Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Space Invaders, Sprinklers and Punishers

Listen up people, is it too much to ask that when you speak to me, you kindly observe the following simple rules? 

1. Thou shall not invade my personal space. 
2. Thou shall not slaver your spittle all over my face or on my person. 
3. Thou shall not use my arm or any part of my body as a punching bag.

The Space Invader: I was in a meeting last week with people I had never met. Before I sat down, there was a need to scan the table and position myself next to somebody who won’t ask to borrow my pen, who won’t lean over to read my Twitter messages with me and more importantly, who won’t invade my personal space like people - especially car dealers tend to do when queuing up in the bank to pay their URA taxes.
I perched next to David because he looked harmless enough. Ten minutes into the meeting and there was a shoulder tap. It was David and turning round, to my horror, he hadn’t just invaded my personal space. He had broken into my face and practically had his tongue down my throat.

My recoil didn’t quite go to plan because he leant further over like it was a cat and mouse game and short of falling off the chair, I steadied myself as he rolled his eyes at me then went back to the presentation. Hmm.

The Sprinkler: Months ago and in another meeting, I sat next to The Sprinkler. Even when he was not talking, you could see the blobs of saliva building up in the corner of his mouth that when he opened mouth to speak, the first three to four blobs were always heavy, they didn’t projectile that far and merely ended up on his note pad. It was what followed that did the sprinkling. The sprinklets flew out of his mouth that there was just need to raise our arms to fend them off. 

Just when I presumed he was done, he talks again and I saw the blob leave his mouth and in slow mo that honestly, I could have gotten up and relocated myself to the far end of the table before it struck. But it whizzed through the air, my eyes following it right until it landed on the bridge of my nose.

And this is where it got embarrassing. He too saw it land on my nose and I read what he was thinking. 

1. TB, has not noticed it. 
2. Ouch, should I apologise? 
3. Should I offer him some tissues. 
4. Should I just carry on.

He opted for the latter while giving me this deadpan look. Then it was my turn. 1. Should I pretend I don’t have a blob of spit on my nose? 2. Should I reach for a tissue and wipe it off? 3. It’s not polite to embarrass him, so I will wait until he’s looking away and wipe it off. I opted for the latter.

The Puncher: Sometimes when we talk, we use our hands to emphasize a point and there is nothing wrong with that. Except of course, when you sit next to The Puncher. 

The Puncher, is the sort of person who feels the need to punch or nudge you on your shoulder, your thigh or poke you in the chest when they feel your attention waning. Except my attention wasn’t waning. I was looking at him dead in the eye and giving him the attention he wanted, but the moment I blinked or looked down at the table for my TML, he would punch me.

And when he had made his point, he would slap me real hard across the back and have a hearty laugh to himself.

The last time I met him, I took the stairs up to the fourth floor rather than share the lift with him and get battered all over the place. 

Pictures: Internet


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Return of Bad Black - Season II

There is just something about Bad Black. Two weeks ago, she shimmied out of Luzira Prison, devoid of any inkling that she had spent the last two years in incarceration, but had merely been on a night out on the town and was sauntering home.

Except, Bad Black didn’t go home. After a long Luzira stint, the norm, is to head straight home to a sumptuous meal that mother made, a long soak in the bath and to delve into crisp bedsheets for a good and proper sleep with Luther Vandross or Diana Ross soothing away in the background.

Instead, Black hit Silk Liquid - an establishment in Village Mall, Bugolobi, that launched while she was away to hold a press conference (below). She knew exactly where it was because whilst in the prison bus to and from Luzira to court, it would often get snarled up in the traffic jam outside the mall. In that jam, rather than feel sorry for herself, she tilted her head, peered through the iron bars lashed across the windows, to get a look at her ‘on being released’ stomping ground.

She wore a green dress and 'Goliath' heels with not a trace of yellow – why would she have worn yellow seeing it’s all she wore for two years? And if she was surprised by the media circus surrounding her release, she didn’t show it, because she expected it. She is Bad Black after all.

Bad Black to the Ugandan scraping a living on the poverty line, is a goddess. Somebody to be revered, to be talked about and tagged a ‘Robin Hood’ of sorts who stole from the rich though she didn’t give to the poor but kept it all for her and her lover man. That didn’t bother them. What did, is that her incarceration is just proof that the justice system does not work. There is one law for Government Official who gets away with GAVI funds and another, for Bad Black who represents the downtrodden.

While she may have reinvented herself with a new ‘mustard look’ that suggests some form of bleaching, it’s not the end of her. Her release is merely: Return of Bad Black – Season II.

We all accept that she’s not the brightest woman there is in Uganda – academically at least, but she is a hustler and a good hustler or rather hussy, who managed to hustle $3m from her English lover.

Hussies like Bad Black, don’t just go to Luzira without a Plan B or Plan C and two years in Luzira is but a small price to pay for a $3m pay cheque – is it not?

