A fading pearl

When I was in my A’ Level, my literature teacher once took us through a strange lesson where he asked us to describe the country that we all know is Uganda. The exercise involved us describing Uganda as a human being, animal, inanimate object, celestial being or whatever our imagination conjured. After aggregating all our descriptions, it became apparent that we had discovered what Uganda looked like.

Uganda was described as a gorgeous female goddess with curvy posterior, full breasts, short hair, long searching legs and large round shy eyes. She’d look at you and instantly look away; afraid to pierce into your soul with her gaze. She was kind but stern, warm, charming and very friendly. She wore the simplest outfits but always looked the finest in the lot. Her singing was described as angelic and she had a well constructed form of speech.

african_girl_by_otunga-d4lx3st

African girl by Otunga

Sadly, over time, this woman has lost many of these attributes. Her breasts seem to have ‘fallen’into a sag and for her age there seem to be a few more wrinkles than expected. Her legs are still as long but she is not so keen to show them anymore, they carry a little too many scars from the various times she’s tripped and fallen. Her posterior has since turned from her greatest asset to her worst liability because the doctors say she needs to have it reduced; it’s too big for her frail body. Her eyes are more sunken than ever and her originally full lips are shrinking. Her hairline is strangely receding and she’s increasingly becoming agitated, distressed and moody.

With all this outward transformation going on, Uganda still has an inner beauty and splendour because goddesses never lose that.

Bringing the point home

Over the past few years, Uganda has burned hot and cold in her attempt to impress not just her own kinfolk but the entire world. For every good deed she registers, she seems to silently suffer a dozen setbacks. Without necessarily breaking down the insufficiencies that we as a nation are grappling with, any sane human being will admit that we are nowhere near we ought to be a country.

Not in the education sector, not in the health sector and certainly not in the transport sector. The tourism area isn’t any place we can say we have scored many points and neither can we claim to have a sizeable trophy cabinet in the sports department. Our economy is barely anything to write home about and our security, well, that is simply not anything to boast about.

Basically we are doomed, right?

Not quite. Strangely, with all these troubles eating at us from every direction, we continue to soldier on, mostly because the only other alternative is disappearing into oblivion – something I am sure we are not too keen to embrace. While all these unfortunate things happening around us, there are instances that put a smile on anyone’s face; a selfless and charitable act by a couple of youths here, a whistle blower shaming corrupt people there, a seemingly pointless sports victory in Nigeria, a growing telecommunication industry the other side – basically, our story is not all doom.

Lake Bunyonyi

We still have our natural appeal (www.roughguides.com)

Sadly, every day that passes, noble and well intentioned Ugandans lose their lives in circumstances that leave one wondering whether we are truly looking after each other well. Contrary to the insecurity song everyone might be singing right now, I would like to think that the recent wave of events (crimes) that occurred are a reflection of the kind of society we have become.

Breaking it down

Phionah Atukiriza, a resident of Bunamwaya in Wakiso District was on Monday night attacked by armed men who opened fire after she had tried to hold onto the bag they wanted to snatch from her. Phionah currently lies in Lubaga Hospital, bed-ridden and unable to carry on with her usual life anymore.

On the same day, Joan Kagezi, the top Ugandan state prosecutor in the trial of suspects of the 2010 Kampala suicide bombing which killed 76 people, was shot and killed a few meters from my doorstep in Kiwatule, a Kampala Suburb. She was with her family in the car.

A few hours later, gunmen showed up outside the residence of a wealthy businessman Steven Yiga somewhere in Mbuubi Zone, Lungujja, Lubaga municipality in Kampala. After a bout of heavy gunfire, three bodies were found in a pool of blood.

Without even being alarmist, any sane person will right away ask the question, “What the hell is going on?” And while it may be unfair to expect answers right away, seeing as investigations are going on with the different incidences, no one can claim to be unbothered by what is happening.

I am no security expert and I cannot begin to advance any theory to explain these events but I know enough to conclude that the gorgeous belle Uganda is twisting and writhing in untold pain – the Pearl of Africa is fading. She is becoming frail by the hour and her ability to hit high notes is waning.

Something ought to be done.

The tough questions

It is high time we as Ugandans started asking the vital questions about not just the security of our country but our entire well being as a nation.

Gone are the days when assailants carried sticks, toy guns or pangas. Nowadays they move around with guns. – Where are people getting all these guns?

People no longer steal and make away with only property, they want to take people’s lives as well.- Is this a reflection of what our society has become? Heartless, unbothered by murder and generally ready to end a life without much thought?

So many robberies (both armed and otherwise) are taking place in several neighbourhoods. – Have resources become so scarce, so much that we have taken it upon ourselves to enforce the ‘survival for the fittest’ theory?

Whenever a high profile murder occurs, we beef up security.- Do we always have to get hit first before we can be security conscious in our homes, workplaces and everywhere else?

ak-47.si

Where are all the guns coming from?

