Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Man In The White Robe Who Came To Preach

 Chap in White Frock and Beret departed Uganda today. I’m not catholic so I didn’t get invited to any of the festivities. I thought about crashing the Namugongo gig, but with everybody wanting to be there – to catch a glimpse of him or at least try to get a personal blessing, the human traffic and security restrictions put paid to that plot.

Penny, the affable and astute editor who oversees my column, would have preferred that I not refer to him as Chap in White Frock and Beret, but Pope, and also show some columnist/editor goodwill by writing something positive to commemorate his visit. Tight, but I’ll try because I have issues with religion. 

When one of my tights - Expat Dave got married a few years ago, Lubowa Based Pastor saw it as his chance to earn mega bucks.

You see, he always had a ‘prayer-rate-card’ with him. To pray for the couple at their home would cost say sh3m. If the couple went to his church, it would be sh2m. The prayer-rate-card also had additional extras like a fee for praying for the wedding gifts. Hmm!

Philip takes his religion seriously that when Audi Pastor from South London calls and tells him "the lord needs you", Philip will be there. Apart from physically being there, so is his monthly pay packet and all because of something called ‘tithe’ which, eats up 70 per cent of the packet.

I have met Audi Pastor and I want to be like him for he’s a smoothie if I ever saw one. The way he drapes his suit jacket over his shoulders – eh, too hard. Most importantly, he has the gift of the gab – the ability to make the most tight-fisted congregation open their wallets and purses and drop small fortunes into the offertory bag.

At the end of the service, while his congregation wait for the bus, he slides into his ride - which by now, you have guessed is a top of the range Audi, complete with charcoal back sport rims and more loud speaker decibels than Club Silk can muster and off he drives - not to gospel music, but to hip hop and with not a wave to his now poorer congregation.

Meanwhile in August this year, Abuja Pastor claimed that in the dead of the night, God woke him and asked: “You are not helping women without children to conceive. Why?” I was not there when this supposed conversation took place and if it was a phone call, WhatsApp or a Twitter message, so we’ll just take him at his word.

But if the conversation did happen, I think what God had in mind, was prayer - telling her not to despair because he (God) has a plan for her.

But Abuja Pastor interpreted the conversation as: “God has directed me to you and told me to do the ‘needful’ seeing Husband is seemingly 'unable' to provide.”

Oh yeah, Woman did get pregnant – and so did many others until Husbands woke up and over a fufu lunch, realised they had all along been taken for a ride and run him out of town.

However, Chap in White Frock and White Beret is different. There are many people who do believe in him as God’s topmost envoy on earth. He’s also scandal free and not done anything as outrageous as Abuja Pastor, Lubowa Pastor or Audi Pastor so I guess, there’s hope that one day, religion and I will see eye-to-eye.

I shouldn’t be doing this, but what the heck. Before I run out of column space, a ‘big up’ to and yes, I think I am allowed to be biased for once - to the peeps who behind the scenes toiled to make the visit one to remember - Vision Group CEO Robert Kabushenga, who toiled to turn Namugongo Shrines into what it was, along with Susan Nsibirwa, Louis Jadwong and Carol Natkunda whose countless tweets kept us in formed and not forgetting OPP – and I tried to count his tweets over 340.

And if you were at Munyonyo, Namugongo or Kololo and walked away feeling that Pope had delivered a highly spiritual and cleansing message from God, then I am really happy for you and ask if you swung in a good word for me. Did you?  

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Now Engage Brain Before I Open Mouth

Opposite me, White Lady wasn’t exactly smiling – not that it bothered me. When Overtly Fat Man, creaked his mass down the aisle and sat next to her, the mass more than encroached onto her part of the seat – squashing her slender self right up against the frame of the train. Seconds later, she burst into tears. His response? “Jeez,” a ‘hmm’ stare and heaving his mass off the seat-and-a-half to creak his way further down the carriage.

Trying to make light of the situation, I leant over telling her that I too would have cried had he sat next to me and squashed against me. What happened next was not part of the script.

