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Things UMEME Has Added To Our Vocabulary

Things UMEME has added to our vocabulary

Every other day we come up with a new expletive to use when referring to the entity charged with keeping our homes and work-places lit. Be that as it may, the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. In all this, we never stop to thank heavens for the amazing words the current powerless situation has added to our vocabulary.


Pronunciation: /pawa-hp(ə)ing/


Move from house to house in search of power. The act is done by individuals when power leaves their home. Those with power are obliged by an unwritten law to blare from pricy speakers the song ‘I’ve got the power’ by Snap! so that their unlucky powerless friends can seek refuge .

Usage: Hey Nansikombi, I’m not home now. I’m out with friends, power-hopping

Origin: Early 21st century, of a former British colony origin; possibly from the root phrase ‘bar-hopping’ which means ‘to move from bar to bar while drinking every bit of bottled fermented fruit that available money can buy’.



Pronunciation: /pawa-n^p/


Sleep off the dark hours at home. Usually done from 06:00PM when power goes off to the next morning.

Usage: Richard, why are you so vibrant and super-charged?

Hey man, I power-napped last night.



Pronunciation: /fl^ir-ayan/


Hurriedly iron clothes for work or school before power goes off. Much as it can be done several hours in advance, the adrenaline-rush that comes from doing it five minutes before 06:00 AM, all the while looking at one’s watch, is cited as the leading cause of the act.

Usage: Bosco, I’m going to have to call you back. I’m flair-ironing right now






Pronunciation: /mun-eit/


Eat in the dark when power goes off. Common foods consumed this way include, but aren’t restricted to; sausages, pizza, sim sim balls, roast groundnuts, smoked fish, spaghetti, millet, rice and sometimes chicken.

Usage: Sorry boss, I know I owe you work but I cannot talk right now, I’m moon-eating. I promise I’ll call you back


Pronunciation: /baebuja/

Vulgar slang

  1. Expletive used, away from children, when power goes off


  1. An unfaithful phone battery that doesn’t last more than one-day yet power is on only once in three days.

Usage: I’m sorry Priscilla, it’s not that I don’t love you and can’t call you often enough; it is just that my battery is a babooja

Coping With Powerlessness

The dark ages are upon us. Run for the hills. That would work if the hills weren’t covered in darkness too. To avoid going home to a dark house and the sounds of mice playing hide and seek in the bathroom, the recent power cuts have us staying at work longer and subsequently watching soaps we didn’t intend to.

The natural impulse is to throw a tantrum, wail, hurl a few objects at government vehicles and kick the cat. Resist every such impulse. This column is all about non-violence; let peace, love and all frilly things reign. Here is a guide on what to do with those hours of darkness that the energy-generating body has been benevolent enough to grant you:

 Story telling

Gather everyone in the house, hold hands and after a five minute humming session, begin to tell scary stories. A prize should be given to anyone who gets the rest to scream

 Talk to the neighbors

You neighbours are also feeling the pinch of the power issues. Lend them your extra candles. If they are the mean type this column has spoken of before, put laxatives in the food they feed their gold fish.

 Watch a movie

Believe it or not, I read on the internet that that Samsung tablet of yours can do way more than send text messages. (Insert pause for you to gasp). Switch it on, place it on that fancy glass table of yours and re-watch ‘Gone with the Wind’. Or ‘Passing Wind’. Basically watch whichever version the guy who pirates movies for you hands over.


Get a ninja costume. Wear it. First prance about in the sitting room, practicing your moves, complete with battle cries and somersaults. This suggestion assumes that you have a ninja costume, a living room and that you can somersault. Some guidelines are in order in case some of this isn’t correct for you. Jjaja Abdu in the new taxi park, better known for selling amazing gomesis, secretly sells ninja costumes. Go get one. There are several YouTube videos on how to somersault.  You may find a few with me in them giving detailed instructions. Watch them till your eyes start to tear. Finally, use the tuft of grass outside your house for practice


Get a dog to jog around with whenever the power goes back to Jinja.  As soon as the power starts it long trip to the East, pull on your sneakers, put that headband on, push some angry rock music into your iPod, put a leash on your poodle and start a leisurely jog around your neighborhood. Take time to wave cheerfully at anyone who looks at you for more than three seconds.


Use this time to do some personal hygiene things you cannot do when the lights are on. Like removal of boogers

Published on November 20, 2011