Funny Africa

These are views gathered from May 14, 2006 – April 2, 2009; by Timothy Kalyegira; from over 100 African citizens who have lived in, visited, transited or traveled through at least two African countries.

The question was: “From your traveling around Africa, what is the thing about Africans that puzzles you the most?”

The following are the first of the over 100 responses:
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“Our inability to plan, especially long-term” — Daniel Kalinaki, Kampala, Uganda

“I’m puzzled by the religious adoration of anybody in authority” — James Onen, Kampala, Uganda

“Our complacent attitude towards poverty. People are very poor but there is a general acceptance that the rulers are the ones who have a right to money and a good quality of life (health, education, housing) while the rest happily go about with their hard lives (our fate!) They don’t think they deserve better.” — Jackie Nyagahima, Entebbe, Uganda

“Tough question. I would cite the maverick ideology, [that is] fly by the seat of the pants or makeshift attitude. A certain lack of passion and planning.” — Tom Ogwang, Gulu, Uganda

“What puzzles me is Africans’ lack of regard for time.” — Sonia Kiconco Rees, Kampala, Uganda

“People expecting to earn without working: [taking of] commission; begging; complacency with subsistence living; replying too much on nature.” — Henry Manyire, Kampala, Uganda

“Endless greed. Everywhere you go in Africa, it’s that. You set up a task force to investigate corruption and on that task force is a chairman who [himself] should be investigated for corruption. It’s crazy!” — Jaffer Remo, Kampala, Uganda

“The lack of shame. And I mean shame in a philosophical way.” — Charles Onyango-Obbo, Nairobi, Kenya

“The thing that puzzles me is their backwardness. When will they ever develop?” — Vianey Kabera, Kigali, Rwanda

“Lack of appreciation for the next generation and legacy.” — Arthur Ntengwe, Kampala, Uganda

“The fact that they ran towards a violent scene rather than away from it.” — Trupti Shah, Nairobi, Kenya

“The way we try to copy White people and then turn around and blame them for things that are our fault. Then how we always seem to discourage enterprise.” — Dennis Matanda, Kampala, Uganda

“1. They have backward innocence — [I] do not know what they don’t have or what they can’t do. 2. They are friendly and warm…[A] people of that nature are puzzling!” — Lieutenant Sabiti Kabuchu, Kampala, Uganda

“It is [the] laissez faire attitude.” — Stephen Asiimwe, Kampala, Uganda

“The faith, the positive attitude with which they take some hard knocks that are always coming at them.” — Loy Nabeta, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

“What puzzles me the most about Africans, is how they want to go somewhere, get up in the morning, dress up, hit the road, leaving the map and compass boxed at home. How they will get there, try the genius!” — Susan Nangwale, Kampala, Uganda

“I must say it is our dismal time-keeping.” — Valentine Rwegasira, London, United Kingdom

“They seem unbothered by the shabbiness of their surroundings.” — Francis Onapito Ekomoloit, Kampala, Uganda

“Very joyous [in spite of] the daily quagmires we face. Is it masochism? Also, we hate reading! If only Africans could read more.” — Winston (“TShaka”) Mayanja, Kampala, Uganda

“Our inability to risk our material objects to defend our principles.” — Andrew Mwenda, Kampala, Uganda

“About my view [what] puzzled me in Africa is, people are more relying on others than fighting for themselves in order to get out of from where they are. 2. Compare[d] to where I’m now, meaning Europe, the people in Africa look more happy with all the complicated problems they are in.” Shewaye Legesse, Berlin, Germany

“The remarkable inability, amid all the suffering, to see that they should hold their governments accountable for improving their lives.” — Conrad Nkutu, Kampala, Uganda

“What shocks me [for example] is how the majority of Congolese have resigned to their fate. Wake [up], dress nicely, and party all night from Monday to Monday.”— Frank Nyakairu, Kampala, Uganda

