Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let's Respect Lake Vic

There is, something about Lake Victoria especially from the air that muddies. It looks so sedate, calm and relaxed - even when you have a one-on-one with it a Gaba beach, Speke Resort Munyonyo or Kabaka’s landing site at Mulungu. The waves lap gently at the shore, almost soothing and regurgitating sea shells onto the sand for the kids to pick up – if not, a mass of hyacinth, a discarded plastic bottle or the dreaded kaveera.

One thing that Lake Victoria has always cried out for, is respect. With a surface area of approximately 68,800 km2, its Africa's largest lake by area - so of course, it’s in a position, to demand respect from those who take to her.   

A while back, along with the then Dr Gladys Kalema (Below), German Tourist and others, we did a crossing from Kalangala on Sesse Islands to Kasenyi landing site in Entebbe. And when we did the crossing, the one thing that we didn’t do was… err, you guessed it, we didn’t respect the lake.

We set out at 8:30am in a canoe - not a boat, but a canoe. And a canoe overloaded with charcoal, fish, yams, cassava, matooke, bricks, boda motorcycles and more. Lake Vic was relaxed and the skies so clear there was not a hint of a cloud in sight. When Mutembeyi touting, mineral water tried to offload four jumbo bottles onto me, I sent him scurrying away. After all, why would I need water for a journey that would be no more than a ‘40-minute hop’ at the most?

But, it wasn’t a 40-minute hop. It was a very dehydrating nine-hour crossing – especially without four jumbo bottles of mineral water, that was extremely suicidal and fought with danger because each wave had the word ‘death’ scrawled all over it.

The waves in the middle of Lake Vic are very different from those that lap the shores at Ggaba beach. They are also different from those you see when you are on the ferry. In a canoe, the waves mammoth into the size of your average double storied house. They swirled and lashed so terrifyingly against the canoe just like they did in the George Clooney movie – The Perfect Storm.

Its then, that the word ‘respect’ came into play. In the weeks before we made the crossing, the newspapers were awash with stories about people who had perished because they had no life jackets and the canoes overloaded or were caught in a storm. And what did I do when I read those articles? I simply sneered.  

Sill we set sail and very aware we had no life jackets and we had not been given an airline style pep talk of what we were to do in case the canoe capsized. I had to ‘laugh’ because, I can barely manage two laps in the very calm waters of the baby pool at Speke Resort Munyonyo, so just how on earth would I manage in choppy waves that are almost as high as a house?

If the canoe had capsized, it would have been everyone for themselves. I would have drowned within five minutes. I also didn’t rate the chances of Dr Kalema or of German Tourist. Out on the lake, it’s lonely – there is nowhere to swim to. Nothing to cling to. Nobody to shout to for help. As far as the eye could see, there was no land. No other canoes and no cell-phone network. We would never have been found. If we were, our maggot bloated and rotting bodies would have been found weeks later - washed up on the beach or trapped in Fisherman’s net.

We are lucky to be alive and a word of advice – if you take to Lake Victoria, respect it. Make sure you have a life jacket and plenty of drinking water.

Pictures: Absolute Travel, Internet 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

When Virtual DJ Shames You

MARK RWOMUSHANA and Dr John Bua (Below), are both progressive professionals in their respective fields. When Mark is not retailing medical insurance for IAA and Dr Bua diagnosing diseases, they occupy their spare time by dabbling in music as a hobby. But, not like Miss Ug who whenever asked what her hobbies are, she says: “Listening to music.” Does that mean whenever she turns on the radio and hears a jingle a Butcherman, Bebe Cool or a Rihanna song on X-FM for example, she is dabbling in her musical hobby? Hmm. 

Mark (Below) and John are into mixing music and mixing music, is more of a stern hobby than Miss Ug listening to jingles. I too, am into mixing. Back in the day, I used to play music in the student’s union bar at university on the odd weekend. Then, mixing music was not as complex as it is today. There were no computers but, a turn table, two decks and a stack of 12” vinyl records. All that one had to do, was to blend one song into the other and that was really it.

Today, it’s far more intricate. Mark, John and Aspiring DJ are familiar with the application - Virtual DJ, which I use. Looking at Virtual DJ on a computer screen, Miss Ug, would think its a multifaceted cockpit of a Mig fighter jet parked at Entebbe air force base - especially when all lit up at night and with the lights flickering and streaming all over. And if you dared ask her what she thought about it, the best that her brain would spittle out, would be no more than: “aya, aya, aya!”

