Saturday, June 30, 2018

Slay Queens Ride The Elevators To Explode Zits In The Mirror

Let’s start off with some froth on lifts. What many don’t know, is that ‘elevator’ = American and ‘lift’ = English. Seeing we are part of the Commonwealth, let’s use ‘lift’ from now on. The average size of an office lift is 6.5 to 7 feet wide by 5 to 6 feet deep (front to back) and have doors that are 3.5 to 4 feet wide, carry about 10 people with a combined weight of 800kgs. The average lift will take you up and down floors at a speed of approximately 1000/64 = 15.6 mps.

The Average Lift Carries Ten People With A Combined Weight Of 800kgs

While most high-rise buildings in Kampala do have lifts, the people who ride in them, have the most bizarre habits.

Elevator Out Of Service

Hard to believe, but there are people out there who believe ‘Elevator Out Of Service’ signs are some sort of ruse. When they see the sign pinned to the door, they are mortified and stand about looking all puzzled and trying to decipher what might be wrong with it. Even though a barrier has been erected round the lift door, they will still squeeze past and press the lift call button – for ‘just’ or ‘just to make sure’ it’s actually under service.

Elevator Out Of Service Sign Does Not Deter 

That Man Who Thinks Your Idling

You are huddled with six other people – all of you with eyes focused on the lift floor indicator and keenly tracking its progress down to the ground floor when, Man Who Thinks Your Idling walks into the building. He often appears aloof and full of himself, that he wastes no time in pushing through the crowd to press the lift call button. You see, this man thinks that all who are waiting for the lift have not thought about pressing the lift call button – hence the reason it’s still ‘stuck’ up on one of the higher floors.

There Is Always That Person Who Thinks Your Idling At The Lift Door

The Person Who Gets In First    

We all know them. As soon as the lift doors open up, they rush in – hardly giving people who want to get out a chance. Its almost like survival of the fittest. But wait up, The Person Who Gets In First, always runs to book space at the back of the lift and stands there looking all smug cramming to get in. But wait for this, wait for this. Guess what floor that person is going to? Not to one of the top floors of the building, but to the 1st floor, if not 2nd!! Can you imagine the aggravation that the rest of the passengers have to go through - having to get out of the lift so the smug The Person Who Gets In First can get out?

The Person Who Gets In First Is Only Going To The First Floor 

The Beauty Queen

A lift with a mirror is a godsend for Beauty Queen and she will do just about everything from exploding that zit on her chin, applying makeup and readjusting her boobs. Some go that one step further, especially men who press their faces right into the mirror, turn their faces up so they can look deep into their nasal sewers to dig out that blob of snot that’s been itching away in the taxi from home in Matugga. And when they eventually get hold of it, the braves ones wipe it on to the mirror while the timid, roll it into a ball and wipe it on the underside of the handrail.

In Every Lift, There Is That Woman Exploding Her Zits Into The Mirror 

I’m Not The Lift Attendant    

It is generally perceived that they who stand nearest to the floor buttons are supposed to be the lift drivers or operators. Not me because I’m Not The Lift Attendant nor do I do any favours. I won’t press any floor button – not even for 82-year-old granny who is in the twilight of her life, can hardly see and walks with a deep stoop.

He Who Stands By The Lift Buttons, Becomes The Lift Attendant

The Perv  

There are two kinds of Lift Pervs. The first kind always stands facing women with big busts and pressing themselves deep into them while trying to gawping inside their blouses and fighting hard not to slaver their malusu all over the place. The other type, will grind their groin onto the butt that’s in front of them and they don’t care about butt shape or size. Another thing, Perv doesn’t care all if the butt his grinding is male or female.       

In Every Lift, There Is A Perv

Pictures: Agencies

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Who Stole Our Culture? Technology Did

Who stole part of our culture? Technology did. I was barely seven-years-old when I owned my first car and nine-years-old when I got my second. The first was a Datsun with a chrome finish along with big fat 4x4 tyres. It was custom built for me and throughout production at the factory, I was there – supervising, advising, changing the design every now and again to the annoyance of Production Manager. Nevertheless, he bit his lower lip and made the changes that I demanded accordingly. When production work started on the second car, he was less than amused for this time I went overboard with the specifications.

My Datsun Looked Like This - Except Better

The Datsun wasn’t built in a Japanese factory, but in the garage of Dad’s home. It was a wire car that had everything from a steering wheel to a sturdy chassis. It was not welded together but, held in place with rubber strips cut from the tube of a discarded car tyre.

