Sunday, 25 September 2016

Are middle-aged Ugandan the sell-outs?

Today, I eventually read this article that I had been putting on my radar for later. As a contemporary of the writer James Wire Lungabo and the inspiration for the article--Stella Nyanzi, every point made hit home like a sledge hammer. Here is an excerpt that particularly stood out for me, and the full text can be accessed at the link below.

The blunt exposure we got to capitalism and its side effects took its toll on us. On one hand you wanted to experience life like it is in the movies (go to the discotheques, drink alcohol till you drop, smoke your lungs away, drive a car, date a hot babe, be a big spender etc) while on the other hand you wanted to see the corruption in the nation reduce to a bare minimum, see a change of guard politically, reduce the poverty levels among other socially conscious achievements. The mistake we made at this point was to expect someone else to do all the social good while we lived life in the fast lane

Friday, 22 April 2016

Lessons from George, Leonardo and Warren

This March found me reminiscing about my father, who passed away a decade ago. We had spent the day before his demise together, talking and generally reflecting on life.
From this conversation, or series of conversations, I learnt a lot of things about life but most importantly that a man is made of sterner stuff than an outward appearance of “being a man”. There should always be something that defines the individual, an X factor, which cannot be taken away from him, no matter the circumstance. Here are three men who have inspired my philosophical take on this aspect.

He had been in the hospital for a week following surgery. For some reason, he was calm and talked with the confidence of man who had run the race and fought the good fight. He was truly contented with the lemonade he made with the lemons life threw at him. Now on the hospital bed, he knew he was leaving this place in a pine box. So, he called his wife and children to say goodbye. He left them with a sealed envelope that contained a letter that would be read at his funeral instead of the speeches. Human beings fear death but George
had conquered the fear of death.

Leonardo is a very famous movie actor. He has been the star of many great films that got him several nominations for the top prize—an Oscar. However, when it seemed like he had bagged it with a stellar performance in a big budget production of the year (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Blood Diamond, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, among others), the accolade went to someone else. Oh, imagine the frustration of his fans! But what about him? Instead, he turns in an even better performance in the next movie. It was only a matter of time before he was recognised for The Revenant. And what does he do or rather say in his speech at the awards? He highlights climate change instead of gloating how he had finally made it. This is a man who has not let fame get in the way of what he believes in or for disappointment to make him bitter.

Besigye holds a baby during a procession on the 2016 campaigns 


Warren cannot be compared to Mandela or Gandhi but his struggle has ignited a movement for change. The people are weary of the status quo and identify with his courage and determination to make things better. Four times he has offered himself for election to the high office, but things have not gone his way. He has been subjected to all kinds of brutality, humiliation and persecution. Often times, he may feel he can’t breathe but the fresh air of imminent freedom keeps hope alive. This is a man who has inspired and will continue to inspire very many. I am confident that in the future, my sons will say, “Indeed, he was truly a great man.”

Saturday, 20 February 2016

My take on Uganda's elections

What a week this has been?
In 2011, I was not able to vote because I could not make it to my home town on election day. I felt bad about it for several months after that...This time, 2016, I changed to a polling station near me but spent 5 hours in the line, without lunch or a drink under a hot sun, but eventually cast my vote. Both times I have not got the outcome I wanted. 
But I feel good that I have been able to participate in this process since 1996 when I first voted. That is why I feel hurt when I meet people younger than me not bothered about registering for a national ID or even voting. I always tell them not to look at voting like betting on a football match that ends in 90 or so minutes. 
This is a process. Those are lessons I will pass on to my children, the next generation--may they do much better than their grandfathers and fathers though they have may not got the best example to look up to. It is my hope than they will say "We don't want to be like these guys, let's build Uganda into a nation". God bless our country.

Friday, 11 December 2015

25 miles to bring smiles on their faces

It was one of those days, long awaited but when it comes round, you are anxious for no apparent reason. But I had prepared myself well. Maybe not, but in the best way I knew how. A proper meal, eight hours of shut-eye, and no late night TV, and absolutely no alcohol and other substances.

