Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Are They Going to be Fired Too?....Don't be Too CNN!!

Over the weekend, Richard Quest, the business traveller correspondent on CNN is arrested at Central Park, New York (USA) with meth in his pocket (?), a sex toy in his car boot and a rope round his genitals and neck. He had violated a curfew [in short, he was not supposed to be at that place at that time].

He goes to rehab to get over his substance abuse problems...

Jack Cafferty, a show host on CNN, earlier this month, said the United States imported Chinese-made "junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" and added: "They're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years".

CNN says Cafferty was expressing an opinion about the Chinese government......Now they are being sued for US$ 1.3 billion. [An aside here: A Chinese singer has released a song titled "Don't be too CNN" in response to the biased reporting of the protests in a number of European cities to the Olympic Torch relay].

In 2007, Marianne Briner, a 66-year-old Swiss businesswoman, published email exchanges between her and Jeff Koinange on a blog. She also sent a complaint to his boss at CNN's Atlanta headquarters, claiming that Koinange had admitted to bribery and hoaxing an exclusive report from Nigeria.

He was fired.....

Am I the only one who thinks this is unfair? Or even subtly racist?

Newsflash: The first two cases involve white men, the third is a black [a matter of fact, an African].

Barbarians in Europe

There is very astonishing story that broke out of Austria. It will be a subject of debate on that radio show that allows everyone to put in his or her 2 cents; World Have Your Say on BBC. Now it has been proven that the old man is actually the father-cum-grandfather of the seven children he had with his 'long lost' daughter!

What if this had happened in Africa..the Western media would have had a field day on portraying the Africans as savages, primitive and barbaric...What if it is a white man? Can we now say there are indeed barbarians in Europe? I going to have my field day on this one...It is not the first 'primitive' story we have heard from the 'enlightened continent'. Such savage acts have happened in Britain, Belgium, Austria, France, Germany [remember the guy who ate the penis of his victim with him?]

I will just tune in and listen what the world has to say about this....

When I told my partner about this, she asked how the daugther gave birth to all those children in that basement? May be the Austrian police will answer that question in their investigation.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Switched On....

Last evening, I attended what is known as "The V Conference", part of Questnet's Change the World campaign. Speaker after speaker highlighted the benefits of network marketing and how it ultimately delivers financial freedom [that elusive dream that most of us pursue throughout life].

A search on the internet about the definition gives this: "Financial freedom describes a well-planned lifestyle where one no longer is required to work for income to cover their expenses". I like this concise description and that is why I have given it the 'red treatment' so that it stands out when this post is viewed.

The last speaker had almost two hours at his disposal to get us on this thing...but he mentioned several truths that hit home. Most of us are working hard, morning to night, and going back home at the end of it and wake for the same routine the next day...after 40 years of doing this dilligently, we retire, broke and wait to die...

How true...how many people are in retirement now and are financially free? The other fact that jumped at me is when he mentioned that money is only important [the big issue] when it is not enough to meet expenses!

I have worked for ten years after university and have started to ask myself how to change my life and get out of this rat race...my dream is own a house, travel to all countries in Africa, write at least a book. But at this rate, I don't think I can achieve that unless I make that C.H.A.N.G.E!!!

The other significant truth that the main speaker mentioned was that to achieve this freedom, we have to be "switched on all the time" to keep the goal in focus and the efforts will bear fruits.

Just like the Grameen initiative worked for the poor people in Bangladesh, is Questnet the answer to empowering the people of Africa economically?

I don't know but I think it is worth a try....I need that freedom [not just financial] to do what gives me the utmost satisfaction.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Barclays Banks Fucks Its Valued Customers

Ever since I came under the wing of this otherwise reputable financial institution, Barclays Bank, as a result of the buy-out of the friendlier Nile Bank, I moved from happy to sad to frustrated. I have never wanted to put my money in a foreign-owned bank as a principle [what Capitalist Nigger author terms as 'Spider Web Doctrine']; but now, it is in there and have had to endure with their highly inefficient service.

The Barclays Bank that I'm talking about is the one in Uganda [bearing in mind that it is spread all over the world]. There seems no adequate reason why customers cannot get their ATM cards [those who were previously with Nile Bank], access their money or wait for about 20-30 minutes at the counter for a transcation to go through. To add to our irritation, there seems no credible explanation to what the trouble is or at least a statement from the Bank Management to its customers to sooth the ruffled feathers. There are as many excuses for this incompetence as there are staffers in that fucked-up Bank [which according to their website, are 779 permanent staff and 117 temporary /contract staff].

