Saturday, February 24, 2018

Why Can't Ugandans Wait In Line?

We were 12 in the que at the check out till in the supermarket - all with laden baskets save for Muzungu Woman behind me who, had a solitary jumbo bottle of water. At my turn, I nobly let her through seeing she only had a bottle of water while, my basket was overflowing.

Ugandans Don't Like To Line Up At The Till
As she offered a polite thank you, Chap comes out of nowhere, elbows her aside and plonks two baskets at the till. Then looking round with an air of self-deluded bravado, you could almost lip read him say: “Yes, so I have jumped the que. What are you all going to do about it?”

Looking down the que at Elderly Woman and the rest, it was plainly palpable that not a murmur was going to come out of them. Naturally, the gauntlet was on me to ‘man up’ and restore order. This is how it went down. 

TB: “Excuse me sir, if you look round, there are 12 people who have patiently lined up and are waiting to be served. It would be nice if you joined the back of the line?”

Chap save for a grunt, gave me a look like I was an irritant, a fly that can easily be swatted away and continued unpacking his baskets.

Meanwhile, Till Girl like Supervisor, uncertain of what to do – to serve him or not to, apprehensively sat there waiting for that moment when time was nigh to duck behind the till in case a melee broke.

Voice raised, I once again asked him to remove himself and his basket to the back of the que and to stop being an ass. But Chap was unperturbed, so I stepped forth picked up the items he’d unpacked and hurled them to the ground followed by the basket which, was flung down one of the aisles.

Chap and I Squared Up To Each Other  Like This
This is now the part when everything goes into a meltdown and in slow motion. Chap looked at me in disbelief. I squared up in case he threw a ‘left’. Till Girl had scattered abandoning the till. Jajja, who was fourth in the que, made haste for the entrance while Supervisor simply cowered. The silence was so deftly, you could almost hear a pin drop.

With all eyes on him, he deflated his self-deluded bravado, whimpered himself to the entrance and was gone. When I walked out minutes later, a loud applause rang out which I took to mean - ‘appreciation for services rendered?’

Former Army Commander used to shop at Karungi’s, a small family store just off the Ggaba road on the way to Kawuku and would delight in rolling up in a heavily armed convoy that sealed off the supermarket. As he shopped, ADC would walk in front of him and with aid of a small stick he would poke people out of the way so he (Former Army Commander), didn’t have to que up in any of the aisles.

That practise stopped the day Bernard had a run in with him. There was just need to assure him to face that he was a mere man of little importance who is trying to be all important. For a moment after the exchange, Bernard thought ADC was going to whip out his little stick and start flogging him and he would have except, Former Army Commander weighed up the consequences and concluded it would be foolhardy.

Weeks back in the supermarket, I spied Dr Ian Clarke shopping. Seeing he’s a celebrity politician, I half expected him to flout the que and walk himself to the front. He didn’t but waited in line – like the rest of us. Hmm, there must be ‘something wrong with him’ – I don’t think he is Ugandan enough yet?

Despite Being A Celebrity Dr and Politician, Ian Clarke Waits in Line

Pictures: Daily Monitor, Star Central Magazine, Matooke Republic             

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Is M7 The Best Qualified Person For Hangmans Job?

I don’t know how many people in Uganda are unemployed, but it’s a good number. And each year, the higher learning institutions churn out graduates who have no jobs to go to, while the secondary and primary schools let lose the dropouts to wander the streets looking in vain for what to do.

However, the reality of it, is that there are plenty of jobs except, some people are ‘greedy’ and hog them all to themselves.

The tale is told of how Deceased Tycoon who owned a now defunct bank, took his duties as owner a trifle too far. Rather than settling himself into a plush leather swivel chair behind a desk the size of a tennis court and holding court with officials from Bank of Uganda or CEOs of other banks, he wanted to do all the jobs in the bank.

Deceased Tycoon, when the hour hand hit 10:00am signalling coffee time, he would be in the kitchen monitoring how many teaspoons his employees were putting into their coffee or tea. If not, when lunch was served, he would avail himself and bark instructions to Tea Girl that it was strictly one piece of meat per employee.

Tea Girls
He didn’t have to double up as Tea Girl because she was perfectly qualified to do the job. But that was Deceased Tycoon. He felt that there was nobody at the bank who was qualified enough to know what they were doing and given the chance, he would have been Toilet Cleaner, Errand Boy and Carpark Attendant too. The one job he didn't appear to take on was that of being his own driver. There, he always had Driver to drive him about. 