There was need to feel primed up for the run, just as I do or used to do when going for the city marathons.But this one was different; instead of my feet hitting the tarmac, my feet would be hitting the pedals.

Though it was dubbed the Paul Walker/Calvin Taylor Charity Run, it was actually a drive. The motivation the same; it was for a good cause. Just like I run 10 kms in the marathons to raise money for Mama kits for expectant mothers or clean water in Karamoja, I was doing 41.2kms (25 miles, you will know later why I have converted this to miles) from Kampala to Garuga, which is off Entebbe road, to support Kyasira Children’s Home.

What it is

It was really a three-in-one kind of thing, really: Charity, memoriam and fun in that order. To register for the run, one had to pay Shs40,000 for a sticker, a t-shirt and a car sticker. In this way, we were also raising money to buy items for the children’s home. However, that amount was not the limit but the minimum. Anyone could contribute above that amount.

Paul Walker. Is there anyone who is a car fan, enthusiast or petrol head that does not recognise his face and name from the Fast and Furious movies?

Yes, he is the one. Two years ago, he died in car crash, which occurred in California, US, on November 30. The Porsche Carrera GT, he was in with a friend—Roger Rodas—hit a lamppost and two trees. Interestingly, they were coming from an event by his charity organisation, Reach Out Worldwide. There have been a variety of car-related events by fans around the world in his memory.

It seems car fans have big hearts. This was the same with Calvin Taylor, the other name on the bill. He passed away in a car crash around the time of Walker’s death. He is connected to the KFC franchise in Uganda, and some charitable activities, which also benefitted Kyasira Chidren’s Home.

December 5 was the date for the charity run. It was the second such event organised by Miles for Smiles, a group of car fans who mobilise for a good cause. Flash back to my reference to the distance from Kampala to Garuga in miles; it is drawn from the group’s name. It is the brainchild of Avan Singh and Eric Amadi, who run auto garages: Dalas and Avtech. The initial event, Be a Hero on Heroes Day, was held June 9 in aid of Nsambya Babies Home.

The road to Garuga

Last Saturday, we met at Club Panamera in Naguru, a Kampala suburb. The proprietor, Andrew Desh Kananura, also a rally driver, had posted on his Facebook page earlier that he was going to do the run.

He pulled out his newly acquired Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X. And man, did he attract attention. We were all star-struck, we posed for photos, took a look inside it, said hi to Desh, and everything else.

Between 9am,when we started to converged at the meeting point and 11am when we set off, we got road safety tips, branded the vehicles with stickers, loaded the items for the children’s home, checked our cars one other time and also talked to each other.

Some of us had known each other on social media but not face-to-face.

Slightly, after 11 am, we set off in a convoy, wading through the Saturday traffic in the city and on Kampala-Entebbe road. Up to 40 cars were involved. They included the Evo X, Subarus Impreza WRX, Foresters, Mercedes Benzes, Toyota Noah… generally, any driver with any type of car was welcome. Contrary to perception, it was not a Subaru thing.

Along the way, the persons designated as safety marshals were very helpful in getting us organised and keeping us in line.

When we reached the home, we were welcomed by the nuns who manage it, their staff as well as the children. After a few songs of welcome, there were the speeches from Sr Mary Peter, the home administrator and a representative of Miles for Smiles. Thereafter, we went on a guided tour of the home, interacted with the people there, and delivered the goodies.

Our efforts had yielded Shs1.82m in cash, 43 kilos of beans, 15 kilos each of peas and groundnuts, 15 litres of cooking oil, 50 kilos of rice, 500 books, 576 pencils, 20 kilos of porridge flour, 10 cartons of milk, five of tissue paper. There was also soap, salt and sugar.

The initiative brought on board KFC, Kaliro Sugar, International University of East Africa, Nile Breweries, Duke Water, Desh Rally Team, plus Dalas and Avtech.

Back to base

The way back was the fun part. It was a free reign, it was the opportunity to test your car against the others. The paramount point was road safety for you and the other roads users—that was one of the themes of the run anyway. But some like yours truly decided to take in the scenery. After all, my passenger was someone who doing this for the first time. I don’t want to “scare” her…hmmm.

