Friday, 19 December 2008

My Fourth Book Review for the Africa Reading Challenge: From Juliet to Julius

From Juliet to Julius: In Search of My True Gender Identity
Author: Julius Kaggwa
Publisher: Fountain Publisher, Kampala
ISBN: 9970-02-131-1
Pages: x + 115
Reviewer: D. Mwesigye Gumisiriza

It has been called an extra-ordinary story, and indeed it is. The author recounts his story that in many instances feels ‘stranger than fiction’: how he was raised as a girl, grew up as a woman and eventually became a man.

After he was born, his mother consulted ancestral spirits over his ‘abnormal’ sexual parts, and it was dictated that the baby was a girl. And thus, Julius begun his life as Juliet—a life that he [or she at that time] never really adjusted to especially in the adolescent years when Juliet/Julius was more aware of the characteristics of a girl. For instance, having menstruation periods, which he/she never experienced but had to pretend about it and many other things like this. As a consequence of trying to fit in, Juliet was not able to form close friendships during high school. Ironically, it was through the help of friends that Juliet was able and supported to make the transition to Julius.

Losing both his parents to AIDS, facing social stigma and feeling more like a man, Juliet had to overcome these and many other challenges to become what she really felt like—male instead of female. With counselling and seeking guidance as a ‘born again Christian’, Julius slowly and painfully adjusted to his new identity....or more appropriately, true gender.

This autobiography is written in a very simple style, it is easy to read and lively....despite a few grammar errors and repetitions, it feels like Juliet/Julius is recounting her/his experiences in a conversation with her/him instead of through a book!

Friday, 5 December 2008

My Third Book Review for the Africa Reading Challenge: Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Publisher: Anchor Books, New York

ISBN: 978-1-4000-9520-9

Pages: 543

Reviewer: D. Mwesigye Gumisiriza

This is a story of the Nigeria-Biafran War (1967-1970) told through the experiences of the main characters—before, during and after the war. A large part of it is narrated from the perspective of Ugukwu, who is a houseboy to Odenigbo, a lecturer at the University of Nsukka whom he often refers to as ‘Master’. And it is from Ugukwu that we get insights into the life and character of his Master, his relationship with university colleagues during their regular intellectual debates in his sitting room, his fiancée Olanna who returns from studies in the United Kingdom to stay with him, his beliefs and convictions as regards national [Nigerian] and international issues, among others. Ugukwu, being from a rural background, also shows how the modern and traditional in many aspects of life in an African country, such as Nigeria, are inter-linked through his observations and interactions with this ‘elite society’ at the university.

Other characters central to the story are Kainene, Olanna’s twin sister, and her British boyfriend, Richard. Kainene and Olanna are from a very rich and well-connected family but are very different in physical appearance, character and outlook. Richard, on the other hand, comes to Nigeria from Britain looking for inspiration to write a book. He is attached to the expatriate community but never quite fits in until he falls in love with Kainene. He then embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he integrates and begins to understand the country, the people and their way of life.

The advent of the secessionist war changes their lives fundamentally and how they view the world about them. As they adjust to the realities of war and its toll on them greatly contributes to the way they interact with each other afterwards.

The author uses several publications on the Biafran-Nigeria War and personal accounts from people who experienced it to create the backdrop to this compelling story. It is not the war per se that is the focus but the humanity of the people that emerges amidst life-changing situations. She uses a great dose of symbolisms to drive her point home as exemplified by the title which is taken from the emblem by the breakaway Biafra territory.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sweat and Pain for Mama

So, the Kampala Marathon is successfully behind us and we have gotten the results. I have just checked and this is how it went down for me:

Distance: 10 km
Category: Open

Overall: I was the 4,874th out of 6,151 who finished the race. This means I beat 1,277 to the finish line.

Gender: Among the men, I was the 3,862th out of 4,326 men who reached the finishing line. I outperformed 464 other men.

Other vital stats: I ran the race in 1 hour, 27 mins and 3 seconds at an average speed of 6.89 km/hr. This means it took me [on average] 8 minutes and 42 seconds for each kilometre. In the Open category, I was 3,747th beating 445 others.

All these results were faithfully collected by a chip [whose code was or is 2MKZ53Z] that was tied tight to my shoelaces of my right shoe.

For me, the achievement is finishing the race without hardly any prior training but on will and determination.

Ultimately, this is my humble contribution to helping mothers/expectant mothers in northern Uganda return to their homes with a Mama Bag and Return Kit and rebuild their lives [See my previous post].

PS: I have recovered from the muscle aches in my legs and shoulders....The outcome of my participation is appreciation for keeping fit. I promised to jog more often and exercise regularly.

PPS: According to this article in The New Vision newspaper, out of the 10,800 who registered, the race computers registered 7,019 and up to 3,800 didn't turn up or failed to make it to the end. As a participant who was doing it for a noble cause, I thank all those who registered....because their contribution [through the registration fee] will go towards those mothers and families who are going back home after decades in those awful and squalid IDP camps.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Running for fun, running for money but for a noble cause

When the 4th Annual MTN-branded Kampala Marathon is held on Sunday 23rd November 2008 under the theme "Mama Bag and Return Kit", after the prize money has been won and other accolades awarded, the major beneficiary will be the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS).

The humanitarian organisation is on a drive to raise a total of Shs. 100 million (US$ 51,020) for the resettlement of expectant mothers and their families that were displaced by the two-decades war in northern Uganda. In associating with MTN, the event sponsors, URCS is banking on the magnanimity of the corporate organisations, professional athletes and individuals who have registered for the event. Already, URCS has a reason to smile because the overwhelming response that had the organisers extending the deadline for registration from 31 October 2008 by a week. This marathon is part of a series of fundraising drives, including an Annual Dinner Dance and a Golf Tournament, which URCS has carried out to support its causes and work.

To register for the race, individuals paid Shs. 5,000 (US$2.55) while corporate teams paid Shs. 500,000 (US$ 255). The race is divided in a number of categories: 42 km [where the participants have to be above 18 years], 21 km and 10 km Open [age limit is 16 years], 21 km and 10 km Corporate Challenges, 10 km Wheelchair Race, and 10 km Master's Race where participants have to be above 50 years.

The money that will be raised is to be used for "Mama Bags" and "Return Kits" for 2,000 families that are returning from internally displaced persons' (IDP) camps. Mama Bag contains materials that assist expectant mothers and enable them have a safe delivery, while the Return Kit contains basic farming equipment. According to the information booklet, "a mother, the un-born child, the father and other children will be able to benefit hence making the number of beneficiaries bigger than the target".

Mama Bag was established in 2004 and over the last three years, a total of 6,000 mothers in IDP camps have been supported. The Return Kit has been added as a component to encourage the returnees engage in agriculture for sustenance and income generation.

However, the smiles will be on the faces of the winners of the different race categories. Shs. 5 million (US$2,550) is the top prize for the 42 km, Shs. 3 million (US$1,530) for the 21 km, Shs. 1.4 million (US$714) for the 10 km and the same amount for the 10 km Wheelchair Race, and Shs. 500,000 (US$255) for the 10 km Masters' Race.

At the finish line, whether the aim was fun or money, expectant mothers and families in the North will have gained from that sweat. The media advertisement for the marathon has the catch-phrase "Run for fun, run for life" which captures what this is about.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Now that Obama-mania is burning out, I can blog

The Obama-mania kept me busy writing, these are some of the stories I put out on this blog, BBC radio’s World Have Your Say website and The New Vision, a daily newspaper in Uganda—Feel free to add comments on these articles:

Are We Pre-Occupied with Obama and America

Is Obama Win the Biggest Moment in Black History?

My Ranting Response to Obama's Nomination Win

Is Obama really an inspiration?

Malcolm X was truly an inspiration, Obama is not

This post was initially left empty symbolically (save for the title) but it being the third most referred to post on this blog, I decided to fill the space with my writings on the subject

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Malcolm X was truly an inspiration, Obama is not

After the publication of my article on Obama in The New Vision newspaper, among the feedback I got was that I was "stuck in the Malcolm X era". This was in reference to my contrasting of Barack Obama with Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah etc.

I have not yet read his (X's) biography [or is it autobiography] but I have watched the Spike Lee film and read different articles over time. But today I was sent an e-mail that had a link to this website that carries a summary of his life.

My conclusion after reading this was that Barack Hussein Obama is no Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. He is just a politician who gave his best shot at the Democratic Party (DP) nomination, won it and he may just become US President. The others were inspirational because they were driven by conviction to fight social injustices and recognition of black people as equals and not second-class citizens.

For those who may want to read it but not visit, it is below:

Malcolm X was a powerful and influential speaker. This excerpt, from a speech in April 1964, clearly and directly expresses his views about the status of black people in American society.