“Disturbs more like. Lack of ambition.” — Paul Busharizi, Kampala, Uganda

“Their ignorance. 99 percent of them are ignorant about everything. They are ignorant even about themselves.” — Jolly Kanimba, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans are simple, superstitious, uncreative and wealth exploiters.” — Allan Sekamatte, Kampala, Uganda

“Failure to take detail seriously.” — Paul Nyangabyaki, Kampala, Uganda

“We are not bothered, so we do not pay attention to detail and for the same reason we accept (almost) anything from anyone.” — Rhona Baingana, Kampala, Uganda

“The complacency; the fact that people seem to accept things as they are. Even those who seem to have prescriptions for the issues.” — Juliet Nabwire, Kampala, Uganda

“We are crazy. First of all, we are a puzzle in ourselves: we are foreigners here in our own lands and [yet] we are [also] foreigners when we are in Europe and America. We are crazy!” — Susan Kakuhikire, Kampala, Uganda

“[The] insatiable greed for everything.” — Arthur Ruberantwari, Entebbe, Uganda

“What puzzled me most is that people in all three countries [I visited] were comfortable throwing litter all over their environs.” — Charity Ahimbisibwe, Kampala, Uganda

“I am always amazed at Africans’ ability to rise above their problems by making light of them.” — Nassozi Muwanga, Kampala, Uganda

“They are many but failure to appreciate contemporary statehood takes the meat.” — Asuman Bisiika, Kampala, Uganda

“Complacency and complaining.” — Emily Gakiza, Kampala, Uganda

“Self-destructive tendencies. An inherent frustration, a tendency to spoil, to despise one’s own…a general neglect of resources, of assets.” — Michael Bakibinga, Kampala, Uganda

“Without any hesitation, lack of initiative, a resignation to fate and inability to comprehend that one can determine one’s destiny, hence we wait for our ‘leaders’ to guide and advise us. This ranges from the Muslim in Gambia to the South African and our next door neighbours in Rwanda. Africans trust and lean on their leaders too much and our problems will always invariably be linked to poor leadership.” — Pamela Tibihikira Kalyegira, Kampala, Uganda

“Lack of respect for formal rules.” — Peter Mwesige, Kampala, Uganda

“Absence of shame; they don’t blush whatever the circumstances.” — Andrew Kasirye, Kampala, Uganda

“Their love for partying.” — Julius Dingisha, Kampala, Uganda

“Our happy-go-lucky nature, in spite of our myriad problems. However, our deep-rooted jealousies counter that.” — Raymond Byabazaire, Kampala, Uganda

“It’s that air of perpetually waiting for humanitarian intervention. A beggar mentality across [the] board, whether [it is the] elite or peasants.” — Robert Shaka, Kampala, Uganda

“Their inability to save. They believe in spending for the moment.” — Arthur Kitakufe, Kampala, Uganda

Corruption.” — Banteyehun Haile, Kampala, Uganda

“I have come across hundreds of brilliant minds who are leaders in their own right, with natural resources probably worth trillions of dollars. What else can be done to unlock greatness in our continent? That’s what puzzles me.” — Ethan Mussolini, Kampala, Uganda

“The majority’s belief [in] or recourse to the supernatural, [other] worldly or divine when confronted by a problem. This tendency transcends all strata of society regardless of their [nurturing.]” — Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Gureme, Kampala, Uganda

“Strong, optimistic, diverse and [unyielding] even in [the] worst of circumstances.” — William Babigumira, Kampala, Uganda

“Lack of a sense of when they err.” — Joachim Buwembo, Kampala, Uganda

“Most Africans I met were trying to fit either in their own countries or abroad. They are trying to find [a] social ethic that [defines] them and their world and they are confused but inexplicably optimistic about the future.” — Angelo Izama, Kampala, Uganda

“Patience in the face of incompetence and inertia.” — Ian Ibara, Kampala, Uganda

“Our [tendency] to procrastinate…Less do it yourself and always seeking external factors to sort our destiny. We just don’t know how to own up.” — Andrew Lubega, Kampala, Uganda

