Keep at it! Ug is an experience!

Coming from abroad for many of us, returnees, we look like everyone else however, our thought process is totally different from the host citizens. This is understandable because as a Global Nomad, ours is to make sure that we adapt to each situation we find ourselves. We face various uncertainties and also have imaginary fears that we think about constantly.

I made mention of the fears. Some are real and some are far-fetched very real in the mind dynamics. For instance, the fears stem from not having enough funds to make the dreams on the motherland happen to the aspect that as I have no tangible assets I am a failure.

Success in my part of the world, Uganda, varies from which tribe you hail from, as in the pastoralists they will want to see me with a herd of cows and the agriculturalists a modest house with a shamba (farm).

Others is in the number of children and wife or wives.

Either way success is different from place to place within Uganda. As for me success is the ability to follow on a progressive ideal and seeing it through. Having that dream and making it happen now that I am on the motherland that is success in and of itself.

My life journey has been interesting indeed and my youth very colourful. Having been born two years after independence, the country has gone through upheavals from one generation to the next. The one thing that has remained steadfast has been faith in the forms of the various religions and beliefs.

What I have never understood is the aspect of citing God in everything. For instance, when someone is faced with an issue you will hear something like ‘this is how the things of the good Lord move and work.’ What does that really mean? To me it smirks of someone absolving themselves of responsibilities of making things happen. Go out there and hustle if need be however, do not give excuses.

The other is the road or rather driving ethics.  The impunity of the road driving culture and mindset is sapping. It is extremely stressful driving and one gets home with an actual headache.


One of the wonders of driving in the city of Kampala is the roundabout. My understanding has always been that when a vehicle is in the roundabout you always wait for the cars that are coming from your right hand side. In Uganda we drive on the left hand side of the road and most of our vehicles have the steering wheel on the right hand side. Anyways the right hand side rule doesn’t count on the city roundabouts. It all depends on the maze and dexterity in how you manoeuvre in and out of that roundabout. For many like me that wait for the cars on the right hand side to pass, the taunts, the hooting and abuse one gets is amazing.

The motorcycles, commonly known as Boda Bodas, are an enigma. It is an amazing way to move in the traffic congestion, however, one wonders if they have any rules that they follow. They ride towards oncoming cars, the ride on road islands, they ride on pavements, on stop lights they keep on riding through the red lights. They are the law onto themselves and they are a cause of many road accidents. Yes, they are convenient, the trouble is that they compete for the same space of road, with bigger vehicles that sometimes do not see the Boda Bodas and fatalities do happen. The referral hospital, Mulago hospital, has created an entire wing just to deal with the accident victims of Boda Bodas accidents.

The anxiety in driving a vehicle in Kampala, comes from the aspect that the Boda Bodas overtake you from the left and right as you are on the road. This can be bewildering because you have to make sure that you do not crash into them.

The other issue is the taxi minibuses(matatu). They too create their own lane either on the left hand side of the road or on the right hand side of the road of the vehicle that you are driving or being driven. They overtake cars even when oncoming cars are driving towards them. The road accidents that we witness in the country are because of such reckless, daredevil drivers, with little or no regard to the lives of the passengers they carry in their taxi minibuses(matatu).


Boda Bodas & Matutu in Kampala City, Uganda

If one is to use the driving culture of the city to gauge the mindset of the drivers, it is chaotic, dare-devil tactics, no regard to human life until it is too late and there is no regard to the rules and regulations of the traffic code. The battles one faces on a daily basis because of Boda Bodas is immense this is because of their strategic force on the political landscape and later regulating them becomes an issue. For the reason that of high unemployment the use of Boda Bodas reduces the statistics of the unemployed hence their political clout. Their organizations are a force to be reckoned with. Woe betide any politician that wishes to do away with them because of traffic congestion. They are here to stay on the political landscape as well as being part of the traffic disorder.


4 thoughts on “Keep at it! Ug is an experience!

  1. The Nomad
    Thanks for some interesting stuff on a returnees view of Uganda. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the traffic chaos. I remember thinking I’d only ever drive in Kampala if I wanted to die but as time went by I realised that I had to develop the same attitude as everyone else in Kampala, forget all the lessons I learnt from my driving instructor and get on with it. It’s actually surprising that not more people die on the roads of Kampala but it could be that the system is such that you learn to look out for more hazards and therefore adjust your driving accordingly. The Boda Boda guys are getting better and the cars are learning to share the roads with them. Now if you lock your doors and keep out the opportunist robbers, you’ll be well on your way to turning native.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the poignant observations. Most especially the locking of the doors. I tend to forget that many a time.

      I find driving in Kampala very stressful. I’m no longer the good driver that I once was infact I’ve become a bit of a monster. This is to keep up with my fellow motorists.


  2. I can relate. Perhaps this is a universal theme. Taking on the traffic insanity of Vietnam on a motorbike after almost twenty years of sterile roads in Australia has been a learning curve. A steep, steep learning curve.

    Liked by 1 person

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