Malcolm X (Malcolm X Little; later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz)(1925-1965), a leading figure in the 20th-century movement for black liberation in the United States, and arguably its most enduring symbol.Malcolm X has been called many things: Pan-Africanist (see Pan-Africanism), father of Black Power, religious fanatic, closet conservative, incipient socialist (see Socialism), and a menace to society. The meaning of his public life—his politics and ideology—is contested in part because his entire body of work consists of a few dozen speeches and a collaborative autobiography whose veracity is often challenged. Gunned down three months before his 40th birthday, Malcolm X's life was cut short just when his thinking had reached a critical juncture.

Malcolm X's life is a Horatio Alger story with a twist. Malcom X is not a "rags to riches" tale, but a powerful narrative of self-transformation from petty hustler to internationally known political leader. Malcom X - Born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Louise and Earl Little, who was a Baptist preacher active in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, Malcolm X, along with his siblings, experienced dramatic confrontations with racism from childhood. Hooded Klansmen burned their home in Lansing, Michigan; Earl Little was killed under mysterious circumstances; welfare agencies split up the children and eventually committed Louise Little to a state mental institution; and Malcolm X was forced to live in a detention home run by a racist white couple. By the eighth grade he left school, moved to Boston, Massachussetts, to live with his half-sister Ella, and discovered the underground world of African American hipsters.

Malcolm X's entry into the masculine culture of the zoot suit, the "conked" (straightened) hair, and the lindy hop coincided with the outbreak of World War II, rising black militancy (symbolized in part by A. Philip Randolph's threatened March on Washington for racial and economic justice), and outbreaks of race riots in Detroit, Michigan, and other cities (see Detroit Riot of 1943). Malcolm X and his partners did not seem very "political" at the time, but they dodged the draft so as not to lose their lives over a "white man's war," and they avoided wage work whenever possible. His search for leisure and pleasure took him to Harlem, New York, where his primary source of income derived from petty hustling, drug dealing, pimping, gambling, and viciously exploiting women. In 1946 his luck ran out; he was arrested for burglary and sentenced to ten years in prison

Malcolm X's downward descent took a U-turn in prison when he began studying the teachings of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam (NOI), the black Muslim group founded by Wallace D. Fard and led by Elijah Muhammad (Elijah Poole). Submitting to the discipline and guidance of the NOI, he became a voracious reader of the Qu'ran (Koran) and the Bible. He also immersed himself in works of literature and history at the prison library. Behind prison walls he quickly emerged as a powerful orator and brilliant rhetorician. He led the famous prison debating team that beat the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, arguing against capital punishment by pointing out that English pickpockets often did their best work at public hangings!

Upon his release in 1952 he renamed himself Malcolm X, symbolically repudiating the "white man's name."As a devoted follower of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X rose quickly within the NOI ranks, serving as minister of Harlem's Temple No. 7 in 1954, and later ministering to temples in Detroit and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through national speaking engagements, television appearances, and by establishing Muhammad Speaks—the NOI's first nationally distributed newspaper—Malcolm X put the Nation of Islam on the map. His sharp criticisms of civil rights leaders for advocating integration into white society instead of building black institutions and defending themselves from racist violence generated opposition from both conservatives and liberals. His opponents called him "violent," "fascist," and "racist." To those who claimed that the NOI undermined their efforts toward integration by preaching racial separatism, Malcolm X responded, "It is not integration that Negroes in America want, it is human dignity."

Distinguishing Malcolm X's early political and intellectual views from the teachings of Elijah Muhammad is not a simple matter. His role as minister was to preach the gospel of Islam according to Muhammad. He remained a staunch devotee of the Nation's strict moral codes and gender conventions. Although his own narrative suggests that he never entirely discarded his hustler's distrust of women, he married Betty Sanders (later Betty Shabazz) in 1958 and lived by NOI rules: men must lead, women must follow; the man's domain is the world, the woman's is the home.

On other issues, however, Malcolm X showed signs of independence from the NOI line. During the mid-1950s, for example, he privately scoffed at Muhammad's interpretation of the genesis of the "white race" and seemed uncomfortable with the idea that all white people were literally devils. He was always careful to preface his remarks with "The honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches. . . ." More significantly, Malcolm X clearly disagreed with the NOI's policy of not participating in politics. He not only believed that political mobilization was indispensable but occasionally defied the rule by supporting boycotts and other forms of protest. In 1962, before he split with the NOI, Malcolm X shared the podium with black, white, and Puerto Rican labor organizers in the left-wing, multiracial hospital workers' union in New York.

He also began developing an independent Pan-Africanist and, in some respects, "Third World" political perspective during the 1950s, when anticolonial wars and decolonization (see Decolonization in Africa: An Interpretation) were pressing public issues. As early as 1954 Malcolm X gave a speech comparing the situation in Vietnam (see Vietnam War) with that of the Mau Mau Rebellion in colonial Kenya, framing both of these movements as uprisings of the "darker races" creating a "tidal wave" against U.S. and European imperialism. Indeed, Africa remained his primary political interest outside of black America. He toured Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana in 1959, well before his famous trip to Africa and the Middle East in 1964.

Although Malcolm X tried to conceal his differences with Elijah Muhammad, tensions between them erupted. The tensions were exacerbated by the threat Malcolm X's popularity posed to Muhammad's leadership and by Malcolm X's disillusionment with Elijah upon learning that the NOI's moral and spiritual leader had fathered children by former secretaries. The tensions became publicly visible when Muhammad silenced Malcolm X for remarking after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that it was a case of the "chickens coming home to roost." (Malcolm X's point was that the federal government's inaction toward racist violence in the South had come back to strike the president.) When Malcolm X learned that Muhammad had planned to have him assassinated, he decided to leave the NOI.

On March 8, 1964, he announced his resignation and formed the Muslim Mosque, Inc., an Islamic movement devoted to working in the political sphere and cooperating with civil rights leaders. That same year he made his first pilgrimage to Mecca and took a second tour of several African and Arab nations. The trip was apparently transformative. Upon his return he renamed himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, adopted from Sunni Islam, and announced that he had found the "true brotherhood" of man. He publicly acknowledged that whites were no longer devils, though he still remained a Black Nationalist (see Black Nationalism in the United States) and staunch believer in black self-determination and self-organization.

During the summer of 1964 he formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Inspired by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) made up of independent African states, the OAAU's program combined advocacy for independent black institutions (e.g., schools and cultural centers) with support for black participation in mainstream politics, including electoral campaigns. Following the example of Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X planned in 1965 to submit to the United Nations a petition that documented human rights violations and acts of genocide against African Americans. His assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in New York—carried out by gunmen affiliated with the NOI—intervened, and the OAAU died soon after Malcolm X was laid to rest.

Although Malcolm X left no real institutional legacy, he did exert a notable impact on the Civil Rights Movement in the last year of his life. Black activists in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who had heard him speak to organizers in Selma, Alabama, in February 1965, began to support some of his ideas, especially on armed self-defense, racial pride, and the creation of black-run institutions. He also gained a small following of radical Marxists, mostly Trotskyists in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Malcolm X convinced some SWP members of the revolutionary potential of ordinary black ghetto dwellers, and he began to speak more critically of capitalism.

Was Malcolm X about to become a civil rights leader? Could he have launched a successful Pan-Africanist movement? Was he turning toward Marxism? Scholars and activist have debated these issues, but no firm answers are yet possible.Supporters administer first aid to Malcolm X as he lies on the floor of the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, where he was shot as he began a speech in February 1965.

Ironically, Malcolm X made a bigger impact on black politics and culture dead than alive. The Watts Rebellion occurred and the Black Power Movement emerged just months after his death, and his ideas about community control, African liberation, and self-pride became widespread and influential. His autobiography, written with Alex Haley, became a movement standard. Malcolm X's life story proved to the Black Panther Party, founded in 1966, that ex-criminals and hustlers could be turned into revolutionaries.

And arguments in favor of armed self-defense—certainly not a new idea in African American communities—were renewed by Malcolm X's narrative and the publication of his speeches. Even after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., when the civil rights leader was celebrated as an American hero by many blacks and whites, Malcolm X's image loomed much larger in inner-city communities, especially among young males.Despite the collapse or destruction of Black Nationalist organizations during the mid-1970s, Malcolm X continued to live through the folklore of submerged black urban youth cultures, making a huge comeback thanks to rap music, black-oriented bookstores, and Afrocentric street vendors.

The 1980s were a ripe time for a hero like Malcolm X, as racism on college campuses increased, inner cities deteriorated, police brutality cases seemed to rise again, and young black men came to be seen as an "endangered species." Malcolm X's uncompromising statements about racism, self-hatred, community empowerment, and his background as a "ghetto youth," made him the undisputed icon of the young.

