Monday, March 12, 2007


Wangye is the second most common word I hear after “Hey, muzungu!”. And after 6 months I’m still not entirely sure what it means. Literally, it translates as “my/mine”, as in “my child(omwana wangye)”. But it seems to be a multipurpose word, used as pardon? or hello?(answering a telephone) or yes or I accept(as in “I accept what you say, don’t necessarily agree with you, don’t have any intention of doing whatever it is you have suggested but am far too polite to tell you any of this.”) One little word. Wangye.

There is also the “Ugandan shrug”. No, it’s not a dance. It’s a barely perceptible lift of the eyebrows. At first I mistook it for a restrained version of the “UK shrug” (exaggerated exasperation and huff accompanied by a bilateral eyebrow lift). But it’s not. It’s “wangye”. After an intense period of bartering over 2 large plastic buckets and 2 even larger plastic bowls (for the clinic – don’t ask) we settled on 21,000Ush. I paid the money and staggered away with my wares, only then realising that I had sealed the deal with a Ugandan shrug.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really don't believe this word WANGYE is so common in Uganda.
My name is Wanngye just one more N. I had never heard it before.I'm so glad because all time I was curious about meaning of my name and now you show me. Not even my parents known. They told me they watched a movie and the principal character was called WANGYE.