Tuesday, 17 November 2009

After 50 Years, It's on the Way Home

Ugandan traditional music to be repatriated

by Mwesigye Gumisiriza

After more than 50 years in the British Library Sound Archive, recordings of the traditional music of 28 ethnic groups are to be brought back to Uganda, later this month. The music was recorded by the late Prof. Klaus Wachsmann, who was the first curator of the Uganda Museum, in the 1940s and 1950s.

This is one of the highlights of the first International Symposium on Ethnomusicology that will be held from 23-25 November at Makerere University. It is organised by the Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) Department under the theme, “Ethnomusicology in Uganda: Education, Research and Preservation of Cultural Heritage for Development”.

The event is supported through collaboration between Makerere and University of Bergen in Norway and funded by the Norwegian government agencies, NORAD and NUFU. “The symposium will mark the achievements of the projects on ethnomusicology in Uganda”, said Dr. Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, co-ordinator of the programme.

On his part, Prof. Thomas Solomon, from University of Bergen, remarked that funding of projects on cultural heritage complement others on physical infrastructure, environment and economic activities. “The health of a community is tied to their cultural identity”, he said.

The activities will include a launch of the Klaus Wachmann Music Archive, where the repatriated music, will be stored, presentation of papers and celebration of the successes of MDD. Among the presenters will be Phillip Wachmann, son of Prof. Wachmann, Sylver Kyagulanyi, a renown Ugandan musician, and Dr. Patrick Mangeni, Head of MDD. Six students, who are on PhD and Masters scholarships at Makerere and Bergen, will also present their research results.

According to Dr. Mangeni, the Department will showcase their achievements and unveil their future plans. These are plans to expand physical infrastructure, review of curricula and introduction of short training courses that are tailor made for interested parties.

Other support in this area has come from the US Embassy in form of computers to facilitate access to the music collection, books on archiving music and an expert from the University of Pennsylvania to conduct trainings and workshops.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Bob's Story: Started Out Cryin'

Title: Bob Marley: The Biography
Author: Stephen Davis
Pages: 248
Publisher: Arthur Baker Limited London
Reviewer: Mwesigye Gumisiriza

Much has been written about Robert Nesta Marley, mostly known as Bob Marley, whose name and music is synonymous with the breaking out of reggae music from the confines of Jamaica to a worldwide phenomenon and a movement of millions of people on all continents. But there is something uniquely appealing about Stephen Davis’ book; the simple story-telling format, the way he weaves the historical, political and socio-economic backdrop that formed the rise of reggae and its enduring icon plus the frankness and balance with which he addresses the virtues and flaws of the characters.

There is a poem by Chinua Achebe and the quotation from Genesis 49 at the beginning; a technique that Davis applies consistently throughout. At the start of each chapter, there is an excerpt from an interview or from one of the Wailers’ songs that encapsulates the theme of a particular chapter. For instance, the first chapter, it is “Started out Cryin’”, in which the authors paints a milieu that helps us understand the country in which Marley was born and bred: the cultural mix of different peoples, slavery, rebellion, colonisation, struggles for freedom and independence, wealth of a few versus the poverty of many plus the influence of persons like Marcus Garvey.

Bob Marley was born in Nine Miles, St. Ann’s Parish; his mother, Cedella, was still in her teens while his father, Norval Marley, was an aging white man. He was rejected by the white side of the family tree and as such raised at the homestead of his maternal grandfather, Omeriah Malcolm. Years later, his mother moved to the capital, Kingston, to seek better opportunities and this is where her son joined her. While living in the Trenchtown ghetto, Marley linked up with other youths like Bunny Livingston and Peter McIntosh to form the base of the group—The Wailin’ Wailers, later Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Davis deftly chronicles the struggle to achieve recognition, amidst exploitation, in the music industry and the impact of record producers or mentors like Coxsone Dodd, Lee Perry, Leslie Kong and Joe Higgs on their careers earlier on. Significant among these is Chris Blackwell, a wealthy owner of Island Records, under whose guidance, Bob Marley and the Wailers became world famous, touring US, UK, Europe and other parts of the world. We also get the stories behind the albums like Catch a Fire, Uprising, Survival, Exodus and Rastaman Vibration and the songs like War, Natural Mystic, Zimbabwe, One Drop, and Redemption Song.

There are significant events that helped define Marley’s outlook and the themes covered in his music. His conversion to Rastafarianism, marriage to Rita Anderson as well as liaisons with women who were the mothers of his other children, an assassination attempt, his identification with the anti-colonial struggle in Africa, and battling cancer. Though he was in the States when Haile Selassie visited Jamaica in 1966, Marley regularly talked and sung about the special position of the Emperor and the Ethiopian nation in Rastafarianism. This association earned him the name Berhane Selassie and the ring that was the Emperor’s. Those who have wondered about why Haile Selassie is thus revered, Davis reveals it comes from Garvey’s prophecy about a black king who would deliver the Negro race and a quote from Revelation 5: “Weep not; behold the Lion of Judah, the root of David hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof”.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Do Starving Africans a Favour. Don’t Feed Them

I got this article via WHYS, it was first posted on http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6886167.ece#. I have to say, I mostly agree with the writer of the article especially against the backdrop of the recently released reports from IFRPI and other international organisations that monitor such issues. Read on and see why.

Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them

There is famine in Kenya and Ethiopia again. Sending food and emergency relief will make things worse in the long term

Sam Kiley

The Horn of Africa is in the grip of the worst drought for 47 years! Some 23 million people are threatened with starvation! When you see children on TV with distended bellies keening over their dying parents, it would be inhuman not to be moved to tears. But do them a favour. Sit on your hands.

The situation is ghastly to be sure. But, as Christmas approaches, the most intelligent response to this latest disaster is to quote Ebenezer Scrooge and cry “bah, humbug”.

African aid organisations have been in the grip of an hysterical number inflation game since the hideous images of the Ethiopian famine were brought to our screens 25 years ago today by the BBC’s Michael Buerk. For every year that has passed the scale of Africa’s problems seem to have grown.

Aid organisations and the media have inflated the scale of subsequent horror, regardless of the truth. This year the International Rescue Committee released data from its Democratic Republic of the Congo mortality survey. “Congo’s war and aftermath have killed 5.4 million,” The Washington Post yelled, quoting the IRC. Humbug.

The IRC isn’t deliberately lying, neither was the Post. But the idea that 5.4 million people have died as a result of war in Congo is nonsense. It needs to be peddled to help to generate funds to relieve the real and hideous suffering of Congo’s population, but nonsense it remains. As the IRC admits: “Less than 10 per cent of all deaths were due to violence, with most attributed to easily preventable and treatable conditions such as malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition.”

The IRC is saying, really, that the Congolese are dying because they are poor. Recent work by André Lambert and Louis Lohlé-Tart shows that the rising mortality rate predates the wars there. But combine “war’’ with “millions dead’’ and you have a donation-winning headline We all do it. We use statistics to highlight the horrors in Africa to drive home the unbelievable scale of the continent’s problems. But that’s the problem: the scale has become unbelievable. Twenty-three million? From my experience of two decades’ reporting from Africa, I can say with absolute confidence that this is humbug. Did anyone count them? No.

Oxfam says that 3.8 million Kenyans, more than 3.8 million Somalis, and 13.7 million Ethiopians “need aid”. Implicit in this is that they could perish through lack of food. In Kenya it might be possible to make this guess. But in Somalia, which has been in a post-apocalyptic state of anarchy since 1991?

There is a drought. Just as there is every ten years. This is the worst in a generation. But even if 23 million people do face starvation, please don’t reach for your cheque book. Foreign aid is the principal reason for Africa’s accumulated agony.

According to Oxfam: “Food aid saves lives, but it crowds out other ... initiatives that support communities’ strategies to prevent the next drought from becoming a disaster.” Exactly. If we send help now, we’ll be killing more people later because more people will be bred and no one will think to save any crops to feed them.

Kenya is having a terrible time. But it would not be doing so if the breadbasket in the west of the country had not been torn apart by ethnic violence. If the agricultural outreach programmes, which helped farmers to improve productivity through the 1960s and 1970s, had not collapsed, if the Government’s milk and beef marketing system was not ruined by corruption, and if people had not been settled on marginal land that can never sustain them, then Kenya would be able to feed itself even in times of drought.

When the rains do come to Kenya there are not enough seed stocks. Kenya’s politicians have stolen much of the aid that we have sent them, and now we are expected to feed their constituents. Every time Kenya, or for that matter Ethiopia, has faced a food shortage the wealthy nations have come to the rescue.

Oxfam reveals in its latest paper, Band Aids and Beyond, that between 70 and 92 per cent of US aid to Ethiopia has been food aid — and almost all of that was the surplus product of American farms. So Ethiopia has had no need to feed itself. Worse still, Ethiopia and Eritrea spent billions that should have been used to develop self-sufficiency between 1998 and 2000 on a border war over a mess of barren rocks. They could do this because we in the wealthy North fed the populations of both countries.

