Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wedding's

There is something about weddings that bring out the best in people. Be it the guests, parents or even the bride and groom, there will always be some form of drama at a wedding.

A few years ago, my dad attended at wedding in Busoga. According to him, all was seemingly going well but behind the scenes, there was somebody who was quietly simmering. It was Bride’s Father. While I guess something could have been done before the wedding to cool him down, he was left to turn in a full blown boil at the wedding.

As the church service proceeded, it got to that crucial moment when the priest asks, ‘if anybody objects to the wedding and if not, forever hold their peace.’ Well at that moment and as everybody looked back to see if there were any objections, nobody noticed the elderly figure at the front standing up. By the time they all turned back to face the front, it was too late.

Father of Bride had stood up and he was not a happy man. Regardless of the threatening looks from his daughter and the rest of his family, Father of Bride was not about to be intimidated into sitting back down.

And in perfect Lusoga that required the consultation the Lusoga dictionary, Father of Bride said the wedding cannot proceed because, Groom has yet to deliver the last instalment of the bride price – that of three goats. And with that, the wedding came to a temporary halt. The men went outside to consult and raise the money and only after the goats were bought from a nearby market and were tied to a tree in the church grounds from which, Father of Bride could hear them bleat, did the wedding go ahead.

I need not remind the people who were at Spider’s wedding when, Young Speaker on Bride’s side started talking about ‘pussy’. In his heart, he was doing nothing wrong and he went on to advise Spidey that, the first thing he has to do every morning was, ‘tend to Bride’s pussy!’ “She loves her pussies so please look after them” he said. But as we all know, the word ‘pussy’ in this day and age means something totally different so for a large section of the guests, we wondered which pussy he was talking about. Was it the pussy as in a young cat or was it the pussy of the human female type?

A while back it was a boring Saturday in London. Norris one of my best friends called round my house and suggested we go for a drive. And into his car we piled and drove round the isle of dogs in East London looking for action. As we kerbed crawled, we drove past St. Andrew’s church and there, there was a wedding about to start. Of course we had gate-crashed parties including house parties and office parties but never a wedding. And in our jeans and t-shirts, we took our seats at the back of the church. When the service was over and after having the audacity to pose for the traditional photographs on the steps of the church, it was a simple case of asking the rider of the horse driven carriage for the address to the reception. With that we went home and got changed for the evening ahead.

Crashing a wedding reception that is held in somebody’s home can be simple – but not when everybody is white and two of you are black. So we stood out like sore thumbs but for our ‘forward planning’, we had a plan in motion to avoid being rumbled – attack first! When we felt we were getting looks of ‘do you know who they are?” we would dive in for the kill and ask the inquisitive person which side they came on. If they answered ‘bride’, we would say we are on the groom’s side. And with that we got away with it for the best part of the evening until it was time for Bride and Groom to start mingling that things started to get hot.

By the time a decision was made by the wedding organisers to throw us out, we had had our fare share of beer, champagne, food and cake that when we fled, we couldn’t make a run for it, for we were so full. We just walked to the car.

More recently, Nodin and I turned up for a wedding reception at UMA showground’s and before you even start thinking about it, we DID NOT crash the wedding for Groom, is a colleague from a leading newspaper. While the wedding was unique in its own way, the table and corner in which we were sitting was lighting up like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Service at our table was swift and the attention we got was way above par.

At some point during the night, it was time to give out the cakes. For obvious reasons, Parents of Bride and Groom got the biggest cakes to go home with. Then cakes were given out to relatives, friends and in this case, one cake was given to the representatives of a nightclub where Bride works and one to the newspaper where, Groom works.

Now this is where it all becomes a bit of a blur. For some reason a cake was put on my table – and so close to me. It of course was an overwhelming gesture to think that Groom had thought of me! And through the corner of my eye, I could see this girl eyeing it. Taking no chances, I pulled it closer to me. When it was time to leave, Nodin and I picked up the cake and left but as we walked to the car, we could see the girl who had been eyeing ‘my cake’ running down the road after us. Not wanting to share the cake, we out ran her, got into the BMW and fled.

It was only two days later that I got a call from Sylvia from the paper wanting to know where the cake was. Apparently it was not mine but for the staff of the paper to share. Eek! But by then, it had already been waffled down! Sincere apologies to the staff of the newspaper who, were waiting for a slice of the cake but fret not, for a replacement cake is on the way.

