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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 I am disappointed in my Country

If you have been to any court of law in Uganda you know by now that even before you open your mouth to defend or attack someone you need to have some kind of substantial backing. The backing is often in the form of well put-together evidence, an array of witnesses and legitimate citing of support by the constitution – among other things. Ideally when all these elements are brought together and they fit perfectly, one can confidently claim to have a legitimate case.

I am fully aware that the justice system in Uganda has its shortcomings and therefore cannot be looked at as the Oracle. However, I have learnt over time that institutions only work if we believe in them – and if we let them carry out their processes with legitimacy, decency and fairness. Recently, I learnt that as much as the justice system is designed or intended to offer justice, a good number of people have actually suffered because of this same justice system and those who work with and in it.

The issue of minorities is an issue that will forever create debate because as long as the human race exists, there will always be minorities in terms of race, age, sex, faith, orientation, physical build and ideology. The manner in which the justice system handles these “minorities” is one that I have come to learn is unfair, extremely prejudiced and abnormally inhumane.

On Friday 27th February, I attended a get-together organised by Chapter Four Uganda under the theme “Justice4All”. The focus of this get-together was to launch a report titled “The Abuse of the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Uganda’s Criminal Justice System”. Now while it may seem like justice is an ideal that many if not most people deserve and rightly should have access to, there are actually a good number of people who have had no sniff of the scent of justice.

A harrowing tale of certain sexual minorities being ‘physically probed’ and constantly dehumanized because the law does not recognise them as ‘legitimate human beings’ almost made me lose my mind. It is one thing to attempt to understand why someone is different from you. It is an entirely different thing when you try so hard to make someone who does not subscribe to your school of thought look like the enemy. On Friday I listened to stories of Ugandans living in fear simply because of the worry that any moment, they might be victims of a justice process that has adjudged them to be guilty in a war started by, and fought solely by nature.

I was shocked that some Ugandans are treated like they do not belong to this country; they are looked at as evil, nefarious, monstrous and extremely repulsive creatures with little or no semblance to proper human beings.

This infuriates me.

I do not condone acts that are against the constitution and I am in no way a campaigner for immorality or wickedness for that matter. However, I am also not a campaigner of inhumanity, barbaric and fiendish behaviour towards certain people simply because they are not like us.

HoraceHorace speaks the the truth!

Ugandans are known to be loving and hospitable individuals. We are known world over as people who love without limits, people who are free-spirited and are always willing to make the strangest of visitors feel at home. Why then do we rise up against our own brothers and sisters? Why do we deny justice to the people who share our cradle land, the people who share our last names, people who we have eaten and drank with since childhood? Why do we suddenly distance ourselves from people simply because they do not look like, think like or act like us? Why do we relegate them to the gates of hell simply because they prefer one thing and not the other? If we are not going to look after our own brothers and sisters, who will? A great many quotes have been directed to teaching people to embrace others no matter the difference that may be present. Why do we suddenly abandon these teachings when our brothers and sisters need us the most? As a policeman / woman, lawmaker, medical practitioner, religious leader, trend setter, celebrity, influential person or just plain human being, is it not my responsibility to treat my fellow man like he deserves the same justice that I think I deserve? Why should I turn round and be callous to someone simply because he does not think like or look like me?

Pope PaulI don’t think I would have put it any better

When 66-year-old Bernard Randall was deported for his involvement in Gay activities, one would have imagined that as a foreigner, Randall probably had it coming. One might also argue that as a foreigner, deportation was as decent an action as could be accorded to him for what the constitution deemed illegal or criminal for that matter. And Randall had / has the backing of his Government, several Civil Rights activists, the International community as well as a bunch of countless Western organisations and individuals.

What about our brothers and sisters who may not have the luxury of an army of supporters or sympathisers? What about our friends who have silently suffered life-long confusion about who they truly are? What about those who have grown up in a society that says any attitudes that are different from the norm are acts of the devil? And what about our sons and daughters, who secretly engage in the most devilish acts but will pretend their whole lives simply because they are afraid of ridiculing, mockery, scorn and a whole lot of derision? What about those people who wake up every morning disoriented and unsure of themselves and go to bed at night even more bewildered and lost? Why are we denying them the chance to be human, the chance to attain their full potential and the chance to be who they truly are meant to me as dictated by nature?