She let rip with a loud tirade along the lines of: “F**k you! I am not crying about him. Just because he’s fat, you think it is okay to ridicule him? How would you like it if people said they would cry because a black man sat next to them?” She really went on.

We all make gaffs – uttering the wrong things at the wrong time because our brain is in a meltdown and not taking stock of the bigger picture.

Last year I was in Monot having drinks and brought up the topic of what would each one of us would be doing assuming we hadn’t gone to school. Everybody at the table – Labo, Julius, Doc, Vinta, Muloodi, Nodin, PK, Lukwago said they would be anything from Taxi Conductor to House-ee. But Quiet Man who I didn’t know and had never met was not offering an opinion.

So I zeroed on him: “And you, what would you be doing?” No answer. I pressed again and still no answer. Sitting next to me, Labo furiously tugged at my shirt while under the table, kung-fu kicks from Julius and PK rained on my legs.

The kung fu kicks and tugging should have jolted brain out of the meltdown but didn’t. In the end and with all modesty, Quiet Man in Luganda said: “I didn’t go to school, but I own the Sir Jose Hotel chain and out of my own pocket, today I laid tarmac from Gaba Road right up to my hotel and beyond.”

Anybody who knows the road that leads up to Sir Jose hotel in Buziga will know what I am talking about. He added – “Come for a complimentary weekend.”

Ouch, ouch ouch! My throat dried up. I looked for support from the rest which of course, was not forthcoming that seeking refuge with the blue flies in the depths of a cesspit was an option worth considering.

I’ve known Greg since he took up the position as GM at Speke Resort Munyonyo. One Friday evening, I walked into his office to go through the details of a service to be held for Expat Worker who had died days earlier. In his office was Young Lady who I didn’t know and paid no attention to. I simply let rip - proffering my thoughts on what could have killed him, how he was a Don Juan with an endless string of girlfriends and so forth.

As I blabbered, Greg was giving me ferocious ‘if eyes could kill’ stares that my brain wasn’t digesting. Then out of the blue, Young Lady started crying and ran off to the washroom. Bemused, I asked what her problem was. Greg was to the point. “You idiot, that was his girlfriend!” There was no recourse but to grab my TML and hastily scatter before she returned.

These days whenever I’m out, I only open the mudomo to have a swig of TML and not to jazz - just in case brain is on a meltdown.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Choice Confuses and We Don't Need It

It was on the cards and when they – Uchumi, finally announced the closure of their Uganda operations, I could hardly contain my excitement – not because I had beef with them, its management style, the employees or what they sold. Rather, it had to do with stress.

A week ago, the affable Simon Kaheru, was stressed with Telecom Provider over their work ethics in installing internet in Friends office. I did sympathize and will tell you that the stress Kaheru and I faced, is all down to having ‘too much of choice’.

Today we have streams of supermarkets, FM stations, bufundas, soft drinks, schools and coffees. Let’s take coffee for example. Back in the old days – pre-1986, Waitress would ask: “African or English?” Sometimes she didn’t bother asking and served according to her whim.

Today when you walk into Good African Coffee or Java, Waitress with a chirpy and enthusiastic voice will ‘stress’ you with choice: “A a cappuccino, mocha, latte, cafĂ© au lait, expresso, Americano, macchiato, doppio, or risretto?” It’s too much of a stress trying to decide which of the nine coffees to have.

Why can’t she be like Old Skool Waitress with the bored voice, the deadpan face who with a grudge, would slam down her grandmothers flask of lukewarm water and one that’s bigger than your average home water tank, a tin of Nescafe with the tin foil pulled half way back and a small jug of milk designed to spill the milk all over the table? While Old Skool Waitress would annoy, she never stressed me and I’m sure she wouldn’t stress Kaheru either. As we try to get to grips with our stresses, we need to know who is responsible so we can bring them to book.