So, what to do? For an answer I turn to Birham Woldu, who survived the (man-made) 1984 famine in Ethiopia.

“Constantly shipping food from places like the US is costly, uneconomic, and can encourage dependency,” she writes in the Oxfam report. “We are a big country and when there is famine in one part of the country, there is plenty in another. So we need better infrastructure and communications to move food around to where it is needed. Above all we need education.”

If they want to badly enough, the Ethiopians can sort out their own roads. So that leaves education. We can help Africans to help themselves by donating to charities that ring-fence funding for education. If they don’t do it, don’t give. Mark all cheques “not for food” if you have to.

With education Africans can and will rid themselves of the incompetent and corrupt leaders that we have kept in power through foreign aid for decades. Educated Africans will bring an end to a dangerous cycle of humbug.

Sam Kiley is a former Africa bureau chief of The Times

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Time for Reflection: Carrot, Egg or Coffee?

Many times we encounter adversity but how it impacts on us and how we react determines whether this builds or destroys us. This message below presents a point to ponder. In Africa, we come across enormous challenges and go through great adversity, the causes of which are beyond our control, but after reading this and Richard Dowden's book (see the review on this blog), I am of the view that we persevere and adapt to the situation like the coffee [not necessarily change the situation but maintain our humanity]. A man like Mandela is coffee for what he did for post-apartheid South Africa, and I know there are many men and women on this continent that fit in these shoes.

On reading this, I think I'm more of an egg especially in light of what I have been through in the past few years. Read on....

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as though just as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil.

In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean,mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

Which are you?" she asked her daughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart,but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit,... but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures
and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

Book Review

Title: Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
Author: Richard Dowden
Pages: 576
Publisher: Portbello Books
Reviewer: Mwesigye Gumisiriza

It is a growing trend for Western journalists to write a book about Africa. These have ranged from biographies of prominent personalities, reflections on the period spent on the continent, to extensive coverage of significant incidents or issues such as genocide, civil war, famine or epidemic. While Richard Dowden fits in this mould, he tries to add another dimension in this book.

He writes from the perspective of an outsider trying to understand Africa and what it is that gives its people the vibrancy despite the enormous challenges and adversity. From the outset, Dowden sets himself apart from the biases that he encountered before he came to Africa. The first images were formed in various ways: In the 1950s, his grandfather went to Ghana (then Gold Coast) to help carry out a census, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, from reports on BBC on the Mau Mau in Kenya and “mayhem and massacre in the Congo”, thereafter through accounts of returnees to UK who were in the colonies or worked in the colonial service.

Now as Director of the Royal African Society, Dowden has more than three decades of knowledge and experience. He was a journalist and editor in the 1980s for British newspapers, The Times and Independent and in the 1990s, Africa Editor for The Economist in addition to making three television documentaries. But he came to Africa as volunteer teacher in “Kabuwoko in south-west Uganda” and later on travelled to many other countries.

The book opens with a foreword by celebrated literary icon Chinua Achebe who credits the author: “Africa....a continent of people, and not a place of exotica, or a destination for tourists....it is clear Richard Dowden understands this...he tackles Africa’s problems without fear, sentimentality or condescension”. Indeed, the author fits this billing covering many of the flash points, hot spots as well as the tranquil islands amidst the chaos.

Somalia, though unified by one religion and language, is divided by clan system and continued interference of Ethiopia, Eritrea and US. In Zimbabwe, he traces the independence struggle and stand-off between Robert and Mugabe and Ian Smith and how this contributed to the current situation. On Burundi and Rwanda, he blames the artificial separation of Tutsi and Hutu on Belgian colonialism basing on the relative harmony between the two prior to this. Sudan’s long civil war shown the downside of humanitarian aid and there are no kind words for the greedy corrupt elites in control of Angola, Nigeria and Kenya. For D. R. Congo, he concludes all its leaders from Mobutu to Kabila and various factions have followed in the brutal footsteps of King Leopold. Of particular mention, he holds Museveni and Kagame answerable at Hague for atrocities committed by both their armies in Congo.

The theme of interaction with the ordinary people on the ground continues in coverage of Sierra Leone during its civil war, the unique Mouride brotherhood in Senegal and South Africa in the face of the HIV/AIDS scourge. On the latter, Dowden also examines the legacy of apartheid and the hope of democracy against unfulfilled promises. But he doesn’t ignore the Chinese influx and increasing influence in Africa and neither the emergence of young African professionals whom he is almost certain will transform and change their countries.

The author ends with an epilogue in which tells of the funeral rites of Mr. Lule, his host while in Uganda and a list of publications on Africa for further reading.

Submitted to The Daily Monitor for publication

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Are We Pre-Occupied with Obama and America

There has a lot of Obama and America topics on the BBC show "World Have Your Say", or WHYS in short, that brodcasts in my part of the world, 9-10pm every weekday. As an regular listener, I was pushed to sound off to the host, Ros Atkins, in an e-mail below:

‘Hi Ros,

I think there has been a lot of America on WHYS lately. I thought it covers the world issues…it’s becoming boring, Obama this, Obama that, America this, America that, even the most mundane topics are given prominence on this programme. For instance, yesterday was Founder’s Day in Ghana marking waht would have been 100th birthday of Kwame Nkrumah, there could have been a discussion on Pan Africanism and whether it is viable and achievable the way Pan Europeanism is apparently working in EU or whether this concept can work for Asia.

Apart from that we can reflect on feeding the world and the status of food security in different parts of the world in light of the passing of Norman Borlaug [Father of the Green Revolution] as a tribute.

Won’t be tuning in tonight


So, he has posted this on the WHYS blog for discussion, you can follow it here http://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/is-whys-pre-occupied-with-america/

Friday, 18 September 2009

Lessons for Success in Business and in Life

Lessons to learn from my favourite hip hop artist. Read on....

From Times Online September 16, 2009

50 Cent's 10 lessons for success in business - and in life

Success comes from seeking an advantage in each and every encounter, here the US rapper offers indispensable advice on how to win

‘The greatest fear people have is that of being themselves. They want to be 50 Cent or someone else. They do what everyone else does even if it doesn’t fit where and who they are. But you get nowhere that way; your energy is weak and no one pays attention to you. You’re running away from the one thing that you own—what makes you different. I lost that fear. And once I felt the power that I had by showing the world I didn’t care about being like other people, I could never go back.’ 50 Cent

1. See Things for What They Are - Intense Realism

Reality can be rather harsh. Your days are numbered. It takes constant effort to carve a place for yourself in this ruthlessly competitive world and hold on to it. People can be treacherous. They bring endless battles into your life. Your task is to resist the temptation to wish it were all different; instead you must fearlessly accept these circumstances, even embrace them. By focusing your attention on what is going on around you, you will gain a sharp appreciation for what makes some people advance and others fall behind. By seeing through people’s manipulations, you can turn them around. The firmer your grasp on reality, the more power you will have to alter it for your purposes.

2. Make Everything Your Own - Self-Reliance

When you work for others, you are at their mercy. They own your work; they own you. Your creative spirit is squashed. What keeps you in such positions is a fear of having to sink or swim on your own. Instead you should have a greater fear of what will happen to you if you remain dependent on others for power. Your goal in every manoeuvre in life must be ownership, working the corner for yourself. When it is yours, it is yours to lose - you are more motivated, more creative, more alive. The ultimate power in life is to be completely self-reliant, completely yourself.

3. Turn Shit into Sugar - Opportunism

Every negative situation contains the possibility for something positive, an opportunity. It is how you look at it that matters. Your lack of resources can be an advantage, forcing you to be more inventive with the little that you have. Losing a battle can allow you to frame yourself as the sympathetic underdog. Do not let fears make you wait for a better moment or become conservative. If there are circumstances you cannot control, make the best of them. It is the ultimate alchemy to transform all such negatives into advantages and power.

4. Keep Moving - Calculated Momentum

In the present there is constant change and so much we cannot control. If you try to micromanage it all, you lose even greater control in the long run. The answer is to let go and move with the chaos that presents itself to you - from within it, you will find endless opportunities that elude most people. don’t give others the chance to pin you down; keep moving and changing your appearances to fit the environment. if you encounter walls or boundaries, slip around them. do not let anything disrupt your flow.

5. Know When to Be Bad - Aggression

You will always find yourself among the aggressive and the passive aggressive who seek to harm you in some way. You must get over any general fears you have of confronting people or you will find it extremely difficult to assert yourself in the face of those who are more cunning and ruthless. Before it is too late you must master the art of knowing when and how to be bad - using deception, manipulation, and outright force at the appropriate moments. Everyone operates with a flexible morality when it comes to their self-interest—you are simply making this more conscious and effective.

