Friday, 27 June 2008

Some Words Come Back to Haunt Us II

Today, I'm not going to comment on Zim and events around the electoral run-off that has left Robert Mugabe unopposed. So, I reflected on some more words that can come back to haunt us.

This morning, just outside my house, builders who are constructing a drainage channel were listening to a transistor radio as they worked. Of the many songs that played while I was getting set to come to work, there were two that hit me, both are by Bob Marley. One was "Redemption Song" and the other was "Africa Unite". so pertinent considering the back-and-forth from different African countries and leaders on the situation in Zim that has dominated headlines all over the world this week.

Then I remembered that Bob Marley composed the hit "Zimbabwe" and performed it for the celebration of their independence from Britain in 1980. Robert Mugabe is there plus many, many then hopeful and enthusiastic Zimbabweans. It got wondering whether Uncle Bob still listens to that song by Prophet Bob?

Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);
Set it up in (Zimbabwe);
Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);
Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.

We come together to overcome the little trouble.
Soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary,
'Cause I don't want my people to be contrary

I was wondering if Uganda can descend to the state of Zim as NRM holds on to power even when they lose the elections in 2011. How is it to live in Zim as an ordinary citizen? Morgan can run off to the Dutch Embassy when the going gets tough but a person like me, 34 year old male with two sons below 5 and a fiancee? As Morgan sleeps in a comfortable bed as he is sure that a Dutch breakfast will on the table when he wakes, sure that he will surf the Net and send e-mails all over the world....a person like me down who hoped for a saviour in the shape of Morgan might suffer insomnia 'scratching his head' on how to feed his family and give them hope that the future will be better! Yeah, Uncle Bob is also comfortable...what about his supporters, are they in a similar situation like the many others?

Oh...I digress. I wanted to talk about Uganda and the statements of a government minister:

Our motto remains no change. We either win or they lose” Gen. Otafiire, a bush war hero said adding that the NRM fought for power and would not relinquish it to the opposition. “We are still here, we are going nowhere,” the he said. Gen. Otafiire, a one-time patron of the Pan-African Movement in Uganda said the opposition was not prepared to lead. While some low level NRM enthusiasts can make such remarks without causing alarm, Gen. Otafiire is a member of Cabinet and his remarks in public are expected to reflect the government thinking.

So now you know why I wrote a lot on Zim before this part of the entry today. Will these words boomerang to haunt the General in the years ahead?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Some Words Come Back to Haunt Us

Our dear President had a few interesting words for Comrade Bob when he was recently in London for some Commonwealth do. This is what he said "If he loses elections he must go. How can you stay without winning elections? It’s impossible," President Yoweri Museveni advises long time friend Robert Mugabe to leave power because he does not have the permission of the population.

With just a few days to the run-off, Morgan develops cold feet and runs to hide in the Netherlands Embassy citing widespread violence as the reason.

What does Comrade Bob have to say about this [his quotes will one day grace the books that we will write on this era in belowed Zim] "They can shout as loud as they like from Washington or from London or from any other quarter. Our people, our people, only our people will decide and nobody else."

Before I put into my 2 cents, I was struck by what Zim's UN ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku told the BBC about Morgan: "He's a cry baby... He has been free to move wherever he wanted to move."

I say Morgan has betrayed the people who felt he was the 'much-needed change' to their plight...generals don't abandon the troops on the battleground. What if Mandela amd others had given up during the anti-apartheid struggle? What if the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah had not perservered? What if Jomo Kenyatta, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Apolo Milton Obote, Sam Nujoma, Leopold Senghor and many other independence heroes had wavered in the fight?

He came back to contest in the run-off and even campaigned [though hindered], so he should have stuck in there and fought.

Will these words come back to haunt us?

