National Geographic : 1980 Jul
to pay someone. Aminism is still with us." "Aminism"-a word coined to describe the systematic exploitation of those without power by those who wield it. Alas for Ugan da, Aminism remained behind when the man himself fled. Smoke Signals Special Occasion "Clouds," Taata Musa said, "I want to make clouds for my new son-in-law." We were seated in the mud hut of Sarah's uncle, Taata Musa-Father Moses (below). Among the Baganda, fathers and paternal uncles are called taata, mothers and mater nal aunts maama. Taata Musa enjoyed speaking English, which he'd learned in the British days. But his English was highly cryptic. Thus, "mak ing clouds" meant to smoke cigarettes. I handed him a cigarette. Lighting up, he leaned back, smiled, and made clouds. "He only smokes on the special occasions in his life," Sarah said. "Taata Musa," I asked, speaking slowly so he would understand my English, "will you join us now for dinner?" "Of course, sir," he responded with great formality, "dinner at six." To Taata Musa, remembering the old days under the British, English-speaking people invariably had "dinner at six." Since I spoke English, he assumed I conformed to the same custom. The fact that it was only noon was beside the point. Dinner was prop erly served at six, and "six" it now was. He left us for a moment and returned dressed in a crisp new shirt, shiny black shoes, and his best pants. From somewhere in the past he'd found a tie and looked very much the elegant gentleman. That noon we enjoyed "dinner at six." Later Sarah got Taata Musa talking. Like many who live alone and watch the world through solitary windows, he knew every one's business, and there were many stories to tell. We all laughed hilariously.