Thursday, October 29, 2015

Help Thy Bushenyi Wash Hands After Latrine Visit

Help thy Bushenyi. Anybody who hails from, or has been to Bushenyi, will testify that it is indeed a beautiful part of Uganda. It has a rich farming environment, good roads that make it easily accessible and the people – though a trifle pompous for my liking, are laid back and easy enough to get on with.

In my travels to the region, I’ve never had what I would call a serious issue - save for the language barrier. But as long as Waitress could click and understand the essentials – cold Tusker Malt Larger, a pack of Sporti, fried pork, hotel, toilet, all was well and I was content.

Driving through Bushenyi and going by the clothes that were hung out to dry, the clean table cloth spread over the breakfast table in the hotel, the neatness of the people, it was enough proof to confirm that they take hygiene seriously. That they shower, spray on some deodorant and wash hands – or so I thought.

According to a survey in New Vision a week ago, and one which didn’t make for encouraging reading, a staggering 80% of people from Bushenyi do not wash their hands after a visit to the toilet or pit latrine.

Just to rub it in and to make the peeps from Bushenyi cringe, I’m going to repeat part of the last paragraph if you don’t mind - a staggering 80% of people from Bushenyi do not wash their hands after a visit to the toilet or pit latrine.

But if they can wash their clothes, present a pristine breakfast table cloth and the rest, why can’t they spare a mere two minutes to wash their hands after having been to the latrine?

So what do they do? After emerging from the latrine with unwashed hands that moments ago were wiping at their bottoms, they simply get stuck into whatever they were doing – arranging the cassava, tomatoes and avocado on the platter of pork that you ordered while shaking your hand without feeling uncomfortable. Really Bushenyi!

The survey does not talk about the 20% who I assume do wash their hands. Where are they? I am tempted to believe that they live in Kampala or abroad, and I hope that during their stay in Kampala and abroad, they came to understand what that contraption in the washrooms called a sink is used for and why people upon emerging from the cubicle, go straight to it and wash their hands.

Not washing hands also answers a few questions. Whenever I was in Bushenyi, I would get a quizzical and bemused look when people saw me at the sink or asking for water after a stint in the latrine to which Waitress, unsure of what was going on would return with bottled water.

She probably walked back into the kafunda and told the rest how Musoga has lost the plot because he’s using 2k worth of bottle water to wash his hands instead of drinking it.

Listen up Bushenyi, washing hands does not require a BA from Makerere! Even a UPE drop out can muster it. Simply open tap, wet hands under water, lather hands with soap, rub hands together until clean and then rinse.

In the picture posted alongside the survey, it showed a group of schoolgirls standing by a borehole while NWSC Official gave them a demonstration. The look on their faces was one for Discovery Channel - if not, a Kodak moment in National Geographic magazine, as they marvelled at how easy washing their hands was.   

But I am not going to let Bushenyi go to the dogs. I am not going to ignore it either. I am so not! As a patriotic Ugandan, it’s my mandate – yours as well, to help those who have lost their footing and drag them back on par with the rest of the nation. It should be part of our individual social responsibility to make an effort to drive down to Bushenyi and show them what they need to do.

I will be in Bushenyi next week holding free public lectures on hand washing. After the lectures, soda and mandazi will be served but with one proviso - you can successfully demonstrate to me that you have learnt and can wash your hands. Cool?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

We Can't Sell Because We Can't Market

I am still perturbed and this time it’s about me and trying to shake off this notion that I am a Justin Bieber groupie.

Just in case you don’t know who Bieber is, he’s some young American lad whose music is a big hit with Teen Girl. I don’t know any of his songs and neither do I follow his career so why would I dream that I was fighting Teen Girl for the sweat shirt he threw into the crowd after a concert? More embarrassingly, I also had him as my phone screen saver.

However, the one thing I do know about him, is that he knows how to market himself and his music to a tune of 47 million Twitter followers and 20 million on Instagram.     

