Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Land of Confusion

Across Uganda, the ruling political party, National Resistance Movement (NRM), is conducting primaries for its flagbearers for different elective positions in the run up to 2011 general elections. The exercise which was supposed to be conducted yesterday (30th August 2010) has been marred by vote rigging, stuffed ballots, missing voters' names, intimidation, vote buying, administrative incompetencies, among a cocktail of many other woes. In many places, there have been postponements. As the Daily Monitor put it, it is a vote of no confidence! Ugandans should definitely ask themselves, if this is a precursor to 2011?

Meanwhile, the opposition are not faring any better albeit in a different way. One of the parties, Uganda Peoples Congress has opted out of the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC)-which was envisaged as a coalition of sorts to front a single opponent to President Yoweri Museveni. I think a two-horse race would have been a boon to Uganda's 'democracy' at this stage than "[many] dog[s] barking at an elephant" (Museveni in 2006, any one remember that?). As with many opposition parties in other countries in Africa, unity of purpose and aim, it seems, can not be agreed on like the IPC seemed geared towards. A squabbling divided opposition is a blessing for the incumbent. Museveni has one less headache, may be he should use the opportunity to concentrate on putting his NRM in order. Is it about time?

In other related developments, the display of voters' register winds up today. Though the Electoral Commission (EC) achieved its target of registering 3.5 million new voters, the display exercise has not attracted as much enthusiasm. However, the EC should be commended for the effort and even enabling online access to the register. Props....after the display, there does not appear a clear-charted way forward from EC...my question is what happens next?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

As Wedding Anniversaries Roll By, Some Truths We Should Take With Us

Someone sent me this via e-mail and I decided to post on the blog as a number of my friends and my sister have beeb celebrating wedding anniversaries in the June-August period. This is also all those that come to the blog and could do with this advice or give it to others. Congratulations are in order and all due credit goes to the author/s.


That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, unstorybook, real-life love.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?

When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy -- your soul mate -- you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, "This is so not what I signed up for."

Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.

Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined

Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naivete, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.

If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths -- and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done -- it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process.

"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo , NY . "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself -- or him -- on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder)

Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.

You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.

Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself -- let the emotions settle a bit -- and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."

4. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together

I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns -- often. That is, until I learned a few things.

Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong -- there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis . "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."

5. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right

Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real -- sometimes buried -- issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.

6. You'll realize that you can only change yourself

Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic "Making Mr. Right?" When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man -- sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.

There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us -- something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.

Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man -- stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies -- is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.

7. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of

There were clues when Genoveso and I were dating, especially with the trust thing. Early on, I was supersuspicious of him. He used to say things like, "I'll call you at 8." Then, just to try to trip me up, he'd call at 8. I knew he was up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. The same kinds of experiences followed after the wedding. Except occasionally he would actually mess up. And I had no sense of scale when it came to rating his offenses; everything was a major violation. Whether he teased me about a new haircut or came home late, I seethed for days and even let thoughts of divorce creep into my head. I figured, if he loved me -- really and truly -- this stuff wouldn't happen.

I'd like to be able to say that this irrational behavior lasted only a few months and I eventually worked it out. Kind of, sort of, is closer to the truth. After years of looking deeply into my soul and talking to good friends and the best sister a girl could ever have, I've come to recognize certain things about myself. Not to get all Dr. Phil about it, but I've had to examine my history with an emotionally distant dad and a strong-willed mom and face up to all the ways, both good and bad, that those relationships have affected how I approach my marriage.

That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together -- and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

7-11 M.E.M.O.R.I.A.L

A selection of rock tracks I made into a mix, which is inspired by the events of July 11 2010 (now known as 7-11). The following is the tracklist

Intro-Swift Blow to the Evil (prod. by DMG)

Strictly Sorrow (Pink Floyd/EPMD blend)

Runnin’-Lil Wayne (ripped from Prison Break mixtape)

My Last Breath (Evanescence)

Boulevard of Broken Dreams RMX/Sing for the Moment (Green Day/Oasis/Aerosmith/Eminem blend)

Haunted (Kelly Clarkson)

Outro (spoken by DMG)

The mixtape can be downloaded here

Sincerely yours,


Friday, 6 August 2010

Unforgettable Fire: The Story of U2

Book Review

Title: Unforgettable Fire: The Story of U2
Author: Eamon Dunphy
Pages: 392
Publisher: Penguin Books
Reviewer: Mwesigye Gumisiriza

U2 are considered one of the best rock bands and they are currently a top-earning touring act in the world—in 2009 alone, they grossed more than US$300 million. The lead singer, Bono, is perhaps more known to us in the Third World for his philanthropy and social activisim than his music. His band mates, Adam, Larry and Edge are also household names in their own right owing to the phenomenal success U2 has achieved over three decades.