That was how we played as kids back then when we had time. No, I tell a lie. While we did want to play, playing time was not a luxury as it is today. Playing back in the 70s was only done when parents had gone to work. The moment we heard the car drive through the gates at 6:00pm, it was it was every sibling for themselves. It was scatter time to bedrooms to pretend we had been engrossed in books.

But we didn’t spend all our time driving wire cars. We did other stuff too.


I’ve asked about, and nobody seems to know what dulu means – except, it’s a seed of sorts and it’s also a game of marbles. I really can’t remember the mechanics of the games, except that we used to dig a small hole in the ground which, if you got your marble into it, you earned points. With the fingers of say your right hand arched to provide stability in the same style used when playing pool, the marble was placed between the tip of the middle finger of the right hand and the index finger of the left hand. Using the index finger to pull the middle finger as far back as possible, the marble was launched to hit other marbles out of the way.

A Game Of Dulu


The best I can elucidate kwepena, is that there are two girls at either end of a 5-meter strip. With one girl in the middle of the strip, the two girls would throw a ball – often made out of banana fibre to try and hit her. In between trying to avoid being hit, the girl in the middle would have to pile stones on to each other to win the game.


I stand to be corrected on this, but omweso is not a Luganda word as most people think but, is derived from the Swahili word – michezo which, means the ‘game’. Omweso requires a board of 32 pits, arranged with eight pits lengthwise towards the players, and four pits deep. Each player's territory is the 16 pits on their side of the board. The normal way to win the game is to be the last player to be able to make a legal move, possible by capturing all an opponent's stones or reducing the opponent to no more than one seed in each pit.
The catapult

Kids today own catapults, would have most likely have bought them from the supermarket – and a Chinese version at that. Aside the joy of owning one, the real ‘meat’ of a catapult, was foraging deep into the kyalo thickets with Shamba Man and looking for that perfect ‘Y’ branch, leather pouch and cutting the rubber straps from the tube of a car tyre.
A Palestine Boy with A Catapult in Gaza 
Those are some of the games that defined our cultural heritage and which, we have since lost out to technology. Today’s generation of children will never know what is like to play a real game as we did growing up in the 70s because today, games are defined as PlayStation, Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run, Grand Theft Auto and Fruit Ninja for example and all played on our smart phones. So, tell me - where is the excitement, the quest, the euphoria in playing games on a Samsung, Techno or Apple smart phone?  

Playstation 4

Pictures: Amazon, The Guardian, Edge Ug, Alamy

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cost Cutting On Sugar, Paper Napkins, Liquid Soap...

Cutting corners is best surmised as: To do something in the easiest or least expensive way. For example, ‘cutting corners in production led to a definite loss in production quality’ or if Accountant cut corners, Auditor is sure to find out.

Back in the 70s when Idi Amin was still at the helm of this once great country of ours, there was an economic crisis. Fuel was scarce while most supermarket shelves were devoid of the most basic and essential commodities like sugar, soap, salt and cooking oil. 

Cooking Oil - A Scarce Commodity During The Amin Era

This of course, necessitated the need for people to cut corners – to stretch out everything from fuel to sugar. If memory serves me correct, Mum came up with a most ingenious way to save sugar. Rather than letting my siblings and I rip with the sugar bowl at the breakfast table, the sugar was pre-mixed into the teapot whilst still in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, when Visitor turned up and tea was served, the sugar container was never filled to the brim as used to happen when times were good. Rather whilst still in the kitchen, House Help would measure out four teaspoons of sugar into the bowl. This of course limited Visitor to a maximum of two cups of tea.

However, I did find out later on that there was another and more pertinent purpose as to why Mum pulled that stunt. You see, she couldn’t work out why the sugar bowl always went back empty to the kitchen – yet, it was full to the brim when it went out and Visitor only had one cup of tea. There is a need to tell you that when no one was looking, Visitor would empty the sugar bowl into the plastic bag they had come with and go off home with it.

Sugar - Visitors Pilfered It 

That ought to give you an impression of just how severe the economic crisis of the 70s was – that when people went to visit, it was not in the actual sense of the word but essentially, to ‘pilfer’.

While today the supermarket shelves are fully stocked, cutting corners still remains that essential part of the Ugandan way of life. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Paper Napkins

In the factory, to produce a quality serviette, the makers fold each sheet into half, then into quarters in that each napkin is made up of 4 quarters. They figured four quarters are sufficient for one to wipe their hands and mouth after eating. However, the average owner of a restaurant in Uganda does not think so. They see it as wastage and came to the realisation that out of each factory packed serviette, they could re-cut each quarter and get four other serviettes – four other flimsy serviettes that hardly do the job that the makers had intended.
Napkins - They Stretch Further

Bar and Liquid Soap

The makers of bar soap came up with the novel idea of putting six dividers in each bar of soap in that when cut each bar, you would get six sizeable tablets that can do the job required of them. But as you have already guessed, somebody out there had a Eureka(!) moment. After cutting each bar into six tablets, they cut them again and again and again and managed to eek out close to ten miniature tablets. Meanwhile in just about every restaurant, what does Restaurant Owner do as soon as they buy a container of liquid soap? They set about to dilute it with water so it stretches for months.