In Return of Bad Black – Season II, I expect her to sit back and watch which of her ‘friends’ slithers out of the gutters claiming to have been there for her through thick and thin. Like the scene out of the movie, The Godfather II where, Michael Corleone makes ‘peace and embraces the heads of the five families’, Black too, will embrace her friends with her left arm, while holding acid and a meat cleaver in her right.

It’s time for not only for payback, but to clean shop and to punish those who were disloyal or spoke to the media or took advantage of her time in incarceration.

New allegiances will be formed. Former sworn enemies like Judith Heard (above) and Zari (below) will be brought into the ‘fold’. She will also encase herself in a ring of Bad Black Bad-etts – die hard girls of her ilk from her hussy Rock Bar days and who will do just about anything to make sure that the title to Bad Back - Season III does not read: The Return to Luzira

Pictures: New Vision, Daily Monitor and Bukedde

The BMW, Overheating and Sudocream

When it comes to rides, Angela Merkel will tell us how Germany is top of the world with its Mercedes Benz’s, Audi’s and BMW’s. But, as if...

I was off to Gulu at a time when I owned a 318i series BMW which, had never left Kampala or even been to Wandegeya or Ntinda for pork but, between office in Industrial Area and home in Munyonyo.

It had recently been serviced, but as a precaution, at a Bwaise service station, I did a pit stop to err on the side of caution.

The 318i, in the drive to Bombo, had enough revs and horsepower under its hood to literally snap the string on the G-string of any woman who was wearing one, and who was standing at the roadside as I drove past. It was that fast.

But past Bombo, German reliability came into question with the temperature needle (far right in picture below) nowhere to be seen. Looking again, it had shot up alarmingly past the red box that indicates overheating.

Cooling down a 318i radiator is not as simple as it is on a Toyota. The radiator needs to be bled of all air pockets otherwise, it simply heats up again.

The process took two hours. Am back on the road, but half-an-hour later there is more overheating. More bleeding is done, but this time, I swung Kanzu Old Man 5k for the family jerry can to carry reserve water with me. Of course, there is no need to guess what happened 45 minutes later – is there?

318i eventually limped me into Gulu and to a function that was at a close which left enough time to show face, have a Coke, find Mechanic and return to Kampala.

Gulu Mechanic unconvincingly assured me he had 318i experience and he swung me a hefty bill for the unconvincing work he had done, and gave the usual unconvincing mechanic assurances of how I need not worry.

I took him at his word but an hour into the journey and WTF – overheating! Not once, not twice, not three times, but five times.

In a fit of frus, at 11:00pm, I abandoned the car by a roadside homestead and waited for public transport. No matter how many cars I tried to flag down, they all whizzed past with its occupants on the same thought – oyo mubbi (he’s a thief).

Transportation did arrive - an overloaded charcoal laden Fuso truck whose driver swings me two options. Up on the back with the charcoal and Turnboy, he won’t charge, but in the cabin, its 20k. We negotiate down to 15k only to find I don’t have a real seat, but a ‘seat’ on the gear box.

Anybody who has been in the cabin of a Fuso will tell you how hot it gets. They will also tell you that the gear box is hotter than a sigiri boilingkigere and if you sat on it, it will burn.

Truth be told, it didn’t burn me. It roasted my butt good and proper. There was a searing heat in between my butt cheeks almost like I was being probed with a hot cattle rod. Worse, Driver and his two companions in the cabin were on a high from chewing khaat, smoking ganja and swigging an alcoholic beverage that smelt and tasted like kerosene from a five liter jerry can. By the time they dropped me off in Wandegeya well past 2:00am, I too was high as a kite.

For the next three days, I rubbed Sudocrem on my butt and walked with clenched butt cheeks and a feeling of still having a searing hot cattle rod up inside me.

318i was sold shortly afterwards.          

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Badru Kiggundu - King of Stress Absorption

We all have work stress. It may be sexual harassment, Colleague always asking you to cover for them, long working hours to not enough pay. In the media industry – especially print, stress centres round deadlines and hoping the information that Source gave you, is correct and will not require an apology or land you in court.

I have never met BK (below). The little I know about him, I glean from the media and Usual Suspect, who peddles kafunda lugambo.

For work, BK has what I would call a cushy number. His office on Jinja Road, is in an ideal location – especially for lunch. Forest Mall in Bugolobi is a ten minute drive, Africana Hotel is round the corner, Oasis Mall and Garden City, a twelve minute walk and Centenary Park across the road, is a mere case of having to dodge eight lanes of traffic. Not having a personal car is the least of BKs problems, because the taxi will literally drop him at the gate.