Jiggers

Like the great migration of the wilder beast from the Masai Mara to the Seregenti Plains or is it from the Seregenti Plains to the Masai Mara, here the annual migration of the 4x4 Prados, Land Cruisers, VXs and Range Rovers has started. And this migration starts in Kampala and ends up anywhere from Rukungiri to Hoima, to Iganga, to Pader and other regions. Yes it is that annual Christmas migration to the village.

Right now in some households, the word has come down from the powers that be – Mum and Dad that is, that the village beckons. And in some households there are many Teenies who are not amused for they know they will be no Boda Boda, Cayenne, Club Silk and even DStv to look forward to in the evenings. Even worse, they will be an absence of hot water and a hair salon.

Back in the day, I like many others, was subject to the great migration but now that I am of age, I have a choice – to go or not to go and this year I have yet to make up my mind.

Anyway years ago, the migration from Kampala to our village in Ibulanku used to take us a good four hours. And when we got there it was a time to fend for ourselves. I did know a good deal of people there though I was rather perplexed that all the old men and women claimed to be my grandfather and grandmother yet, I do know my grandfather had sadly passed on before I was born and I knew who my real grandmother was! But I let it be and let them go on thinking that I was their grandson.
About a mile or so from home, lived an elderly man whose name I can’t recall nor do I think he was a relation. Anyway, Elderly Man in his frail state had something peculiar about him. His limbs were all swollen and he had a bad rash all over his body too. My sisters and I took the rash for the effects of mosquito bites for he had pimples too. And generally Elderly Man always made it a habit to be at our home first thing in the morning until the wee hours of the night.

Because of his appearance we generally avoided him but one day like the way curiosity killed the cat, curiosity got the better of me that I decided to go and have a talk with him and find out more about him. Obviously there was a language issue because he spoke a version of Lusoga that only my dad could click but despite that short coming, with a little trial and error we somehow managed to have an haphazard conversation. And obviously I had to ask him about the pimples all over his body and in his hardcore Lusoga, he replied: I have nvunza (jiggers).

Nvunza? Now what on earth is that? I was only a 14-year old lad so why would I be concerned with something as innocent as nvunza’s? So over the course of the holiday, I forged a relationship with Elderly Man who gave me some insight into my dad as a young boy growing up and much more. Our relationship however was soon about to come to an end when one of the men who worked the land advised me that it was not in my best interest to be hanging out with him for I never knew what diseases I might catch. And the message was further rammed home by my mother who assured me that I should have nothing to do with him again. And with that, I moved on.

A couple of weeks later I started getting a sensational itch on my fingers. Sometimes it would be a soothing itch, other times it would be and irritating one. If my fingers weren’t giving me trouble, then it was Him down there. Whenever I went for a pee, it felt like I was pissing razorblades. But it was one of those things that I thought would go away.

But it didn’t go away. My scrotum too had started to itch and by now had developed pimples that I kept on thinking how on earth the mosquitoes managed to bite me down there yet, I am always covered up? And in my agony people began to notice that something was amiss. Yes so my cousin Peter pointed out, I had jiggers! I was dispatched to see one of the old ladies and who armed with a pin started digging them out. One by one she dug them out that by the time she was done, I had huge gaping holes in my fingers.

But still there was the issue of going for a pee and peeing razorblades. At that point I was so obsessed with holding my crotch, that it took the intervention of an uncle to tell me that it was not a nice thing to do in public. And that’s when I told him my issue. Taking me to the bedroom he had a look, didn’t say a word but told me to get dressed and get into his car.

To the clinic I was driven and there in front of two nurses, I had to drop my pants while one of them took her time in extracting the jiggers from my scrotum and other parts of him!

And since that incident, whenever I saw Elderly Man, I would scowl at him and just want to be as far away from him as possible. A few months later he passed on and from what I gathered, his body was so riddled with jiggers that he practically had no flesh left on his body.

And as I wish you all a merry Christmas, I wonder if I invited my immediate editor, Sidney Miria and the Sunday Vision Editor David Mukholi to come down for Christmas in my village would they come for I want to introduce them to the off spring of Elderly Man so they too can experience the jigger experience!

