Saturday, August 18, 2018

Patrick Okumu Ringa - Uganda's Most Un-honourable Man?


“Honourable.” If you describe people or actions as honourable, you mean that they are good and deserve to be respected and admired as in, “I believe he was an honourable man, dedicated to the people and his district”. There is, another way you could use the word: “The people also felt he did not behave honourably in the aftermath of the recent municipality parliamentary elections”. That aside, the term is also used as a title prefix before the names of people who are members of parliament, ministers and some other officials.

In Uganda, there are people out there who want to join politics and to become members of parliament. Most of them do it under the guise of ‘For God and My Country’ yet in reality, they do it for totally different and selfish reasons. They do it to scheme for a 4x4 ride at almost zero cost. They do it to take advantage of going abroad on useless fact-finding missions like seeing how garbage is collected or how street lighting works. They do it to award themselves hefty pay rises, sitting allowances and of course, the most important scheme of all, finding that loophole that enables them so skim public funds for personal gain so they can build a lavish crib to show how ‘successful’ they are.
 
Patrick Okumu Ringa
I think I’ve have been to Nebbi Municipality. Regardless of my having gone there or not, Nebbi Municipality sounds far – like it requires one to first get immunised and will take three days to get there. Apart from Patrick ‘OPP’ Oyulu, the other household name to have slithered out of the Municipality is, Patrick Okumu Ringa who so research tells me, was Padyere County MP for ten years until 2006 when he got trounced by David Ringecan (RIP).
 
Patrick 'OPP' Oyulu
In true political gusto, Okuma-Ringa was not bound to let that setback get to him that, in several other elections, he tried and in vain I might add, to get back his Honourable title but still lost and more recently to Suleiman Hashim in the recent NRM primaries. Again, that didn’t deter him. Like a true northern warrior, he scraped himself off the ground, licked his wounds and came back charging – this time as an Independent. And once the results came through, had our Okumu-Ringa gotten his title back? Err, embarrassing to say, but, nara (*)!

If sanity had prevailed, our Okumu-Ringa, would have put his hands up and said: “Once again the people have spoken, and they obviously do NOT want me to have the Honourable title. Such is their conviction because I got the least votes out the three candidates that stood.”

And that should have been the end of the tale and the end of this Sunday drabble, but there is more. Battered, bruised and dejected, Okumu-Ringa didn’t take defeat lying down. He went home and after throwing all his toys out of the pram, he had a moment of clarity that was laced with a scathing anger and venom that psycho sadists like Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden could not have thought of in their heydays.
 
Osama Bin Laden
No, he didn’t go on a killing spree but he looked at everything he had done for his constituents in the ten years that he was an Honourable, and said: “right, this is it!” Perhaps frothing at the mouth, he lashed an order to his men to dismantle the ten or so boreholes he had built in different wards for his constituents! In defence of his actions, he said: “I am hurt…let them go and look for water elsewhere…” 
 
A Borehole Similar To This That Was Destroyed
Now what sort of grown up man stoops that low into the pit latrine and does that? Well Okumu-Ringa does that perhaps we should start calling him The Most Un-honourable Patrick Okumu-Ringa?

(*) Nara, a word used by teens to mean ‘no’. 


Pictures: okaygh.com, olumuyiwa.com.ng, bbc.co.uk









Friday, August 10, 2018

Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Mayuuni Plantation Still Open For Business!


Just in case you didn’t know this, Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Inside Toilet Cistern, Bank of Under Floor Board and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation, were never closed down by Bank of Uganda. They are still open for business and are set to thrive even further especially after comments made by Grace Atwongyeire, Principal Legal Officer at Directorate for Ethics and Integrity, at Hotel Africana a couple of weeks ago.

Bank of Under Mattress


Atwongyyeire told us that government has embarked on a process of drafting a law that enables it to recover properties or assets by people who are unable to explain the source of their wealth.