“Easily manipulated. Don’t stand up to bullies.” — James Masaba, Kampala, Uganda

“The fear of intellectual daring. Our people prefer pretensions to thought, [to] thought proper. It is funny how [in Africa] intelligence is not [what] intelligence does but as it postures.” — Philip Matogo, Luwero, Uganda

“Lack of ingenuity. Lack of organisation of people unless there is [direct personal benefit.]” — Winfred Rukidi, Kampala, Uganda

“The all too common refusal to connect the events and actions that directly affect their lives, unless these events are expressions of violence.” — Alan Tacca, Jinja, Uganda

“Africans are liars, selfish, very disorganised and yes some are very dirty…I am surprised how Africans can survive under such [a] horrible lifestyle year after year.” — Shawn Ray Makumbi, Kampala, Uganda

“The thing that puzzles me the most about Africans is their ineptitude in their daily work.” — Anthony Ruberantwari, Entebbe, Uganda

“Their aversion to keeping the law.” — Ben Mwine, Kampala, Uganda

“The casual way we tend to deal with serious matters. We lack attention to detail [in the way we approach] life and we want to have free things all the time irrespective of the cost. We are highly sociable people but we lack discipline, ethics and integrity especially when it comes to power and money. Even PhD holders become uncultured and can’t react differently. Lack of genuine remorse when we do wrong also puzzles me lots and it is common here in Africa.” — Lameck Kiirya, Fort Portal, Uganda

“Lack of inspiration in the sense of ideas and creativity.” — Tony Otoa Jr., London, United Kingdom

“[How we are] little bothered about time.” — Achilles Kiwanuka, Kampala, Uganda

“Why we still think Whites are much better than us. We hero worship them and elevate them to superhuman status. [Lack] of self-esteem and self worth. We don’t have much faith in our abilities [and] talents. It’s a new form of slavery — of the mind!” — Sheila Kulubya, Kampala, Uganda

“Disorder in her cities yet people seem [to be] intelligent!” — Michael Wangusa, Kampala, Uganda

“Some kind of amazing laziness which beats me sometimes. Zambians take the Cup [in this]. Showing off and extravagance is another character very typical of Africans, that’s why we shall never develop.” — Barbara Bamanya, Lusaka, Zambia

“The fear of facing the truth, especially if not favourable.” — Grace Mayanja, Kampala, Uganda

“A happy people in spite of our economic hardships.” — Edward Magumba, Jinja, Uganda

“[How] the White man lives a better life [in the African countries I have visited than the native Africans] [and how] the Black man is doing his best to please the White man.” — Didas Bakunzi, Kampala, Uganda

“The thing that puzzles most is our total lack of shame. We glorify corruption and plunder and the honest morals are disregarded.” — Obed Kamugisha, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans…keep quiet about the things that really matter.” — Kathy Kateera, Kampala, Uganda

“Laziness. They have no urge to work which [leads] to our being dependent, corrupt, thugs, [and] wanting free things.” — Charles Mugisha, Kampala, Uganda

“The propensity [for] the easy life without hard work.” — Peter Byarugaba, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me to no end about we Africans is the difficulty we have in grasping deep philosophical and abstract thought and the broadest and most far-ranging ideas; the difficulty in concentrating mentally and how difficult we find it to master minute craftsmanship and detail, all of which are the basis for creating advanced civilizations. Even when motivated by the best of intentions, our efforts almost always flounder in the face of this debilitating limitation — the hard time we have in getting our minds to concentrate. Decades of elite education, international travel and residency in the sophisticated western countries, and an affluent middle class standard of living, seem to have done little to overcome this limitation.” — Timothy Kalyegira, Kampala, Uganda

“What drives me insane is that in most cases they do not act in their own interests.” — Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Rwakitarate, Kampala, Uganda

“They forget many times that they have to stand in a [queue]. They are eager to jump the queue but can’t sometimes. [At international airports] many want to be seen [as being] frequent fliers.” — Barbara Bitangaro, Kampala, Uganda