Lake Victoria

There is something alluring about the vast expanse of water that forms Lake Victoria. And if there is anything I still remember from my days at prep school about the lake, is that, it has a catchment area of 184,000 km2 and is also known as Victoria Nyanza (also known as Ukerewe, The Eye of the Rhino, Nalubaale, Sango, or Lolwe) and is the largest tropical lake in the world.

And so this tale starts somewhere in 1999 when along with My Boys we found ourselves on Sesse Island for the Easter weekend. Then, getting to Sesse was a three hour drive to Masaka, then onto a very unreliable ferry for the crossing.

It was a very satisfying weekend, a sojourn in which we made merry but like all good vacations, the trip has to come to an end. But Host and seeing that we were having blast, let us stay on for an extra day. His Manager was also very kind to point out that we needn’t return to Kampala by the unreliable ferry but by boat through Entebbe.

And when he pointed out the boat, we saw it moored in the far distance amongst a flotilla of canoes and with more than enough hyacinth round it. From where we stood, the boat looked grand that we were consumed by thoughts of chasing scantily clad nubile girls plucked from one of the adjacent islands and drinking champagne on the trip to Entebbe.

Early the following morning, Manager knocked on our cabins – at 5:45am to alert us of the impending departure of the boat. However, when I looked into the distance, the boat was still moored amongst the canoes, the hyacinth had yet to be cleared and the scantily clad girls plucked from the adjacent island were nowhere in sight.

Then Manager dropped the bomb shell. ‘Our boat’ was a relic that had died many years ago and the boat he was talking about was a canoe that was waiting for us at the peer. And indeed looking towards the peer was the canoe. After some consultation – which did not include anything about safety like life jackets, we clambered aboard. The canoe was empty save for Captain, First Mate and Fat Mama.

A cheer went up when Captain steered the canoe to one of the islands! Here come the nubile’s! And there were nubile but not the dark skinned sexy and voluptuous natives, but a horde of tall, blonde, blue eyed German and Swedish girls who had also spent the weekend on one of the islands.

To say that they were a delight to look at was an understatement. “Ooh la la” is all we could say as we drooled. There was an Inga, a Gretchen, an Olga but it was Beatrice who dazzled and had more than an ounce of sex appeal on her.

By now the sun had began to blaze. In the beginning it was warranted for there was a spiteful cold blowing over the lake but once it heated up, all hell broke loose for Swedish and German girls simply took it in their stride and started stripping down to their bikini tops and bottoms.

Obviously with that, there was an element of musical chairs to be played out in the canoe. My Boys scampered to sit next to them and those who scampered with speed got the best crop. I being at the far end of the canoe and cut off by charcoal and fish was stuck. I sat there looking across at them as they began to enjoy and sample the delights of the Swedish and German girls.

Of course I sulked so I just sat back looked ahead and there was nothing but lake as it was to the left and right and in the rear, the lake we left behind. And with no birds flying overhead, it did suggest that land was not nearby. The canoe was silent. Fat Mamma looked passive. Fisherman was expressionless while Passengers looked terrified save for My Boys and Swedish and German Nubiles were having a blast.

At this point, First Mate passed round Kimbo and paint containers (to empty the boat) for moments later, we hit rough waters where the waves swelled up to a double story building in height. The canoe was now rocking violently and taking on water almost like we were sitting at the bottom of Karuma Falls.

But all was not lost. As the journey continued, Beatrice was saw it fit to change location and sit next to me. And when she did, My Boys were not happy for obvious reasons – she was the best looking and coincidentally the only one who had not stripped down – something we were all waiting for.

We talked and the more she talked and drank beer, the more she began to loosen up and with that, she started to strip down. But arrgh, arrgh, arrgh! When she stripped down to her bikini, her nubile body was not a nubile body and one to salivate at. Her armpits were full of hair and ‘down there’ no attempt had been made to shave round the bikini line. Like elephant grass, hair spouted out of the sides of her microscopic bikini bottom and her legs – the amount of hair on her legs – wow, but it was mob!

If it was not bad enough having to look at arrgh, arrgh, arrgh hairy but beautiful Beatrice sitting next to me for the eight hours of a harrowing canoe ride, we finally spotted Kitooro landing site.

As we docked, thieves descended upon the canoe like vultures to a carcass grabbing and yanking at everything they could get their hands on. And there is no escape either for the water at Kitooro is swimming in human faeces and whatever other filth that has been dumped into it.