Enter The Man With The Hat – M7 that is, who has a buffet before him. As president, he has to run the country, speak to world leaders, keep the army in check, travel to the United Nations in New York as well as keeping a close eye on members of the opposition.

President Museveni
However, with a buffet before him, like Deceased Tycoon, he still craves for more and wants to hog all the jobs for himself. Last week I think it was, he commissioned the sh35bn Manafwa – Tororo Lirima gravity water flow treatment plant. Before that, he had opened up Pearl of Africa hotel in Nakasero, thousands of primary and secondary schools, hospitals, clinics, roads, supermarkets, agriculture and energy projects, markets, shopping malls and telecom centres. The list is endless and yet, there are a number of people and dare I say, myself included, who are better qualified to open projects.

We could have let all that slide but no, there is a just need to berate him. You see, sometime in January, he boldly stated: “I will hang death row prisoners.” But wait up. The last time that happened in Uganda, was in April 1999, when Hajji Musa Sebirumbi and 27 others had their necks stretched.

The Words As Reported By Daily Monitor
Luzira Prison does employ Hangman and we presume he is the most qualified person for the job – I mean, if he can hang 28 men in one day, go home and shout “honey am home”, kick off his boots and flop himself in the couch without flinching, he must be exemplary good. But for the past 29 years he has been drawing salary for doing nothing. Are we to presume he ambles up to Luzira every morning, goes to the hang room, practises tying a noose, has morning tea and lunch then retires for the day?

Anyway, not content with opening schools and hospitals, The Man With The Hat now wants to ‘personally’ do the hanging yet, there is perfectly qualified Hangman who has hands on experience at hanging and I am sure is very eager to get back to work after doing nothing for the past 29 years. When he (The Man With The Hat) presents himself to Parliaments Appointments Committee for vetting, Commissioner of Prisons, Johnson Byabashaija should speak up and thwart the appointment so me think.

The Noose

Pictures: Daily Monitor, Agencies, New Vision

Friday, February 9, 2018

If You Don't Have A 'Godfather', You Need One!

We all have godfathers and my understanding of them, is that of a man who presents a child at baptism and promises to take responsibility for their religious tutoring. In many cases, that never happens and ironically enough, many people if asked, have no inkling of who their godfather is.

Religious Godfather aside, there are two other godfathers. One is linked to crime - like the head of a Sicilian crime family - in other words, the Mafia. Being Godfather is a great honour in Sicilian culture and the role was superbly portrayed by actor Al Pacino in The Godfather movie trilogy.
Al Pacino as The Godfather
In Uganda, when we talk about Godfather, it’s not in terms of religion or a criminal aspect, but that of the man whose cell number is 24/7 on speed dial. He is that man who also commands the presence, influence and respect to open doors for us to get jobs or has the clout to bail us out when we are in trouble.

Years back, James and fresh out of campus wanted a job with URA. Six months of wearing down his shoes soles on Kampala’s dusty streets and being tossed from one office to another took its toll. He simply wasn’t getting anywhere. In a tête-à-tête with Mum one evening, she assured him that all would be fine. She said something along the lines of: “James don’t worry, Godfather is a URA Commissioner.”

All it took was a call from Mum to Godfather and the following day at 9:00am, James was sitting before Head of Human Resource – not for a job interview as he thought, but to be ‘gifted’ a job in a department of his choice and a senior level job at that. Godfather’s magic wand came through for James.

As far as I and all who know Rachael, the two things we all agree upon is that that she’s daft in the actual sense of the word and indolent. When Supervisor at utl where she worked rightfully terminated her contract for non-performance, without mincing words, she bluntly told him he didn’t have the authority to fire her. Unruffled, he stood his ground and barked at her to pack and ship out. Instead so I heard, she swivelled round in her seat, delved into her bag and extracted a sleek Apple cell phone that was so not affordable to her on her paygrade and made a call.

By the close of the week, head office was rife with whispers that Supervisor had been given a choice of resigning or accepting a transfer to Gulu. Godfather had rescued Rachael.
When I worked for WBS, Chic was referred to me. Her words were on point - “I’ve come for the job.” My retort was equally on point – “What can you do?” Is there any need to guess her answer? It was, “anything.” So, I gave her the job of mopping the corridor three times a day. Chic sneered and almost spat her phlegm in my face. Suffice to say, I got a call summoning me to Nakawa to see Chairman who put me in my place. Unknown to me, Chairman who owned WBS, was Godfather to her. Ouch!
WBS Logo
But not all Godfather tales end on a good note. Back in the day when Tight Friend of Kabaka got stopped by a police breathalyser unit, he wasn’t at all perturbed. Rather, he took it all in his stride, pulled out his cell and phoned Godfather. Godfather so the story goes, was non-other than and wait for it, wait for it, WAIT but err, Kabaka Roland Mutebi!
Kabaka Ronald Mutebi

Whether Kabaka spoke to Police and wasn’t able to bail out Tight Friend or he just didn’t pick his call, that we don’t know. What we know is Tight Friend of Kabaka was carted off to the coolers for the night.  

