Thursday, July 26, 2012

The HIV Test

Some years ago, a man from a village deep in Mbale began to notice that his scrotum was growing larger by the day. Rather than going to see a doctor, he left it at that which was quite a blunder. The scrotum grew so big that he could barely walk without having to lift his scrotum off the ground.
Eventually, he sought professional help and was told that he had a hydrocele testis which is an accumulation of clear fluid in the tunica vaginalis. A hydrocele causes a painless enlargement in the scrotum on the affected side and is thought to be due to the defective absorption of fluid secreted between the two layers of the tunica vaginalis.
He had surgery performed and at the end of the day, all was well. When it comes to health, most of us do not take our health seriously. We only seek out a doctor as a last resort thing.
The last time I had a full medical check-up was almost five years ago. Last week I had a bout of malaria and while with the doctor, he advised I get the full check up.
I was to be tested for everything from malaria, chest infections, kidneys, liver, HIV, TB – basically the works. On my previous HIV checks, there had never been a counselor present. The doctor just took a blood sample and an hour later I was given my results and that was that. I was on my way.
This time round, there was a counselor and who was counseling me after doctor had taken my blood sample. In a small room at the far end of the hospital – I presume the room was at the far end so people would not hear you scream when you were given a positive result, I sat down with Dr. and Counselor and it turned out to be a nerve racking experience.
Counselor wanted to know why I wanted an HIV test. She also wanted to know what I would do if the results were positive, how I would break the news to my family and how it would affect my life.
She also wanted to know if I was in a state of panic because I was about to find out the results. To be honest, when I consented to the HIV test, I was not in a state of panic because I had not put myself in a situation in which I might have contracted HIV.
However, I was now in a panic because of her line of questioning which was more on the negative side and not making me feel good at all. Her questions made me paranoid and freaked me out that I started having suicidal thoughts.
And the more that she made me feel paranoid, freaked me out and giving me suicidal thoughts, the more I thought she already knew my results and was trying to make me read in between the lines before the doctor finally rammed the death sentence home.
By the time the doctor held up the envelope that contained my results I had gone from a self assured man to a nervous wreck even though in my heart I knew I no cause for panic.
Tearing the envelope open she looked at the slip, then at me, and back at the slip after which she gave a sigh. “Mr. Bukumunhe, are you ready for the results” she asked?
I wanted to bark back at her that I was but that was until Counselor opened her trap and started freaking me out. “Well I have some good news for you. Your results came back negative” she added. Of course they would have come back negative so I wanted to tell her.
Asking around, I found that many people found the questioning from the counselors scary that most of them fled half through and put having an HIV test on the back burner.
Perhaps like the chap from Mbale who had the hydrocele, he might have actually seen a doctor, but the line of questioning that he got him all rattled that he fled.
After what I went through, I suspect that there are a good number of people who don’t know their HIV status and that they would want to know it but having to deal with a dubious line of questioning from the counselors has put them off. Perhaps TASO could look into it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Women Encroaching On Our Jobs

I believe in women and in the ability of some women to do jobs that were once reserved for us males. Some women have turned out to be better mechanics, engineers, HGV drivers and submariners for example. My philosophy is quite simple. Jobs are given out on merit and if a woman candidate happens to better than the male candidate then give it to her – regardless of whether the job is one that has been traditionally done by us males.


However, and this is where I contradict myself because there is a ‘but’ and I mean a big ‘BUT!’ We men, especially those who hangout on Luwum Street, downtown and the taxi park areas for example, we have always prided ourselves on our ability to be idle.

We squat by the roadside scratching away at our scrotums with toothpicks in our mouth while we dribble malusu at just about every woman who walks past.

Women have to know, have to understand that while men have embraced them into taking away some of our jobs from us, there are some jobs that we will fight tooth and nail to hold on to and one of those jobs is that of being idle.

Being idle not a craft that you just wake up one morning and decide that you want to be idle. It is a craft requires quite a bit of training, and understanding of what exactly it means to be idle.

Women, when you see us men squatting by the road side and scratching away at our scrotum, it is not something we learned overnight or picked up in a book that is sold in Aristoc. Hell no! It is in our genes, genes that have been passed on from generation to generation.

As kids we honed our skills by watching our fathers and grandfathers being idle. We picked certain elements from them. We had to find out the proper etiquette, the acceptable way so as not to be embarrassed.

Seeing that I was always in boarding school I didn’t pick any tips from my father or grandfather. Rather, I had to rely on people like Muzee, Doc and others, so I am not as good as I ought to be and I certainly don’t have the skills that they have. But given time and I am sure I will eventually master the trade.

When we open our mouths and let the malusu spill out, do women know why we do it? Do they think we just open our mouths and let it all spill out and without thought?

