Thursday, April 27, 2006

The children are singing and dancing…

Smile for real
Its school holiday in Ug and there are kids everywhere. Ha! Not so clever, huh? Of course there are children everywhere if its holiday time. So the whole place is so full of noise and the grown ups are trying to endure the pain until the pesky things are herded off to school once again.

There are things you just enjoy only when you are young. If you did not have a blast back then, well, sorry. You will never have the privilege. Unless you are going to be like MJ (apparently he was framed). Dude missed phases of his childhood and so he has to go through it all again at an age when he’s supposed to be a grandpa. There was a time when I wanted to grow up to be Michael Jackson. Well, I was a kid and I was innocent.

Only a child will understand what it feels like to slide down the hill on the seat of your pants. The fact that you are ripping them to shreds is of no consequence. In other words, you don’t give a fig.

Kids wake up earlier than the adults and they start making noise. The doors are still locked but the kids want to be out there in the Great Outdoors.

The happy laughter is in tune with the happy chirps of the birds. This is what creation was created to do in the first place- worship a power that’s greater than them. And the adults question the quirks of their kids. Baffled.

But there are some things kids will have to wait for. For one, they always have to go to bed when its 10:30 on Wednesday night. Reason is that they cannot watch Soul Food on WBS TV. They can only see it if they are sharp enough to peek from the crack of the door.

So they will have to wait until they are old enough to watch Bird pouting ever so beautifully, Maxine trying to look sexy and Terry being such a bitch. Yeah, Terry being her usual stuck up, funny eyed self.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

China in your face

The Chinese have arrived. They are taking over the world and making the Americans really scared. The USA is trying to make trumped up charges against China stick but it’s like trying to pull a chicken by its skin.

Africa is under a Chinese invasion. There have been many instances of foreign intrusion in African affairs in the past, right from the days of Belgium’s sojourn in the Congo and the Italians in Libya. But the Africans of those days were not the Africans of today.

Right now, almost every African country has Chinese investors, giving us a front row seat at the Clash of the Titans. China is going to be a superpower; there is no question about that. The question is when.

The Americans, who’ve been in charge of the world for so long now, know that the writing’s on the wall but they just don’t want to go quietly. They want to be dragged from the party screaming and kicking. When they see the investments that are going up in Africa by the Chinese, they suddenly want the world to look at this new force as the agent of The Dark Side.

Nevertheless, whatever Uncle Sam says, the Chinese seem to have the appropriate technology for Africa. America neglected the needs of Africa for so long and concentrated on only what they could get out of here. They made things suited only for their markets; huge guzzlers that couldn’t be used in my village in Ibulanku and all these drugs that cost as much as it does to send a hundred kids to P1 in Ug. They wanted to get the coffee and sell us expensive instant, get the cocoa and sell us expensive pimped up chocolate…

If you have been to down town Kampala, you have seen the brisk business that the Chinese are doing. The shoes are plastic and they go for as little as Sh.5000 but those dudes seem to know what to do. They are not complaining. They are getting their money and the locals are getting their desires fulfilled. This is the party America is not too happy about.

China is being accused of encouraging dictatorships to rise up in Africa. Apparently, because they have a close relationship with Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, they are the cause of all the suffering of the white people down there. But China is only going through the lines of the script. America has done these same lines before.

Mugabe might be as evil as hell but it depends on whose cousins and girlfriends are not getting unfair contracts in Zimbabwe, it seems. Everyone knows how the west sends crazy ass rejects to Africa and calls them expatriates. So they give us their money but we have to spend all of it on their people. When Mugabe stands against this robbery, he’s labeled a pariah. And he might well be but that’s not the point here.

The road net works and hotels going up all over Africa, with extra cash to see that those projects do not fail are really rubbing the USA the wrong way. It must be really bad for them to be constantly reminded that their five minutes in the spotlight are coming to a close.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Black Easter in Masaka

Tragedy fell on Masaka Hospital this week. A baby whose mother had complications during birth lost its life because the doctors decided to sever its head and save the life of the mother.

Looking at the picture on TV, the kind of picture CNN could never show to its precious viewers, (and one Al Jazeera would kill for) one feels really sorry. I mean, you can’t help but think of all the things this human being could have become. Maybe this is the person who would have brought that much needed change that people are always dreaming about in Ug.

