Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gordon Wava - Still Chairman?

While this is not an obituary, it’s hard to believe that Naguru hill perched WBS Television, like Crane Bank, are no longer household names. There is also a good probability that at quiz night in three years’ time, when Quiz Master asks what WBS stood for, nobody would have a clue that Kid would have to make a frantic call to Parent for the answer.

I worked for WBS when it was just starting out - raw, taking baby steps into the unknown and full of a vibrant energy that most UTV staff imports who were stuck in the pre-independence slow lane were unable to handle. While I had no television experience, Elvis Sekyanzi, the then Executive Director, felt I could make a success of Showtime Magazine. Luckily enough for me, I did along with presenter Tilly Muwonge (Below) and cameraman, Chris Eritu.

One thing about most people who worked at WBS, was the relationship they had with its owner – Gordon Wavamunno. I had never met Chairman – as people referred to him, until I got to WBS. I quickly worked it out that in order to understand him, one had to delve deep into his head to click his psyche and see the station and his grand plans for it from his view point. If that was achieved, then you had a good working and indeed social relationship with him.

Those that didn’t, would always rue the day he made his unannounced visits like Librarian. Librarian was shuffling down the corridor when Chairman was walked in.  They were going to pass each other and all that was required of her was: “Good afternoon Chairman” and be on her way. Instead, she panicked and thought of going in the opposite direction except, she bumped into the wall that by the time she harnessed her composure, he was on her feet and it was all too evident that not only was she overwhelmed, she had also never met him. She broke out into a sweat, lost her train of thought and if the 'ordeal' had lasted any longer than it did, there is a good chance she would have peed in her knickers.   

Chairman: “Who are you and in what department do you work?”
Librarian: “They call me oba. I don’t know. I was only just going downstairs to see Elvis.”


With that, trembling Librarian literally scattered herself down the corridor and out of his sight. When I asked her later why she had pulled that stunt she said: “It was Chairman – I mean Mr Wava himself! I’m just a mere librarian.”

We were celebrating I think the 5th anniversary of the station with a bash at Grand Imperial Hotel poolside. Amama Mbabazi – long before he became PM or got his troubles, was the guest of honour. Everything went well until Presenter who was on the Capital FMs breakfast show with Alex Ndawula and Christine Mawadri sauntered in wearing a white suit and so blazed, he could barely stand up. Rather than finding a discreet corner and ‘blacking out’, he made a beeline for the high table where Chairman, Mrs Wava (Below, center) and Mbabazi were sitting.

Before anybody could react, he was on top of them and crashing all over the table that a now and very embarrassed and seething Chairman swung him a ‘dead man walking’ look. The look did connect for Presenter managed to sober up for a few minutes – enough to stagger himself away from Chairman but into Bouncers arms and an ejection into the streets near Bank of Uganda.

One thing about Chairman that I found scary, was his understanding of figures and his ability to remember things - even if they were years old.

In one meeting, when challenged, he said something along the lines of: “Let’s not waste time debating who said what. Bring the minutes.” And when the minutes were dug up and presented, he was on the money – all most word-for-word yet, the incident happened more than two years ago. When it comes to money, oh, trust me, he remembers everything down to the last shilling. There is no fleecing him as Daisy Kayongo – Kook n’ Dine presenter found out many years later when reminded that she did not bring back his change.

While WBS may no longer be part of his empire and a station of the past, what is still certain, is that he is still Chairman Wava. 

Pictures: New Vision, Kampala Sun     



Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Housee's Kajanja!

Everybody has a Housee kajanja or horror story to tell.

When Colleagues housee was headed to kyalo, she popped by New Vision to pick her wages but, Colleague was in a meeting which, poised a dilemma. Either she waits or she goes minus her salary. She opted to wait. And she waited in style.

After lounging about for an hour or so, she got tired and started to nod off. Nothing wrong with that – except, she went that step further. She took off her shoes, got really comfy, laid herself out on the four seats in reception and went to sleep!

Camilla, the receptionist, has just about seen everything in the years of manning the front desk but, this stunt took the biscuit and the kitchen sink. She quickly scattered herself upstairs to editorial and told Colleague what was happening downstairs in reception. Mortified, Colleague wasted no time in abandoning the meeting and rushing to assure Housee that the reception at her place of work, is not her small room of a muzigo back at home.

