Meet John. He is your average Ugandan. He has an iPhone 4S in one pocket and a double line Tecno in the other, he is wearing a tight fitting shirt that Senior supplies from Owino. Today is Monday, so he will take a taxi from the stage. He spent most of his money over the weekend and doesn’t have enough to fuel the Premio, which he is still paying for.
It’s been a while since John boarded a taxi. There’s none at the stage this morning, so he takes a boda to Kabalagala where he gets a taxi. As the taxi approaches Clock Tower, Yanga the conductor says, “Asigadde awo aziweleze.” Everybody passes their fare, save for John who decides to hold on to his until they get to Cooper Complex. He gives Yanga his 1000 shillings, and Yanga gives him back 300 shillings. This is the dialogue that ensues.
John: Kidi, mpa ssente zange!
Yanga: Ssebo, ziba lusanvu.
John(Grabbing Yanga violently by the arm): Oli mulalu? Ziba bitaano! Kati ojakumpa ssente zange.
With that, he delivers a series of blows to Yanga’s torso and a right hook to the mouth. Yanga surrenders 200 shillings. John walks away with an air if satisfaction, leaving Yanga cursing, his lip swollen and bleeding. Many will agree that perhaps John had reason for his actions. But wait, let’s see what happens next.
He walks to his bank, where 52,000 shillings is missing since his last ATM withdrawal. This is the dialogue that ensues.
John: I withdrew money on Friday and my receipt said I had a balance of 317,000 shillings. I withdrew 50k yesterday and my balance is now 215,000. Please explain.
Teller: Sir, bank charges apply.
John: Yes, but the last time I checked, charges for withdrawal were 500 shillings. Where is my 52,000?
Teller: Sir, we shall have it rectified and give you a call.
John: Make sure you do.
With that, John walks away and no one gets hurt.
What is wrong with this picture? Why does John not drag the teller from behind the counter and kick her butt? Surely 52,000 shillings is far much more than 200 shillings. To be precise, there’s 260 200 shillings in 52,000 shillings.
Ugandans are a people whose priorities are eccentrically twisted. John, for example, will do nothing when the bank cannot explain why 52,000 shillings is missing from his account, but he will beat the daylights out of Yanga who received orders from his boss to charge 700 shillings this festive season from Kabalagala to town, from the usual 500 shillings. I fail to see how this works.
By the way, John never gets his 52,000 shillings back!!