However before the album The Joshua Tree which topped charts in 22 countries and put their names on the rock and roll music scene, they had spent several years playing concerts, touring and had made four albums to create an impact. From the debut album Boy to the follow up October through to War and Unforgettable Fire, the young men from Ireland were thriving for recognition and pushing boundaries with stereotype-defying personalities and spirituality-infused themes. But by tracing their roots, the author, Eamon Dunphy, throws light on the circumstances that formed each of the band members and how they complemented each other when they came together.

The book, at the start, is divided into four chapters which cover each character separately so that the readers are able to understand them first, individually. It also helps us why the subjects they focus on in their music were far from the norm in rock. In other words, exploring religion and addressing social issues such as unemployment, poverty, discrimination were “out of place” in a form of expression that is essentially rebellious and nihilist.

The Ireland that Bono, Adam, Larry and Edge grew up in was deeply divided. Politically, divisions between Republicans and Nationalists in addition to a historical legacy of British colonialism. Socially, a dominant Roman Catholic Church that wielded immense influence in various aspects of life which tended to sideline Protestants and other minorities.

This formed the backdrop as the four teenagers met in high school and a formed a band, initially known as The Hype. But again, these youth were also trying to understand themselves, the world around and discovering music as a way to express themselves. Rehearsing tirelessly to create their sound, playing gigs to get known, crossing borders and making the contacts—radio DJs, music promoters, journalists, other musicians—through which they would make their dream come true. Several years later, eventually their efforts paid off when Rolling Stone, a respected entertainment publication, tagged them “the band of the eighties” even without them having the kind of chart-topping hits that fitted the honour. This was prompted by their performance at Live Aid, a 1985 concert of big names in show business to raise funds for famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, “where they stole the show from the legends of rock music and established themselves as the driving musical force for worldwide political change”.

Though this book is definitely a page-turner for the average rock music or U2 fan, it is equally an interesting read for anyone down for an inspiring story of hard work, determination and success amidst self doubt, search for meaning and the restriction of stereotypes.

Should Terrorism Have Been on the Agenda? Or Been Part of A.O.B?

At the recently held African Union (AU) Summit in Kampala, Uganda, the issue of terrorism took centre stage completely wiping off the scene, maternal and child health, which was the focus for the event. Thanks entirely to the bombings that occurred at a rugby club killing up to 80 people who had gathered there to watch the World Cup final on 11 July. Shortly afterwards, the al Shabaab militia (or whatever it is) claimed responsibility and warned Ugandan troops stationed in Somalia to quit. Al Shabaab claimed to have brought the war home to Uganda, who together with Burundi, is part of an AU peace keeping mission—AMISOM.

Naturally, the AU Summit that started barely a fortnight later focused its attention on Somalia, terrorism and al Shabaab. The prickly issue of changing the mandate of AMISOM from peace keeping to peace enforcement, increasing numbers to 20,000 from the current 6,000 or thereabouts was hotly debated. This view was advanced by IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). Of course, geopolitics and other wider interests drove the goings on, pouring cold water on IGAD’s proposals. May be the winners here are the soldiers whose pay will be bumped upwards.

While the big men discussed, debated and disagreed, in one of the ill-equipped hospitals in the host country, yet another woman was dying while giving birth or from complications as a result of inadequate care or the lack of access. Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that there are 435 deaths per 100,000 live births. Other figures show only 41% of births are attended by skilled personnel while 13.7% of children die before they make five years and 7.6% of infants die before their first birthday. Against this backdrop, in general, Uganda has made some progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but it is unlikely to achieve them by the 2015 deadline. By the way, the MDG 4 is “Reduce child mortality” and MDG 5 is “Improve maternal health”.

Compare the above with this! Data compiled by NationMaster show that between 2000 and 2006, there were 29 incidences of terrorism in Uganda with 450 fatalities and 299 injuries. In the same period, using the MOH stats, about 30,000 mothers died while giving birth and thousands of babies passed on before marking a year of life. So, I wonder whether terrorism should be the issue #1 on the 2010 AU Summit agenda and not part of A.O.B—Any Other Business?

PS: Shouldn’t we be thinking of how to improve our emergency response or disaster preparedness? Does anyone like the way the dead and injured were carried on police pick-ups? Or how the two hospitals were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people suddenly flooding their casualty wards and operation theatres.