“Just as [I] believe in White mental and Black physical superiority, I get puzzled [over] why we can’t learn from the experiences of those ahead of us. I guess it proves the above.” — Samson Bill Nyatia, Kampala, Uganda

“The belief that they are just part of the system put [up] by someone else and they cannot change it.” — Ben Wandera, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me is the contradiction: people are intelligent and resourceful but feel and act inferior, while being defiant and patriotic at the same time.” — Mark Ssali, Kampala, Uganda

“In one word: laissez faire attitude to life, [that is] as long as I eat and sleep, then nothing beyond that matters.” — Paul Nsibuka, Kampala, Uganda

“Untidiness and lack of regard for fellow Africans.” — Cornelius Gulere, Kampala, Uganda

“In the countries I have traveled in Africa, what beats my understanding is [that] public toilets are either dirty or completely ran down, whether in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, [or] Congo Brazzaville, yet we get surprised when things from [the] national level to [the] personal level get ran down.” — Alec Muhoho, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me is why people are fascinated by Idi Amin.” — Tony Ofungi, Kampala, Uganda

“Superstitions, poor time-keeping, disorganisation, poverty and strong family bonds.” — Patrick Kamara, Kampala, Uganda

“The lack of a sense of public and civic responsibility. Privately, [our public officials] live a comfortable, decent life, but they can’t seem to apply these same standards in their homes to their public offices.” — Bernard Tabaire, Kampala, Uganda

“How we settle for much less. How we feel that people from more developed countries are better than us in all aspects (including morals). The fact that we are survivors. We are and tend to be quite a happy lot.” — Julie Nayiga, Kampala, Uganda

“That’s been a puzzling question. I guess there are loads of [contradictions like] respect then disrespect, love of life then recklessness, move to town then happy in a slum. Where is this race going?” — Margaret Wandera, Kampala, Uganda

“It’s the lack of self-confidence. Beyond the exterior is a deep-rooted low self-esteem that manifests [itself] in a variety of ways. Two ways I see: fear and emphasis on tangible rather than intangible resources.” — Martin Barungi, Kampala, Uganda

“That we refuse to outgrow our peasant mentality. That we remain chronically and lethargic[ally]…indifferent to the important things in life.” — Alan Kasujja, Kampala, Uganda

“Wanting to be involved in each others’ lives…Africans feel they have a responsibility towards and a relationship with everyone. [The reason] why a taxi guy will call you uncle and me sister. The reason your [social events] like weddings are like clan and village reunions. The reason for nepotism…That collectiveness is what I mean.” — Helen Nyana, Kampala, Uganda

“Lack of ambition. Your average African is quite content with his hut, which he calls his mansion, his three or four wives and his horde of malnourished children running around naked. Even a “rich” African doesn’t see beyond his money, flashy cars and big house.” — Fideri Kirungi, New York, USA

“One thing I have seen in all our countries and which is common to the human race, is that we do not learn from history. This aspect is more expressed in Africans than anywhere else.” — Henry Bagazonzya, Washington DC, USA

“That [the leaders] all do not care about changing the lives of the poor and they seem satisfied playing in the mud in which they are stuck, in terms of development.” — Wafula Oguttu, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me most is Africans’ failure to develop despite having resources. Facilities appear run down save for South Africa.” — Henry Ssali, Kampala, Uganda

“That a continent with so much potential and people who seem so much smarter than [other people in] so many places…seems so dire. Are we opportunists? Lazy? Or just buying time? Why do we have a “me and my stomach” mentality and not a “For God and my Country and Countrymen” one?” — Jackie Bageire, Texas, USA

“My answer is not about me but about [White] friends…who travel around Africa. What puzzles them is that the moment they meet any African, of whatever status (whether minister or beggar), the African automatically assumes that they (the Whites) are rich and tries to get the Whites to solve their financial problems…My friends say that this happens in all the countries they visit in Africa.” — Soogi Katende, Kampala, Uganda