Ah, it’s Marketing Executive. He told us that ‘choice’ when MTN, Shoprite, DStv, Game and Nakumatt and the rest hit town, would give us freedom and autonomy to decide what WE want. He also promised supermarket shelves laden with brands and that if Offspring didn’t get into Makerere, we shouldn’t fret because there is KIU, Nkumba, Ndejje and other universities which are equally as good. He also told us that if we didn’t want to listen to Ssalongo John reel off 100 dead people names per minute as he tore through e’birango on Radio Uganda, there would be hundreds of FM stations we could tune into.

Marketing Executive didn’t lie. But rather than give it to us kidogo kidogo, he gave us the entire 40ft container in one go that I literally break into a cold sweat walking down the Nakumatt aisle and stop at the dairy shelf to find twelve+ brands of butter displayed. I opt for salted Danish but when I get to the checkout counter, everybody else has gone with a UK brand.

Suddenly I feel everybody is staring into my trolley and wanting to berate me for going Danish that I ‘pee my pants’ and head back for the UK brand, when I spot the French brand boasting of having ‘50% extra’. 50% extra what? It’s time for my tab to consult Google.

Getting home, more stress lurks in the living room. Should I watch Urban TV, Bukedde, Bukedde 1 or, one of the ten or so other TV stations plus another 60+ that satellite TV has to offer? Jeez, I really can’t decide!

The presidential campaigns are also stressing. Who am I going to vote for? In the old days, I didn’t stress because Idi Amin always decided for me.

So let’s get rid of choice, bring back the days of ‘we only have one brand’ like Tree Top juice, Tip Top bread, Nescafe, Blue Band, Marie biscuits, Radio Uganda and I’ll have less grey hair to pluck out.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yippee, The Bush Is Back!

The afro is back, so are platform shoes, corduroy trousers and patched jackets. But more importantly, the bush is back - yippee! 

Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, women had bush down there. It was a thick patch of fuzz that they didn’t tamper with. Nor did they shave it, trim it or neat the edges. They let it be - to grow wild, uninhibited and daring with not a care in the world if the odd strand of hair poked out of the side of their underwear.

What’s more, we men loved the bush. In my teens, we first saw bush in Playboy Magazine and we liked. We were brought up knowing that women of age have bush and it’s the way of life – just like going to church and giving offertory, is the way of life.

We saw bush as a ritual passage from boyhood into becoming men and finally crossing that frontier into the unknown. Bush was different from looking at breasts. Even though we had yet to see breasts in the flesh, we had an idea about them because we ‘saw’ them every day. We looked at them as the girls strutted around in their blouses or swim suits and knew that some girls had big busts. Others had small ones. Some had round ones. But with bush, it was different. You couldn’t imagine bush because it was not a shape or a form like breasts that you could see. Bush was almost illicit and tucked well out of sight.

Bush when we eventually got a chance to feel and delve into it, was everything and more than we thought it would be. It held a mystical aurora – almost like a first time drive through Kibaale forest in the dead of the night - all terrified and heart thumping.

Looking at bush also increased our sexual anxiety. Feeling it gave us uncontrollable palpitations. The message that bush conveyed was clear enough – that the final frontier was finally right there in front of us and beyond it, there lay nothing else but, IT – sex!

In the 80s when the afro, platform shoes and flayered trousers disappeared, so did the bush because somebody in South America declared the bush dead and shaved it all off or left a ‘landing strip’.

Women with no bush, was a shocker. I was petrified. In that clumsy fumbling feel before getting undressed, when I felt around and there was no bush to feel, it was a sexual flat – almost like buying a top of the range Mercedes Benz and finding it’s not equipped with air-conditioning.

No bush stifles our sexual imagination and desires. Foreplay was also limited because there was no bush for our fingers to play with. With no bush, men become mere sexual slaves to women because as soon as the underwear comes off, the sex is right there in our face with no bush to hide it and feel we have to start performing almost immediately.