6. Lead from the Front - Authority

In any group, the person on top consciously or unconsciously sets the tone. If leaders are fearful, hesitant to take any risks, or overly concerned for their ego and reputation, then this invariably filters its way through the entire group and makes effective action impossible. Complaining and haranguing people to work harder has a counterproductive effect. You must adopt the opposite style: imbue your troops with the proper spirit through your actions, not words. They see you working harder than anyone, holding yourself to the highest standards, taking risks with confidence, and making tough decisions. This inspires and binds the group together. In these democratic times, you must practice what you preach.

7. Know Your Environment from the Inside Out - Connection

Most people think first of what they want to express or make, then find the audience for their idea. You must work the opposite angle, thinking first of the public. You need to keep your focus on their changing needs, the trends that are washing through them. Beginning with their demand, you create the appropriate supply. Do not be afraid of people’s criticisms - without such feedback your work will be too personal and delusional. You must maintain as close a relationship to your environment as possible, getting an inside “feel” for what is happening around you. Never lose touch with your base.

8. Respect the Process - Mastery

The fools in life want things fast and easy — money, success, attention. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in. You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand. To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship. You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure—mastery of a craft and of yourself. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level—an intuitive feel for what must come next.

9. Push Beyond Your Limits - Self-Belief

Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you end up getting in life. If you see your reach as limited, that you are mostly helpless in the face of so many difficulties, that it is best to keep your ambitions low, then you will receive the little that you expect. Knowing this dynamic, you must train yourself for the opposite—ask for more, aim high, and believe that you are destined for something great. Your sense of self-worth comes from you alone—never the opinion of others. With a rising confidence in your abilities, you will take risks that will increase your chances of success. People follow those who know where they are going, so cultivate an air of certainty and boldness.

10. Confront Your Mortality - The Sublime

In the face of our inevitable mortality we can do one of two things. We can attempt to avoid the thought at all costs, clinging to the illusion that we have all the time in the world. Or we can confront this reality, accept and even embrace it, converting our consciousness of death into something positive and active. In adopting such a fearless philosophy, we gain a sense of proportion, become able to separate what is petty from what is truly important. Knowing our days to be numbered, we have a sense of urgency and mission. We can appreciate life all the more for its impermanence. If we can overcome the fear of death, then there is nothing left to fear.

Extracted from Robert Greene and 50 Cent’s new book The 50th Law, published by Profile Books

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Mazrui's Take on African Intellectuals and Their Role in Development

This month Professor Ali Mazrui returned to Makerere to be honoured in perpertuity by the establishment of an East African Centre for Global Studies and an endowment and scholarship fund. I was glad to be part of it as this man is one intellectual that I love and admire...courtesy of watching, starry eyed, his now world-famous TV series "The Africans: A Triple Heritage" as a young boy back in the day. It was exhilirating to meet him in person and interact with him at close quarters. This was when he came to Makerere in August 2006 to deliver a public lecture in honour of 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda. I was involved in the organisation of the event as a PR Office at the University and transcribed the lecture, which I have posted below.

It is very pertinent and would like to share it with the world. Take time and read it to the end.....it is worth every bit. This blog honours this great intellectual in this way...

This is a very moving experience for me, I lectured many times in the Main Hall.

Salute to Makerere, thanks to Bank of Uganda and Makerere, the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda is also the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Museveni era in Uganda’s political history.

Also permit me to proceed with a little further vanity. It is true that this is the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda is the main reason that has brought me here to participate in celebrating but from a personal point of view, it also happens to be the year of the 40th anniversary of my being appointed dean of faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere University. This university did me an honour, which has not been repeated anywhere else; they appointed me lecturer in 1963, made me full Professor two years later, in 1965, and made me Dean in 1966. No other institution has honoured me on that scale; and for that, I shall always be grateful

The theme involves concepts like intellectuals and academics. Let me begin with the definition of an intellectual, which some of you are familiar with, which I first articulated in a debate with Akena Adoko in the Town Hall of Kampala in the 1960s. The debate was on the role of the African intellectual in the African revolution.

Then there is the typology of intellectuals, which will be followed by the definition of an academic and the typology of academics.

An intellectual is a person who has the capacity to be fascinated by ideas and has acquired the skills to handle some or these ideas effectively.

A general intellectual enjoys series newspapers, appreciates philosophies and ideologies, and knows about poetry and other forms of literature. The late Abu Mayanja was a general intellectual in this sense.

A public intellectual is in effective communication with disciplines other than one’s own, he or she is an interdisciplinary intellectual. Mahmood Mamdani, formerly of Makerere, is such a public intellectual.

A political intellectual specialises on ideas of governance and policy options—overlaps with policy-focused academics.

An academic intellectual, the majority of academics are intellectuals but only a minority of intellectuals are professional academics. Such an intellectual is fascinated by ideas and engaged in higher research or higher education.

Steeped in the written word, the classic literacy intellectual is fascinated by creative literature—novels, poetry, plays, but others are fascinated with other types of book—biographies, history books, and travel books.

Minimum literacy intellectuals are obsessed with magazines, journals and intellectual press. Okot P’Bitek was a literacy intellectual of the higher kind.

An academic is a person who is professionally engaged in advanced research and/or advanced teaching and tries to be guided by universal scholarly standards.

Activist academics seek to influence societal change, for example, women’s rights, environmental movements, human rights, civil liberties. Wangari Mathaai, East Africa’s first Nobel Laureate is one.

Conventional academics work on their research and teaching—journals, books, and classroom sessions.

Policy-focused academics seek to influence government or to enter government at least for a while. Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi falls into that category.

Laboratory academic is more lab-focused (laboratory) than lib-focused (library), experimentalist and fascinated by puzzles of the natural sciences.

Calculus academic is fascinated by mathematical puzzles; numeracy rather than literacy.

Academics and intellectuals as major agents of political change, but relatively minor agents of economic change in post-colonial Africa.

Phase 1: The Phase of Decolonisation

This was the golden age of African nationalism of the post-colonial variety. African academics with wider pool of African intellectuals helped to mobilise the masses against the colonial order. The African liberation was much faster than most people expected.

Kenya became a British colony after Jomo Kenyatta was born. The colonial era was so brief that Kenyatta lived right through it and came to rule Kenya himself for 15 year after the British had left.

Uganda’s earliest manifestations of anti-colonial nationalism took the form of defending Uganda from white settler-dominated Kenya. Many Ugandans recoiled from Britain’s desire to unite Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda into a greater union (a kind of pre-independence East African Federation).

When Kabaka Mutesa II articulated fierce opposition to East African union, he was in part resisting the encroachment of white settler power from Kenya into Uganda. The Kabaka was sent into exile in Britain by the Governor of Uganda. Many of the Kabaka’s male subjects vowed not to shave their beards until the British returned their king. When the Kabaka returned to Uganda, later in the 1950s, many of his subjects shaved their beards at Entebbe Airport in celebration. Some of those beards were stuffed into pillows as souvenirs. The momentum of Buganda’s defiance extended to other parts of Uganda; within a very few years, Uganda was independent in 1962.

Makerere’s contribution to the anti-colonial struggle included the early graduates who sometimes defied the British for ethno-cultural reasons, and sometimes for genuine pan-Ugandan patriotic reasons. Among the pan-Ugandan nationalists, was Apollo Obote, who adopted the additional name of ‘Milton’ out of admiration of John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. Obote was inspired by Satan’s immortal line in Milton’s poem, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”.

Another immortal East African product of Makerere was Julius .K Nyerere who, in the struggle against colonialism, created the Tanganyika African National Union on Saba saba—the seventh day of the seventh month in the 1950s.

Although Tanganyika was the least developed of the three British East African colonies, Tanganyika was the first to win independence in 1961. Although Kenya was the most infrastructurally developed of the three colonies, it was the last to win independence in December 1963. Uganda was caught in-between—winning its independence in 1962. But the difference in scheduling was minor. The real achievement in all the three East African colonies was the spectacular speed of political decolonisation.

Phase II: The Phase of Nation Building

While Phase I of East Africa’s basic decolonisation was impressively triumphant, the second phase of the nation building was truly in fits and starts. Because African intellectuals and academics could not come to grips with viable strategies of economic development, nation building was extremely difficult to sustain in the post-colonial era.

Intellectuals and academics thought they could be effective agents of economic change by the ideology they adopted in the 1960s and 1970s. Socialism and even Marxism were popular on many campuses in Africa.

Marxism had three roles—as ideology of development, as an ethic of distribution and as a methodology of analysis. Marxism became the option of the post-colonial intelligentsia addiction to Marxism and socialism was at its height on the campuses of the University of Dar-es-salaam and Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa. University of Nairobi was next in leftist orientation with prominent figures like Ngugi wa Thiong’o as the vanguard.