Here in Uganda, we are clueless marketers. While I am no expert at it, I do know it has something to do with: “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services...”

Now and again, I look up web sites such as Knight Frank, Lamudi, OLX, Zoopla, Cheki and others to see what houses, plots of land and cars that are on the market. There is plenty for sale but where we go wrong, is we have no idea of how to properly market our wares.

I was looking at a house in Munyonyo and all the necessary information - cost, plot size, number of bedrooms and so forth was detailed along with 24 pictures of the property.

The first picture was the view of Lake Victoria from the house. The second, third and fourth pictures were of what looked like Female House-ee standing by the gate. There was also a close up picture of the water tank. Others were of the chandelier in the living and dining room, a close up of a sink, one of a rather bemused painter standing by a set of ladders while the rest are close-ups of the perimeter walls.

Twenty-four pictures of a house for sale but none of them able to give a prospective buyer an insight as to what the house actually looks like.

Another house in Bukoto also had all the information and three pictures. The first was a picture of the gate from the outside. The second was of the perimeter wall and the third – from the inside, was the view of a block of flats under construction.

People selling cars fair no better. On OLX, there is a picture of a Toyota Mark X except, the picture is not of the car, but the bonnet, bumper and number plate. Another is of a Mercedes M-class. The write up says it’s an M-class and I am sure it is, because in the one picture that was posted, laid out on the back seat was an M-class drivers manual. Meanwhile the pictures of the Land Cruiser VX were out of focus and too dark and not worth straining the eyes on. 

The winner though, is of Young Man who looked like a Butcherman mulebeesi and who is selling what I think is a Toyota Caldina. You’ll find twelve pictures of him decked out in mob bling and so dark shades as he sits inside the ride but, none that actually show or market the ride.

How do people expect to get buyers if the pictures are fuzzy, out of focus, too dark, partly obscured by thumbs, fingers or have House-ee in the forefront? Worse, after up-loading, they sit back - all content while smirking at people who pay to go and listen to marketing experts like Caleb Owino, Marion Muyobo and Susan Nsibirwa at Marketers Night Out.

It doesn’t end there. Try pointing out the errors and they’ll froth and spit back: “TB tumbavu - are you the one selling the house!?”


Saturday, October 17, 2015

The World Order Deeply Perturb's Me

I am a man who is deeply perturbed. I seek answers but they are not readily forthcoming.

Uganda today is obsessed with trivial issues – deputy speaker of parliament, Jabob Oulnayah, being denied sex by Wifey; What really happened between Capital FM presenter Flavia Tumusiime and American rapper, J. Cole and does the Muhoozi Project really exist. Meanwhile on the global arena, people are doing bizzare things that could soon hit our shores and no one is seemingly concerned. Except, me!

Seeing its Sunday, it would be a good idea to start off on a religious note – not so? Warren Jeffs is American and leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). In his preaching’s, there is however, something that deeply troubles. FLDS men are not permitted to have children with their wives. Instead, there is a select group of men known as Seed Bearers. A Seed Bearer is an elect man worthy of bloodline chosen by the Priesthood to impregnate the FLDS Woman. Putting it bluntly, all Husband does is to hold Wifey’s hand while Seed Bearer does the needful and spreads his seed into her.   

Then there is Jewel Shuping. As far as I can tell, she grew up a healthy normal child. But when she hit her teens, rather than take an interest in boys, going to the movies or clubbing, Jewel was consumed by a different fascination – that of blind people, that she went to the extent of buying a cane, wearing dark glasses and walking round town pretending to be blind. But somewhere down the line, she felt cheated. She got fed up of pretending to be blind that she did the needful and had drain detergent poured into her eyes so she could be permanently blind.

