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

Census Notes

While people in other parts of the world were going on with their boring and event-less lives, Ugandans for the past several days have been witnessing an interesting event known as the National Census. Now if you skipped Civics and Social Studies lessons back in Primary, you might not know what exactly this census was/is. If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably will remember the census from the book of Numbers and also around the time of Jesus’ birth. However, to make things less obscure for you, I shall help you understand the census.

The National Census was an event that involved counting all people within Uganda’s borders and it was conducted by strangely dressed Government representatives who moved from one place to another skipping over puddles, going through alleys and navigating their way from one village to another. I was not counted for reasons I am yet to find out but it is safe to say that most of the people I know were counted.

museveni1

No, Mr President; I haven’t been counted. 

I happen to personally know 3 people who played the role of enumerator and prior to the enumeration; I had asked them to take notes as they went about their census dealings. The plan was to share these findings with the awesome readers of this Blog. Last night they shared their notes with me and I am more than glad to share them with you. I must warn you though that there are some really bizarre findings.

Pauline in Rukungiri

Pauline did her enumeration somewhere in Western Uganda – Rukungiri District to be exact. Some of the homes she approached were not too enthusiastic about the census in the first place. One man feared that the counting was because the Government was planning to engage in a war and therefore needed to know how many casualties it would have to deal with. Another was worried that the NRM Gov’t was leaving power soon and needed to know for sure the economic situation of the people it was leaving behind. One of the families welcomed Pauline rather well, then each of the members laid hands on her – for exorcism. Apparently an evil demon had possessed the Gov’t and was consequently spreading around through the enumerators. One of the homes had a single father who kept grinning at Pauline the whole time she was asking questions. The guy later confessed that he was thankful to God for finally answering his prayer for a new mother to his two sons, and the Lord had done it through the Gov’t; Pauline was about to become a new mother and wife.

VisionHeading out to enumerate crazy Ugandans 

Julius in Banda

Julius did his enumeration in Kampala where it would be expected that the majority of the people were educated, informed and less prone to having strange assumptions. But Alas! People in Kampala were no strangers to weird assumptions and as Julius revealed, some of them were really ridiculous. Somewhere in Banda, a family locked all their doors and windows when Julius was spotted approaching. The old man of the home was not interested in revealing his family’s possessions to a Gov’t that was ‘in the hands of thieves’. Apparently there is so much corruption going on that the Gov’t has run out of money to steal and is therefore now embarking on stealing people’s property. Before this can be done though, the Gov’t but must first find out which citizens are worth robbing. Another person (still in Banda) was short of hurling stones at Julius. This person (who was later restrained by neighbours) was positive that his ex-wife had orchestrated the whole thing. Apparently after their divorce, the ex-wife did not get as much property as she had wanted and therefore sent this random enumerator to help her fight the battle. Just when I thought this was probably bizarre, Julius shared a story of a household somewhere in Kyambogo where the father insisted that his daughters would not be counted. In his opinion, if the girls are to fetch proper bride price in the future, they ought to be hidden away from the public so they can blossom. Julius was part of the public and had to be warded off at all costs.

dog

And then some families deployed angry dogs

Monica in Nebbi

Monica’s enumeration was somewhere in West Nile Region in Nebbi District. Monica encountered a number of problems including one of the homes not wanting her to leave because they felt that finally the Gov’t had remembered them and they were not going to let Monica leave until their problems of water, the fallen electricity pole and too many witch doctors were answered. Monica was therefore held captive for a little while until a few phonecalls and 1 or 2 cops later she was allowed to go. In one of the villages, Monica was received with what seemed like a real party. Everyone was dressed in what might have easily been their best clothes and the mother was particularly full of smiles. After a heavy and sumptuous meal, Monica got down to asking the questions – at which point everyone appeared shocked. They did not expect this pretty woman named Monica to start asking questions when she had been sent by the Lord to offer them salvation. Yes;  they thought Monica had been sent by the Lord himself. Turns out the father had had a dream about God sending an Angel; Monica and she was supposed to deliver the family from the apathy they had been languishing in for a while.

Yusuf in Nakasongola

Yusuf did his enumeration somewhere near the shores of Lake Kyoga, in a district called Nakasongola.  In a village called Galiraya, which is greatly a fishing community, most of the people’s assumptions were based around their favourite activity – fishing. In one of the homes, Yusufnwas asked about the contents of the bag he was carrying. Apparently the village had been told that Gov’t officials were coming to deliver wonderful fishing nets and it seemed like Yusuf had been sent to do just that. They even went ahead to state the problems they were facing with the fishing, right from the fewer varieties of fish to the overfishing by certain people in the village. In one of the villages, it became apparent that Yusuf had been sent by the Gov’t to settle a feud that had existed for several months. Both families felt they had rights to fish in a certain area of the lake. Yusuf did settle the feud but with more than just a chuckle being held back. One of the funniest stories in Yusuf’s notes was of a woman and her two sons who had religious reasoning behind refusal to be counted. Apparently they belonged to a sect that was totally against this census. Their gospel preached that the census would be conducted by the devil himself and therefore Yusuf was seen as Lucifer in the form of a strong, sturdy and well built man.

run away

And then they ran away from Lucifer

Reading through the notes from my enumerator friends, I can safely say that certain Ugandans are not just hilarious people but people with minds that are strangely creative. And while this blog post might seem to state that Ugandans are crazy people (which we are), one must not forget that these were but a few cases of people with bizarre assumptions about the census. The vast majority who were far from crazy, simply welcomed the enumerators, answered their questions, and went on with their lives – and so must you, after reading this Blog Post.

Winnie

My friend Winnie in Kiwatule even treated her enumerator guest to juice

“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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