The 'Brown Envelope'

Upon my return to Uganda from the UK in the late 90s, I was na├»ve and unconscious as to the way Uganda worked in that I hadn’t heard of the term ‘brown envelope’. Freelancing as a journalist, I got a call from Lawyer to meet him at Sheraton Hotel. Nestled in the lush leather seats, he pulls his seat closer to me, looks round to make certain that no one is listening before spilling it all. “TB, my client is a respectable family man with a good standing in the community. Recently, he did something that was wrong and would bring shame to him, his wife and children. He also feels you have been given the information of what he did by his enemies and he kindly, asks you not to splash it in the papers.”

Was Lawyers Client A Naughty Boy?

Basically Client, and in a moment of madness had stopped his car near Radio Uganda and picked up Call Girl. As Call Girl clambered into the ride, a car came up, slowed down and somebody pointed a wagging finger at him.

Days later and back at Sheraton, I assured him that Client had no need to worry. As we concluded business and I got up to leave, Lawyer tapped my shoulder saying: “TB, you’ve dropped an envelope in your seat.”

Looking round, there was indeed an envelope in the seat. It wasn’t there when I sat down and for certain, I didn’t have one on me when I turned up for the meet. However, Lawyer insisted it was my envelope. I insisted back that it wasn’t mine. Eventually it dawned on him that I knew nothing about brown envelopes that he simply thrust it in my hand and said: “Its for you. Client says thank you.”

Incidentally, the term ‘brown envelope’ was first coined in 1994 the after a “cash-for-questions-affair” scandal UKs House of Commons. The Guardian newspaper alleged that then owner of Harrods department store, Mohammed Al Fayed, had paid an MP to ask a question using a brown coloured envelope for the transaction. Brown envelopes are not just a media affair. In politics, business and day-to-day transactions, they are the way of life and given out to pay off whoever there is to pay.

Mohammed Al Fayed When He Still Owned Harrods


The brown envelope that Lawyer gave me, if I had received it after Atwongyyeire’s bill had been passed, of course it would be money that would be not bankable – well not in the high street banks like Standard Chartered, Centenary Rural, Barclays and others. What if he and others decided to go poking through my accounts and found money that I was not able to explain?

Bank of Under Floor Board

Like was said at the start, this is where Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Under Floor Board, and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation come into play for out there, there are many people that if Atwongyeire were to ask how they accumulated their wealth, it would be a tall order. Remember the lady who was under investigation for selling UBC land and what she said – something along the lines of selling goats to amass the billions she has. If only she had banked with the very discreet Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Inside Toilet Cistern and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation. 


Pictures: istockphoto.com, abc.net.au, drapersonline.com, forbes.com


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Will Uganda Airlines Fly The Distance This Time Round?


QU, that was the call sign for former national airline carrier, Uganda Airlines. For 16 years, QU flew the skies until it went into liquidation in May 2001. Now, word is strife that the airline is set to fly once again.
Uganda Airlines Logo 

Looking back, there was a time when Entebbe International Airport had a string of airlines flying in and out of it, like the deceased’s - British Airways, Alliance Air, Africa One, Air Uganda, Sabena, East African, Victoria International Airways, Egypt Air and Air Tanzania (once deceased but has come back to life). Today, in and out of Entebbe are the regulars – South African, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar, Brussels Airlines, RwandAir and Ethiopian amongst others.

Alliance Air died in October 2000

For many a traveller who flew the old QU, seeing the new QU in its new livery land at Entebbe will be an auspicious day and if there is one song that was adopted by the English during the recently concluded football World Cup – ‘It’s Coming Home’, I might suggest to the powers that be that they play it as it touches down.

I have my memories of flying QU – from the Fokker Friendship F-27 to the Boeing 707 to and from London, Gatwick. Flying QU was a laid-back affair - free seating and you could do just about everything. While there was no inflight entertainment like there is today, it didn’t bother because there was always someone – especially on the flight from Gatwick to Entebbe who had bought a cassette player (*) and would blare out music.

