Show me a man’s kabalaza and I'll show you his future

What you need to know:

  • If your ex starts a liquor store, you instantly qualify.

Sign up:  We are told not to judge people, but rather understand them. But there is one aphorism that is cut out, you can deduce a man’s walk of life based on whether he belongs to a kabalaza or not. Because what is a man? What is life? What is all these things if one has no membership to a recognised kabalaza? Show me a man’s kabalaza and I will show you a man’s future. Every man dies and is resurrected by a kabalaza.  

It is not easy to get membership in a kabalaza. It is usually a game of first in, it is harder breaking through an established kabalaza. The problem with a kabalaza, it is almost a must to show up at least once a week. You could be accused of treason, of cheating, of revealing the secrets of your kabalaza to another. Kabalazas are tight-knits. Kabalazas are a gathering of all kinds of personalities, yet every kabalaza manages to develop its own culture.

Last week, yours truly was given early access to a new kabalaza. Again, you know you are peeping at the retirement zone when such offers start streaming in. The king was given a membership invite to the millennial equivalent of a kabalaza, aka the liquor stores. 

“Hello king, please show up today, your place has been reserved, there are some royal tequila shots.” I wondered: ‘What did I do to deserve an invite to the kabalaza?’ It only hit me late that during my many escapades, my trials, and triumphs, I had befriended the owner of the kabalaza.

So now,  Kampala relationships come with extra responsibilities. Even when they end, if your ex starts a liquor store, you qualify as an automatic member to the kabalaza. Long story short, yours truly is yet to make an appearance. We do hope the membership still holds.

You must be too much of a risk taker to bet your life on belonging to a kabalaza in Kisaasi or Kyanja. What have these young fellows seen about life? What is there to discuss about Harriers? You know Harriers give this illusion of luxury. The problem with owning a Harrier is that the owner is deluded, they imagine themselves on top of the world, more than the world imagines them to be so. And speaking of cars, the Benz of the E-class version. What was the whole agenda? I was driving behind one, it really resembled a Toyota. Everything is Toyota until you see the branding.

Was this the Benz made for mufuna mpola? Story for another day.
I have tried to belong to many kabalazas. Some, I have been cut out because of age. I tried to sneak into a kabalaza that sits in Luwafu. You know connections.  If your mother hosts a kabalaza, you expect automatic membership. Nothing could have prepared me for the ‘kabalaza speak.’ Every kabalaza has its unwritten rules, its form of agreement. Someone could crack a joke, you laugh out loud and before you know it, you are being banned from the kabalaza.

You know you are a true member of the kabalaza when they give you a nickname. At the Luwafu Kabalaza, there is a man named ‘Ansa’ aka ‘Answer’. History has it that he always had an answer to everything, he is the ChatGPT of the kabalaza, the Google of the kabalaza. It is always assumed that if Ansa has no answer, then that question is not valid. And nicknames differ. A kabalaza in Muyenga will have less in common with a kabalaza in Kyaliwajjala. In Kyaliwajjala, Kireka, you find nicknames such as Boss Mutoto, Alien Skin, in Muyenga, you deal with names such as Tiger Woods, nicknames that are aspirational. Remember, your kabalaza can make or break you. There is no way you are subscribing to a kabalaza in Nansana if your dreams are to make a name in Nairobi.

You can always bribe your way into a kabalaza. You must learn to order a round for everyone. The problem is that some kabalazas could treat this as an insult. Because how on earth is a Raum driver ordering a round for German-car drivers?

The most sustainable way of buying the hearts and spirits of a kabalaza is to have great tales. You must never run out of tales. The rule of thumbs is to always exaggerate. Every kabalaza tale is about exaggeration, speaks big about your escapades, about everything.

If you have ever met Museveni, do not speak about it as a one-off affair. Make it seem to your kabalaza mates that it is something you do quite often. “You know Mzee is not an easy man to understand. There was this one time when he called me to Rwakitura….” Then add the real spices; “I was just chilling in my crocs when these two Land Cruisers appeared. Can you imagine Mzee wanted my advice on whether to give another executive order on transport money?” Never stop adding Mzee this, Mzee that. If Etania’s name comes up, claim that she’s on your neck. “Gwe Kampala girls, can you imagine Etania just can’t let me be…” Until people realise you are talking about Etania Nalweyiso of Kamuli Road.

Above all, during the kabalaza tales, never forget to praise the guy who sponsored the previous round, but above all, laugh at the jokes of the guy who will be sponsoring the next round. And if you have come to the end of this without an idea of what happens at a kabalaza, you my friend, only the government of the son will redeem you! 

Twitter: ortegatalks