The Makerere campus was the least intoxicated by Socialism and Marxism—resisting the opinion of the rest of the African intelligentsia. In Kenya, the political intellectuals like Tom Mboya and Mwai Kibaki were at variance with the academic intellectuals like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Michere Mugo. The campus intellectuals were to the left or the political intelligentsia.

Uganda under Obote I also witnessed an ideology divergence between the political intellectuals, who were pushing for Obote’s move to the left, and the campus intellectuals, who were sceptical of leftist rhetoric, such as Mat Kiwanuka in history, Apollo Nsibambi in political science and George Kanyeihamba in law.

Apart from a minority of political scientists on campus like Yash Tandon, Ahmed Muhuddin and the young Okello Oculi, academic intellectuals in Uganda were to the right of the political intellectuals under Obote I while in Kenya, campus intellectuals were to the left of political intellectuals under Kenyatta and early Moi.

At the University of Dar-es-Salaam, radical leftist academics were disproportionately non-Tanzanians such as Walter Rodney of Guyana, Mahmood Mamdani of Uganda, John Saul of Canada, and Lionel Cliffe of the United Kingdom, Ussa Shivji was the only prominent Tanzanian who was also truly leftist—the author of The Silent Class Struggle in Tanzania. In Nyerere’s Tanzania, both the campus intellectuals and the political intellectuals were leftists but the academicians were more leftist than Julius .K Nyerere.

Marxism as a methodology of analysis dominated the legacy of Dar-es-salaam, but Marxism as an ideology of development failed to deliver worldwide.

As for Marxism as an ethic of distribution, it has continued to be attractive to all those who were appalled by the injustices of economic inequality and gross inequalities between the haves and have-nots in post-colonial Africa.

As for African elites who chose to pursue the capitalist path of development, many African economic strategies were similarly out of focus in their capitalism. They stimulated urbanisation without industrialisation, they sponsored capitalist greed without capitalist discipline, they activated Western consumption patterns without Western productivity technologies, they whetted Western tastes without cultivating Western skills.

Idi Amin’s expulsion of Uganda Asians was a particularly bizarre route towards Africanised capitalism. Idi Amin sought to replace Asian dukawallas with African ‘duka-warriors.’ Once again the result was capitalist greed without capitalist discipline; Western-style consumption patterns without Western style production technologies.

On the major East African leaders, Yoweri Museveni is the only one who has traversed the whole ideological spectrum from a profound distrust of capitalism to a restored faith in market forces.

I still remember a dinner exchange I had with him at the Entebbe State House:

Museveni: “So Professor, I hear rumours that you have moved to the left in the recent years”.

Mazrui: “Mr. President, I have also heard rumours. I have heard that you have moved to the right”.

Museveni insisted that his new faith in market forces was not a quest for profit but a quest for technology and development. Museveni and Nkrumah had something in common. Nkrumah out of office was way to the left of Nkrumah in office. Similarly, Museveni prior to supreme office was way to the left of Museveni in office.

Nkrumah was neo-Marxist both before he became Head of Government (and Head of State)—and after he lost power, Nkrumah returned to his leftist roots in his post-presidential years. In the case of Museveni, we know he was leftist before he had supreme power, and we know he became more pragmatic as Head of State. We do not know yet if Museveni would return to his leftist roots when he becomes an ordinary citizen again.

Museveni’s in-power pragmatism has paid off in the capital city of Kampala. Kampala was decaying and full of hazards when Museveni came to power in 1986. Today, Kampala has a look of dynamic metropolis—building higher and higher, as well as further and further. Far less successful is the fate of Jinja, which was once the country’s industrial capital. If I was advising President Museveni on urban policy, I would urge a strategy of two cities, a kind of tale of two cities—like Sidney and Melbourne in Australia.

If Kampala is Uganda’s Sidney in terms of development, let Jinja grow into Uganda’s Melbourne. In Australia, the capital is the small city of Canberra. So Kampala is a combination of Sidney and Canberra. But Uganda’s urban policy should still be based on a strategy of two cities—one of which should be astride the source of the Nile.

Of course, present moves towards peace in Northern Uganda are a more urgent priority although the war of the Lord’s Resistance Army is not the longest war in post-colonial East Africa; the Ugandan war with the Lord’s Resistance Army may be the most brutal.

The separatist war of Eritrea against imperial and revolutionary Ethiopia was a 30-year war (1962-1992) but it was not as savage as the 20-year war in Northern Uganda.

The second civil war in Southern Sudan was more than 40 years long—from 1963 to 2004, but it was not a war, which chopped off limbs and lips or brutally violated women and children as the war in Northern Uganda has done for a couple of decades.

At a long last, Ugandans are to be congratulated if they are now taking the Northern war truly seriously and both sides are at last eager to end it.

If there are intellectuals in both the Government side and in the Lord’s Resistance Army, here is another opportunity to demonstrate that such intellectuals can indeed be major agents of political change even if they remain minor agents in economic change.

If the first phase of East Africa’s modern history was decolonisation, and the second phase was the challenges of nation building, this third phase is the phase of globalisation.

I will address globalisation more frontally in my presentation for the Uganda Bank on Thursday. Today let me place Makerere within the origins of globalisation in East Africa.

What role has Makerere played in the process of the villagisation of the world? Let us take this speed look combining the global with the local—the globalisation of Uganda and East Africa.

Globalisation is a new word but it represents a long-drawn out historical process. Globalisation consists of the forces, which are pushing the world towards becoming a global village.

Most recently, those forces have been at their most dramatic in the Information Super highway (Internet and the death of distance) and in the spectacular interdependence of the world economy. When south-east Asian economics take a downturn, Boeing (the US plane manufacturer) feels the pain. Sales of planes are dramatically down. When peace returns to the Middle East, oil prices tumble down.

But what paved the way for the Information Superhighway and the computer revolution in the world economy? Higher education and the escalating sophistication of research are part of the story. Higher education has been a major force in the villagisation of the globe—turning the world into a global village. Where does Makerere fit in this equation?

At the global level, Makerere’s role has to be examined in symbolic terms. As the oldest university college in the region, Makerere was the vanguard of globalisation in East Africa’s experience. If higher education has been central to the momentous process of turning the world into an independent global village, Makerere has been more than part and parcel of that process. In eastern Africa, it has been a historic vanguard.

Let us note a few brief factors in the flow of history:

• Makerere was part of a British global university—like Legon in Ghana, Mona in Jamaica, Ibadan in Nigeria. They were all parts of the University of London.

• Makerere evolved from Euro-African University College (linked to London) to Pan-East African University College (linked to the University of East Africa). I still remember when the Department of Political Science at Makerere struggles with the University of London over whether to include Karl Marx in a course on political philosophy.

• Makerere experienced globalisation in reverse. There was a time when it was too global and not African enough. Makerere was a) teaching French, b) teaching German c) teaching Russian before teaching African languages for a degree.

In retrospect, the Makerere experience posed the question: How much globalisation is Westernisation? Western education produced who changes his name from Apollo Obote to Milton Obote out of admiration for the author of Paradise Lost. Was that globalisation or Westernisation? Makerere and Western education produced Julius K. Nyerere who translated two of Shakespeare’s plays into Kiswahili. Was that globalisation or Westernisation?

Makerere had unofficial links with Transition magazine, which was founded by the late Rajat Neogy who was not himself at Makerere. Transition magazine became the most scintillating and intellectually effervescent magazine in Anglophone Africa in the 1960s. Future Nobel laureates wrote for it—like Wole Soyinka (who later edited it) and Nadine Gordimer. Future world-class novelists wrote for it like Paul Thoroux, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Kwame Nkrumah and Tom Mboya responded to articles in Transition.

The Uganda phase of Transition ended after Obote’s government (first administration) imprisoned editor Rajat Neogy. When he was released, he re-started Transition in Ghana, and subsequently handed it over to Wole Soyinka. The Ghana phase of Transition ended when Soyinka tried to change the magazine’s name to Cindaba.

Now there is a United States’ phase of the same magazine, with Soyinka as Chair of the Editorial Board, and Henry Louis Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah as editors. Now, the magazine is based at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Linkages from Makerere to Harvard.

Makerere also witnessed as astonishing an array of visitors from all walks of life and most parts of the world. I remember my personally inviting the distinguished Irishman, Connor Cruise O’Brien who had served with the United Nations in Katanga, the Congo. In his speech at Makerere, he described Moise Tshombe, the secessionist leader of Katanga, as “the best politician that money can buy”. Since then we have known many other African politicians who have also been up for sale!

I remember the Hollywood film star, Sidney Poitier, expressing surprise that there were so many male homosexuals in Uganda. When I asked him what gave him that idea, he referred to so many men in the streets holding hands. I laughed. I told him, “In this culture, holding hands is a sign of friendliness and goodwill. It is not a sign of sex. This is a culture of innocent touch”.