The Fokker Friendship F-27 That Plied The Entebbe/JKIA Route

While food was inclusive of your ticket, drinks were not and I stand to be corrected on this – but a beer was sold for 50 British pence. One thing that you could do then that you can’t do today is to go up to the cockpit and sit with the crew for a while and smoke in any part of the aircraft.

While the livery of the new QU looks exciting, well before the first aircraft has landed, it appears and in true Ugandan fashion, that sinister elements are already at work. In its July 21 – July 27 edition, The East African newspaper screamed out that: “Uganda Airlines to fly the ‘unwanted’ Airbus 330 Neo”. Of course, the headline was an alarmist one that implied QU was buying junk planes that are not airworthy. However, reading through the story it tells a different story all together.

What Uganda Airlines Would Look Like 

And there is more. Everybody out there who does not have a job or who want a career change, is looking at QU and have already started lobbying anyone who has a link to the airline. I too have been approached and my answer is always, “I don’t know” but they won’t leave it to rest and insist that I must know someone with connections. And there is Fellow who sent me his resume and asked that I pass it on. For the 50th time Fellow, I really DON’T KNOW anybody who is part of the airline.

Ephraim Bagenda (R), CEO - Uganda Airlines

While some scramble for jobs, word is that some are already trying to bring down those who already have jobs. I have never met Ephraim Bagenda, who is the airlines new CEO and is married to Rebecca Kimoome who by the way, happens to be a niece to Princess Elizabeth Bagaya so sources tell me though I first heard of him when he was still at Air Uganda and his involvement in getting RwandAir off the ground. But there is something suspicious because since he became CEO, his Wikipedia profile has suddenly been altered in the he is no longer a Ugandan, a Mutooro at that from Kyenjojo, but Rwandese. Hmm…. 

(*) A machine or gadget for playing back or recording audio cassettes that kids born after 1998, has never seen.

Pictures: airlinesgallery.smugmug.com, chimpreports.com, aviationbusinessjournal.aero

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Just How Much Of A Mulalu Are You?


The suburb of Luzira, if it had a claim to fame, it would be the prison, Uganda Breweries and Butabika National Hospital on the fringes and in socially acceptable speak, is a psychiatric hospital for them who have lost the plot.

Butabika National Hospital
We all have a degree of ‘madness’ in ourselves. I think my ‘madness’ is the normal run-of-the-mill madness while others think I should be on the fast track to Butabika. Then, there are people who have mental problems - real mental problems that the wires snap and they end up going nuts, cuckoos and much more. When that happens and it becomes too much for a family to handle, the only recourse is checking them into Butabika – something that many families go out of the way to keep hush hush.  

On the streets of Kampala, right from the crack of dawn and at the major intersections, there are people who do things that border on the bizarre – if not lunacy. Last year there was Dude who was fond of perching himself near Radio One, and all he did all day is scream. Nobody seemed to know why he was screaming except that when he did it, he was like a toddler throwing a tantrum in the supermarket when denied a bar of chocolate.

Does anybody remember the man they called City Link? City Link used to walk himself from somewhere in Nakawa in his rags of clothes to Wandegeya I think it was, then back to Nakawa throughout the day. He didn’t make use of the pavements but, walked down the middle of the Kampala Road which of course, irked many a motorist who hurled all kinds of abuse at him – the most common being mulalu. But part of me doesn’t think he was nuts, because when a Gagga or Horizon bus came hurtling towards him, he ‘woke up’ and stepped aside onto the pavement to let it pass.   

Meanwhile, there was Indian Kid who suffered a bout of temporary madness at a school just down road from Gadaffi Mosque. At an end of term party, all students were encouraged to turn up dressed at their heroes. Indian Kid duly dressed as Superman complete with red boots and cape. As he stood on the second-floor balcony, the kids below him shouted out: “Fly Superman fly”. With that, the temporary madness kicked in that he scaled the safety railing, punched his fist into the air like Superman does and ‘flew’ – except, he didn’t fly but fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. The bout of temporary insanity he suffered, vanished the moment the pain to his broken legs started to seep in.