Meanwhile, in the corridors of powers, all is not good for embattled Finance Minister, Matia Kasajja over something to do with a $200m loan from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank. When Parliament started demanding he be sacked, Kasajja pulled a move that all cabinet members pull when they are in trouble - to run to Godfather. In his case, his godfather is The Man With The Hat - President M7 that is. However, more than two weeks after he pleaded for help, The Man With The Hat has not come to his rescue and appears to have fed him to the wolves.  

Has Godfather Fed Finance Minister Kasajja To The Wolves?

Pictures: Agencies, Paramount Pictures, New Vision, WBS

Friday, February 2, 2018

What, No More 'Pussy' For Grades At Makerere University?

Despite my laying it bare in the headline, the 'young cat' - if you get the so not sublime sexual innuendo, pussy no longer holds any value at Makerere University!

Makerere University Coat of Arms
Makerere University back in the days of yore, was the greatest higher learning institution in East Africa – if not, in Africa. In its thus 96-year-old history, some of its former students became great men and leaders - former Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian Presidents - Milton Obote, Mwai Kibaki, Benjamin Mpaka and Julius Nyerere.

As the years rolled, Makerere started to lose its sheen that today, it’s just another of Uganda’s once great institutions that’s so hell-bent on snapping at the heels of Uganda Posts and Telecommunications, Uganda Co-operative Bank and Uganda Electricity Board by going to the dogs and dying an untimely death – yet, it can be saved.

I’ve never really been to Makerere University, save for an evening that I can only describe as a moment of utter temporary insanity when in the late 90s, I went to pick Squeeze for a disastrous date in which, she invited two friends to tag along – hmm!

I had transgressed but getting back, there is some chap called Barnabas who, am told heads the university and upon further investigation, I find that this Barnabas chap is not just a chap. So, there is a need on my part to proffer an apology and address him with due respect. He is Professor Barnabas Nawangwe and he holds the position of Vice-Chancellor.  Apologies Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe
It appears Prof Nawangwe has been jolted by the prospect of the university going to the dogs under his watch that he’s decided to do something about it. Last month, he boldly announced: “No more sex for marks!” - or something to that effect.

Can we pause a tad and delve into this sex for marks saga and see if it’s the real reason why the university is going to the dogs and how it works?

I presume that many of the finest lasses out of Budo, Gayaza, Namagunga and Nabisunsa for example, rather than knuckle down and actually read, they preferred the glitzy lights and all-night drinks in Panamera, Cayenne and Silk Liquid that when they fluffed the exams, rather than doing re-sits, they flashed succulent brown thighs, ample bosoms and more to Lecturer to pass?

Suffice to say, I have come across many women – and men who hold senior government and corporate jobs and who supposedly went to Makerere but incredibly can’t do the job. Those who filter into the media industry after having graduated with a degree in Mass Communication can’t even express themselves, think – let alone write a paragraph that’s of any sense.

Graduation Day
 Permission to enlighten you? Cool. Years ago, I summoned Reporter to my desk because I couldn’t make gist of what had been filed. Asking her to read through what she’d written and help me comprehend, she read through it twice, sat back, let out a ‘phew’ and without any hint of embarrassment turned to me and said: “What do you think I was trying to say?”

Without waiting for my answer which by the way, would have been along the line of “tumbavu” had she given me the chance to respond, Reporter simply picked up the story, slithered her booty back to the newsroom where I thought she’d recoiled to think about what she’d written and re-write it. She didn’t resubmit the story and the next time I saw her, it was in Silk Lounge looking ghastly plastered.

Reporter’s story did eventually run three days later – not in the Lifestyle Pages which I headed, but as a six-line news brief in the Home Pages. For her efforts, she got paid less than 5k for the six lines as opposed to the 70k+ she would have gotten if it had been a comprehensible read and run as a half page story in Lifestyle.

Might she be one of the girls that Professor Nawangwe, would think got her Mass Com degree in exchange for sex?             
Makerere University Main Building

Pictures: Makerere University

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...