THE ROLEX MAN; UGANDA’S UNDERDOG HERO

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The famous Ugandan ‘rolex’ (credits: shesthefirst.com)

You’ll never see him wearing tights or with long flowing capes strapped to his shoulders. You will never spot him flying over the trees or floating on the breeze. You will not even see him fighting the pick-pocket who just stole from the helpless old lady crossing the street. But you will find him stationed by the road side especially in a little town or a city center.

He faithfully sets up his little stand with a planted umbrella stick in the center to protect him from the scorching sun’s heat. Then he faithfully kneads the dough to make his delicious ‘chapati’ special. He mixes the flour with water, salt, carrots and green paper to make the precious dough with which to cook and kneads the mix effortlessly with a determination that can move a mountain. Tons of Ugandans come to him from the moment he opens up to when he sells his last chapati; so he works tirelessly till 11:00 pm. That is his daily ritual.

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A ‘rolex’ guy in Kampala, Uganda. (credits: Brenda Naturinda)

He looks a little too ordinary and often wields a spatula like it’s an extension of his arm. He stands by the road; unassuming and lost in his own bubble, oblivious to the sweat that breaks out on his face and trickles down to the dry cracked ground. Despite the fact that many look down on him, Ugandans need him and often find themselves seeking him out. Even the little ants praise him and look to him as the ‘food god’. From all the organic rubbish he throws away, they find a daily supply to feed their entire army. So wouldn’t you agree that he solves world hunger? The ants sure would.

You can’t imagine what the good Ugandan underdog does; I’ve seen him feed the hungry. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or supper, he has something for everyone. He does that with a finesse that is sure to lure his usual clients back and with new ones to taste the famous ‘rolex’. What is a ‘rolex’? It is Uganda’s ‘staple’ food, it is simply an egg wrapped in a chapati but I can assure you that there is nothing simplistic about the way it tastes. Every Ugandan (and non-ugandan) that has tasted the ‘rolex’ knows not to disrespect the rolex man because he is a kind of ‘food god’. The first taste is always an initiation that is sure to bring you back to his stand.

He even offers customised add-ons on his simple menu. Ask him to spice up your rolex and he will respond happily, “No problem.” Where else would you get the chance to request for a customised meal? The rolex man! Looking for variety? He’s got that too. His menu varies from the simple rolex to include the kikomando, submarine, pizza, etc which are an assortment of chapati and other foods like beans, minced meat, sausages, and avocado amongst many more. (learn more about Uganda’s scrumptious food.)

The rolex man is Uganda’s cohesive societal agent; he serves a multitude of people from all walks of life at his stand. You can see them standing beside his stand waiting patiently and sometimes interacting with each other to kill the boredom as they wait for their fried ‘gold’. His stand is the ‘Switzerland’ for all warring parties lest they upset him and miss their portion of the golden pastry. You could be the little street beggar with arms outstretched or the son of one of our many Ugandan business tycoons driving by and he will still serve you. All you need is just 1500UGX and you can have your meal to go. His prices never change; he is constant like the blue sky and just as reliable. So the next time you pass by the rolex guy, be sure to ‘high five‘ him or pass him a tip for he is surely our hero.

 *B.N*

Changing the narrative. Telling my African story.

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