Monday, September 19, 2011

My Gripe

People gripe and I am no exception. Sometimes I feel I am developing a hernia because I start to gripe about something as soon as I wake up but, I have resigned myself to fighting a losing battle with my gripes.

Right now I have a gripe to pick with the tycoon, Karim Hiriji. Could somebody please tell him that, it has been close to ten years since he bought the former UCB building on Kampala Road and renamed it Cham Towers. And while I do applaud him for having carried out renovation works on it, one thing he has not done is to remove the blue and white protective foil that covered the brown tiles that were used on the exterior of the building. Far from having some charm, Cham Towers, is a building that blights the city’s landscape.

I feel like going out today but, I have locked myself in the house for I have 29 reasons why I think I should stay home.

1. Watches: I don’t like people who wear watches that do not work. Worse still, when you ask them what the time is, they look down at their watch, then try to hide it up as they whisper it does not work.

2. Waitresses:
What is it with waitresses who come to your table to take your order and just stand there? They make no attempt at a greeting or making you feel welcome. And if you decide to wait for a greeting which won’t be forth coming, they will just walk off.

3. Petrol pump attendants: Their favourite word is - ‘extend’. As in, extend your car. You really can’t extend a car because it means you are being asked to make the body longer.

4. The missed call people: These are people who call you back when they see a missed call from you. When they call back, they ask, “Were you trying to call me?” Duh, by the time you see a missed from me, it means I was trying to call you!

5. Two pieces of meat: Going out to eat in a restaurant where you are only entitled to a measly two pieces of meat, whose idea was that? I want at least five pieces.

6. Surname first: People who introduce themselves starting off with their surname as in, “My names are Bukumunhe Timothy. So not on! It should always be first name first as in Timothy Bukumunhe.

7. The watchstrap: People who wear watches with a strap that is too big for them that it slides up and down their arm. When they want to look at the time, they always shake their wrist to get the watch looking upright.

8. Apparently: Like the reporter I sent to cover a function which had been cancelled. He called and told me, “Apparently it has been cancelled.” Either the function was cancelled or it wasn’t.

9. Lazy women: Lazy women in the taxis who sit up in the front and by the door. What do they do? When you want to get out, rather they getting out of the taxi to make it easier for you to get out, they stay put and simply swing their legs over seat as you struggle to get by.

10. Nose pickers: People who pick their noses then look at their snot for a good while before rolling it into a ball and flicking it across the room.

11. Boda boda riders: How difficult is it to button up a jacket? Well for boda boda riders it is. They feel it is easier to wear them back to front than buttoning or zipping up.

12. Bajaj riders: These are the Asian men who take their families out on a Sunday ride on their Bajaj motorcycles. Yes daddy will wear a crash helmet but his wife and child are not entitled to one.

13. The small finger: Men who think it is cool and sexy to have a long nail on their small finger.

14. Bumper stickers: Men who drive top of the range cars like a Ranger Rover Sports or Audi Q7’s then deface them with stickers that read: “I love Namagunga SSS” or “CBS – Radio ya Buganda. If anything, such cars should only have two window stickers – insurance and parking sticker.

15. Conning: Women who when asked out on a date say, “so and so is trying to con me”. Women, when a man asks you out on a date, he is asking you out on a date. So why do you say he is trying to con you?

16. Tugging at the crotch: Men who are seemingly unable to walk through town without tugging at their crotches.

17. Indecisive Women: Women who you take to lunch and who tell you they are not hungry but when your pork and chips arrive, they start picking at it.

18. Ministers and MPs: Ministers and MPs who get to church late and then expect you to give up your seat for them.

19. Carpenters opposite Total in Nsambya: When you buy furniture from them, everything is steady and firm until you get home and lay them out on your floor which is even. That’s when discover the tables and chairs will rock all over the place because they were built in a workshop with an uneven floor.

20. Asking to look at your phone: People who pick up your phone to have a look at its applications then swiftly go into your directory where they start taking down the numbers they don’t have.

21. University students: When you ask them what they are studying, they proudly say, “I am offering a degree in management.” Just what on earth is ‘offering’? When asked, the answer is simple. “I am doing a degree in management”.

22. Waitresses II: Why on earth is it physically impossible for a waitress to take your order without having to lean on the table? Are they incapable of standing up without the aid of one?

23. Security personnel: They love the glove compartment. From the police at Entebbe Airport check point to the guards at Sheraton hotel, the first thing they want to check is the glove compartment. Nobody with a gun or some incendiary device hides them in the glove box. There are many other places where those items can be hidden.

24. Askaris: What do they mean when they ask, “where are you coming from?” The last time Askari asked me that question, I dutifully replied, “I am coming from home” to which he retorted, “What do you mean you are coming from home?” Looking at him, I said, “you asked me where I was coming from and I said from home. I drove straight from home to this office.”

25. Over there: I will pay 100k to the first person who can tell me where, ‘over there’ is. People say ‘over there’ while pouting their mouths in the general direction of ‘over there’, like the waitress in Gabiro, the Bugolobi based pub did when I asked her where the washrooms were. She turned her head, pouted her lips then said over there.

26. The ATM: Why on earth does the person behind you have to stand so close behind you that he practically grinds his groin into your butt? Don’t they know that the queue won’t move any faster whether they are pressing and grinding into your butt on not? Give me some space!

27. The ‘ok please’ and ‘well done’ people: When you say okay, you are not obliged to finish it off with the word please. Okay on its own will suffice. And there is ‘well done’. After a brief conversation with a friend who owns a shop, as we parted company he tells me well done. Why, what have I done to deserve it?

28. Orders from above: Does anybody know who ‘orders from above’ is? In my many battles with the police and security agents, the answer they always give me when I dare question them is ‘orders from above’. Who is he or she?

29. Feet Dragging: Why can’t people especially women just not walk. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to walk. Simply lift one foot and move it forward. Then lift the other and do the same. But alas, it would appear it is too much work for the fairer sex who would rather drag their feet all over town rather than lifting them!

The He Goat

The Royal Ascot Goat Races took place a few weeks ago at Speke Resort, Munyonyo and taking centre stage were the goats or was it the free food and drink in one of the hospitality tents? Talking of hospitality tents, Brian Muwonge’s Warid, Elvis Wava’s Silk Events and Steven Kavuma’s Club Silk kicked!

But getting back, some people say that goats are perhaps the daftest creatures ever to walk the planet. That train of thought may hold true because at the races, He Goat 9, upon which its owners had lavished quit a sum of money was in its own element.

He Goat 9 was on fire. At the start of his race, he found himself surrounded by a bevy of female goats that not only did his libido kick in, he lost concentration and literally started sniffing and trying to lick at the genitalia of Female Goat’s. Eek! I think the Minister of Agriculture should pass some law condemning such an act. He Goat 9 sniffed hard with his nose pressed right up on the susu area of Female Goat - not in private, but in public and with a number of children looking on! If we humans dared do such a thing, the morality police right down from Pastor Martin Sempa to the Minister of Ethics to Church of Uganda would be up in arms making noise. But truth be told, I hear some humans, whilst in the confines of their bedrooms do sniff on each other’s genitalia. Hmm!

Once the race got underway, so did He Goat 9. He was totally focused on his attempts to mount Female Goat. At one point on the second lap, he almost succeeded but she thwarted him when she kicked out at him. But he wasn’t about to give up. He kept at it that with all the nudging he was doing on her genital area, she and in a bid to get away from him run that much faster and just when he at last thought he was about to ‘mount her’ (it sounds so gross), he inadvertently nudged her over the finish line that she won the race.

