Saturday, November 25, 2017
I am, a very disturbed man this Sunday. Very disturbed because there is a need to reign in the world order but, there is not one person out there to take charge.
I am no fan of the church and the frock wearing men who preside over the institution. I am also no enthusiast of the pervy slick suit wearing and smooth-talking pastors or of Street Pastor perched at Wandegeya and Shell Jinja road traffic lights who, are merely noise irritants.
Out there, there are young men and women who have issues with their gender. Not just young men and women who have come of age, but kids who have literally just crawled into primary school. Transgenders they call themselves. For the record, ‘Transgenders have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. In addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine.’
Church of England seemingly has no issues with Transgender. Rather, it’s so apprehensive about the way society perceives them, that two weeks ago, it remitted guidance to teachers at the 4,700 schools under its control. As part of its anti-bullying rules, the church recommends that: “Boys as young as five, should be able to wear tiaras, high heel shoes and a tutu at school without criticism.”
Hold up a minute while I leg it to Butabika Hospital and check myself in. That boys as young as 5-years-old should be permitted to go to school wearing high heels, a tiara and dressed in a tutu to minimise the risk of them being bullied?!? In case you didn’t know what, a tutu is, it’s a GIRLS BALLET DRESS!
Let me weave the tutu into a personal perspective for you. If as a 5-year-old, I walked out of my room in a tutu and stilettos, Mr Bukumunhe – my dad that is, would have taken off his shoes and flung them at me, removed his belt and lashed the living daylights out of me before calling for some elders meeting under the mango tree in a quest to unearth if somewhere in the family lineage, one of our ancestors had lost the plot.
I am not yet done with the personal perspectives. If as an 18-year-old and on my first day at campus, I wore high heels, a tiara and dressed in a tutu, I would go back home to find all my stuff discarded outside by the gate with a letter from Lawyer informing me that I was no longer a Bukumunhe, no longer welcome home and have been banished from the clan.
Getting back, the reason why the Church of England advocates for 5-year-old's to wear high heels is that some months ago, a Christian teacher was suspended from a school in Oxfordshire, after calling a transgender pupil ‘girl’ instead of ‘boy’. The teacher, Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, now faces a disciplinary hearing this week in which he could lose his job, after the parents complained.
The Church of England in its defence acknowledges that: “Children should be free to follow their own inclinations when they dress without judgment or derision. For example, a boy may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels without expectation or comment.”
Nedda, nedda, nedda! While I agree that boys and girls to a certain degree should be allowed to wear what they want from an early age, it undoubtedly does not mean that its permissible - even with the consecration of the church, for boys to in delve into their sisters’ closets looking for bras, knickers, tiaras and high heels to wear to school, family gatherings or whatever!
Now, do you see why the church and I don’t see eye-to-eye?
Pictures: Church of England, Agencies
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Chipper Adams is a humble man. During his heyday as a rally ace, fame didn’t gyrate to his head. He took it in his stride and ‘got on’. Apart from his given title of ‘Mr’ which, he got from birth because he was born male, his career afforded him another title - that of ‘corner specialist’.
I am no rally fan because I don’t click the all the fuss of driving down to the depths of Mpigi or wherever to watch rally cars scuttle past. What excitement does one derive out of being covered in a dust bowl as the cars hurtle by and then having to pay a visit to Otolaryngologist to have your ears syringed? Getting back, I guess Adams earned the corner specialist title because of the way he drove round the corners. I think.
I’m no expert at anything and do yearn to be one, because other synonyms for expert are; maestro, virtuoso, genius, connoisseur, aficionado, cognoscente, and being described as one of those, would tremendously boost my ego.
The only problem about being an expert is that you eventually go cuckoos and the alumni list of experts who lost the plot is impressive enough. Nobel Prize winner, the novelist Earnest Hemingway was a paranoid who believed that FBI was spying on him. Vincent Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and at one point in a rage, he severed part of his own left ear and later began to alternate between fits of madness and lucidity. Isaac Newton, while famous, laden with honours and internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s foremost thinkers, he was deeply insecure, given to fits of depression and outbursts of violent temper.
