The Issue of Nambooze’s English continues to dominate debates among Ugandans

Summary: The Hon. Nambooze, MP was sworn in (in the absence of NRM MP’s, as though this would diminish her credibility) but in the gallery cheers were thunderous and WoW as she swore in English (not scripted in Luganda syntax, for sure), although her first press-conference at the steps of Parliament building was in Luganda.
But wait, since the head of State too used Luganda to address the Pilgrims at the two shrines on martyrs’ day [with many tanzanians, kanyans, Rwadans, Zimbabweans, Europeans, etc in attandance]. So, the Hon. MP’s use of Luganda is not a handicap, after all. It is shown bellow that any colour or ‘slip’ that may come out of her has more to with the effect of her being a native speaker of Luganda than a deficit in her ‘English faculties’.
Read on.
1.       The debate about Hon. Nambooze’s ability to deliver in the English language has become deeper from both sides [NRM and Opposition supporters] after her inaugural. While the supporters say, ‘…Ttich’abalaze olungereza olukambwe..” [..The ‘teacher’ has displayed complicated English (taunting  the opponents”], the NRM supporters, on the other hand, edged on by the tabloid “The Kamunye {kite}’, put it this way, “…Nambozo yayogedd’olungereza olwe’ebitege” [ “ Namboze has spoken crooked English {literally=bow-legged English}.
2.       The cause of all this? During her swearing in, she went through the standard text and ended up saying, heard as: “…so elp me Goodi”.  Here, the ‘h’ in ‘help’ is silent and that is the trouble.
3.       I beg to move that this fact, possible for any native speaker of Luganda, is not proof that she cannot speak English.  Even a good Luganda speaker of English, sticking to Luganda phonetics, may give the same colour to the word “help”. Examples are many: “Shy” may sound like “sigh”, for example, to a non-attentive listener, etc.
4.       Origin: In Luganda, the letter “h” is silent in many native words and at worst; it becomes a ‘w’, for example, in the word “Woima’ {for Hoima town in Bunyoro]. This of course may not be the case for a majority of practiced Baganda speakers but it is a widely occurrence in practice.
5.       Conclusion: So, that she was heard to say “..ELP” does not mean that in her mind, she does not know that word ‘help’. I n fact, she may have even said “ help me God’ but with the ‘h’ so silent that those looking for errors is her English ‘missed it intentionally’. Any native language gives colour to the natives when they speak other languages.
Christopher Muwanga,


7 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Pyati Sololo,

    I know Betty Nambooze can speak English. Maybe she speaks it with a heavy Luganda accent but I do not think she’s worse off than Tamale Mirundi or even Yoweri Museveni himself who speaks English with a heavy Rwandese, er, that’s to say, Runyankore accent. Museveni substitutes “R” for “L” and his security sounds like “sechurity” and documents become “dochuments”. At one time during a BBC programme known as “Hard talk”, English subtitles appeared on the TV screen whenever Museveni spoke, and he was speaking English!

  2. Mukasa,

    Basing on what i saw on TV as she comented on the preasident’s speach
    Unlike the Kampala MP Lukwago ‘and Tamale mirundi ; whose English is uttered with strong Luganda accent ;
    I think Madam teacher has a big problem ; she;s more of Seya sebagala
    and i would advise her in most cases where journalists confront her with big cameras
    and recorders ; she should avoid going into details ‘

  3. kasaija,

    she is proud of her language, if you don’t understand her, learn the language.she is better that Ssebagala and many more, besides its a foreign language! don’t expect the UK queen to reward you for speaking good english.
    don’t give a damn! hon. Nambooze, just serve the people.KIGGUNDU MUST GO!

  4. Kimomera Matigga,

    Betty Nambooze cannot speak good English, so what? It’s a fact that Idi Amin’s English was worse than that of a form 2 pupil in Museveni’s UPE schools, but the bugger ruled Uganda for 8 years! English or no English Madame Teacher will be a capable legislator.

  5. kezozol,

    pple of ug lets quite be prudent,thıs is not wats paining the natıon weve got 2 fayt frm top, live alone nambooze’s english but to whıch level ıs the country why are we havıng many dociles who cant defericiate de right leaders,but thıngs wıll change stay prayıng ang get 2 know that ug ıs our motherland not for a certaın political party but us,the patrıots i summon for 2getherness of all ugs to try 2 read and 2 respect 1 another.nambooze should carry on whatever may be!

  6. Ole,

    Last week I conducted a one-hour interview in English with Mrs. Nambooze. Not only was her English absolutely perfect, but she was amazingly eloquent and well-read.

    Stop this childish talk!

  7. Ssebuliba Joseph,

    Dear UAH,
    I pity some of our fellow Ugandans who think that Hon Nambooze’s english is poor!For us we are some one who is eligible to work for pple,those educated guys are the most corrupt guys.She will speak the little she knows no matter as long as the message is understood!!!!!! Am in USA but most American guys dont understand our accent but that’s not an issue!like Tamale,Museven their accent is v.poor i dont know if he tries to come this en make a report these Americans can understand him. thx

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