A misspelt word on a billboard erected in Fort Portal Tourism city has sparked controversy amongst the locals in the area. The billboard, which has been erected along Lugard road was erected by Hariss International Ltd, the manufacturers of Riham beverages and foods in Uganda.
It was aimed at welcoming visitors to the tourism city, while at the same time promoting their Lavita drink. However, the Rutooro word for welcoming visitors, 'nitukutangirra' has been misspelt as 'nitukutangira' which instead means we're stopping you or preventing you from coming to Fort Portal.
Also, on the billboard, the Lavita plastic bottle seems to be on top of the Karuziika palace, a graphic design that has drawn sharp criticism from Batooro who took to social media to express their dissatisfaction.
Moses Murungi says that placing a plastic bottle on top of the palace is disrespecting the historical and cultural building. He adds that it has been done at a time when the king of Tooro Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, is running a campaign against plastics that are leading to pollution of the environment and River Mpanga in particular.
Murungi says their act undermines the efforts of fighting against plastics by the king. Gilbert Muhumuza, also a resident of Fort Portal, notes that the misspelt word undermines the efforts to promote the reading and writing of Rutooro language, saying it should be corrected forthwith and the company should apologise to the Tooro people.
Tooro kingdom deputy information minister, Vincent Mugume, says that the billboard should be pulled down and all necessary corrections made. Mugume adds that such companies should always consult the kingdom officials or Batooro with good knowledge of the language and culture before making embarrassing mistakes.
The professor of linguistics from Makerere University, Oswald Ndoleriire, notes that the problem of misspelling Rutooro words stems from the fact that the language stopped being taught in Uganda in the early 1960s.
He says that it is of recent that they revived the teaching of Rutooro under the Runyakitara programme at Makerere University and in a few other secondary schools in the country.
But Jerome Hall, who markets Hariss International products in Tooro, says the errors are regrettable. He says that as a company, they will bring down the billboard and correct error.