Jump Superman, Jump

Taboo USA is a National Geographic documentary and in one particular episode, it made for distressing viewing for Chap firmly believed he was born a dog trapped in a human body and trust me you had better brace yourselves for what you are going to read next.

Are You Mulalu Enough To Think You Are A Dog?

So, convinced he is a dog that at his home, he sleeps in a kennel. And there is more. During the day he dresses up as a dog and gets his friend to lead him round town on a dog leash. At the stores, he doesn’t buy himself sane people’s food like cornflakes, bread or pasta, but dog food - dog cookies and canned dog meat.

Still on Taboo USA, Next Chap thought he was a vampire. He believed it was in him, in his spirits. Speaking to camera, he said: “If I don’t get my fill of human blood, my body won’t cope”. So where did he get the human blood to drink so his body would cope? Easy. He simply advertised and there were volunteers who allowed him to sink his ‘fangs’ into their backs and drink their blood. Hmmm. 

Mr Vampire 


Pictures: kfm.co.ug, Zentai, Natgeotv.com





Saturday, July 21, 2018

Let The Goats Run, We'll Barbecue Them Later - The Royal Ascot Goat Races Are Back!

Kampala, has a very vibrant weekend social scene except, that it consists of the following - beer and pork. Beer and fish. Beer and watching your car get washed. And that’s really about it. And when it comes to annual events, we don’t fair that much either. There is Blankets and Wine, Jazz Safari, Nyege Nyege and probably not that much more. But wait, before all that, our annual outings were limited to Miss Uganda, Pam Awards, UBL Sundowner Cruise and The Goat Races.

Richard Bona Who Performed Recently At Jazz Safari At Speke Resort Munyonyo

When was still being run by Sylvia Owori. Miss Uganda then, rocked and it was a much sought-after event to be at. More importantly for some of the contestants who came from deep in the districts, life was never quite the same for them after the contest – especially for Zuena Kirema, Winnie Abotile and Salma Nassanga for example.

While she wasn’t crowned Miss Uganda, if Zuena hadn’t take part, she would have probably ended up as a housewife in Jinja. But at the regional finals in the same city, one of the musicians who performed at the event was none other than Bebe Cool who gave a below par performance because his eyes were firmly glued on Zuena. Once his performance was done, he made a beeline for her, scattered her with ‘ghetto talk’ and as the say, the rest is history.

Sylvia Owori Who Brought Glamour To Miss Uganda

Abotile who I first saw at the regional finals in Lira, went one step further and bagged herself a roofing multimillionaire – Sikander Lalani. Today, life is a far cry for her from her desolate Lira. Its all about a nice Mbuya crib, luxury cars and foreign travel. Meanwhile, Nassanga now lives an extravagant life in Florida, USA. Sadly, Miss Uganda which incidentally takes place next month, has lost the sparkle that it once had.

Roofings Supremo, Sikander  Lalani Bagged Himself Winnie Abotile, A Miss Uganda Contestant

Then PAM Awards hit town and just like Miss Uganda, it was an event to be at for it was our version of The Grammy Awards. But Pam Awards barely lasted five years and it died. And who remembers Uganda Breweries annual sunset cruise in December? It was a cruise that once dragged me out of bed when I was heavy riddled with malaria for it was not a cruise to miss at any cost. 

Isaac Mulindwa Who Was At The Helm Of PAM Awards

But surely The Royal Ascot Graces in Munyonyo was THE premier event to be at. Corporate hospitality and extravagant indulgence, wrist bands and an afternoon of utter madness. The Goat Races had died for a couple of years but at the start of the month, rumour went around that they were being revived. I can safely say it’s no longer a rumour. It’s for real come Saturday August 25th at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
Naiya Ruparelia, Sheena Ruparelia, Tusker's Grace Namutebi and Silk Events Elvis Sekyanzi At The Goat Race Launch At Speke Apartments Recently

Alas, I have been out of circulation for many years that I doubt my name still exists on the databases of the companies that have corporate tents. Nevertheless, I think it’s time to start lobbying Bob Kabonero and Jonathan Bakwega at Kampala Casino, Rajiv Ruparelia at Ruparelia Group for complimentary invites. But complimentary invite or not, I am dragging the family out to it for its one event that they too would miss.   
   