For the next couple of days, I smelt like fish. If it was not fish, I smelt like charcoal, if not charcoal, dare I say I smelt like those human bits that were floating in the water by the landing site – I arrgh, yuck and puke at the thought! And worse, I had to wrap my body round hairy Beatrice to protect her from the thieves. And if you know what it feels like, just go to Game or Uchumi and hug any of the carpets they have hanging up for sale!

Riots In London

When it comes to authority – especially the police and army, there are limitations. Like most people, I can have an argument with Traffic Policeman, but will tread a tight and cautious line when it comes to take on the others like the Anti Riot Policeman. And likewise with the army - regular Army Man fine, but Red Top, (Military Police) like most sane people I walk away. We walk away because the rationale of Anti Riot Policeman and Red Top is beyond human. Their pattern of thought is, ‘ the baton is their first as well as their last line of defence’.
Back in 80s in England, anarchy reigned. Coal Miner and just about everybody with a grudge against the Conservative government of Margret Thatcher was on strike. And if that was not enough, we students decided to go on strike – something about an unpopular tax called Poll Tax.

Being a student in England in the 80s meant one had to be a Communist, Socialist or a member of some extreme group with a preferred dress code of Doc Martins (a style of footwear that bore a resemblance to the boots Nazi Storm Trooper wore when they swept through Europe in 1940), army fatigues and a Russian army overcoat during the winter.

My English friends would do anything for a demonstration (read riot). If they heard of a demonstration, they just had to be there. They had to be there for the ‘cause’ so they would say. And the cause? To bring down the fascist Thatcher government and all it stood for.

And off they would go armed with placards, rotten eggs, flour and an assortment of other weaponry to throw at Riot Police. Upon their return, some would have bruises, others would be in hospital and other detained in police cells. With that in mind, why go for a demonstration?

But Poll Tax was a big issue amongst the students and the National Union of Students was determined to fight for its abolition through a massive demonstration in London. There was so much pressure to be there that I succumbed and went along.

As the train tumbled into London’s King’s Cross Station, there was a phalanx of police to meet us. It was an overwhelming site to see hundreds of students’ from as far as Scotland descending on London and bewildered Londoners’ scurrying for cover.
And it was to Trafalgar Square that we convened to ready ourselves for the march to the Houses of Parliament. There was an air of apprehension – the unknown and a sense of going into the abyss. The songs that rang out went along these lines: “Down with Thatcher, down with the Tories. Kick the fascist pigs out!” As we chanted the crowd swelled as did Police Man but, they didn’t look threatening enough.

And so the march began. It was peaceful enough that that I wished I had attended earlier demonstrations because it had the aura of a street carnival than a demonstration. As the chanting grew and the crowd continued to swell, the ranks were infiltrated by people who wore ski masks or scarves to cover their faces. They were the Antichrists’ so I later found out, a group compromised of skin heads, fascists, racists and many not so savoury groups. Then the stone throwing started, the kicking in of shop windows, cars being set on fire - basically mayhem reigned.

Police naturally moved in to quell the situation and when they were overwhelmed, they retreated and a huge cheer went up! “Up with the proletariat and down with the imperialist pigs” Student screamed. And from that moment on, anarchy reigned. The peaceful demonstration was no longer peaceful but more of an unwarranted destruction spree.

But Police who had retreated had not really retreated. They had backed off to block off access roads and to channel us down to Waterloo Bridge where Riot Police lay in wait. And onto the bridge we marched and half way down it, Lone Policeman-on-Horseback sat there with a mega phone to his mouth. “You have five minutes to disperse” he bellowed – words that fell on deaf ears and he was pelted with rotten eggs, stones and anything that could be thrown. But he stood his ground and when five minutes were up, he simply raised his arm and that was it. From the other end of the bridge, a ga-zillion Policeman-on-Horseback trotted forward with batons raised and proceeded to beat whoever was in their sight. There is nothing scarier than seeing Police Horse stand on its hind legs as you crouch on the ground ready to be trampled and Riot Policeman ready to follow it up by bashing you with a baton. If that was not bad enough, tear gas filled the air.

Everywhere students screamed in panic. I too screamed – no, I wailed when Police Horse towered above me and showed of its mighty scrotum (the cartoonist Mr. Ras must have been there too for otherwise, where does he get the inspiration to draw animals with big scrotums in his cartoons from?) Apart from screaming, I also peed my pants – something I had not done since my nursery school days.

