Ever since Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba announced plans to update the National Anthem with a $180,000 budget, my maid has been restless. She swears she is composing a new anthem to match with the times and she will undercut other bidders by offering it for only $100,000. When I walked into the living room, I found her rehearsing as the minister’s maid helped her refine her composition. Her first stanza run as follows:
Ku boda boda,
We lay our future on the road,
I did not interrupt them and they proceeded to practice the second stanza thus:
The land of freedom
Ne Rambo we waaaatch them all!
Then they moved on to the third stanza:
The land that feeds us
Katogo’ eshabwe ne odi
Chinese phones and all
Don’t knooooock us!
“But remember Mama Mutagamba emphasised visuals,” the minister’s maid warned.
“What are visuals,” my maid asked in alarm because she thought she was almost good to submit her entry.
“Those are pictures, images to convince tourists to come to Uganda,” the minister’s maid explained.
“That is easy,” my excited maid said confidently. “For the first stanza we shall show boda bodas speeding with their passengers, preferably muzungu girls with their skirts and hair flying in the wind. Then we shall record a thousand Ugandan Man United fans in their jerseys arguing with a thousand Ugandan Liverpool fans while another one thousand Arsenal fans are entangled in a kavuyo with Chelsea supporters.”
“Fine, what about the second stanza?” asked the minister’s maid.
“There we shall shoot the inside of a video kibanda as excited viewers watch an Indian movie, said my maid. We shoot the outside and move to the next kibanda where they are watching a ki-Nigeria. They we slot in footage of Patience mingling with Ugandans fans in Kampala last week.”
“Right, what about the third stanza?” asked the minister’s maid.
“Remember it had better be sharp so it stays in the tourist memory until they locate the nearest Ugandan embassy to apply for our visa.”
“That is the easiest,” said my maid. “We shall show a Chinese selling fake Nokia and Samsung phones in St Balikuddembe (Owino) Market, but we won’t say they are fake.
Then we shall show the kamunye being flagged off by a smart traffic policewoman as the conductor drags the door closed. We should get one whose door closes smoothly. Then we close it off with secondhand clothes vendors singing and dancing as they call customers. Can you beat that?”
I did not want to kill their enthusiasm by telling them music is like gymnastic; you don’t start a career in it after attaining the age of 15. So I quietly slipped out and left them continue with their rehearsals.