Saturday, November 29, 2014

Must We Greet Everybody?

I was a delegate at a conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo recently, a conference that was opened up by President Museveni. Touching briefly on a comment he made about the Chinese, this is what he said: “The Chinese have small eyes because where they live is so cold, that their eyes are always half closed.” Hmm!

At the same conference, there were a number of delegates from abroad, including a US senator. And seeing it was a conference that had weight, everybody who rose to speak had the same opening gambit - the need to introduce everybody. This was First Speaker

“Your Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Museveni who is the patron of the association, Mrs. Maria Mtagamba, the honourable minister of Wildlife Tourism and Antiquities, the senator from New York, the delegates from America, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, North America, our partners at Brussels airlines, Speke Resort Munyonyo, the government of Uganda…” The list went on. At one point there was a danger that Speaker was going to mention everybody in the hall for this intro went on for 4:17 minutes. I know because I was timing.

Seeing that First Speaker had established and recognized everybody who was important, when Second Speaker took to the podium, this is what he said:

With a variation here and there, he said: “Your Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Museveni who is the patron of the association, Mrs. Maria Mtagamba, the honourable minister of Wildlife Tourism and Antiquities, the senator from New York, the delegates from America, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, North America, Speke Resort Munyonyo, all protocol observed…” It took him a little over 5 minutes to get through the ramble.

Third speaker clocked just over four minutes as did the fourth.

If the greetings were not impressive enough, all speakers felt that they had to end their spiel with a lengthy thank you note. This was First Speaker.

“I would like to thank his Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda for agreeing to come and open this conference, the minister of tourism and wildlife, Brussels airlines (where are you? Could you please stand up for recognition) Mrs. Olivia Kigongo, from Uganda Chamber of Commerce (please stand up) Pastor…….. (please stand up).”

Time spent? 3:20 minutes. I know because my stopwatch was running.

Second Speaker also felt it necessary to spend 2:42 minutes saying: “I would like to that his Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Speke Resort Munyonyo, the minister of tourism and wildlife, Uganda Tourist Board…..” And so on it went with the third and fourth speakers.

But, do we really need to greet everybody at a conference or ask them to stand up for recognition just because we perceive them as being important? And how do we define who is important and who is not?

At a  recent wedding reception, MC, after a lengthy introduction, he felt he would be doing the guests a great disservice if he did not greet, introduce and ask his wife to stand up for recognition. Why would he do that?

Getting back to the conference, I voiced my concerns about my not being introduced and not being asked to stand up for recognition. Even Miss Tourism 2014 and her two runners up were not introduced. What about Moses Zikusoka, who is a prominent Musoga? And Belinda Sebunya, who is almost the face of Brussels Airlines? What about the sound engineers at Speke Resort Munyonyo for without their technical know-how, nobody at the conference would have heard the intro speeches, the thank you’s, as well as M7s Chinese quip?         

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pork For A Squeeze

They had hoped to eat free pork but got played. CHOGM is a pork place in Bunga.  I go there now and again and on my last visit, I sought to do some digging to find out why they call it CHOGM. There is a reason, except that nobody knows it.
My pork fests usually comprise of Nodin Mzee, John Aki-Bua, Paulo Lukwago, Kenneth Kayondo and sometimes Julius Mbabazi. We sit at the same table. We drink the same brand of drinks and if we have nothing to say, we engross ourselves in Facebook.

We were half way through four kilos of fried pork with all the trimmings when, Lady on the adjacent table began looking us over. She was truly blazed and not blazed from the Saturday afternoon drink, but she looked like she had been drinking since Friday night and had yet to go home.

She was all over the place – trying not to fall off the seat, falling asleep and doing her best to un-wedge her G-string from the ‘slice’ between her bottom. Since we were a quartet, we were not too sure who she was targeting until she made her move. It was Paulo.

As Paulo reached for a piece of pork, she tapped him on the elbow. He ignored her. When he reached out for another piece, again tapped him and he ignored. This went on a while until he decided to find out what she wanted. 

“Some pork” she asked. A drunk lady and though beautiful and who he had never met, presumed she would get pork from him just like that? While it was a brazen move, Paulo shrugged her off. Realizing that her good looks won’t get her an invitation to our table and the pork and perhaps some free beers, grudgingly, she dipped into her bag, pulled out a 20k and ordered a kilo including drinks for her and her friend.

Moving on, a young couple who looked like they were on a first date because they didn’t say anything to each other until a few sips on their Coke and Fanta broke the ice, sat down next to us. 

We saw Porkroaster lean over and nod his head as Chap made the order and we didn’t think much of it save for thinking they might have ordered a kilo between them.

When the order was served, it was something that necessitated me writing this article. It was one stick. Each stick has five pieces on it and each stick goes for 3,500k which would make each piece worth 700 shillings if my sums are correct.