“It is that laissez faire attitude.” — Sam Obbo, Kampala, Uganda

“What’s puzzling about Africans is their lack of perseverance in what they want to do, craze for easy life and free things, adoration of Whites and failure to work together.” — Norbert Mukasa, Kampala, Uganda

“The thing that puzzles me most is the naivety of people and the similarity of the life style amongst the common people. And everywhere you go the African elite pretend a lot and are corrupted very much. They tend to maximize their own benefit. Sometimes you can’t blame the [Whites] for doing the things they are doing to Africa because the people never wake up and those who are suppose[d] to understand what is going on…take advantage of the situation. So if you are never going to realize you are being cheated, they might as well rob you .That’s what puzzles me from the little I’ve seen and read.” — Nigist Tilahun, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

“I feel puzzled and angry that Africans are not able to pool their resources to their advantage. We seem to rely so much on foreigners to help us convert our resources into wealth. Look everywhere: if it is not the Europeans, it is the Indians or Lebanese at the centre of all enterprise. Africans are just employees earning a pittance. Maybe it is our leaders. Because look at Dubai, it is a monarchy but…that Emirate is ahead. Yet oil ranks number four on its list of [foreign exchange] earners.” — Moses Serugo, Kampala, Uganda

“For me the thing that puzzles me the most is the amazing level of natural resource endowment sitting side by side with the most nail-biting poverty. I am also puzzled by how many Africans cannot seem to see (or have they chosen to ignore) the obvious in how to get things done. Equally puzzling but no longer surprising is how politicians replicate problems from other countries in their own as if they have just come from another planet!” — John Bigyemano, Kampala, Uganda

“I am puzzled by poor people’s desire to cling onto life despite circumstances that would have dictated that they throw in the towel.” — James Mukanga, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans like throwing rubbish through car and bus windows. The sheer fact of almost all African cities having sprawling slums home to half their population!” – Martin Geria, Kampala, Uganda

“That we are so stoical. In a Mozambique hospital, four mothers sat quietly by a bed shared by their four children. Their silence seemed so wrong!” — Lilliane Barenzi, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans are inherently timid. Few believe in their own abilities.” — Eric Naigambi, Kampala, Uganda

The fact that blacks treat fellow blacks less than the Whites, i.e. you will take 20 minutes more at immigration than the Whites, regardless of whether you are travelling with a White guy. It’s everywhere, from the airline hostess, hotels, shops. Crazy world!” — Joseph Kwemala, Monrovia, Liberia

“The thing that puzzles me the most is how Africans think the world (their particular countries) owe them a living simply because they were born there. We get easily comfortable with what we have around us and never strive to achieve more. Bottom line: we hate hassle even if it means reaping in the end. Rather than climb up a mango tree and pick a mango, we would sit under the tree and wait for it to fall down. I wouldn’t really call that lazy. It’s more of being carefree.” — John Kimbe, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me is why we Africans try so hard to emulate our colonial masters yet our masters mistreated us. Maybe that’s why we mistreat each other so much.” — Juliet Nsiima, Kigali, Rwanda

“The usual: the laidback attitude…all over the continent. Oh dear! Oh dear” — Franco Baitwa, Kampala, Uganda

“Most Africans are not sincere. [They] try to cheat you when [they] realise you are a visitor. Most Africans [are] disorganised in everything!” — Robert Mugagga, Kampala, Uganda

“The indifference of our rulers. They do not care. Even the enlightened and so much celebrated have lost direction. I’m turning 45 next February [2007]. All this time I’ve been around, nothing has changed about Africa. It is the same story. Poverty! I have resigned. I have lost hope.” — Martin Ssemakula, Kampala, Uganda

“Well, so many things in my mind. But I think our disorganisation frustrates me most. In a nutshell, Africans’ inability to think for the general good of [the] public is the most frustrating. Everyone thinks for himself and his own good, and that creates such confusion. I doubt we can ever have a collective voice. Find any unit [for example] a family and ask them how you can help them. All of a sudden they will disagree over everything and none will relent, even if it risks losing your help altogether. I cannot start telling you about how dirty and needlessly loud we are.” — Joseph Kabuleta, Kampala, Uganda

