By Kalungi Kabuye
By now the whole country probably knows who Aamito is, as she has been all over the news since winning the first-ever Africa’s Next Top Model competition in January.
But I do not know how many of my countrymen and women have ever heard of the Rugby Cranes, or watched them play over the weekend in the Commonwealth Games currently going on in Scotland.
But these two, seemingly worlds apart, exhibited typically Ugandan traits that say a lot why our country is where it is today; and the mountains we need to climb before we can turn it into a modern, developed country.
While we all now know Aamito, very few actually watched the TV reality show which she eventually won. While she obviously has the qualities the fashion world craves, there is one which almost drove the judges crazy — she cried.
She did not cry because she was unhappy or sad or missing home; or because she was happy she won — she cried because she was surprised she won. In the very first episode, when she saw the Ugandan flag while filming a video, it probably all came back to her how far she had come and she cried. That was understandable, and the judges, too, understood.
But then she started winning the challenges, episode after episode and she cried all the more. The judges got irritated and thought she was emotionally weak and unstable. But I know why Aamito cried — it is because she did not think she would win anything.
Which was the same thing, in a way, that happened to the Uganda Rugby Cranes team that played the 7s in Glasgow last week. Uganda, for all its small size and relatively small pool of people that play rugby, has had a chequered rugby history. Just seven years ago we were on top of African rugby, outside South Africa, of course.
But that generation of players have now largely retired, and the crop that was in Scotland is green and have no experience of knowing what it feels like, or what it takes, to beat the best and be on top of the world.
It did not help that their first games were against Australia and England. Who, England? Oh my God! Those guys we see on TV? As a result Australia and England had their way with the very awe-stricken Cranes.
England vs Rugby Cranes in Glasgow. PHOTOS: Mpalanyi Ssentongo
Then came Sri Lanka – who, Sri Lanka? Let’s go get them. And they did. By the time Malaysia came around the Cranes were really flying and demolished the East Asians.
But the next game was against Canada, semi-professionals that regular play in the IRB series, and we get to watch them on TV. All the confidence and momentum that the Cranes had developed with the two wins disappeared.
The Canadians kicked to the Ugandans first, and won each and every ball after that. They won every scrum, and almost every line-out. They dominated possession because every time they lost the ball, the Ugandans gladly gave it back. The Rugby Cranes did not do anything right, and their opponents took full advantage of it. The bottom line is that the Ugandans did not believe they could beat the North Americans. How?
Ugandans are funny like that, somehow we believe we are not as good as others, and that nothing good can come out of our country. It is evident daily on social media, when ‘only in Uganda’ is the standard response to every bad news posted. Even by chaps that have never been past Ndeeba.
It might also explain why there is still resistance to efforts by the KCCA to clean up our capital city; many do not believe Kampala can be anything like Johannesburg or Pretoria. They will not even dare to think like that.
Yeah, I know why Aamito cried and the Rugby Cranes lost.
You can follow Kalungi Kabuye on Twitter @KalungiKabuye
Glasgow 2014: England routs Rugby Cranes 40 - 0
Aamito wins Africa’s Next Top Model