Intrigued, we watched them share the stick and because Squeeze was doing most of the talking, Chap ate three pieces. And when Squeeze went to the washrooms, Chap slipped Porkroaster the 3,500k and that was it.

With two pieces of pork in her belly and with no other Fanta forthcoming, Squeeze drew the conclusion that Chap, was broke. She called Porkroaster back, put in an order for a kilo, a Nile Gold for him and a Fanta for herself and paid. 

When the kilo was served, Chap found it hard to digest the pieces because he had overheard Anus say: “How did he expect to her to give him ‘some’ from a stick of pork?"

While Nodin might have a point, Chap still emerged the winner by humiliating her. He humiliated her by buying her a measly two pieces of pork worth sh1,400 which left her hungry, hungry enough for her to dip into her purse and painfully use her money to buy a kilo, Fanta and Nile Gold – money she was perhaps hoping to save to buy bread and milk on her way home. Women obviously do carry money when they go out but want us men to pay for them.    

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Job Description

Everybody who is employed has a JD (job description) of some sort. I guess even the unemployed also have one that reads something along the lines of: “Unemployed, bored, sitting at home.”

The lady who sells mandazi, her JD most likely reads as follows: “Find a good spot to perch. Radio One is ideal because of the heavy traffic. Make sure the mandazi is fresh and you have enough newspapers in which to wrap. You don’t get a day off, and your hours of employment are from 7:00am until all is sold.”

There is however, one JD I have been trying to get hold of but to no avail and that is President Museveni’s JD. I assumed that since he holds a public office, it would be easy to get, but despite the e-mails I sent out, the calls I made, the offices I have been to, nobody seems to know where his JD is.

The Ministry of Public Service told me they can’t help and referred me to State House’s web site. I also sent them a message on Facebook and Twitter and got no response. I tried Sarah Kagingo, who then was doing PR for State House and again, bleak. And that got me thinking. Perhaps they think I am after his job and that’s why they won’t give it to me.

But I don’t want his job - far from that. For the past two months I have been trying to keep tabs on what exactly M7 does during a working day and he seems to spend an awful lot of time opening schools, factories, shopping malls, office blocks, hospitals, roads or dams. If he is not opening schools, factories, shopping malls, office blocks or hospitals, then he is hob knobbing with the pope, Uhuru, Kagame, commissioning a road, water project, or dam, which I guess is good for him for it keeps him out of trouble.

However, in his JD, is it stipulated that it must be him to open up every single school, factory, shopping mall, office block, hospital, road and dam or commission a road and water project? I mean, Barrack Obama and David Cameron don’t go opening up everything there is to open up do they?

Museveni is the head of state and bluntly speaking, he need not trouble himself with such mundane tasks. And I don’t think the electorate or Aggrey Kagonyera would have rued him if he (M7) recently hadn’t travelled to Karamoja to commission the MTN water project.

There are many people out there who are willing to stand in for him. If you think about it, not much intellect is required for the job for when you get to the site, two young girls pop out of nowhere with a bouquet of flowers which you receive and pass on. You then give the girls a hug, tour the site then, sit in a tent while everybody who thinks they are important rambles out a lengthy boring speech. Once they are done, you give your own speech then go cut the ribbon – if not, pull a small string the opens the small curtains to reveal a plaque that reads: “This building was opened on 16 November, 2014 by President YK Museveni” or in my case, “This building was opened by Timothy Bukumunhe…”  And that is it.

If only State House could subcontract out those jobs, I would be willing to stand in for M7. It would be my contribution to Uganda, my CSR. There are plenty of projects to be opened up that I am sure can be passed on to me and my dogs like Julius, Doc, Paulo, Nodin and Kayos while M7 chills with investors in State House. You get where I am coming from?   

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Am An Usher And Proudly Daft

There was an era, when we used to go to functions and there was nobody at the door to check us in, so we just walked in. Then somebody – Sylvia Owori I think, came up with the idea of having ushers lining the entrance to a function to give it a Hollywood feel and also to check you in.

Suddenly young women all wanted to be ushers – regardless of shape, size and physical attraction. “All I have to do is stand about, smile for a couple of hours and get 50k” so I am sure they told themselves.

Things have changed since then. Usher of today detests being called an usher. She prefers to be called a glamour girl and I have no problem with that. However, while they may be glamorous, one thing they all have in common, is that they are daft. Yes you read it - daft! They are stupid, lack common sense and live a life that revolves round wanting to be seen in Kampala Sun newspaper, Chicken Tonight, 2k airtime for Whatsapp, V&A and telling Boda Man to drop them 200 meters from the function so that nobody sees them riding a boda.

Organiser had taken the trouble to call me and apologise for not having delivered my invitation card and that I should not worry because my name was on the guest list at the entrance which, was cool with me. When I turned up at the function, this is what unfolded.