I remember listening to a sermon in the Main Hall by Father Trevor Huddleston. It was one of his most moving sermons in any religion that I have ever heard. There was a simple refrain to which Father Huddleston kept on returning: “Near the hill where he was crucified, there was a garden!”. It was a simple refrain but the juxtaposition of the horror of the crucifixion and the beauty of the garden was so deeply moving.

I remember welcoming Thurgood Marshall. By his role in the US Supreme Court case of Brown versus the Board of Education in 1954, this man had had a bigger impact on 20th century American history than most Presidents manage to have. He was a great luminary even among the star-studded visitors to Makerere.

I first met Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia at Makerere in the 1960s. He was in the company of Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda. These were two kings whose sudden deaths later in history were to be steeped in mystery.

In my sitting room in Binghamton is a photograph of the African continent taken from outer space. It was presented to me by an American astronaut whose visit to Makerere to talk about outer space was initiated by me through negotiations with the US Embassy in Kampala.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also visited us, and addressed an audience in the Main Hall. Students wanted to know how he and Queen Elizabeth II could both be “the Head of the Church of England.” The Archbishop eventually adroitly sidestepped the debate by reaffirming that the Head of the Church was God!

Scientists and medical experts from other parts of the world also visited Makerere. The Medical School at Makerere had made such important advances in research in tropical diseases that it was on the verge of being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Had Idi Amin’s coup been delayed by another three years our medical school might have made it.

Distinguished alumni of Makerere have become presidents of their countries:

• Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania
• Apollo Milton Obote of Uganda
• Yusuf Lule of Uganda
• Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania
• Mwai Kibaki of Kenya

Many have become distinguished Vice-Presidents, ministers, scholars, scientists, diplomats, parliamentarians, administrators, entrepreneurs, Central Bank governors, politicians and statesmen and stateswomen.

But perhaps among those who have symbolized globalisation the most is Ugandan whose relationship with Makerere became an interrupted symphony. That Ugandan nearly became the Secretary General of the UN instead of Boutros-Boutros Ghali. He subsequently became a distinguished President of the International Peace Academy, and is now working for the UN to help protect children from the ravages of war. The Ugandan is Olara Otunnu.

Salim Ahmed Salim—later Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity—was also considered for Secretary General of the UN. Salim was vetoed by the USA while Otunnu was probably vetoed by the Ugandan government.

A Tanzanian alumnus of Makerere who even more symbolized aspects of globalisation was Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere himself—who became a major figure not just in Pan-African politics but also in the global arena of North-South relations. He often did bestride that narrow world like a Colossus—and also qualified as a Shakespearean scholar in a certain sense.

Finally a word about a mysterious Kenyan who was honoured by Makerere with the fastest professorial promotion (from lecturer to full professor) of Makerere’s history. In the 1980s, the Kenyan went global with a television series, which has been shown in dozens of countries and translated into several languages. In the 1990s, the Kenyan holds five professorships in three different continents—none of the professorships in Kenya. [Now] who knows what other globalising antics the Kenyan has in store for us? Is he waiting for the birth of an East African Federation before he returns? The Kenyan shall remain nameless!

Like most other East African academics, the Kenyan tried to be a major contributor to political change in the region. But again, like most East African intellectuals he was at best only a minor footnote to economic change.

The struggle continues

Professor Ali A. Mazrui
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural and Technology
Nairobi, Kenya

Delivered at a Public Lecture at Makerere University to mark the 40th anniversary of the Bank of Uganda

15 August 2006

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Between A Rock and A Hard Place: Women, Career and Family

A good article but this view of balance between career and family is very unfair to women. There are many men who would like their wives to work and support family....we just need to appreciate that the world is very different these days from when women were merely home makers. That is why we are educating the girl child not to be child bearer.
by Caroline Njung'e

In Summary

Today’s career woman seems to have it all; a good job, nice
car and beautiful house. But behind this façade of success could be an
unhappy husband and neglected children.

It is a controversial, even taboo subject among some, but the fact is that a number of career women are losing their families and homes to their house helps. In their quest for impressive academic credentials a successful career and enviable social network, they forget to nurture what is probably the most important part of their lives –their families.

The result is that they wake up several years later to find that they have lost their families. Their children have developed into secretive, broody and rebellious teenagers while their husbands, whom they long stopped giving serious thought to, have become emotionally withdrawn and carved out a new life for themselves.

Women who have found themselves in such a position will probably relate to Margaret Mwangi.

Two years ago, 41-year-old Margaret Mwangi (not her real name), a senior manager in one of the largest banks in the country, thought she had it all. Already a Masters degree holder, she was a year into studying for a PhD in financial management and had won several awards for her outstanding performance.

She was earning good money and had extensive contacts. But as she rode the wave of her success, she forgot to channel the same effort and energy she directed at her career towards her husband of 14 years and three children.

Margaret would be up by 4 a.m. to get ready for the day’s numerous strategic meetings and for mandatory 30-minute jog around her upmarket neighbourhood.

She would leave the house at 6a.m., as her husband and children were waking up to prepare for the day. Thanks to Martha, the efficient and capable house-help she had had for eight years, Margaret knew that her family was in good hands.

Martha would prepare a healthy breakfast, ensure that everyone’s clothes, including her husband’s, were ironed and laid out and that their shoes were polished.

Given Margaret’s busy schedule, including her daily evening classes which ended at 8p.m., she usually got home at around 9 p.m., tired to the bone. By then, the children were in bed, having had supper and completed their homework with Martha’s help. In Margaret’s mind, she was a good mother and dedicated wife since she ensured that her family was well taken care of.

But due to her constant absence from home, her once close and loving relationship with her husband faded, to be replaced by a cordial one, devoid of emotion and passion. Their conversations were perfunctory and usually, after asking about each other’s day, she would take a shower, have a quick meal then collapse in bed, exhausted, with things that needed to be done at work the next day going in her mind.
She could not even recall the last time she and her husband had been intimate, but this did not really bother her. According to her, all marriages lost the initial fire they had after a couple of years. After all, hadn’t her friends confessed that they were going through similar experiences?

That’s why Margaret was shell-shocked when her 45-year-old husband announced that he was marrying another woman last year. But nothing could have prepared her for the bombshell that he dropped shortly thereafter — the other woman was Martha!

How could he do this to her after she had worked so hard so that they could all have a good life and a secure future? It is not like he or the children had been neglected – they lived in a clean home, had healthy, wholesome food everyday and led organised lives, she argued, as she tried to come to terms with the shocking news.

But when her husband pointed out that it was their live-in house help who did all these for the family, the argument instantly fizzled out. During the last five years of their marriage, Martha had practically usurped Margaret’s roles of wife and mother. She cooked for and served the man of the house, washed, ironed and laid out his clothes and dutifully cleaned and polished his shoes everyday. She even made the
couple’s bed, as well washed and changed the linen because Margaret often left early in the morning and returned late at night.

But more important, Martha had raised the couple’s three children almost single-handedly. When they were young, she would wake up in the middle of the night to lull them back to sleep or warm them a bottle of milk because their mother would be too exhausted to do it. And when they started going to school, she walked them to the bus stop, picked them up in the evening and helped them with their homework.

“How then can you claim that you are my wife and mother of my children if someone else has been doing what you should be doing?” her husband had retorted when she asked how he could embarrass her by having an affair with their house help right under her own roof.

Not ready to live in the same house or share her husband with Martha, Margaret walked out of the marriage with the children. Although she can offer them the comfortable life they were used to, re-learning how to be a mother to her children is proving very difficult.

The older two, a boy and a girl, are teenagers. Sulky, disobedient, and disrespectful, they are constantly getting into trouble at school. The other, now eight, is clingy, teary and has not stopped asking when they will move back home to “daddy and auntie”.

Margaret recently learnt that her former house help, a single mother of two, had given birth to a baby girl, who had been named after her husband’s mother.

Margaret’s case clearly demonstrates the situation in which many women find themselves after entrusting their family’s welfare and the running of their households to their house- helps.

This often unappreciated and underrated woman is the one who draws up the budget, does the shopping, decides what meals to prepare and sometimes even rushes the children to hospital when they fall sick. And it is she who helps them cope with the unsettling changes that take place during teenage.

It is no wonder, then, that some mothers don’t even know when her daughters had their first period, and that would be shocked to learn that they have actually reached this milestone.

The result is that such children grow up to be comfortable with their house-helps and prefer to go to them for advice rather than to their own mothers, since they have not formed a close bond with her.

Under their noses

It is these same house-helps who wait on their husbands, take their bath water to the bathroom, make their tea just the way they like it and have since discovered what makes them tick, what makes them happy and what sets them off. Yet wives are surprised when they discover that their husbands are having an affair with the house help right under their noses.

One of the women Saturday magazine talked to, a lecturer and professional counsellor, confessed that two years ago, her marriage was almost broke up because of the amount of time she was spending at work.

“Between my clinic and lectures, I did not realise just how little time I spent at home because I was always rushing somewhere,” she recalls.