A couple of weeks ago, Expert at the Office for National Statistics in the UK, revealed that – and wait for it, wait for it, ‘adults have forgotten how to chew their properly which, has resulted in a 17% rise of people who have died from choking in England, Scotland and Wales in 2016.’
Let’s wait once more while I try to get my head round this and also throw in a WTF for good measure. I read the article as I was waited for lunch to be served and it just didn’t make any sense so I put it to the test and no matter how hard I tried to blank the brain, I still remembered how to chew because chewing is a spontaneous action.
1. Put food in mouth.
2. Move jaw up and down.
3. Chew until food is liquefied or lost all of its texture.
4. Swallow and repeat process.
However, in his report, Expert does not reveal exactly how people forgot to chew. 1. Did people put food in mouth and just couldn’t remember what to do next? 2. Perhaps they were asleep during the biology class? While I am no medical expert, I conclude there are some pretty stupid people living in the UK.
On the flip, I used to like writing – having a Parker fountain pen in my fingers and watching it glide over paper with relative ease. Today, all my writing isn’t written, but typed out on the laptop or tablet and thinking about it, I can go a month without picking up a pen until some weeks back when filling in some forms. Almost as hard as it is to believe there are people out there who have forgotten how to chew food, there are people who have forgotten how to write. I essentially had to sit back and think for a while how the letters Q and G were written in lower casing.
Hmm, perhaps there are also some pretty stupid people living in Uganda?
Pictures: Daily Monitor, Agencies
Saturday, November 11, 2017
‘You don’t work full time, but only when needed. The rest of your time is spent idle by the pool quaffing decorative named drinks that come with tiny umbrellas while, whoever hired you struggles to find the stacks of money to pay you’. That’s my definition of a consultant.
On the flip, Business Directory defines it as: “An experienced professional who provides expert knowledge for a fee. Consultant works in an advisory capacity and is usually not accountable for the outcome of a consulting exercise.” The key words to note are “…not accountable for...”
I met IMF Consultant who was attached to Ministry of Finance just before the millennium broke and who was consulting on stuff way beyond my level of education I think he was in town for face-to-face meetings in case, he 'took away the blanket at the end of the month.' The consultations ‘necessitated’ him having a grand five bed-roomed crib in Muyenga along with Driver, car and many other perks befitting of IMF Consultant from outside countries.
If he did go to MoF to consult along with drinking coffee and nibbling on House of Manji biscuits, it was for a few hours in the mornings and was usually done by 11:00am - to sojourn for the rest of the day in a pub which, is now occupied by Barclays Bank at Tank Hill Shopping Parade in Muyenga.
In the eleven months he consulted, he was on a hefty US dollar stipend that by the time his contract came to a demise, he told us how he had earned enough to buy a small boat to sail to the South of France to ‘idle away the rest of his life chasing skirt and drinking beer’.
My calling as a consultant came in the days of yore with the defunct Air Uganda. But wait, why would they want me as a consultant? The only thing I know about airlines is listening out for the clinking of bottles and cans which, is the all-important indication that the booze trolley has left the ‘depot’ at the back of the plane and would shortly land by my side.
When I eventually met Zungu CEO, he was to the point. “TB, we are one of the sponsors of Miss Uganda and we need you to advise us and look after our interests.” I wanted to ask “to advise on what exactly – how to leer at Contestant during the swim wear category”, but thought twice about biting the hand that’s going to feed me on day one of the contract.
Once the contest was over, we didn’t part company. They kept me on almost up until the airline closed. In the three years with them, I consulted on err, nothing really but, still got paid. When I did have to work, it was flying to Zanzibar, Dar-es-saalam and Mombasa on fact finding missions which, were always conducted from a sun lounger by the pool along with an ice-cold beer in hand. Hmm, the things I had to do to get paid.
Recently, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Water and Environment – let’s call him Okot Okidi for arguments sake, placed an ad in New Vision looking for Consultant to spearhead the activities of the National Hand Washing Initiative – ‘to manage the National Hand washing secretariat including capacity building of stakeholders, coordination of the hand washing campaign…’
Let me do away with the civil servant mumbo jumbo language and say it in plain black and white. Permanent Secretary wants somebody to travel the country showing people how to wash hands. I didn’t waste time in applying even though, they want someone with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, environmental health, mass communication, social sciences plus a Master’s degree in public health – all qualifications that I don’t have.