Glamour Girl: “Do you have an invitation?”

TB: “I don’t have a physical invitation, but Organiser says my name is on the guest list.”

Glamour Girl: “So what are you calling you?” – (Perhaps she meant to say: “What is your name?)

TB: “Timothy. Timothy Bukumunhe.”

She goes through the list twice then looks up and says: “I can’t find you name.” Hmm. “Are you sure” I ask her. Nervously, she says it might be on the other list. I had seen my name on her list because Organiser had listed all names in alphabetical order by surname with the surname upper cased. Glamour Girl on the other hand, was looking for Timothy and not BUKUMUNHE, Timothy. To make matters worse, the ‘other list’ was a mere photocopy of the one she had so still she wouldn’t have found my name.

When I suggested she look under BUKUMUNHE, she gave me a, ‘are telling me how do my job’ look followed by a frown. But she complied. When she saw my name, her face lit up and cast a look that read – “Yikes, how did you do that!”

At another function, an army of workers had been deployed the remove every small blemish from the 100 meter long VIP red carpet. We all acknowledged the work Workmen were doing and to get from one side of the carpet to the other, we all jumped over it regardless of our positions.

An hour before the function was due to start, Glamour Girl comes waltzing down the carpet in mivumba heels that her Matugga feet had yet to master and very oblivious to the mess she was leaving behind and the fact the everybody else was jumping over the carpet which, infuriated Workmen.

Workman: “Nyabo, who do you think you are? Can’t you see everybody jumping over the carpet? Look at the mess you have made.”

Her look of distain was for World Cup. It read: ‘You stupid didn’t-go-to school workman’ was worthy of an Oscar accolade. And to make sure Workman really did appreciate the Oscar performance, as she trumped off, with more than a touch of sarcasm in her voice, she said: “But can’t you see I am Glamour Girl!?”

Monday, November 3, 2014

What Do Museveni's Bodyguards Do With The Gift Bags?

Bodyguards, minders, bouncers. Call them what you want, but out there, are some important people who by the nature of the office that they hold, need to have protection to save them from nutcases, stalkers, assassins, kidnappers, thugs....the list is endless.

The Russian oligarchs transgress their business operations in fleets of armoured plated Mercedes limousines complete with a bevy of armed bodyguards. Film stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have muscled men to keep the nutcases and stalkers away from them while at the high end, Barrack Obama, Vladimir Putin and David Cameron will have a mini army following them everywhere they go.

In Uganda, there is a man called M7. M7, and by virtue of his job, has bodyguards who call themselves SFB. I think.

Apart from M7 and the people he employs, I hear that chick on Urban TV – Mary Luswatta has protection and she needs it because she has annoyed just about every person in Uganda. But Sudhir Ruparelia, Gordon Wava, Charles Mbire and Karim Hiriji for example and who are some of the biggest tycoons in the land, do not have bodyguards - at least not that I know of.

M7 and having SFB to protect him is justified for his job title reads: “Head of State”. When he goes to a function, his SFB will take over and do what is ‘necessary’ to protect him from his own people.

But SFB can be cantankerous. One day they are easy to get along with and at the next function, they are a living hell. Each time I am invited to a function and find out that M7 will be there, I pass because it is easier to explain something to a house-ee in the Katanga slum than it is to SFB.

Mind you, don’t get me wrong. Not all in SFB are hard to deal with. It’s the men battle fatigues who set up the outer perimeter cordon. Rightfully, they follow whatever instruction that they have been given. They won’t deviate and they won’t sympathise. With a straight face, they will look at you and say: “No”. Then “no” again. Thinking outside ‘orders from above’ is no option for them.

At a recent function attended by M7 and Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania, Kagame of Rwanda and Kiir of South Sudan, Chinese Host had a number of gifts to give out to all who attended. There were over 3,000 gift bags which contained a yellow t-shirt and a key holder and were being transported in a delivery cart from an office where they were packed to the function area. When we got to the SFB security check, all hell broke loose – something which need not have happened.

SFB: “What is in those bags?”
US: “Gifts for the guests.”
SFB: “They have to be checked.”
US: “Not a problem. How do you want to do the checking?”
SFB: “It is for us to tell you.”

So we give him a gift bag which he looks through and indeed there is a key ring and yellow t-shirt. Satisfied, he then says: “We need ten samples.” He retains ten gift bags. It took us four trips to deliver the gift bags and on each trip, ten bags were retained as ‘samples’.

I wanted to ask SFB why they needed to retain twenty plus gift bags as samples but I thought that would be digging a hole for myself, and let it slide. But the ‘samples’ had some effect on the SFB. It made life with them that much easier even though it was at the cost of some guests not getting gifts. But I just need to know what happens to the samples? Do they get destroyed or...?


Expelled From School And Sent to Prison

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