It wasn’t until she overheard her house girl of two years asking her husband whether she should prepare for him “the usual tangawizi and lemon” to treat his cold that the alarm bells went off. “My husband had never asked me to make him anything for his cold and, worse still, I had not even noticed that he was unwell,” she says,
adding that this is what jolted her to take action. The following week, she gave up three classes, which meant that she could get home early at least three evenings a week to prepare the evening meal and have some quality time with her husband.
“I don’t think there is any married woman who believes her husband can have an affair with the house help, or worse, leave her for one, but what we forget is that she, too, is a woman and that human beings are naturally drawn to those who treat them well and show them that they matter,” she says.

She says that since then, she has been doing more for her husband, including serving him food, preparing his meals once in a while and spending more time with him. “Our relationship has improved, and although I am earning less than I used to, I am more relaxed and have more time for myself,” she observes.

Which brings us to the question – is it really possible for women to have the best of both worlds? Is it possible for women to have outstanding careers as well as happy and contented families? Kenyan women have been fighting for equality for quite some time now, and they are getting it. They are rising to positions once reserved
for men and earning as much as, if not more, than them. But at what price?

According to an article published in the The Mail of UK recently, women may have won the fight for equality, but “It has left many of them imprisoned and exhausted”. This is according to Erin Pizzey, a British women’s rights activist and author. Pizzey adds that the idea of women happily combining career and a family has turned out to be a myth.

In the article by Paul Revoir, she observes that women’s freedom of choice to have both has left them with less spare time than they had before, and as a result, lost something very important. “Many women don’t have a choice now, they have to work, they have to work hard, and I just see an exhausted generation of women trying to
do it all.”

Pizzey’s views are supported by Helen Fielding, author of the popular Bridget Jones series of novels, who criticised women who aspire to “have it all”.

In an article published in a recent issue of The Daily Mail of the UK, Fielding is quoted as saying that many young women today struggle to have successful careers and families in an idealistic society that expects them to balance these roles perfectly, a battle that leaves them “confused”.

“They feel they should be getting up at six in the morning and going to the gym, then doing a full day’s work, coming back late and feeding 12 people for dinner. It’s a modern disease,” she is quoted as saying. Explaining why it is not possible for women to have it all, she argues that there are only so many hours in a day and as a result, you either spend most of them at work, or at home raising children and making a home.


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

An Excuse for Fewer Posts Thus Far

I have just read this article and I relate to the author on the excerpt I have reproduced below. Otherwise, the full text is at http://www.journalism.co.uk/young-journalists/?p=597 Unlike him or her, I'm not on Twitter but I "feel" him or her. After the initial fire, it may wane but I disagree that blogging is on the death-bed. I will continue writing on this blog until further notice....hmmm.

Every single day I travel home on the train. It’s a long journey and, unless I’m too knackered, I tend to occupy myself with something useful. A decent book, perhaps, or a few podcasts. If I’m being particuarly productive, I pull out my Asus netbook and get tapping away on a blog post.

Not recently, though. In fact, if you were to look at my blog you’d see I hadn’t posted in over a month. A MONTH. That’s enough time to declare it legally dead, surely.

I started blogging because I had opinions, and thoughts, and ambitions which I wanted to share with the world. My blog was the best place for me to do it.

Have I lost my ambition, then? It doesn’t feel like it. Have I lost my need to share my opinions with the world?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pop goes the King of Pop: A Tribute to Michael Jackson

by Samuel Gary Dawa

Death has visited the musical scene once again and this time it takes one of the greatest. Michael Jackson, love him hate him but you gotta give it to him, 'brother' had talent. He opened the way for musical videos and dance strokes that called for physics professors seeking prime time TV appearances to comment on.
He was one of the 3Ms in the Notorious BIG hit (Jackson, Jordan, Tyson)

My encounter with the man through the music was one of those strange ones. Way back in '83 or was it '84 one of my brothers brought a music tape that had these hot dance tracks. We would listen again and again to this tape and loved the music. Later in '85 or was it '86, some girl I used to sit next to in class had this exercise book that she had penned down the lyrics of the hits of the day, among them was Thriller, Human Nature and The Girl is Mine. By that time, I had seen the posters, watched a silent video of him hitting the dance floor hard with back slides and moon walks, read the Time magazine article about his being a vegetarian and losing up to 4 stones per concert and that being very dangerous for his health. Then one day in '87 just before enrolling for Senior One, I am at a friend's home and he is racking through his older brother's music collection while asking what to play and I asked for Michael Jackson. As the songs rolled off, was I embarrased or what. All along Jacko had been a resident of our old Akai casette player. Soon as I left my buddy's house, I went on home, locked the door to the sitting room pumped up the volume on that Akai player and tried my legs at MJ strokes (no I didn't have the red jacket or white socks and short pants). But for a man who is dance-challenged like I am that was the kind of inspiration MJ's music and videos could evoke.

MJ as the media has made it known to us was a flawed character like all geniuses that history has been brave enough to chronicle. His decision to switch skin colour and facial features up today haunts all of us black folks (singing 'Black or white' was an apology I guess). He was a sweet-looking kid (singing 'ABC' and 'I Want You Back' with the Jackson 5). Well, he explained it to being deprived of his childhood and carrying the mantle of golden child from his early years. The most troubling allegations against Jacko were, of course, the child molestation charges (and his appearance in court wearing pyjamas, now that was the limit). Despite having been acquitted of all charges, it just didn't feel right that such a champion of children could get caught up in such a fracas.

MJ though wasn't only about drama in his life, we have to credit his business acumen. Releasing Thriller on the MJJ Productions label, buying the Beatles master tapes, owning all his master tapes, being at the time the only artist earning in excess of $1 per CD sold and, of course, marrying the daughter of the other King, Elvis Presley.

As the years have gone by, being a Michael Jackson fan has been a dicy thing with several people out there ready to laugh at your hero. Recently, as I watched Chris Rock's 'Kill the Messenger' I realised how much of a fan of Jacko I was, because as CR pilloried him with joke after joke, the temptation to reach for the forward button increased. Last year, while in Indiana, I asked one of my hosts what Indiana could boast of apart from being home of the Colts, arena of the Reggie Miller Pacers show and the burial place of the only US president who died immediately after swearing in because of a lenghty speech in freezing conditions. One guy with a smile of pride said, out east in Gary, Indiana, is the birth place of Michael Jackson. Nonetheless, during my travels, I have gotten myself a Thriller CD that I have hardly listened to in years. Now this CD will join my Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert and Marvin Gaye CD rack.

This morning a day after my 4th wedding anniversary, MJ was certainly way out of my mind till I saw the CNN headline "Michael Jackson is Dead". I quickly altered my dress code to include my black cotton shirt (despite the sauna-like conditions in this tropical part of the world) and rummaged through my CD collection to locate that Thriller CD. On the ride to office, my wife Rebecca gave me food for thought when she said somehow people seem to love the music more than the man. I wonder, can you separate the man from the music? I almost got misty eyed as the hits rolled but the up tempo 'Baby Be Mine' surely got me drumming my fingers on the steering wheel and my mind back sliding, I was at once Michael Jackson and Richard Temperton (the writer of the song). Unfortunate for MJ (or is it for me), I don't have a song like Pavarotti's rendition of Pucinni's Nessun Dorma that I can seek closure with one more play.

Michael Jackson King of Pop, tortured genius, we will miss you.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Africa That Never Was

Book Review

This is one of the most interesting books I have read, so far, this year. There was several quotes I extracted and pasted on my Facebook page. Upon finishing it, this was not enough...so I wrote this review to share what I learnt with the world [in particular, my African brothers and sisters]. But I sincerely hope you get a chance to read the whole book, then you will know what I am talking about and your eyes will be opened.

Title: The Africa That Never Was: Four Centuries of the British Writing About Africa
Authors: Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow
Publisher: Waveland Press Inc
ISBN 0-88133-690-4
Reviewer: Mwesigye Gumisiriza

What did the British think about Africa? Is it the Dark Continent, forbidding and mysterious? A Labyrinth in which one would lose his way? Or like a Strange Woman that is attractive and dangerous at the same time? This is the question that this book sets out to answer and give insight into how these opinions and conceptions were formed and the reasons behind them. The authors go to a great length to get as much material as possible spanning the period from the beginnings of British Empire’s contact with Africa in the 16th century up to the late 1960s when many African countries had got or were in the process of getting independence.

Over 400 publications written during the selected period were examined, ranging from scholarly works, fiction and non-fiction. Over the centuries, these were influenced by the events and movements of a particular era, for instance, colonialism, slave trade, abolition or agitation for independence. At the start, the focus tended to be more on exploration and seeking more information on the land, history and the people. This drove misconceptions such as Africans being cannibals and savages; it also gave impetus to the push for the spread of Christianity and Western civilisation. If there was any doubt about the link between the spread of Christianity in Africa and the eventual colonialism, some of these writings make it clear. Such as this one: "Let us enter upon a new and nobler career of conquest. Let us subdue Savage Africa by justice, by kindness, by the talisman of Christian truth. Let us go forth, in the name and under the blessing of God gradually to extend the moral influence...the territorial boundary of our colony, until it shall become an Empire..."