In desperation to get out of what can only be described as ‘Dodge City’, I think I peed myself twice more that by the time I made it back to King’s Cross Station, I was a mess. And at the station to meet the fleeing students were police vans. And just went I thought the end is nigh, fracas broke out at the far end of the station which diverted the police attention. With that, I slid onto the first train to make the trip back to campus in now very damp and urine smelling jeans.

WTF Month!

Whenever Willo who works in the tobacco industry for a living has had a bad day, the first words out of his mouth and way before he sits down to order a Guinness, are WTF! And WTF ladies and gentleman, is an abbreviation that the people of my parents’ generation will not grasp because it is a rude abbreviation.

January is just once such month - a WTF month! It is a month of misery – financial misery at that and a month where most people hang on for dear life as they scheme and devise how they will get through the month. It is an acute problem because all round the world, the people who work in accounts must have attended a convention and decided that in December, our salaries would be paid not at the end of December, but a few days before Christmas. Why they came to that conclusion, that I don’t know but whoever idea it was, he or she needs to be struck up to the nearest tree and shot dead.

It was the 80s and I was still living in England and gotten my first job with Olympia and York – a Jewish property developer who was causing quite a stir in the construction world then. They were orthodox Jews in that they would observe every holiday on the Jewish calendar and since it was the boom 80s and before Black September when the stock markets round the world crashed, we earned good salaries and our bonuses were something to make noise about.

At the end of each month – the last Monday of the month to be precise, our salaries had been credited to our accounts and the end of November was no different. In fact, in the four or so years that I worked for Olympia and York, our salaries were always on time. One second past 9:00am on the last Monday of the month, slot in your ATM card and there was the money.

With the festive period coming up, London was geared up – late night shopping, jingle bells ringing all over Oxford Street and wine bars full of late night revellers. And with that, there was a need to go to the ATM every other day. And as my November pay began to dwindle, as long as I had enough cash to scrape through the month until my December pay kicks in, there was nothing to worry about.

Then something happened. A few days before Christmas I raided the ATM yet again, withdrew some dime but when I got my balance slip, there was something amiss. I was way over credit. It has to be a computer glitch I thought to myself. I reinserted the card and yes it still gave me a healthy bank balance. And the same thing had also happened to Fiona who joined the company on the same day as me.

And boy was Fiona some hot blooded lass. She had a bosom that God had seemingly taken his time and thought in crafting and moulding. She had ‘bam oh my god what to we have here’ bosom – not like the average and boring ‘production line’ boobs that you see on many women. Then she had legs like escalators – you know the one that seemingly never end and the key to unlocking her Pandora’s box was going to be a dime. And since the bank had given me a bonus, the money required to open her box if you get my drift was not a problem.

Retreating to Hog in the Pound, a bar near Bond Street tube station, we sat down to the think of all the possibilities – why did we have such a healthy bank balances? And the only thing we could think of was that of a bank error.

Two days later when we checked to see if the bank had seen the error and rectified it, they hadn’t. The money was still on our accounts. After taking advice from friends, we all came to the same conclusion. If the money is still on our accounts by the end of the week, we were going to withdraw everything and then sort the bank out later – if they realised their error that is. And come the end of the week, that was exactly what we did.

And in keeping the 80s spirit of spend, spend and spend, we spent. We spent like there was no tomorrow. We would hit the stores first thing in morning and shopped till we could shop no more. And when we got home we would listen to the telephone answer service to see if there had been any calls from the bank wanting their money back but they never once called.

By the end of December, Fiona and I were beside ourselves! We had seemingly committed the perfect crime – something that better placed and well known crooks who were into insider trading failed to do.

With Christmas over and December coming to an end, though we were down to 100 Pounds between us, Fiona and I were not in the least bothered because the last Monday of the month was two days away and it meant payday. So we blew the 100 pounds.
Monday at 9:30am I was at the ATM but the message on the screen was strange. It read: “You do not have sufficient funds on your account to complete this transaction.” I tried three times and the same message came up. Vexed, I went into the bank to enquire and the girl at the counter confirmed the computer message. The following day with no pay credited to my account or Fiona’s, we stormed the accounts office demanding to know what was going on. Accounts Girl fiddled with her computer for a while then turned her screen round and said: “According to my records, you were paid on December 22nd.” To which I retorted, but we were supposed to have been paid two days ago.