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Big Props to an African Scholar

This is to give props to this intelligent African [Ugandan] whom I worked with briefly on producing a newsletter for the Office of the Vice Chancellor at Makerere University, when I had just joined the PR Office. I'm not saying this because he is my friend and may read this, but I realised that he had a mind and a personality that anyone who works with him should endeavour to tap into.

Our interaction at Mak was brief but we were able to forge a friendship, which is being strengthened through Facebook [which came in handy because it was a bit difficult to maintain the back and forth e-mails in a deluge of many others coming through] and a chance meeting when he was back in Ug for a holiday.

Congs to William. The story can also be accessed on this link or below:

Trudeau scholar studies global media

By Karen Herland

As a journalist with the Daily Monitor in Uganda, William Tayeebwa saw first hand the role media could and did play in conflict-torn regions. As a researcher, he hopes to understand and harness that power.

Tayeebwa has just been named to the ranks of the few researchers to receive the Trudeau Foundation’s prestigious scholarship. Since the scholarships were first accorded in 2002, 85 people have been granted the award. The $50,000 he will receive over each of the next three years will help defray tuition and living expenses, since “this is a very expensive country.” The funding will also afford him the opportunity to network with like-minded scholars at conferences.
His academic career has taken him from his home in Uganda, to Norway for a master’s in media studies and now to Canada, to the bilingual Communications PhD program. The department has been encouraging him to apply for funding.

Since only a limited number of Trudeau Scholarships are available to foreign nationals, Tayeebwa was not very hopeful going into the months-long application process. He received the good news the afternoon he arrived in Uganda for a vacation with his family in early May. “We were in a shopping mall,” he said.

The scholarship will allow Tayeebwa to explore how radio and the Internet can connect people across the globe who are interested in developing long-term solutions to violent conflicts.
His scholarship application proposes using Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung’s peace journalism model to counter “the role media often play in triggering conflict through spreading misinformation or fomenting inter-group hatred.”

He saw that process first hand in the Rwandan conflict in 1994 while a missionary student in then Zaire. He is interested in using social networking and knowledge-sharing technologies such as blogs and wikis to bring civil society groups across the African Great Lakes region (Tanzania, Uganda, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya) in contact with each other and with likeminded groups elsewhere.

Tayeebwa spent four months using collaboration software as a research assistant on the “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and other Human Rights Violations” project. He used that experience to assess strategies for using this type of software in online knowledge sharing.

He sees global communication between African civil society and the broader human rights community as key to addressing African conflicts, pointing to the fact that the arms involved in conflicts in Africa come from Russia, China and elsewhere. He credits international cooperation with the recent arrests of accused African warlords Viktor Bout and Jean-Pierre Bemba in Thailand and Brussels respectively.

“Africa alone can’t achieve much. Unfortunately, so many NGOs and civil society groups in Africa are doing their own work in isolation, which is counterproductive.”

In keeping with the Trudeau Foundation’s mandate, Tayeebwa considers himself an academic activist. “Activists need the empirical data to be able to present an informed position driven by research and reason.” He sees his role as collecting, testing and providing that data to those who need it to effect change.

Not that he does not feel a personal connection to the issues. He grew up in Ruti, Mbarara, in Western Uganda under Idi Amin Dada’s dictatorship, and remembers his family living in the bush at times. He also remembers once in a while helping hide his sisters when marauding soldiers would come out of a nearby military barracks in search of women to rape.

Now, with the Trudeau Scholarship funds, he can begin to make connections with other social justice and human rights-based groups and researchers. Next month, he will be able to attend conferences in both Australia and Sweden.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Another View: Mugabe is Mad

The following article is an opinion from a Ugandan who lives in Canada and has written several times about the situation in Zimbabwe. When my article was published in The New Vision, there was one from him on the same subject.

While I don't agree with the continued demonising of one person for the woes of this country, I agree with him that there are many factors that dovetail into what is now happening in Zimbabwe [and the West is part of the problem as well as the solution]. Ironically, some of the statements made by H.E. Robert Mugabe have been also been made in our country. I don't remember Mr. Oloya raising the red flag!