What is most annoying for me is the recent meaningless adverts that the Bank has put out in the media addressed to "Our Valued Customers". I don't think so, if these fuckers valued us at all, they would have treated us better than this.

I don't think 120,000 retail customers and 570 corporate clients are anything to mess with the way they are doing. Sometimes, that is why I support Mugabe-style takeovers.....many times, I wish we could storm the Bank and bash their heads in, get our money and fire-bomb the place [Ooh...have I committed an act of terrorism in that last part.....forgive me but understand my anger].


Saturday, 19 April 2008

Tears, Prayers....and What Next?

The media is awash [to use the cliche phrase] with stories of the fire that gutted a girls' dormitory at Budo Junior School, that is located in Wakiso district, Central Uganda. So many questions, so many speculations, so many theories....but very few answers about what actually happened on that fateful night of 14 April 2008.

As usual as with all tragedies in Uganda, we see the big people [that is the politicians and government officials] "express sadness" [or even "cry"] about the event, "console" the bereaved and "mourn" the dead [which is, in my view, are crocodile tears meant to show the gullible public that they care]. Inevitably, thereafter, there are prayers to pray for the souls of the dead and public shows of sympathy from different people and organisations or associations or whatever group that wants to be seen to be 'caring'.

Oh...I almost forgot...there are also promises from the government authorities to do everything possible to get the bottom of what caused the tragedy. Someone, in almost all cases, the President, "orders a probe" [a very common word in our news media, I wish "findings" was even more common]. And that is the last you hear of it.....over time, the initial grief pales and is soon forgotten as the issue falls off the radar. Eventually, it is only among the bereaved that the pain is still fresh; in this case, the parents.

According to The Daily Monitor, there have been 33 fires at educational institutions since 2003!! Where are the findings of those probes, reports, etc.

That is why I hate these prayers for the souls of the dead when I know that another similar disaster is waiting to happen in another school before this year ends. We need to address the fundamental issues that breed the conditions for such tragedies to happen than just to cry and pray...and not answer the questions that continue to linger.

The way we, Ugandans, act makes the saying [was it Karl Marx?] that religion is the opiate of society even ring more true.....Now, the opiate has been administered [memorial prayers] and we are going back to sleep [reports shelved and the issue forgotten].

Thursday, 17 April 2008

How Do We Solve The Food Crisis?

Tonight, that is the subject of the BBC programme World Have Your Say. I am very keen on this show because I would like to hear people's ideas on the way forward and how to get out of this crisis. Then, I have will have my say on this blog on how Africa could have positioned itself to feed the world but didn't and now can't in the short-term even if we tried.

Was it foresight on my part? Check the article I posted on this subject last month. Could be a valuable resource for WHYS show tonight, 9:00pm-10:00pm East African Standard Time, Ahem....

When Do You Know This Is It?

Many times in our lives, we are faced with making decisions about several aspects: what to eat? what to wear? what party to go to? when to wake up? how much to withdraw from the bank? et cetera. But these are everyday decisions that we don't stop to think about them long enough to consider whether the alternative would have been better or because it was a bad one then the decision we made was indeed a wise one.

But there are those times when the really big decisions have to be made. Decisions that could change your life significantly or forever [from that point] such as getting married, leaving home, having a baby, starting a business. I heard someone quote a writer that most of us are not aware of the moment that changes our lives as it happens...that it is only in retrospect that they point to that particular time as when whatever change we underwent happened.

Anyway, everything happens for a reason....I don't know for what reason this is that I have decided to jump off this cliff into the unknown.....the known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknowns unknowns [any one remember Donald Rumsfeld before the US invasion of Iraq? If he known what would have become, would he have decided otherwise? Or advised the Commander-in-Chief to try the alternative? Does he regret his role in this or does he still feel that it was the best decision? Does his conscience bother him about the number of American soldiers that have so far died in Iraq?

At this point in my life, I am like Rumsfeld before that invasion...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Demons That Haunt Me

Over and over, at certain intervals in my adult life, there are some things that happen to me which are mostly self-caused. This week, these demons returned to haunt me and I am asking myself if this is something that is bound to happen to me throughout life. Maybe the most important question is do I learn from previous experiences?