The Goats In Action

My Highlights Of The Events:

Miss Uganda – The contestant in Jinja who kept on walking and walking till there was no more catwalk left that she tumbled off the stage and into the photographers below.

The Goat Races – The HE goat that was on the verge of winning the race when it suddenly stopped, looked back and spied the SHE goat which messed him up. He gave up the race and decided mount her much to the horrified screams of its owner.

PAM Awards – The musician who was given a dummy cheque to sh2m and thought that he had to produce it to the bank to get paid.    

Uganda Breweries Boat Cruise The guests who thought it was fashionable to turn up late and got to the pier in Luzira only to find the ferry had set sail ages ago.   



Pictures: Red Pepper, Jazzsymphonic.com, Daily Monitor, theugandan.com, earthfinds.co.ug 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

MPs Got Bodyguards. Next, Flags For Their Rides?

According to Wikipedia, a bodyguard or close protection officer, is a type of security guard or government law enforcement officer or soldier who protects a person - usually high-ranking public officials, wealthy people and celebrities from danger as in assault, kidnapping, assassination or harassment threats. The group of personnel who protect a VIP are often referred to as the VIP’s security detail. Hmmm...

Russian State Bodyguards In Training

But I know better! The people at Wikipedia are obviously telling fibs since a bodyguard is really none of that. Rather, they are people who are employed because they are dispensable fodder to get goofed instead of their bosses, shot at and killed instead of their bosses and blown up to smithereens instead of their bosses.

Over the resent years, there have been a number of high profile assassinations in Uganda – most notably that of former police spokesman, Andrew Kaweesi and Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga. What Kaweesi and Abiriga had in common, is that they both had bodyguards when they were ruthlessly killed by assailants who are still at large.
Forensic Officers At The Scene Of Kaweesi's Assassination 

With that, the powers that be along with The Man With The Hat moved in swiftly to declare that all Members of Parliament should be afforded personal protection – army sharp shooters - which is gloating news for MPS but not necessarily so, for those who are going to protect them (MPs).

Army Sharp Shooters

You see, the average Ugandan MP is so taken in with the ‘honourable’ tag they attain when they become MPs. Some of them are that daft, that they even refer to themselves as “I am the honourable MP….” when addressing the hapless locals in the districts. But that’s not the only daft thing MPs do. Years after being kicked out of parliament, many still continue to refer to themselves as honourable – like it’s a title for life.

The End For Abiriga

MPs are going revel in having bodyguards because to them, it’s a status symbol, a sign that they have finally arrived from some far-flung hovel of a district to bag themselves space on the green leather benches in Parliament.  And guess what, the next thing MPs are going to ask for – tell a lie, demand for, are those little flags so they can have them fluttering on their 4x4s when they go to their far-flung districts to commission a borehole.      
Flags Next For MPs?

Writing in The Observer recently, Josephine Namuloki interviewed one police bodyguard who had this to say: “At their homes, they (MPs) don’t care whether you have eaten or not. Some of them can’t even buy water for a person who is guarding them; how do you continue with such work?”

At this stage of the column I reckon I am in the bad books of every MP so let’s turn it up notch or two and go out guns blazing. So, this is what I think. Obviously, MPs are not going to feed their bodyguards because it’s something they beneath them. But beyond that, could it be that the bodyguards are not keen on getting a goofing instead of their bosses and more importantly, do not warm up to the idea of being shot at and killed alongside the MP they have been contracted to guard?

There could be some truth to this chain of thought for a couple of weeks ago, Obongi MP, Hassan Fungaroo said: “The police say instead of escorting MPs, they are better off staying at home because escorting an MP is a very risky business.”

