Dear newzungu,

Fellow expat, Loren, here. When you arrive, don’t be offended if you are called ‘muzungu’. Own it or learn the phrase, “sili muzungu”. You and the caller will have a nice laugh and life will move on.

The Essentials: 

Depending on your country of origin, I would stock up on the top three essential items you would need. This will buy you some time until you can find a suitable substitute. What are my essential items you ask?

Cantu Leave-in-Conditioner and Cream

Secret Gel Deodorant

Tampons, any brand

You may be able to find your essential items here but expect it to be three times the price or not exactly what you expected.

Headache Relievers:

Another thing worth noting are the people you need to build quality relationships with immediately. This will save you from unnecessary headaches in the future. Trust me. Full stop.

Askari (Gate-Keeper/Guard)

2-3 Boda (Motorcycle Taxi) Drivers in your area and in the areas you will frequently visit


Don’t give anyone money. You are not a bank. We don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that muzungus have money and are only here for charity. #EndWhiteSaviorism

Kill em with Kindness:

Don’t be rude. You’re probably thinking this is an obvious piece of advice but know that there will be times when you want to pop off at someone because they are taking advantage of you but don’t. Be clever. Be crafty. Be kind. Say no with a smile and a joke. Everyone will be laughing in seconds and life will resume as normal. Here’s a phrase to memorize if you’re not quick-witted, “BANANGE!”. Say it with conviction and a surprised expression.


Go ahead and download these applications prior to your arrival:

SafeBoda – It’s in the name, no explanation needed.

Uber – Yes, Uber is here and it’s not as expensive as you might think.

SendWave – Because withdrawing money from a bank is expensive and dangerous to carry that much cash around.

World Remit – See SendWave explanation.

Be Smart, Be Safe:

Remember that we are in a global pandemic and the economy isn’t doing well. This means increased theft and people operating in survival mode.

Don’t have your phone out when riding on a Boda

Don’t ride in a car with your windows down

When walking in town, use a fanny pack (not sure what non-Americans call it) or a side satchel bag and hide both under your shirt or cardigan

Don’t drive with bodas you don’t know unless it’s via SafeBoda

Don’t lose all common sense

Uganda is fun! You’ll never be bored. Don’t be shy, don’t be judgy, don’t be rude and you will fit in quite well!


Photo by Michael Barón on Unsplash

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