Wandegeya: A street in a food

09:38 by tsup ug

In kampala,  uganda’s dusty capital, is Wandegeya, a city town and a beehive of activity.
The town never sleeps that it was dubbed the New York of Kampala, Its less than five minutes from the city centre. But that’s not all, Wandegs as it’s usually referred tois so famous among the youth that, for many visiting the country for the first time, it screams larger than life party capital.
To begin with, the town like many others has two operating systems, the day system and the night system.
The day system; this is the commercial session of wandegeya and involves everyone. From the highly insulting Bodaboda dude to Mama Stella of the food Kiosk, men in well pressed trousers or women in classy knit skirts or some university babe scrolling away on some high tech gadget and constantly blushing away some imaginary fly, Wandegeya is always a hub of activities during the day.
The night system; for the reputation Uganda has, I must say this is the best part of many Ugandans’ day, this particular session defines Ugandans, our party culture, our lives and so, it does define Wandegeya too. It’s the time that the dreaded Wandegeya comes to life and twice busier.
As night continues to fall, the character of Wandegeya too continues to unveil, you can easily read it like a book, as the street lights illuminate the walk way, the lines in the Wandegeya catalogue became even clearer; food, business and glamour.
Because of my undying love for food, this article will mainly focus on the food galore that Wandegaya is, and street food that is.
Micungwa, butunda, ffenne, kasooli, nkoko, kibumba, nsenene, mandazi, chapatti, bogoya and gonja are some of the foods that make Wandegeya a food haven yet, the list is not even a quarter of the different types of food prepared and sold on the streets of Wandegs.
Apart from nsenene, all the items above are sold throughout the year.
Nsenene/ longhorned grasshoppers/ bush crickets are a famous delicacy in the central; these edible bugs usually show up in the month of November, and since time immemorial, it’s referred to as the grasshopper season. It’s on such good reasoning that our very wise fore fathers gave November its local name; mwezigwamusenene (month of grasshoppers).
Every year around this time, the nsenene business is booming because of the overwhelming demands.
But, even with their occultic fame, the insects have not fully distanced themselves away from political drama and controversies.
In 2011, opposition MPs claimed that corruption and misbehaving by some politicians had scared the long legged bugs and thus the scarcity that year.
Besides that, the insects have been linked to mischief, in Buganda; it’s a bad omen to dream about bush crickets, it’s a death prophecy…allegedly.
The accusations the nsenene face come from all directions, the electricity board, village dad, reckless driver and also teachers in schools, with such pressure pilling, the suitable name for these bugs would be the worst one of titles “beautiful but unlucky”.
If they were to be confined, I guess it would be a place that even kony would describe as hell…yes I actually mean Kony the 2012 youtube star.
However, this is not an article on bush crickets thus, I will leave the topic for one of my other projects though, back to Wandegeya and food, the most famous delicacy in Wandegeya is the chapatti rolled with omelet/ fried eggs.
A chapatti rolled up with vegetable omelet is popularly known as a rolex.
The history of a rolex has always been sketchy but according to those interested, the legendary delicacy originated from this very place, Wandegs.
The name is a short form of the actual action of rolling the chapatti, it’s said that Rolex is a play on words: “roll eggs”. In fact, any name similarities to a famous watch brand is totally a coincident.  
In Kampala a rolex is always as good as the person that makes it. In Uganda generally, the business of making chapattis is monopolized by people of the Basoga grouping that much as the rolex was invented in Wandegeya, the public will only pass it to be good if it was rolled by a musoga, they own the catalogue and copyrights of the best rolex.
At night, many of them set their stalls and get ready for business, not to be out done, many try to reach out to the public by making their Busoga background known just by the way they brand their businesses; Busoga best chapattis, Muna Rolex, Kadaga Waife, Mwana wa kyabazinga Rolex company limited…….yes company.
Since its creation, the ingredients of this famous cuisine have remained the same; a chapatti, the one we imported from india and then made famous by our brothers from Jinja. The other ingredient being the eggs and a couple of vegetables or salads. Since a rolex has never been produced professionally, no one knows the exact measurements of the ingredients involved.
The process of making one is simple; two or more eggs are mixed with shredded cabbage, onions, and tomatoes. The skill used here is no different from the one used to make a chapatti, it’s flipped a couple of times before a chapatti is laid on top. The two are then rolled together.
