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The askari: Merely a scarecrow with a Bluetooth speaker

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This is Ugypedia, the Ugandan pedia. Today’s entry is on the topic of Askaris. 

Askari: A person with a bow and one arrow who will be the first to run and hide when thieves come. The unarmed, harmless chap who opens and closes the gate for you. 

Also Askari: A police person. It is testament to the great strides this nation has made on the road to establishing the rule of law that bad drivers, even those with Subarus, show fear and respect to traffic police. I tell you we have come from far. 

These days a driver will park when instructed to, smile, sweat, and greet, “Askari, how are you?” Then offer a bribe.
I said we have made strides. I didn't say in which direction. 

Also Askari: Army personel.

Note that to unschooled civilians there are only two army ranks-- Askari and Afande. 

Etymology or origin of the term:
A prevailing theory has it that the term comes from the English phrase “A Scarecrow”.

A scarecrow is a stick erected in the middle of a shamba, dressed in rags and topped with a deflated bag. The plan is to make it resemble a human being and thus deter crows and other birds that were thinking of swooping into the shamba and disturbing the peaceful growth of plants. 

But it is a trick. The scarecrow is not a dangerous person. It is a harmless bunch of sticks and rags.

There are plenty of occasions on record where the crows have flown into the shamba and, after ravaging the crops, began to eat the scarecrow itself.

Because of the similarity between the words, and because of the similarity of usefulness, it is believed that the term Askari comes from the term A Scarecrow.

Myths and Misconceptions:
1.That they will protect you. No, they won’t. The most they will do is alert you to the presence of danger when you see them climbing up that one tree in the compound, or diving into the bushes. They already know where the best hiding places in the compound are. 

2.That they don't speak English. This is a common belief in the “boojie” section of our society, which is the section that hires Askaris. You will often find our city’s planned kids suffering with language barrier as follows:

Kayla: “Askari gwe, nze ngoinga ku cominga back late tonight, so olina okuopeninga gate ku around like, sawa midnight tuwenteringe. Tujakuhootinga. Tosleepinga, okay? Ndi tired nnyo okucominga back nga osleepinga. Nenhootinga, nenhootinga nga towopeninga.”

Otim: “Gwe sobola komawo eyo sawa nze jaku gula. Tofayo.”

Kayla: “Ku the other night tewaopeninze mangu. Obadde oliwhere?”

Otim: “Nze teyawulide nga gwe tuse. Gwelina kuba gombe muliro.”

This exchange can be translated as Kayla trying to inform the askari that she will be coming home late and hopes he doesn’t fall asleep before she does, and that he is ready to open the gate upon her arrival. Askari Otim replies that he will be alert and ready. He will not be asleep. 

But these translations will not help you understand just how funny it was. If you don't know Luganda you have missed the joke. 

Myth 3:
That the child is yours. Dude, you neglect your wife too much. You take her for granted. You think she is going to just sit there and suffer? She has needs. 

Also, karma saw you sneaking around with the maid.

Functions of Askari:
1.To keep the compound up to date on all the latest afro pop, kidandali, ragga and lugaflow hits by blasting his Bluetooth speaker from morning until all you hear is: “Ze bluetoos speaker baddery is low. Please recharge ze bluetoos dewize”

2.Wash car.

3. That’s it.

This entry has only spoken of the gate-keeper and compound-guard form of Askari and has said nothing about the other subspecies, i.e. police and army askaris. 

The truth is I don’t know much about cops. I am a criminal and therefore avoid them as much as I can. Don’t tell on me, but, you see, I still have some sachets. 

Sachets of liquor were made illegal a couple of years back, but I had a stockpile I built in case of another pandemic and I can’t just throw it away. So I am not exactly keen on getting close to police.

And as for the Army? Information about the army is classified and I don’t have clearance.