I don't think we should call Mugabe mad without basing on a psychiatric assessment, what all of us should do is to engage him and ZANU-PF as well as all the other players to make life better for the ordinary suffering people. My argument is always that MDC is not the magic bullet, the panacea, as it has always been bundied around by many including Mr. Opiyo. Do we ever stop to think that ZANU-PF equally has a large following, that is why in the first case, MDC was not able to win outright. And let us not say that it was electoral rigging because those Zim elections in March were more transparent than many held in other African countries, which have been lauded by observers as "largely free and fair".

No more doubt about Mugabe’s mental health!

ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe has gone stark raving mad! If there was any doubt about the sanity of the former freedom-fighter-turned-dictator, all that changed last week. At the funeral of a former freedom fighter, Mugabe made it clear that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will never rule Zimbabwe—even if it wins a landslide victory.

Mugabe vowing never to allow Zimbabwe to be ruled by what he termed as “lackeys”, promised to personally return to the bush to wage war on a new MDC government. He is reported to have said, “We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war if we lose it the same way our ancestors lost it.”

Then on Monday, just in case his captive audience missed the point, Mugabe went further to explain why he would not be relinquishing power soon. He is reported byThe Zimbabwe Herald to have said, “We shed a lot of blood for this country. We are not going to give up our country for a mere ‘X’ on a ballot. How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?” Okay, at least we now know what is in store for poor Zimbabweans.

But Mugabe conveniently forgot to mention the fact that the MDC is popular because ordinary Zimbabweans are clamouring for change. Moreover, democratic change was precisely why the costly liberation war was fought in the first place against Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In his deluded self, Mugabe cannot see that he has run the once vibrant country to the ground through the corrupt practices of his appointed lackeys such that the voices of ordinary citizens no longer count. Mind you, the same citizens he claims to represent!

But, hey, why blame Mugabe when there are enough blames to go around? Several factors have colluded to allow Mugabe to luxuriate in the hallucination of being king of all Zimbabwe. Foremost, ineffectual neighbours have wrung their hands while Zimbabwe burns. To date, only tiny Botswana has lodged a formal protest over the ongoing actions of the Zimbabwean authorities against members of the opposition MDC. It is like a mosquito telling an elephant to behave.

The rest of the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have kept their collective heads in the sand in case they are gruffly asked, “What are you staring at?” South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki mildly referred to the political turmoil in Zimbabwe as “an internal affair for Zimbabwe to resolve”.

It should be remembered that Mbeki stood up for Mugabe in 2005 when the US described Zimbabwe as “an outpost of tyranny” and designated it alongside Cuba and North Korea. Mbeki dismissed that label as “an exaggeration”.

Secondly, timid leaders elsewhere on the continent are afraid of pointing the speck in Mugabe’s eyes while ignoring the log in their own eyes.
Tyranny, as it turns out, is something best left out of polite conversations. ‘MYOB’—mind your own business is the mantra adopted by all. And so Zimbabwe convulses while everyone assumes the role of onlooker at a roadside car-wreck, shaking head at the big mess and breathlessly waiting to see if there are survivors.
Thirdly, the lackadaisical attitude of developed nations has also contributed to Zimbabwe’s torturous journey under Mugabe.

There was a time when western nations seemed determined to change the status quo, to shake Mugabe out of the tree. But by talking about Mugabe while doing nothing about him, allowed Mugabe to grow stronger, even more powerful. Along the way, the world became preoccupied with other urgent matters.

The western economy was tanking in major world arenas, and the perennial war on terror seemed to go from bad to worse. Somehow, an African dictator squeezing the last blood from his people did not register on the Richter scale of world political problems that needed urgent action.
Uselessly half-hearted plans of actions were hatched (mostly by Britain) but never went anywhere. Mugabe continued to hold his nose at the world, and do whatever he felt like doing. It did not help that Mugabe could justifiably point to the catastrophic US election that ushered George Bush into power in 2000, and the more recent Russia’s mafia-like coronation of new president Dmitri Medvedev as examples of failures of western democracies.
If a superpower like the US can screw up big time while electing its president, what about Zimbabwe, a neophyte to the game?

