Where are etiquette and decorum in Uganda?

By Sharon Tumukunde

The terms “etiquette”, “decorum” and “protocol” are fast fading in meaning and usage among many Ugandan circles, both in rural and urban settings, and I cannot help but wonder why.

This is quickly becoming the Uganda we are slowly and painfully getting used to.

Various social media platforms are filled with angry little men and women who are quick to trade insults at the first sight of blood or weakness, but when did all this start?

Have we always been this petite?

However, 23-year old university student Jalia Kemigisha says etiquette is the right way to conduct yourself while among others. However, this is quickly fading.

According to Jalia, good form and acceptable manners among people today, especially Ugandans, are no longer “obvious” as people might think.

“Growing up, we used to hear about how our parents would sit around the fire in the night as they waited for supper and their parents would teach those values, morals, folk songs and proverbs, while today, parents and children alike sit together in the living room and are all glued to their smart phones. It’s sad,” Jalia explained.

St. Stephen’s Church of Uganda in Mpererwe says personal and public etiquette cannot be taught in schools or churches but right from the home.

According to Ssekiyivu, western culture has greatly impacted the way we behave, both positively and negatively.

However, he notes that in some communities, people are still ignorant of what is expected of them while in public, and this has made many communities desensitized to the importance of maintaining good manners.

“Charity begins at home. Therefore, it is our responsibility to spare time out of our busy schedules to remind ourselves that good morals are developed with practice and patience.” Whatever it is that you want to be done to you and for you, think about how you too can do the same for others, “Ssekiyivu emphasized.”

Greeting is a common practice upcountry. In rural areas, it is customary to greet a stranger and ask about the weather or whatever tickles your fancy. However, in the capital, Kampala, greeting a stranger in a taxi or by the roadside is tantamount to immediate suspicion.

Grace Mbabazi, a businesswoman from Wandegeya, says that it is polite to greet someone. You never know, a kind word just might help bring healing to a hurting person.

“It is right for people to greet each other, whether a muganda or not. It’s a sign of respect,” says Mbabazi.

Nose picking and spitting in public: These two acts, especially in public, are crude and very gross, but somehow, as Ugandans, we think this is okay and yet it is not.

Shafic Lukwago, a student at Victoria University in Kampala, says that he is disgusted by adults who nose pick using their bare hands.

“I believe as we were all growing up, the teachers at the schools we attended usually emphasized carrying handkerchiefs wherever we went, which is slowly fading out,” Shafic said.

Try your very best to leave your humble abode with a handkerchief or two to clean your nose properly, and if you really have to spit, yuck! “Find a safe and private place to do that,” Shafic said.

Urinating alongside the road:

Pius Kabugo, a health specialist, said that it is not healthy for someone to urinate alongside the road because when it rains, it ends up going into the drainage systems. “There are actually people who fetch water from these very drainage systems that have contaminated water,” Pius said.

Vivian Mutoni, a nurse at one of the clinics in Mukono, ironically said that men will see on a random wall that’s been clearly marked, “Peeing here is not allowed,” fine 50,000 Ugandan shillings, and will still go ahead and urinate there.

It’s like the warning sign is a dare to many Ugandan men and women.

“In some rural areas, women just pull their dresses up and pee where they are standing. It makes me wonder if they are wearing any panties.” Vivian said.

The world as we know it has changed, and gentlemen as we knew them have become extinct.

In an overcrowded restaurant or overloaded bus, it’s not possible to stand for an older lady, let alone give up his seat for them. In an overcrowded restaurant or overloaded bus, it’s not possible,” said Jalia Kemigisha.

“We need these men to resurface. It’s okay to be on your grind, but remember to be more patient, more resilient, more understanding just like our parents,” Jalia further said.

use of polite language.

Shivan Apio, a teacher at a primary school, said that it is important for one to learn and use polite language. That is why they are taught straight from primary school.

“Words like kindly, am sorry, thank you, may I?” “These words and more are fast fading from our daily vocabulary and from the auto-correct section of our smart phones,” Apio said.

Shivan went ahead to say that learning to use these words daily will yield positive results.

Clarence Thomas, an American lawyer and the second African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court, once stated that good manners can open doors that even the best education cannot.

There are thousands upon thousands of etiquette tips to be shared. You can visit https://www.managementstudyguide.com/what-is-etiquette.htm Some are more BOO-ZHEE than others when it comes to etiquettes, different types of etiquettes, and more, but in the end, we all simply need and want to be respected, right?