Subject: How r u doin, bruh?

Dear Eric Van Veen Chief Commercial Officer of MTN Uganda, the largest mobile phone operations company in my native land,

How are you? Baz here.

You don’t know me, but I have been an MTN subscriber since way back when you guys had just started. Never changed my number. I have been faithfully connected since jump. Eric, I have been putting money in your pocket through my airtime and service fee payments for almost a decade. I consider us so close now that I expect you to join the entourage at my kwanjula.

I assume you know what a kwanjula is. You have been in Uganda long enough, haven’t you? Okay, just in case (you never know. You could be like Ian “Ice Ice Baby” Clarke, who, after all these years, still can’t spell Ssebaggala right. Hah hah. Though to be fair, who can?)

When a local swain wishes to wife unto himself a native maiden he must seek her father to plead for her hand (I am trying to make it sound romantic). He does this in a lavish and elaborate ceremony with a troupe of very well-dressed friends of his. They go to lady’s home, bearing gifts, and pretend to have just dropped by to ask for a drink. A lot of yadda yadda blah blah follows, culminating in the girl showing up to say, “Daddy, this is not some chap (or as you say in your native South Africa, some “bloke”) looking for water. This is my sweet baby lover and I want to marry him. Whattabout.”

Whattabout is a local semi-vernacular expression that really doesn’t mean anything. Don’t worry about it.

Anyway, how are you, man? How are you doing?

I hear you are dishing out free airtime to guys these days. Nice. I heard it from that himbo on the radio. I usually give them names. For some reason this one made me think of one of those legionaries in the Asterix comics, so I called him Imbecillus. I know he was working for you and you may feel obliged to protect him, but Eric, let’s face it. They guy is an idiot.

I mean, have you heard him?

That I hear (TIH) “This advert should have ended by now but I have 50% extra airtime so I can just keep on talking. MTN. Everywhere you go. Hmm. That means everywhere I go I can keep talking. MTN. Everywhere you go. Everywhere you go. Everywhere you go…”

What a fuckwad, right? I suggest you revoke his 50% extra because the way he is using it is detrimental to the image of our company.

Mbu Our company. You see how close we are? Bruh?

Let me see if I have got it right, though: I buy airtime for a certain amount of money and I get extra airtime of the value of 50% of the airtime I bought. Again, nice. I am sure other subscribers think it is very Christmas of you.

But I have to tell you, me? Not so much. You see, every time I have tried to make a call at ten, I find the network is busy. I think all your other subscribers are a bunch of cheapskates who just sit by the clock waiting for it to strike ten so they can make calls for as if free, then they all leap onto the network at the same time. I mean. Ugandans. You haha them.

Haha is another local expression. It is from Lusoga, I think.

The result is that by Friday, I had like 20,000k bonus airtime that I couldn’t use. I was trying to call Alex on Danceforce but couldn’t get through. Network busy.

But if I ever manage to get through to the radio should I send you greetings? I can dedicate a song. Do you like Ja Rule?

Dude, I’ve got to go. Work to do, you see. I just thought I’d drop you a line, say whaddup. We’ll chat again, aight.

Keep it gully, son. I’m outtie.