Fourthly, the biggest boost to Mugabe’s power madness was the Zimbabweans themselves. Like many African cousins across the big beautiful continent, Zimbabweans once considered their leader as god-sent, spending more time worshipping him than asking whether he really was doing anything for the people.

Whereas Europeans and Americans tend to give their leaders short honeymoons before asking the tough questions, Africans linger a while, worshipping their leaders ad nauseam.

Whatever the leader does, however petty or inconsequential, is treated as big news. And, over time, that kind of adulation transforms into chronic addiction as leaders crave quick fixes like addicts demanding shots in the arm. It becomes normal for the leader to stay afloat, buoyed by a false sense of popularity even as citizens applaud (and curse) him for staying there.

So, now we have Robert Mugabe, a former freedom fighter who is amok like a runaway train, a Frankenstein monster that is part created by his former colonial masters, and part by his people. And nobody knows how to stop him. Short of his heart-string giving out on him (as happened with Nigeria’s Sani Abacha) he is slated to stay there a while—madness, stolen elections and all.

This article can be found on-line at:

Friday, 13 June 2008

A Birthday, Minis, Tights and TV

First off, this is the 14th birthday of my niece, Kabagunga. Happy Birthday to her...Incidentally, today I was part of a group doing a TV production exercise in a three-day training conducted by three 'dons' from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It focused on the banning of miniskirts and tight-fitting trousers or other attire at the Makerere University campus

Our group, which we dubbed the Dream Team was able to finish the filming and back to the course venue within the stipulated time. Unfortunately, during the playback, we realised that we had [or the person that held the camera at that time] has accidentally deleted a big part of our footage. However, we were able to make the best of what we had. Dream Team indeed! As the director of that TV production, which we gave the catchy slug Miniskirts, Tights and Sex [wow!], I give props to my team: Colin (Producer/Interviewer), Safina, Josephine (Camera-persons, as they told me they want to be called), Teopista (Writer), Joseph, Hafisa (Reporters). This course marked the high point of the week for me.

On the other hand I have to highlight a few responses to the proposed ban of "sexiness" at campus [UCU has done so], that reflect what I feel about such measures. One says that this a treatment of symptoms, the other feels that it is a distraction from management headaches. Personally, I believe that if this is not another sensational story on Mak, then it is unneccesary. This is becaus the university already has a sexual harrassment policy in place to take care of those who may want claim feamle attire as the reason for their acts.

In light of this, I wonder what Kabagunga would think of this? If she were to join the varisty this August, when the ban supposedly takes effect.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

My Ranting Response to Obama's Nomination Win

This is from an e-mail response to a friend called Hilary, who was very enthusiastic about Barack Obama's victory and described it as a strategic victory for blacks [or the black race]

Obama's victory is not strategic?...infact the guys who were strategic are the Jews he addressed...they jumping on to the wave and getting with the guy in case, he wins. while blacks everywhere were clapping and dancing....that is strategy.

Check this stats: he was the one black in the Senate that is 1% and in the House of Representatives, blacks constitute 9.2%...judging from the population of African-Americans in USA and by the fact that they have lived there for more than 200 does not add up. Let's talk economy, do you think that by 2011, the spending power of blacks in US will reach $1trillion yet how many are CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies...there were 6, but now retired, another was dumped because he is blamed for the sub-prime crisis...In other words, politically and economically, the blacks have little this with, e.g. the Jews (who are another minority but with muscle in these sectors).

Having a black President doesn't empower us, it is just a token that is being waved around to show how less racist America has become...but is it?Are the blacks in America, in Africa and all over the world...a bit more empowered that Barack could be President?