The recirculation of Malcolm X as icon during the late 1980s and 1990s got its biggest boost from the commercial marketplace, as retailers, publishers, and Hollywood cashed in on the popularity of hip-hop music and culture. And as Afrocentrism achieved respectability among black urban (and suburban) professionals, Malcolm X's face and name became a central staple among the "Afro-Chic" products that made up their casual attire (see Afrocentricity).

The rush to purchase "X" paraphernalia affected not only African Americans but also suburban whites, Latinos, and Asian Americans fascinated with black youth cultures. Dubbed the "X" generation, ad agencies boldly marketed "X" products without even mentioning Malcolm X. "Malcolm Xania" reached its high point with the release of Spike Lee's cinematic rendering of Malcolm X's autobiography in 1992. Following Lee's lead, retailers sold millions of dollars worth of "X" caps, T-shirts, medallions, and posters emblazoned with Malcolm X's name, body, or words.

Not surprisingly, the selling of Malcolm X in the 1990s generated pointed debate among African Americans. Some argued that marketing Malcolm X undermined his message, while others insisted that the circulation of his image has prompted young people to search out his ideas. Some utilized his emphasis on black community development to support a new African American entrepreneurialism, while others insisted on seeing him as a radical democrat devoted to social justice. His anti-imperialism has dropped out of public memory, whereas his misogyny has been ignored by his supporters and spotlighted by his detractors.However these disputes evolve, it appears that Malcolm X's place in U.S. history, and in the collective memory of African Americans, is secure. Ironically, some of his centrality can be attributed to the mutability of his own viewpoint. Because his ideas were constantly being renewed and rethought during his short career, Malcolm X has become a sort of tabula rasa, or blank slate, on which people of different positions can write their own interpretation of his politics and legacy. Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas can both declare Malcolm X their hero.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Is Obama really an inspiration?

So much has been said and written about Barack Hussein Obama, who is campaigning for the Presidency of the United States and may win the elections scheduled for next month. Among other accolades, he has been hailed as an inspiration, especially, to Africans and African-Americans; how he symbolises their hopes and dreams of breaking through a system that has tended to exclude them.

What is partly contributing to this euphoria is the fact he is a mix of Kenyan father and white American mother; that makes him as African and as American as either side wants him to be or represent. And also, the fact that no black man or woman has ever come this close to the Oval Office, that has been occupied by white old men in over 200 years.

But is Obama really an inspiration? Will his victory spur the millions of Africans and African-Americans to go against the grain and rise above the hurdles, they are confronted with every day, to realise their dreams and achieve their ambitions?

In other words, is Barack Obama in the calibre of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela or Kwame Nkrumah?

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) advanced a Pan-African philosophy that, among others, inspired liberation movements and leaders who fought against colonialism in Africa and others parts of the world. He was described by Martin Luther King as “the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny”. Malcolm X (1925-1965) is viewed as one of the most influential African-Americans of the 20th century and is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. Nelson Mandela was one of the leaders in the fight against social injustice in South Africa and helped to unite the country after apartheid. He has since become a symbol of freedom and equality.
So, is Obama’s campaign for change borne out of the kind of conviction that these icons had or is it driven by an ambition to break barriers by giving it his best shot?

It should be noted that Obama is not the first African-American to attempt the race for President. Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African-American Congresswoman, sought nomination in 1972 and won 152 delegates. Rev. Jesse Jackson campaigned for the Democratic Party nomination in 1984 and 1988. Twenty years later, Obama is further up this less travelled road.

Since 1870, there have been only four African-Americans in the US Senate before Obama, who is the only one among 100 members. Currently, there are only 42 African-Americans in the 440-member House of Representatives.

In the corporate world, blacks are also a rarity. There only four black Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Fortune 500 companies, the 500 most powerful and high grossing companies in America. This can be contrasted with a study by the University of Georgia, which shows that by 2011, annual black spending power will reach $ 1.1 trillion “representing almost 9 cents of every dollar spent in the US”. George Curry, former Editor-in-Chief of Emerge magazine, said “If African-Americans were represented at the top of the corporate ladder in the same proportion as their percentage of the population, there would be 63 black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies”.

If Obama should win in November, he would be President in country where about one million black males are in prison, more than those who are in college, and where African-Americans are still victims of racial profiling and negative stereotypes.

In addition, despite his popularity in Africa, in his campaigns he has barely mentioned Africa and its position in his foreign policy. While President Bush committed billions of dollars to malaria and AIDS, what will be Obama’s priority for the continent?It remains to be seen if Obama’s participation in the 2008 presidential race will encourage more African-Americans to take a more active role in the politics and economy of the US. It is only then that we can safely say he is an inspiration and not a token that falsely represents blacks as having equal opportunities even in “restricted realms”!

An edited version of this was published by The New Vision on 20th October 2008, see it at

Thursday, 18 September 2008

My Second Review for Africa Reading Challenge: Apollo Milton Obote: What Others Say

This is a collection of various articles, letters and commentaries, mostly published in newspapers, on Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, who led Uganda to independence in 1962 as Prime Minister, and was President twice, 1966-1971 and 1980-1985. Dr. Obote is a figure in Uganda’s history that draws a variety of emotions from various people depending on how they experienced his regimes, interpreted his achievements and failures or Uganda’s history, interactions with him at the personal and professional levels, their political aspirations and their perceptions.

The authors include former Ministers and former civil servants in his two governments, his wife, parliamentarians, journalists, academicians and members of the public, among others.

As such, the editor has organised these articles and commentaries into four parts: Obote the Hero, Obote the Villain, Obote the Victim, Obote the Mixed Bag. While the latter is the longest part, the second one [Obote the Villain] is the shortest, perhaps showing the man, who is the subject of this book, was to a significant extent influenced by external factors much as he was a victim of the circumstances for the events by which he was labelled a villain. A case in point is the attack on the seat of Buganda Kingdom that eventually led to establishment of Uganda as a unitary Republic. From this, the reader is left to form his or her own view of Dr. Obote basing on how he is presented in this book from several perspectives.

The book opens with two statements from the Uganda People’s Congress, a political party that he headed for several decades until his death in 2005. These highlight his vision for the country and the achievements that were made by his governments. The final article is written by the editor, who bases his argument on his legal grounding to assess whether Dr. Obote can be prosecuted for the “crimes” he has been accused especially by President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM). Also noteworthy is the coverage of the NRM government’s efforts in facilitating the return of Dr. Obote’s body from South Africa, where he died, through Zambia, where he spent 20 years in exile, to Akokoro village, where he wished to be interred. President Museveni’s seemingly conciliatory speech is ironic considering that he had never said anything positive apart from demonising the ex-President.

In light of the fact that there is no autobiography or memoirs by Dr. Obote, Omongole Anguria has contributed significantly to how the founding father should be judged by posterity instead of the skewed way that has been perpetuated for so long by the NRM and the Baganda or Buganda.

This review was published by The Ivory Post at

Monday, 15 September 2008

Dishonourable Discharge for Hip Hop

As a fan of hip hop, I thought this story on was quite interesting. I don't know what I would do if someone destroyed my music collection? At least, Mr. Jackson was able to get new roles from that discharge...for me, you will be dearly departed [just joking....]

US Soldier Dishonorably Discharged For Hip Hop

September 11th, 2008 Author: Anthony Springer Jr

Former US soldier Martin Jackson takes his Hip Hop seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he was dismissed from military duty because of it.One of Malone’s sergeants burned his nine year collection of Hip Hop magazines after a heated argument. Malone’s reaction earned him a discharge for dishonorable conduct. At the time, Malone had served three years which included a stint in Korea and service after the attacks of September 11.

Not taking the discharge lying down, Malone—who goes by the alias Muggsy Malone—hit the studio with Conrad Dimanche [click to read] of Bad Boy Records/Making the Band. The resulting effort is an album titled Probable Cause, which he is dedicating to the military. Malone has remained active since his military days and is a volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign in addition to his duties as an emcee, signed to Warpath Records.

In addition to Probable Cause, which is slated for release in March 2009, Malone is also prepping a reality show scheduled to air on Myspace, titled The Making of the Next Big Thing.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Another Inspiration Between The Lines

I cannot remember the last time, my alma mater had a positive, feel good story on the front pages of a major newspaper--like The Daily Monitor has done this morning. The story below is the kind that I always wished for [worked towards] during the time I managed the PR Office of Makerere University. But it makes me prouder as an alumnus that my university and the students are doing great things at the international level.

Makerere students build car

by Walter Wafula

The first model of Vision 200, a four-passenger vehicle, which has partly been designed by a team of 11 Makerere University engineering students, is set for public viewing in Europe. The model of the hybrid power vehicle, which is expected to be ready for commercial production in 2010, will be showcased in the World Design Capital, Torino in Italy, according Mr Steven Jeremy Ntambi, the Makerere team leader.

