By Solomon Muleyi
Albeit thrusting the western culture down the Ugandans throats drastically has been successful in other areas, there are those where it has failed terribly.
See, it’s acceptable when you find Chameleon sipping shisha. I mean, yeah, my maid does that when she goes out with the missus on New Year’s Day.
But when a dreadlocked chap orders for coffee in an ultra-modern coffee bistro, it’s outright blasphemy. Like talking pork in a mosque! A reason the security guard will storm his table and question the dreadlocked or Mohawk guy about who he robbed.
What is he doing here? Is he trying to bomb, rob the place? “There are cameras everywhere, you will be caught at the slightest thought muyaye”, he will be notified. It’s simple, Rasta’s don’t do coffee, and they do weed! The same way Kikuubo tycoons don’t do coffee, they do, well, what do you call it, “Katoogo”? (a mixture of beans, meat and matooke for those who went outside countries and forgot).
Here is why
Time check, 10: 30am, I’m sited quietly in a corner in one of my favorite coffee bistros, The Menu 24 café. A soft ballad wafts in and cloaks the upper dinner where I’m sited with serenity. Not that I’m here to duck and mellow in the trivialities of love songs on a cold morning like this one. No, I’m actually catching a cup of coffee to warm my insides.
It’s just; my curiosity has slithered out of me and is all over and around the place so I’m noticing things. Things that typical coffee drinkers do.
They have accent
Right next to me is a guy evidently trying to woo a chic. Clearly, he will get lucky because the chic is happy about coffee in a place like The Menu 24 Café. She is laughing in Luganda (loud with ululations at the end of each laugh) at his accented jokes.
Speaking of accent, everyone here has an American accent. It’s like you suddenly walked into a coffee bistro in Las Vegas USA. And they all look at every one like they shouldn’t breathe the same air with them.
Especially the three girls across! They seem to be engrossed in some research they are doing on-line of course courtesy of the free WI-FI here. One seems to be doing research about the possible reasons why Solange slapped Jay Z.
Another is downloading Chris Browns pictures. The third one is in the middle, watching as these bozos toy around with her time. One of them owns a laptop. She is the one who bought the one cup of coffee that is the excuse they are using to download naked photo-shopped Chris Brown pictures.
But their accents covered up for them because I didn’t see a waiter ask them for a look in their passport with the hope of seeing a recent US visa, or any for that matter. Because he would have failed, terribly!
Dressed to kill
If you are going to order coffee with an American accent, you are going to have to look like it. Like you’re the ish. So the coffee folks dress to murder every soul that cares, for even a fleeting second, to throw a glance their way.
If they are not in a suit, they are dressed in outfits that somehow, tell inspiring stories about their salary. Shoes that cost three times your rent and shirts that can pay your tuition. You shouldn’t believe all the stories though.
They have class
While at Raves Café, I realized something strange about all the people that ordered for coffee there. They weren’t in a hurry. So they didn’t bark at waiters while motioning them to bring them the orders. In fact, theirs were mumbles.
Sometimes, whispers accompanied by waves and kind facial gestures. Leave alone the bias that all westerners are arrogant and mean, I saw a “munyankore” tip. So maybe they are not that arrogant after all.
May be the arrogant ones are those ends down town in Nakasero Market selling mangoes and bananas. Point is the ones I saw carried their selves with a rare aura.
The way they talked, gestured, walked and laughed oozed class. The subconscious awareness that people are watching and therefore judging what they do lingered around their tables. They looked like the type who would starve to death if getting food required them to break out the egoistic prism from which they see things and ask for food.
If someone is a staunch fan of coffee, they didn’t just discover it. They grew up in the culture of coffee so if they are dining, chances are; the people in their social circles will be of the same caliber. And therefore the conversations won’t be about rent problems or how to run away with rent. Hell, they are the landlords, why would rent worry them.
While at Coffee At Last in Makindye, I spotted a tycoon. Okay, a tycoon look-alike. I noticed him because he was a half cast, that made him stand out.
He looked like he was in his late thirties and he was chatting up a normal chocolate skinned girl. I heard him feed her gibberish about how to make money and cracking jokes about Uganda’s economy that she never got. And never would even if he broke them down, word by word.
The thing with most archetypal coffee consumers is they are business men. They don’t have time to talk about entertainment or luxury because it’s not their cup of tea. They will talk about containers, how the dollar depreciation will affect their business and how to talk URA officials into being lenient on taxing their freight because, well, thats their life.
Whites and corporates
In the western world, coffee is a part of culture. And for the corporates, being seen at a coffee place or taking a girl to a coffee bistro is another avenue for them to pose. And because we know they are the class of people in that live on a budget that’s way above their salary in Uganda, its one of the few redemption options they have. Buying coffee.