Because a rolex is cheap food bought on the streets, packaging has never been an issue; it’s usually wrapped in a page from an old newspaper.
Chapattis have always had a special place on different breakfast tables; they have been with us through thick and thin, especially thin. It’s one of those fast that have remained affordable for years, the cheapest chapatti goes ugx shs 300/=.
In the wake of Obama’s popularity in 2008, a chapatti line had been discovered under the brand, Obama Chapattis, they were served along with beans which were referred to as Michelle.
The franchise became a hit attracting competitors like Gaddafi chapattis. After the overthrow and death of the Libyan leader, Gaddafi chapatti got a lot of sympathy votes which somehow (allegedly) forced Obama out of the market.  
Today, even in death, Gaddafi still thrives in Wandegeya.
Chapattis and Rolex have the weirdest number of names, from Straka, Nkokoto, defender, titanic, buliti to nine-nine and kayinja.
A Rolex is one cuisine that crossed the Nile with all the love. Today it has become one of the basics that define a university student. Its might thrives in different hostel rooms that, it’s literally hard to have been to Makerere University when you have never tasted one.
A foreign student once referred to it as the world’s purest pizza ummmm.
Wandegeya food vendors even offer variety, well,…in case one wants a treat, there is the Wandegeya fried chicken. This is our customized alternate to the international Kentucky Fried Chicken; it’s prepared on little electronic stalls. Full chicken goes for Ugshs. 15,000/= (about 7 USD). It is prepared in a way that will totally quench your thirst for fried chicken for at least three months. In our local hotels, restaurants and food lounges, full chicken goes for a cool Ug shs. 80,000 – 150,000 (about 35-50 USD) now, this can buy a mobile phone in Kampala.
None of these foods are overly spiced; in fact many of them are merely plain.
Wandegeya is a self contained town that even after a hot chicken meal, there are vendors ready to supply all sorts of local and international liquor.
The street houses the only wine office in Kampala; they are dealers in exotic brands of wines and spirits but in the outskirts of the same street are liquor dealers selling wine in used mineral water bottles, some wine whose label suggests it’s called wine and other tough and probably illegal staff.
With street food, local brew, hard liquor and a string of bars a student in Wandegeya would easily make his Las Vegas colleague sound like an innocent choir boy.
This is a place that seems to have it all and in such a place, you can’t under estimate the power of suggestion. Anything is possible in a Wandegeya night; it’s a boutique, restaurant, supermarket and electronic shop.
In fact, one of the shops I usually buy credit from is partitioned to sell refreshments, cell phones and credit, boutique, video library, saloon and ......... digital TV equipments of course there are no equipments to look at but the sign post says they do.
Wandegeya’s entertainment relationship has always been awkward and confusing. First, its one of the top entertainment piracy centres and just last year, the government was planning a major crack down on music and movie pirates but, some musicians came out to defend them as “promoters”.
The same artistes have continuously added on to the entertainment scene of Wandegeya due to a fact that they’ve more than once been turned its bars into fighting arenas against fellow musicians.
Back to piracy, Wandegeya is one of those places where all the recreation material, books, novels, movies and the drama are pirated. It’s in such a place that you find a plastic packaged DVD of Keeping up with the Kardashians season one, with Kardashians spelt like it’s a town or county in Afaghanstan and, they still get the guts to label the product with an “Original copy” tag.
Not only in Wandegeya, piracy is almost lagal everywhere, in fact, they even pay tax…..that only happens in Uganda.
Wandegeya almost has it all though, it’s not the absolute number one food place in the land. They face competition from Kansanga, Kabalagala, Ntinda, Kamwokya and Nankulabye.............. In fact the entire Kampala is a street food parlor by night.
I wonder how they continuously snub ranking us among the famous street food cities!!!!
Though, unlike Kampala the ranked cities in the west, issue a series of business and health permits to street vendors, of course, if you asked if the Ugandan Health Ministry issued any, you may be lucky missing arrest for slander.
Late in 2011, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) regulated the street vendors, including the food sellers but, this is Uganda. There are make shift stands for selling, these things only appear at night, by morning the streets are clearer than white.
Thus regardless of what one thinks, Kampala and Wandegeya’s street food is still with us, for those planning to visit, Wandegeya is a fun site for any food junkie, ghetto food to be specific.
They may be so far away from making a mark on the world’s fine dine or spice scene but for an easy cheap meal Wandegeya is a sure win. 


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