Mr Ntambi told Daily Monitor last week that the prototype of the car, which has been in production since October 2007, will be moved from its workshop in the same location, to the Torino Museum on September 5, as part of this year’s Dream Exposition designs.

“The Vehicle Design Summit’s Vision 200 concept car will be showcased alongside vehicles like Ferrari, Fiat and other big global names,” said Mr Ntambi, a final year Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering student at Makerere University. The car will be the only student-designed product at the show. Vision 200 final version, is aimed at creating a global solution to the energy and pollution challenges as well as lowering the cost of eco-friendly cars.

It is being designed by a consortium composed of students from at least 27 leading technology research universities and colleges including Harvard, Princeton, Germany’s FH Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Imperial College of London in the UK and Dehli College in India, with support from several private companies and institutions. Once completed, the car is expected to reduce gas emissions and increase the efficiency of fuel consumption.

Mr Ntambi said the student’s research observed that a normal car uses about 5-10 per cent of the fuel put in for movement but Vision 200 is expected to reverse this, and make use of about 95 per cent of the fuel used and yet offer extra power options, from its three sources.

The car is expected to achieve up to 50 kilometres per litre of fuel, compared to the 10 kilometres most saloon cars achieve on average.
The Makerere University team, which has been tasked with building the main system of the car, was charged with the duty of developing the low power electronics and the data networking system for the vehicle.
The project is part of the students’ requirements to complete their studies in Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Information technology degrees.

“The general point of the research is what we are doing- the Power Train, which is the heart of the car. We are in charge of the battery, the motor and power train which move the car,” he said. A video of the making of the car also shows that Makerere students emerged as the best hands on team, providing the best welder (Douglas Bibita) who saved the team $800 per day and the best micro-programmer (Emmanuel Ssebaggala).

Because of his outstanding welding skills, Mr Bibita was asked to remain with the team that will finalise the first prototype, as his friends returned home last week. Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the associate professor, Department of Engineering, at the Faculty of Technology at Makerere said the participation of Makerere students on the project,means that Uganda is building the necessary human capacity to provide local solutions to our problems.

He said given resources, Uganda can borrow a leaf form China to become a global power in production of technologies because the human resource is under training.

“Some decades ago, you couldn’t hear about China, today, every product you buy the label is ‘Made in China’ no matter which market you go to. We would like the same thing to happen here,” Prof. Togboa who is one of the mentors of the Vehicle Design Summit’s Vision 200 (VDS) students said, in an interview at the university, on Thursday. VDS is the research on which the car is based.

In Torino, the car will be showcased to the public and the world’s leading car firm’s which could show interest in the model for a future partnership of a deal.

Mr Ntambi said, although the team may not surpass vehicles’ from Italy’s Ferrari or Bughatti, who have been around for several decades, exhibiting at the expo is a major achievement itself. “Being part of the exposition shows that we are part of the solution to make more environmental friendly cars,” he said.

Inspiration Between The Lines

It is one of those stories that show how blacks can indeed be prosperous and have the drive to create wealth. This is from the Forbes website, my purpose for posting here is what I find noteworthy in this story: look for the key words, work ethic and focus.

This should serve as an inspiration to only musicians in Africa [or in UG in particular] but to all the youth on this continent [who are 50's fans] that they can indeed go out and 'buy the mall'. Work hard and keep the target in focus.

The 50 Cent Machine
by Zack O'Malley

When it comes to records, 50 Cent knows what it takes to go platinum. But in a mine shaft thousands of feet below the surface of South Africa, he's got metal, not vinyl, on his mind.

Last May, 50 paid a visit to billionaire mining baron Patrice Motsepe in South Africa. Flanked by select members of their respective entourages, the unlikely duo descended into a subterranean trove of platinum, palladium and iridium, growing like moss on the earth's warm innards. A spectacular backdrop for a bling-drenched music video, to be sure.

But 50 was there for other business: to forge a joint venture with Motsepe that could soon bring him an equity stake in the mine--and 50 Cent-branded platinum to the world.

"Things that people wouldn't actually expect me to be involved in," 50 muses a few weeks later, reminiscing on his trip. "I've got a diverse portfolio."
In Pictures: Inside The 50 Cent Machine

Here, in the comfort of a midtown Manhattan office, just miles from the Queens, N.Y., streets where 50 once dealt cocaine, the glowering rapper whose lyrics are often punctuated with gunshots is nowhere to be found. In his place is Curtis Jackson, businessman. Less gangster, more Gordon Gekko, he ticks through the contents of his portfolio: stocks, bonds, real estate, investment pools, all carefully monitored by brokers at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Over the past 12 months, 50 has added $150 million to his substantial coffers. He hawks clothing, sneakers, videogames, movies, ringtones and flavored water. His earnings were nearly twice as much as last year's hip-hop cash king, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, and over four times the sum garnered by Sean "Diddy" Combs, who ranked third for the second year in a row. After topping Forbes' inaugural Cash Kings list, the trio released a modified version of 50's "I Get Money" called "The Forbes 1-2-3 Remix."

Diversification is crucial for rappers. Record sales are declining, new media are playing havoc with the music industry, and it seems unlikely that hip-hop acts will ever lure stadiums of deep-pocketed baby boomers with the ease exhibited by geriatric rockers such as the Rolling Stones and the Police.

Perhaps as a hedge, Jay-Z signed a 10-year, $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation in April. Kanye West headlined the traditionally rock-focused music festival Lollapalooza in Chicago earlier this month. 50 is looking to secure his own long-term relevance with deals like the one currently in the works with Motsepe.

"The financials of the music business have changed to the point that we have to find ways to make money in other places," says Barry Williams, 50's circumspect brand manager. "I didn't think six years ago when we started trying to sell music that we'd be selling VitaminWater and shoes and clothes. Now we're moving into other directions, and four or five years from now, it's exciting to think about us looking at natural resources and raw materials and other businesses."

50's first mega-deal was completed a year ago. He snagged $100 million when Coca-Cola bought Glacéau, VitaminWater's parent company, for $4.1 billion. The rapper had received a stake in Glacéau as compensation for peddling the "Formula 50" VitaminWater flavor. He'd continued to add to his holdings as the years went on. Although observers praised 50's financial foresight as soon as the deal was announced, he was far from satisfied.

"People were talking about how much money I made, but I was focused on the fact that $4.1 billion was made," says 50. "I think I can do a bigger deal in the future."

Looking one step ahead of the business has always one of 50's trademark traits. He grew up rough in Jamaica, Queens, in the midst of the 1980s crack epidemic. His mother, a drug dealer, was murdered when he was 8; soon after, he began running cocaine for his uncles. He realized he could make more money by charging a markup in the neighborhood of 25%. This precocious business sense earned him plenty of dollars--and three arrests--by age 19. He avoided jail time by agreeing to attend a six-month, military-style boot camp in upstate New York.

Returning to Queens, the fledgling rapper scored a $65,000 deal with Columbia Records. But in 2000 his past caught up with him. Days before his first album, Power of the Dollar, was set to hit stores, 50 was shot nine times and left for dead in front of his grandmother's house. Columbia dropped him, and the record was never released, though it has since been heavily bootlegged. Undeterred, he returned to the studio as soon as he recovered from his wounds. He started churning out "mix tapes," which are informally circulated at parties, and soon he had become an underground rap sensation.

The tapes earned him a following--and a big break. In 2002 star rapper Marshall "Eminem" Mathers heard his driver playing one of 50's songs. Eminem was so impressed with the music that he invited 50 to Los Angeles to meet with him and producer Andre "Dr. Dre" Young. Within days, they signed 50 to a million-dollar deal for five albums.

But from the start, 50's career was more about business than music. He spent his first $300,000 registering the "50 Cent" and "G-Unit" trademarks; in 2003 he brought on veteran talent manager Chris Lighty to head up his business entourage. Today, Lighty is part of an informal board of directors for brand 50 Cent. The team helps 50 sort through endorsement offers, brainstorm new ideas and operate his businesses.

At the top of that pyramid is 50 himself. Ask any of his associates what sets him apart, and they'll all tell you it's his fiendish work ethic. In a recent 24-hour span, he started by filming scenes for Streets of Blood from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. (He will star in the flick, due out next year, alongside Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone.) He then went straight to the mobile recording studio he keeps on set and worked on his new album for four to five hours. After snagging a few hours of sleep, he went right back to the studio.

"I don't think he'll ever stop working," says Laurie Dobbins, chief operating officer of Lighty's company, Violator Management. "He's got the work ethic of a robot. I think he works 24 hours a day."

50 will always be a performer. While he spent the daytime hours of his Africa tour kibitzing with the likes of Motsepe and Nelson Mandela, nights brought concerts--and crowds upwards of 100,000. He watched as his music broke the language barriers between scores of local dialects. He says the rush he gets from performing is the reason he doesn't need drugs. But don't be confused about where his priorities lie.

