Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Talk Like A Ugandan

The spoken language is rich in it's use of local idioms and phrases.

Ugandan English is more distinct from English English than you might, at first, expect. Some of it a stranger can 'get' without the help of a local, some of it is a little harder to fathom.

Like the slang for various parts of the anatomy. The local tabloid (think Sunday Sport but worse), The Red Pepper, has popularised the term 'Whopper' for a certain part of the male body (no guesses for which).

At least the term Whopper makes some sort of sense, even if it makes for an interesting moment when ordering in Burger King.

But then they go and use the term 'Kandahar' for the vagina. Now how on earth would the name of an Afghanistan city come to represent female genitalia?

I thought this might have been an urban myth, but then I picked up a copy of the paper myself and read a story about some prostitutes being rounded up and arrested by local police. There were lines like "The women had been opening their Kandahars for clients for years" and quotes from the ladies themselves saying "I will let whomever I choose enjoy my Kandahar". And other such gems.

So it's not a wind up. It's an elaborate, and unfathomable, but highly effective way for the paper to smuggle in lots of lewd talk and smut, without getting prosecuted for it.

But it gets better.

There is another popular slang word for the vagina.

Some time back, the play called The Vagina Monologues came to Kampala. It had a short-lived run and was taken off the stage in a flurry of controversiality.

Ever since then, I'm told, the word monologue has been slang for a lady's bits.

But sometimes, when they can get away with it, the tabloid press here still favour the direct approach. Thanks to some spurious story about a local Pastor's sexual shenanigans, the Red Pepper newspaper managed to get the words "BUM SEX" into their front page headline every day for a whole week.

That's dedication to the art of shlock journalism, that is.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious. I spent 2 months in Uganda and fell a little bit in love with the country. I enjoyed reading Red Pepper's headlines on my walk to work. My favorite: "I FELT FIRE IN MY BUM", part of the pastor sodomy saga. I miss that.

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Well, these headlines were from last autumn when the scandal broke. But they've been having the court case at the moment so Red Pepper have had plenty of chance to combine the words 'bum' and 'fire' and 'ring' and 'sex' and 'pastor' all over again.
Aaaah, tabloid journalism at its best...