For God's sake, two Africans have so far been at the helm of the of them in fact head of peacekeeping...and Rwanda burned while he couldn't do that with Kosovo, for instance...Africans or Blacks in general have been in positions of world influence before but what benefit has Africa reaped from that...let me give you a point closer to home...for how long has an African been at the head of FAO...and contrast that with the fortunes of Africa in agricultural production...if I remember right....Africa is now at the bottom rung in this area despite its potential...

If there is any symbolic value that Barack Obama's winning of the Democratic Party's nomination brings....may be it is to the people of Obama, a town in Japan, that has jumped on the euphoria and attention to market themselves...I can bet that by the end of this year..there will be more tourists coming to Obama than to Western Kenya...

Wake up and smell the just shows us that we need to work three times as hard...By the way, for your own information, Obama's first allegiance is to America...he said as much in his speech, if you were paying attention....If he becomes President, he may not even visit Africa...unless it is in America's interest to do so....You know as part of th elite we have to look below the surface...and show our people the things that they see because we are in position to see fact, a street vendor who is at Taxi Park selling Obama pictures is strategic because he has capitalised on this hype to make some money...for the bread and butter for his family!

Note: that Obama still has a long, long way to go...this is just the small step in that long journey...remember Al Gore who won the popular vote but not the election because the formula is in winning more states..which I feel the Republicans are going to use.When that will be another has-been, almost...and that is the tag I don't want for me or my people...and what will we least he tried???

Not me, I want us to eye the ultimate prize...political and economic empowerment and social emancipation of Africans all over the world...and it is not through occupying the Oval Office, it is through doing the things we do everyday in a better way...with our eyes on the end...the means are what we need to muster and focus..

I have written this as one take...forgive any is my view of all this thing goingby the way, I 'm going to put this [edited to fit] on my pass by sometime.

Marching On and Looking Back

Today marks exactly 11 years since I wrote my last university exam paper. By this time [that I'm making this post], I was already three beers up celebrating the end of an era and hopeful that the future will be better. It marked the end of a phase of my life that I had enjoyed very much...

The time in between has been on the whole a learning curve...I have learned that life has its good peaks and bad (or terrible) valleys, along the way, those that I started out with have not lived to see this day. For just preserving me [if I may call it so], I am eternally grateful to the Almighty [many times I feel guilty that I am not that religious enough to return this favour].

Ironically, this date this year finds me again parting ways with Makerere University after working there for the past two years in the Public Relations Office. This has been a great learning opportunity and I thank all those who gave me the chance to handle PR for this great and complex institution. Many [friends, family, colleagues and generally people who know me] have asked why I decided to take this step. It is hard to give a "politically correct" answer [because this side of Planet Earth, people resign when going for other jobs]. Me, I did the 'unthinkable' by leaving before I got that soft cushion to land on. So, these days my answer is tailor-made to the person who asks me...but the truth is that I made this decision from my heart because I felt I needed to move and explore my potential elsewhere in a different realm...the thing is that I needed time to figure it out.

I have reached that point in my life where I ask my questions like why? and how? and what if? In this way, though I may be viewed as crazy, I discover myself and what kind of example and lessons I would be to my sons. I feel free and not afraid of the future...

Looking back, I see the peaks and valleys that mark the terrain of my adult life thus far [leaving University I believe marked this start]. These are the milestones

Graduation on 17 January 1998 [I could feel my happiness, I treasure the photo of me, Dad and Mum at the Main Gate even more since Dad passed on].

