Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Katikiro, Bulange Owe Me

I have a bone to pick with Buganda Katikiro, Peter Mayiga. I am a notorious stickler for time that, if I am invited to a function for 7:00pm, at 6:55pm I will be walking into it. If the Cineplex movie starts at 8:00pm, by 7:50pm, I would have taken my seat along with my popcorn and Coke.

It was Thursday afternoon and there was no a hint of an impending traffic jam. Jinja road was clear as was Mukwano roundabout and 7th Street.

I had a function to attend in Munyonyo and while there was no traffic, it was prudent I leave town early just to be on the safe side. With a clear 7th Street, there was every indication that I would get to Munyonyo at least half-an-hour before the function was due to start.

But in Namuwongo, we hit traffic. Five minutes turned into ten and the ten minutes turned into half-an-hour. It was not looking good that there was a need to hastily hatch a Plan B.

Plan B was to abandon Driver with the car and see out the rest of the journey on a boda - a simple enough Plan B, that didn’t tax my brain into a sweat.

Boda Rider revved up his Bajaj and off we went. As we rounded the corner to IHK hospital, the jam was so intense, that even Boda Rider had difficulty weaving through the traffic.

The cause of the jam was easily identifiable. Mayiga, was on a tour of the region and the air was filled with anticipation. Anybody who owned a boda had taken leave of their senses and were insistently blaring their horns. They were also trying to ride at speed yet, it was obvious it was not a wise move with the heavy human and motorized traffic. They were also doing stunts – wheelies and riding while standing on the seat as directionless gomesi clad women waving banana leaves and clutching Kabaka posters scurried around like cows being heralded into the corral for a mating session with a prized bull.

With that, my Plan B unravelled. Boda Rider got all caught up in the euphoria that he forgot he had a job of taking me to Munyonyo that he too, began to blare his horn as well as race with the others at a terrifying speed.

Of course, I slapped him on his back to slow him down and remind him of his mission, but he was too far gone in the Mayiga hysteria. This was it for him. This was ‘his calling from Bulange’ and it was a story he could one day tell his grandkids of how he was part of a convoy escorting the Katikiro. No one was going to stop him, not even my slaps to his back. 

In the race, we ended up alongside the Land Cruiser ferrying Mayiga and when Boda Rider saw him (Mayiga), he went gaga and joined the rest in screaming out: “Kabaka awangale”. At one point, when Mayiga looked out of the window to wave to the crowd, I could have sworn I saw him raise his eyebrows in disbelief when he saw me as part of his convoy seeing I am not a Muganda. Eventually, we stopped in Kabalagala, because the convoy had nowhere to go because of the jam and with that, I jumped off the Bajaj and with scorn, relieved Boda Rider of his duties.

He wasn’t bothered and rode off before I could pay him. The Bulange calling it seems had a profound effect on him.

By the way, I got to the function an hour late and missed the champagne welcome drink. Hopefully Peter will be sending me a bottle as compensation.

  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kamuli, What Went Wrong?

My media career has enabled me to transgress the world and Uganda from as far north as Koboko to Kisoro in the south, to Tororo in the east and Kasese in the west but for some reason, one place I had never been to is Kamuli, a mere spit away from Jinja.

Prior to my visit, I was green on Kamuli save for knowing it’s home to Rebecca Kadaga, Father Grimes’s Namasagali College, the work town of Dr. John Akii-Bua, an off spring of the late John Akii-Bua and that it’s the jigger capital of Uganda.

Kamuli is idle and operates in slow motion. Ask Kamuli-ans a question and they give you a lifeless three minute stare before a response is forthcoming. There was also the need to speak slowly and in kindergarten monosyllables to be understood. A conversation I had with Waitress went along these lines.

TB: “Nyabo, do you serve beer?”

Waitress: “Let me go and check.”

She does just that and returns confirming they do have beer. A Nile Gold is ordered and off she goes in slow-mo and twenty minutes later this is what happened.