I write this piece after having a sad conversation with someone who has for twenty-six years been unsure of what his identity is. And this is because his family, friends and relations are all vehemently against any notions of straying from the norm. While he is otherwise an imperturbable soul that simply needs talking to, understanding and above all, guidance, he has opted to secretly engage in what I am sure his relatives will excommunicate him for – if they find out anyway. Now, while I have been sworn to secrecy, I will confidently say that on his behalf and on behalf of the several minorities that have been condemned to the gallows of public hell because of their differences; I am disappointed on so many levels. I am disappointed in myself and anyone who has under looked, disregarded, neglected and condemned another person just because they belong to the minority.

I am disappointed in my country.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” ― Benjamin Franklin

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

An August Proposal

A lot has been said about the August house; the Parliament of Uganda, over the past few days. In fact, even before this, many schools of thought advanced the allegation that the quality of the people and debate in the Ugandan Parliament has deteriorated over the years. For purposes of clarity and insight, last week, I took some time off to attend and keenly follow some of the sessions in the August House. While I must admit the sessions in the 9th Parliament are lacking in more ways than one, I must also add that there is plenty of potential in that place. You see, unlike other doomsday prophets and pessimists out there, I chose to focus on the positives in the Parliament. Seeing as there were few of those, I decided to think up ways in which we could make our Parliament better.

I therefore come before you my dear friends with a proposal for recommendations that we could adopt to make the August house more robust, more accountable and certainly more interesting.

Music Breaks

Research has shown that music has the capacity to improve brain activity, better understanding and generally lift moods. While it is admirable that MPs are keen to deliver legislation with utmost meticulousness, one must appreciate that without inspiration these attempts will always be futile. When you hear some MPs speak, you can literally feel the lack of inspiration and desire. I propose that the Speaker of Parliament orders a 10 Minute music break every after an hour. During this music break, MPs can either do Karaoke to refresh their brains or a DJ Mix can be thrown in to get the blood of the MPs flowing. With these music breaks, it is highly likely that fewer MPs will be missing out on sessions. And who knows, we might discover one or two musicians whose talents were hiding behind the title of MP.

1

Parliament could give us a real superstar

Theme Days

Any and every workplace will thrive when the workers are happy. When you see some MPs take to the floor of parliament, you can read it in their faces that the suits they are wearing are nothing but a pain. Why should we force these Honourable MPs to feel uncomfortable while legislating? Let’s allow for theme days when they can alter their dress code. For instance we can have Short Skirt Tuesday, Old School Wednesday, No Panty Thursday and the good old Casual Friday. With these theme days you can be sure that Parliament will not only be more colourful but also more interesting. Some MPs have never worn suits their whole lives and the only time they wore suits was during the swearing in. Why should you force such MPs to suddenly wear suits every day? Allow them to stay in their comfort zones by permitting theme days.

2

Just a thought

Arena Days

Every now and again you will hear certain MPs exchanging fierce words not just on the floor of parliament but even within the corridors and in the press. Why don’t we introduce Arena days where the floor is cleared of furniture and aggrieved MPs are given rudimentary weapons so they can have a go at each other in physical battles? We cannot escape from the fact that human beings are naturally inclined to not like those who disagree with them. Instead of going around spreading false and often malicious rumours about their colleagues, why don’t aggrieved MPs take it up with each other during the Arena Days? This would reduce politicking and it would help MPs stay in shape as each one will be hitting the gym in preparation for when another MP decides it is time to take things down with them in the Arena.

