The Quirks of Living in Africa

Africa Sunset

Honestly, one of the most common questions Africa Boy gets is this: “What are some of the funniest things you’ve seen in Uganda?” Well, after living here for 15.5 years, I have a few that are almost sure to make you laugh.

  1. Un-logical Jams. One of the strangest things we find in Uganda is the jam. When we read the label, we find that it says “Made in Uzbekistan”, “Grown in Albania”, “To be sold in Egypt”, “Not for sale in the United States”, but being bought in Uganda. Like, is the label a fake, or did the jam travel through three continents, avoiding another, and fly well over three thousand miles to reach the little shop in Kiwoko, Uganda?
  2. Los Angeles Rams: Super Bowl LIII Winners. Yes, you read that correctly, and if you aren’t a sports fan, then just know that the Rams did not beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots won 10-3. But, in preparation for the coming game, shirt makers print off both sides of the game so that the instant the game is over, they’ll have hats and shirts ready. So, when the Patriots won, the shirts that were wrong were shipped off to Africa, and we find them all the time.
  3. Getting treated for Bilharzia when you really just have the flu. Bilharzia is an easily-treated disease that develops after a person swims in Lake Victoria. Well, easy is a relative term. The pills are so bitter and vile, my younger siblings used to vomit them up, and the stench is so terrible and strong that I usually leave the house for a few hours when someone in my family is being treated. But, when someone goes to be tested for Bilharzia, most of the time the doctors diagnose you as positive if you display even the slightest symptoms of anything. A few times, my dad has been diagnosed, even though he was never in the lake!
  4. Language confusion. Once, when I was attempting to learn more Luganda (Uganda’s most common language), I asked the word for “I don’t know.” I was given the word “Simanye”, pronounced sih-mah-nee. However, because it started with the letter s, I mistook it for “Sindica”, pronounced seen-dee-cah. That means to push, the physical action of shoving someone. So, for the next few weeks, whenever someone asked me a question I didn’t know, I would respond with “Sindica”, basically saying “Push off”. It wasn’t for a few weeks that someone told me I was saying it wrong, so I had to adjust my wording!

Honestly, that’s all I can remember for now, but I’ll be sure to do a follow-up post when I remember more. Tell me in the comment section below which one was your favorite!

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24 thoughts on “The Quirks of Living in Africa

  1. themercenary5090

    Rams SB LIII shirts going to Africa. lol. that is funny. The Jams to though I would probably just be picking all of them up to see what the different labels were. lol. Jabale Sabo (I hope I spelled that right:))


  2. havenjean06gmailcom

    LOLLLLL Having experienced many of these myself, it only makes it more funny.

    I haven’t seen the jams before but I think that sounds hilarious. I’ve always thought it funny how many foods are marketed as having “American taste” or “authentically American” as if American food actually tastes good (which it doesn’t, it basically consists of pizza [technically Italian], hamburgers, and hotdogs/corn dogs.). I would trade it for Ugandan food any day.

    Yes- fun fact time guys: all those clothes in clearance that don’t get bought get shipped off to Africa and Asia and other random places. I’ve seen the sports shirts too, and it’s SO funny.

    I’ve been tested for Bilharzia multiple times, although I’ve also tested positive like half the time. We were like 15 mins from the lake, so lord knows we went swimming a lot. Agreed- the meds are disgusting stuff.

    I have so many stories around “language confusion” it’s hard to know where to start. There was of course, my friend who responded to someone complimenting their Luganda skills to “take a bath”. Or- my personal favorite, despite having more to do with cultural expressions than language- the time my neighbor’s Luganda instructor asked to take a short call (I’m assuming you know what this means) and they asked him “inside or outside?” And then led him to a small office when the horrified man said “inside”.


  3. themercenary5090

    My brain fails me on “nawe” I have the rest though (I think). I want to make you guess who I am now :). I have been to NHU twice and the time where I am right now is 9:14 PM. Can you guess?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. themercenary5090

    No not Brock. Yes I do remember you Noah. Hmmmm…… Does “Rocks” help. (I’m hoping that that isn’t to obvious:) ) If not I have another one up my sleeve that will probably give it away but oh well if it does. Also I’m a die hard Steelers fan.

    Liked by 1 person

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