I fear that.....but I am even afraid of even having that fear in my heart.

At times, some of these things happen and the wider implications are only too clear to me when the proverbial shit hits the fan!! Yet, at the back of my mind, there was always that small voice warning me but procrastination and the all other forces that pull me down drown it out.

A clinical psychologist told me once that procrastination is a sign of mild depression. Am I depressed? I read that one of the signs is loss of interest in many things and a sense of indifference...the loss in interest also includes sex.

But the way I feel or been feeling today...with testosterone in overdrive....I don't think I have sunk that low yet. May be I need a change of scene, a new job, a long vac, a retreat in a monastery....away from all this so that I can collect myself together. Come back fresh and with fire in the belly to face the world and claim my place in it.

My last straw that I hold on to is my endless optimism that things will be better tomorrow, I will overcame my demons and raise above them....wish I could banish them off a cliff and into the ocean just like the Son of Man did.

What should I do to exorcise these demons that haunt me?

Friday, 11 April 2008

Clap Back on Mugabe Article

There have a number of comments and reactions to my article that was published in The New Vision and relayed on different websites like AllAfrica.com and The Shebeen. I have been accused of being insensitive to the suffering of the Zimbabwean people, just throwing the anti-imperialist bogey around like Mugabe or ZANU-PF does and even missing Idi Amin!

Yes, I was born during the 1970s when Idi Amin had completed two years in power but that does not mean that I necessarily support him and what was attributed to him. What I decry is the demonisation of certain African leaders when what they are doing does not rhyme with Western interests. That is a FACT!!! Do you know that Nelson Mandela who is now being feted all over the world was labelled a terrorist during the time he was fighting for the freedom of his people!!! Recent news reports have shown that he is still on this list.

The import of my article was that though we may want to see Mugabe out of power, is it the solution to Zimbabwe's problem? In addition, the Western countries that are poised to return to Zim with aid and investment will not benefit the people or help spread the benefits as we are made to believe. Consider a situation where these are kept out [as in continued stay of Mugabe and ZANU-PF] vis-a-vis a situation where the door for exploitation is flung wide open [a Tsvangirai win]; I'm saying the former is the lesser evil

If you look those comments on my article, they are just emotional outbursts and accusations. My question to them would be what is the solution to Zim's problems in the short-term, medium-term and long-term?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A Win for Mugabe is a Lesser Evil for Zimbabwe

Today, this article was published in The New Vision newspaper but of course edited to fit the 600-word limit yet the original piece was 986 words. It is my opinion on why Robert Mugabe should win the elections or put more bluntly, why he should remain the President.

To do justice to all who may want to crucify me, here is the argument in full as I sent it to the newspaper:

A Mugabe Win is a Lesser Evil

A potential electoral crisis akin to the recent one in Kenya is probably brewing in another African country—Zimbabwe as a result of delayed results from the elections held last month. There are claims and counter-claims of victory spiced with a lot of speculation. This is all happening amidst a backdrop of inadequate communication and proper knowledge of what is actually happening on the ground.

There have been varying projections of what each of the parties involved in the recent elections have achieved. This has also not been helped by the continued silence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). When the elections had been concluded, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) announced that it won with a 60%. This claim has since reduced to 50.3% while other sources put the figures at 49% for Morgan Tsvangirai and 42% for Robert Mugabe.

The so-called international community have weighed in with a call for a speedy release. Though such calls are made under the guise of ensuring democracy and good governance, it is hard to conceal the fact the likelihood of Mugabe loss has buoyed their expectations of his exit. With the indications showing that the ZANU-PF [Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front ] did not perform as well as previously thought against the MDC; the latter winning 99 seats vis-a-vis the former’s 97 seats in the 210-member parliament.

Compare this scenario with Kenya in the December 2007-Februrary 2008 period, when there was a somewhat similar election-related uncertainty. The dispute was about who, between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, had garnered the votes necessary to be declared President. The reaction of the international community was to push for a negotiated settlement between the two than to ascertain the winner and possibly an answer to the most important question. There followed a much-praised pact brokered by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General. Though this seemed a measure to prevent the country from slipping to further chaos, will it address the fundamental flaws exhibited in the politics and socio-economic situation? Note that up to now, there is a stalemate of the formation of the government.

