It’s prophetic that Idi Amin was in awe of Sale-h

Sunday August 29 2021
By Jacobs Odongo Seaman

I woke up to a screaming headline on Wednesday morning. BoU tightens cash limit rule for banks, the paper said.

And its kicker went: The central bank has raised the bar in its business, increasing the paid up capital requirement for financial institutions in the country from Shs25b to Shs150b in a move it says will put it at par with regional peers.

I don’t know what wrong I did in the womb to make economics refuse to sit in my head. Imagine I was only saved by the legendary Lizard as I tried to grasp things. Banking is only for the loaded, the Lizard cheekily proffered.

At this, the worms at the back of my head went to work. They started whispering to me that the whole thing was written by Saleh from Gulu.

“Saleh? Hahaha! The Monitor is in Namuwongo and Saleh and Owori combined will never understand a typeface even if Mwenda spent the whole year explaining to them at the rate of Shs2b per word,” I told the worms.
“The central bank decision, stupid!” the worms hit back. “The paper only reported what Saleh decided.”

I looked down at my feet and Pal Mo, the dog, was staring at me. I looked up and a woman passing tripped while also staring at me. I had been talking to myself.


I sent the dog away as I smiled a greeting to the woman, reminding her in no certain terms to mind her own business. Now thinking with a clearer head, I realised the worms were right after all. 

Saleh is the one man who can make a person seen shouting at the top of his voice about how all others leave their ancestry to move to Buganda suddenly go mute, and board a taxi for the 300km journey to Gulu.

I can imagine Owori announcing, “Senero, Mayanja and his musician group have left but Wasswa just arrived with sports guys Luboobi, Ngobi and Nanjego.”

Yes, Kampala might be the capital but the real capital is in Gulu. Even farmers frustrated by the affairs of the clouds are reportedly organising to go and ask the General to compel the rains to drop.

The other day, a group of coffin makers and embalmers/mortuary attendants were turned away from Corner Kamdini because they were sending funny vibes. They did not know where to find the headquarters of the new capital so they started using bizarre antics.

One of them spat heavily on his left palm and, using his right index finger, he hit the spittle and confidently pointed in the direction the thing had ‘jumped’.

“There,” he announced. “The General who will solve all our problems is that way.”
It was the direction of Acholibur via Olwiyo. The saliva was directing them to Pakwach.

After two more saliva-on-palm rituals, the guys gave in to the simple law of travels and asked for directions. They were told they needed an appointment with Owori to see the General.

And how did I know of this? Because I was thinking of the other ‘Sale,’ the one who shocked Idi Amin.

One of the most remarkable tales about the man whose rank Saleh might never attain is that, as president, he                was once towering over the city on his inspection when he called his aides aside.

“On Sale, On Sale, On Sale!” Amin reportedly yelled. “Everywhere I pass, I see On Sale. Who is this rich man called On Sale who owns every shop in Kampala?” 
I don’t know if this was invented by Tegulle but it has made my day since 1992 when I first heard of it from a boy who claimed that his granny served Amin.

The On Sale was not a person but the common trading phrase for goods on sale. Forty-two years after Amin’s fall, Uganda is in the mood for a retro ‘On Sale-h.’ 
The clock is amazing, right?