After listening to our story she dropped the bomb shell and told us how December salaries are paid just before Christmas. In effect she concluded that we had stolen our own money from the bank!

Now we were broke and penniless. And for the next one month we survived on baked beans, mouldy bread and drinking warm water mixed with sugar. The final straw came when the electricity people came round and cut off the power. And being winter, the water was ice cold and the flat froze. At night it was so cold that we had to sleep in four layers of clothing to stay warm and having a shower in ice cold water was not an option. And for three weeks we managed to survive – but only just for when we were finally paid at the end of January, I was so hungry that when I put ATM card into the machine, I was not thinking straight and the card was swallowed. I had to spend another night hungry and eating cold beans in a cold flat. And to make things even worse, Fiona had taken her ‘bam oh my god what to we have here’ bosom and escalator legs to Paul who had an abundance of cash to get him through the WTF January month!

Visiting Sunday's

How times have changed. Back in the 70s and especially on a Sunday when the then national broadcaster – Uganda Television that is, used to broadcast nothing but endless reels of either a North Korean, Chinese or Russian propaganda movie – if not hour upon hour of an Idi Amin speech, going to visit would be the order of the day.
Just after lunch and once our parents had had a nap, word would filter through the household that a visit as on. In households all over Kampala, our mothers would go through our closets and decide what were going to wear. And once sorted, we would clamber into the family car to go and visit. Sometimes the people we had gone to visit were not in obviously because they too had gone to visit. But going to an empty house would not deter a parent. Quite simply, the car would be turned round and driven to the next house or the next until a household that had not gone to visit was found.

On a few occasions at the household of the people that had not gone visiting, we found the people from the empty houses whom we had earlier called on. Visitation Sunday’s were a blast because often we got to meet cousins and many school friends. However, when the NRM came to power in the 80s, it signalled the end of visitation Sundays. Sundays then became a family affair, a day not to be interrupted by visiting friends or relations. If you went to visit, there was a good chance that the gateman would tell you that: “They are not in” even though through the crack between the gate and the boundary wall you could see their car and hear the kids playing somewhere in the compound.

A few years ago I had travelled – somewhere to the South West of the county to cover an event for my newspaper. For reasons which will become obvious as you read on, I am not going to mention the town or who the people are – but there are clues for you to figure it out. Anyway when one tycoon who hails from that area learned I was going to be in his town, he offered me the use of his house – a sprawling mansion on top of a hill that has a panoramic view of the city below. To say I was pampered – I was for the duration of my four day stay there.

But seeing that it was the Easter break quite a few people had also travelled from Kampala to that town including Banker and Judge who also hail from that area. On Easter Sunday, an emissary dispatched from the house of Banker came to look for me with an invitation that went along these lines. “That you are invited to visit the house of Banker for Sunday dinner.” Banker inviting me to his house on a Sunday and for dinner? It was an honour that I duly accepted.

That Sunday afternoon I spent the day trawling the solitary main street that the town has to offer and which was full of bicycle boda boda’s looking for a decent shirt to wear and at the appointed time, I set off to visit Banker. When I got there the crowd was impressive enough. There was Judge, Airline Tycoon and Property Tycoons amongst other people.

As the men talked, discussed business and drank fine wine and whiskey, Banker’s Wife was busy in the kitchen organizing what I can only describe as being a grand feast when it was served. With a living room of men drooling malusu at the sight and smell of what Bankers Wife had conjured up for us to devour, there was a minor interruption or was it an irritation but an irritation that was justified. Yes, there was grace to be said and with that, Banker’s Wife stood up and asked us to do the needful. Leading from the front, she took her husband’s hand in one hand and Property Tycoons hand on the other. I too stood up as did everybody else and held hands too. With our heads bowed and eyes closed, Banker’s Wife started saying grace.
But hey, there was something amiss for there seemed to be an air of discontent as she started but I assumed that is how grace is said in that region. But the more the ‘voice of discontent’ went on, the more it began to dawn on me that the disgruntlement was getting out of hand.

Peering through a slither of an opening in my left eye, I looked round the living room and eek, there was somebody who had not stood up for grace! Fully opening my eyes to see who it was, it was none other than Judge! Judge was rooted to his seat with more than a scowl on his face and a glass of whisky in one hand.