Waitress: “It is not there.”

TB: “What is not there?”

Waitress: “The beer is not there.”

TB: “Nile Gold or the beer?”

Waitress: “Let me go back and check.”

It turns out that they did have Nile Gold but seeing that Kamuli-ans drink Eagle, Pilsner, Nile and Club, she assumed Nile Gold was Tusker Malt but with a different name because it’s in a green bottle. Hmm! I could literally see the Umeme in her head flicking on her brain like a fluorescent light tube does in a dilapidated hospital when I showed her the difference between the two bottles. Bless her.

At some point I am out of airtime so I kindly ask her to pop to the shops and buy me 10k worth of airtime. She does and once again in slow-mo, I watch her spend ten minutes crossing the road to the airtime outlet, followed by a 20-minute conversation with Outlet Owner and another 10-minutes crossing back to the bar.

And yes, she did remember what took her to the outlet, but there was something that was not quite right. She came back with wads of airtime cards. I told her that she had made a mistake and bought more than 10k. Picking up the wads, she went through each of them then gave me a puzzled look. “Naye ssebo, it is 10k” she says.

Taking the wad of cards from her, I see they are all sh500 denominations. Justifiably there was need to hurl abuse at her but I held back the tumbavu and bit my tongue. All I could do was ask why she didn’t buy a single 10k card but there was no answer in the offering.

I later find that Kamuli is not an affluent town and people don’t buy 10k or 20k airtime. The demand is for sh500 and sh1,000, and Waitress bought me sh500 cards because that is what she is used to. Asking her to load the airtime, she freaked out saying she can’t load airtime onto a television (my IPad). Alas, Kamuli is not yet in the touch screen phone era.

Driving back into Kampala, it dawned on me that I had been scratching away at my fingers - which threw me into a panic. Is it a jigger itch that’s necessitates a Mulago hospital surgeon to remove them or am I making a meal out of it? Better be safe than sorry. Kesho I am off to Mulago and by-the-way, I have only managed to load sh1,500 of the airtime as I type.     

  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Growing Old Is So Not Cool!


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the virtues of growing old and how life in the twilight zone is going to be bliss. I have since changed my mind. Growing old is not bliss or filled with happy times with the grandkids but fraught with trying to keep the brain in sane and in check.

On DStv – Sony Max if memory serves me correct, there is a programme called 1,000 Ways to Die. 1,000 Ways to Die, is not for the faint hearted for it depicts horrid and gruesome ways in which people have died due to sheer stupidity. While many of the people on the show tend to be young, in the episode I watched, there was an old man who died in what I can only describe as a very ‘ouch, ouch, ouch’ way.

Old Man was in hospital (where else would he be?) and since Wifey departed to the heavens sometime ago, Old Man devised ways to satisfy his sexual lust. He could have gotten re-married, or looked for Girlfriend or employed the services of Prostitute but, his brain did not advise him to do any of that. Rather, it told him to stick 12 thermometers up his anus and that would give him all the pleasure he needed. He did. While he was lustfully gyrating on 12 mercury laden thermometers up his anus, Nurse walks in and startles him. Old Man falls backwards on to the bed and the 12 mercury laden thermometers shatter into tiny fragments filling his anus with mercury. He died horrible and painful death all because his aged brain, was no longer giving him sane information. It had gone cuckoos.

Doc, a friend, regularly travels abroad. On his return he always brings me back magazines and newspapers. In a magazine he brought back called Yours and flicking through the pages, I found it’s a magazine for the elderly. That got me thinking. Why did he give it to me? What is he hinting at?  

What I found frightful about Yours, are their classified adverts. There was an ad for waterproof pull on underwear – “underwear that feels like any ordinary underwear but has an added advantage of a built in waterproof pad with nylon fibre backing for old people with bladder problems.” Basically, it’s a washable ‘nappy’ though not as bulky or padded as the Pampers kids use today.