Another colleague who was fed up with her housee, sent her packing. But before she flung her out of the gate, her suitcase had to undergo the obligatory checking – just to make sure she wasn’t pilfering stuff that wasn’t hers.

Going through her belongings, all was in order – until a shiny photo album at the bottom of the case caught her attention. Flicking through it, they were the usual housee style pictures – you know, posing in front of a mango tree, by the gate and squatting besides a hedge (hmm). As the peruse continued, there were other pictures of her in the house – in the living room and the kitchen. Until she flipped the page.

This time Housee was in her (Colleagues) boudoir and lounging on her bed. If that didn’t make her want to regurgitate the kindazi she had had earlier in the day for sawa nya, then the pictures on the next page got the process going. Housee was now devoid of dress and was romping on the bed in different poses and wearing nothing but a pair of skimpy knickers and a bra. But the tale doesn’t end there. The skimpy knickers and bra she was frolicking in, didn’t belong to her. They belonged to Colleague. Ouch! 

Colleague vomited. 

And then she vomited some more as she heaped all her little black and red numbers onto a bonfire then followed up with a trip to Doctor - lest she caught some disease 'down there' from sharing her skimpy knickers with the so fired and loathed housee.    

When Parents got a new housee, the moment I laid eyes on her, I smelt trouble which, surfaced well before she had completed her probationary period. She had harnessed the house which, she flogged and ran like a Soviet Union era Siberian gulag. It was no longer Parents crib. It was now her crib, her rules and she was going to run it according to her whim.

When Parent sauntered down for breakfast one morning, he found a bare dining table which, necessitated telling Housee to do the needful. But what did she do? She duly assured him how the breakfast period had elapsed and that he would have to wait for lunch. When Parent spewed the tale, I thought he had made it up and was heading for 'lala land' until one night, when I returned late – at about 10:00pm. Asking for supper, Housee smirked, put me in my place and barked that supper time was over and that the dishes had been washed and put away. I went to bed hungry.

One Sunday when James told Housee to take the ride down to the washing bay and have it hoovered, Housee went a step further and any guesses as to how this story ends? After the car was hoovered, rather than drive straight back home as instructed, he went on a fwaa joy ride – picking up friends and galivanting off to Gaba. Probably for mputa fish

But get this. Despite repeated calls from James, Housee kept cutting him off then waltzed in at 10pm reeking of booze and acting like he’d done nothing wrong. And then he had the audacity to wonder why he was got two searing hot slaps and the sack the following day. 

Pictures: Internet  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Don't Ask. Just Take

Bluntly speaking, they don’t ask. They take and with no shame.

Avid fountain pen connoisseurs like, NSSF MD, Richard Byarugaba (Below) and ODD Concepts MD, Oscar Mulira, will tell you that a fountain pen is not to be shared. The nib of the pen is fragile and it moulds itself into the users writing style. If somebody else uses it, it ruins the style in that when you get it back, it won’t feel or write in the same way.

A Mont Blanc, is top-of-the range when it comes to fountain pens, and it was nestled in my shirt pocket with a House of Plastic biro in my trousers. When it was time to sign, They Don’t Ask felt about himself for a pen and realising he didn’t have one, he looked up at me and straight away his squinty eyes zeroed in on the Mont Blanc. I tried to reach for the House of Plastic biro, but by the time I whipped it out, They Don’t Ask had already delved into my pocket, harnessed the Mont Blanc and set about to scribble on the dotted line.

They Don’t Ask had a nasty and savage street prostitute writing style - almost like he worked for UNRA and was using a pneumatic drill to drill some culverts on the Entebbe Express highway. He pressed so hard into the paper that the nib split.

When he was done, he looked at the pen, put the cover back on and wait for it, wait for it – he didn’t give it back. Rather, he played about with it, finished off his beer then stood up. “TB, I best be heading off” he said. With that, he put to sleep the Mont Blanc in his shirt pocket and walked off.

He didn’t ask. He just took.

Another They Don’t Ask came to visit one Sunday. In the living room, he marvelled at my CD collection that he wasted no time in pulling up a chair and started going through them. He’d pick up a CD, read through the booklet and put it back. But some, he didn’t put back. He put them on the coffee table. I wasn’t perturbed, because I assumed he was making a selection to listen to. Except as you may have already guessed, he didn’t listen to them.

