Uganda had eight presidents between 9 October 1962 and 26 January 1986. With eight years under his belt, General Idi Amin was the longest consecutive serving president at that time. General Bazilio Olara-Okello was president for two days. There’s been only one man at the helm after those eight presidents. I don’t have to tell you his name.
In many traditions, girls kneel to greet elders and men. It’s a culturally acceptable practice. Some of my Kenyan friends found this insane. Some feminists have raised an alarm on this too.
In the 70’s and 80’s during the time of unthinkable political turmoil in Uganda, Kiswahili was a language used to brutalize citizens. Parents became weary of their children learning the language. That’s why many of us who grew up in the 90’s can’t speak Kiswahili.
Kabalagala is a place in Kampala. It’s also a snack. Kabalagala.
Fiction and Fun
This is an edited rehash of a story I wrote about three years ago. It needed a home.
If you’ve never been to Wandegeya, what on earth are you are still waiting for? Are you waiting for the world to come to an end? Come on, this is the capital of the capital, everything starts and stops here. Call it the alpha and omega of places in Kampala, the corner which never sleeps. Let me tell you something about this place.
Legend has it that back in the early 19th Century, there lived a chief named Ndegeya; untouchable, egoistic, and proud, chief of Lusozi’esoka (The first hill). How he became chief at twenty three is a story of stupid courage. He was defiant, non-conforming to the rules of the greater kingdom at that time. He’d argue with his king, the Kabaka, on how the kingdom was being run. No one argued with the king. No one. Except for our protagonist, Ndegeya. The king’s right-hand men and clan heads thought he was treacherous. They thought what he was doing was treasonous and inciting. He did some underground organizing, convinced a lot of subjects to believe in his cause and he broke away from the mighty Buganda Kingdom, an act of utter bravery, creating his own island chiefdom which his subjects eventually called Ewa’ndegeya.
Ewa’ndegeya blossomed into a self-sustaining chiefdom and became the envy of mighty Buganda kingdom. The then Kabaka tried to attack and re-annex this place but Ndegeya’s men, daringly brutal fighters as they were, sometimes chaotic, fought tooth and nail, defeating the Kabaka’s troops at a battle that history doesn’t recall. It rained bows, arrows, and spears for one whole week. Yes, both sides suffered heavy casualties and deaths but Ndegeya’s troops prevailed. How Ndegeya’s men pulled off this victory is still a mystery to this day.
Chief Ndegeya was a nut head sometimes. He used chickens for target practice. When he saw these birds, the roosters walking around his compound, he’d pick up his bow and arrow, shut his eyes and shoot. By the time the chickens realized they were dead, they already were on fire, being grilled over a three-stone fireplace.
A champion for oral tradition, Chief Ndegeya would sit his younger subjects down at his large palace and tell them stories. He gave them an education, an informal education which empowered both boys and girls. You thought gender equality is a recent philosophy, didn’t you? No, my friends. Someone was already practicing this centuries ago.
The chief loved to party. In Ewa’ndegeya, you could beat drums, dance, sing, make music all night every night and no one bothered you. Chief Ndegeya was crazy about having a good time and he’d hang out every night, dancing his legs off under the stars, lit by a fireplace. He and his subjects were one.
When the colonialists invaded this place, they couldn’t say the word Ewa’ndegeya. They called it Wandegeya. And so it became, written, signed, stamped, and sealed. Wandegeya. Today, the legacy of chief Ndegeya continues in this place. Wandegeya boasts of the best grilled chicken anywhere in Kampala, hosts arguably the best academic institution in this country (Makerere University), has an exciting nightlife, and some claim is home to some irrationally messed up young people.