Some of the misconceptions were simply ridiculous and outrageous that reading this, ages later, would infuriate any black-skinned person. A case in point is this: "...the concentration of their thoughts on sexual intercourse...is the negro's greatest weakness. Nature has probably endowed him with more than the usual generic faculty. After all, to these people almost without arts and sciences and the refined pleasures of the senses, the only acute enjoyment offered them by nature is sexual intercourse."

A theme that runs through the literature written over such a long period is the British feeling of superiority towards the peoples in their colonies and even, to some extent, to other Europeans like the Boers in South Africa. But this disdain was particularly reserved for blacks, among others, as shown by this observation ..."the black man accepts the superiority of the white as part of the order of nature. He is too low down, too completely severed from the white, to feel indignant. Even the few educated natives are too well aware of the gulf that divides their own people from the European to resent...the attitude of the latter".

With time, there was the advent of colonialism which ushered in a period that perhaps left the greatest imprint of the British Empire’s involvement in the Dark Continent. Even today, the systems of government, methods of law and order, commerce, to mention but a few, in many parts of Africa are derived from this era. In the book, a comment by Sir Charles Dundas, who was Governor of Uganda, is cited: “Certainly more was done for backward mankind in the era of British colonial rule than in any previous age, and if colonialism is now discredited I believe that its passing will nevertheless be mourned…as the end of a Golden Age”.

But, as the authors labour to point out, the assumption was that the history of Africa began with contact with Europeans. This is disputed by the evidence of the presence of Arabs even before they (Europeans) discovered Africa. In addition, without these outsiders, there was enormous progress, prosperity and development by the inhabitants themselves. Otherwise what can explain the sophistication of the Great Zimbabwe or rise and spread of empires like Ashanti, Dahomey, Songhai?

In all, the authors help to open our eyes to the origins and explanation of the stereotypes, deep-seated misconceptions and bias against Africans and other dark-skinned races, many of which persist up to this day. It is a highly recommended read for any African with a desire to know more about this.

Submitted to The Monitor newspaper for publication, it can be accessed here.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Housing in Uganda: Growing Pains of a Boom Sector

Daudi and Rose have been saving to build a house for their young family or the last five years. However, because of many other commitments such as paying school fees, rent, water and electricity bills, the money never seems to reach the target. When the couple decided to go to real estate exhibition [Stanbic Bank-sponsored Auto Home Show 2009], they were exposed to available options of home ownership. They followed up with a real estate development company, which linked them to a bank for a mortgage to buy a house. Now, they have a home that they are paying for in instalments over several years. According to Daudi, instead of paying rent to a landlord, they are making monthly payments to eventually own the home they are living in.

Sam, on the other hand, built his house painstakingly over seven years. Firstly, by purchasing the land, then saving money to put up the foundation and slowly, brick by brick, working his way through the different stages until the roofing was done. He is now satisfied that he now owns a house that fits to his exact requirements and taste.

Musa lives in a slum that rapidly shrinking in the face of the developments that taking place around him. Many of his neighbours are selling off their land at a bargain to those who are putting up modern houses. Musa is one of those not moving despite being approached with attractive offers. He built his house from a labourer’s savings; and a source of pride to him.

Even in the traditional African setting, an aspect that is more visible in the rural areas, a man erects a hut or house in which his wife and family live in. As such, when a boy becomes of age, he is allocated a piece of land on which he builds a hut or house and establishes a farmland.

Owning a home or having a place where to live satisfies a basic human need for shelter. Perhaps, the often-referenced explanation is by Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs. In this, he identified shelter as one of the safety and security needs. Many people work hard to own homes. The urge to have a home is one of the ways in which these needs show themselves. Daudi, Rose, Sam and Musa are responding to this need in different ways in relation to circumstances and choices among the available options. Many people work hard throughout life and never get to own homes.

After transport and communication, housing and construction is the fastest growing sector of Uganda’s economy. Figures from the Ministry of Works and Transport indicate that the housing sector grew by 13% in 2007/2008 from 11.3% in 2006/2007. It should be noted that this encompasses real estate [“usually buildings and the ground they are built on”], and construction [“the trade of building structures”]. Here, the focus is on housing [“the structures in which people reside in”].

It is indeed empowering for people to have their own homes or to earn income from residential units. Having a house is one of the priorities when one starts to earn an income or gets a job. It is also commonplace to start by building a house in a place one considers home, usually a rural area, and then another in proximity to an urban centre. “A house in the village doesn’t make economic sense but it has one big social aspect”, says Norbert Katsirabo, a development economist. He explains that this revolves around earning respect from peers and gaining status in the community.

The most recent survey on housing by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics shows a huge demand for accommodation. There is a deficit of 550,000 units countrywide, of this 160,000 units is in the urban areas. With the rate of urbanisation and a population growth rate of over 3% per year, in 20 years, there will be a shortage of 8 million units. In the urban centres, it will be deficit of 2.5 million units representing 15.6%—of this, a shortage of one million units will be in Kampala.

This scenario presents an opportunity for real-estate developers. Thus, the emergence of such firms that are competing to meet the ever-rising demand—offering tailor-made choices for different categories; concepts like planned estates, satellite cities, apartments (serviced or not), low-cost housing are some of these. The latter has been mostly carried out by the National Housing and Construction Corporation—government’s entry in this sector is for strategic economic interests.

Recognising the need, the banks have also customised packages that will attract those aspiring to become home-owners. This includes mortgage financing, salary earners’ loans home improvement loans. However, the constant headache is high interest rates. Samuel Dawa, a lecturer at Makerere University Business School, says, “It is definitely viable to use all resources you can marshall than going for the mortgage where you will pay much more in the end”. However Katsirabo cautions that though this may be the best option, if a mortgage is used, it is advisable to retire it early to mitigate costs of high interest.

Whatever the method that one uses to own a house, the process is influenced by factors that may be out of one’s control. The sector is characterised by many problems such as lack of regulation, enforcement of standards, unqualified persons, among others. Also, there are concerns about the Mortgage Bill that has been passed, the highly controversial Land Bill and issues like the global economic downturn that could impact Uganda in ways that are not yet envisioned.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Sad News on Africa Liberation Day

Today is Africa Liberation Day but for me, and indeed many others, the death of Tajudeen Abdul Raheem has surely overshadowed this. When I learnt of the news, I couldn't get myself to pen my reflections on this oft-low profile day and what should be its significance to us, the youth and future of Africa--especially in the face of globalisation and its onslaught on the dream of African unity as envisioned the likes of Kwame Nkrumah.

25 May is Africa Liberation Day. What a day to learn the terrible news that one of the leading proponents of Africa's liberation – Tajudeen Abdul Raheem - should be so tragically lost in a senseless car accident in Nairobi. Messages have been pouring in from across the world as we all fail to hold back our tears at this loss.

Tajudeen led Justice Africa's work with the African Union since its early days. He combined this with his role as General Secretary of the Pan-African Movement, chairperson of the Centre for Democracy and Development, the Pan-African Development Education and Advocacy Programme, and was a fighter in the struggle to get the UN's Millennium Development Campaign to support meaningful programmes. There was hardly a pan African initiative that took place without Tajudeen's inimitable presence, support, humour and perceptive political perspectives. Quite how he managed to combine all of this with writing his weekly 'Pan African Postcard' that were published regularly in Pambazuka News and in several newspapers including The Monitor (Uganda), Weekly Trust (Nigeria), The African (Tanzania), Nairobi Star (Kenya) and the Weekly Herald (Zimbabwe), has always been a mystery to us. You could always rely on Tajudeen to draw our attention to the most significant aspects of the latest political event in Africa - just as you could rely on him to provide guidance and encouragement during hard times, restoring in us the courage for the longer struggles ahead for emancipation of the continent.

Tajudeen's departure leaves a massive hole in all our lives. We all need to grieve the loss of this giant of a man. But if his life is to mean anything, we must follow his call in the signature line of his every email – 'Don't agonise, Organise!'

As part of our tribute to Tajudeen, comrade, brother and fighter of Pan-Africanism, Pambazuka News invites you to send messages of condolence and tributes, please send these to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/

Thursday, 21 May 2009

One Scribe's Vision and My Response

Recently, the Uganda Journalists Association held an event to mark the World Press Freedom Day [3rd May every year] at which our President was invited to officiate. By the end of the day, His Excellency pledged Shs 150 million to UJA [which in reality, is a dead association that hardly many Ugandan journalists are even members or care about]. Of course, there were many arguments for and against like this one below [which was also posted on Facebook]...I was pushed to respond to the author, which you can read below the article.