"Closing a deal," he says, "is a bigger deal."

Friday, 22 August 2008

Why Hate on Us?

There is something about racism or xenophobia that really makes me very angry. Two articles in The New Vision newspaper [one a letter to the Editor and the other an article from a reader]. They are both about how Ugandan students [and I guess other African or black students] are treated or mistreated or sometimes killed in Ukraine. They go there for university education which is relatively cheaper but end up with more than they bargained for.

And every year, in Uganda, there is presentations about Ukrainian universities and the favourable conditions there...blah blah with representatives from these places and from our own country. Below are the said articles to reflect on. Does being black mean we have to undergo all kinds of mistreatment and be subjected to dehumanising acts? Is because of the skin colour that they hate on us? I have not heard of any incident where a Ukrainian was stabbed in Uganda and even his body not traced in more than a decade!!!!

Listen to Ugandan students in Ukraine

Benjamin Egesa says he was mistreated

EDITOR — I was disappointed by the response of Eng Davis Matovu in The New Vision of August 20 to a special report, which was published in the Saturday Vision of August 15, 2008. In the report, a Ugandan student, Benjamin Egesa, claimed harassment and racist treatment.

But it was quite disheartening for Matovu to justify Ukrainian police harassment of Egesa. In a press release, Matovu wrote: “So, as Benjamin claims the police harassed him, we, as an association, say it is better because the police had to keep checking on him since he was a suspect.”

What Matovu forgets is that ill treatment does not only entail physical beating. Harassment leads to depression and poor health. Many people commit suicide and murders as a result of severe depression. Does Matovu want us to believe this is good?

To justify harassing Egesa because he was a suspect is wrong. Even in Uganda, the Police and other security agencies are under a lot of criticism for some of the officers who harass suspects. While it is true Ukraine enjoys cordial relations with Uganda at various levels, it is wrong for Matovu to sit in Kampala and simply defend acts of individual Ukrainians. In any society, there are criminal elements, who may not reflect the official policy. What is pertinent is how the matter is handled.

The Universities in Ukraine often advertise seminars where they market themselves to students in Kampala. But who really cross checks what they claim to own? My friend in Namungoona was duped into the same scenario by claims of lower tuition by Ukrainian professors. But when she got there, the fees were more than triple what she was told in Kampala during the presentations.

The poor girl could not complete her course or pay the hostel fee and her passport was withheld by the university till she coughed the money. This was a shortcoming on the Ukrainian side because the girl’s budget and money for upkeep were endorsed by the university’s office in Kampala. We had to raise the money and, after a year of agony, my friend is now in Makerere University.

Mr. Matovu, you should encourage Ugandans who have problems with Ukrainian Universities to report them. Let the Kampala office raise it with the Ukrainians and find a sensible solution.

Kikonyogo Kivumbi

This article can be found on-line at:

Yes, it is not safe to study in Ukraine

By Patrick Oyulu

I wish to respond to Benjamin Egesa’s article in Saturday Vision of August 16 titled, “Racial violence: How safe is it to study in Ukraine?” in which he gives an account of the alarming rise in the number of racially-motivated attacks in Ukraine.

My family became a victim in 1996 when my brother, Alex Onencan Oyulu, was murdered in the Kiev, Ukraine, by goons. To make matters worse, we failed to bring his body that was allegedly cremated due to bureaucracies in the Ministry of Education.

Alex went to Ukraine in 1984 on government sponsorship. He completed his Bachelors degree and commenced a Masters programme. In 1996, and having just joined my first job posting, I received a call from the Ministry of Education informing me that Alex was stabbed in Kiev, a traumatising experience up to today.

We immediately sought the help of the ministry in transporting the body to Uganda. In light of the transport costs we could not afford then, we opted for cremation and transportation of his ashes to Uganda. A contact was provided to help us in this venture. This was Alex’s fellow student who claimed to know where his body was but refused to reveal the exact location of the hospital.

So we kept wiring money to this man who turned out to be a conman because he kept asking for more money for this and that. The climax was when he asked for money for ‘refrigeration’ for an already cremated body (according to him) without providing the much sought after pictures of my brother in whatever mortuary he was in. Refrigeration for ash? We smelt a rat.

This gentleman, who today owns one of the numerous ‘Study in Kiev’ agencies, went further and requested me to contact another family who had lost their own, saying he would help. Was he dealing in other people's misfortunes? We ignored him and became resigned to the fact that we would not bring Alex’s body home, God bless his soul. Three years ago, we received another message from another fellow, who said he knew the late Alex, claiming that his body was still lying in some mortuary in Kiev.

Asked to reveal the hospital, he was evasive. It appears there are many people dealing in people’s misfortunes to earn a living in the Ukraine. Why go there in the first place? Egessa did, and learned the hard way; at least he completed his mission.

My brother earned a scholarship, and ended up stabbed and murdered. As a family, we live with the guilt that we failed to bring Alex back for a decent burial in Uganda. To the Ugandan who got all our money saying he was helping in his cremation and never sent us pictures of his body, God bless his soul.

Egessa’s story has again brought sadness to our lives. Even Amnesty International, in a report, recognised the alarming rise of racism. The Ukraine government fails to recognise the gravity of the problem, the report states. The government of Ukraine only frequently registers the attacks as acts of hooliganism.

The Ministry of Education did not help us to return Alex’s body home. They only relayed the messages that my brother was stabbed. I always pray that the story of Alex’s death is a hoax. But going by the trend in Ukraine, it might be true. Those folks are dangerous. Alex, may your soul rest in eternal peace.

The writer is the Production Manager of QG Saatchi & Saatchi

This article can be found on-line at:

Friday, 15 August 2008

Africa Reading Challenge: Capitalist Nigger, My First Review

Capitalist Nigger The Road to Success: A Spider Web Doctrine
Author: Chika A. Onyeani
Publisher: Timbuktu Publishers, New York
Pages: xx+180 pgs
ISBN: 0-9678460-9-9
Reviewer: D. Mwesigye Gumisiriza

In this hard-hitting analysis of the economic status of black people around the world, Chika Onyeani, a Nigerian who has lived in the US for more than three decades, develops his ‘thesis’ that the black race is a generally non-productive consumer race. He uses the term “black” to refer to not only Africans from continental Africa but also to those in the Diaspora, African-Americans and those of African descent from anywhere in the world.

Drawing from various scenarios to support the view that the black race is at the bottom rung when compared and measured against yardsticks of success in different categories; the conclusion is that blacks are economic slaves—“a people who produce nothing and consume everything that others produce”. This is the refrain that is repeated throughout this book to press home the point and to realise the author’s aim of opening a debate on the state of the African race.

Africans tend to blame slavery and colonialism for all their problems and failures; African-Americans and other blacks in the Diaspora put this blame on racism. So, this victim mentality has held them back from economic empowerment. The author claims to have conducted a long study of East Indians and Pakistanis and came up with the idea he has called the Spider Web Doctrine. This is named so basing on how spiders behave; they build a web, when a fly enters it, it is prevented from leaving. That this race is the most adept at applying this doctrine and subsequently have become a major economic force. “When a dollar comes into the community, because of their spider web mentality, that dollar does not leave the community, they reinvest it by buying from other Indians”. It is this mentality and behaviour that will liberate blacks from economic slavery.

Onyeani clearly attributes economic advancement to race and stresses over and over again in his book an admiration for the Caucasians or the whites. In particular, he notes that Caucasians have the killer instinct and ‘Devil-may-care’ attitude that have enabled them to develop their societies and nations to a level that is universally admired.

To put this in context, he uses several scenarios. For instance, in 1998, General Motors, a Caucasian-owned company, earned revenue of US$ 161 billion making it the first on Fortune 500; a list of top-rated American businesses. By comparison, the number one black-owned company, The Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Company, earned revenue of US$ 389 million! Onyeani also wonders how a handful of Caucasians could round up 36 million Africans into slavery. In addition, he cites people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and George Soros who exemplify the killer instinct and daring attitude of whites and Jews.

However, he does not only criticise but also advocates for capitalist niggerism, a movement that seeks to empower blacks. A capitalist nigger is defined as an economic warrior who loves money and seeks wealth and in this way helps his or her community to grow. Alongside this, he develops a set of rules to live by—the Capitalist Nigger’s Canon. But first, he suggests that there should be a Day or Days of Atonement—“the day that the Black race decides to confess for its transgressions against its race, and to promise forthwith to correct such transgressions…”

It is strongly recommended for every black person, everywhere in the world, of at least a university education, and those at all levels of leadership to read this book.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Sex Athlete

I don't know what to make of this, Sean Combs thinks sex [or put bluntly, fucking because sex can encompass many aspects] would be his ticket to the Olympics. It is the most amusing story I have read this week at

Though admire him a lot as an innovative music producer and showbiz entrepreneur, I think this was rather lousy. He should remember that he has teen sons [or children] and this should not be on record as what their famous dad said about the 2008 Olympics. At another level, he is in his thirties, the older a man gets, the less stamina he has in this 'game'. For his info, it becomes increasingly harder to sustain an erection longer than in the teens or in the twenties. Hmmm

By the way, I think it is only teenage boys/adolescents who brag about their 'sexual prowess' [include in that bracket, guys in the early twenties]. For Diddy, who has probably fucked more than one woman, is there anything left for him to prove in that arena?