Well women think that is what we men do but we don’t. Each woman who we idly lust at, there is a different kind of malusu that we spew out. Let me give it to you straight. When we idle at a woman with a perky bosom, we slither the malusu out but not in one blob. It slithers out from the corner of our mouth almost like a string and the experts – Muzee, Doc, Willo, can make that malusu string almost touch the ground where it builds up into a ball. And when we are satisfied, we don’t let the malusu go to waste. Rather, we suck it back up. Are you with me?

And when we squat, the proper way to squat is to have your butt hovering at least six inches off the ground. We also have to balance ourselves because there will be a point when we have to sort out the scrotum.

Women think we tug at the scrotum but we don’t. If fact, if you see any man doing just that, tell him off. This is what he is supposed to do. He is supposed to caress and to gently knead in the most sublime way. And while he is doing this, he is supposed to be staring out into space – lost and oblivious to what is going on round him.

And when he lets rip with the malusu, it is not as fine and as sophisticated as the malusu that is let rip when we see a babe with a perky bosom. This one is all over the place – almost the way a dog with rabies frothes.

I really don’t see why women would want to join this profession. Can’t they give us some dignity? If women take this away from us, then what will they want next? Will they want to taking ‘peeing while standing up’ away from us?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Religion, The Japanese Way

I would like to think that I do have some religious values within me.
Okay, so I hear you baying for my blood but yep, I don’t go to church
most Sunday’s and while I might believe that we do need some form of
divine intervention, I am overtly suspicious about the utterances that
some of the clerics make and their real intentions.

When I was growing up, church meant All Saint’s, Namirembe, Rubaga and
Christ the King Church for example.
And church then, was an all too sombre affair that went along the
lines of stand up, sit down, stand up again to sing a hymn, sit down,
kneel, sit down again and listen to verse from the bible, stand up –
yet again, sit down and kneel yet again.
The divine light that indicated that the service was drawing to a
close was when the sermon started and the offertory baskets were
passed around.

However, over the years, just like the revolutions made in technology,
telecommunications and heavy industry for example, religion too, was
not bound to be left out and it adapted to the changes in the world.
It ceased to be mainstream as in the way that I used to know it. It
went musical – a blend of rock, pop and RnB. Guitars, drums, the sax
and other instruments were introduced into the church, that going to
church was no longer a mundane affair but akin to going to a musical
concert that was interspersed with religious overtones.

In Uganda people were watching what was happening abroad. They figured
that if church can be turned into a musical concert in the US and
still attract a huge following, then, the same thing can happen here.

One of the first churches that ushered in the new style of service was
Kampala Pentecostal Church – now Watoto Church under the helm of
Pastor Gary Skinner. What Pastor Skinner’s contribution to religion if
any, was to spawn new and ‘unorthodox’ churches that for example today
we have Pastor Kayanja and his Rubaga Miracle Centre, Imelda
Namutebi’s Liberty Worship Centre, Ssenyonga Christian Life Church and
Pastor Kigganda’s Christianity Focus Centre.

Each one of these pastors has a different interpretation to religion
just like two infamous American’s did - David Koresh and Rev Jim
Jones.

David Koresh, was the leader of the Branch Davidian religious sect,
with him as its final prophet. The Branch Davidian’s, were a religious
group that originated from a schism in the 1950s from the Shepherd's
Rod, while Reverend James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder and
leader of the Peoples Temple. But Koresh and Jones were not exactly
into religion. They were just about having sex with their flock and
brainwashing them. And tragically when the end was nigh, all of
Koresh’s members died in huge fireball, while Jones’s members were
made to drink poison – supposedly to go to heaven.

A few weeks ago posters and banners sprung up all over Kampala while
adverts were placed on television and radio. The gist of the adverts
was to promote Ryuho Okawa, a Japanese preacher, who was coming to
town with his own brand of religion called Happy Science. And
according to his advance team, Okawa is not somebody you heap into the
same breath as the Pope, Pastor Kayanja, Imelda Namutebi, Pastor
Ssenyonga or Pastor Kigganda. He is above them, he bigger than them
and more importantly, he is ‘the reincarnation of Jesus Christ’.

So what was Happy Science all about then? In the videos that they
showed me, it was all about a Japanese chap who dressed himself up in
white suits and who lives in a huge house – no change that to palace
and a man who the Japanese and the people he has managed to convert
see as a demigod.

His entourage referred to him as ‘The Master’ and one of the
conversations that I had with them, went along the following lines.

Japanese: “TB, when The Master arrives and is on stage, nobody is
allowed to eat or drink”

TB: “Excuse me?”

Japanese: “Nobody is allowed to eat or drink. If you see anybody
eating or drinking you have to go and stop them.”