Ah, I there is a need to pause for I can hear you screaming: “TB has really lost the plot this week. Who pours detergent in their eyes and ever so willingly?” Oh yeah, while ‘I lost it’ long ago, I am not on the same level as Ms. Shuping. Anyway, her family have naturally thrown her out but her boyfriend has been understanding and has stood by her. He would, because he is blind – naturally blind and not detergent blind.

On the other hand, Geogina Girasoli didn’t go blinding herself. After giving birth, rather have the placenta thrown away as is the norm, she whisked hers in a blender and drank it down to ‘replenish her hormones, provide nutrients and help her avoid post-natal depression’. Really?  

Wrapping it all up is Caim Mortis who grew up a normal man until he felt the need to stand out from the crowd. There is nothing wrong with that because I too in my teen days sometimes felt the need to stand out – like turning up to assembly without a tie yet, everybody was wearing one.

But Mortis has taken the desire to stand out too far, way too far that when I saw his picture, I felt the need to fall to the floor and pray for him. Mortis has had horns implanted into his forehead. His eyes are tattooed black, he has rings pierced all over his face along with countless tattoos that when you look at him, you’ll think: “Jeez, he is the devil.”

Why are people doing these things to themselves? Has society failed them? Are Ugandans also doing them except, they never come to light? Maybe it’s me who’s not on the same page as the rest of the world and I have been left behind?

While I have a very liberal outlook on life, it however doesn’t stretch into cuckoo land and I will say – if we don’t do something to help those who are going askew, we may find that going to Java’s for a coffee is no longer the in thing, but having a placenta milkshake and croissant is, as is trying to beat the Ntinda traffic to rush home to hold Wifey’s hand while Seed Bearer does his stuff.

I didn’t mean to ruin your Sunday but I’m deeply perturbed and needed somebody to talk to, somebody to help me find answers.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

At University, Piggy Sex Is Ok

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is perhaps the second most powerful person in Western Europe after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Despite his power, when he was at university, he did stuff that was expected of any normal bloodied student with raging hormones.

A couple of weeks ago, he was in the news for the ‘wrong reasons’ over whether he had sex of an oral nature with a dead pig while he was a student at Cambridge University.

Though I have not met him to ask if he did do it or what it felt like, if he did it, I don’t he did it because he has a morbid zungu sexual perversion for dead pigs. He did it because it was expected of him, like countless of others had traditionally done the same thing before him in the 806-year history of the University.

Joining a frat club and doing the initiation assimilated us into university life. We knew all about them before we joined and what was expected of us. It was the way of forward and not to be left out, in my day, I did what was required. 

I played rugby and the initiation was straight forward enough - a beer mug that contained all alcoholic drinks the bar served – right from beers to spirits and for good measure, Tabasco sauce - all to be downed in one.

It looked like a mixture of vomit and stuff from a blocked sewer pipe. I did down it and it did taste like vomit and stuff from a blocked sewer pipe. Five minute later I was outside the pub on a mega spew up.

University is real life. It’s said you learn more in 3-years about life, than in the years under parental advisory. It’s not all about books but about 3-years of ‘insanity, mayhem, going on riot, kavuyo, skating close to the edge of suspension or expulsion, diverting fees to more worthwhile projects in the local kafunda’ before doing the needful and appeasing Parent by graduating, settling down into a job and the blah, blah, blah that follows.

Not all fraternities or clubs were about drinking vomit or the sewer. The hockey club for example, would buy a kilo of entrails, break into Fresher’s room and hide it in the ceiling. Days later and with a very unbearable smell whose source he couldn’t locate, Fresher would seek Maintenance Man who would simply ask – “you a first year” and once confirmed, he would tap on the soft board squares that made up the ceiling till one came crashing down complete with rotting entrails and maggots.

Female Fresher was not exempt either. Many woke up at 3:00am to find sheep stolen from the farm next door wandering the corridors and showers. If not, she would return from class to find her room stripped bare or utterly mortified to walk into the students union bar to find her knickers and bras hung up behind the counter.