Amidst the hype of the Olympics, Diddy spoke on his favourite event to watch in a recent interview with during his spring-summer 2009 Sean John presentation. "Track and field!" answered Diddy, who ran the New York Marathon in 2003 to raise money for children in the area. But what if there was a new Olympic sport - something that Diddy would have a shot at winning?

"Who could have sex the longest," the entrepreneur said. "I think that's an event I can do well in. And probably who could stay up the longest."

"Just so you know, that's supposed to be funny," he added. "Even though I am serious."

And who would step to the evidently confident Diddy in this imagined competition? "Whoever's up for the challenge."

Diddy's new show, I Want To Work For Diddy, airs on VH1 Monday nights at 9:00 PM.

Friday, 8 August 2008


Two years ago, in 2006, it was the sixth day of June, the sixth month of the year; this made the day click a 6.6.6 of sorts. To the religious [to an extent, irrationally so] and the superstitious, it was the day of the Devil...a rather misinterpreted version of the mark of the Beast that the Book of Revelations in the Christian Bible warns us against. On the other side of the hill, the devil sympathisers in different parts of the world were spotting 666 in various ways such as temporary tattoos and some kind of rituals [from what I read in the newspapers and online].

In UG, some pastors of the Pentecostal persuasion organised prayers for the nation...blah, blah...of course, there was attendance to this frivolous and misrepresented event. Aren't Ugandans good at attending these prayers? I wish we were also as enthusiastic about the development of their communities and nation.

But reading the Bible, the mark is not about a day but rather a system, an organisation though there is also an interpretation that it is a person.

The 'craze', if I may call it so, extended to the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007: 7.7.7. Again, there were some sort of prayers... I particularly remember the 'over night' at Makerere University's sports ground organised by Pastor Martin Sempa....also there was a musical performance by gospel singer Judith Babirye [if I remember the first name right] who was then riding high on one hit Beera Nange [roughly translates as Be with me]. Their argument was that 7 is a symbol of perfection in the Bible and the event was to pray for the nation [ooh, that frivolous reason again!!]. I think, to them, it was a way to thank God...hmmm.

Today is the eighth day of the eighth month of 2008: 8.8.8. And there is no event that I have heard of to pray for the nation or some other misrepresentation of biblical truths. Out of interest, what do the number 8 represent?

What I looking forward to is the grand opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. In a way, this is the symbolic mark of the rise of this Asian nation as a world power...hate it or love it. Was this predicted by the Prophet Daniel in the Christian Bible about the rise of an empire in The Last Days?

Friday, 1 August 2008

Turkish Delight: Sweet and Sour @ Bloggers’ Night

Aah...yesterday [Thursday] was Bloggers’ Happy Hour [if that is what BHH stands for] and it was my first time at the over-hyped event ‘blogwise’. The venue was changed from the usual Mateo’s [or is it Mateos?] to Effendys, a Turkish restaurant, at Centenary Park, which is much further down the road.

For me and the rest of the newbies [as we were later branded] plus the Country Boi, a veteran in UG blogging circles, this was convenient as we were using Kampala’s notoriously time-wasting public transport—the kamunyes. Between switching kamunyes, we were, however, able to make it within 45 minutes from Makerere.

Good enough, a sizable number of the bloggers, as I think we like to be called, were seated conspicuously near a rather rowdy group—it was fairly easy to spot them. So, we made a beeline for where they were. After a round of hellos, we are made to feel comfortable....and at home, as we recognised familiar faces. As I pulled my notebook to jot down blog addresses, there was this guy who kept objecting to my use of pen and paper. I told him not to worry about it but this didn’t seem to ‘allay his fears’. He kept on and on and on and on....damn! It is only when I told him that before he learnt to blog, he had to go through the pen-and-paper routine....that seemed to ‘satisfy’ him and he didn’t bother me again.

At the time we sat at the table, there is a discussion about a cat....and this same guy kept asking me if I could adopt a cat....Man, what was up with this guy?!! May be he was having a bad hair day [whatever that means...I thought it was only women who suffered that].

Amidst the settling in and breaking the ice, I was beginning to wonder about how this goes down. What is the objective of this gathering? [hmmm...quite heavy] Is there are an agenda? [a hang up from the meetings I attended frequently at my former place of work] An opening prayer? [as any kind of meeting does in UG]. I also recalled the Country Boi’s passionate argument about making the bloggers’ association [not in the formal sense] meaningful and more focused towards issues of common make BHH more than just a meet-eat-and-drink affair. Now, he was hiding from the light, under his cap that he kept on throughout...this reminded of certain politicians, especially the ones who represent the youth in Parliament....he had gone ‘political’ on us.

Anyway, the convener, a very good-looking lady [yes, indeed...face and body...and mind, as I discovered later when talking to her], announced that we were shifting to another part of the restaurant where we would have more space to interact. And interact, we did....I got to jot down more blog addresses....including Mr. Bad Hair Day’s [ha..ha, this time he was calm] and many of the ladies. There were more ladies than me, this is a good thing. Some of the guys get to have competing attention, which is not my reason but it can boost the ‘feel good’ factor. When women are involved actively in something, especially in Africa, apart from marriage and babies, it is a good sign that they are taking advantage of the opportunities available. At Makerere University, for instance, they constitute almost half of the student population...[enough of my justification].

More on the ladies....some of them were proud and didn’t mix with the newbies [despite one being a classmate and even shared coursework at varsity....yeah, I remember her bright red shoes and blouse]. Another was so ladylike, that she had a guy come in and cut up the chicken that she ordered into smaller pieces for her to chew. Talking of ladylike (sic), one adhered to the Victorian principle of sit, do nothing, say nothing and twiddle your fingers as you wait for further instructions. The instructions indeed came when it was time to go....she had said completely nothing...maybe she didn’t want her voice to compete with the din in the place.

More drama was to follow when most of the bloggers had left. Me and the Country Boyi were caught up in creative accounting by the waiter, who served us, that left us with less change than we were supposed to have. All kind of reasons and explanations were given; VAT [value-added tax] is charged on drinks, individual payment of bills yet we are in a group confused the waiter, ad nauseaum. After waiting for an hour for the mess to be sorted, I was left with less money while CB hadn’t got his money at all.

We went to the counter where there was the cashier and ‘head waiter’ to help sort the issue. This was to involve another 30 minutes of useless, baseless arguments and counter-arguments. The waiter had clearly made a mistake when he didn’t collect VAT from some of the people in our group...for instance, he didn’t ask from Tom whom we came with. He had ordered something to eat and two beers.

At the counter, we were dutifully informed by the cashier that VAT is charged on eats not drinks...yet the waiter had told me that I had to pay VAT on the soda and beer I had drunk! The hullabaloo attracted attention of other waiters [as if there was no work for them to do]. Eventually, the manager was called in and another round of explanations and arguments ensued....the Turk man was going to suffer a loss, a waiter who was stammering a case and laying blame on us and the other bloggers, and the main issue begging for a resolution.
Eventually, the manager signed off a payment of what was due to us and we set off to our respective abodes. He mumbled a threat that next time, for the group [I think the bloggers], it will be C.O.D—Cash on Delivery.

If BHH this month is at Effendys, stand warned.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

T.O.S: Thrashed on Soundscan? Terminate(d) on Sight?

At the beginning of the month, I was excited about the release of a second album by the hip hop collective, G-Unit. Exactly a month later, I am very disappointed with its showing on the charts. As fans of hip hop, we have to keep in mind that sales figures have been lacklustre at best. However, with the runaway success of Lil Wayne [selling 1 million copies in one week], there was hope that the 50 Cent-helmed G-Unit would do a similar trip on the charts [Soundscan].

In this, I will focus on the performance of the releases from G Unit rivals: Lil Wayne and Nas. According to info on, Lil Wayne has moved from #2 to #5, with total sales at 1,997,218. He is on threshold of going double platinum with Tha Carter III. After reigning supreme last week at #1 Nas' Untitled holds down the #8 spot this week selling 63,200 this week, bringing the total sold to 250,357. G-Unit sold 13,881copies of Terminate On Sight, earning them the #34 spot. With a combined sum of just 173,250 sold after a month [which is much less than Nas has chalked up in less time or Lil Wayne in a single week, the guys must be swallowing all that bravado and brag about them being 'killers on Soundscan'.