Wasn’t the deal sealed to protect the vast Western interests that were threatened by continued conflict and instability?

Another scenario to bring the double-standards of the West into perspective is the victory of the Hamas party in Palestine in 2006 with 74 seats to the ruling Fatah's 45. This provided Hamas with the ability to form a government but the reaction of the international community to a clearly democratic process and expression of the people’s will was to threaten to cut aid! According to The Guardian of 4 March 2008: “The 2006 election result was seen as an affront to the central premise of the Bush administration's policy in the Middle East-that democratic elections would inexorably lead to pro-western governments.”

When contrasted with Zimbabwe, the policy seems to be that a “democratic” process should be one that eliminates Mugabe, in particular, and the ZANU-PF from power. But by the fact that, even in the parliamentary lections, the MDC did not have a landslide victory, this is still a long way off.

It is undeniable that MDC is supported by UK, US and others, or at least has their goodwill. But is the mere victory for MDC the solution to the current situation that Zimbabwe is in?

With inflation at more than 100,000%, a shortage of commodities, unemployment, hunger and an economy in shambles, it will take more than that to reverse the trend.

The New Vision of 7 April 2008 carries a Reuters story (“Western powers plan $ 1b per year for Zim”) on the reconstruction plan for Zimbabwe that Britain is working on with the US, European Union, World Bank and IMF that would require an annual injection of US$ 1 billion in foreign aid. Though this may seem the answer, such aid or support to ruined country most likely may not meet the desired end. Consider a report released by the Agency Coordinating Body for Aghan Relief (ACBAR) which showed that “peace in Aghanistan is being undermined by the failure of Western nations to deliver promised assistance”. While US$ 25 billion was pledged for reconstruction and development, US$ 15 billion has been spent, of which about 40% “has returned to donor countries in corporate profits and salaries”! This is in addition to the fact that not all the donors have honoured the amounts pledged!

A Reuters article (“Investors eye Zimbabwe with new interest”, 2 April 2008) shows the increasing interest, albeit cautious, of investors in Zimbabwe; some have made overtures. Probably what sums this kind of interest is the South African analyst who said “"Once Bob (Mugabe) goes, there will be a rush to get in. People who are already positioned will make a lot of money."

While there is an urgent need to find a solution to the Zimbabwe problem, a win for Mugabe at this time may actually be a lesser evil than a win for Tsvangirai, which will open the door wide for these interests that, by their nature, are not benevolent to the ordinary people in the long run.

The Mugabe government in 2007 passed the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires businesses to comply with at least 51% indigenous shareholding, including mergers, demergers, restructuring, acquisition of controlling interest and investment. The stated objective is to establish a national economy, majority owned and managed by Zimbabweans. May be this could help forestall a situation where the country is ruthlessly exploited through aid and foreign investment.

Bearing in mind that the sanctions have partly contributed to the economic situation, may be the March elections are the awakening call to the ZANU-PF government to work towards surmounting these challenges. They are thus in a better position to do so with the partnership of all citizens and stakeholders, not excluding the MDC.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Oh Nigeria...Where Art Thou?

Last Friday. there was a very interesting debate on the BBC programme 'World Have Your Say' prompted by news out of Nigeria about a bill that is before the Senate (their law-making organ). It is called ‘The Bill for an Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Harassment and Other Related Offences in Nigeria’) and it seeks to ban women from wearing miniskirts and other ‘indecent’ clothing. It is argued that this will help to prevent rape and reduce social immorality.

This bill is sponsored by the Senate Committee on Women and Youth Affairs, whose Chair and Vice Chair are women.

Ha ha ha........Of course, this has captured the attention of the media and there is a raging debate about the merits and demerits of this "noble cause" [all sacarsm intended]. My question is why is it that when leaders especially in Africa are faced with daunting challenges of improving the lives of their people and the general well-being of their nations, opt for such silly distractions?

There have been various reactions to this absurdity. This one written by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie perhaps best captures what I would have to say about this. Another equally interesting opinion is this one that spells out the problems faced by women that should take priority instead of the bill and what the government would do to curb rape and other such ills.

My take is there are other pressing problems that Nigeria, one of the most naturally endowed nations in Africa and almost one of the most disappointing and embarrasing, should tackle first to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Why do I say most disappointing and most embarrasing? Because I belive that a country that has a GDP of US$ 191 billion has the resources to sort these challenges to an economic status that countries like Nigeria should strive to attain.