He Goat 9 owners naturally went livid. “It’s off with your head tonight” they taunted him as he led off the race track. Later that night there was a barbecue going in one of the tents and on the spit was a whole goat. I wonder if that was He Goat 9.

There are some people who are not predictable and have a ‘goat like mentality’. They don’t give a hoot that you could be in your own time and doing your own thing and don’t want to be disturbed. They figure that just because you are a public figure it is their right to have access to you at all times.

I used to go to Cineplex but for the past three years, I have not been there simply because of the ‘harassment’ I endure. Some fans are thoughtful enough that they wait till you are alone and then approach you. But there was one – who sat behind me in the cinema hall and who did the unthinkable.

We were half way through the James Bond movie – Quantum of Solace when I got a tap on my shoulder. Looking back there was this chap leaning forward and the conversation that followed went along these lines.

Chap: “Are you Bakumunne?”

TB: “You mean Bukumunhe. My name does not have the letter ‘a’ in it.”

Chap: “Wati (I think he meant in ‘what’ in English) it is nice to meet you.”

TB: “Thank you, but I am trying to watch a movie.”

Five minutes later, there is another tap and Chap this time, wants to introduce me to his girlfriend. The conversation resumed along these lines.

Chap: “TB, I was telling my girlfriend who you are. But you know some people don’t read newspapers. Girlfriend, greet Bakumunhe.”

TB: “Its Bukumunhe and not Bakumunhe!”

Girlfriend: “Nice to meet you Bakumunhe.”

Chap: “It’s her birthday next week. Can you recommend a place where I can take her out to eat?”

I ignore him. When I get back into the movie, I find I have lost the best part of fifteen minutes including the scene where the actress Halle Berry strips down. It really irked me for I had to find a hawker who sold me the movie on DVD and when I got home and settled down to watch it, it started to skip minutes into the movie.
Before OPP (for those who don’t know him, he is a pastor Okudi lookalike) upped and left Uganda for the States we met up in just Kicking for a drink before going off to the Sheraton Hotel for a function.

Whilst in Just Kicking and deeply engrossed in conversation, the barman slides over two TMLs (and once again for the benefit of the people who keep asking me what I mean by TML, it is, short for Tusker Malt Larger). Looking up, OPP tells Barman that we didn’t place an order. Barman nods his head and says they are from the man standing on the other side of the bar.

I see him and he has all the features of being somebody attached to the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB). By the way, if you work for PBG and you think you are inconspicuous and blend in with the populous, you are so mistaken. PGB operatives stick out like a sore thumb and if you want to see them in their masses, go to bars on Main Street in Jinja when they have been given a weekend break from their training at Kimaka.

PGB Operative comes over and just like chap from Cineplex, he is overwhelmed. Okay yes, it did feel sweet for he went on and on as he praised me. At one point I lost track of how many times he shook my hand.

The crowning moment came when he called his father – a cattle herder somewhere off the road to Ntungamo and we demanded we at least say hello to him. I am sure his father had never heard of me or OPP and my attempts to say hello did not get very far because he was blaring down the phone in Runayankole.

PGB Operative had something else up his sleeve. He had shelved whatever plans he had for that evening to hang out with us.

Seeing that we had a prior engagement at The Sheraton, we told him that it would be impossible. But he was adamant. All he had to do was to go back to his barracks at State House Nakasero, pick up some cash and then meet us at a location of our choosing. Before we parted he made sure he rang his number into our phones.

I don’t know how he knew which function it was at the Sheraton that we were attending for during the speeches, OPP nudged me and pointed him out. He was hovering near the bar. Worse still was then he saw us, he spewed out some words of excitement in Runanyankole – enough to have the guests looking round.
While he wasn’t really bothering us – I think he was more of a gentle nuisance, we did at some stage manage to give him the slip and flee. While we contemplated going back to Just Kicking, we passed on it and went to Bubbles – just in case he had made his way back to Just Kicking.

With two drinks from Bubbles in us, we went on to Iguana and no sooner had OPP paid for the first round than the now all too familiar voice rang out across the bar.
PGB Operative was there and this time he had two of his colleagues in tow who, also placed phone calls to their parents in Lyantonde and Rushere so that we could say hello to them. And with the amount of handshaking that went on, by the time I got home, I was nursing a bruised hand whilst trying figure out if PGB Operative was for real when he said his father had given me a bull.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Johnny, My Bodyguard

For the past couple of weeks, I have been gripped by the events unfolding in Libya particularly the storming of Bab al-Azizia compound, which was Col. Gadaffi’s residence for it would appear that Gadaffi was not watching the news when in 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines fled the MalacaƱang Palace or more recently when Saddam Hussein was toppled.

That said, let me put it bluntly to our incumbent and anybody aspiring for the office of president here in Uganda. Just in case things go sour whilst you are in office and you have to flee, make sure you pack your personal belongings especially your clothes and dirty underwear for the last thing you would want to see as you watch television in exile is of looters rummaging through your clothes.

I am sure Gadaffi must have been horrified at the sight of one of the rebels who was posing on Sky News whilst wearing his blue army peaked cap while others languished on his bed and went through his wardrobe. Assuming you were not able to flee, make sure that by the time the coup leaders storm State House to arrest you, you are decently dressed for if you remember Jonas Savimbi the UNITA rebel leader from Angola, he was shot dead in the bush wearing nothing but red and blue underwear. What about Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who was smoked out whilst clad in a tatty vest? And there was poor Saddam Hussein who was arrested whilst looking nothing like his former self in a neatly ironed army uniform but like a tramp! Mao, Besigye, Olara, Ssali, Museveni, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Getting back, as they say, a melee is a melee. Most of us have at some point been involved in a melee. At school most of the melee’s happened on the football or rugby pitches. If not they happened in the dorm just before the lights went out and it usually had something to do with girls. I hear that when Budonians fought, they took a walk down to the Old Field where they boxed the senses out of each other. At my school – The Grange that is, the fights were organised. If we had issues, we would not melee each other there and then, but would take our grievances to a Zambian chap called Kabosha who was everything from a fight pimp to a bookie. After bets were made, it was a trip down to a clearing in the forest for the battle.

For the life of me, I really can’t remember why I had beef with Graham. Or was it that he had beef with me? Anyway, no amount of talking was going to prevent the inevitable. The way I saw it the conflict dispute Graham and I had had to be solved by a melee.

Obviously by the time I had made up my mind to melee him, I had already sized him and concluded that I could take him on. Down to the forest we went and when the melee started, Graham lunged at me which I thought was a rather stupid move.
But it wasn’t a stupid move for he punched me hard in the stomach and winded me. The second punch caught me on the nose and dislodged all the snot that was clogging up my nose. I was now down on my knees with snot strewn all over my face as he kicked at me. The fight was over well before it had even started.

That was then and just because I lost that fight, if there is anybody who thinks I am a weed and has ambitions of taking me on, please don’t do it, for it would be rather foolhardy of you.

A few years ago I hired a bodyguard for the day. Well he was more than a bodyguard for he dictated where I would sit, where I could or not go amongst other things. Even going to the washrooms, it was he who decided. He made it a point of checking to see who was in the washrooms and once he was satisfied that there was no threat, he would let me in and stand watch as I did my thing.

He was called Johnny and if you know Johnny – he works for Silk Events, his body is packed full of muscle. So I am out on a Friday night at the Rock Bar when a melee – as if shows signs of going down. I had just bought my TML and poured it all into a glass when somebody knocks my arm. When that happened, I was disorganised that I poured some of it on the chap who was standing in front of me.