That’s the nice stuff. The hardcore initiations were so insanely morbid, that I dare not mention them because Dr. Wendo, Sunday Vision editor, wouldn’t allow it, while my parents would go into cardiac arrest. The rest of you would swing me un-amused looks and whispers of:  “I wonder what TB did with the cow at university...”          

We all did stuff at university that we hope never sees the light of day. We did it for tradition and to leave a legacy for others to carry on and emulate. Just ask Son or Daughter after Sunday lunch and see how uncomfortable and angry they get when you tell them – “TB says you divert money I give you for fees to the kafunda -really my child?”

Saturday, October 3, 2015

There's No English in The Oxford English Dictionary

When my generation was growing up and we had trouble understanding the meaning of a word, we reached for the revered book – The English Oxford Dictionary, just like Chef opens The Cook Book when he needs to know how to make a flambĂ© and Christian takes to the Bible for a better understanding of religion while, Fashionista consults Vogue magazine for the latest fashion trends.

The English Oxford Dictionary is such a powerful tool, that coming to think of it, I have never heard anybody question or grumble about the interpretation of a given word – whatever definition that’s given, it’s taken as gospel. Unlike Christian or Islamic Scholar who always question the Bible and Koran, Chef doubting the ingredients listed in The Cook Book or Fashionista disagreeing with Vogue on the definition of a short skirt.

Every language has an element of slang and in the English language, slang is becoming so main stream that of the 1,000+ words that have been added to the dictionary this year, a good majority of them are slang words or phrases.  

However, Boffin at The Oxford English Dictionary is adamant that adding slang words did not represent a dumbing down of English, but showed 'creative' use of language. He said: “There have always been new slang words and we are aware of them because of the ways in which we consume and live our lives.”

Check out these slang words which have now been included in the dictionary.

Awesomesauce: Extremely good.

Bants: Playfully teasing remarks exchanged with another person.

Beer o’clock: An appropriate time of day to start drinking beer.

Brain Fart: Temporary mental failure to reason correctly.

Fatberg: A large mass of solid waste consisting of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets.

Fat-shame: Someone judged to be fat or overweight.

Manspreading: The practice where a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat.

Pocket dial: To inadvertently call (someone) on a cell phone in one’s pocket, as a result of pressure being accidentally applied to a button on the phone

Rage-quit: To angrily abandon an activity that has become frustrating, especially the playing of a video game.

Rando: A person who you don’t know, especially one regarded as odd and suspicious.

While those are words used on the international arena and have been added into The English Oxford Dictionary, we in Uganda also have our words and phrases that Boffin, might want to make a special dispensation and include them next year. These are our words and how we interpret and use them. 

Extend: Come closer – “TB, extend next to me.”

I’m as if: Undecided – “TB, as if I’m not sure if I’m hungry or not.”

Pilot: Person driving the car or van – “TB, tell the pilot to drop me at the stage.”

Give a push: To see off a guest – “People, let’s give TB a push to the road.”

Balance: Coins or low denomination 1k and 2k notes: – “TB, do you have balance for groundnuts?”

Offering: Studying a degree course – “TB, I am offering computers at Nakawa.”

Outside countries: Going abroad to countries outside Africa.

I am sick: A female in her menstrual cycle – “Not tonight TB, I am sick.”

Comedy: A person who is funny – “TB, your funny and full of comedy.”

My bad: Done something wrong – “I knocked Boda Man in Wandegeya. My bad.”

In years to come, we’ll find the dictionary no longer contains English or gives us a meaning to real English words such as dilatory (wasting time) or inchoate (imperfectly formed). Instead, it will be full of explanations to slang words like, Silo (Club Silk) orcoin slot (intergluteal cleft - the groove between the buttocks) - or Timo (Timothy).    

Expelled From School And Sent to Prison

I was fortunate enough, that during my academic career, I was never suspended or expelled from school – not because I was a good boy who to...