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Monday, 22 September 2014

On Learning Luganda

It was not until my A ‘level that I lived in the central region. In case you didn’t know I went to St.Mary’s Kitende [I’m very proud of the school, I don’t mind what other people think about it]. Kitende has mini stadium. It acted like an assembly ground. If there‘re parties in the school, musician are invited to entertain students. Of course there these ones who’re boring, the students would boo them and shout vayo. Now that was the first Luganda word I go to know very well. And there is other one, musiru, it was commonly used around, I got to know that it means 'stupid'. That closes the chapter of Kitende, two not very positive words I learnt.

Now life in medical school. The first inevitable word to learn was musawo (the reason is obvious). We joined when the university had stopped feeding private students who’re non residents. That meant eating from the restaurants around Mulago. That provided great opportunity to learn the ‘Luganda of food’. So the words like mmere , nyama, benyewa, mazi, ekijanjaalo, lumonde etc became familiar to me.

Time reaches for community placement and I was posted to Luwero. Luckily we had four people in the group who were fluent in luganda. So I thought to myself, life should be simpler. I had to strategies while in Luwero. The plan was to learn the words that would help me easily interact with patients. I added words like emiaka, ekikulumba, ngenda, ssennyiga, musujja, kifuba, ekyaalo, mutwe etc to my ‘expanding’ list of Luganda vocabularies.

During community placement in Luwero
And of course on the streets; ssebo, nyabo, kujja. It’s a bit embarrassing when someone approaches you in Luganda and you've to first tell them that you don’t speak the language. Some people‘re so annoying, they insist to speaking to you in Luganda even when they’re aware that you’re not good at it. Then there're these interesting lines in some Luganda songs; mmese , mwami, obudde, genda maso. It was also inevitable to look for their meanings.

Up to now it had not yet occurred to me that I need to seriously learn Luganda.

I’m now in third year and there is a lot of clinical work, and that means facing the patients more often with serious and diverse complaints. There‘re also opportunities to work in a community pharmacy [I’m told speaking Luganda is one of the prerequisite to be hired].

In this internet era, life has become easier. As I write this, I have downloaded a number of Luganda handbooks and an English-Luganda dictionary. I’m also getting some videos soon, to help especially with pronunciations.

 A screen shot from my Luganda handbook

I must commend the Buganda website . It has been very resourceful. I wish other tribes would copy. My written Acholi is not so good, imagine if there were references.