You’ve got to love Ugandans for how they approach this thing called love. There's so much that can be said about Ugandan love from the vibe that is thrown and the phrases we use to the tears and the wild ride of romance we witness.
I have had my fair share of loving in Kampala. I think I have a pretty educated opinion on what it looks like. So, let's talk about some interesting commonalities I have noted while navigating romance in the capital of enjoyment.
I’ve got this one looming question: Do Ugandans actually know how to vibe?
The act of stringing together perfecting worded sentences in the hopes of grabbing the attention of a love interest/lay interest.
The playful act of showing interest in an individual that has caught your eye (or your heart or your loins depending on the situation),
Odes spoken or written in glory and pursuit of an individual that one is interested in romantically or sexually.
See, the problem with a lot of our countrymen (and women) is that they will approach you, repeatedly tell you that you are attractive with the usual, “You are beautiful.” “You’re cute.” and assume their work is done.
Even worse, if you’re out wawelu-ing, they’ll buy you a drink without uttering a word and assume you get it. As a recipient of many a-drink, all you have done is quench my thirst and save me a few shillings…nothing more.
Where’s the poetry? The romance? The sickeningly sweet and tasty nothings? I would like to see, hear and read more vibe that makes me go, “excuse me as I gulp a drink because you’re making me thirsty” instead of the “let me sip my drink and act like you don’t exist”. The latter happens more often than not.
Perhaps I’ve just been hanging around the wrong crowd, the kind that don’t know a real vibe if it slapped them in the face.
However, I must add the disclaimer that there are those out there who may not be able to lay it that vibe on thick in English but hehe, allow them the space to spit it in their native tongue and hoho, you’ll be left clutching your pearls, short of breath and magnetised.
If you’ve never heard this phrase used either with you or any of your friends, praise the heavens. “Our wife” is that term that has a reputation of being stomach-turning.
His friends will call you our wife from the moment they meet you. They will call you “our wife” even when they know this ninja has a girlfriend of 4 years that’s steady-dreaming about that title for herself. They will call you “our wife” even though their bro has a whole family and a ring he hides.
Nothing is certain
You will meet his mum, his dad, his sisters; Facetime, WhatsApp video call and Zoom his favourite cousin who lives in Sweden and the other one in the Netherlands; give him money for his ventures; have Easter in his village; the family dog that he adores will grow to know and love you; he’ll tattoo your name on his wrist; and you’ll still not end up together.
You will invest in her business; drive her everywhere she needs and wants to go; meet her big brother and that one cousin who’s like an older sister; her best friends will tell you how you’re the best thing in her life; exist completely out of your element; go on trips together; enjoy premium birthday and valentine’s day gifts; and you’ll still not end up together.
These streets are rough. Nothing is certain until you hold a marriage function. Even then, nothing is certain. Because some of these dudes will continue to galivant the streets of Kampala telling girlies that he was forced to marry you, that this arranged marriage serves his parents, that he’s in it only for the kids. The girlies will lie about how they don’t love their husbands because he cheated but forced by the family to stay or “if only they had shown up a few months earlier”.
Shine your eye! Always!
Everyone has some kind of advice to give.
Cohabit, don’t cohabit.
Roll around in the sheets before you’re bound by the ring. Also, don’t.
You must meet the parents before you commit completely. Only meet the parents when you’re being introduced as engaged to be married.
Continue to date other people even while in a committed relationship until you actually walk down the aisle. But then, maybe don’t.
There’s so much “advice” out there. When you think deeply and carefully, it’s all based on individual values and beliefs. If I’ve learnt anything about life, it’s the fact that there’s no template. Cohabiting might work for one couple and be the beginning of the end for another.
So do you, fam!
You and your partner should figure out what works for y’all.
The church loves marriage (not so much the health of the relationship…sometimes)
I’ve been part of the church community long enough to learn that lots of religious leaders are marriage-peddlers…not all of them but most of them. The idea that everyone on earth is meant to get married is jammed so far into people’s minds and souls that they begin to live and breathe "soulmate".
And it’s not just the church or other religious groups. We all know those chaps that love the idea of being married for themselves and others, sometimes seemingly, a lot more than they love the health of the marriage.
We know those people who love hearing the “we’ve been married for over 10 years” but don’t care whether that’s been a healthy 10 years. There need to more discussions about this...me thinks.
Separation, divorce and singledom (past a certain age).
People be asking, “what is wrong with you that you got divorced” instead of “what was wrong with the marriage” or “what’s wrong with you that you have refused to get married?” or “who bewitched you?” instead of “what do you want for your life?”.
Too many of us still idolize the good old days when marriages lasted longer. 🙄(eyes rolling out of sockets) A large portion of those people never ask whether those long-lasting marriages were happy and healthy.
This is what I think: separation or even divorce doesn’t always mean that the marriage failed, it sometimes means the love ran its course, other times it means that these people couldn’t find a middle ground that didn’t compromise themselves and their values too much that they lost touch of who they were. There’s so much nuance. Very few people care to notice it.
When it comes to singledom (past a certain age), do you, fam.
Don’t let the stresses of family and peers force you into a Ugandan horror story instead of a love story. Peace of mind over everything. I fully endorse people choosing to be unmarried. Times have changed.
Ka-high school romance
If you didn’t have a high school romance, did you live life? Did you?
That high school romance is a module in learning about life: “Introduction to Romance” or "Introduction to the many ways your heart can break" depending on how things panned out for you.
Do you know what it means to have someone look out for you during break time (if you were in the same school)?
To have someone who wrote you letters every week (my people from single-sexed schools muliwa!) and be the talk of the “pavement” (we didn’t have streets) for receiving letters from a certain school?
To have someone to keep you company during dankes?
I’ve said this before, but perhaps that crush from high school was supposed to be your "soulmate", your one and only, your sweet gonja 😏 but you decided to follow all the rules and now look at you…single and searching.
Anyway, it’s not by force because me as me, I sometimes look at who and what my crushes turned into and I’m like eeeww. Thank God I dodged that bullet!
But even with all this jazz I’m sharing about your high school crush possibly being your soulmate, I’m that person who gives high-school-sweethearts-turned-married-couple-and-neither-have-ever-dated-anyone-else types questioning side eyes. Yes, I’m one of those people who STRONGLY believes that you should date A LOT before doing the whole “for better for worse” thing.
All the misogynists and male chauvinists in the building shout “hell ya”
Me as me, sometimes I question whether some of these men actually like women. A lot of men be acting like they only want women for their bodies or the esteem we give them by being at their arm or the sex or the urge to show off to other men as if a woman is a new car. I get this vibe a lot.
Do some of these men actually like women: their interests, their company, conversations, their insights. Do they like women…as people? I ask this...because some of these men really don't be acting like they like women.