Young Buck who was kicked out of the group shortly before the release must be laughing at them. At least, he is still featured on a number of tracks; I will miss his flow.

This is very instructive for us especially when you feel on top of the game and start to diss your rivals whether it is in the corporate world, showbiz, commerce, politics...all kinds of spheres. Life has a funny way of making your words or actions come back to haunt you and your rivals, competitors or enemies being given a chance to taunt you.

As a fan of G-Unit, I feel the album is a good one though as good as Beg for Mercy. On T.O.S, 50 Cent takes a back seat and let his boys do their thing.

My verdict: I say this is mostly a Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck album. Tracks I like [yeah, I have been playing it back and forth]: Straight Outta Southside, Rider Pt.2, Close to Me (my favourite), You So Tough, I Like The Way She Do It, No Days Off, Money Makes The World Go Round. Tracks that are ish-ish: Kitty Kat, Let It Go (ft. Mavado), Piano Man, Get Down, T.O.S, I Don't Want To Talk About It. Tracks that I didn't like: Casualties of War.

May be a review will be at if I get myself to write. Otherwise, keep checking, there are other stories to read.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Something Good is Cooking: Africa Reading Challenge

This is to inform you who happen to pass by here that there is this very exciting 'challenge' [I don't consider it so, more like an initiative, good one], which seeks to encourage reading of literature about Africa, Africa related or written by Africans.

I came across this from a blog I read frequently and I am signing up, I am two books up with a third one in the bag. Please all ye who check this blog or subscribe to the feeds, the details below:

Participants commit to read - in the course of 2008 - six books that either were written by African writers, take place in Africa, or deal significantly with Africans and African issues. (Read more if you like!). You can read whatever you want, but of the six books, it is recommended that these from a mixture of genres. For example, you might select books from each of the following:
  • Fiction (novels, short stories, poetry, drama)
  • Memoir / autobiography
  • History and current events
Also recommended is reading books from at least 3 different countries. The challenge is for 2008, but if you feel like jumping in now: karibu sana! If you would like to participate, here are the steps:

When you read a book, write a review of it and post it on your blog. Write the post with a preliminary (or final) list of books to read for the challenge. The list can be partial for the start. Even if you don't have a blog, you can compile the list and take part, visit for more details.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Talking of a Revolution

Today is a national holiday in France [known as Bastille Day or quatorze juillet], where they celebrate the famous storming of the Bastille prison in Paris [that was the symbol of repression and oppression by the monarchy]. This was one of the events of the French Revolution of 1789, that has had a significant impact on revolutions and the struggle of freedoms elsewhere in the world since then.

Africa is like the Bastille of 1789 and its leaders like Louis XVI, then King of France, [tyrannical, corrupt and insensitive to the people]. Like the ordinary people of Paris and France, in general, I am dreaming of the day when the long-suffering and oppressed African people will "storm this Bastille" and usher in freedom, prosperity and social justice!!

An Africa That's Unseen, Unheard, Unnoticed

There are times when there is a very positive story on Africa and its vast potential and successes. I have posted only the intro below:

Mixed in with war and poverty on the remarkable continent are stock markets, high rises, a growing middle class and investment opportunities that offer the highest returns in the world. Read the full story here

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Forty Days, Forty Nights, My Fave Writer Turns Forty

This is a reflection by one of my best authors/writers when he clocked the magical 40 years of age. He writes a regular column called The Riddle in The Daily Monitor, where it appears every Saturday. I always make it a point to read The Riddle every week and it makes me reflect on a number of issues that he tends to raise. My favourite were the series on Idi Amin, which were enlightening [especially to those who were born in the 1970s and later, as we have a distorted view of our history courtesy of those in leadership who have deliberately twisted it to serve their narrow interests]

This guy has a knack for tackling subjects that get agitated, angry enough to write back, soul search, question their long-held beliefs, to mention but that. I remember way back in the 1990s, he used to write radio reviews that the 'leading' radio stations then pull full page adverts to counter his observations, quoting research figures from Steadman and Associates and other research companies.

It is during this time [and because of his knowledge of radio, having worked at three stations] that I met him and interviewed him for my undergraduate research project "Impact of Liberalisation on Government-Owned Electronic Media". This is not to flatter him [since I admire his writing] but I can say he was helpful.

In his article below, I have highlighted in green what I felt resonate with me in some way or the on, please.

Forty days and forty nights alive on earth

On June 26, I turned 40, something that surprises and amuses me. I used to think that when one was 40, one would be a serious, mature person, but I still feel I am as childish as when I was in primary school.

The 1990s that were my hardest and most frustrating, with the benefit of that teacher called hindsight, are now the years I am most grateful for. They taught me, to use the expression of the English poet William Wordsworth in 1798, to “see into the life of things.”

I am grateful that I have lived to discover the truth about the most disturbing chapter in Ugandan history, that of Idi Amin. To now know with factual and documentary proof that Amin is not the man we thought he was and that he did not kill or order the killing of the thousands of Ugandans that died between 1971 and 1979, is a truth I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The fact that all over the world, millions of people have the same general and false view of Amin, from the most respected and prestigious universities and newspapers to the semi-literate man on the street, is what finally makes me realise that there is a level of deception so deep, so universal, so cunning, that it can only be explained by the existence of the master of deception, the devil.

It is this realisation that all, from the finest to the most humble of minds can be as easily deceived as little children. It ended my faith in formal classroom education.

William Shakespeare, for all his brilliance characterisation and the magnificent language of his masterpieces, could only paint in eloquent and memorable terms the true, irrational, hypocritical, vain, evil, and cowardly reality of human nature. But not even he could explain to us why, in the first place, we humans are predisposed to dark, evil, greedy impulses.

Why do man-made machines like computers, calculators, atomic clocks, microscopes, slide rules, and integrated circuits work almost perfectly for most of the time but the human beings that designed and made them are always subject to daily mistakes? To that we still have no answers.

While at Makerere University in 1989, a friend introduced me to a book called Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, written in 1978 by two American clinical psychologists, David Kirsey and Marilyn Bates. That book has had a greater impact on the way I view the world than any other book except the Bible.

It drew me to believe in the idea of predestination. 90 percent of how we feel, react, think, plan, and behave at the core of our personalities was pre-programmed when we were born.

Just by watching or listening to a person for 30 minutes I can determine not only what type he is but also how he will react and behave in most situations most of the time. Where I once required, say, ten years to understand a person, I now need only two hours.

This brings me to the Bible. We Christians claim that the book called the Bible is the word of God. But I think the Bible was either badly written or too compressed during the editing that it failed to fully get its message across and it has ended up confusing more than enlightening us, and yet it has the truths of eternal significance.

The Bible explained, among other things, the law of biogenesis (all life comes out of life and all species reproduce after their own kind), explained the water cycle, the fact that the earth was a sphere and not flat and it was suspended in the air, all these centuries before scientists in the 15th century A.D. started “discovering” these scientific facts. Yet today, ironically, most scientists dismiss this enigmatic book as a relic of the Middle Ages.

Finally, I’ve seen corrupt and greedy people rise to the top and become prosperous; but I have also seen honest and truthful people succeed just as much. I have seen inocent people arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. But I have also seen drug traffickers and murderers arrested and locked up in jail for crimes they committed.

I have seen honest and sincere religious people suffer and live lives of poverty, but so too have I seen thugs and petty thieves struggle and not have enough money. So it is not necessarily a fact that honesty does not pay or crime pays. We might as well be ourselves and live by our conscience.

Am I Mis-Educated?

After reading this and listening to many of my peers [like someone with a Master's degree but making very pedestrian arguments and observation] or PhD holders failing to come up with workable suggestions to national issues, I think seems all these years I spent in school were to tune me into a mis-educated black young man. So, what is the way out of this quagmire, if I may ask the author. Is there any way, we can correct the situation so that we bring up a younger generation that is not "mis-educated".

Miseducation of the Black race is the real inconvenient truth
by Morris D. C. Komakech

In his masterpiece, How African Minds Think; The Inconvenient Truth (see Saturday Monitor, June 21), Mr. Timothy Kalyegira made stunning observations about the prospects of White and Black races which merits rebuttal.

In the article, Mr. Kalyegira narrated his ordeal of frustration in the ‘90s as he witnessed the dismal performances posted by African intellectuals despite having achieved what one considered quality education from traditional academic powerhouses in Africa and abroad.

He observed that in contrast to the African situation, the dominant character of the White societies, their culture and personalities could be summed up in the terms “insight, imagination, linguistic fluency, enthusiasm, and inspiration, abstract, analytical, curious, logical, scientific, inventive, exacting, and efficient”. He further asserted that the prevalence of these traits is largely responsible for producing quality professionals, products, and services and for inspiring sustainable Western civilisation.