I don’t know about the terms and conditions of his contract, because it’s not been leaked on Twitter, but I imagine he tweaked it here and there to read something like this;  

‘BK, for four years, be as if on a chill. Put feet up, make sure Mama Lovisa serves sawa nya with a kindazi, and at the end-of-month, check to see if salary and other perks have been paid. In the fifth year, go see Barbra Mulwana (below) at Nice House of Plastics, (NHP) and buy as many basins, pens, plastic boxes and deliver them nationwide. Once the boxes are filled, count the contents and determine a winner. With that done, go back to the four year routine, sit back and be as if chilling. Put your feet up, make sure Mama Lovisa serves sawa nya with kindazi, and at the end-of-month, check to see if salary and other perks have been paid. In the fifth year, look for Barbra and repeat the whole exercise.

This year, there were some issues. The basins and boxes didn’t arrive at their destinations in time and it’s not Barbra’s fault. If you told her you wanted 100,000 basins delivered to Arua by say February 17th, she would make sure they were delivered by 10th. She is that efficient.

But if I can buy a shiny blue basin from the NHP shop next to BAT on Old Portbell Road, take it to kyalo in Ibulanku in the hassles of public transport and deliver it to Uncle before the day was out, surely BK, with all the transportation at his disposal could also have delivered?

Anyway, after a four-and-a-half year chill, the stress that the average worker goes through in a life time of employment, BK went through it one day and over five hours – probably less. And a month down the road, he is still stressed because, when he counted the contents of the plastic boxes, he didn’t use a calculator and thus got his sums wrong that some of the candidates have taken him to court.

Right now, BK looks as blazed and scattered as Doc Emmett Brown was in the Back to the Future movie trilogy and has but himself to blame. If I had his number, I would have called him and told him: “Listen up BK, it was okay to relax for four odd years, but you really had to focus in the fifth and chilled sawa nya, Africana Hotel’s long lunches and made sure those boxes were delivered. Plus 10k to buy a calculator, you really couldn't do that or stolen one from your ten-year-old niece?” 

And I have my concerns because BK could end up a schizophrenic if you walked up behind him and whispered - ‘ballot boxes’ into his ears.

That aside, if he quits, who will be man or woman enough to take on the task of delivering basins and plastic boxes in five years time? Not me.        

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ladies, I Salute You All!

Tuesday will mark International Women’s Day. While it’s the preserve of Siima and Rudende to accept ‘shout outs’ on their X-FM radio show, in my column, it’s just not the done thing. But what the heck, let me brake the rule today. Here is a shout out to two wonderful ladies – Gaana and Natal (below) and of course, to the Sunday Vision ladies who toil to get this paper out.

This year’s theme I believe, is about ‘a pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly - whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.’

Now ardent readers of my column will by now have sensed a ‘but’ coming, and there is, because there are some things I don’t click about women and their perception of women.
In London in December last year, when Nicole Bentley went to attend a Women’s Institute (WI) meeting, with her newly born daughter who she had to breastfeed, she got a rude awakening. After the meeting, Bentley received an e-mail from the chairwoman of the group, telling her that she was no longer welcomed to their meetings as the other women of the group were aghast at her ‘whipping out her breast to feed her child.’ It is also worth noting that it was an informal evening meeting. 

Reflecting on the incident, Nicole said: “I’m mortified. I know not everyone can breastfeed for different reasons, but I chose to. You can’t see my boobs and my child doesn’t scream the place down. I have to wonder if all WI groups are like this. It’s really bad and to say they are all women! I’m never going back again, that I can tell you.”

But if Bentley had it rough, think about Tulip Siddiq MP, who was given a thorough dressing down by Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker of UK’s House of Commons. Siddiq was told that under no certain terms was she to 'play the pregnancy card' after leaving a debate to grab a snack.

Siddiq, who was seven months pregnant at the time, had been in the chamber for more than two hours when she decided to take a comfort break. But when she returned 45 minutes later, Mrs. Laing called her over and give her a dressing down in front of other shocked MP by ranting – “You are making women look bad…you are bringing down the whole of womankind!”

In Kampala, there are many hater women. Hater Woman is most unhappy when she sees Sista scaling the heights of corporate ladder through hard work and with no ‘godfather’ helping her up. You can hear her in Silk Liquid whispering to other Woman Hater: “Now look at that one. I heard the reason she got the job was because the slept with HR Man.” If not, its: “Oh, her father pulled strings for her otherwise, she would be nowhere in life.”

The artiste Maddona, (below) in an interview a number of years ago was quoted as saying – “I lost my virginity as a career move.” Madonna was lucky that ‘the career move’ did work out for her and while she has since made amends, today women would have balked at her statement and rightfully told young women, that giving up ones virginity as a career move, is not the way to go.

While Hater Woman will always chip away at the positive inroads into gender equality that Progressive Woman is building for herself and the rest of womanhood, I’ll still wish them a happy Woman’s Day, as indeed all women who were not covered by the ‘shout out’ at the start of the column.        

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...