“How much culture has permeated the African’s psyche. Culture in Africa supersedes education and religion. Except the White South Africans perhaps. And the Algerians. Remember the Rumbek [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement meeting] minutes? The Col. Dr. [John Garang] was [espousing] brilliant strategy one minute, and then superstitious garbage the next. And it’s the same all over Africa.” — Amina Osman, Kampala, Uganda

“Knowing the right thing but spending time [and] resources trying to do things wrongly.” — Dan Kasirye, Nairobi, Kenya

“Taking people for granted. It’s rare for anyone to ask if it’s okay before they can make a decision that concerns man. Husbands, wives, kids, colleagues are all taken for granted.” — Irene Kiiza, Kampala, Uganda

“[L]ife dictators and senile presidents leading brilliant people” — Joseph Beyanga, Kampala, Uganda

“There is no escaping one thing. Wherever you go, Africans tend to live in desperate conditions. Socially, mentally, spiritually and economically. Exceptions of course exist, but generally, something is lacking. And this is what leads me to my most general observation, which can be summed up in one word – mediocrity. Poor, or rich — even filthy rich — I find that it all often rather too easy to attach that unflattering adjective to Africans.” — Moses Mwayle, Tokyo, Japan

“How they survive in harsh environments and still continue to smile.” — Pamela Batenga, Kampala, Uganda

“Their distinct lack of a curiosity about their origins and how they came to be where they are. Also, about their linguistic links to other Africans thousands of miles away. [Furthermore] the increasing loss of an age-old capacity to listen and engage in reasoned debate.” — Kalundi Robert Serumaga, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans seem helpless about their problems and even those who fought for independence…found it convenient to re-colonize us…afresh, as in, preferring to carry on the exploitation. Our voice was taken away and matters are not helped when we globalize and [our] part time thinking. Whites have to decide the how. Rwanda is lucky a whole generation did the exodus, giving way for a fresh start. Uganda’s wars have not dismantled colonial structures. So the vicious cycle.” — Ebony Quinto, Kampala, Uganda

“A typical African’s daylong struggle of the rat race survival on less than a dollar, barefooted, hungry, sweating, stressed, no health insurance, all diseased but pays all allegiance to the hoisting of the national flag and de-hoisting of the same flag, day in day out. The puzzling [thing] is that transformation stage from the subnormal state of mind, to the general population mindset, standing at attention [along] with everybody.” — Charles Kaijabwango, Kampala, Uganda

“Perhaps what puzzles me about myself and fellow Africans is the naïve faith that we have the bite to claim the same position as the West in terms of global positioning, should we bring our minds together. Or should I say that we very much claim [to be] Africanist yet deep in our hearts we [admire] everything western.” — James Tamale, Kampala, Uganda

“The thing that puzzles me about Africans is saying things they actually do not mean, the complete failure to correlate their minds with their speech, or conscious with what comes out of their mouths, makes me suspect quite a number of things about us and completely
perplexes me. It is so difficult to judge an African on the basis of what he tells you, or claims to stand for, and therein lies the problem of IQ tests and studies conducted in Africa that rely on surveys; in other words, the African purveys a high level of irrationality even where his own interests as a creature are concerned.” — Arthur Musinguzi, Washington DC, USA

“How we all see the problem and might know the solutions, but are not willing to work them out.” — Paul Amailuk, Melbourne, Australia