Fundamentally, I’m compelled to gravitate towards the arguments posted by Mr. Kalyegira. However, few virtues about White people were omitted and those are the cultures of honesty and accountability to fellow Whites and their territories.

But like all African intellectuals and those who indulge in analysing Africa’s shortcomings, I believe that Mr. Kalyegira permitted his minds to slip and fall in the same booby trap that has engendered perennial misdiagnosis of Africa’s problems. His agreeing that Africans are inflicted with a sorry trait of ordinariness and subsequent explanations did not meet the benchmarks of an upstream thinker.

This article emphasises that mis-education of the African and subsequent colonisation of the African minds with Western religion are the reasons most Africans act as though they were made of inferior quality and has inspired them to always contribute very little to the world’s overall civilisation.

In this article, I shall examine empirical evidences alluding to mis-education.To better understand the concept of mis-education, one needs to understand the very purpose of education. Any form of education is intended to be liberating its recipient as well as his society and to power transformatory processes.

The Whiteman has realised both of these objectives, thus the wonderful traits that Mr. Kalyegira so articulately recounted. For the African, the Western formatted type of education has proven to be limiting. To better understand these concepts, one needs to appreciate the different pedagogical methodologies such as those inspired by critical social theories, phenominology or otherwise.

Research works by Dr Janice E. Hale-Benson of Institute for the Study of the African-American Child at Wayne State University and Dr Geneva Smitherman of Michigan State University, have provided compelling scientific evidences which affirmed that global injustices, divides and miseries follow patterns that are dictated by the education systems.

The works of these two researchers were cited by Dr Rev. Jeremiah Wrights in his April 27, speech at the Dinner fundraising ceremony of the Detroit NCAAP Branch (You should read it). The works of Dr Janice E Hale-Benson can be found in a book, Black children their Roots, Culture and learning Style, 1986 [Amazon for $18.95].

Both Dr Janice Hale (Educationist) and Dr Smitherman (Linguist) established that White children and Black children learn everything differently for which the learning differences have not been accommodated or integrated in the European or American education systems. These studies led to a realisation that white children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the US, Europe are designed to meet that learning need.

Scientifically speaking, left brain is logical and analytical. Object-oriented learning means the student learns from an object. Black people do not learn this way, they are right-brained, subject-oriented. What this means is that they are creative and intuitive.

Subject-oriented means they learn from subject (person) not object. That is why oral tradition has remained a formidable source of history for African court jesters. Likewise, Dr Smitherman was able to establish that White and Black children learn languages differently; that’s why we have the Blackman’s English and the Whiteman’s English distinct.

To relate this to our situation, one could comfortably allude that the mediocre performances of African intellectuals are inherent in the nature of the education that is not designed to address their learning needs. The education systems in Africa are inadequate and alien. In other words, in Africa and in Uganda, the so-called educated persons are actually the illiterates because their learning process have been impeded by wrong learning styles that are intended for White brains.

As a consequence, our engineers can only rise to the competency level of mechanics and servicemen, and so are our other professionals who resort to stealing public funds for personal liberation and transformation.

This also explains why in Uganda, the most successful merchants and business people are not the most educated in the White man’s education system, they are mostly drawn from the pool of those who stayed home and had the experience of receiving right brained, subject oriented learning. That is why university graduates are job seekers while the uneducated are job creators and employers. Mis-education is the main paradox of the African mind; the inconvenient truth!

Mr Komakech is an African scholar, social critic and political analyst based in Canada. E-mail:

For My Sons

This morning as I was reading through the newspapers online, I came across this article crafted from inspiring talk given by Prof. Charles Olweny, currently Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs' University. I also discovered that he is an Old Boy of St. Mary's College Kisubi, which I attended from 1988 to 1993. [I may also add that he was one of the founders of Friends of Makerere, an organisation that seeks to mobilise alumni of Makerere University to contribute to the advancement of their alma mater and higher eucation in Uganda, generally. In the inaugural edition of The Mak Alumni magazine, which I edited, Prof. Olweny contributed an article on this initiative and how it started].

The article below was published in The Weekly Observer, which I can testify is the best written and edited newspaper in Uganda [Of note: It is run by young people, a testimony of the potential, talent, skills and abilities that is available among Africa's young generation if these 'elders' hanging on would just exit and leave the stage to us]. Anyway, I reproduced this article on this blog because it is something that I would like my sons to get into their minds when they come of age. It is also good for the parents, teachers and all those whose responbilities include mentoring young people.

Good education can't start at the university
Special Report
Written by Prof. Charles Olweny

On June 8, Prof. Charles Olweny, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs’ University, Nkozi, was a guest speaker at the reunion of old boys of St. Mary’s College Kisubi last month. Below, we reproduce an abridged version of his inspirational speech at this event:

Today is a great day for me as it represents an official home coming after 48 years of absence. I graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1960 having been among the first batch to start A-level course here.

I was requested to talk on the theme: “Quality Education and Professionalism” and in preparing for this presentation I asked myself what is QUALITY? What is EDUCATION? And what is PROFESSIONALISM? I will share my preferred definitions of what these words mean to me.

Quality is the degree to which services to an individual or population are (a) likely to achieve desired outcome and (b) consistent with current professional knowledge. A customer who buys your product or experiences your service has certain needs and expectations in mind. If the product or service meets or exceeds those expectations time and again, then in the mind of the customer it is a quality product or quality service.

Customers may switch from one supplier to another not just to get a better price, but rather to secure better service, reliability, accessibility and courtesy. Customers are the most important assets of any company although they do not show up on our balance sheets.

At St. Mary’s Kisubi, the customers are the students, their parents, their sponsors, the Church and the people of Uganda. Has St. Mary’s lived up to or exceeded their expectations? If the answer is yes then St. Mary’s is a quality institution.

What about education?

Some will tell you that education is, for example, “NOT just filling a bucket with knowledge”. My late parents taught me three things: Fear God, work hard and respect authority as all authority comes from God. I have added a fourth dimension or value to my children, namely, “be disciplined”. Discipline is doing the right thing when no one is watching.

Discipline is not just demanding people to take action; it is to do with getting them to first engage in disciplined thought and then take disciplined action. In this regard my parents were my first educators.

My own preferred definition of education is, “what is left when all that you learnt at school, college or university is long forgotten.” What is left is “education” When you can no longer define the principle of Archimedes, when you can no longer deduce Pythagoras’ theorem, when you cannot impute E=MC2, when all the neuroanatomy, or biochemistry is gone, when all the calculus you learnt no longer makes sense, then what is left in you is education.

A good education empowers us; provides us with the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake important tasks in our lives, exploits all our potentials, prepares us to become global citizens and above all teaches us to think critically. Text books teach people subject matter but they do not teach people to think let alone to think critically.

I believe St. Mary’s gave me a good education. St. Mary’s instilled in me the notion of discipline. I recall the early morning wake up call from Brother Louis or Brother Paul Major, rain or no rain. We were taught the appreciation of classical music; I developed then a passion for classical music to this day. We were given dancing lessons; I wonder how many of you can dance foxtrot or waltz or calypso? We were given courses in etiquette. We were encouraged to ask questions and to ask the right questions when faced with complex decisions. We were trained not to cone by rote or cram but to try to understand issues and express them in our own words. Now that I can no longer remember the academic issues, what I have left in me is education and I can proudly announce it was a good education.

Lastly, what is professionalism?

A better definition is “exhibiting a courteous conscientious and generally business-like manner at the work place”. Another definition of professionalism is the conduct, aim and qualities that characterize or make a profession or a professional person. The majority of us here are professionals or belong to one or other of the professions. Do we exhibit courtesy? Are we conscientious? Are we business-like in our work place? Do we exhibit qualities that should characterise our profession? Are we reliable, accessible and courteous to those we serve? I leave it up to each of you to answer those questions

Our mission in this world, according to the late Pope John Paul II, is to seek God, study the world and serve humanity. And according to St. Thomas Aquinas, “God’s grace works through nature”. Encountering God in the bits and pieces of every day life is what we should strive for.

Remember the people you encounter in the streets, in the class room, in the market, in the taxi park are your gods. The people who come to your consultancy rooms – whether you are an architect, an engineer or a medical doctor – are all your gods. Please treat them as if they are God.

Take your heart to work and ask everybody else to do the same. Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth, don’t let them get swallowed up by the great chewing i.e. Complacency. An ancient Buddhist expression states, “If we are facing the right direction all we have to do is walk”.

I suspect that the organisers wanted me to talk about quality university education. I have intentionally avoided doing so because quality education begins in the home. The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people. Quality education begins in the primary and secondary schools. Unfortunately, by the time the students get to university, the dye is cast and it is almost impossible to mould them into quality products.