How Corona Virus is Changing Uganda’s Social Culture

Corona virus has affected the livelihood of Ugandans in many ways, many of the natives have lost their jobs, closed their businesses, and withdrawn all their savings. Currently, the country is on partial lockdown with people growing increasingly frustrated and wondering when all this crisis will come to an end. However, according to Innocent Anguyo & Liz Storer, L. (2020, April 9),  Ugandans are worried about the effect the virus will have on the economy of Uganda, the salient effect is not getting the right amount of attention which is how it will affect the country’s social patterns and practices.

Ugandans are socializing people with a vast amount of cultural norms and practices passed down from generation to generation. The Ugandan people pride in their traditions and the biggest threat to that pattern is the corona virus traditions like “bear hugs”, “handshakes”, cultural weddings, communal dinners, vigils, and some acts of charity like assisting the elderly, etc., are under attack by the coronavirus. However, the social distancing and the curfews may be blamed but the corona virus is the culprit. The worrying part is, the people do not know when all these restrictions will be lifted with the president continuously extending the lockdown and launching the “tonsembelera” campaign, which means, “do not come close to me.” The Ugandans expect some form of social distancing even after lockdown until a functional cure or vaccine is created.

A night club in Kampala City. Uganda is renown for its great social life.
A night club in Kampala City. Uganda is renown for its great social life.

This is indeed bad news for a socializing population whose entire livelihood is built around people. Experts all over the world expect a rise in depression and anxiety with major publications like the Wall Street Journal writing on the struggle to cope with depression amid coronavirus by Andrea Pattersen (2020, April 12). 

Schools and other academic institutions have been closed until further notice and the fifteen million school-going persons have resorted to radio and television broadcasts as reported by the daily monitor (2020, April 27). In Ugandan schools, one of the ways students learn is through participative discussions which are usually comprised of five or more people. However, with the coronavirus cases increasing, the students have been scattered across the 134 districts in their homes with no immediate colleague or classmate to discuss with. Therefore, the students have been left on their own to study using the various materials and resources which are not evenly accessible to each one of them. Additionally, some students usually borrow their colleague’s textbooks and other learning aid, but with the curfew in place and schools closed, this will hit them really hard. 

Finally, “omuntu wa wansi” which translates to, “the person of the lower class.” These are the majority in Uganda, they are known for spending their leisure in communal settings such as “ebivulu” which translates into music concerts, “amasaza”  which means Buganda soccer tournament among others. Clearly, the continuation of those events is unknown and rumours circulating that, Ugandans may have to wait until 2021 for such events to reoccur. This is depressing to many coupled with the economic tensions anticipated by many for example the research by Mr Francis Kamulegeya of Price Water Coopers on the impact of COVID19 on the economy of Uganda (2020, n.d). For these reasons, the patterns in Ugandan culture and practices may be lost during the wait for the vaccine and also lead to the adaptation of new practices that may not embody the practice of socialization and other core values Uganda cherishes.