Ugandans, love your mother tongue

Friday February 21 2020


By Isaac Muwanga

What happened at the burial of a prominent person in central region where some bereaved family members chose to address mourners in English rather than their mother tongue, Luganda, was absurd.

A similar incident happened some years back at Kyamula-Bunga at the funeral of a Makerere University professor of medicine when one of her daughters, who flew in from the United States where she had gone for further studies, chose to address mourners in English. Mourners were so upset that they shouted at her to use her mother tongue, Luganda. The daughter became so angry that she threw away the microphone in protest and went back to her seat.

And just recently, after a long stay in Canada, some friends of ours returned to Uganda for a short visit together with their teenage children. Despite the fact that both parents were Baganda, none of the children could construct a sentence in Luganda. This disappointed their grand parents in the village, who couldn’t communicate to them in English.

It is indeed sad seeing many Ugandans still nursing the belief that speaking fluent English or any other foreign language means that someone is highly educated and therefore civilised! It is so unfortunate that this backward belief usually starts in schools where pupils found communicating in vernacular languages are punished and ordered to always use English.

Even in some homes, parents belonging to the same tribe always try to communicate to their children in English in order to impress the neighbours and be seen as people of high class. This way, many Ugandan families are still ignorant and suffering from this lethal cancer of Africans down grading themselves, was brought about by colonialism.

Lastly, I will never forget that Ugandan girl born in Kulambiro near Kampala, who went to Sweden after completing her secondary school. She later acquired Swedish citizenship and at one time, helped her new naturalised country perform well at the European dancing competition.


She was so annoyed when one journalist referred to her as a Ugandan-born dancing star and she reminded the journalist to put the record straight that she was a Swede. One wonders when we Africans are going to stop degrading ourselves and instead try to become Europeans or Americans.

Isaac Muwanga