“What puzzles me about Africans is the uniformity in all the countries is poor time keeping, there is always the feeling that time is on their side. Despite the opinion that colonialism or the western culture has swept away the traditional African culture, I think that Africans still honour some of their customs, whether they are good or bad. The most puzzling [thing] is when they make the best of two cultures. For instance the priest who has an ancestral shrine at home, the Christian who still visits a witchdoctor’s shrine or keeps fetishes and talismans.” — Jan Annette Ajwang, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans (and Africa as an entity) always have much promise, but that’s always as far as it goes. It never materialises….A weird thing is that Africans use foreign definitions exclusively for almost everything of theirs….Many quirks, for certain. Too hospitable, yet ready to fight over a few paces of desert sand….There seems to always be some unseen Force doing its best to keep Africans at the lower rungs. If it’s not war, then bad economic policies. Not that? Try transport and communication. Not that? Something else, then. Always something. This is where I come close to believing that stuff about the curse.” — Revence Kalibwani, Entebbe, Uganda

“Copying what someone already has [created]. No originality.” — Bonnie Agea, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

“It’s our ordinariness.” — Nicholas Sengoba, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me most about Africans is our lack of self esteem. We are happy to wallow in our own misery and to destroy all that is around us all the while blaming the colonialists who built the things that we are destroying. I am also disturbed by our low expectations of our leaders.” — David Mpanga, Kampala, Uganda

“Answer to your question: justification and rationalization of the absurd. Protecting the corrupt, stolen elections, land vs. cruisers, medicine versus text books, wife inheritance, female genital mutilation, lack of personal responsibility for actions in and out of home.” — Nafula Awori, Kampala, Uganda

“It is the way Africans perceive issues and fail to understand things in an African way and understand issues the western European way” — Abraham Emong, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans are intimidated [by] thinking. People do not want to think, they do not take time to think. The inability to plan and look ahead also puzzles me a lot. We have a lot of “smart” people who went to western universities and even lived there awhile but when they come back home you do not seem to see the difference. You would think that some of the western sharpness would rub against them but somehow this critical aspect of thinking eludes the African!” — Daniel Karibwije, Kigali, Rwanda

“Our speed (we seem to be trained to be slow). We take life slow not fast like elsewhere, so, poor time keeping.” — Benjamin Mpeirwe, Kampala, Uganda

“Their inferiority complex, the belief that we can not do as good a job as guys from the West, or that we can’t grasp concepts that they can.” — Ivan Musoke, Kampala, Uganda

“I am puzzled by the African’s hate of himself.” — Oscar Bamuhigire, Kampala, Uganda

“The refusal to pursue the road to success even where the road is tested. The reluctance to emulate others who have succeeded before them.” — Patrick Luganda, Kampala, Uganda

“Answering questions with questions, their unwillingness or inability to be meticulous, and their failure to keep time, most times. African time.” — Florence Kayemba, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

“Contentment with mediocre standards.” — Elias Biryabarema, Kampala, Uganda

“The fatalistic attitude that absolves the African from deciding his own destiny.” — George Okot, Kampala, Uganda

“It’s the way they laugh. Ugandans laugh so much, almost at everything for so long. I think I might be the one with no sense of humour!” — Beti O. Kamya, Kampala, Uganda

“Their lack of ambition” — Godfrey Kyedza, Kampala, Uganda

“For a reason that is not clear to me, we are so unfortunate…in many ways. And we are defeated psychologically already that we are [too] crippled to do anything, I mean even the thing we can do. We are brain-washed in a negative way…We think, me me me, from the top down. …We don’t think far…those of us who do, have a zillion obstacles…..in general, we are so unfortunate.” — Kidist Gebreselassie, Virginia, USA

“We have everything needed, resource wise, to develop into first world economies, but why do we still lag behind? Secondly it is obvious that the white man is intellectually superior to the African. What is the cause of this? Were we created that way by God? Isn’t there anything we can do improve our lot in terms of intellect?” — Anthony Apiku, Entebbe, Uganda

“Honestly, it’s one of those tough questions but I must say, unfortunately, we seldom pay attention to detail… It’s that folly of aversion to detail that confines many African countries to [a] never ending state of confusion…about silly mistakes, about not being inquisitive, about taking things for granted, about taking orders as givens.” — Moses Khisa, Calcutta, India

“With the exception of South Africa, the African countries I’ve visited are dirty, poor at keeping time (flights and so forth) and corrupt. In fact we Africans appear resigned to mediocrity if not failure. Poor governance is bafflingly apparent everywhere.” — Mark Namanya, Kampala, Uganda

“They all seem to take time for granted, who so and so dresses like this, marries the other, yet [make] no effort to stop what affects them like corruption, abusive leaders, environmental degradation etc. Even [in] Kenya [in 2008] it was a tribal question not a principal of good governance [or] democracy.” — Sarah Nsigaye, Kampala, Uganda

“Africans generally find it normal never to keep time. It puzzles and annoys me.” — Mariam Nakisekka, Kampala, Uganda

“The stark, shameless manifestation of boorish self-interest of African rulers we call ‘leaders’!” — FDR Gureme, Kampala, Uganda

“The lack of shared values. Some sacrifice, others are in church. Some are in Kololo [an upscale residential district of Kampala], others in hovels and huts…Chaos!” — Joseph Ntiro, Kampala, Uganda

“What strikes me most is that the African [is] puzzled about being African! Most answers point to what exactly makes an African: lazy, dirty, unserious, little interest in education, especially further education, no sense of time, etc. If that’s what makes an African, why do we want to change it? Why are we surprised or puzzled by this? I spent many years in Europe, living like a high middle class European but my instinct was always to get back to Africa to live like an African. An African will always get fed-up with keeping time all the time, with working so hard that every task is completed, with reading something constructive and educative everyday (other than gossip in the newspapers!). I did…and others are making that great decision of coming back to Africa right now, abandoning highly [sought after] lucrative jobs. Why? To live the African dream, and I mean dreaaaaam.” — John Katto, Kampala, Uganda

“Their [inability] to adapt, change, modify their life style. As in, you take a girl to Rome, you are dinning out and pasta is the norm for dinner and she asks for matoke. [a staple Ugandan dish made from the banana] We are unique!” — Denise Akii-Bua, United Kingdom

“I tell you what really puzzles me these days. Mugabe!  He’s still here!  He has single-handedly destroyed a prosperous nation.  He thinks printing more money will somehow solve the economic crisis. And, he almost won re-election! He took his sweet time announcing his defeat, and then promptly made it impossible to hold a re-run. What happened next?  He became president again! And the victor?  He became prime minister and widower to boot within a matter of months. And Mugabe’s peers?  They looked on sheepishly and made incoherent sounds about Zimbabweans being best placed to solve their internal problems.  Could this really be a true modern day story?  Regrettably, it’s an African one.” — Ebert Byenkya, Kampala, Uganda

“What puzzles me about Africans is deference without accountability. We defer to others based on wealth, office, social status and race without question…The other things are apathy and opportunism.” — Simon Sebaggala, London, United Kingdom

“Generally good people and too trusting. We do not ask questions even when they are necessary.” — Stephen Batanda, Kampala, Uganda

“[The] love for shortcuts to everything.” — Joel Isabirye, Kampala, Uganda

“I am puzzled by the very strange way we have failed to ‘sell’ and also uphold our values/knowledge/histories, geographies from within our ‘localities’ and so easily accept what others have thought of us.” — Ronald Muwambi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

“What puzzles me about Africans is the lack of humility and poor marketing skills. It puzzles me how Africans can brag even after they commit inhumane offences [against] people they are supposed to protect. African leaders are very good at this. About marketing, we Africans have lots of hidden talents and skills but we are very poor at showing that we are good at anything.” — Isaac Mutenyo, London, United Kingdom

“At this point, the fact that there is no end in sight for the suffering and no room for true democracy and so forth.” — Merawit Biadghlign, Seattle, USA

“What puzzles me about Africans is our lack of accountability. We are known for creating problems, but failing to own them.” — Sandra Luba, Los Angeles, USA

“[In Ethiopia and Zambia and other African countries]…It is the same disorganisation of management by crisis, where there is so much time to organise [events], moreover things that don’t cost money, but at the last minute [nothing has been done]” — Jude Kagoro, Kampala, Uganda

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