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A switch from hatred to big love for ‘ugali’

KNOW what ? On the surface, that is one of the easiest questions that the creators of words and sentences (who, I guess, were not intelligent enough to assemble aeroplanes) created.

If you asked me such an easy question, I would promptly give you a similarly easy answer: that I know that some of my ‘watani’ are ‘Tanzake’; being partially Tanzanians and circumstantial citizens of a country which I know you know and which I can’t disclose due to diplomatic sensitivity.

There’s one thing, though, that I can confidently state about my ‘Tanzake’ friends, without the remotest fear of ultimately being transferred from my residential part of Tabata Segerea known as ‘Kwa Bibi’ (long live grandma !) to the one where some magistrates propose that law violators should be housed in order to learn a few painful, but useful lessons.

That thing, which, I should have made life easier for you my mentioning at the very outset, is that my male ‘Tanzake’ friends are fond of letter “O” as the introductory letter for their surnames.

Why on earth, though and even in heaven for that matter, would anyone wish to be associated with a surname whose first letter resembles ‘zero’ (long live ‘sufuri’?) I better wind up this part of the chat, though, lest one of the ‘watanis’ does something to me that would relocate each of us from our homes: he, to prison and me, to hospital, his having collided his head against mine and caused it to suffer what lawyers call “actual bodily harm”.

As I hinted recently, ‘Ruta’ is a popular ‘beep’ for the surnames of quite many male surnames in Kagera Region: Rutatinisibwa, Rutaselwa and so forth, till kingdom come, Amen

! How nice it would have been if the ‘beep’ had been ‘corrupted’ by mischievously sneaking doses of Kiswahili into the names. E x a m p l e s : Rutachokozawenzio (someone who doesn’t provoke his friends); Rutapandamilima (a person who doesn’t climb mountains) and Rutapuuzaelimu (a citizen who doesn’t ignore academic education).

The problem, of course, is that the longish names would be such that some people would almost run out of breadth while pronouncing them, forcing them to pose half-way.

That would be quite hilarious, because a given surname would seem and sound like three-in-one names! I guess, by the way and I don’t wish to sound clever-byhalf or mischievous, my real or fake friend, that a few court cases would arise and a few people would end up in prison.

Take the presumed name like ‘Rutazingatiakulipamadeni’ for instance, which would stand for ‘someone who doesn’t like to repay his debts. While giving evidence in court, the creditor collapses, faints and subsequently dies, thanks ( No thanks !) due to running out of breadth while pronouncing the name of the debtor !.

Administrative complications would arise as well, as dotted lines in some official documents would not be long enough to accommodate the surnames of some people.

Some immigration officers would also grumble over the risk they would court of suffering heart attacks in the course of reading names almost as long as highways at airport departure lounges.

The ‘Ruta’ trick has of course helped, but I sometimes develop funny worries that some of my Kageran compatriots whose surnames have been circumcised to ‘Ruta’ may eventually forget what their full names are.

They may consequently embarrass themselves by begging their relatives and friends to jolt their memories. On a hilarious note, a boyhood and much later, manhood friend of mine mischievously recrafted his name from Rutajunala (someone who doesn’t feel sorrowful) to Rutakulaugali.

That translates as someone who doesn’t eat ‘ugali’, the main food in boarding school, to which he found it very difficult to adapt, as he claimed it was a million times less delicious than boiled bananas.

The re-branding of his name was pointless because, number one, he couldn’t change the name officially; and two, since the alternative to eating ‘ugali’ would be to eat nothing and therefore to starve, he had to eat it.

He found himself in a tricky situation because spirited efforts to subsequently drop the ‘Rutakulaugali’ name and regain the original Rutajunala failed totally.

After school, we went separate ways, Rutakulaugali spent some years overseas and we lost touch. Our recent reconnection in Dar was hugely exciting.

We met at a bar and reminisced about the good and bad old school days. Guess what he ordered from the kitchen section of the bar there: ‘ugali’, alongside roast meat !

Upon reminding him of how he hated ‘ugali’ back in school, he gave me a piece of information that made me laugh almost the way a hyena does. It is that the hatred vanished and love for ‘ugali’ ‘erupted’ after he had married a lady from Sukumaland.

He informed me that, he actually loved it so much that, he wouldn’t mind being renamed Mpenda Ugali.

I do not wish to ...

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Author: WILSON KAIGARULA

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