As his issues became audible, he had this to say: “Banker’s Wife, you think we drove all the way from Kampala to come for prayers? If you want to pray, you just go and pray alone. We want to have a relaxed evening drinking whiskey so stop bothering us.” And with that, he stood up and smashed his whiskey glass into a million particles on the floor.

Banker’s Wife did not bat an eyelid and simply carried on with grace. Later and as we served ourselves, in the queue behind me I heard a growl that was followed by the now all too familiar disgruntled voice telling me: “Eh, you can’t wait until I have served myself?” It was Judge. Then looking at Bankers Wife he added: “Banker’s Wife, this young boy, I don’t understand him” followed by yet another growl. With that I put down my plate and fled to the back of the queue.

The Headboard

Let’s start off with a plug. It’s along the Munyonyo Road at a place called Baskuru’s where I have my haircut. They do a grand job and to date, I have had no reason to pick a bone with them. The lady who owns the salon – Leila, is a pleasant lady who has a wry sense of humour and is blessed with two children – a boy and a girl.

Her boy is in his teens and looking back at my days as a teenager, like all boys, I must have given Mr. and Mrs. Bukumunhe – my parents that is, a good number of sleepless nights. But I am sure that out there, there are parents who will argue to the bitter end that their teenage boys are saints and never break the rule book. And to them, I say it is time for a reality check!

When I was growing up and was at boarding school, we thought about girls and sex. And being in an all boy boarding school, there was always somebody who had access to contraband literature – literature like Playboy magazine. I can’t recall who used to smuggle it into school, but whenever it arrived, the boys in the sixth form would read them first after which they would filter down to us lesser mortals in the junior forms. Sometimes when the magazine would filter down with pages missing that I often wondered why somebody would rip out a page. Nevertheless, Playboy was savvy that to-date, I still hold Hugh Heffner as the greatest living legend to the literature industry! Playboy was the magazine I wanted to read because it made far more sense to me than George Orwell’s Animal Farm, James Joyce’s Ulysses or Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.Even better, Playboy had pictures! They were up there and in your face seemingly inviting you to come and explore and be naughty.

And the more we looked at the lusty pictures of the naked women, rather embarrassingly and I hate to admit it, but we would head off and lock ourselves in the toilet for a private session of self-gratification.

If I was not looking at naked women in Playboy, then I was talking about sex and virginity. The pressure on a teenage boy to lose this virginity is extreme. “TB you have to ‘do it’ as soon as possible, the sixth formers would tell me. However, they never told me what I was supposed to do that for a few years I went round in a daze while trying to figure out what ‘doing it’ actually meant. And then I found out almost by accident that and for the lack of a better word to use, ‘doing it’ – meant ‘getting laid’, and for every boy in my class who had one it, we would envy that person. We would see them as ‘graduates’ and with that status, they were admitted into the ranks of the sixth form boys who of course had done everything there was to do. They had even spoken to girls – something we in the junior classes didn’t even know how to do - yet.

Years later and while at university in England, my neighbour in my hall of residence was, Henry Spader. Henry came from a town called Penzance that lay at the very edge of rural England in Exeter. Henry and by all accounts was a late bloomer in the girl and sex department that I am sure he only went to university to make up for ‘lost time’. Henry had a string of girls that it was difficult to know who he was he was dating – if indeed he was dating them or just using them for sex.

And he had this habit of coming to my room every morning to brag about how he had ‘scored’ with so and so. But it was difficult to know if he had. Okay many girls were seen going in and out of his room but did that mean he had scored? Maybe whenever they went to his room it was to study or for a cup of coffee. But Henry was adamant that he was doing the deed that he bragged till he could brag no more.
It was now time to put him into his place. While I didn’t have access to the string of girls that Henry had, my plan was simple. I moved the head of my bed an inch or so off the wall. I would then sit on a chair at the foot of the bed and with one foot, I would rock the bed so the head board knocked onto the wall.

And with a beer in one hand and television remote control in the other I would spend the night knocking the headboard onto the wall that for hapless Henry next door, it gave him the impression that I was in the sack doing my thing! The following morning and draped in nothing but a skimpy towel, I would stand in the corridor waiting for him. And when he saw me he would exclaim: “Tim how do you do it? I wish I had your black genes to enable me to have sex all night!”

Soon enough word went round campus the Ugandan chap in room 42 ‘does it’ all night long for James would invite people to his room to listen to my headboard banging on the wall. And with that came a number of girls who were interested. But boy, it was one thing banging the headboard against the wall and another thing actually trying to ‘do it’ all night long that some girls would feel short changed for they would say: “How come the other night you did it all night long and today you barely lasted ten minutes?” If only they knew!