There are several questions that we ought to ask ourselves but the most important question of all is – are we going to simply look on as Uganda loses her ability to turn heads with her poise, glamour and beauty?

I’ll tell you what I’d like.

I’d like for this former beauty queen to regain her form, retake her position at the helm, reignite her passion for glamour and re-emerge as the Pearl of Africa that she truly is.

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. – Frederick Douglass

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter

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Come Back Home

For most people, ‘home’ is a word that represents a place of warmth, safety and happiness. We may go to the furthest ends of the earth but at the end of the day home is a place close to the heart. Now before I get all mushy and sentimental about this place called home, allow me to make note of the fact that many people’s homes are not exactly the most ideal places. I know a number of people who would give anything just to be away from home. However, even for such people, there comes a time when the loneliness that eats them up can only be done away with by visiting home.

With the Christmas season upon us, there is a traditional feeling that the holidays are spent home – with the family. While many of us who will be working during the festive season will be busy as hell, we will still make time to rush home and enjoy the Christmas lunch with the parents. The point is; the Christmas season is a time to be with one’s family; the people who would put an arm and a leg to prove that they love you.

For the Ugandans who are abroad, I would like to take this moment (and this blog post) to let you know that we are waiting for your return; yes – you belong here. You may have spent decades out there but we would rather you spent the holidays with us.

If you are wondering why I think you should come over, allow me to woo you.

The Awesome Weather  

I am sure you have read somewhere that the weather in Uganda is wonderful and very Christmassy. We may not have snow here but I can confidently tell you that we have the kind of weather that Santa Claus would love to chill in. Just yesterday the day started off with a beautiful scorch of the sun and then it gently tip toed into a windy mid morning before slowly drifting into a rainy situation in the afternoon. Let’s just say this weather over here will get you feeling everything all in one day. Oh and did I mention that it is the finest weather in the East African region? No, scratch that, it is the finest weather in Africa. As a matter of fact, this weather is the finest weather in the world. Instead of freezing in the Boston snow, getting fried in the Emirates heat or drowning in the Manchester rains, come back to Kampala and let’s enjoy this Christmassy weather.

lake b
Beautiful, just beautiful

Everyone is coming back

Just yesterday I was speaking with a friend in Melbourne who kept reminding me about the day she would be touching down at Entebbe airport. The excitement she has for the trip back home is nothing short of heart warming. She has had a countdown calendar for several weeks now and is slowly inching towards her ‘return date’. She kept reminding me that no matter how awesome Melbourne or any other city in the world is, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas as much as it would if one were home. Everyone is coming back home for Christmas and so it would make sense for you too to book your flight well in time. People like Sejusa who were presumed to be in hiding abroad have themselves decided to come back home for the holidays; so you are going to be left out there on your own. And did I mention that our airport is not as bad as it used to be? Fine, there are still a few patches here and there but hey, it is the festive season, let’s be positive now shall we? A few of my buddies in Boston have threatened to throng the streets of Kampala from the 20th onwards and their reason is – there is nowhere else a true party can be held other than in Kampala.

uganda-canoe-lake-bunyoniTake a boat if you have to, just come on back home 

Tight Security

In the past, a number of media houses in the West repeatedly portrayed Africa as a dangerous place where butt naked people constantly hacked each other to death as they struggled for bush meat. I know that many have drifted away from that stereotype, but there are still a few that maintain a similar chain of thought. I would like to debunk this thinking right here right now. We are not hacking each other to death and we are certainly not struggling for bush meat. And No – there is no Ebola in Uganda. What we are doing however is making sure that our security is beefed up and that we are able to walk, party and enjoy our lives way into the devilish hours of the night. Uganda is quite a secure place today and even though there may be occasional instances where neighbours exchange blows or friends slap each other, we are generally a calm lot. We have not had instances of tear gas in a while; not because we ran out of stock but because there is more understanding between the cops and the people.

Uganda-Police-Things are now in order

A Reminder – This is the Pearl of Africa

I always save the best for last. Yes – Uganda is a beautiful country blessed with quite many attributes and features that will sweep anyone off their feet. I was born in Uganda and this might make me a little biased but allow me to say this – Uganda is the most beautiful country you will ever visit. True; I have not been to very many countries but then again, with Uganda close to my heart, I see very little reason stray so far away. Whether you are interested in Flora, Fauna, the Food or just the people, Uganda serves you with a perfect buffet of nature delivered right to where you are; as long as you are within the borders of this beautiful country. Without necessarily ruining the surprise for anyone, I’d like to say that whether you are coming home for the holidays or you are coming just to visit, book your ticket well in time because the party is about to get started.

visit-uganda

There are about 34 other reasons why anyone who is abroad should seriously think about coming back home for the holidays but because the Blog will only allow for this much, I will let it rest.

