Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A change in The PGB and The MTN Kampala Marathon

It has been a while since I have had an altercation with the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB). Then, some of them were aloof, downright rude and unable to think outside the box.
They would bark without thinking. And when they checked your car, it would be the glove box because that is where people who have guns supposedly keep them.
My relationship with them was so bad that they would give me a hard time and I in turn would try to make life for them a misery.
Recently I was at the COMESA summit meeting in Speke Resort Munyonyo – not because I was a delegate or that I had a contribution to make to the summit but to lend a hand to Greg Petzer and Akilesh Malik who run the resort.
Since a number of heads of state attended the meeting, PGB were deployed and the beef that we have for each other was bound to surface.
However, there were some changes. The rank and file soldiers that were deployed to man the road blocks and the outer perimeter of the resort had changed. They were no longer rude, arrogant and aloof. Rather, they employed words that were previously alien to them. Words like: ‘good morning, have a nice day, would you mind if we checked you car’ and so on.
I was in shock but happy that the powers that be realized what a negative image the PGB had and had decided to do something about it.
However change is not perfect. While the PGB boys who wear uniform have changed for the better, those who wear plain clothes have not. They use foul language, they don’t want you standing anywhere and given the chance, they would rather not have anybody who is not PGB in the resort when the president is around.
There were a few exceptions like Nathan Katana who had a practical approach to some of the problems that sprung up and went out of his way to solve them. The powers that be at PGB should take the president’s inner core security detail for a course in public relations for if that is done, the public perception about them would change for the better.
Last Sunday was the MTN Kampala Marathon and over the past nine years, the event gets bigger and bigger. Such is its success that this year New Vision jumped on the band wagon in sponsoring terms.
But there is something that has baffled me for the past nine years. When women dress up for the marathon what do they think they are going to do? Do they think they are going to a party? Yes they do! This year a good number of them turned up wearing high heels. If they didn’t wear high heels they were wearing ballet shoes!
There were also a good number who turned and did not bother running but stood around the airstrip as if trying to bring some glamour to the place.
And then there are people who have for the past week been telling everybody how they run the marathon and this is where I burst their bubble. The only people who ran the marathon are the people who took part in the 42km race!
While the race was on, I was making myself comfortable in the MTN hospitality tent. And trust me it wasn’t easy quaffing down all those Tuskers while the race was on. My arm now hurts from lifting all those bottles.        

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mind Your English

There are a number of utterances that people spew out that simply don’t make sense. Some people so I think, don’t actually think about what they are going to say before they say it so whatever first springs to mind is what they throw out.
Greg Petzer is a white South African who has been living in Uganda 2007 when the CHOGM Summit was on. His wife and three kids also joined him in Kampala a few months later when he took up the position of General Manager at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
When his family jetted in, I met both his wife and kids and then, his kids spoke what I would call near perfect English.
However as time went on, the quality of their English began to change that today, they speak English the Ugandan way. Here are a few classic examples.
First Come: “First come.” What on earth is first come? They used to be a time when called people simply blurted out the word ‘come’ and that was that. Then somebody decided it wasn’t enough and prefixed it with the word first. Why would anybody want to do that?
Just: Ask people why they were doing this or that and the most likely response is going to be ‘just’. So the conversation between the Julius and I went along the following lines.
TB: Julius why are you doing what you are doing?”
Julius: “Just”.
TB: “Just? What do you mean?”
Julius: “Just”.
I was obviously going to get nowhere so I left it at that. And this just word, is one that is favoured by students especially those at Makerere University.
I am here: This one is a classic for it always takes place by telephone. On a good number of occasions I have called up people to ask them where they are and the response given is: “I am here.” And when you press them further and ask what they mean by that they will still respond by saying that they are here. Is it really a burden to simply tell some exactly where you are?
Where are you coming from: This is a favorite of receptionists and security guards. Back in the day I had gone to meet Maria Kiwanuka at her Radio One office. When I got there, Receptionist asked: “Where are you coming from?” The question sort of threw me but I did respond and told her I was coming from home. To that she retorted, “No, I mean where are you coming from?” Confused, I told her the Old Taxi Park for I had taken a taxi from home.
I later found out that what she wanted to know where it is that I worked.
Do you know why we stopped you: This is the preserve of the traffic cops. On the numerous occasions that I get stopped in Namuwongo, I am asked if I know the reason they stopped me. I once tried to be sarcastic and told Female Traffic Cop that if she didn’t know why she had stopped me she ought to go to Butabika and have her head examined and that maybe the doctors there will be able to help you remember. Needleless to say she went mental on me and fined me for having a broken tail light.
They sent me: Blue collar workers like this one. When you ask them who sent you, the response is always: “They sent me.” Yes we know you were sent but who exactly sent you?      