Chap turned round and unleashed a verbal onslaught which he wanted to conclude with a melee. Going by his size, I was no match for him and as he began to poke me in the chest with his index finger, I remembered I had Johnny. Hmm, why is Chap poking me yet he should be poking Johnny so I thought to myself. Stepping aside, I called Johnny. Johnny didn’t want to know the story of who was at fault. As far as he was concerned, his ‘principal’ (a term used by the security services meaning the boss) was in danger.

Johnny took up position between Chap and me and then flexed his huge frame of a chest which rippled up and down. I don’t know how he does it because I have tried it out on my puny chest and nothing happens.

When Chap saw Johnny’s chest flexing, he suddenly saw the light and apologised to me. As he fled, I had the nerve to shout out, “Next time be careful for you just don’t know who you are taking on.” That comment stopped him in his tracks, and he turned ready to throw a punch but didn’t because in the background, Johnny was still flexing his chest.

Do Ugandan tycoons melee? Of course they do. I was out one Sunday with a tycoon who is a hotelier when a melee started to brew. For some reason a South African was rather vexed that his lunch was nowhere to be seen yet he had made his order ages ago. South African was huge – almost of the same size as that of former WWF wrestler now turned actor - The Rock.

South African was having a go at the waiter who was literally shaking in his boots. Though I wanted to intervene and save Waiter, the thought of a punch from South African put me back in my place. I simply kept quiet. While all the abuse was going on, Tycoon Hotelier stood by seemingly unbothered whilst munching on a hamburger.
Done with the hamburger, Tycoon Hotelier rolled up his sleeves and walked over to South African. “Eek” I screamed out. Has Tycoon Hotelier lost his senses? Has he not seen how big South African is? Does he want to spend the next few weeks in IHK hospital while Dr. Ian Clarke re-wires his jaw?

I pointed out all these things to Tycoon Hotelier who simply brushed aside my pleas and said: “Tim, nobody comes into my hotel and starts abusing my staff. Nobody does it. Abusing my staff is my prerogative!”

South African through the corner of his eye saw Tycoon Hotelier approach and swirled round ready for the confrontation. From my safety corner (I was literally cowering under one of the tables) the melee was not going to last a couple of minutes. I imagined that South African would simply bark at Waiter who would susu in his pants. As for Tycoon Hotelier, two punches and that would be it.

I cowered further when Tycoon Hotelier and South African squared off. Then the unthinkable happened. Tycoon Hotelier looked up at South African trying to jab his finger into his face but couldn’t because South African stood at 6ft plus while Tycoon Hotelier is a mere 5:6. “Who the f**k do you think you are coming into my hotel and abusing my staff?” The tirade went on and on that in the end, South African deflated like a balloon at a kids’ birthday party.

Tycoon Hotelier had reduced this huge man to mashed potatoes and threw him out of his resort. When it was all over, Tycoon Hotelier looked round just in time to see me emerge from under the table and asked what I was doing down there.

I wanted to retort by saying, “Are you mad? You really don’t know what I was doing down there? I am of sane mind and though I flunked my physics exam, one thing I do know, if somebody who has a body the size of The Rock lands a punch on me, it is going to hurt!

Bullying

When we talk of bullying, most people think it is something that happens at school and predominantly a male thing. Far from it. Some people were bullied at school like I was. Then there are some people who are bullied at work – again like I was. And women too, some were bullied at school and some have been bullied in the office.

For a while whilst still at school, I was able to survive being bullied simply because when I got to The Grange School, there were only 12 students in the school. Twelve students in the school I hear you cry? Either I have made a typing error or Esther, my editor that is, whilst she was editing the column accidentally knocked off the zero.

Seriously speaking, we were only 12 boys in the school by the time I got there. You see the school had just started out. And because we were all so puny, weedy and with no bark or growl, it didn’t make any sense for any of us to bully each other because if we did, none of us would have taken each other seriously.

So for two years or so, none of us got bullied. It all started to change when the school enrolled sixth formers. Jeez some of them were huge. They also had hair between their legs – something that we didn’t yet have and their ‘dangly bits’ were that much bigger than ours as well.

With the sixth formers came bullying. Not only were we bullied, but we were turned into slaves as well. My slave master then, was a, nobody. “Duh” I say to myself – of course he would be a nobody because he was only in the sixth form! Today I guess you could tag him as a media celebrity for he hosts a popular talk show on one of Kampala’s FM stations.

My duties for Slave Master were explicitly clear. In the morning once he woke, I would be by his bed holding out his bedroom slippers, towel, tooth brush and paste. While he showered, I would standout side the shower with his towel held open so he didn’t have to do it for himself. I also had to put the tooth paste on his tooth brush for him, make his bed and polish his shoes amongst other things.

I guess I was rather fortunate. Other Slave’s weren’t so lucky. Their Slave Master’s would beat them, kick them and hurl words of abuse at them – words of abuse whose meanings we didn’t even know.

I couldn’t wait to get to the fourth form for I would qualify to be a Slave Master and have a chance to bully if I so wished. Of my friends who qualified to be bullies, Richard (whose father currently is a deputy prime minister) was the most timid. Anyway everything went well and though my Slave often showed me signs of resentment, anger and rebellion, he bit his tongue and simmered down whenever I assured him.

Everything however changed when some Slaves got involved in Slave Master’s dealings. One evening somebody had forgotten to lock the tuck shop. Like all school tuck shops, it was filled to the brim with an assortment of chocolates, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. We Slave’s at the time didn’t know that Slave Master had noticed the unlocked door. Rather than report it, Slave Master had kept mum for he planned to raid the tuck shop during the night.

We Slaves had also noticed the unlocked door and rather than reporting it, we decided to raid but we didn’t know that Slave Masters’ were planning the same course of action.

Shortly after 1:00am, we woke and stealthy leaving the dorm, we made our way to the tuck shop. We filled our swag bags with as much goodies as we could fit into them and slithered back unnoticed into the dark. But there was a problem. Where do we keep the loot for once the theft was discovered, the school authorities were bound to start checking the dorms.

After dividing the loot between the two groups that had taken part, my group put ours into a plastic bag and took it down to the river where we hid it.

The following day, the talk was about the tuck shop. The usual suspects were rounded up while threats of suspensions and expulsions filled the school. We held our nerve and soon enough the furore died down.

It was rekindled when it was noticed that some people always had access to chocolates. Slave Masters had noticed and did not waste time swinging into action.

Radio Presenter Slave Master I mentioned earlier came out with all kinds of threats that somebody in the other group cracked. Though he cracked, we were fortunate that he only sold out members of his group and to avoid being reported to the school authorities, they came clean and took Radio Presenter Slave Master to the den where they had hidden their loot.

Obviously Radio Presenter Slave Master did not report the find to the school authorities but instead kept the haul for him and his friends. I didn’t know at the time what Radio Presenter Slave Master had done, but in the course of my slave duties and whilst I was making his bed, I came across the stash hidden deep down in his locker. I wasted no time in swiping half of it.

When Radio Presenter Slave Master found out, he went livid! He threw at me all the swear words he could muster plus a beating of a life time. And the beatings and bullying continued for another one year coming to an end when he finished the sixth form.

When he left, I was in the fourth form and it was my turn to bully. In the first term as a fourth year student, I made it clear to my juniors that I was one of the top dogs. I also had a number of slaves to my name. I had one who polished my shoes, another to bring me breakfast in bed, to make my bed, lay my clothes out for me and so on. And whenever Slaves had a weekend visitor who brought them grub, I was on hand to make sure I got my share – and the lions share at that.

Like I mentioned earlier, if Slaves showed signs of resentment, it quickly fizzled out when I flexed the little muscle that I had on me. If not, a simple bark would do the trick.

