Opinion – By Arthur M. Katabalwa | The ‘Summers’ Have Arrived For Christmas!!!

Posted December 23, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 5,214 views



This is my first Christmas in Uganda since 1996. Admittedly I was here in 2009 but I arrived in the morning and I came back to escort my father on his final journey. So I don’t really count that as having spent it here.

My expectations have been skewered to what I remember we did back then. I am glad that the emphasis on gifts is really nonexistent. When I lived in the UK, we started worrying about them in September. Now the only worry for me has been the fact that on several occasions I have double booked myself for parties. I have never seen a country that downs tools around about December 1st and then embark on a period of merry making for the whole month. I am not complaining by the way. I still have parties lined up until at least the second week of January.

However, one thing that has preoccupied the local population is the annual invasion of what are called “summers”. Those people who live abroad and visit Uganda every now and then. There is a general irritation among some of the population about the largess these people live by and their ostentatious ways with large headphones, fancy clothes and all that.

Now, let me speak as a retired veteran “summer”. I did it religiously for two decades and I need to explain the mindset I was in. You see when many of us headed north to colder climates, we thought we had made it! And in many cases, the grass looked greener in Europe. Or at least at that time it did. So we boarded British Airways and looked out of the windows as Mpigi sailed by thinking that we were leaving behind abject poverty and failure. We were off to the land of milk and honey.

Let me not try to degrade these countries many of us went to. Indeed I still feel British because I took that country on as my adoptive country. The UK has given me many possibilities that I can never have imagined. I have been to so many places in the world protected by her Britannic Majesties’ Government. But does that make me better than the people I left in Uganda? Does that make Uganda any less of a country than the UK? Certainly not. In fact I see both of them at par in what they have provided me. I now live and work happily in Kampala.

But returning to the mindset of a Summer; when we came back, we felt hot because the weather is hotter here. But in many cases many thought that in so exaggerating that, we seemed more exotic. What a load of rubbish! I have always heard the complaint about the dust. Smell the coffee, has anyone been to Prasonissi in southern Rhodes? I wouldn’t think of living there for the dust. It is in Europe. And I have been to some pretty dire places in the USA where I would certainly not lay my hat. Nsangi and its green fields and noise from Kitemu interrupted by Umeme doing its thing would do me any time than that village in Louisiana (names withheld because summers live there).

But let me also explain the mindset of summers to Ugandans who are left at home. When we used to come back home we would have to show off our wealth that we have acquired. The working culture in the west is so torturous that when we come home, we want to relax and spend our hard earned money. The holiday culture in Europe is also an influence on the behavior.

Having said that, a message mainly to the summers, please remember that unless you have come back with a house, you don’t have a lot other than a suitcase of new clothes which by the way can be bought in Nakivubo. A pair of chino trousers UGX25000 and that is before bargaining. The people you are showing off that suitcase of new clothes are in a house that belongs to them outright, They don’t pay all sorts of taxes and the like. And the life you complain about they live here every day. Imagine if one of them was locked up in your semi terraced house in New Cross, South London? They would complain.

Summers, stop complaining about the dust and the potholes and the lack of drinking tap water. This is Uganda. My advice is that when you are flying out from which ever airport, leave that country at the airport and come and enjoy Uganda. We here party like it is our last day. Try the market in Bugoloobi for lunch. Cheap!!! The beer? 76p a pint at British prices. Cigarettes? You can buy one stick not the whole bloody packet. The women (and men) are good looking and they know your peculiar habits. The sun is out all year round you will be desperate for a lousy day. But above all, think about coming back home! If you keep on thinking that being a summer is the be and end all, we who are back here are having the last laugh.

And to the others here in Uganda, just bear with the summers. They have a limited time to enjoy the money they have made. When one comes to Uganda and they realize that their weekly wages can stretch that far one is bound to get excited about it. But most importantly let us enjoy what this great country Uganda has to offer. And when we go back to whichever country you summers have come from, remember those here in Uganda. They are thinking of the next “proggie”. And they just meet up on the street and chat. In the west we have to have a special occasion in some random hall in Penge just to meet up. We will also be remembering you while quaffing Molokony in Wabiggalo. But I am certainly now also looking forward to a pint at my local pub in Heron Cross, Stoke On Trent when I next visit because that is also still my home as much as is Nsangi.

Disclaimer — The views expressed in the article above are solely those of Mr. Katabalwa.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    Yiiiii rather scenical, I think. Thumbs down from me.


    Scenical as in ‘cynical’ pardon the mu-summer spelling!

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