TB: “But how do you go into the middle of a crowd in Namboole Stadium
and ask them not to eat or drink?”

Japanese: “The Master does not like it. Also when The Master is
talking, nobody is allowed to leave the stadium. You have to make sure
that all the gates are locked.”

TB: “Are you sure about this? You want us to stop people from leaving
the stadium when The Master is preaching?”

Japanese: “Yes!”

Let’s pause there for a while and do some recapping. When The Master
is on stage, nobody is allowed to eat or drink. And you have to bear
in mind that we are not in a church but in the sweltering heat of
Namboole Stadium. Secondly, we are not to permit anybody to leave the
stadium. Just what on earth is this kind of religion and what kind of
crowd were they targeting?

The crowd that they were targeting was easy enough to identify for
when the buses, coaches and coasters started rolling in the people who
alighted were people who can easily be confused, manipulated or
disorganised.

They bussed in the poor of the poor from Jinja, Iganga, Bugiri, Mbale,
Tororo, Soroti, Kumi, Gulu, Pader, and Adjumani to Kitgum and beyond.
And they came not dressed in their Sunday best but like they had
seemingly been digging for yams and nsujju (pumpkin) when the bus
stopped by them and asked if they would like to go to Kampala and
witness something called Happy Science.

One thing though that they didn’t do was to go to the western region
and there was a reason behind it. They perceived that people from the
west do have money and are therefore not easily susceptible to ‘being
confused, manipulated or being disorganised.’

After having fed them a chapatti, a kindazi and a bottle of water,
they were ushered into Namboole Stadium proper to listen to the great
words from The Master.

When The Master eventually took to the stage he was far from being a
charismatic and inspiring preacher. He didn’t have the savvy of
Muhammad Ali or Will Smith. He didn’t have the appeal of a David
Beckham nor did he have the vibe of a Moses Goolola.
What he did have were the inaudible utterances like that of Muhammer
Gadaffi when he was last in Uganda for the African Union Summit and
who screamed into the microphone for nobody to understand what he was
on about. And with that, the faithful with all their poverty from the
villages stood up and started to walk out – a move that did not go
down well with his aides.

With that, the radio calls crackled into life with a very explicit
order from Japanese. “Lock the gates. The Master is talking! Nobody is
allowed to leave the stadium!” And the gates were duly locked.

I too was locked inside but seeing that I was doing some jobo for
Japanese, I had no choice. At the gates, people screamed, shouted and
bayed to be let out but that was not going to happen until The Master
was done.

I had my concerns too. Had I been caught up in some religious sect
where fire might rain down on the stadium in some form of doomsday
occult when The Master is done with his spiel? Are we going to end up
like David Koresh’s victims in a huge fireball that is supposed to
take us to heaven while some elite paramilitary group from the UPDF
try to storm the stadium in a bid to rescue us or were they going to
end up like Jim Jones and his followers?

While I do have some faith in religion, to be honest I do not put both
my feet into it. One foot has to be on the outside – just in case. And
just in case when one of the gates was opened up to let in a police
patrol pickup, I slithered out and sought the relative comfort of
Namboole hotel and a Club beer.

I returned to the stadium when all was safe and the gates had been
opened and to be greeted by Japanese telling me that: “The Master is
happy”.

My retort? “Yeah whatever you say. Sayonara"!”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Al Shabab Women, Dentists and Mechanics

There is something about the Al Shabab women. The Al Shabab Women are the women who wear black ninja outfits with just a slit at eye level that gives them the opportunity to look out.


Their religion dictates that they must be covered from head to toe, and that they are not allowed to show their flesh in public.

I would call that a draconian religion but then again there are others. In Iran for example, they have the religious police road block where women can report men for have looked at them in a manner that is not appropriate – like have lustful and sexual thoughts. For that crime, if indeed it can be termed a crime, you are removed from the bus and flogged at the roadside.

And in some parts of Pakistan, when a woman goes out on a date, she has to go with practically her entire village, if not clan.

Getting back to Al Shabab Women, they do take their religion and the wearing of the ninja outfit so seriously. A few weeks back I was at Speke Resort Munyonyo by the lake and chanced upon a scene that I had never seen before. Can you imagine that while Al Shabab Woman does swim her religion forbids her from removing her ninja outfit! They were at least ten to fifteen Al Shabab Women frolicking about in the lake and all still dressed up. Talk about a dedication to a religion. I was going to ask one of them about it, but with five Al Shabab men looking on, it would have not been the best move to make. I could have lost a limb, an eye or for that. You know how they be.