If the nappy underwear is not your thing, there is always the portable loo. The ad says: “The portable loo is easy to use and supplied with a female adaptor with an 800ml capacity.” What if you pee more than 800ml?  

And when your brain can no longer control the way you eat and drink, there is the “...full size adult bib” – I guess to stop you from dribbling and splattering juice and food all over yourself like your 18-month old grandkid.

There are also false teeth for those whose teeth have fallen out which will enable you to still bite into a chunky steak, go to Ntinda for pork ribs or devour a family bucket at KFC.

Ya la bi, it’s tight. I am now freaking out because I don’t want to spend my old age sticking thermometers up my anus for sexual pleasure nor do I want to wear my kids left over Pampers because my bladder has brake issues or carry a portable toilet whenever I go out.

I also don’t want to borrow my grandkid’s bib because I dribble juice down my shirt. And I certainly don’t want to eat my steak, pork or KFC with false teeth.

Growing old is not cool. My brain has to focus and not go bonkers. And I still need my youth!

           

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Cost Of Beng A Celeb


The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007 at Speke Resort Munyonyo is all but a distant memory. But in Soya on the outskirts of Bunga, the spirit of CHOGM still lives on. There is a pork place called CHOGM that does brisk business. I was there over the Easter recess and it was a katogo of music, laughter, beer and pork.

There were three competing tables trying to see who was loudest, whose table had crates of beer and who metallic plate held the more spare ribs.

I perched in a corner as the ‘melee’ unfolded along with Hawker selling second hand bed sheets. Hawker sat almost lost for words at what he saw before him. He probably didn’t even realize he had his ‘f**K you’ finger stuck so far up nose and digging away at a niggling blob of snot that had refuse to dislodge.

When it dislodged, he tried to flick it away but it wouldn’t go. Then he tried to smear it under the table but bleak. So he rolled it into a ball then flicked it away. It worked and that got me thinking.

Who invented the art of rolling snot into a ball and flicking it away? Was it the Pilgrim Fathers’ as they sailed across the Atlantic on their way to America? Maybe it was John Speke as he savoured the moment he discovered the source of the River Nile. The ancient Greeks perhaps?

Anyway, whoever invented it should have patent on it, because just about everybody in the world uses the style to get rid of snot.

Getting back. As the three tables made merry, I could not help but be envious. They were having a blast with not a care in the world. The other tables were not bothered with the ruckus that the three tables were making nor were they bothered when Drunk Man tried to pick up Drunk Mama but couldn’t and instead crashed to the floor and in the process knocking over the drinks on the adjoining table. Drunk Man simply stood up in a bewildered state, apologized to the couple whose drinks he knocked and life went on.

Again it got me thinking. If along with the rest of my columnists on this double spread – Ernest Bazanye, Mildred Apenyo, Siima Sabiti and Kizito (along with Laura) we went out on a pork fest and we did exactly what the three tables were doing, this is what would have happened.

We would have had the whole of CHOGM staring at us in horror. Cell phones, IPad’s and tabs would have been swiftly whipped out and photographs taken that in seconds, we would be on the information superhighway of Face Book, Twitter and Instagram, laid bare for the world to see our pathetic behaviour. And the tabloids would have had us on their front page under a headline of: ‘The shame of Sunday Vision!’

Many people out there want to be celebs and I keep telling them that it’s not worth it because you sign your life away.

At a recent function when Queen of one of the kingdoms walked in, the ladies sitting next to me went into overdrive with comments like: “Too much make up; Is she drinking wine in public? Why didn’t she go to the toilet before she came…?” Ouch!

But there are perks to being a celeb but only when things are looking good. Put a foot wrong and it will be next to impossible to walk into Nkumatt or Uchumi without attracting gawps of: “That’s TB, Baz, Siima, Mildred and Kizito who got blazed at CHOGM the other day.” To which the offered response would be: “OMG, how could they do that? It's disgusting!”        

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