In my last year in the fourth form, strange things started to happen. My tooth brush did not have the same feel, texture and smell that it used to have (Slave used to rub it in the grass). Though I had seen Slave polishing my shoes in the morning, they would be dusty no sooner had I left the dorm. The stupid Slave so I found out was not using shoe polish but Vaseline and of course once dust hits Vaseline, it sticks to it like super glue. And when I sent Slave to the shops he didn’t bring back the change – well not that I had given him any money in the first place.

Well enough was enough! I had to crack the whip. I did but it did not achieve the required results.

The first Slave that I took on told his mother that when she next visited him she gave me a lengthy and humbling lecture. Another simply stood his ground and said, “Pussy, what are you going to do about it!?” That startled me because then, the word ‘pussy’ meant nothing to me apart from being a baby cat or rather a kitten.

Third Slave took me on two years later when we bumped into each other at King’s Cross Station in London. Slave was no longer a weed. Rather he towered and his body was full of muscle. “Gwe Bukumunhe” he shouted out, “You still reckon you can bully me?” I kept quiet.

When I was done with education, I thought that was the end of bullying until I started working for a newspaper in which a certain Andrew, who now owns a magazine was working for at the time. Oh, he bullied me. In fact he terrified me! Then there was a Simon who also worked for a newspaper but now spends his time sending SMS’s for a living and who would bellow his gruff voice across the newsroom and in the process have me looking for the nearest place to hide.

As we come to the close of this Cowardly Tale, I have this to say to the Slave who called me ‘pussy’. “Slave, if our paths ever cross, I will show you who the pussy is!Tumbavu too!”

Pit Latrine Horrors!

A while back, anybody who watched Sky News, BBC News or Al Jazeera, would have seen the pictures of the riots, buildings being burnt down and looting that happened in the UK. Yes, even the bazungu do their fair share of looting though the difference between them and us is that we don’t burn down buildings! The scenes were reminiscent of recent riots in Kampala City, riots which made headline news in just about every foreign country – especially the US and the UK.

The governments of those two countries were so alarmed by the riots that they instructed both the State Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (their versions of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to issue ‘travel advisory’s’. By that, I mean they advised their nationals who were intending to come to Uganda to do so because the situation here was ‘deemed too dangerous.

I looked for Sam Kuteesa who is our Foreign Minister but without much success. I also went to his office but he was always out. I tried calling him but he never picked his cell. Sam, and if you don’t mind me calling you Sam and dispensing the Hon title stuff, why did your office not issued a travel advisory to Ugandan’s intending to travel to the UK? I mean if they can to it to us, then I am sure we can do it to them for the country was a war zone

Closer to home, I have a bone to pick with anybody into the building trade. Builders today are seemingly incapable of building anything straight. They can’t build a wall in a straight line, they don’t know what a square is neither do they know what a rectangle is. All they know or rather all they will tell you is that “It must be straight because ‘the bridge tells us so.”

In the last house that I lived in, some renovation work had to be carried out before I moved in. One thing I noticed is that the light switch in the kitchen was upside down. When I told Electrician about it, his response was swift and simple. He turned the light on and off to prove that it works. When I told him that the switch was upside down, his retort was: “But Mzee, you saw for yourself. The lights work. Don’t they?” It was a futile argument and for that, when he was done, I had to get in another electrician to correct his work.

There is of course a big difference between the people who are into the toilet trade. The people who manufacture sit-on-toilets or even the squat toilets that have the provision for flushing have most certainly got the formula right. They put some thought into what they were manufacturing and they have tried their level best to me we the user feel comfortable and at home with their products.

You see, the average circumference of a sit-on-toilet is the same size as that of the rim of your yellow spare tyre that is in the boot of your car. With that circumference, it can safely accommodate the biggest bums that Bushenyi, Ankole, Kigezi, Buganda have to offer. It can also accommodate the biggest bums that the Rwandese can throw at us as well as that of a Japanese sumo wrestler.

Meanwhile, a squat toilet equipped with a water flushing provision is not only long enough and wide enough for the bums that I mentioned earlier, some people prefer them to sit-on- toilets for reasons of hygiene.

When I was still at school, I used to have problems with the A4 sheet of paper. Filling one side of it during an exam was always a trick, a burden and a strain. If only they could have made it smaller so I used to think to myself.

Enter the pit latrine builder. Why does he have to be so different from the sit-on-toilet manufacturer and the squat toilet manufacturer? What is so ingenious about the design of a pit latrine that the makers decreed that the hole into which our waste is to be deposited should be no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper?

I took me a while but I did my research on a number of pit latrines and I can assure you that a sheet of A4 paper is much bigger than the hole of a pit latrine.
And as we know, disasters in the toilets happen and that some men pee on the toilet seats, but other than that, disasters of the ‘number two’ nature are rare.

With a toilet circumference the size of a rim of a spare tyre, when you are using a sit-on-toilet you really have to have issues if you mess it up. If you, then not to worry, for there is always a toilet brush in the corner that is available to do the need full cleaning up. The same thing is also applicable to a squat toilet with a flushing provision.

But the pit latrine! Lillian A, who is a sub-editor with New Vision told us a tale that in her village, when the villagers don’t have toilet tissue, they use leaves. If no leaves are available, then they simply rub the crack of the bums up and down the edges of the walls in the toilets! Hmm!

There are also some pit latrine builders who have tried to make life easy for us. They have built raised foot imprints onto the floor. I presume it is supposed to act as some navigation system – a sort of GPS in that once your feet are on the raised foot implants, your bottom will automatically be guided to the hole of the pit.
A few years ago, I was in Kyankwanzi whose toilets are of the pit latrine type. When I had to go, I was reminded of Lillian A’s tale and made sure I did not touch any of the edges. You just never know which army man did what in there.

The Kyankwanzi pit latrines were clean enough – well the floors were though I had to manoeuvre my bum over the pit latrine hole without the aid of the navigation system or rather a GPS in the form of the raised foot imprints I was telling you about earlier because the floors didn’t have them.

It was a trick. I found that in the squatting position, you can have you feet flat. Rather your heel is raised and your body support is on your toes.

When I looked down, I realised my bum was too far back from the pit hole so I hobble forward. Then oops, I had gone too far forward so I hobbled two paces back. But something was still not okay. I was too far to the right of the pit hole so again I made some calculations and figured two steps to the left ought to do it. I did just that but to my frus, I had in the process also gone a step backwards.

What the heck I thought. Let me just get on with it. Horror, horror! I found you can’t get both your susu and ‘number two’ into the pit hole at the same time so my susu went forming a river all the way to the door!

Worse still, ‘number two’ missed the pit hole and had been deposited to the left of the hole. Why to the left I asked myself. Had it anything to do with my being left handed? I really have to think a lot harder about that.

Pit latrine did not have a toilet brush so the question begged, how do I clean up the mess? A). Just make a run for it. B) Again just make a run for it. C). Again just make a run for it.

With three very similar options to choose from, I was about to do just that when it occurred to me I was wearing army issue UPDF gumboots. And with that I had a plan D.
With plan D, I just scraped the residue into the pit hole and bolted down to the stream to wash them through the water.

Later that evening, I saw people heading off the latrines but whenever they opened the one that I had used, they came straight back out and used another one. I got the feeling that the UPDF army issue gum boots had not done an effective job of cleaning up the mess. I wonder where the army brought them from? China?

Pit Latrine Horrors!

A while back, anybody who watched Sky News, BBC News or Al Jazeera, would have seen the pictures of the riots, buildings being burnt down and looting that happened in the UK. Yes, even the bazungu do their fair share of looting though the difference between them and us is that we don’t burn down buildings! The scenes were reminiscent of recent riots in Kampala City, riots which made headline news in just about every foreign country – especially the US and the UK.