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cleaning Away The Poop

I really don’t mean to ruin your Sunday or your appetite, but if you are reading this article as you eat, stop right here, finish your food then read.
You may think that I am lying when you read my first tale today but it is true.  I do love my pork and recently, I was introduced to a pork place that is a stone throw way from the MTN switch in Bugolobi. The pork place also has a car washing bay and a couple of container shops.
It also has a toilet but not of the water flushing kind so I guess that makes it a pit latrine not so? Of course it does! But there is never any toilet tissue – not that it has bothered me because I have never felt the need to go poop when I am there. And even if I did feel the need to poop whilst I was there, I would take a short leave of absence and drive down to Chris Ireland’s Jazz Ville and leave the poop there, or save it for when I get home.
Getting back like I said, the pit latrine has no toilet paper so for the people who want to poop, how do they clean themselves up?  
Going by the stains on the walls, it is all too evident that some people use their hands then wipe the mess off on the walls! How gross can people get?
So who could the culprits be? Are they the women who work in the container shops? Perhaps it could be the chaps who wash the cars for they are the kind, the kind who don’t give a hoot about personal hygiene. Then again it could be the men who roast the pork or worse still, the women who prepare the avocado, tomatoes and cassava?
With that when the man presented the pork, I looked at his hands and they looked clean enough but when the woman served the cassava, avocado and tomatoes, her hands looked like they had dabbled in a spot of poop smearing.
So I passed on the cassava, tomatoes and avocado. I could have told Paulo, LP and Indian Friend with Long Hair about my suspicions but I kept quiet for they seemed to be enjoying the avocado, tomatoes and cassava that might have been handled by hands that had dabbled in smearing poop on the walls  

Moving on, there is the COMESA summit coming up in the next couple of weeks at Speke Resort Munyonyo and KCCA is doing its best to smarten up the Gaba road in a bid to impress the delegates. And while I do agree that since KCCA came into being there have been some improvements in trying to keep the city clean one thing that I don’t get is what is with sweeping dust off the roads?
In Namuwongo, and on a daily basis, every morning an army of women descend onto the roads to sweep dust off the roads which they then pile up at the side of the road.
And in this rainy season, the rain washes the piles of gathered dust back onto the roads so the following morning, the women will once again sweep the roads of the dust and again pile up the dust by the side of the road. And this is something that goes on forever.
Maybe the policy makers at KCCA have a formula that I have yet to grasp so could someone please educate me? Jennifer, are you there?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Indian Friend With Long Hair

Indian friend with long hair is a person who I would describe as being an amiable man. He also goes with the flow and very few things irk him – or so I thought.
At Kilama’s which is both a shop and bar where he drinks from, there is a Billy goat that is tied to a tree on the way to the washrooms – if at all they can be called washrooms.
As far as I am aware, Billy Goat does not bother anybody though at times it takes on an aggressive stance when you walk past him. But it is all harmless and I am sure Billy Goat does it in a joking manner.
One day Indian Friend with Long Hair comes back from the washrooms all hot and bothered. When asked what had irked him, he said he been involved in a fight with Billy Goat.
His story sounded a trifle farfetched for why would he get involved in a melee with Billy Goat? But he had and he says when he walked past it, Billy Goat adopted a menacing stance – something that did not go down well with him so there was a need to assure him (Billy Goat).
Okay so he didn’t exactly tell us how he had goofed Billy Goat save for throwing a punch at him. However, when I walked past Billy Goat he showed no signs of being dazed from the punch he was supposed to have received.
Rather Billy Goat was in an ecstatic mood. So ecstatic he was that he was sporting an erection that would make most she-goats blush. And that got me thinking. Did Billy Goat think that Indian Friend with Long Hair was a she-goat? Was Indian Friend with Long Hair rather peeved that Billy Goat had chosen to show him his erection and perhaps had rubbed himself against Indian Friend with Long Hair as he walked past? To Indian Friend with Long Hair, is it possible that my version of events could be correct?
Still with Indian Friend with Long Hair, he has been a ‘naughty boy’ in that he chose to get LP pregnant thrice. Perhaps he has not exactly been a naughty boy because these days more and more couples are opting to have children before they married. What LP’s parents thought or said when she got pregnant, that we don’t know.
Last week he decided to pop the question and LP went into a frenzied spell that only the female species would be able to understand. Like somebody with a bad stammer she kept on saying: “I’m going to get married” over and over again.      
But why couldn’t she take it in her stride like Indian Friend with Long Hair did or I did? We were blasé about it all and merely ordered for another beer each while asking ourselves where Affande went and what time the pork man would turn up.
Four hours later and in the background and in all the noise from a football match on television, the local drunk blabbering gibberish and the passing traffic, I could still hear the unmistakable words of “I’m going to get married’ being uttered by LP.
In seeing LP so happy and in a happiness that I have never seen on her before, Indian Friend with Long Hair, you had better come through and marry her for if you don’t, don’t be surprised when one evening she comes bed with a machete!   

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