Sunday March 2 2014

O MY! Tribalistic?

By Rogers Balamaga

It must be frustrating, being a parent with certain expectations from your children, especially when it comes to the daughters-in-law. My mother’s were of a typical conservative Muganda and mother of five boys.

“Oh, so what is her other name mpozi?” She would ask when you introduced a female friend by her first name. Mention a name that starts with “Na” and she will eagerly ask for details. “Is she Catholic? What does her father do (like it is vital)? What does she do?” All this before you even explain your relationship with the girl.

But should you mention a name that starts with a vowel, like “A”; then expect a negative stereotypical story about the deduced tribe in the near future. If her deduction tells her the girl is a Mutooro, then one day, out of nowhere, she will tell you a story of an imaginary friend of hers who married a Mutooro girl and ended up raising one of his neighbour’s children among his own. Or if she gathers that the girl is from the Luo ethnic group, you would be watching a movie one random evening then she starts.

“Did you know that 80 per cent of the homicides in Northern Uganda are committed by women against their husbands?” She would blurt. Then after a momentary silence of confusion someone may ask;
“Now what has that to do with Sound of Music?”

“Nothing, just an observation I made while I worked in Gulu Hospital.” she would reply.
“Oh really, it doesn’t have anything to do with who may be dating who this time?” My father would interject. “Because the last time Ben was dating a Mugisu girl you got a friend whose dowry briefcase was stolen by the bride’s family at the introduction ceremony. Then, your workmate who married a Musoga and gave birth to not so active children. Do you think anyone would fall for your stories? They are not children anymore. Who even carries dowry in a briefcase?”

“But am I the only one who believes there are many educated and disciplined Catholic Baganda girls out there?” She would retort. “No, but you are the only one who thinks you have a say in whom the boys decide to date.”
It’s only after three of my siblings got happily married to non-bantu speakers that mom went crossed tribal lines.