Kalyegira: Luganda is a language for conmen, pickpockets


Fury is raging on social media directed towards senior journalist, Dr Timothy Kalyegira, for saying Luganda is a language for bad elements in Uganda.

“It (Luganda) is the language of the conman, the corrupt government official, the pickpocket, the rude customer care staff, the materialistic Ugandan woman, the petty social scene, office gossip, shady Pentecostal pastors, forged academic papers and in general the cheap, low-brow side to Uganda,” Kalyegira wrote in Sunday Monitor.

The Kampala Express boss blamed the trend on the Bantu-dominated ruling NRM government.

“I resent it when I enter a supermarket or office and am greeted in Luganda and as much as I can these days, I speak English in offices and supermarkets and pretend, as much as I can get away with, not to understand Luganda,” he added.

Social media frenzy over the article

The debate is still ongoing as to whether Kalyegira was right or wrong to comment on Luganda.

Fadala Musa Daudi wrote: Timothy, your article in Sunday Monitor has evoked a lot of emotion. I don’t necessarily share your views on Luganda as a language, but I share your frustration and anger towards the decay and malaise that is prevalent in Uganda today.

As to the role of Language in this state of affairs is a subject worthy of serious debate devoid of emotion and other subjective impulses.

Kalyegira replied: Well Fadala Musa Daudi, if you share my frustration at the decay prevalent in Uganda, then you have understood my article. It was not an attack on Luganda but a comment on this atmosphere since 1986 brought on by the Bantu-dominated NRM.

Allan Ssekamatte pointed out: Timothy Kalyegira. You are treading on quicksand. Don’t blame a language that has been listed among Britain’s official languages for your personal experiences. I have known you for superior, almost metaphysical thinking. Why the degeneration to this thoughtlessness? The pettiness, corruption, societal degeneration et cetera that you are livid about have nothing to do with Luganda.

And while, I would expect staff in a blue-chip company or government offices to communicate in English, I take strong exception to you claim Luganda symbolises the degenerate Uganda. Come on Timothy.

I agree with you on many things but you have taken a flight from reality. Haven’t you ever been conned or detoothed by an English speaking, well educated Ugandan? This is a Pandora’s Box. Incidentally, is this why I have never heard you utter a Luganda word?

Kalyegira, however, explained that “my article was actually a criticism of the degradation of Uganda’s institutions and sense of the proper under the NRM, not a criticism of Luganda or Baganda.”

Part of Kalyegira’s article:

Luganda is by any measure the nearest to a lingua franca there is in Uganda.

It is the tongue of the Baganda, the largest ethnic grouping in Uganda, and the second language of Basoga, Banyarwanda, Bagisu, Banyoro, Samia, Bagwere and widely understood at least to basic degree in most parts of western Uganda.

It is the lingua franca of Bantu-speaking Uganda.

Unfortunately, for this very reason, the impression most Ugandans have of Swahili is what I am starting to develop about Luganda.

Just as Swahili in the southern and more populous half of Uganda is synonymous with soldiers and therefore Uganda’s history of fear and oppression, Luganda to me has started to become the language of all that is wrong and petty over the last 30 years.

Just as Swahili in and of itself is a good language, Luganda is a cultured language.

Full article can be found at:

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