Of course women have every right to decide what they want to do with their bush. But in the grooming of it, they don’t put us into the equation. They ask if we think they are fat or if we like their eyebrows, nails or shoes. They ask if we like the scent of their perfume or if we find them attractive. However, they never ask us to comment or pass judgement on bush and suffice to say, some men see bush tampering as an ‘infringement’ of our sexual rights.

In my case, feeling bush reaffirms my belief that I am with an adult and removes any paedophilia notion and reassures me that what I am doing is legal and above board.

Kathy Lette, an outspoken writer who is a voice of contemporary feminism is my kind of woman especially when she says: “I like my pubic hair. It’s like having a little pet in my pants and I say Bring Back Bush!”

She goes on to argue that full bush allows women to attract men through the aphrodisiacal scent in their body hair. “The great irony of Brazilian waxing is that pheromones - that invisible, secret, aphrodisiacal scent which attracts men and women to each other, is captured in the body's hair. So, ironically, women shave everything off are chasing away the men.”

I am buoyed that the bush is back and that I can confidently stride down Kampala Road knowing that a good number of women walking past me, are not bare or, have landing strips. They have a full wad of bush! 

The Bush Is Back, is published in the November, December, January issue of Flair Magazine

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Real Men Wee With Focus

In the washrooms and at the kiddie urinal, Dad was teaching Kiddie Son - telling him to put away his games consol and focus on his wee wee and getting wee into the urinal and not on the floor.

When men go the washrooms, we are focused while women are scattered. It’s a groupie outing to them, something that requires a ten minute+ discussion, raising the necessary quorum, who has toilet tissue, a debate to see if they can all fit into the cubicle and who gets the first wee.

When we men go, we focus and map out an appropriate route – “I’ll get up, do a left by Fat Man or maybe not because his fat belly is in the way. It might be better to detour by Big Butt Woman, then a right at the pillar and in the process drool at glasses wearing Ziper Model with the longs legs and skyscraper heels - then double back, do a left by the speakers, walk behind Bouncer so he can clear a path, skirt the edge of the bar and that should give me a clear run”.

However, when we get to the urinals, there is a spot of dithering – especially if there are no dividers between them.

Bashful Man wants to wee at the ends of the urinal where there is some privacy in that, he can stand at an angle with his back to the person on his left, while on his right, there is a wall to take care of that end.

Meanwhile, Real Man is not bothered and heads for the centre urinal – not in an attempt to show off the size factor – or is it?, but because he’s not really bothered where he stands.

At the urinal, there is an unwritten rule of: “Thou shall not cast your eyes left or right to look down at Neighbours wee wee, and comment on it, admire it or hate it.”

Instead we focus. We focus on the imaginary spot on the wall in front of us. If not, we look down and focus on wee wee – making sure the wee is projecting according to the flight plan. The senses in our peripheral vision also go up a notch or two, that without turning our head, we have a general idea of what’s happening either side of us – just in case we have to take evasive action should the projectile of Neighbours wee go askew.

The urinals often have two antiseptic balls in them and to pass time, we sometimes aim our wee at them to see if we can make them roll about.

However, what we don’t like is that man who wants to have a urinal conversation – because a conversation as we wee puts us off our groove. Holding wee wee, making sure wee is going into the urinal, puffing on a sporti while juggling a beer bottle, is too much for us to concentrate on. And now throw in a conversation as well?

There is of course Rude Boy – all showing off with arms crossed, legs akimbo and marvelling at his wee wee being able to wee on its own without being held. I support myself by bracing one hand on the wall in front of me while others lean on the urinal dividers. The rest simply hold onto wee wee for dear life.  

Putting wee wee away is an art that requires finesse as the lingering wee has to be disposed of without it going on our trousers or on the person next to us. It also has to be done in a manner that Morality Police will not deem as conducting a naughty act on oneself.

When we exit, we pause and double check that zipper is up, then plot the best possible route back – behind the speakers, a left by DJ box, a slight pause to let Drunko stagger pass... We often bump into Female Groupie who has been pinned between Fat Man’s beer belly and the wall. If only she had listened to me and taken a right turn by the speakers...

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