With Virtual DJ (Below), there is so much you can do than blend one song into the other. You can loop, adjust pitch, sync and even merge in a jingle or a sound effect just to appease Miss Ug. Another feature about it, is that it doesn’t shackle you to the DJ booth as it is when mixing with vinyl or CDs. If you want to be part of the crowd, simply load a playlist and hit the auto mix button.

Then somewhere down the line, Professional DJ made life easy for us novices when he started recording ‘non-stops’ and better still, we could download them. It was a godsend for me, seeing that I liked to play music in Miki’s Pub which, is on the road that leads to Speke Resort, Munyonyo or Wavamunno Road to be precise.

My plot was simple. I would download two hour ‘none-stops’, listen to them and then come Friday evening, I would hit Miki’s and do my thing. Of course, ‘my mixes’ overwhelmed the crowd. My forte was soul and hip hop (1982 – 1992). Every time I knew songs were about to mix, I would sling on the headphones, fiddle with the deck - like I knew what I was doing and the crowd was suitably impressed. For greater effect, I would sometimes hold one headphone to my ear using my shoulder.

Then the bubble burst. Professional DJ like DJ Shiru (Below) wanted credit for their  mixes so interspersed in the mixes, he would belt out: “You are listening to a DJ Shiru mix”. On this occasion, I had downloaded a couple of mixes but didn’t listen to them. I just went ahead and started playing to a packed crowd. To my horror, as the crowd shrilled andwent estatic when ‘I mixed and looped’ SWVs version of Human Nature with Boys II Men’s Motownphilly, this voice belts out: “You are listening to a DJ Shiru mix.” Ouch!

The thing about being in the DJ booth, is that there is always that annoying someone who is going to walk up and ask questions. “TB, so Shiru is your DJ name?” Before I could retort, he spat out the most sarcastic version of “hmm” and walked off unamused. I let out a tumbavu, but I don't think he heard it above the mix

Moral of the story? Before you pretend to mix a plagiarized mix, make sure that the owner of the mixed has not spun his name into it.   

Pictures: Bukedde, Virtual DJ, Internet           

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"I Don't Know!"

“Who knows?’ I’ll tell you who knows – ISIS and Al-Shabab. They know. They always know. Sad to say, but once they commit carnage, they are honest enough to ‘man-up’ to admit that they did it. That it was them who blew up the train station or the busy market. I don’t know why they feel the need to be honest after committing an atrocity, but at least we know and we don’t have to sit there pondering who did it.

The rest of us are different. When we get asked: “Who did it,” we have a standard answer at the ready. We don’t even think about it. Its instinctive. It spittle’s out of our mouths as effortlessly as giving ‘2’ as the answer to 1+1. “I don’t know”. Nothing else. No further enlightenment. Simply, “I don’t know”.

When I lived solo, Housie would show up thrice-a-week to do the needful to the crib. Then, I had a frenzied work schedule at WBS TV in that, I would be out of the house well before Parent had a chance to cause a traffic jam at Greenhill School when dropping off Toyee and, get back late into the night just as Malaya on Speke Road hits the third hour of her night shift.

Often, I was exhausted that I would hit the shower and dive straight to bed. But on Sundays, I would venture into the spare bedroom, living room or kitchen and each Sunday that I did, something was always broken.

I’d been given an M-Net Face of Africa beer mug when I covered the event in South Africa. As soon as I got it, I knew where it was going to peacock itself when I got home - on the top shelf of the bookstand where it could be seen, but more importantly, out of range of Visitors’ hand that might have wanted to get a closer look at it.

On a sedate Sunday in my naughty ‘come-to-daddy sofa’, I glanced up at it and the handle looked askew. Picking it up, the handle came off. It was broken. But how could it have broken? The winds that sweep down from Muyenga hill could not have knocked it off the shelf without also knocking the much lighter champagne flutes. Plus, Visitor had not popped round. If it wasn’t me who broke it, then it had to be Housie.

When I asked him about it, his answer was throbbing at the tip of his tongue. There is also no need to tell you what he said, but I insist – “I don’t know”, before getting back to his chores. Hmm, maybe the wall lizard fell off the celling, knocked the mug and it fell to the floor. Then it picked it up with its tail, put it back on the shelf and tried to stick the handle back in place? That thought, I put to Housie.