The baby’s dad looked dry eyed and kind of in shock. Delayed shock. The guy was talking with a strange little smile playing at the corner of his mouth. And this made the sorrow even deeper for the viewers. The mother was too devastated to say anything.

But when one hears what the plans are that this couple has, one is forced to question a few things.

Who is to blame? The doctors, nurses or the parents? Must there always be a human being to be the fall guy? Does nature have a say in the tragedies that stalk us or have we given up on blaming forces of nature because we know we cannot win?

Apparently, the hospital had only 2 nurses on duty. There was no doctor present and the patients were at the mercy of God. It was Easter and everyone had gone off to celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God.

When the mother felt her pangs, she was rushed to the hospital but there was a complication that would have been solved by a doctor, according to the WBS reporter. The hospital blames the couple for waiting until too late. Mbu dilation had gone beyond normal and there was no way she could have had a normal delivery.

The mother had had four previous births at the same hospital but all of them had been Caesarian. When she was taken to the theatre, the nurses were blowing hot air down her back, telling her to “push.” So she tried. And maybe, she could not explain to them that the road they were forcing her down was dangerous.

In the end, she could not push and the baby was going to die. But the mother was also in critical danger. So the decision was made; cut the head and save the mother. And we in Uganda have to say, “what else is new?”

Then all hell broke loose. TV guys were in the area and now, it is the stuff of legend in Masaka.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sob stories

Amy Bruce. The name sounds familiar to you, doesn’t it? Let me help you, she’s the poor 7-year old little girl who needs your help. “She needs surgery for her sick lungs and if you don’t forward this message to ten of your friends, it will mean you are the worst of moral criminals. You deserve the hottest place in hell,” to paraphrase.

So the e-mail does its rounds all over the world. Every day, someone opens their e-mail and comes upon a forwarded e-mail and on opening it, what do you know, it’s from someone who is so moved, they had to send it to you. To a point where you start thinking of this little girl as some sort of icon. She is in the line of Mother Teresa and all the saints poured in one.

But that’s what you think about after the first few times you receive the poem she allegedly wrote, grown up phraseology and all. When you keep on receiving the letter two years on, even if you are the thickest of all God’s children, you sit up and smell the Arabica, right? Unfortunately that’s not really the case.

How many people have forwarded this e-mail since you first received it. And forwarded it? Remember that all you have to do to help Amy is to send it forward. You are not required to donate money to any numbered account or anything that would raise your hackles. So since 1999, the thing has been going round the globe.

The Amy Bruce affair seems just as innocent as the one that comes in your mail telling you that Bill and Melinda Gates are helping raise money for sick children in Africa and all you have to do is send the e-mail to as many people as you can. And you might even get money for your troubles. Now that’s the clincher. Such bogus e-mails keep on flooding your box and you just can’t stop them.

Some well meaning friend reads it and they think about you and how kind and sensitive you are and voila! They know who best qualifies to be sent this corny stuff. The problem is that they actually believe it. Within companies, one person gets the e-mail and they send it to everyone in their outlook address book. Probably, they do it with tears in their eyes, really moved about the kid who won’t survive if we don’t act.

But people get tired of being bleeding hearts. Or at, least, they eventually start asking themselves what this thing is really about. Why is this American kid still asking for money six years later?

Even at the ANPPCAN offices in Mulago, one can see how far deep the lie has sunk. They have the picture of Amy proudly up on their notice board and these are supposed to be old hands at children’s issues. I bet many other children’s organisations have swallowed it too.

Don’t be surprised to find out the whole thing started as a joke that some bored computer geek put out just to see how far a lie would go. Mr. Geek probably got tired of it all and wanted to forget it all but he couldn’t. Probably he is one of those who are peeved every time their PC goes “You’ve Got Mail,” only to find Amy Bruce. And Amy? She must be a billionaire now.

The Nerd Squad

After watching hours of gruesome murders and the cool people trying to solve them, I think I might have been cured of the insatiable hunger for series. Been watching too much CSI, I think I can easily chew on a sweet roll and watch as some stiff is being gutted without retching.

Before this, my experience was really limited to the escapades of Mr. Bauer and his sidekick Tony. Before I walked into PG Videos and gave in to the urge to spend, I was content with what I have seen of Soul Food and all the other series. Of course after watching 24 I realised that that kind of high should only be taken in small doses. People still get glazed eyes and TV minds in this year of our Lord twenty zero six.

But I actually liked CSI enough to ignore the warning bells in my head. I could watch it and learn some truths about film as seen from the point of view of America. There is more to David Caruso and his team. There is something about a day show with all the fly babes going by as the police try to solve another homicide. I guess.

It was Mike who said that Horatio Kane takes himself way too seriously. I think that’s true. When he stares down and lifts his head then pushes those bad shades up on his bridge, he is probably thinking, “Eat your heart out Keanu.”

But have you seen that guy’s face as compared to every one else on the show? He looks like a white Justice George Kanyeihamba; you know, dead look, rigor mortis and all. To make matters worse, he has to fight for attention in the looks department with Adam Rodriguez and Emily Proctor.

Its different from 24 in that it calls for more brainpower. There are scenes where the bad guy is frothing at the mouth and trying to justify their sickness and Caruso is staring at them with the contempt that should be accorded to Straka when she gets up on your TV and starts doing that dance of hers, or is it a jig copied from Santa (Ho, ho, ho every one…). But at the back of your head you are thinking that if this were Jack Bauer, this suspect would be like dead on the floor before they can leer.

Do humans always leave that much evidence when they mess up? What are all those hairs doing all over the crime scene? Every time the “Nerd Squad” arrives, they find hairs from the victims and their tormentors. These bad guys are always trying to show off or something? Man, don’t try that if you want to be really bad..

CSI is not meant to be a long series. I think after some time, everyone gets really bored. There is something within me that wants to see someone saved. I want to not know if the vic will die or not. This show is all about what happens when people die. So there is really nothing for me to look forward to. If all the victims die, why do we have superheroes in the first place? This show is bound to be a short one for me.

But you can’t beat those humvees, dude. Those shinny babies are sunny every day. Long live Miami and hot beaches. Even with the morbid ideas that come with the show (they justify it thus: “hey look, kids get murdered every day and all we are doing is putting it on screen”), I can watch that thing if every now and then, they show me one of those beauties. And they know never to walk out on a winning streak, those guys.

But there could be salvation for my interest after all. If there came a time when Kampala got its own version, maybe I could get involved. Right now, CSI could hold water for Savage and Inktus who live in the States. For me in Kampala, it holds as much meaning as Titanic. I remember when all these girls watched Leonardo trying to save Ms. Winslet and all the tears they let down.

CSI Kampala would do that for me, I think because I would identify with the victims down in Kisenyi. I would watch the gruesome murder of a little baby dumped in some bin and I would say to myself, “that could be my niece.”

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Fighting for the aesthetic supremacy

The leadership of the church I belong to is stressed. Kampala Pentecostal Church has embarked on a frenzied drive to construct a new ultra modern showpiece. What they are going to do is basically extend the area of the existing church.

There will probably be diversions of the roads around the former cinema and we might have to find alternative routes to the flats, me thinks. The church will have an underground parking lot and it will rise many floors into the air.

All this is on program to come to fruition by the end of two years. This year, we are collecting money. Our theme for the year is “It Is Time To Build.” The faithful are pledging all sorts of amounts in all currencies and the leadership of the church has pressed it on us that this is the time to do this. It might be kinda sudden for us but apparently, Ps. Skinner and his friends have been praying about this for some time and they have got the go-ahead.

Lifting up holy hands

Things might sound clear or obvious until one looks across the city to Old Kampala. There is a new sight rising that side and if it is not the central reason we are going to have a new multi billion shilling church in the midst of the city, it definitely has some bearing. It is called National Mosque Kampala.

The Leaning Tower of Old Kampala, which had for long been an example of bad architecture (people said it was Iddi Amin’s legacy to his religion: a failure in matters spiritual and so a failure in matters architectural). Those who grew up in the Indian houses of Bakuli or Old Kampala had their childhood memories wound around the tower.

No longer about to fall

It was an attempt to build a mosque but it stalled and remained derelict for decades. Until Col. Muammar Gaddafi came around with his money sacks and said “let there be a new kick-ass mosque” and sure enough, there is a new mosque taking shape. And the tower? It has been transformed into a beautiful new thing. The whole project, which covers the whole hill, is still a work-in-progress but it is eye-catching already.

Looking at National Mosque from town, one can have a fair idea what it will be like when completed. It is going to be one of the wonders of dusty old Kampala. Anyone who is involved in competition with the A-rabs will look at it and immediately see the religio-political issues underneath. And if you are affiliated to one of the fastest growing churches in the land, you want to fight this to the death.

KPC is not going to build just on the central site. They are going to build up the Kisaasi site as well and the work will be simultaneous. Something tells me that even if the church members don’t contribute the chizzy, the project must go on by any means possible. Already, the guys who constructed the American embassy have been commissioned to do the work. This is serious business.

Whatever happens, one thing is for certain: Kampala is sure going to look a lot different in five years. Maybe the Krishna guys will also take up the challenge and the Greek Orthodox guys’ll follow them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Some ground shaking moments in the life of…

Raid on Kampala
More than twenty years ago, a ragtag army marched into Kampala. The skinny soldiers, led by an even skinnier rebel leader,

tried to stay on their feet. Their feet must have hurt like hell because many of their shoes were just shadows of what they should have been. The soldiers marched into the city and they were as shy as the onlookers. They had to fight to cover themselves with the rags on their backs. What a joke it would be to compare those dudes with the fat people we see now!
Chasing the Bronco
I was watching TV at some cousin’s place for the whole day because there were no kids to play with in Lugazi’s doctors’ quarters. The other reason was that there were no nosey adults to stop me watching TV to my fill. So I watched the story of this black guy who had supposedly murdered his white wife. OJ was a hero before his arraignment. He became a bigger one when he killed Nicole.

One of the highlights of that case was the chase of the Ford Bronco. And the Bruno Magli kicks. Say, what was that about planted evidence?
6 Minutes of madness
During the finals of the European Championship last year, the first half had shown everyone that Liverpool was down and out. There were bitter tears because the Mersey siders had really come from far. They had come in as the under dogs and all those who had that rebellious trait to root for David were feeling let down.

Whatever Rafa Benitez told those lads in the dressing room, we’ll never know. At three goals down after the first half, Liverpool came back to score three goals in six minutes and to change the course of the game till the end. That match reminded me why I love this team to bits.
Gaetano – the return
The dude had not won the prize money. He’d not done a lot for the country as far as economists were concerned. Timothy Kalyegira had predicted weeks before that he would be evicted early and that because of his shenanigans in the house, he would not win a dime.

That was a non issue for the Ugandans fans, though. When he returned, he was met by a mammoth crowd at the airport and he had to behave like a politician. Heck, he’s a Seya incarnate.
Nicole Treasure
This little lady is not called treasure anymore. She is two years old now. Something I will never understand. Because to me, she is a treasure. She is one of the few humans I have seen on the day, they were born. And she was oh, so fragile. That moment had me wishing I had a little girl of my own. Surely, she is made of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Inzikuru 2005
Dorcas Inzikuru has won gold at the recent Commonwealth competitions in Australia. We applauded but it was not like we were taken completely by surprise. She was better than her competitors. The real sweet victory was the one last year at the Olympics.

She pulled off a feat no one expected her to. After Ugandan athletes had perfected the art of the “almost,” we expected the best performance to be probably silver. That girl swooshed past her rivals with a big smile, even if there was no one to give a flag. The same thing happened again but Dorcas is not to be daunted by government red tape. She will go one winning while our leaders wring their hands and pray that she loses so they won’t have to make good their promises.
No matter how much one can say they hate the US of A, few people actually celebrated when those planes hit the twin towers. My peeps and I were on a bus going for ministry in Nairobi the day it happed.

I did not understand why the police people at the border post were crowding around their small radios. The fact that America was defiled means that no one is safe. There is no where to hide. But the fire balls were terrific. In the hostel lobby in Nairobi, I sat watching the TV waiting for a repeat of the item where they showed the planes hitting the buildings. It was like a video game, a movie, perhaps. Moral of the experience: Don’t crash air vehicles loaded with aviation fuel into the World Trade Centre.
Cigars and denials
The American president was up there in the dock fighting for his political life. The world watched as Bill Clinton was exposed for the slime ball he really is.

He squirmed and groveled and made lots of people sick to the stomach. But it was also a good thing because it was one more reason for Ugandan politicians to stop comparing us to America every time they are on the ropes. Every time they go like “Even in America…” we shall always be asking if the example is appropriate, given that it is the home of a president who just cannot keep it in.
Mercy acquittal

Yeah, like mercy killing…you get?
The Goonies

I watched The Goonies again. I was thrown back to a time when life was good. Politicians were straight, prices were lower and children respected their elders. (And that was not the Sun Screen). I was there misty eyed and thinking; the guy who produced this movie is the same who gave us E.T, A.I and Polar Express. He is also the guy who gave us head messers like Schindler’s List and Munich. Well, can’t understand everything.

Oh, by the way, Top TV is a Ugandan station that normally is seen as a Christian establishment. Now they are showing 24. Seems we are stuck with Jack Bauer for some time. They are starting with season one but knowing how addictive series can be, we’ll soon be picketing their offices and demanding that they show the whole thing up to season five. Then we shall demand for CSI and the OC. Wait…isn’t 24’s appeal the violence? What is a Christian station doing showing it?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

See No Evil, Hear None, Just be a dork

Ugandans have been experienceing a mix of some strange emotions in the past few weeks. There has been alot going on in the courts of law and maybe we should have gotten used to all that by now, given Warren B's incessant rants that he must get justice. It all sounds like he's trying to make a stone urinate by screaming at it.

But the actors wanted more. The Hon. Jim Muhwezi (honourable is debatable here) in a fit of rage said he had a right to act the way he wanted because the rest of us didnt dodge bullets in the war. Mike Mukula is caught in the middle and suddenly he is being victimised for being a flashy rich guy.

Then we have another scandal; Rwanda is back on our front pages because the security guys didnt think of a better method to kick out some spy.

Meanwhile, the officials are trying so hard to make us think that the fact that more Ugandans are dying in the north than in Iraq is not all that. We just have to look away.

The rest of us? We go on blogging and making plans for the future.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jajja’s wisdom

I went round to check on Jajja. Had taken ages without seeing her. I knew I would probably only find her and the help since every one else would have run away from the gloom brought on by the load shedding.

She is not bothered much by load shedding though. She is contented just being with her great grandson and you will find her making those baby noises and talking to him like she’s talking to her contemporary. He’s high yella so she calls him “Brown.”

This time, I found her in the kitchen washing up after Brown. So we got talking, Jajja standing a head and a half shorter than I and me, leaning on the sink and listening with rapt attention.

I learned long ago that it does not do any good to interrupt her with questions because a) She hates it and she will snap at you and b) She will probably go off on a tangent and you will lose the plot. So I just tried my best to listen and patch up the many topics she brought up.

But it was one big mosaic. It would look like she was rumbling but it took me a moment to realise she was on about the case in court. She has some really strong views on who’s right and who’s wrong in the drama that’s being played out in front of their honours, the judges of the high court of Uganda.

Now Jajja lost a number of people in the madness that enveloped this country two decades ago. She is not going to simply fold her self on the floor and let history repeat itself. She heard that “that guy with funny eyes” has dealings with Kony and the fact that “the white people are giving him all that money” means the rest of us are doomed. Because he will definitely win that court case regardless whether he’s wrong and woe unto us “people who do not come from up north.”

Jajja says back in the country, the people will do whatever their chief says. All one has to do to manipulate the electorate is line the chairman’s pockets and all will work out well. In this case, the omwami said he didn’t like “that man with funny eyes” and the whole village voted against him. Now they are scared of retribution should “the man with funny eyes” trounce his foe in court.

I didn’t argue with that logic, as I have already said. I didn’t want to argue with Jajja’s wisdom. I was still listening, trying to get to the core of her disgruntlement when she actually went off on a different line of thought. Of course it must have been tied in with the original idea but I guess I was feeling thick then.

She started on her health and then on the baby’s flu and on the price of making a phone call at the nearby pay phone. Should she call Aunt Ruth from there or should she wait for a time when she will have the money to go over there? Man, I was staring, trying to decipher the code.

I went away thinking not of the pay phone or the baby’s flu but of the genius of politicians. When they come to town, they act dumb. They pass off as stupid and we have a field day pointing out the 101 reasons they are stupid. But they know where the power lies and they smile at our attempts to be self righteous.

On a different note, i'm reading James Michener's The Novel and i'm enjoying it far more than i thought i would. The guy wrote that thing for writers strictly.

The way he explains the pain of rejection of manuscripts and the politics at play in the publishing industry comes off as vivid. The author who slaves for years before he hits paydirt, the editor who must push a book that the critics have labelled a botboiler and all the small characters that are not so small when their contribution is considered in perspective...

Its a story of guts. The writer who is down in their spirit will feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel afterall.