When it was time to leave, I popped into the kitchen while he went to his ride. By the time I got to him, he was about to pull away. I just about made it to his side of the ride to bid him farewell and enough time to catch a glimpse of a stack of CDs on the passenger seat. I didn’t think much about it until I went back to the living room and realised the assembled stack of CDs on the coffee table was gone.

He didn’t ask. He just took.

Doing some shopping in Gaba market, I chanced upon Chap selling baseball caps. I am a cap person so obviously, it necessitated a stop to browse through his stock. Hidden at the very back was a cap in near mint condition that bore the Apple Computer logo. 5k and two minutes later, it was in a kaveera heading home with me.

The Apple cap made its debut at the Kampala Marathon and while I was quaffing TML in MTN hospitality tent, I took it off and laid it on the table. When They Don’t Ask sat down next to me, he wasted no time in spitting out - “Wabula TB, you got some good caps.” With his ‘theft’ statement out of the way, he picked it up and plonked it on his head.

When it was time to go, I pointed at the cap and his response? “But TB…” and then he sprinted off into the crowd.

He didn’t ask. He just took. 

Pictures: NSSF, Internet



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Questions You Really Can't Answer

Patricia Kahill, (Below) is an online content creator and marketer. In one of her tweets, she poised a question that many of us can’t answer. She said: “I have never mastered a response to this question – ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’”.

“Where do you see yourself in five years” is an interview question – if not, one that Uncle, who is a career academic, will ask whenever he comes to visit. I don’t know what answer Ms Kahill gave and if she was at an interview or being grilled by Uncle.

I too, was asked that question by Grace Muguluma, who in the twilight of the 90s, was head of sales and marketing at Kampala Sheraton Hotel. I had applied for a job as the hotels PRO, and as the interview drew on, I kept on waiting for that one ‘curve ball’ question – you know, the one that derails you, scatters you, throws you into panic and sees your hopes of getting the job agonisingly slithering away.

Ms Muguluma was ‘nasty’ in throwing the curve ball question in the last minute of time added on. I mean, it was the end of the interview. It was a done deal and the job was mine. She had already gathered up her notes. All that was left was for her to say: “TB, thanks for coming in. You are going to an asset to Sheraton Hotel.”

Instead, she asked: “Where do you see yourself in five years”, that the balls of sweat were out of my sweat pores well before she’d finished asking the question. I tried to compose myself but couldn’t. Sweat trickled down from my armpits and the back of my neck. My mouth dried up like it had spent ten minutes in the microwave while the thinking side of my brain shut down with the lights off.

I glared at her in disbelief. What kind of person asks such a question and just seconds to the end of a successful interview? She looked back at me and smack in my eyes and with no inclination of bailing me out. Like Ms Kahall asked, what do you give as an answer?

I thought I gave a good response as it dribbled out of my mouth – “to be sitting in your chair.” And I thought I gave a suicidal response when she responded - “err, really? Hmm!”

I didn’t hear back from her. I didn’t get the job.

One thing Receptionist has on her desk, is a Visitors Book that has two columns designed to derail you. One is headed ‘From Where’ and the other, ‘Reason’. The first time I filled in a Visitors Book, was when I called in on Maria Kiwanuka, (Below) at Radio One.

Receptionist flipped the book open and hovered her ample bust over me – almost as if she was making sure I answer correctly. At the ‘From Where’ column, I didn’t know what to write, so I sought guidance. She said: “Jot down where you came from.” Well the taxi had just dropped me off at the Post Office and before that, I was at home. I opted for ‘home’. The Post Office option smacked of ridicule.

And the reason for visiting? Mrs Kiwanuka, had been explicit with the invitation. “TB, pop in for a coffee and a chat.” I wrote just that which, irked Receptionist who was ready to lash me had the phone not rang when it did. 

These days, in the ‘reason’ column, I write: “To pass time”. And Ms Kahill, five years after the ‘where do I see myself in five years’ question, I was with New Vision – though at the time the question was asked, it would have made Ms Muguluma think I was ridiculing her if I had said just that.

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