The governments of those two countries were so alarmed by the riots that they instructed both the State Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (their versions of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to issue ‘travel advisory’s’. By that, I mean they advised their nationals who were intending to come to Uganda to do so because the situation here was ‘deemed too dangerous.

I looked for Sam Kuteesa who is our Foreign Minister but without much success. I also went to his office but he was always out. I tried calling him but he never picked his cell. Sam, and if you don’t mind me calling you Sam and dispensing the Hon title stuff, why did your office not issued a travel advisory to Ugandan’s intending to travel to the UK? I mean if they can to it to us, then I am sure we can do it to them for the country was a war zone

Closer to home, I have a bone to pick with anybody into the building trade. Builders today are seemingly incapable of building anything straight. They can’t build a wall in a straight line, they don’t know what a square is neither do they know what a rectangle is. All they know or rather all they will tell you is that “It must be straight because ‘the bridge tells us so.”

In the last house that I lived in, some renovation work had to be carried out before I moved in. One thing I noticed is that the light switch in the kitchen was upside down. When I told Electrician about it, his response was swift and simple. He turned the light on and off to prove that it works. When I told him that the switch was upside down, his retort was: “But Mzee, you saw for yourself. The lights work. Don’t they?” It was a futile argument and for that, when he was done, I had to get in another electrician to correct his work.

There is of course a big difference between the people who are into the toilet trade. The people who manufacture sit-on-toilets or even the squat toilets that have the provision for flushing have most certainly got the formula right. They put some thought into what they were manufacturing and they have tried their level best to me we the user feel comfortable and at home with their products.

You see, the average circumference of a sit-on-toilet is the same size as that of the rim of your yellow spare tyre that is in the boot of your car. With that circumference, it can safely accommodate the biggest bums that Bushenyi, Ankole, Kigezi, Buganda have to offer. It can also accommodate the biggest bums that the Rwandese can throw at us as well as that of a Japanese sumo wrestler.

Meanwhile, a squat toilet equipped with a water flushing provision is not only long enough and wide enough for the bums that I mentioned earlier, some people prefer them to sit-on- toilets for reasons of hygiene.

When I was still at school, I used to have problems with the A4 sheet of paper. Filling one side of it during an exam was always a trick, a burden and a strain. If only they could have made it smaller so I used to think to myself.

Enter the pit latrine builder. Why does he have to be so different from the sit-on-toilet manufacturer and the squat toilet manufacturer? What is so ingenious about the design of a pit latrine that the makers decreed that the hole into which our waste is to be deposited should be no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper?

I took me a while but I did my research on a number of pit latrines and I can assure you that a sheet of A4 paper is much bigger than the hole of a pit latrine.
And as we know, disasters in the toilets happen and that some men pee on the toilet seats, but other than that, disasters of the ‘number two’ nature are rare.
With a toilet circumference the size of a rim of a spare tyre, when you are using a sit-on-toilet you really have to have issues if you mess it up. If you, then not to worry, for there is always a toilet brush in the corner that is available to do the need full cleaning up. The same thing is also applicable to a squat toilet with a flushing provision.
But the pit latrine! Lillian A, who is a sub-editor with New Vision told us a tale that in her village, when the villagers don’t have toilet tissue, they use leaves. If no leaves are available, then they simply rub the crack of the bums up and down the edges of the walls in the toilets! Hmm!
There are also some pit latrine builders who have tried to make life easy for us. They have built raised foot imprints onto the floor. I presume it is supposed to act as some navigation system – a sort of GPS in that once your feet are on the raised foot implants, your bottom will automatically be guided to the hole of the pit.
A few years ago, I was in Kyankwanzi whose toilets are of the pit latrine type. When I had to go, I was reminded of Lillian A’s tale and made sure I did not touch any of the edges. You just never know which army man did what in there.
The Kyankwanzi pit latrines were clean enough – well the floors were though I had to manoeuvre my bum over the pit latrine hole without the aid of the navigation system or rather a GPS in the form of the raised foot imprints I was telling you about earlier because the floors didn’t have them.
It was a trick. I found that in the squatting position, you can have you feet flat. Rather your heel is raised and your body support is on your toes.
When I looked down, I realised my bum was too far back from the pit hole so I hobble forward. Then oops, I had gone too far forward so I hobbled two paces back. But something was still not okay. I was too far to the right of the pit hole so again I made some calculations and figured two steps to the left ought to do it. I did just that but to my frus, I had in the process also gone a step backwards.
What the heck I thought. Let me just get on with it. Horror, horror! I found you can’t get both your susu and ‘number two’ into the pit hole at the same time so my susu went forming a river all the way to the door!
Worse still, ‘number two’ missed the pit hole and had been deposited to the left of the hole. Why to the left I asked myself. Had it anything to do with my being left handed? I really have to think a lot harder about that.
Pit latrine did not have a toilet brush so the question begged, how do I clean up the mess? A). Just make a run for it. B) Again just make a run for it. C). Again just make a run for it.
With three very similar options to choose from, I was about to do just that when it occurred to me I was wearing army issue UPDF gumboots. And with that I had a plan D.
With plan D, I just scraped the residue into the pit hole and bolted down to the stream to wash them through the water.
Later that evening, I saw people heading off the latrines but whenever they opened the one that I had used, they came straight back out and used another one. I got the feeling that the UPDF army issue gum boots had not done an effective job of cleaning up the mess. I wonder where the army brought them from? China?

Force Majeure

There has been no honeymoon for barely days into her new assignment as Editor of this magazine, Esther has shown her wrath. In my column last week she had issues with a line that read: “She clenched her butt cheeks...” Hmm, I wonder where the ‘misdemeanour’ was but then again, she is the editor so I guess whatever she says goes. Never one to give up, I will try again today and see if I can get away with it.

Enough about Esther - let’s get into the meat of today’s Cowardly Tales. Force Majeure. Force Majeure according the dictionary on my lap top is a French term literally translated as ‘greater force’. This clause is included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restricts participants from fulfilling obligations.
This clause is meant to benefit both parties in a contract. Force Majeure would come into play, for example, when you buy a house. If the house is destroyed in a fire caused by a lightning strike, neither party remains obligated.

Force Majeure is not a normal run-of-the-mill word thrown about on a daily basis. It is a word favored by lawyers and insurance brokers. They like using it not only because it confuses the average layman they deal with but, they would rather not use the words ‘we won’t pay’ in a contract. ‘We won’t pay’ is too black and white and harsh. If you read that in a contract would you sign on the dotted line? I know I wouldn’t, so they use the word Force Majeure to pull the wool over our eyes. Clever people they are!

The human body also has to contend with Force Majeure for it will tell you that if drink un-boiled water and you end up with a stomach upset, neither party remains obligated. In this context the concerned parties are your stomach and the vendor who sold you the water.

It was a few years ago when WBS Television threw a mega anniversary party at Speke Resort Munyonyo. Seeing that I had at one point worked for WBS as a producer, I expected to be invited. I was though the invite came with something extra. Elvis Sekyanzi who was then the Executive Director of the station asked if I would give a speech. I was a trifle hesitant but nevertheless accepted.

What didn’t I know about WBS or its owner Gordon Wava? During my tenure at the station, my relationship with Gordon had its up’s and down’s. We were both big headed and we both felt the need to impress and ‘out do’ each other with our knowledge of television. But like they say, you can’t have two bulls in a kaaral and with Gordon being the bigger bull than I, is there any need to guess which bull had to take a hike? Me of course! Though I hiked, there was no bad blood spilt that to-date, I have a very strong and healthy relationship with him.

