The Secret

All Ugandans are guilty of being hospitable, but the Baganda tribe takes it too far.

I know no one wants to talk about it, but I still blame the Baganda for the Colonisation of Uganda. After the Arab Traders in 1845, John Hannington Speke arrived in Buganda in 1862. He was a British Explorer, credited for the discovery of the source of the Nile. If the Baganda hadn’t been so nice to him, maybe others wouldn’t have followed.

But that is not what this story is about. I actually have nothing against Baganda. I have lived on their land for twenty years. If anything, I am more a Muganda than I am a Mukiga in upbringing. My first foster mom of over ten years was a Muganda.

On top of high discipline and hospitality, Baganda are ruthlessly clean. Mother made us do chores to perfection. She was a hard worker. There is nothing she asked us to do that she couldn’t do herself. The floors had to be mopped till they were slippery smooth. She wanted the saucepans and kettle scrubbed so well that she could see her reflection in them. The beds were laid so straight without a wrinkle. Our compund was full of trees and flowers, but it was always spotless.

Top on her list of expertise was cooking. To this day, I have not met anyone that matches mom’s skill. There is nothing grown on Ugandan soil that he can not cook-and cook well.

At home, mom always set aside eggs and a considerable amount of sugar for visitors. She also put away passion fruits and oranges in a basket for the same purpose. Visitors coming and not taking fresh juice was unheard of.

This kindness to strangers is common in Buganda. One time in 2013, my brother came to pick me up for holidays on his motorbike. On our way to his place, it started raining out of the blue. At first, Morgan thought he could drive through it, but then it got worse with thunder and hailstones. Morgan started looking for a place to park.

He spotted a house not far from the main road. Morgan packed in it’s compound and we ran off with my bag to the shed for shelter. Though we were okay on the verandah, the oldish couple welcomed us inside. It was past lunch time but they still offered us food. What I recall is the hot, perfectly pressed matooke. Almost as if they were expecting guests. In the house hang a framed picture of the Kabaka. To this day, I never forgot their kindness.

A bit more recently, my place was being re-painted and I needed a place to crash for a few days. Considering the economy and several other factors, I couldn’t just about go anywhere. More than anything, I wanted a comfortable place where my presence wouldn’t inconvenience my hosts.

By the time I finished thinking, I was down to only two options. The first was to go home, but that meant I had to answer several personal questions. Questions about my finances, livelihood, jobs and if there was a special gentleman in my life. Unfortunately, the genuine responses to all the above were not so promising at the moment.

My last and best option was to crash at Annie’s place who stays with her sister’s family. We met through Ushering at church in 2019. Her sister and her husband gave consent even when they did not know me. Not to mention that my request was made on such short notice.

As far as comfort and care go, they outdid themselves. I felt at home from day one. They offered me a whole room to myself. The meals were exceptionally prepared with such love and effort. Above all, I was grateful for the fresh air. The place was beautifully calm and tranquil. You don’t get that here in Kampala. Spending time with that family melted my heart: the kindness of my hosts and such well behaved kids. Did I mention they are Baganda? Well, now you have it.

As years and trends come and go, a few things remain constant. The powerful effect of good manners; and the kindness to strangers will never go out of fashion. Baganda are selflessly nice and generous people.

The End.

Disclaimer: The name(s) that feature in this story are fictitious. They were made up to protect the identity and privacy of those involved.

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  1. Julius Natuhwera

    July 9, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Yah they’re really nice people. They even deserve credit for inviting the whites through the queen.

    1. Echoes Over Coffee

      July 10, 2022 at 5:48 am

      That’s a very controversial topic. Colonialism had it’s advantages, but very uncountable disadvantages. At the end of the day, the whites were here for their personal gain and Interests.

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