that makes it taste better! You can imagine the shock on my face, because I mean it’s the best local food you’ll ever eat in Uganda! But I try to believe that they have just not yet understood the satisfaction you get from eating matooke.
Ps: It is referred to as the ” real food” in most areas of Uganda.
You’ll find many people tell you how they’ve not eaten food in the past week! This doesn’t mean that they’ve not been eating for a week, but what it means is that they’ve not eaten matooke for the last week but rather eating other kinds of foods.
7. You can buy anything on the streets of Uganda.
Ugandan people are too smart and hardworking in that any space or place can be a transactional area.
Don’t have time or just feeling lazy to go to the famous shopping mall that is hours away from you? Just head over to the streets of Kampala! From clothes, food, stationery, groceries, electronics to anything you can think of, you can get it from the streets! So just write up your shopping list and hit up the streets for your home’s shopping.
Pro tip* In some cases, the quality might be less, sometimes the same, or in other rare cases even better than those in big shopping malls.
8. The word “funny” has 2 different meanings in Uganda
Just like the word “now” that we looked at above, the word “Funny” has 2 different meanings in Uganda!
Funny as understood by the rest of the word- Causing laughter, humor or amusement
Funny as understood by Ugandans – Acting weird and in a less appropriate manner.
The meaning of the word “funny” entirely depends on the context of the situation.
9. We don’t wear a Rolex, we eat it.
You’ve probably heard of the saying, Ugandans don’t wear a Rolex, they eat it!
It is absolutely true, what we do with the Rolex is, roll it up and straight to the mouth.
So here’s is the difference between the international Rolex and the Ugandan Rolex.
An international Rolex is a fancy watch while a Ugandan Rolex is a “street food” that stole millions of Ugandans’ hearts (including myself).
The name Rolex came from Roll eggs; Roll eggs = Rolex.
Ugandans could not get enough of the Rolex that the Uganda tourism board created an annual Rolex festival that is meant to celebrate the said street food and also as a way of promoting food tourism in Uganda.
So what exactly is a Ugandan Rolex? A Ugandan Rolex is a roll that is made by rolling an omelet inside a chapati (similar to a tortilla but better)! These days Rolexes have even been upgraded to chicken and beef. So instead of using eggs, any of those two is rolled in a chapati to get either a chicken Rolex or a beef Rolex. So if you’re a food lover, this should be another reason to travel to Uganda.
Photo credit @ Daily Monitor
10. Ugandan parents are the most annoying people but we still love them.
Don’t be too quick to judge me on this, I mean, I love my parents so much like nothing in this world, so don’t get me wrong. I am going to explain why Ugandan parents are the most annoying people as a growing kid.
To make sure you get where I am coming from, I will lay down a few examples, and by the end, I know you’ll agree with me that even though they are the sweetest and most loving people on earth, they are also the most annoying as a growing kid.
- A Ugandan parent will call you from kilometers away just to bring her something that is 10 centimeters away from her! Talk about growing in an African home lol
- A parent will spank you and tell you to shut up because you have no reason for crying. This is the funniest part; she’ll say “keep crying and I will give you a reason to cry about ” like she hasn’t given you a reason already smh!
- Talking back to your mum while she’s urging with you is as disrespectful as keeping quiet! I mean what is a kid supposed to do in this case! (Yeap, growing up with Ugandan parents).
I could go on and on as to why I say this but by now you get the point so I will just stop here.
So there you have it, those were the fun and interesting facts about Uganda that you probably didn’t know about. Go ahead and share this post so that others can also enjoy it like you did.
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