I will quote below verbatim from Wikipedia for you to make your judgment:

Health, health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor. Life expectancy is 47 years (average male/female) and just over half the population has access to potable water and appropriate sanitation; the percentage is of children under five has gone up rather than down between 1990 and 2003 and infant mortality is 97.1 deaths per 1000 live births.

HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much lower compared to the other African nations such as Kenya or South Africa whose prevalence (percentage) rates are in the double digits. Nigeria, like many developing countries, also suffers from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. As of 2004, there has been a vaccination drive, spearheaded by the W.H.O., to combat polio and malaria that has been met with controversy in some regions.

Education is also in a state of neglect, though after the oil boom on the oil price in the early 1970s, tertiary education was improved so it would reach every subregion of Nigeria. Education is provided free by the government, but the attendance rate for secondary education is only 29% (average male 32%/female 27%). The education system has been described as "dysfunctional" largely due to decaying institutional infrastructure. 68% of the population is literate, and the rate for men (75.7%) is higher than that for women (60.6%).

Friday, 4 April 2008

He Had a Dream....But I am Still Dreaming

Today marks 40 years since the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down. Much as it about remembering the man and his message, it should also be about asking the hard questions. The preacherman is perhaps more famous the world over (outside of USA) for his I Have a Dream speech than for anything else he may have achieved in the civil rights movement.

My hard question: Are former slaves (blacks) that he dreamt about, living in harmony with former slave-owners (the whites), in that 'dreamland', four decades and half decades after the 'dream speech'?

Why is it their station in life has not changed much since?

Why is racism still a very big issue in the US and the world over just like it was in the 1960s, when the Reverend dared dream?

I am still dreaming.....

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

First Little Steps End in Tragedy

Riding in a taxi, this morning, from Kla central to the serene environment of Makerere University where I work, my train of thought was interrupted by a ringing of a cellphone. It was the driver's.

Since I was seated just behind him, I overheard the conversation. It was sad news that the caller delivered. His child has been knocked dead by a vehicle. This completely disoriented the fellow who, only moments before, had been in such a good mood. How fast things change during the course of one day, or for that matter, within one morning.

I noticed that he started to drive a bit faster, cutting through the clutter that is on our roads, throwing caution to the wind [are taxi-drivers cautious, anyway?]. I kind of drifted into "autopilot" mode, hoping that nothing goes wrong and we end up as statistics in the Traffic Police files.

Seeming to regain his composure, the driver narrated what had happened. This child had been taken to the village by his aunt, just three days ago. The intention was to get the child out of the rumble and tumble, hustle and bustle of the city to the calm atmosphere of a rural setting. Now, a one-year old child who had just learned to walk was mowed down by a truck carrying sand to a construction site nearby.

It was not clear whether it was neglect by someone who was supposed to mind the child or it was the child, who, upon finding his or her first steps, walked himself or herself to his or her death in one of those freak accidents.

I Got Punk*d

Today, as I was making my way through the mess that is Kampala's traffic to the General Post Office to pay up my box rental bills, I got this sms. [her in red, me in blue, my thoughts in green].

Hi i never ever want to c u again dont act lyk u knw me ok

At first, I was taken aback, wondering what this was about.After thinking of various scenarios, I decided that may be I had done something very wrong without knowing and now I'm paying for it. So, I keyed this reply:

Eh...now what did I do? Why didn't u just tell me that y'day or on Sun? Sorry 4 whatever it is, that wont fade my feelings 4 u.

I wish i had knwn earlier yo jst the same lyk every other guy

Just like any other guy?!!! That coming from a lady can mean anything! So, I send a neutral one that could bring back answers so that i know what I'm dealing with:
Like how? Of course i'm like any other guy esp whn it comes 2 wht makes me male species

Fyn then forget abt ok

Oh shit!! I'm thinking, I have just blown it. Let me try to explain, may be it will put us back on track:

I meant it in the biological sense not in the way u tryg 2 hint @. What's up with this? I cant 4get abt u, Swt λάππϊε

Kidding its 1st april

Ha ha. I ws pullg pranks on others & didnt think of getg punk*d!

I had pullied one on
Ѓοζϊε about white stuff like snow covering the ground in the morning, though she doubted, she still looked outside the window to see...ha ha, how we can be fooled!!