By GRACE NAKATO
Ugandans are the only people on earth who live their lives on the premise that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
In Uganda, if you want to pass on critical public information, caption it with a huge racy headline and add an accompanying picture of a couple in a compromising position. It does not matter if all the three issues are unrelated. The goal is capturing the public’s eye, whetting their curiosity and increasing your circulation numbers.
Some of the guys who operate their papers like that do it because they know Ugandans hate reading to the point that they don’t even read their bank statements. Because we are Ugandan and everything in Africa, including reading, is tribal, here are the five tribes that pretend to read:
Gunpoint readers: These are commonly found in customer care help lines of telecom companies. They read only because they have to. The last time they saw a textbook or read anything that was not in brightly coloured large print and unavoidable was when they were in school. They are usually hired on the strength of academic certificates, but reading causes them brain malfunction.
Most of our graduates fall in this category and would-be employers now offer practical interviews before looking at certificates.
Plebs: These are commonly found browsing in the matatu or bus stop. You recognise them by their long necks developed due to sharing fellow passengers’ newspapers or books.
They are also prone to offer unwarranted opinions on whatever the main theme of your reading material is.
Another of their habitats is the newspaper vendor’s spot, where they stop to at least catch the headlines. They are very informed on current affairs and glean most of their info from the radio, bars, social media sites and, of course, by eavesdropping on other conversations.
Cheapskates: These purebreds are only found in Kampala because it is the only place I know where newspaper pages are stapled together.
This is done to prevent financially challenged people from getting “free news”. This tribe “hires” or rents the newspaper in the morning for a third of its price for two to four hours.
The more bookish members are known to frequent a certain bookshop that has comfy sofas where they can enjoy a free read or just rest their weary toes in the pretext of “browsing with intent to purchase”.
Osmotic readers: These can easily be recognised by the type of book in hand — a self help book that focuses on character building, changing bad habits and, the favourite, the promise of riches and success. They imbibe the info from their palms directly to the brain and can quote verbatim a couple of phrases from the books, even though they never read beyond the first four pages.
Dreamers: These are readers who search for true love between the pages of magazines and romance novels. They usually live in the fictitious world of knights, shining armor and horses — in an Africa where the only knights we know are dark nights.
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