Daddy's Range Rover

Cars! Boys and by the time they smell gasoline, hear the crunch of a gear going from 2nd and into 3rd or the squeal of tires, they are on the fast track. When I was growing up, it did not matter that I was only 8-years old. What did matter was like many boys out there, an 8 year old ‘could drive a car’. When I hit 14, it did not matter that we had not been to driving school nor did we have a driving license. What did matter is that, ‘WE KNEW’ how to drive. Period!

We were fast learners. We watched our parents or anybody who drove and picked up tips from them. Driving school? Hmm, driving schools were invented for the annoying and mbu prim girls – and yes I say again, the annoyingly mbu prim girls from Namagunga and Gayaza and the sissy boys with weak scrotums.
Jonathan Musoke was perhaps the first person from school that I saw drive. Another was Bernard Kajura amongst others. These boys were barely 15 years old and yet they were driving. It was imperative that we were driving at that age for out there, there was a crop of females to impress. And it did not matter what car you drove. As long as you drove, that’s all that mattered.

But how does a 14 or 15-year old get hold of a car I hear you ask? Of course we didn’t ask our parents. We they went to work, we simply stole the cars – a trend that still happens today. And in the deep of the night when they were asleep, we’d pushed the car out of the garage and away for a night of partying.

Of course I was not about to left out of the car driving rat race. I too had to make a name for myself not only at school, but amongst the girls who went to Greenacres, a school about an hour’s drive away from The Grange School that I went to in Kenya.
Then it was the turbulent 80s. And in those turbulent 80s while Jim along with 27 of his pals had taken to the bush to show Obote a move or two and a certain judge cowered under his bed, we were daring teens, showing our parents more than a move when it came to making off with their cars.

I was in town for the Easter sojourn and the highlight of the sojourn was discovered in a matter of minutes in the garage - two cars, a Fiat 127 and a Range Rover. It was a ‘fast forward’ moment for my brain. It thought: “The holiday is over and you are back at school a hero and in demand amongst the girls from Greenacres.” But ha, let me rewind the script and tell you what exactly happened.

As soon as Mr. and Mrs. Bukumunhe – my parents that is, went off to work, I was in the garage deciding which of the two cars would make the impact I so desired. Of course it had to be the Range but if I had an ounce of common sense (well it is difficult to find a 14-year boy with an ounce of common sense) I should have gone with the Fiat. I had driven the Fiat before but never a Range. To say I was in control of the Range – ha, I never was. I didn’t drive the Range. Rather the Range drove me and I barely controlled it from Kansanga where we lived to Makyinde where I had gone to squirt my name.

As I drove the streets of Makyinde, I came across Jonathan and Ian who I guess were idling but with some hot girls in tow and here I am pulling up in a Range Rover! The girls swooned, Ian and Jonathan drooled malusu (saliva) while I was beaming and on the verge of a massive ego ejaculation. Back at Jonathan and Ian’s house, phone calls were made and chaps rode over on their ‘Chopper’ bikes (anybody remember them?) to see me, the star of the day in a Range. When they turned up, I sneered at them because they rode bikes instead of driving a Range.

Time though was almost up. At 1:00pm my folks would be home for lunch so I had to scoot after all, the mission of my name doing the rounds had been accomplished. And in front of a crowd of boys and girls, I lit up the Range and with elbow leaning on the window, I drove out of the gates and that’s when Range Rover showed me a move.
Its V8 engine kicked came alive that it leaped a small wall, careered across the road, bouncing off a wall and came to a standstill after crashing through a wall and was left overlooking a house in the valley below!

As the damaged Range hung there, my adoring female fled home and did most of the boys while my face popped millions of ready-to-be-squeezed zits and the need to be in the depths of Siberia where my parents could not find me was top of my agenda.
With no idea of what do, I sat by the side of the road and wailed – I think I even pissed my pants. I don’t know how my parents found me, but I wailed even louder when they turned up – not because I was relieved that the ordeal was over but because the hiding I was going to get was just round the corner. And when we got home, I wailed even louder and like the judge I mentioned earlier, I too cowered under the bed for with dad and his anger, it was no longer sweet home but more of a fierce battle in Luwero triangle.

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, ...