Come on Permanent Secretary, do I really need all those qualifications just to show people in kyalo how to lather up their hands with soap, rub together, place under borehole, dip in Lake Victoria or River Nile, rinse and dry?!? Jeez, I have been washing my hands since I was a toddler and trust me, I certainly don’t need a Master’s degree in public health to do the job so, just give it to me.
By the way, I selfishly wrote this column after the closing date for applications which, was on November 1st because I don’t have a ‘godfather or godmother’ at the ministry to pull strings for me if you get my drift and I didn’t want competition from peeps who might actually have the qualifications Permanent Secretary is looking for.
Pictures: New Vision, Agencies
Saturday, November 4, 2017
So, Dude barged past me with more than just an air of arrogance from somewhere in western Uganda and into the shop just below Grand Imperial Hotel. Normally, I would have made noise, unleashed a "WTF", glared and reeled off a dozen tumbavu's at him, but that day – Monday it was, was my trying to ‘keep calm’ day – which regular readers of my Sunday tales know is more than a tall order. The centre piece of the shop was a glass cabinet that also doubled up as the counter with a sign that read: “Fragile – Please DO NOT Lean On The Glass”. I clearly saw Dude reading it and after his brain had digested said information, he pressed his fingers down hard on it. As if to give it a feel for strength.
Satisfied that the ‘Fragile – Please DO NOT Lean On The Glass’ notice didn’t make any sense, he promptly goes ahead and leans on it. There is no need to tell you what happened next, but I will. The glass didn’t merely crack as I thought it would. Rather it spectacularly shattered into a million+ fragments that I guess for the next four months, Shop Attendant had to pick them out using tweezers.
I probably wouldn’t have told you that tale except whilst doing some reading – The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, he talks of something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect which, is named after two academics at Cornell University in New York State who first described it. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is basically 'being too stupid to know how stupid you are' which sounds pretty much like a good description of most people in Uganda. I also include myself because coming up next is the account of my act of stupidity many years ago.
I was out on a Friday night with Doc, Julio, Willo, Nodin, Vinta and company having a drink and as time wore on, I was all too aware of the likely hood of a police breathalyser road block being strewn across the road heading home. But the beer was on form and the five simultaneous and incoherent conversations going on were hilarious to say the least even though I can't recall what they were about. So, I stayed longer than I should have.
To get home, I had four options at my disposal - using the main road and risk running into the road block or playing it safe by using one of three back routes. When it was time to go, I hit the main road but for some reason that defies logic or any form of rational thinking, I missed the first back road – and err, the second and the third.
By the time rational thought returned, I was literally on top of the road block and these were my possibilities.
1. Jump out of the ride, abandon it and flee into the nearest thicket like many people tend to do.
2. Hope for the best.
3. Do a suicidal U-turn and risk getting shot at.
As I weighed the three choices I had a moment of brilliance - my eureka(!) moment. The plan was so outrageously simply and intense, I actually sniggered at Cop ahead and gave myself a pat on the back!
This, is was the plan. As the road block was right outside the police station, I would drive into carpark, go in and see OC and claim that I’ve come to look for Friend who I heard had been arrested. OC would look in the ‘admissions log’ and not find Friend after which, I would get into the car, drive out and be on my way home. After all Cop is not bound to stop anybody driving out of police station.
But there was a problem because the eureka (!) plan didn’t go according to script. Just before Cop came to the car with the breathalyser machine, I pulled out of the que and drove into the police station with a smiling Quarter Guard pulling back the spikes to let me in. OC looked through the admissions log and obviously couldn’t find Friends name.
TB: “Might they have taken him to Katwe Police?”
OC: “You could check with them.”
With that, I sniggered once again all the way back to the ride and tried to drive out except, this time, Quarter Guard wasn’t smiling and didn’t pull back the spikes.
Rather, he shouted: “Affande, come and see this one.” When Affande turned up, he took one whiff at my breath and said: “Eh you man! You have made our job much easier. Just reverse and park the car.”
Ten minutes later I was back before a baffled OC who recorded my name in the admissions log and the rest as they say, is history.
Now you know why Dunning and Kruger have a point.
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