The name must sound like the name must sound

Luganda is a gorgeous language. Luganda in full flight… the only reason Luganda in full flight is not a sight to behold is because sounds are not sights and are not beheld– it is, however, a thrill to experience. A pastor blowing hard in church, a riddler at a traditional wedding ceremony, my father, my grandfather, and the works of the incredible GNL Zamba, and that is just the Luganda I am equipped to understand.


The unfortunate fact is I do not speak very good Luganda. I am what you would call a pedestrian speaker (Pedestrians, if you are joining us from KCCA, are people who don’t have cars but are supposed to walk on pavements and would do exactly that if you ever bothered to make some for us).

Though I am a Muganda by heritage, the circumstances of my life led to the situation you see before you. A gandie for whom Luganda is actually a third language.


It’s not something I am proud of, but it’s not something I am ashamed of either.


I love hearing Luganda, and I do wish I was better at it, but I am far better at Swahili than I am at Luganda. English? English, however, is my bitch.


The reason, I think, that I am proficient in English, is because before I could discover Luganda, back in Kenya, I was steeped in the wonderful things done with it. It fascinated me. I read novels, heard quips and one-liners on TV, was blown away by Larkin and Auden and then came hip hop music… Do you even know what acrobatics English does in the hands of a truly gifted MC? You be there with just mbu niggas grunting about bitches and hoes. You have no idea what happens when the numbskulls leave.


But now…


All this stuff English does, Luganda can do as well. In fact, probably even better.


Every quip, every brilliant turn of phrase, every succinctly-nailed head, every perfectly captured sense, every one you have found in English, it has an equivalent in Luganda.


and Runyankore

And Acholi

And Bemba

and Lugisu

and Karimojong

and Fulani

and Luhya


What I am trying to say here is this: English is not the only language that rocks. It’s a language, and in the right hand, all languages rock.


So the fact that Kato Lubwama speaks English like this




means nothing. That man speaks better Luganda than you speak English.



If you can’t watch that video, there is a 315kb file here. Just right click and “Save as”.