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The birth of the MPs fight club

Pop Quiz

Without necessarily naming names, it has become apparent that some MPs are as clueless about their duties as men are about the pain of childbirth. How about the Speaker of Parliament launching a periodical Pop Quiz where she asks random MPs questions about their own country. For instance, what colours are on the national flag or how many districts are in this sovereign country? You see, many MPs are busy clamouring for things left right and centre but forget simple facts about their country. Would it not help if they knew that anytime there could be a pop quiz? I am sure they would always be on their toes trying to read and stock up on much needed knowledge. The results of the periodical pop quiz can then be compiled to determine whether or not one gets allowances for the month.

3

Anha!!

Punishments

In life, most of the mistakes we make are punishable by some kind of regret. While this is supposed to be the general rule, MPs seem to fall outside of this bracket. These guys make quite a number of mistakes but never really pay for them – instead it is the bulk of the population that pays for these mistakes. Well, I suggest that MPs begin to take blame and start getting punished for the mistakes they make. Using wrong English on the floor of parliament, lying to the electorate, making up excuses for shoddy work, failure to show up for sessions, noise making, going off-topic during discussions and having too many bank loans to one’s name are among the mistakes that would elicit punishments. The punishments can vary from withholding or docking one’s salary to a few days behind closed walls or in a prison cell.

4

Occasionally we can have some whips here and there

Down Sizing

Finally and probably most importantly, we ought to reduce the size of the goddam Parliament! How the heck do we have 375 MPs all  seated under one roof, presumably discussing issues of national importance and we still expect results? The first Parliament (Legislative Council) of 1962 had just 92 members. How and why this number rocketed to 375 is something that baffles everyone – incuding the MPs themselves. It is a crowd in there! I pity speaker Rebecca Kadaga who somehow has to keep track of all these names. It is a miracle that she has not lost her mind yet. It is true that politics is a game of numbers and this is why each party wants to have as many MPs in parliament as possible. However, too much money is going into catering for these MPs. Also, discussions usually get swallowed up by irrelevant and often diversionary submissions simply because there is plenty of quantity and very little in terms of quality. Let’s have fewer MPs and then  money that is saved in the process can then be channelled to more constructive things like putting up a cinema hall in Parliament or setting up a swimming pool so that the few MPs who remain feel the respect, pomp and prestige that an MP ought to feel.

4

We shall soon need the police for Crowd control in Parliament.

I beg to move.

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” —Will Rogers

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

Tips for the Weekend

We all deal with the prospect of an oncoming weekend differently. While some people think of the weekend as a time to bond with family and relatives, others consider it the appropriate time to get away from these exact people. Whatever one’s position on the issue of an oncoming weekend, one ought to be prepared for the days that make up this thing called the weekend. Naturally when the weekend is coming around we tend to make arrangements. The arrangements might be in form of a well weaved lie to the wife about a working trip upcountry just to get a day or two with the side-dish living a few districts away. The arrangements might also be in form of a quick soft loan to fund the weekend exploits that involve a boat cruise, bikini party, alcohol binge or gambling session. Others make arrangements by checking in with the movie guy to stock up on the entire season of Bones or Suits. The point is, we all like to feel like we are ready for the weekend, somehow.

Many times when the weekend is over, we look back and shake our heads in disappointment; things very rarely turn out to be as successful or eventful for that matter. This therefore leads me to the rather important issue of preparation for the weekend. Ladies and gentlemen, I present tips for the weekend.

1. Do not under any circumstances be broke!

This also doubles as a rule for life in general. Broke people tend to get a raw deal almost all the time. They get picked on by everyone including their fellow broke mates and they are usually given the worst seats, warmest beer, smallest pieces of cake and the last mention, if any. As a guy, if you can avoid being broke, avoid it! No man wants to stroll into the bar with just enough money for a drink, meet the woman of his dreams and then have no money to take her home later on and probably fund her transport the next morning. As for ladies, when that hot dude finally suggests that you two hang out, you might need to pay the salon a quick visit. If you are financially constrained, you can’t get a new weave now, can you? All I am saying is, unless your entire weekend is going to be spent being a couch potato, watching illegally downloaded episodes of Scandal and feeding on leftovers from the week that was, you might need to have some shillings put away for the weekend.