Just come home already.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter

Leftover Questions

On 23rd August 2014 Uganda was blessed to have his Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta who after being hosted to a sumptuous dinner at State House Nakasero by Mr. 1986 addressed 3000 Youths. He then went ahead to offer himself for a live-bullets-no-bullet-proof Q&A under the hashtag #AskUhuru. The entire event was part of the 4th Edition of the Pakasa Forum organized by Vision Group of Companies under the party-givership of selfie King Robert Kabushenga. If for some strange reason one did not follow the proceedings on the day, there is reason to believe that one was away on holiday from planet earth because the conversation was pretty much everywhere; on TV, in the papers and online.

I was lucky to be among the guys who attended the Pakasa Forum not as an unemployed and frustrated youth (like a few I knew) but as a Digital Expert keen to follow and share the conversation online. Now, while most of my work involved sharing the conversation on Social Media, I was also keen to engage in a few other things like dashing back and forth from the bathrooms because of the excessive water I consumed, looking around to try and understand why the youths were dressed the way they were dressed, constantly reminding a friend of mine in Texas, USA, that Uhuru Kenyatta is not the president of Africa and re-connecting my laptop to the wifi that seemed to be wonky the whole time. I therefore didn’t quite get the time to ask the questions I needed to ask the big man.

Despite all this, I was careful to have jotted down most, if not all my questions. And even if Mr. Uhuru does not see them, I shall go ahead and share my leftover questions with you, my people. Maybe, just maybe, someone will read them and forward them for answering. Thank you in advance kind but still anonymous person.

Question 1 – Is it really necessary to be married while in power?  

This is probably the furthest one can get from the theme of the day ‘Creating Opportunities for Youth in East Africa’ but I’d like to think that the Q&A was not restricted to issues within the theme – or was it? I shared this question with one or two other people who promised to forward it but clearly it appears the little investment I made of 2 beers prior to the event were not bribe enough for my question to make it through to you. Mr. Uhuru, do presidents also have hearts? Do they have emotions and things like that? I always imagined that they only have wives as a matter of constitutional requirement but if they had their way, wives would probably be the last item on the ‘things-to-have’ list while in power. Have you heard of our friend Mr. Olara Otunnu? He continues to enjoy his single life even though he has (had) designs on the presidency. Do you think he has any hopes or should he go and hunt for a potential wife before hitting the campaign trail again?

Question 2 – Who picks out your wardrobe?

I’m no fashion expert and I’m no guru when it comes to style but I am just curious about the wardrobe thing. Do you wake up in the morning, tell your wife what schedule you have and then allow her to pick out what you will wear? Or is there some Government entity that is tasked with the President’s wardrobe? If there is an entity, is it possible that this entity can work for the whole East Africa? Our president, your friend, His Excellency Mr. 1986 has a good sense of fashion and so does the Rwandan President, the Tanzanian President, the Burundian President and the South Sudan president. However, I imagine if we are to fast track this whole East African integration, it may be pertinent that we have one central place where the fashion for presidents will be decided. If your dress code on Saturday was anything to go by, it is safe to assert that your wardrobe manager is doing a fine job. Any chance you can give him / her a raise and a promotion to handle East Africa? However, in case it is your wife who picks them out for you, just look into her eyes, smile and tell her – I love you honey. I am sure she will get the message.

Question 3 – How do you do this Social Media thing?

Mr. President, I have noticed with extreme approval that your presence on Social Media is quite commendable. For a president whose schedule seems to be packed 24/7 it is impressive that you have time to Tweet, Facebook and visit a few other sites here and there. Have you heard of instagram? My user name is Beewol over there and I have a few not-so- bad-looking pictures you can scroll through. Don’t hesitate to LIKE them because as you may already know, success in today’s world is measured by LIKES and RETWEETS. Speaking of Twitter, have you ever had your account hacked into? How is your DM set up by the way? How many DMs do you receive per day anyway? I assume you receive many from single ladies, unemployed youth, disgruntled politicians, crazy Alshabaab goons and old school mates looking to touch base. The hustle is real.

Question 4 – Have you heard of Hurricane Jennifer?

We have a whirlwind in Kampala that has taken over the city in the recent past. When you came here on Saturday, you might have noticed that most of the areas you passed were neat, tidy and quite clean. Most of this is because of Hurricane Jennifer. This hurricane has been sweeping over Kampala for a while now and several heads have rolled while others have been chopped off their bodies for refusal to comply and adhere to certain standards. Do you have such a whirlwind in Nairobi? I hear that in Nairobi the cops do not tolerate any nonsense in the big beautiful city. I assume it is because you too have a hurricane of sorts that side. Back here, hurricane Jennifer has recently made people have sleepless nights and I wonder if you have such instances in your country. Once again, since we are talking about going East African, can we adopt this Hurricane to take over all our Cities in East Africa? I have a feeling we will grow with ruthless momentum.

Finally, I usually share a quote at the end of every Blog Post. Will you then allow me to share one that has been excerpted from your keynote speech on Saturday? I am sharing it because I felt like it was so deep and full of power. Thank you in advance.

 “East Africa will not be built by anybody other than us.” – Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, C.G.H., President of Kenya and commander in chief of the Defence Forces of Kenya

 

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter