Friday, August 16, 2019

Expelled From School And Sent to Prison

I was fortunate enough, that during my academic career, I was never suspended or expelled from school – not because I was a good boy who towed the line, but because I was never caught. There was a band of us at The Grange School in Kenya, who were always that one step ahead of Mr. Layfield, the headmaster. I could list the names of my partners in crime and the ‘offences’ we committed, but I shudder at the thought of what dad – Mr. Bukumunhe that is, or their parents would say.

The Grange School, Limuru, Kenya
By the time I met Jeremy Whitfield at school in England, he had been suspended from six schools and expelled from four. If that was not ‘achievement’ enough, he had a list of petty criminal convictions to his name and guess what, he was barely 17-years-old!

The first time I saw him in action with the schools authorities was in the chemistry lab. He had an altercation with Teacher that saw him lose his rag. Short of starting a bonfire in the lab that necessitated the fire brigade and police being called, he threatened to cut out Teacher’s heart and feed it to the dogs.

If I recall, they caged him in a juvenile detention center for a couple of weeks before being released back into society and school. When he came back, obviously the school’s administration was on bunkenke but remarkably enough, he towed the line – for almost a month until a squad of police cars pulled up outside the school during lunch.

What startled, is the disorder in the dining room with Jeremy making a run for it - to the nearest exit and fleeing down a back alleyway. But amusingly enough, it wasn’t only Jeremy who fled. Ten others also fled and as did a number of black males who sported dreadlocks.

Entertainingly enough, once the dust settled, it dawned that the police hadn’t stormed though the school gates to make arrests. On looking out the French bay windows, they had turned up on other business – to a house across the street which, we later found out was being used as a marijuana and cocaine smoking house.

British Police Carrying Out A Raid
And all went back to normal until the police turned up yet again and on friendly terms to lecture on drug abuse. It was an insightful talk especially the part about being able to detect if somebody is on drugs – glazed all over eyes, needle marks and pimples.

After that lecture, Jeremy and a number of others didn’t show up at school for a while. We later found out that they had been ‘suspended’, and were helping the police with their enquiries in an issue over ‘handling stolen property’. It turns out that Jeremy’s brother – who was expelled from school when he was barely in his teens, was in a gang that had ripped of a truck at a service station on the M6 motorway and made off with electronics.

An Expulsion Letter
When Jeremy returned from his ‘suspension’ he looked a frightful sight – withdrawn, almost a recluse. And almost as soon as he returned, things started to go missing. A computer went missing from the computer lab as did some chemicals from the chemistry club.

The writing on the wall or rather his expulsion from school came late afternoon when police walked in during a geography lesson I think it was, and stood just inside the door talking to the lecturer.

Almost immediately, the entire class turned round and looked at Jeremy who, in a futile attempt was trying to shield his face. He didn’t struggle as they led him away and it was the last time we ever saw him. 

Her Majesty's Prison, Morland In Yorkshire
We did later learn he was sent to jail at Her Majesty's Prison - Moorland, for 8-years. 


Picture Credits: Daily Star, onlinemadison.com, telelgraph.co.uk, ahu.edu         

Saturday, August 10, 2019

We All Have A Judas In Our Circles


Jonathan is an amiable man of good heart, character and is always there when friends need a bail out. Since his move to Uganda from across the border, he has integrated well into Ugandan society and has even taken on a Ugandan wife. In the build up to his wedding, friends rallied round him especially, Judas because that’s what he is – Judas, except then, we didn’t know he was.


Judas, was a groomsman at the wedding which, shows just how much faith Jonathan had in him. Months after the wedding, Judas fell on hard times. And what did Jonathan do about it? He took him in – as in, accommodated him in his house, fed him and clothed him.

Everything went well until one evening whilst he was upcountry, Wifey called announcing Judas had outlived his welcome and needed to go. However, Jonathan, was having none of it. Judas was his friend, his tight and it was he who had invited him to stay, so it was he to decide when Judas was to go and not Wifey.

With that, Wifey passed on well over 100 WhatsApp messages from Judas to her – sent whenever Jonathan had travelled upcountry. I am sure by now you can guess where this is headed – don’t you? Judas, was hitting on Wifey. One of the messages read something along the lines of: “Why do you lock your bedroom door? Don’t you not hear me knocking at night?” Another in part read: “Please open up, I am standing outside the door.”



Let’s pause a minute to digest. It’s past 2:30am, so what would Judas be wanting with Wifey at that hour that can’t wait until the following day? Well, the only ‘talking’ Judas had in mind was between his legs - as in sleeping with his friend’s wife. Is there any need to tell you that the s**t hit the fan? When Judas realized that the game was up, he had the common sense to flee the crib before Jonathan came back from his travels. Of course, he attempted some pathetic attempt at an apology, but it was beyond that. The damage had been done and they have never spoken to each other since. By the way, Judas is still on hard times – years after the incident.

When Matthew started dating, he would hang out with Squeeze along Ggaba Road – Moto Moto, Miki’s Pub and Attic before it moved to its new location and occasionally in Soya. Everybody knew – including his friends that Tall Girl was Matthews’s girl.

On one occasion at Soya, whilst Tall Girl was with her sister, Jonathan called Waitress telling her to buy them drinks and if they would care to join him. Before Waitress placed the order, she cautioned him saying: “You can buy them a drink, but note, they ‘belong’ to Matthew. Jonathan didn’t have to think twice as to what that meant. He quickly finished his drink and left. The message was very explicit – Tall Girl was spoken for and he was not bound to do a Judas on his friend Matthew, as had been done to him.


Okay, so Jonathan didn’t know Tall Girl was spoken for, but he did the honorable thing when he found out – he left her alone. But Matthew’s other ‘friends’ were not as honorable as Jonathan for he says, whenever he went to the washrooms, upon his return, he always caught somebody scurrying off from the table.

He adds: “It would have been easier to grasp had it been a random who, didn’t know the status quo that was trying to hit on her, but when it’s a tight friend from the inner core, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Now, I have no idea which, of my friends is genuine. If we can’t trust our inner circle, then who do we trust?”     


Picture Credits: astramusic.com, americamagazine.org, geek.com
      
 
    

Friday, August 2, 2019

When A Bout Of Temporary Insanity Hits....

There are, many out there, who don’t grasp the concept of ‘tongue-in-cheek humour’ and take what is written, as a direct attack. In this ramble, I expect many to do just that - take what I have written as a direct attack, but what the heck.
Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of Vincent Ssempijja. Leafing through his profile, nothing is out of the ordinary especially when it comes to education, for he holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration. He has also held a number of government jobs that today, he is the minister of agriculture.
Vincent Ssempijja

On the other hand, I have heard of Salva Kiir, the current president of South Sudan. Unlike Ssempijja, Kiir is known because of the Stetson he wears wherever he goes – even to bed most probably. Looking at his Wikipedia profile, there is no mention of his education except, somewhere in his teens, he joined the Anyanya battalion in the first Sudanese civil war.
So how do Ssempijja and Kiir connect? They both made utterances when the brain was not connected or plugged in. In other words, ‘the wires’ were off.

Ssempijja decided he wants to issue all animals with birth certificates – that “every calf will be given a certificate at birth." The registration targets domestic animals including, cows, sheep, goats, pigs among others. For the record, a birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a person. In this case, won’t farmers be in a fix, because the legal portion of the certificate shows the child's name, date of birth, parents’ names, sex, place-of-birth of the child, father’s name, place-of-birth, mother’s name, place-of-birth and occupation among others. So how are farmers supposed to determine which bull in the kraal sired the calf?

Is This What The Certificate Will Look Like?
On the other hand, Kiir directed that the country’s national anthem does not belong to the nation or its nationals, but to him alone as president. You see, Kiir is peeved off that everybody is playing it and he can’t understand why so he sent his information minister to issue a statement that in part reads: “For the information of everybody, the national anthem is for the president, and functions attended by him.” Hmm. Next, is he going to say the national flag and treasury belong to him too? And their anthem won’t get played at sporting events overseas.

Salva Kiir
Of course, I think both Kiir and Ssempijja belong in strait jackets and locked up in sound proof rooms so nobody can hear them. However, there is a loop hole that might just allow them to continue uttering their nonsensical utterances and that’s by pleading temporary insanity.

If they plead that, the law requires that Ssempijja and Kiir be evaluated by competent mental health professionals - like the men in white coats at Butabika Hospital. After completing a psychiatric evaluation, Shrink will testify regarding their probable mental state at the time they made the unfortunate utterances.


The testimony of Shrink who examined Ssempijja and Kiir must, answer the questions of law, and allow the public to decide whether the testimony and other evidence in the case allow for a finding of temporary insanity. Those questions that must be answered by the expert witness include:

·       Were Kiir and Ssempijja unable to tell right from wrong, or did not understand that what they said was stupid, irresponsible and thoughtless because of a psychiatric or psychological illness?

·      Were Kiir and Ssempijja, because of psychiatric illness, were unable to control their impulsive behaviour and spoke without engaging brain first?

·     Because of a specifically diagnosed mental illness, Kiir and Ssempijja could not understand the public ridicule and outcry of their actions.

The Men In White Coats
While Shrink has yet to make his findings public, the men in white coats are on standby to cart them away. 


Photo Credits: kshaf3.wordpress.com, observer.ug, eagle.co.ug, Daily Monitor


Saturday, July 27, 2019

When At A Job Interview, She Says: "I Can Do Anything..."


Back in the day, I used to hustle for a television station. Prior to my stint, the only thing I knew about television was picking up the remote and changing channels. I hadn’t been inside a station and probably would never, had it not been for my close friend – Elvis Wavamunno who, offered me a job as a producer on Showtime Magazine. I also had no idea what a producer did, but I figured, since I had watched enough foreign television, it wouldn’t be hard to replicate what they do and adapt it to Uganda. Through luck, or maybe the determination to succeed, Showtime Magazine became a must watch show with the help of Tilly Muwonge and Christopher Eritu.  

Tilly Muwonge Oozed Talent At WBS
In the years I spent there, I never quite grasped how people were hired. Was it because Elvis took risks on people like I, who he thought could deliver? Okay, some had experience and had come from UBC. Others like Godfrey Kivimubi and Ramathan Khan, were exceptionally accomplished in graphics. Some were eloquent and had that TV face while a certain Dan Nankunda, knew everything there was to know about the masts in Kololo. However, there were many who came in without purpose or direction.

I was loitering in reception when she walked in. She wore slick heels that made a ‘click’ sound when she walked. Her clothes were immaculate. The scent about her, was not from a perfume bought in some Kampala boutique, but oozed Duty Free - London, Paris or Dubai. She sparkled and sizing her up and down, she was in my opinion, a woman with more than a degree of purpose about her - ambitious, strong and with direction. She had a conversation with Jane, the receptionist who called me over. It turns out Woman With A Purpose had been sent from Nakawa to be offered a job.

She Was Was Sharply Dressed When She Walked In
Seeing she was very different from many who came looking for jobs, I eagerly waited to hear what her contribution to television would be. What she would improve, what were her ideas and so forth. I envisioned a challenging and stirring meeting/interview that would last for hours-on-end.

When we sat down and I asked her what she knew about television, it was something about watching a show – a Spanish series that had been dubbed into English. Hmm, not what I was expecting. My next question was direct and to the point: “What would you like to do at WBS?” Her answer – for a girl in classy heels, expensive duty free perfume and stylish clothing literally floored the intestines out of me. “I can do anything.”

Woman With A Purpose was not the first person I had interviewed and who gave the “I can do anything” answer. In fact, I always have a great sense of ‘achievement’ when I get given that answer. It’s like I have arrived, I have won the gold medal and I have been made a national hero for I knew how to deal with her.

Without hesitation, I took Woman With A Purpose who by now, had been relegated to Woman Without A Purpose to the 4th floor and marched her to the broom cupboard. With a smirk about me, I pulled out a mop and told her she would be mopping the corridor at least twice a day. At that, her jaw literally wiped the floor.

She Was Not Amused When I Told Her She Will Be Mopping The Corridors
Looking me up and down with utter contempt, she whipped out a phone, a slick phone that then, only people like Patrick Bitature, Sudhir Ruparelia, Bob Kabonero and a few others could afford and made a call. Minutes later, she hung up, stood legs akimbo, crossed her arms and waited. Then my phone rang. When she saw the: “Oh sh**, oh sh**t, I am so fu**ing screwed” look on my face as I answered, it was now her turn to smirk. And she did.

Taking the call, all I could say was: “Yes chairman, I understand. I am sorry, I will apologize to her and place her in the library.”         

Picture Credits: target.com, ebay.ie, eu.clipdealer.com   

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Embrace Kafunda Culture in Bars and Salons


There is, something embracing about kafunda culture. The conversations amongst its patrons are genuine and unadulterated. Customers who comprehend kafunda culture have nothing to show off. If they have, they have. If they don’t, they don’t. They are of course, very different from patrons who retreat to Serena, Sheraton and say Skyz Hotel after work and who, are the hollowest group of people one can come across. For them, it’s all about being seen and more importantly, being seen ‘to have’ yet, they don’t have. This group, when it’s time to get a haircut, they opt for some fancy salon where a cut costs 25k plus.

Is 25k Plus For A Haircut Not Sheer Madness?
Naturally and as you may have guessed, I don’t have time for a 25k plus haircut in some fancy salon because I don’t have. I make do with a salon behind the downtrodden kafunda that I frequent and where, Eddie charges me 5k and for that 5k, there is no difference between my cut and the 25k cut. Furthermore, Eddie’s salon relishes in kafunda culture because there’s always somebody walking in with the most witty and humorous accounts about their exploits.

Eddie Charges a Mere 5k For A Cut And Shave
On my last visit, Ssalongo walked in. I don’t know whether he is a real Ssalongo or it’s a nickname, but he exuded presence. His gruff voice reverberated round the salon and more importantly, he commanded presence – in that everybody in the salon hung on to every word he spewed out.

His first tale kicked off on a risqué note. It so happens he took Suitor to some discreet guest lodge in Bunga. After doing what he had to do and it was time to leave, Gateman declined to let them exit the carpark as he was acting on instructions from reception. By now, Ssalongo was a little miffed because he had paid for the room on arrival and they had not consumed any drinks or meals. So what could the problem be?

A Guest House
At reception, he’s duly informed he can’t leave until he’s paid a surcharge of 50k. “A surcharge of 50k” he obviously bellowed out, “for what?!?” Somber and trying to hide her embarrassment, Receptionist tells him it’s all to do with the mattress and it being ‘soaking wet’. Obviously, there is no need for me to explain further what Receptionist was getting at when she said ‘the mattress was soaking wet’ – or is there? Pausing for effect from the patrons including Eddie who had long stopped cutting my hair, he went on about how he didn’t have the 50k and had to make humiliating calls to friends to bail him out.

The next tale he gave was funny. He was dying for a pee, so he drove to Oryx gas station in Bunga only to find the toilets locked. Leaving Date in the ride, he darts across the road, finds some shrubbery and relieves himself. As he does, a KCCA rubbish collection officer on a stakeout to find who dumps rubbish in the middle of the night, springs out of nowhere and arrests him.

Oryx Petrol Station
Meanwhile, the rest of KCCA’s colleagues including a police officer are parked in a pickup at the same petrol station where Ssalongo’s car is. Being arrested for peeing by the roadside is embarrassing, but rather than being arrested, he proffered a 30k ‘gratuity’ which, KCCA Officer accepted. However, knowing his colleagues might be watching, KCCA Officer tells Ssalongo to shove him violently to the ground and make a run for it. That way, when his colleagues come to his aid, he would say: “I tried to arrest him but he pushed me and escaped.” However, it turns out that the real reason KCCA Officer imparted this shoving course of action, is not because his colleagues might turn him in for accepting a bribe, but rather, to avoid having to share it with them.     

Pictures: intracoafrica.com, oryxenergies.com, independent.co.ug, booking.com                


Friday, July 12, 2019

Why Do We Waste Sadolin Paint On Zebra Crossing's?

There is, something about Ugandan society. One half of us want to get wherever it is we are going like yesterday, and the other half want to get there in an indolent week or two.

When Waitress ambled over to us, there was no sense of urgency about her. She was going to amble over in her own time. She barely made an effort to lift up her feet as she walked. She dragged them - emitting a sound almost like maize being husked in a Kawempe two-bit mill. There was indication that dragging her feet was not anything she had recently learned, for the soles of her shoes – especially the heels were practically non-existent.

Waiters and Waitresses Undergoing Training
Kafunda culture dictates that there is no need to rush. It also dictates that if there is a wall present, Waitress must steer towards it and run her hand on it to wherever she’s going.

Meanwhile in town, people don’t walk with a sense of earnestness. Okay, tell a lie. Blue Collar Worker who lives in places like Namuwongo, Kyambogo and Naguru for example, who walk to work at 5:30am, stride with a determined purpose – thundering down the edge of the roads or the railway tracks at a terrifying speed - almost like wildebeest migrating from the Masai Mara down to the Serengeti Plains. But the rest are on a lazy stroll - holding hands, sharing headphone ear pieces while chortling at whatever they are watching, dragging their feet and moseying without any clear resolve. Sometimes, they just stop dead in their tracks that you end up bumping into them. Sometimes as you try to get past them, you find them weaving all over the place. They never tread a straight line.

People Walk To Work Along The Railway Line
Enter Peter Kaujju, spokesperson for KCCA. Towards the fall of June, Peter demonstrated how the pedestrian walk buttons that are being installed are supposed to work. Basically, at the traffic lights, if a pedestrian hits the button, in due course it changes the traffic lights from green to red thus allowing people to cross the road. These pedestrian walk buttons work perfectly well in Europe because people who drive, respect them as they do zebra crossings. In fact, motorists get fined for parking or stopping on zebra crossings, but here, you can park and block access to the zebra crossing without a care.

Are We Just Wasting Sadolin Paint on Zebra Crossings?
At Kampala Boulevard on Kampala Road, there is a zebra crossing linking it to the Post Office. But zebra crossings according to those who drive – from ministers in their chauffeur driven cars, boda riders, the ‘my cars’ and taxis, are to be ignored because they are in haste and don’t have time to stop and let people cross. You can have an entire nursery school waiting to cross, but not one motorist would stop. They will glance at the kids, wonder why they not in school and simply carry on without a care in the word because they have to get to wherever they are going in the shortest possible time.

On Kampala Road, Crossing From Kampala Boulevard To Post Office Is A Nightmare
Another zebra crossing that's never respected is on Acacia Avenue - crossing from Uganda Golf Club club house and across the road to the first tee. Golfers, golf bag carrying caddies, club officials and marshals, battle through the traffic to get across the road despite there being a clear zebra crossing and an attendant who, fervently waves a red flag to warn motorists of crossing golfers but to no avail.  

Despite A Zebra Crossing Outside The Main Gate Of Uganda Golf Club, No Motorist Observes It
Bodas mount the pavement because getting snarled up in traffic delays them. Taxi drivers undertake and also drive down the pavement or the part of the road that is the pedestrian walkway for two probable reasons. They are in hurry and as taxis, are ‘exempt’ from queuing up like the rest of us.

Without Police Help, Many School Kids Can't Cross The Road Even At A Zebra Crossing
As we draw to the end of the ramble, if we plucked the slow foot dragging Waitress from her kafunda in Wandegeya or Nakulabye, and plonked her outside the subway entrance on Wall Street in New York or at Liverpool Street Station in London during the morning rush hour, or at any zebra crossing, her head would gyro into the most uncontrolled spin. She would probably have multiple headaches, get a fever and go into cardiac arrest at the speed, pace and urgency at which people walk.    


Pictures: newvision.co.ug, kawowo.com, independent.co.ug, news.bbc.co.uk, btvet-uganda.org 
       

Saturday, July 6, 2019

When The Old Man Calls For The Malwa Straw


The Straw. Old Man retired from the civil service – I think. I say I think, because he wears vests – you know the ones with the holes in them that look like fishermen’s nets? In his dialogues, when he talks about somebody, he never says, Timothy Bukumunhe as is the norm, but, Bukumunhe Timothy which, is indicative of a lengthy spell in the civil service.

M7: Uganda's Top Civil Servant
Old Man is blessed with seven children – six girls and a boy, the boy being the eldest. Over the years, the girls have bloomed from knee length sock wearing young girls with multitudes of pimples on their faces to the fine women that they are today. With Old Woman, they raised the girls well, gave them a good education and taught them exceptional lady becoming manners.

Since retirement, Old Man sits on his verandah - soaking up the breeze, watching the leaves from the acacia tree fluster to the ground and occasionally, calling Old Woman to pick up an avocado that has ripened and fallen to the ground. All this he does while sipping malwa which, Old Woman has diligently prepared with pride.

The Malwa Pot
With the children having come of age and moved out, they have, especially the girls, formed alliances with suitors who want to walk them down the aisle. With that intention, there therefore is a need for Suitor to meet Old Man and Old Woman and present credentials amongst other things.

But before we get there, there is a need to understand the significance of The Straw in Old Man’s household. The Straw takes center stage. It’s the malwa straw. It’s sacred and it holds the home together. On the very rare occasion Old Man calls out to his wife asking her to bring a straw for Suitor who has visited, it’s something not to be taken lightly but, with more than a degree of pride and honour. It means he has embraced and accepted you into his home as a genuine friend and one who is more than apt enough to marry Daughter.

Straws In A Malwa Pot
When Eldest Daughter took Suitor home, Old Man was on the verandah with his malwa pot. While Suitor spoke to Old Man – a conversation riddled with voluminous awkward silences, he called out to Old Woman: “Bring tea for our visitor.” With that, Eldest Daughter knew Suitor was not embraced. Regardless, she still married Suitor against Old Man’s wishes. But five years later, all Suitor gets when he takes the kids to visit, is tea but never the coveted prize – The Straw.

Men Partaking Of Malwa
When time came for TB (not me) to make the trip to Old Man’s house in Najjera, he was, already aware of The Straw. He found Old Man picking up avocado and before he could say his helloes, Old Man asked if he knew how many species of avocado there were in the world and where the name avocado derives from. Obviously, Old Man knew TB was no food scientist to know the answers, and that he was a mere PR manager for an energy company.

Resuming his malwa as they talked, he called out to Old Woman: “Bring a beer for our guest.” That sinking feeling crept in. Once the beer was polished off, Old Man again called her, but this time: “Bring the straw with the blue tip - you know the one I keep in the cabinet?” And when Old Man presented TB with The Straw, Old Woman pulled a chair, sat between Old Man and Daughter, clutched both their hands tightly and let out a huge sigh of relief that a wedding is in the making.


Old Man has one daughter who is still single. There is a reason for that. She shares her father’s deepest sentiments about The Straw. Hmm, I expect she will remain single for a while to come.  


PICTURE CREDITS: monitor.co.ug, ugpulse.com, newvision.co.ug               

Expelled From School And Sent to Prison

I was fortunate enough, that during my academic career, I was never suspended or expelled from school – not because I was a good boy who to...