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Monday,November 30,2020 17:02 PM

Honesty or rudeness?

By Siima Sabiti

Added 17th November 2014 03:20 PM

Ugandans are known the world-over as friendly, humble people. We welcome you to our homes, we hate to offend, and we are willing to share the little we have.

Ugandans are known the world-over as friendly, humble people. We welcome you to our homes, we hate to offend, and we are willing to share the little we have.

Ugandans are known the world-over as friendly, humble people. We welcome you to our homes, we hate to offend, and we are willing to share the little we have.
 
You get the general picture. We are nice people. I was recently reminded that Ugandans also have a tendency to be somewhat tactless. Some might argue that they simply aspire to a level of honesty that most people tend to avoid, but I beg to differ.
 
Let me explain.
 
I recently bumped into a distant relative I had not seen for a while. I was dashing around the supermarket, trying to grab some essential ingredients as I was making a special meal for my boo that evening. As always, I had my iPod on full blast, so I did not notice the lady calling my name across the aisle until she actually came up behind me and tugged on my braids. (I mean, really? Hair-pulling? So low).
 
Now she had my attention, I had to deal with the extended greetings, questions about my family, the farm, my job and whether I still ‘blow my whistle’ i.e. play the flute. I answered as cheerfully and accurately as I could, trying not to rush regardless of the fact that it was very cloudy outside and I wanted to get home before the heavens opened.
 
I was just about to extricate myself when this relative (did I mention that she is a distant one?) quipped: “Eh, but you have become fat!’’ No sense of volume control or tact. I bit back my instinctive retort (Oh really? Well you are still ugly and socially inept but we cannot all be afflicted the same way!), smiled, and walked away, just managing to avoid stepping on a small child who was playing in the aisle.
 
I was not offended— I have developed a very thick skin living in Uganda and have learnt to brush off certain remarks with a shrug and a smile. Like the girl who came up to me soon after my Dad passed away and said: “S*** happens!” How on earth do you respond to something like that?
 
There is one incident I remember from my teenage years. We had come to Uganda on holiday. I think I was about 13 or 14 years old — you know that awkward teen stage where your body has a mind of its own. One of my aunties commented on the fact that my bust had developed, and as if to emphasise her point, went ahead to grope my boobs. Needless to say, I was horrified and was thankful when my mum stepped in and told said aunt to leave me alone.
 
I fully appreciate the need for honesty. If you feel your niece could lose a kilo or two, by all means, tell her. But do it tactfully. What the hell, if you have made it your life’s purpose to state the obvious, by all means do so. But do not be surprised when I call your ‘honesty’ out for what it is — blatant rudeness.
 
Follow Siima every morning on 94.8 Xfm

Ugandans are known the world-over as friendly, humble people. We welcome you to our homes, we hate to offend, and we are willing to share the little we have.

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