The day of the anniversary party, I woke up feeling good despite having quaffed more than I should have the previous night. I wasn’t ‘hanging’, my eyes were not blood shot and my stomach felt good. As the day wore on, I made adjustments to my speech, had a hearty lunch followed by a nap.

At the party, the guest list was impressive enough but while everybody was quaffing on champagne, an assortment of beers and spirits, I was on orange juice. I had to be because I wanted to have a clear and focused head as I delivered my keynote speech.

As I battled my nerves someone suggested I have two shots of Johnnie Walker black label. Now anyone who has been fortunate enough to have a drink with me knows I don’t do spirits. Period! It has to be a TML or Tusker Larger. With nerves that have to be soothed I figured, why not? I didn’t do just two shots but four.
And then deliverance time came. MC announced my name and when he did, I saw the 500 plus guests look in my direction. There was a ripple of applause as I majestically strode towards the podium.

I was almost there when I felt a grumble in my stomach. It was not a grumble of hunger or a quest for a TML. This grumble had all the hallmarks of a Force Majeure written over it. Either the four shots of Johnnie Walker had an adverse reaction with my stomach or the combination of a carton of orange juice and four shots of Johnnie Walker was something I should not have done.

In other words and without warning, a diarrhea attack was looming. I paused my stride to clench my butt cheeks and to see if they passed the ‘litmus test’. The answer was not at all encouraging.

By the time I got to the podium I had broken out into a sweat. I was no longer thinking about the speech but thinking why, why today of all times do I have to have a diarrhea attack? Why didn’t the attack come two days ago when I spent the entire day at home and with a toilet nearby?

And it got me thinking. Diarrhea is evil and sly. It carefully picks the most inappropriate time to attack. It will never attack when you are home. It waits for when you are sitting in a taxi, when you are in the check out queue at Uchumi or Nakumatt supermarkets. If not, it waits until you are on a bus heading up country. When the bus stops for a toilet and refreshment break, it won’t attack you then. It waits until the journey has resumed, like ten or fifteen minutes into the journey then it attacks!

Diarrhea like I said is evil! It’s a Force Majeure that is designed to embarrass you. At the podium and three lines into my speech I feel another surge, a much stronger surge that I re-tighten my butt cheeks.

Getting back into the speech, the third surge hits that I have to bite my lips and bang my fist onto the podium table. I start to wonder if I should abandon the speech. If I did, what would Gordon think? Would he think I snubbed him? And the rest of the guests, what would they think? It won’t look good so I force life and press on with the speech.

I don’t know how I got through the speech, but I can tell you I have never clenched my butt cheeks like that in my life. And as the applause rang out, while I wanted hang around and savor the accolades, it was to the toilet that I had to get. I even mapped out my route from the podium to the entrance of the ballroom.

When I left the podium, I walked gingerly with butt cheeks still clenched. I had almost made it to the door when I am ambushed by former Kampala City Mayor, Ssebbana Kizito. He’s latched onto my hand and won’t let go while he asks about my father. Five agonizing minutes are spent with him.

When he eventually let’s go, it’s all about running like hell to the toilet. If the bowels decide to open themselves up in the process then so be it. I will just keep on running all the way to the car park and into my car to drive myself home.
But I made it to the toilets. The noise that followed as I let rip was more like that of a Fuso truck trying to start up on a cold morning or was it like that of a grader? I really can’t remember.

What I do remember over the Fuso truck or was it grader like sounds, were what the men in the toilet area were saying. They were saying things like “whoever that is, he must be in a very bad way.” Another said, “It is a shame that people who get diarrhea do not clean up the toilets after themselves”.

Well I did clean up the toilet, but I had to sit in there for a good fifteen minutes after I was done because people were waiting to see who emerged from the cubicle.
When I eventually extracted myself from the cubicle without being noticed, back at my table I was asked if I knew who it was who had the diarrhea attack. Without hesitation, I pointed to an elderly man three tables away. “Bambi Jajja, he looks the type” somebody whispered. I had gotten away with it until today that is when I decided to come clean.

The Female Spat

There is something about a public spat. It gives us fodder to feed on, to come up with theories and to give our predictions as to who the eventual winner might be.
In today’s Uganda, the Museveni-Besigye spat is still on-going and the most talked about. Then there was the spat over a Kololo house between former Kampala Mayor, Nasser Ssebbagala and the diminutive Jennifer Musisi who heads Kampala City Authority. It was a spat that we relished but in the end it did not amount to much because Ssebagala crumbled – no, tell a lie, he wilted even before the battle had started and was reduced to putty and mashed potatoes in her hands.

No sooner had she wiped Ssebagala’s tears off her shoulders, Musisi went looking for another spat in the formidable Gen. David Tinyefuza. Of course I placed a call to a trusted source in the corridors of her office to find out if she was of sane mind and Source was not too sure. “I can’t believe she is taking him on! Do you know what he can do to her?” so Source said.

For the lack of a better way of putting it, Musisi has firmly clenched her butt cheeks, taken off her make-up and doesn’t care if she breaks her finger nails. Then she picked up a G-string, pulled back the string and splat! She fired off a number of salvos at Tinyefuza.

But wait a minute. Something appears to be amiss in the script. Did Tinyefuza come out all huffing and puffing? Did he storm Musisi’ office with a battalion of battle hardened crack commandos just back from tackling Al Shabab in Somalia to take her on?
Bleak! Rather and in a move that reeks of defeatism, Tinye went into ‘hiding’ then sent a young boy who was so green behind the ears to a press conference to read out a statement on his behalf! Incredible, really incredible!

Has the once mighty Tinye been diffused? Shouldn’t President Museveni not see it fit to remove him from his current position as the coordinator of security intelligence services for it is a job which requires ‘balls’ and a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude and move him to a soft position like the ministry of culture?

What Musisi has demonstrated since her appointment is that she is the new breed of woman. She is not of the same mould as Lady Justice Julia Sebutinde, an Allen Kagina, Maria Kiwanuka or a Maggie Kigozi - women who have excelled and have risen to the top of the field in jobs which were once the sole domain for men. Rather, Musisi is a street fighter, a brawler who probably does not have the time to wear silky knickers from Woolworths but army issue combat boxers. If only Uganda had more women like her!

That said, seeing that I have a new editor in the form of Esther Namugoji, I have to tread carefully because she might turn out to be a Musisi clone who won’t give me the latitude that former editor, Sidney gave me over deadlines.

Anyway, there are a few street fighter/brawler women that I know of. I was out on the town – a Friday night at that, with a vivacious lady who is now an American marine.

We hit Wagadugu, the Bukoto Street pub and there we made merry. American Marine kept on getting stares from people because she was a famous media personality.
As we left Wagadugu, at the top of the landing, American Marine paused to wait for me. Then as we walked down the stairs, two things happened in quick sequence. There was a power failure which of course brought an end the loud thump of disco music. Worse for one hapless young lad, as the power went out, he was at the top of his voice in a bid to be heard over the thump of the music, telling his friends what he would do if he was left alone in a room with American Marine.

With the power cut, American Marine heard what was said and that was it. Off came the gloves, her neck jerked back like that of a King Cobra getting ready to strike while her brain went into overdrive as it collated the most venomous swear words.
Then she struck. She was in Hapless Young Lads face – like the face-to-face ‘square off’ boxers do at a press conference. The ‘square off’ cut him down to size then her mouth opened and out came a Tsunami of vile words that sent Hapless Young Lad into a tremble. “You can do what to me?” she barked. In his retort, Hapless Young Man only mustered a spittle driblets. She attacked him again. “If you think you are man enough, then let’s go! My place or yours? And can you really go the distance?”