Couch Potato

Even if you will spend the whole weekend watching re-runs of Big Brother, you need a dime

Have a general idea of what you want to do

One of the most awesome things about the weekend is ‘random plot’. It usually comes when you least expect it and most times it turns out ballistic! This random plot however, is also one of the most dangerous things. The only things that can be more disastrous than random plot are; overdosing on Viagra, taking a campus girl and her besties on a night out and dealing with loan sharks. Random plot is so dangerous it should be avoided at all costs. Take an example of my friend Gary who until this last weekend was very intent on paying up on his child support that has been due for a few weeks now. On Friday, someone called him about a boat trip that was planned for Saturday; there were bound to be bikini girls on a ratio of 4 girls to one thirsty man, drinks were going to be on the house and all one needed was a ‘small’ fee of Shs. 200,000. This ‘random plot’ phone call came at a time when Gary was actually making his way down to the bank to make his monthly payment for ‘child support’. The plot sounded so awesomely inviting but it was in Gary’s interests to avoid such plot. Our friend however fell for the bait, went for the girls on the boat and resultantly defaulted on his child support payment. Now Gary’s baby mama is one heck of a viper; she is going to tear him to shreds this week. All this could have been avoided if Gary had stuck to the plan and not spent the child support money on random plot.

girlwrestler

oh and did I mention that Gary’s baby mama is a Karate instructor? 

If there is a Konshens & Alaine Concert, go early or don’t go at all!

In Kampala, concerts with international artists have three constants; girls will dress their best & worst, Chameleon will perform, and there will always be crowd trouble. For the first two, one can say not much can be done; girls in Kampala love to impress and depress almost in equal measure plus Chameleon seems to be a crowd puller despite my extreme dislike for anything he lays his hands on. As for the issue of crowd trouble, I think the cops are doing a very poor job, if they are doing any at all. Granted, many revelers are naturally impatient and hate to make lines or wait their turn to get in to concerts. However, for an event that was co-sponsored by the Uganda Police, the Konshens & Alaine concert was way under par in terms of crowd management and control. By waiting until the situation was out of control for them to swing into dangerously harmful action, the police was simply showing that they never really prepared for this otherwise well advertised and widely promoted event. On the part of the revelers, it is probably safer to go very early, suffer through the 27 upcoming artists who will curtain raise and then enjoy the rest of the show without having to risk losing a shoe, a purse, a phone, or even fainting all in the name of trying to get in much later. On the part of the Police, a few refresher courses on crowd control would not hurt because clearly as it is, the police in Kampala is dangerously lacking in that department.

If you can get away from the city, please do

On Saturday, a few friends and I decided to take a trip out of town to a place in Luwero. The idea was to visit Happy Times Child Care Centre in Luwero to have lunch with the underprivileged children who include orphans, abandoned children, and disabled children among other less privileged young ones. The initiative was a brain child of ‘40 Days Over 40 Smiles’, a group of youths intent on supporting under privileged children as much as they can. For someone who very rarely leaves the city due to work constraints, this presented itself as a real great opportunity to escape the insanity of the city. We left the city at 10am and by 6pm we were back but I must admit the entire time we were gone, it’s like the world came to a sudden wonderful stop. No city hustle and bustle, no phone calls about random plot (my friends knew I was out of town so they didn’t bother me much.. and also there was no network where we were), and most important, I was part of a cause bigger than myself; charity! Of course there were other benefits like tasty lunch with the clearly excited children, games we played with them (I know netball is a girls’ sport but I gave it a shot and I wasn’t that bad), the awesome stories the children shared and then there was the interesting humorous journey to and fro. Generally speaking, Saturday was a day well spent despite the fact that by the time I returned, I was way too tired to do anything. I am still shocked I was able to host a 4-hour radio show after that. And NO;  I do not do drugs!

There are quite a number of other tips I could offer for the weekend but because I have this bet going where if I write no more than 1400 words, I’m in for a treat. So this is all this time round.

How can I forget your weekly dose of inspiration?

“The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Have a blessed week then,

Bernard

a.k.a Beewol

The Talkative Rocker