Eventually, at varying speeds, it was back to base for awarding of certificates, a recap of the events and more interaction.

The article was published by Daily Monitor. See it here

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Not just Nigerians, stay away from men like this

Here is an advice/observation article I wrote in my weekly column in Daily Monitor.

I am not cut out for this. I will start with a disclaimer. I am not a kojja or whatever they call a “relationship guru”. I even hate anyone referring to me as such. But I am because an uncle to some, and at least a decade older than the youngins I associate with, and a big brother, and most importantly, because my daughter will read this, I will comment where I can on this article by City Girl in Nairobi News. The title tells it all: Things that tell your Nigerian man is a big con.
Since she wanted it to get to as many people as possible, I guess she would not mind me reproducing some excerpts. Also in line with Nelson Mandela Day (marked every July), where we are called to volunteer 67 minutes for a charitable act, I took out 67 to volunteer this “charitable” piece of advice (in italics).

This is what City Girl says: “…here are a few pointers you need to look out for… If he exhibits any of these traits, then you are dealing with a riffraff.”

He is too romantic: You have never met a man like him…He is not like the unromantic [other] men…He calls you ‘baby’ all the time except when he calls you ‘my queen’….and she nails in this line…It is not humanly possible for a man to be 100 per cent romantic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I always wonder why women always fall for this romantic guy BS? Let me just say this, it is the easy part to act than any other. Well summed in this statement: Women may fake orgasms, but men can fake whole relationships!

He throws money at you: No man in his right mind will throw money at a woman….But this Nigerian is the most generous man you have ever met... He even gives you money before you ask for it... He debunks every myth you have ever heard about Nigerian men swindling women off their money…You think that the Lord has finally smiled upon you and given you a wonderful man who is not only loving, but also rich. All those prayers.. for a husband have finally been answered. Shock on you….(Sic)
In the paragraph above, replace Nigerian with man. Any serious man would not just throw money at a woman. Any self-respecting man would not throw money at a woman he respects. We throw money at whores, strippers and jump-offs. Any man who has money/wealth/riches or somewhat comfortable with the finances would not try too hard to show off.

He moves in with you: So he gives you a cock and bull story about how he is putting up with a friend…[blah blah]. You pity him and allow him to put up with you in your house for a short while…. Every week, he has a new excuse. A week turns into a month and before you know it, you are co-habiting…
My take: Take a stand, throw him out. Change the locks

He has mysterious ‘trips’: He purports to be a businessman but you are not exactly sure what he does for a living…. He travels often…for ‘business trips’. You don’t care what he does for a living mainly because of all the goodies he brings you. Lingerie. Expensive shoes. Perfumes. Dresses. Bags.
My honest appeal: Please, please, pleaseeee….know what your man does for a living!
You have been warned. Stay away from Nigerian men.
My warning, stay away from men like this…especially Nigerians

Friday, 6 February 2015

Bob Marley: The prophet and the enduring appeal of his message

“I don’t know that man,” she said. For some reason, it was a hard slap in my face. How can she not know him? Everyone knows him. All the people I had asked, said they knew or had heard about him! She could have as well spat the words out like she had sipped a flat beer. Yes, everyone knows Bob, loves Bob, or has heard about Bob. How come my niece, Mimi, did not know Bob? So, I pressed further. “Uncle David, all know about that man is he was a musician,” she finally capitulated. May be she thought I was talking Uncle Bob, 90, who is now Chairman of the African Union. Everyone knows that Bob also. Many hate him but I love him. By the way, Bob performed at celebrations to mark Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, and Uncle Bob was there.

I am talking of Bob, who is 70 years old today. Note the present tense, you will know why. Robert Nesta Marley, born February 6, 1945, is one of the world’s most recognisable musicians. We know about reggae because of him and his band, The Wailers. Bob Marley and The Wailers almost singlehandedly brought the sweet sounds of reggae from the confines of the Trenchtown ghetto in Kingston, Jamaica, to our living rooms, clubs, parties, on radio and TV and everywhere else music can be played.

