So I was in a taxi this morning, traveling for a distance that I know is Shs 500. After we’d gone a few meters, the conductor started whispering about Shs 700. I told him I had Bitaano. He barked at me to pay him Shs 700 if I wanted to get where I was going. All this was said in Luganda.
“Then stop and let me get out”, I said in English.
His response in luganda is why I keep stressing what language we were using.
“Why are speaking to me in english? Do I look like a muzungu?!”
I calmly told him I did not speak luganda.
He waved his hand threateningly at me and snapped at me thus: “You must never speak English in taxis!”
Oh, hell to the nah.
“Are you completely mad? Are you serious?! Do I look like a Muganda to you, you backward, ignorant neophant?”
I do not know what a neophant is, or if such a word exists but I was determined to reach the limit with my englishness. Oh, I was getting warmed up.
“Eh?”, I continued. “EH EH?! Omanyira ani? Drive me to a police station now, and utter that nonsense to the Acholi policemen there! In fact, there is a policeman right here, and very good we are stuck in traffic. Stop! Let me call him!”
Okay, tribalistic, I know. But the whole taxi was about to explode from the laughter of the other passengers. The conductor changed his song.
“Madam, I’m sorry,” he said in english. “Please forgive me”.
No sah massa.
“Ate why are you talking in english? I thought it was not allowed in taxis. Speak in luganda!”
He apologized in luganda. After we’d left the jam, he driver queried the current state of affairs, asking if I should be kicked out. The condutor’s response had even me laughing.
“Oh no, we are now friends”.