According to the study released by world linguistic society in 2017, Ugandans speak the best English in the whole of Africa. Followed by Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, Botswana, Sudan and Rwanda as the top ten countries in Africa, surprisingly Tanzania did not make the top ten list
This probably answers the frequently asked question from travelers or Tourists from outside Uganda and Africa; Do they speak English in Uganda? For professionals here like in Tourism, Medical, Police ans so on it’s such a surprise question.
Uganda’s official Language is English as well as a language of instruction in all academic institutions from as low as pre-primary school. In fact all English speaking tourists and travelers find it easy to hire a safari driver guide with whom you can have an intelligent English conversation. It is as well no problem ordering food and drinks by tourists in all parts of the country.
While in Uganda, one can pretty enjoy a radio program or a TV show where the presenter speak in pucker – Queens English while the other sound like he/she comes from Los Angeles, Cleveland or Washington Dc, apparently some Ugandan teach themselves such pronunciations by watching movies and Televisions while others have been to those countries.
Uganda prides in being African’s top English speaking Country and this put it on an upper hand. Whater part of the country you choose to go on a safari. The staff at the lodges and Hotels, the Driver guide, the Rangers in the National Parks, the Porters on a gorilla trek all speak English. Much as there are differences in cultures in Uganda, if you communicate in English almost everyone will understand you. That is such a huge added advantage compared to other African countries.
However Ugandans may somehow complicate their speeches when they throw in phrases you may think mean one thing when they mean another. This is called UgLish – Ugandan English, they sound like English but they are phrases you are clueless about. A case in point is where someone is announcing that is going for a “short call,” you may think is going to make a telephone call when is actually meaning is going to the bathroom. Actually its English with Ugandan twist locally referred to as UgLish to mean Ugandan English.
On speaking with someone on street you are bound to hear words like, Mzungu, Bodaboda, Now-now, footsubish, Rolex, Bambi, Outside Countries, Oba, Wolokoso, Benching among many and it has become ingrained into everyday conversation including WattsApp, Facebook, twitter and so on. However, UgLish has its critics from within such as Professors, Educationists, journalists, Commentators among others. World top newspapers like the guardian and others have written articles in regard to UgLish, one form of Ugandan English.
Most of Tourism stakeholders like Tour Operators and hoteliers delight not only in Uganda being the best English speaking country in Africa but also Ugandans being among the most friendly people in the world, they welcoming and culturally open to learning about your country once they get to know you just be rest assured of enjoying a good conversation Sprinkled with humor and warmth.
However much Ugandans speak the best English on African continent, it is not Pucker English nor more informal American version rather down under Australian English with Ugandan pronunciation which is simply refreshing and charming. Much as young people speak another local language at home but you can be surprised how well they can speak English. Apparently this is as a result of English being taught in the beginning of their kindergarten like baby class.