Eh, American Marine was on a full rampage. The two boys Hapless Young Lad was with slithered away leaving him to face the music, while I too thought it best to wait for her at the bottom of the stairs.

Enter the petite and former WBS Showtime Magazine presenter, when the show was at its peak. Some people called her ‘motor mouth’ because once she got going and coupled with her English accent, it was hard to stop her.

By the time I joined WBS and started to work with her, I had heard of her spats and it was a while in coming before I saw her in action. We were out doing a live broadcast from the UMA trade show in Lugogo, when it all happened.
She had been live on air for the best part of the morning without a break – in her opinion. I had given her two bottles of mineral water and she still wanted a break yet it was a live feed? Hmm! I ignored her because the owner of the station wanted feed to go on. When she started getting rattled, she started by sending out SMSs to me whenever the cameras were not trained on her. When that didn’t work, she sent emissaries who couldn’t find me. Then she started calling me up. When that didn’t work, she tried a different approach.

It was a softly, softly approach at the start. Live on air, she started ranting: “I really don’t know what has gotten into the head of my producer Timothy Bukumunhe. He has had me in this hot sunshine without a break. If anybody sees him, please tell him to come and see me.” I was in the UBL stall quenching my thirst with cold Bell Lager’s, the brand I used to quaff before TML came onto the market.

And she went on and on, her temperament went up. While there was a television set in the stand, I couldn’t hear what she was saying above the loud thump of music until one of the technicians in the Outside Broadcast van came scurrying over with the most alarmed look on his face. Tripping over his words he said something along the lines of Petite Presenter having ‘lost it’ and was in revolt.

I didn’t take his concern seriously but did go over to the OB van to have a listen at what he was saying and oh my god, she had lost it. She was saying things that were not supposed to be said on television.

I ran to her and when the cameras were not trained on her, I stepped in and tried to sooth her. When the cameras swung back to her, Cameraman had the presence to know that something was going on so he went back to filming general UMA scenery.

Then her spat started. Seeing that she held the microphone, I had assumed she had turned it off. She hadn’t. So live on air and on Independence Day, those watching WBS heard an angry conversation along these lines.

Former Showtime Presenter: “What the f**K do you think you are up to? Do you expect to work all day without a break?”

TB: “We are short of staff. Who is going to stand in for you?”
Former Showtime Presenter: “Listen here, I don’t give a f**K! I am going to have a break whether you like it or not!”

TB: “Can I arrange a replacement before you have your break?”
Former Showtime Presenter: “F**k you, f**k you! By the way, I can smell booze on your breath! All along you were sitting in the shade and having a beer while I was toiling away?! You b**ch!”

When the spat ended, we both got a call from higher authority asking us not to come into work for a while. We had been suspended.

The English Wedding

Weddings and regardless where in the world they take place, are a cause for celebration. The same gusto that a wedding in Uganda has is the same gusto that a wedding in Papa New Guinea, America, Brazil and England for example have. It is a time to party, make merry, drink more than a beer too many and for the bride and groom, to sit at the high table while trying to work out just who on earth invited the couple who have heaped their dessert on the same plate as the main meal.

The first English wedding that went to was that of Andrew Norman, an old school friend. After university Andrew joined the police force and after graduating from police academy he thought it was about time he made an honest woman of Julie. While Julie was thrilled, I don’t think she was all amused at being proposed to in a pub but nevertheless, it didn’t bother me because it was Andrew and not I, who would have to face her tantrums years to come. And she had tantrums by the container full.
In the build up, there were no wedding, committee meetings or fundraisers to attend. All we had to do was to turn up. Not to say that as a policeman, Andrew was loaded. They way the wedding system works in England, is that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding.

Hang on. I have just read through what I have written thus far and it reads like I am giving a lecture rather than telling a cowardly tale but bear with me, I will get there soon enough.

In Uganda, kasiiki’s or appropriately putting it, stag or hen nights are usually held on a Thursday night – two days before the wedding on Saturday. But in England, they hold them on Friday, a mere day before the wedding and it is no fancy affair where Groom and Best Man turn up in Silk Lounge in matching shirts and trousers as happens here. There, it is a simple case of heading off to the local pub and getting blazed. And thus my lecture ends.

It was to The Prince of Wales pub that we headed for Andrew’s stag night and it wasn’t just about drinking. Two strippers had been hired to spice things up as well as to give Groom a chance of sowing his last ‘wild oats’.

I would have told you what Strippers did to Groom but for the sake of keeping the peace with Sidney, the editor of this magazine, who would have been so NOT amused had I explicitly laid everything bare, I have decided to keep mum.

With Strippers paid, they did a number of acts which most men would be more than okay with, but which women would have defined as being disgusting. For the finale, they let Groom sow his wild oats with them on the pool table.

Groom was not a chap who could hold his ale that by midnight he started to exhibit signs of passing out and he did shortly after 11:00pm.

But who would have thought that Groom passing out would signal the end of the party. Rather, we threw him into a cab and headed across London to King’s Cross Station. There, we got him a single ticket to Edinburgh in Scotland, relieved him of his wallet and money and in his drunken and passed out state, we bundled him onto the train.

Saturday morning. Wedding day. The first call from Bride came through just after 6:30am. She wanted to know if Groom was awake and sober. How would we know seeing Groom was on his way to Scotland? The second call came twenty minutes later and this time demanding to speak to him. Though feeble, excuses were made and as the morning wore on, Bride began to suspect something was amiss.

Meanwhile Groom had woken up on the outskirts of Edinburgh. His troubles like our troubles back in London were just starting. With no money or a credit card on him, he made a reverse charge phone call to his flat where we had spent the night. We bought him a return ticket in London which he picked at the train station in Edinburgh and was on the first train back to London.

Meanwhile emissaries had been sent by Bride to the flat to report on the state Groom. Having not seen him, they went back all alarmists! And that was it. Bride lost the plot and more than wailed on the phone as to how we were about to ruin her wedding day.

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. To save time, one party was dispatched to Kings Cross Station with Grooms wedding attire and the other to the church to calm down Bride who apparently had a river of mascara running down her cheeks. If I was there, I would have lashed out at her and told her to get a grip, but luckily for her, I was at Kings Cross.

When the train pulled in, we had less than an hour to get Groom to church. He showered at the station and again to save time, we thought it best if he got dressed as we drove to church.

At church, though Bride’s limo had driven twice round the block, she was happier now that she had heard from Groom and Emissaries who had confirmed that that we were en-route to church. The river of mascara had also dried up much to my annoyance because I didn’t get to tell her to get a grip of herself.

In the van we too, were much more relaxed and settled with Groom busy musing over his train journey. However, when we got to church, it was not heaven that awaited us but rather an invitation into hell. We had everything for Groom – right down to the wedding rings but in our haste, I had forgotten to bring shoes. No, not my shoes, but those of Groom.

There was not much that could have been done for Bride, Her Father and Emissaries were adamant that they were not going to drive round the block again while we sorted out shoes. I don’t think they knew it Groom who didn’t have shoes. And so the service went ahead with Groom ever so smart in an off white winged collared shirt, silk cravat, grey waistcoat, pin-striped morning suit and – wait, wait for it, a pair of tattered white Nike sneakers!

At the reception, Bride broke with protocol to give a frosty speech. “Timothy, Damien...I hate all of you. I really hate you. I trusted you all and this is what you do to me? You get my dear Andrew drunk, dump him on a train and allow him to turn up for his wedding in Nike sneakers? I can see you sniggering but it’s not funny!”

To be fair to Bride, we were not just sniggering. We were having a raucous laugh and giving each other high fives under the table!