15 February 1998 [All I can say...hmmm....I realised how important condoms are...won't add much...thank you Elsie]

4 March 1998 [The day I started to work for an organisation that I feel has been my best work experience so far and where I learnt the skills that made me professionally. I thank Ms Michelle Jeanguyot for showing me the ropes. I was there for five I not a fairweather employee, in case someone out there wants to hire].

the rest of 1998, 1999, 2000 were spent just like any bachelor boy would [I think you know what I mean...I thank those who share that experience with friends, my gals, my colleagues and acquittances....and all those whose lives in one way or another intersected with mine]. I kept a journal which I won't share with the world but may be form the basis of my fiction based on true-life experiences that I intend to write in future.....all disclaimers are in order here.

September 2001 [that lunch time, I walked into a restaurant in Entebbe and met this then third-year student with whom I would later share a home with...but by then, I didn't know how it would play out...I thank Grace and Zaina for keeping me 'posted' and pushing me to keep in touch]

December 2002 [which marked the beginning of my relationship with Rosie]

19 September 2004 [when I and Rosie made that step...]

8 December 2004 [the first taste of fatherhood...the birth of Muhumuza, which means 'The Comforter']

28 December 2004-28 June 2006 [I can't this trying time that tempered me in many ways and gave a perspective on life and how we live it]

25 May 2005 [When Muhumuza fell very sick and we discovered that he had a genetic condition that he will fight each day of his life]

8 March 2006 [When my father was a big blow...but now I have to adjust to it and instead appreciate the time he was with us...I want to live as long until I see my children grow into adults just like he was blessed to]

11 August 2007 [The day I met Cassidy...over time, she became a very good friend of mine. I feel she helped me discover a few more things and myself. I have spent long now without hearing from her....but the question is was she a reason, season or an eon

Those are the milestones that I can more confessions, I an marching on...c'est la vie.

Have a Heart for Hearts...and Get Ready for the Next One

This post here is for my moral support for this cause, though I should be expected to attend and help contribute to the cause, I can't reconcile the concept of wining and dining at a 5-star hotel to help my people. It would be more fulfilling to me if I denied myself the opportunity of sampling SSQ music and gave the money for the ticket directly to the Heart Insitute.

In the same breath, I am putting together a plan to get 10,000 "small givers" in Uganda to raise money (at least Shs. 5,000 each, that is about US$3) for the sickle-cell clinic at the National Referral Hospital in Mulago.

My appeal is all who visit this blog is help put this initiative together...ideas and strategies are welcome, and the cash when the bowl passes by...

Heart disease is increasingly becoming a major threat among children but its significance is normally overshadowed by more pronounced ailments like malaria and HIV. The Uganda Heart Institute receives hundreds of cases of such patients but is limited by the cost of carrying out such operations.

Most of these children suffer from rheumatic heart disease, a condition still prevalent in the developing world and one which damages the heart valves and requires open-heart surgery. Besides, these children come from very poor families and cannot afford the medical fees that stand at a whooping US$5,000 per child on average. Most parents can't afford this and thus give up and leave everything to fate!

In 2005, the Heart Institute hosted the world famous Soweto String Quartet (SSQ) in a concert 'The Heart Benefit Concert' to raise funds. A total of UShs. 30 million (US$19,145 at current rates) was raised and towards the purchase of investigative monitors that have since been installed at the institute to enhance capacity.

This year we intend to once again host SSQ, for a one-day charity concert to raise funds for consumables to handle at least 50 children with Rheumatic heart disease who have been on the waiting list for the last five years. The funds will go towards payment of the Consumables to carry out open heart surgery, and are estimated at a rate of US$5,000 per child locally compared to $15,000 per child abroad.

The concert is scheduled for Friday 13th June 2008 at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Is Obama Win the Biggest Moment in Black History?

So many people in Africa and all over the world are putting in their 2 cents on Barack Hussein Obama's win of the nomination race to represent the Democratic Party in the US presidential elections. Before I put my 2 cents in, please feel free to scan these opinions at WHYS

Briefly, I believe that Obama is just symbolic and does not in any way empower blacks [in USA or Africa] or inspire them to claim their place in the political, economic or social space in the world or in the different countries in which they live.

In full, I will explain why I think so