Illusions of a Bachelor: Queen of Independence
By Aaron Aroriza:
Kids always ask the hardest questions. Sometimes the questions are profound, other times they are just utterly stupid-or so we the adults think! But if you ever want to know whether you understand the things you think you understand or believe the things you think you believe in, try explaining them to an inquisitive four year old.
When the four year old I spent my country's independence day with asked me what was happening on TV, I didn't know what mess I was getting myself into by telling him our country was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary. By the time our little conversation ended I had discovered the sad reality that I neither understood independence nor could explain to the kid what it is we were celebrating.
But when I was just three years older than he is now, a certain teacher explained to us during assembly what independence was; he said it meant okwetegyeka, a runyankole word that can also be interpreted as self rule or, just like I literally interpreted it then; 'no taking orders'.
The following day was 9th October and we didn't go to school. When my mom woke me up in the morning to send me to the market, I informed her I wasn't going to take any orders that day-it was my independence day! She has some raw humor, my mom. She agreed to my independence arrangement but informed me that I would have to spend the day out of her husband's house. I never saw the harm in that, so I agreed and left without even taking breakfast. I played with the neighbors’ kids; so independent from all the work that was going on at home. Lunchtime-and everyone went to their houses. That's when I started to realize I was actually hungry, thirsty and dirty. I needed food, water, and a bathroom and the only place I could get those was from the people I was supposed to be independent from on that day. I rushed back; all penitent and begging. And to my naïve surprise they had prepared me a place at the dining table too-they had been expecting me. My new orders however were that I would be washing the plates after lunch. I thankfully agreed-almost on my knees. Oh, how hard they laughed!
Though not as hard as I laughed when Helga told me about her independent girlfriend: She lives in a house of her own, she drives a sleek car, she takes her girlfriends out and pays the bill, she has the latest electronics, she is beautiful, educated and doesn't take any orders from any man. I was about to beg Helga to give me her friend's contacts when it occurred to me that I should perhaps first ask what our Miss independent actually does. I shouldn't have asked. I shouldn't have opened my wide mouth 'cause then I wouldn't have been informed that actually the house was bought for her by some rich diplomat who also saw the need not to have an empty garage and found pleasure in giving our dear independent woman a weekly allowance that would put to shame most of my friends' monthly salaries.
I still met her anyways. And true to Helga's word, she is beautiful- though I thought the makeup was kinda overdone. She's beautiful; she's educated- though she didn't sound so informed. And it's true she doesn't take any orders from men. She didn't take any from me at least- though she warmed to flirtation and melted at the slightest compliment. She paid our bill like every independent woman should and I couldn't stop picturing the look on the donor's face were he to find out who the beneficiary of his weekly allowances to Miss independent were that Tuesday evening.
But it's the queen’s look I would climb a tree to take a peek at whenever she hears one of her former colonies (doesn't this word remind you of worker bees?) celebrating independence. Perhaps it would clear my confusion on whether my country should have celebrated 50 years of independence or just commemorated Independence Day and only celebrated some of the achievements made and lessons learnt throughout the years. Would it make any difference?! Don't bet on it-the queen's language is a very peculiar one.
I don't think the queen would laugh at me for commemorating Independence Day but I have a very weird feeling that she would roflol if she found me celebrating independence. Of course it's just a feeling and the queen's language is too hard for me; which is why I have decided to participate in its murder. Don't ask me what 'roflol' means for example. I also found it on facebook and I'm a very independent facebooker who celebrates that fact every day. I don't care whether the queen 'roflol-ed' on 9th October 2012. I don't even care that the money which funded the 50 year independence anniversary celebrations might not have been 'home grown' or that the pavilion meant for the dignitaries was constructed by our army under Chinese supervision. I celebrated Uganda's 50 years of independence like I didn't know or care what the queen's interpretation of the word was. And boy did I have a proudly Ugandan blast.