Trials of a teetotaller

Every year some news outlet tries to paint Ugandans as relatively idle humans by measuring how much alcohol we consume. It’s becoming a competition. Sijui Kenyans know how to drink on weekends while Ugandans keep it rollin’ all day every day so we’re the real drunkards.

But do you know how hard it is not to be a drinker in Uganda? How stressful, how anxiety inducing as soon as you open a menu? Let me tell you.

The most affordable drink is a bottle of soda

Yet I hear that stuff is poison. You’re drinking pure sugar, it does bad things to your teeth and if you’re out all night there is a limit to how much soda one can consume. One’s health is at risk after two bottles so the teetotaller spends the rest of the evening staring at his friends getting drunker and louder with nothing to keep his own tongue busy.

Water is for alcohol control only

Most teetotallers have an aversion to paying for water to drink. We can get it from our taps at home. It only takes five minutes to boil.

The price of tea doesn’t make any sense

A cup of tea ranges from 6-9 thousand shillings. I know I failed maths at school but I think a quarter litre of water is not worth more than a bottle of beer. This is when most teetotallers fold and order alcohol in defeat.

In fact, drinking alcohol makes more economic sense

With bars selling soda and water at 2,500 to 4,000 shillings, ethanol becomes significantly more attractive.

Don’t even talk to me about juice

I’ve ordered juices more expensive than alcoholic cocktails. There is a bar in town whose juices I used to love because they were delicious and plentiful and not a bad bargain. Then management realised that people liked their juices so they decided to become dickwads. Now they serve half what they used to, and the other half is chokeful of ice so that after oh-6 sips?-you’re drinking water. That way, your order their expensive juice all the faster as the ice quickly dilutes the flavour.

Then there’s just the disrespectful pricing

On one of my teetotaling ventures I went dancing with friends at a bar on John Babiiha Avenue (that’s former Acacia Avenue to you). I ordered a bottle of water and was given something that resembled my deodorant. After three whole gulps, the 2000 shillings I’d been charged for the sample had vanished.


I needed 6 more of the damn things

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