Moving on, mechanics and doctors, especially dentists, all have one thing in common. They just can never say ‘no’. Talking of the latter, I was out having kigere when the unfortunate happened. My front tooth broke – almost at the gum level. But I didn’t know it had broken. In fact, I thought it was a bone particle from the kigere and I promptly spat it out. It was a little later when chewing became a tad difficult that I released what had happened.

So I took myself down to the dentists. Dentist was a young man, and all I wanted was a consultation to find out if my tooth could be rebuilt, how much it would cost me and how long it would take. In the dentists reclining seat and with my mouth wide open he started to prod around.

But he was not prodding at the front where the repair work needed to be done. He was prodding at the back of my mouth. Why?

After what seemed like an eternity in which I was minutes away from getting a locked jaw, he started on the front tooth using a gadget that looks like the one that Security Guard uses to check under your car – you know the one I mean, the one with a mirror?

Twenty minutes later and he was done and here is how the conversation unfolded.

Dentist: “Yes we can repair the tooth.”

TB: “What is involved?”

Dentist: “I have to take out the remains of the tooth, and then give you a week’s break. After the week, we will construct a new one.”

TB: “Great. And how much would it cost me?”

Dentist: “30k to remove the rest of the tooth and 180k to build the new tooth.”

TB: “Can I make an appointment for end of month?”

Dentist: “Sure.”

With that, I was out of his seat while rubbing my jaw in a bid to get it moving again and was at the door when he tapped me on the shoulder. He told me that I was forgetting something, a small matter of 10k.

10k, what 10k? The 10k was something he termed ‘consultancy fees.’ But Dentist had not told me of a 10k consultancy fee before he made me hop onto his chair and for that, I more than hesitant about paying it.

That now begs the question. Should I go back to him? Will he do something sinister because I was reluctant to pay the 10k? I think I should take myself to another dentist to be on the safer side.

Talking of cars, I was at the Vintage Car Show at Sheraton Hotel as a guest of Peter Kaggwa’s Events Warehouse. I must say that all who were in the VIP enclosure had more than enough to eat and drink as well as watching the evening show and of course admiring the vintage cars on show. Thanks Peter – please do it again next year.

When it comes to cars, Mechanic will never admit that he can’t fix the problem. I used to own a BMW 325i and it was a good ride until things started to go wrong.

One time on Owen Falls Dam, some of the electronics packed in and at a garage in Jinja, when I explained this to Mechanic, even before I was done, he already had an answer. “It the fuse” so he said while Other Mechanics nodded on in approval.

Popping open the hood, he peered inside at the engine then stepped back in shock and disbelief. In Luganda he was saying something along the lines of: “Eh, this BMW engine is all enclosed. Oba how do I open it?”

I should have sensed trouble and driven away, but I didn’t. Instead, I took myself down the road for a Coke and the worst samosas I has ever eaten. But that is Jinja for you.

When I returned, it was a case of shouting ‘ya la bi’ for what they had done was short of having raped the BMW. The engine was all over the place and when they eventually got to the fuse box which even the daftest of the daftest mechanic in the world would not have missed, they then discover the electronics failure had nothing to do with the fuse box.

But Mechanic was showing no signs of giving up. Perhaps it was pride, but he just had to find a way to fix the problem and then meant dismantling more of the engine.

With time running out, I told him to quit while he was ahead and reassemble the car. I would just have to do without music for the rest of the trip.

Mechanic was smart. He tried to hide his joy when I told him to put back the engine for he had been licked. By the time they had finished there was something that was not right. The box in which they had put the screws that they had removed still contained at least twenty screws and the conversation went along these lines.

TB: “You say you have finished, but why are there twenty screws in the can?”

Mechanic: “Ah mzee, those screws have no problem.”

TB: “What do you mean they have no problem? Just put them back.”

Mechanic: “You can still drive the car though.”

TB: “Listen here, the people at BMW obviously put the screws in place for a reason. If they had thought they were useless, they would not have put them in at the onset.”

Mechanic: “Boss, we have finished our work, and I want 40k for the work done.”

TB: “40k for the work done? What work? You have not even put back all the screws!”

Mechanic: “Don’t fool around, I want my money!”

The conversation came to an abrupt halt. I was in the BMW and speeding off to Mable.

To Mechanic I have this to say: If you don’t know how to fix something, just admit it. There will be no harm done nor would I have looked at you in a lesser light. And to Dentist, if you had told me that you were going to charge me 10k to shove a small mirror in my mouth from the onset, I would have paid without making a fuss.

One thing people have to realise is that we are tired of hidden charges and people out there pretending they can do the job yet, they can’t.

By the way, did anybody go to Ekitoobero last Sunday at Nakivubo Stadium? I was there and since I have gotten no complaints, you all must have seen the degree photo booth I was talking about last Sunday.

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