Sequins and Sapphires: I am Contagious

By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:

I caught a horrible strain of the flu last week. By horrible I mean headache-inducing, nostril-blocking, eye-reddening flu. Very, very, bad flu. I can't do things I once loved doing, like smell, hear and breathe. It sucks. Yesterday the guy in the seat in front of me in the taxi offered to pay my fair. He couldn't bear touching my money to pass it over to the conductor. Yes, it's that bad. I shouldn't even have been in that taxi. I should be banned, like mini-skirts; for causing disturbing reactions among the God-fearing citizens of Uganda.

I've got all sorts of advice from well wishers, all of them promising that their solution will have me as good as new in no time. Here's a few of what I've tried.

Drink lots of water

To whoever suggested this, 'no time' must mean so much time that you stop noticing it's going by. I've taken so much water I'm sure I can serve someone my pee as mineral water, but the flu's still here! In fact, I'm blowing my nose even more now. Not worth it.

Kyaapa Mbalaasi

This is the name for a locally made balm. It's not the one I used, but that's how we roll in Uganda; one famous product represents its peers. Margarine = Blue Band. Detergent = Omo. Toothpaste = Colgate. So the kyaapa mbalaasi I used claimed to relieve all sorts of aches and pains, and cure colds. I rubbed it on my throat and around my nostrils as advised. I woke up with my nose feeling and looking like bruised crocodile skin. It stung like hell when my hankie rubbed against the skin there. Notice the lingering need for a handkerchief.


After the taxi debacle, I was getting to terms with the fact that this thing is not going to bow to the magic of home remedies. It seemed determined to stay with me longer than Denzel's nakedness stayed on our TV screens. So I turned to prescription meds. Apparently piriton is the best for flu. One drawback: it causes extreme drowsiness. This wasn't really a drawback for me, because I spend most of the average day feeling drowsy anyway. The guy at the counter said it will dry out my nostrils. That sold me. I had already washed and recycled too many handkerchiefs. I took the piriton. I slept. It worked! But there was a cough I could feel lurking in the back of my throat. So I turned to one last home remedy that is tried and tested.


This drink is so horribly awesome it could only be called by that one name. It's my sister's brainchild. Well, she probably found it on the internet or something, but it will always be hers as far as I'm concerned. I'll give you the recipe.

What you'll need for a dose: 1 large fresh ginger, 2 lemons, 1 onion, a little black pepper, a tablespoon of honey, a little water and a blender. It's very simple to make. Just throw everything into the blender and press the highest numbered button. Don't peel anything. Sieve and drink. Don't swallow too fast or it won't work. Gurgle a little and feel it permeate your throat, then swallow.  When you come to, there'll be no cough to talk about.

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

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