But he was more than just a musician, if Lil Wayne, WizKid or Sizzaman are also called musicians. He breathes that rarefied air that only few breathe. It is like being on the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, with your feet in the snow and head in the clouds.

Bob Marley is a legend, so we can mention his name in the same sentence with Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley. Mimi knows Michael, everyone knows Michael. Everyone loved Michael. But Michael has been dead a few years, June 2009. Bob died in May 1981, and Elvis in August 1977. But they still make the Forbes list, making more money dead than many of the celebrities that thrust in our faces every day like Kim Kardashian, By the way, what is her claim to fame? OK, apart from being wife to a famous musician. But I digress.

Forbes magazine, an American magazine is that perhaps more known for the lists of who has made what money during the year, puts Bob Marley in the category of top earning dead celebrities. In the period October 2013- October 2014, he was ranked at number five with earnings of $20m (Shs57.3b). Before that, it was at $18m (Shs51.5b). So, he made $2m (57.3m) more.

You may wonder how this is so. Forbes magazine breaks it down like this: “The reggae legend's post-mortem earnings are up $2m in 2014 thanks to a diversified range of ventures: Marley Beverage Company (including Marley Coffee and a “relaxation drink” known as Marley’s Mellow Mood) and House of Marley (producer of eco-friendly audio and lifestyle products). Marley’s estate this year also launched Marley Apparel, a lifestyle clothing line designed by Bob’s eldest daughter, Cedella Marley. Marley has sold more than 75 million albums in the past two decades.”

New Pittsburgh Courier on its website, answers the question: So how is he still making millions? Well, first of all, since its release in 1984, Bob Marley’s Legend album continues to sell more than 250,000 copies every single year. Nowadays, much of his music is sold via iTunes and other digital retailers. And tons of his songs are bought around the time of his birthday every February 6 due to a smart annual campaign launched by his estate called “Bob Marley Week”. Believe it or not, but millions of fans all around the world celebrate this special week dedicated to Bob Marley.
It is down to the music. It has an enduring appeal that transcends time and space. Matthew Mulumba, a diehard fan, describes his idol in glorifying terms. “He is a revolutionary, a freedom fighter,” he says and adds that the music has a message in Africa, particularly for places like Somalia, South Sudan. And I bet everywhere else. Not all the 75 million albums have been selling in Africa only. “The music is still rich, anyone can identify with it, even just the instrumental,” Mulumba concludes as he cites Redemption Song and Zimbabwe as examples.

Moses Serugo, arts journalist, cannot agree more: “I guess it's the catchy sing-along lyrics and that enduring reggae sound that towered over more deserving reggae talent like a Peter Tosh. My firm favourites remain the stripped down Redemption Song driven by just an acoustic guitar and Zimbabwe that has an arresting bass guitar intro and distinct percussion clank after each lyric.” Quoting a line from the former ‘How long shall they kill our prophets?’ he adds, “Very resonant with the demise of pan-Africans like Lumumba and Sankara.”

Redemption Song indeed has a message for the youth like Rachel Wisdom, 21, a university student who thought it is a song that contestants on American Idols and other talent shows have to sing. She had heard it sung so many times on these shows. Until I told her it is Bob Marley’s song, and left her with this line from that song: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” The same goes for Mimi, I am buying her the Legend album today. For the others like Pauline Bangi, who know Bob and songs like I Shot The Sheriff, I say, hit me with the music.

This article was published in Daily Monitor

Saturday, 31 January 2015

This name on Coke bottle or can thing...Ugh!!

What better way to start my 2015 blogging than 're-blogging' this brilliant take on a trending topic...Here we go:

I am not going to piss into anyone’s can or bottle of soda, and certainly not on the brilliant marketing campaign that the Coca Cola company is running right now.

This is the ‘Share a Coke‘ campaign we’re all talking about, in which people are putting their names on cans or bottles of Coca Cola…or, to be accurate, Coca Cola is putting people’s names on cans and bottles......This is another level of neo-colonialism: An African chap struggling to put a Jewish or English name onto an American branded bottle...Read the rest here