In defence of Museveni's donation to Uganda Journalists Association
by Julius Mucunguzi
I wish to comment on the several letters and opinions that I have read in newspaper pages recently regarding Uganda Journalists Association's invitation of President Museveni to grace one of their events and the subsequent contribution of funds to the association.

Most of the commentary, have been critical of Museveni's contribution and have advised that the association should have rejected the money, apparently to maintain their journalistic independence.

While I respect the views of those who hold that stance, I wish to state that to me this seems to be a simplistic way to define what determines journalistic independence.

My view is that journalistic independence starts with the individual reporter, and goes on to the media house and ultmately the media industry. One of the writers infact even tried to use the US and UK as stars when it comes to maintaining journalistic independence. I think it is confusing matters.

First of all, it is wrong to confuse journalistic independence with being critical to government alone all the time. Infact there are those who say that the greatest threat to media independence today may not necesarily be the state. People who hold this view say that big businesses, advertising, media owners, civil societies, greed, and lack of professional training threaten the freedom of journalists to freely express themselves. I know dictatorships in some newsrooms where reporters fear to even state what they believe in while doing their work.

Would my friends have complained if the journalists association had invited some chief executive of a big and rich multinational company to grace the occassion and subsequently received money from him or her? Or what if they had invited and got the money from an ambassador of a rich country? Would the critics say that it is not proper, because the journalists might now be in the pockets of a foreign country---praising it for valuing press freedom and vilifying their own country?

A number of Ugandan journalists have been beneficiaries of training and travel bursaries from foundations, embassies and trusts--both local and foreign--recieving money and stipends from them: should we say that because of this, they are not independent and objective in reporting matters affecting countries from where these bodies are based? I hope not.

So why should someone think that by the association receiving money from the President, the journalists will be cowed into submission and will be less objective and independent while covering government business? That would be an insult to the journalists.

For those who prefer to use the USA example, please be informed that only as recently as two days ago, President Obama hosted a dinner for the White House Correspondents Association--at the government expense. I don't not think that that party will in any way affect the way these reporters will cover Obama's president. Neither should the shs 150 million in Uganda.

To the journalists association I say: receive funding from all credible sources, and this definately includes from government officials, businessemen, charities, NGOs, individuals, etc. Use the money productively, set up a Press Club from where you can coordinate the association activities, and continue asking legitimate questions to all centres of power: government, civil societies, private sectors, etc.

Julius Mucunguzi is a Ugandan journalist and media scholar currently working in the UK.

My brief is here:

I think the author is far removed from reality. First of all, what does UJA do anyway...it is a lame duck association just like the other journalists associations that have either hibernated or died, NIJU, UNEPA. There are two things we can be sure of (1) That money like all other presidential pledges/brown envelopes will take ages to come but most... Read more likely, won't (2) If it the money 'materialises', there will be squabbles among the executive on sharing it.

Julius, I can't believe you can be so naive about the status of journalism in Uganda yet you practised it for some years. The objectivity of the media is constantly being eroded, both by the fourth estate itself and other external factors [like you mentioned, big business, adveritsing, government...etc]. You definitely know that journalists associations are not vibrant...let's say like the lawyers and medical practitioners' organisations. I would rather that we, as members of the fourth estate, sought ways of mobilising ourselves.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Could Migingo dispute break East African Community?

This month, it is expected that the issue of whether Migingo—the tiny island in Lake Victoria—belongs to Uganda or to Kenya will be resolved. This is the date that was set for the joint comprehensive survey team, tasked with establishing the actual borders, to report their findings to both governments.

The team was created as decided in a meeting between ministers and other government officials from the two countries. It was held 13th March 2009 in Kampala and jointly chaired by Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moses Wetang’ula, and Ugandan Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Matia Kasaija.

Among the documents for reference are the Constitution (1995), which points out the borders in Schedule 2, The Kenya Colony and Protectorate (Boundaries) Order in Council 1926, and Kenya Legal Notice No. 718 of 1963. The exercise also includes physical visits to the island and the relevant positions in the lake and has to be completed within 60 days.

As we wait for the results of a survey being carried out by experts to determine whether Migingo island is in Uganda or Kenya, using history as a reference, we should also consider whether this dispute could lead to the break up of the East African Community?

For several months now, there has been a dispute between the two countries about this island that has captured both national and international interest and media coverage. While the issue has been very heated in Kenya, it has not generated as much passion in Uganda. President Mwai Kibaki has maintained that such dispute can settled through diplomacy and fact-finding such as a survey. In a recent address to parliament, Kibaki said “I assure the citizens of the two nations that the issue of Migingo Island will be solved diplomatically by May 15 when the survey team finishes its exercise.”

President Yoweri Museveni expressed a similar view at a press conference held on 20th April 2009 that was also addressed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was on a state visit to Uganda. Referring to the colonial documents that will aid the verification of boundaries, Museveni said they were “good reference points that we shall use to know the truth”.

However Kenyan politicians and the media have been sounding the war drums and declaring that Migingo is not in Uganda. In reacting to Kibaki’s address, several Members of Parliament accused him of not being assertive enough. Notably, these are from Nyanza Province, where the Kenyan part of the lake is located, and from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) that has its biggest support there. There have been statements like the “issue of Migingo is non-negotiable” and “[we] "expected the President [Kibaki] to clearly tell Ugandans to leave Migingo”.

Compared to Uganda, where the saga is mostly confined to government circles, debates on talk shows and ebimeeza and newspaper articles, in Nairobi and Kisumu, there were violent protests in the streets. In the Kibera slum, youths damaged a railway line that links Uganda to the outside world and on which it relies on for trade. On 16th April, youths placed logs, stones and other objects along the Kisumu-Kericho road to block cargo trucks and trailers en route to Uganda.

It is worth noting that Migingo is not only the point of contention between the two countries. As the issue flared up, there were accusations of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) entering several kilometres into Turkana, which borders Karamoja. In the 1970s, there was a row over the ownership of Lolwe, Wayami, Remba and Sigulu islands in Lake Victoria when Idi Amin seized them claiming they belonged to Uganda. In the light of the current conflict, Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga said the ownership of the other four islands would also be discussed.

There have also been disputes over tariffs and non-tariff barriers under the EAC and bans on imports of milk, animal semen and day-old chicks and disagreements on proposed political federation of East Africa. Kagame, who is the EAC Chairman, remarked, “The Migingo issue is not as complicated as it is being portrayed. It is an issue the two countries can handle by surveying. It has not yet become an issue for the East African Community to be involved and I don’t think it will reach that level.”

But, if the issue is resolved in Uganda’s favour, could the Kibera kind of disturbances escalate into a regional issue since Rwanda and Burundi will also be affected by disruptions to the road and rail links through Kenya. In addition, With Tanzania having objections with aspects of a common market for EAC, could the Migingo saga be the spark that fractures the Community just like the differences between the different member countries led to the previous break up in the 1970s?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Great Rules That Will Help You Remain Poor All Your Life

I know a lot of people, including myself, that could make good use of these rules and not implement them. For the benefits of the readers of this blog, read through and don't be another statistic at workshops, conferences, dialogues and summits on poverty in Africa.

1. Never wake up early: Keep stretching and turning in bed until you get too hungry to continue dozing. If there are no bedbugs, why hurry to get up.

2. Never plan how to spend your money: Whenever you get money, start spending it right away and when it is finished, try to count and recall how you spent it.

3. Don't think of saving until you have real big money: How can you save when there are huge demands? Those telling you to save are not sympathetic to your burning needs.

4. Don't engage in activities usually reserved for the "uneducated": How can you, a graduate, engage in petty trade or home- based production? That is for people who never went to school.

5. Don't think of starting a business until an angel comes from heaven and gives you capital: How do they expect you to invest before you get millions of shillings? Even though more than half the businesses in your town were started with a few hundred shillings, you as a smart person can only start with millions.

6. Complain about everything except your own attitude: Blame the system, the government and the banks that refuse to lend you money. They are all bad and do not want you to get rich.

7. Spend more than you earn: To achieve this, buy consumer products in credit and keep borrowing from friends and employer.

8. Compete in dressing: Make sure you wear the latest clothes among all the workers in your office. Whenever your neighbour buys a new phone, get one that is more expensive.

9. Get yourself a nice second- hand car that costs more than three times your annual gross pay: That will surely keep you in debt long enough to hinder the implementation of any good plans that could make you accumulate capital.

10. Give your children everything they ask for since you are such a loving parent: They should not struggle for anything because you do not want them to suffer. That way, they will grow up lazy and hence poor enough to ensure they cannot help you in your old age.

If you diligently implement these 10 great rules, you will not fail to invite poverty in great measures to your homestead. That way, all important leaders, from East or West, will spend a lot of hours thinking about you, planning how to uplift your daily expenses above one dollar. Isn't it nice to be the subject of concern of all those leaders and scholars?