The true horror of the Nike sneakers was revealed when a few days later we watched the wedding video. Bride is all smiles as she walks down the aisle and as she stands by Groom who lifts up her veil, she spots Nike sneakers. Her face goes into a contortion that even the great escapist Houdini, could not muster and if you lip read what she was saying, it was along the lines of, “You f**k bas***d Andrew, what have you done? You have ruined my wedding! How could you do this to me? Really Andrew how could you?!”

In their wedding album, there are no full length photographs of Bride and Groom nor are they any photos of Damien, me or the rest of the boys. Like we cared!
I wonder what she would say if she found out the real reason as to why their honeymoon was postponed by a few weeks. You see, Groom picked up an STD from Strippers and as he convalesced, he hid Damien’s flat while telling Bride that he was away on another police training course.

Bride though has not forgotten nor has she forgiven me. While she and Groom will be celebrating twenty years of marriage this December, two weeks ago, Groom sent an e-mail in which he talks of a mega party to which I amongst others are not invited for as he put it “my hands are tied and you all know why”. “Not to worry” so Damien replied, “for we are organising our own bash in the pub to which she is not invited.” I wonder if I should ask him to include Strippers on the guest list. Hmm!

The Power of Words

The most common and popular brand of communication on the market today, is of course, talking. Other forms of communication are e-mail, letters and SMS for example. Despite the popular brands, there are some people out there who want to use something different – to be unique in their own right. Amongst the other unconventional favoured brands of communication are, ‘psst’, ‘gwe, hand clapping and simply, whistling.

Those bands if I dare so are the worst. I sneer at them and at the people who use them. However, in some parts Kampala City – especially downtown, ‘psst’, ‘gwe’, hand clapping and whistling are the IN thing and without question or hesitation, people do respond when any of those applications are used. For example, in the old Bamboo Nest in Bugolobi, however polite you are when you hail a waitress and use words like ‘excuse me madam’ you are simply wasting time. I have tried it on a number of occasions and it simply does not attract their attention. However, try the brand of ‘psst’, ‘gwe’, hand clapping or whistling and out of every nook, the waitresses will come pouring out. Maybe their grey matter is not all that and is incapable of registering polite words so I thought to myself.

Taking the experiment to Kampala Road by Nandos, I tried it out on the Green Boat parking attendant. After having parked for two hours, getting Parking Attendant to come and tends to my needs was no easy task. Three cars away, I could see her slumped in a booth and staring at me. The fact that I was standing by the car with the door open and looking at her as she looked at me, I thought we had communicated by ‘brain blue tooth’– that it had registered as in, ‘man standing by a car with the door open and with parking tickets in hand, means he wants to pay and be on his way’. But she didn’t budge.

Before I could think of a plan ‘B’, the person parked behind me and who also wanted to pay and be on his way simply clapped his hands and that was it. Commotion! Four taxis stopped and asked if he was going to Luzira, Ntinda Stretcher, Mukono or Jinja. Parking Attendant was also on her way towards him as were three boda boda’s including one man who was across the street and a newspaper vendor.

When he turned up, Man Across The Street had a demanding look written about his face and wanting to ‘know’ who had called him while Newspaper Vendor was busy thrusting a rag of a tabloid into his face. Boda Boda Chaps looked despondent when it dawned on them that the hand clap was not meant for them while Parking Attendant was full of smiles. She shuffled her booty much like a Lake Victoria wave during low tide into the commotion and did the needful. Since then and whenever I am in town, however much it may itch, I will not look around or acknowledge ‘psst’, ‘gwe’, a hand clap or a whistle.

At the start of this month, I find myself on Kafumbe Mukasa Road. Kafumbe Mukasa Road? Where on earth is that I hear you cry. Kafumbe Mukasa Road (don’t ask me who Kafumbe Mukasa was or is for I don’t know) is a slip road that runs down the entire length of Nakivubo Stadium and I think into the slums of Kisenyi. Like I said, I think. And I got to know of this road through my annual pilgrims to Nakivubo for Simba FMs, Kiggunda.

Kafumbe Mukasa Road is next to impassable. It is in a dilapidated state, the pavements are swamped by anybody who is into metal works while, the wheelbarrow pushers, human traffic, bicycle and motorbike boda boda’s battle it out for whatever little road that is seemingly in a good shape.

I ended up on Kafumbe Mukasa road because I tried to be smart by taking a short cut through Owino Market and promptly got lost in the maze of alleyways. When I emerged on Kafumbe Mukasa Road, I had no idea where I was and wandered round in circles and all lost which, I think is the obvious thing that happens if you are wandering around in circles. Then I saw it – the gold coloured dome of the mosque at Old Kampala. So I figured that as long as I walked towards the dome all will be ok.

I started walking and every now and again I looked up just to make sure I could see the dome. And I could see it. I then get to an intersection that has a traffic jam. As I wait to cross the road, without realisation, the sheer volume of human traffic pushed me off track that when I next looked up, I couldn’t see the dome. Scouring the skies and there it is behind me, so I backtrack occasionally stopping to ask for directions and the answer is always ‘mumaso awo’ (there in front).

With a sense of renewed energy, I trudge on and get all caught up in the mix of a bustling Kafumbe Mukasa Road on a Sunday. Up ahead there is another intersection looming and this time I make sure that I am not pushed off course. As I turn into the intersection, the ground is vibrating. There are two workmen whose pneumatic drills are making them dance round the hole they are trying to dig while a crowd watches. In this part of Kampala, Men With Pneumatic Drills will elicit more than a sizeable crowd. But I am above that for there is no way I can idle around to watch while holding onto my crotch for dear life with my mouth agape as the men who were watching were doing.

As I walk past them with a sneer of a look of my face, somebody shouts out ‘gwe’ which, is followed by two handclaps and a whistle all in quick succession. But hey, it’s me TB. And what has TB always done? Ignore, ignore, ignore. Four more louder hand claps ring out and in front of me, I see a man look up, get off his stool and heads towards the direction of the clapping, behind me.

As we are about to pass each other, he stops, grabs my arm and in Luganda, he tells me I am being called. My response is not that of ‘who is calling me’ and engaging in idle chit chat. I firmly tell him he has made a mistake. But he is insistent. I break my rule and look round. There is a man crouched near the hole that is being carved by Men With Pneumatic Drills and pointing in my direction as his other hand tugs at his crotch.

I am so sure I don’t know him for in my circle we don’t tug at our crotches in public. Walking off, the hand clap rings out yet again and I stop and look round. Eek, I am not supposed do that! Worse still, I find myself walking over to him. As I get to him, a man comes racing past and into the arms of the person who I thought was calling me.

Now I sort of look stupid just standing there and to get myself out the mess, I continue walking right past them over to watch Men With Pneumatic Drills at work and since it’s not something that I have done before, I am a loss as in, is there a law that says men must always be in a crouched position while playing with their crotches like the rest of the men are doing or can I just stand there and swirl a toothpick in my mouth? I opt for the latter except that I don’t have a toothpick and

I am also standing on the wrong side of the hole being carved out by Men with Pneumatic Drills, for moments later, there are screams as part of the road gives way.
“Gwe, what is wrong with you?” a man who appears to be the foreman shouts out in Luganda. “You leave the Kiggunda just to come and watch Men With Pneumatic Drills?! That is the problem about people not going to school. Now look at you stranded on the wrong side.”

It’s a while before they manage to get a plank and I cross back. And as I head off to Kiggunda, Men Holding Crotches mutter how I am the type of person who will stand in the middle of the pitch asking people how the artistes can be performing on the stage yet, at the same time they are also performing on the four big screens.

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