Personal ads are fascinating.
Think about it: romantic love is an extremely complex human emotion. Love includes the sexual desires that stem from our biological need to reproduce, of course, but it's a little more complicated than "Insert Tab A into Slot B." Physical appearance, personality compatibility, emotional stability— these (and other factors) play crucial roles in the dating and mating game. So things tend to get interesting when people, desperate for love, attempt to boil themselves and their desires down to a single sentence.
The following are personal ads from the 9 July 2010 edition of The New Vision, one of Uganda's leading newspapers. In my honest opinion, The New Vision is an abysmal publication, rife with spelling errors, subjectivity, and atrocious graphic design. I'm fairly certain that my high school newspaper, The Mountaineer, had better journalism and editing, but then again, it was voted one of the best high school papers in New Jersey. Anywho, I found myself looking at the personals shortly after giving in to my thirst for internet access and purchasing a mobile broadband (wireless dial-up, really) modem in Kampala. A teacher at Kiziranfumbi SS asked me to see if there was "a profile" associated with an email address he had written on a scrap of paper. I googled the address, and up popped the personals page.
One of the first things I noticed was the prevalence of requests for partners of a certain religion or tribe. In Uganda, your tribe and religion are almost as important as how many children you manage to squeeze out before drawing your last breath:
MAN, 30, HIV+ WANTS A BORN-AGAIN Munyankole or Rwandese lady, 28-35, for marriage. Call 0757774231
JUMA, 31, WANTS A LIGHT-SKINNED Muslim, 22-30, for marriage. email@example.com
EDUCATED MUTOORO OR MUNYANKOLE girl, 18-23, wanted for love. firstname.lastname@example.org
BEN, 35, BORN-AGAIN SINGLE FATHER of 3, looking for a Christian lady, below 30 for a relationship. email@example.com
MUSLIM GUY, 31, IS LOOKING FOR A working Muslim girl from western Uganda or Somalia for marriage. firstname.lastname@example.org
MUGANDA MAN, 36, WANTS A LADY for a relationship. email@example.com
HIV and employment status also seem to be important. When 6% of the population is HIV positive and upwards of 80% are engaged in subsistance agriculture, how could they not be? Age is a pretty big deal, too. In this society, men ideally marry women 2 or 3 years younger than themselves:
PAUL, 28, WANTS A GOD-FEARING GIRL, 18-25, for a relationship. Paulk25@yahoo.com
Some of the ads strike me as simplistic or brutally direct:
DAVID WANTS A BRITISH LADY. Call 0718505915
MAN WANTS A WOMAN FOR LOVE. firstname.lastname@example.org
Others just make hypocritical demands (look at the email address):
I WANT AN UNDERSTANDING AND respectful woman for marriage. email@example.com
And even though The New Vision informs "those opting for secret sexual affairs, sugar mummies and sugar daddies...that their requests will not be honoured,"
STEPHEN, 22, WANTS A FINANCIALLY stable lady 27-35 for a relationship. firstname.lastname@example.org
C'mon Stephen. You're not gonna find a "sugar mummy" to diaper your ass by posting in the personals.
In case you were wondering, the teacher who provided the email address that ultimately inspired this post is still single. But I figured I'd give Kenneth, a die-hard 24 fan (he addresses me as "Jack Bauer") and burning hunk'o'love, a little publicity. So, [white] ladies, you are most welcome to drool over these photos we took to showcase his machismo:
|Kenneth is an intelligent man, evident in his ability to put a king|
in checkmate while stroking an imaginary goatee.