His comeback? He looked up at the ceiling, then at the broken mug on the coffee table, followed by a slight pause to allow ‘Butabika thinking’ to settle, then blabbed – “I don’t know”. With that, he was gone – this time for a tête-à-tête with Next Door Housie over the fence.

At WBS, whilst on a location shoot, Young Man comes up to me. I’d seen him in the station but never spoken to him. This is him. “Sir, they are calling you”. When I asked who ‘they’ were, he looked over into the crowd, thought for a while then said – “I don’t know.”

So, I retort: “Go and tell ‘I don’t know’ to leave me alone.” What ensued next took me by surprise. He thanked me! Then turned on his heels, slunk into the crowd and that was the last that I saw of him.

Almost 17-years after both incidents, like a recurring bad rash, it still so bothers me. It really does. Who broke my mug? Who was calling me?

I don’t know.

Pictures: Reuters, Multichoice, WBS 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Let's Take Turns To Chop Work

I really don’t know what could have happened in the space of a week. Just seven days ago, it was all happening. Fireworks, making merry, people screaming, champagne popping – the works. And today, it’s all doom and gloom.

At shops, it’s been like somebody had died. People were down cast and hardly muttering a word. Faces were devoid of smiles. And life. Obviously, somebody had died that there was a need to rush home to the obituary pages of Sunday Vision and listen to our own,  Rudende on X-FM to be brought up to speed. Listening to Rudende (Below), nobody had died. All, was well save for the misery the people in Aleppo, Syria still face.


I don’t know who invented or, came up with the idea of having the month of January, but a quick search with the consultants at Google, the tell me that January means ‘Janus’s month’ and became the first month of the year in circa 700BC when some dude in robes called Numa Pompilius – who also happened to be a Roman King added it and February to the calendar. Numa also moved the start of the year from March to January.

Why on earth would he want to do that? Had it not been for Numa, we wouldn’t have been as miserable as we are today, because, the month of March is always a good month – especially financially because we have recovered from the unabashed spending of the previous December.

Creeping on, save for Askari, is there anybody out there who has cut, chopped or skived off work yet? Yes, we all do it. Askari did and chopped work on the 4th. But I am sure there is somebody who chopped earlier than that?

When it comes to chopping work, we tend to wait until mid-February. I don’t know why. Perhaps it has something to do with HR being alert and on the prowl and the fact that if we cut so early into the year, our absence would be so noticeable?

The first long week we have this year is on Friday 14th April, which, is Good Friday. Before that, we have NRM Liberation Day (Thursday 26th January), Archbishop Janani Luwum Day (Thursday 16th February 16th, Women’s Day (Wednesday March 8th). Three holiday days in the space of three months and none of them offers a long weekend.


Thus, there is a need to have our own not approved Ministry of Public Service or HR approved long weekend and that means chopping work on a Friday.  But we all can’t chop work at once. It’s like being in a boat or aircraft. There is a need to balance out the vessel to ensure all is well. The same rules apply to chopping work. If we all don’t show, it would be suicidal and we would be busted.

I have put my name forward to chopping work on the Friday after the Thursday of NRM Liberation Day. Regardless of where you work, please forward me the names of the people chopping work on that day so we may coordinate.

There are two ways to chopping work. Either you just don’t turn up. Or turn up, show face and vanish ten minutes later. I prefer the latter option because fool proof and HR has yet to figure it out. This is how it works in four easy steps.

Show Face: Make Sure everybody sees you. Immediate Boss, Colleague, Janitor, Tea Girl.

Busy Desk: Power on your PC, leave car keys on desk

Hot Coffee: Swing Tea Girl or Neighbour 10k and tell them to put you mug full of hot coffee or tea on your desk every one and a half hours along with a side plate of a half-eaten kindazi. It gives the appearance you are about and probably have gone to the washroom.

Walk In Backwards: When you return late in the afternoon, it’s imperative that you walk into the office backwards. Walking in backwards just in case HR is snooping about, when she sees you, it will look like you are walking out and not walking in.

So, to all chopping work on the Friday after the Thursday of NRM Liberation Day, may I suggest we kick off at The Junction, Ntinda at noon? In the meantime, to the first person who cut work this year (not you Askari), get in touch. Two muzinga’s of Ug Wa await you.     

Pictures: New Vision, Internet

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...