And in parliament there are some MPs who are deemed to be ‘trouble makers’ and who are risky business like Fungaroo said that if I was the bodyguard assigned to protect say Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze or Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto, I would rather take my chances at being assigned to fight Al Shabab in Somalia or Boko Haram in Nigeria. 
Al Shabab Fighters






Saturday, July 7, 2018

Tales From The Late WBS Television

The Logo That Was Once A Household Name

I’d would have never gone into television had I not interviewed Elvis Sekyanzi, who then, was Executive Director at WBS Television. He roped me in when all I knew about television was to err, pick up the remote and flick through the channels. I found television fascinating – especially when we went live because often, circumstances occurred that were beyond our realm.

Elvis Sekyanzi - Former Executive Director at WBS

Gabriel, started his career at WBS as a presenter on Showtime Magazine before going into production. While in production, he harboured ambitions of being a sports caster, something that was embraced by Elvis. So, for the next three months or so, Gabriel dedicated himself to sitting in the studio when we were off air and practised for hours on end. Now and again, we would sit in with him, advise and steer him to becoming almost as prolific as Rmathan, who was the stations top sports caster and who had nailed the art of sports casting down to a tee.

When D-Day broke and in the final minutes before he went on air, there was nothing to suggest that events would go ‘south’. Gabriel was in an upbeat mode. He had sprung a ‘back-to-school’ haircut and he looked razor sharp in a tweed blazer.

When the signature tune started to roll, a blob of sweat almost as big as Lake Victoria slithered down his forehead - closely followed by another blob of sweat that was almost as big as Lake Victoria’s twin sister.

By the time the signature tune was done and he was live on air, Gabriel was no longer the Gabriel in the razor-sharp tweed jacket. Rather, he was a scattered wreck who looked like he’d lost the fight against the hoodlums in downtown Kisekka Market for the kaveera of nsenene.

Not only could Gabriel not remember his name, he also got his script in a jumble that whatever he said, it just didn’t make sense. Two minutes into the cast, we switched to adverts and dragged the gasping-for-air hapless lad out. He quit television shortly afterwards.

One Christmas day, we did a live broadcast from All Saints Church that was led over by the late Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo at which, off camera commentary was required. Foolishly, Chief Technician Daniel, thought I was the best person to do the commentary.

Late Archbishop, Mpalanyi Nkoyooyoo

An hour into the commentary, I spy a frantic Production Assistant Francis waving his hands at me. When he eventually got through the congregation to the commentary box he had this to say: “TB, you fool, you’re pronouncing his name wrong. It’s not nkoko yo but Nkoyooyo!” I quit television commentary shortly afterwards.

Back in 1999 I think it was, Sudhir Ruparelia threw the mother of all parties to open up his Rock Bar at Speke Hotel that cars were lined either side of Nile Avenue right from Rwenzori Courts down to Garden City roundabout.

In those days, Sudhir, rarely gave interviews so it was a real coup for us – Tilly, Chris and myself (Showtime Magazine) to corner him for a one-on-one. I’d never quite seem him (Sudhir) like that – all jovial, upbeat and willing to open up. For almost 30minutes, he gave us the most amazing and eye-opening interview about himself and how he intends to revolutionise the entertainment industry in Uganda and how he’s building a resort called Speke Resort in some very far flung place called Munyonyo that nobody had really heard of.

Sudhir Ruparelia

After the scoop of an interview, I reclined back in the bar knocking back free cocktails when an almost terrified and nervous Chris comes up and whispers: “Please don’t shout at me, but during the Sudhir interview, I forgot to press the record button!” He vanished from work for two weeks.     


Pictures: Howwie.Biz, Celebbyte.com, Chimpreports.com      

Patrick Okumu Ringa - Uganda's Most Un-honourable Man?

“Honourable.” If you describe people or actions as honourable, you mean that they are good and deserve to be respected and admired as in, ...