Liquid Soap - Always Gets Diluted

Diluted Milk

Everybody is at it. Farmer dilutes the milk before he sells it off to Local Village Wholesaler. Local Village Wholesaler dilutes it further before fobbing it to Shop Keeper. Shop Keeper takes it further before flogging it to Restaurant Owner while Restaurant Owner tells Waitress to dilute it even further before serving you the most diluted milk to go with your tea.   

Tea Bags

When the people at Mukwano Industries make tea bags, the fill each bag with enough tea leaves to brew one cup of tea. But to in a cost cutting effort, tea bags are often recycled - not just once, but twice and often four times.

Tea Bags - One Tea Bag Gets Used Multiple Times 

Tin Of Beans

Bean Seller at Namawojolo never has a tin with straight sides or bottom. The sides of the tin are always battered inwards to cut corners – in that he doesn’t actually sell you a full tin.        
Its Never A Full Tin Of Beans

Disposable Glasses

The concept that the makers of disposable glasses had in mind it that once used, they get thrown away. Except in some places, the disposables are washed and stacked up on the shelf to be used the following day.

Pictures: ecco ver,, Standard Media

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Its Martyrs Day Pork And Beer Fest Today!

This is how this column works. I flip the laptop open and start typing my latest escapade or ridicule a politician or the system. Then once in a blue moon, I get an e-mail from the unflappable Penlope at Sunday Vision asking me to tailor it to a specific event – in this case Martyrs Day. It was an out of the blue request because she ‘trashes’ everything that I write that has to do with religion as unchristian. But what the heck, I forgive her.

Namugongo Shrine

You may find this incredibly hard to believe, but until Penlope’s request came through, I didn’t know much about Martyrs Day save for that if it fell on a weekday, it would be a public holiday. So, it is a public holiday today – except, it’s a Sunday, and the public holiday feel has been wasted.

Beer and Pork Are A Martyrs Day Must
I used to think Martyrs Day was a kivulu or kiggunda of sorts. I thought that because on the news bulletins, all they show is people eating pork ribs, drinking beer and making merry. After all, why would Silk Events which, is known for concerts and the KCCA Carnival always be in the mix - providing audio/visual equipment for people to watch whatever was going on.      

Elvis Sekyanzi's Silk Events Is Always In The Namugongo Mix

Slithering off topic for a paragraph or two, Ivan Muziki, is soft spoken. He doesn’t look religious at all – not that I half expected him to spend his free time idling at the Shell Jinja Road roundabout babbling to motorists stuck in traffic about how the end is nigh. Somewhere down the road, I discovered that he takes religion seriously and is a mulokole - which of course, put us on a collision course because my interpretation of religion differs from his. Asking him about Martyrs Day drew a blank along the lines of: “I don’t have time for your questions!” I also forgive him.

Getting back, over the past few weeks, people and for reasons known to themselves, packed luggage and started walking – not tell a lie, trekking from wherever they live, to the suburb of Namugongo. I had to say trekking because there is a reason. Whenever I heard of people walking to Namugongo, I always presumed they were the people who lived in the neighbourhood. I mean why drive there when you can walk – it makes sense doesn’t it?

The Trek To Namugongo

But pause up. What is Martyrs Day all about? There is no need to educate the Catholics I guess, but for those of other faiths, back in 1884 when Kabaka Mwanga II succeeded to the throne, he was concerned at the growing influence of Christianity and the rise of a new class of officials, distinct from the traditional territorial chiefs, who were educated, had a religious orientation, and wished to reform Ganda society. To solve the ‘problem’, he rounded up 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity in  and had them barbecued somewhere between 31st January 1885 and 27th January 1887. “Nasty just” as the youth of today would say.

Kabaka Mwanga II
But there is something I don’t get. Is celebrating Martyrs Day not a sick and morbid thought? Why would people – Ivan and Christians at that, trek from all corners of Uganda to Namugongo for a pork and beer fest to celebrate people who were barbecued to death? I could be wrong on this, because to the best of my knowledge, Jews don’t trek to Auschwitz in Poland to celebrate the lives of the 1.3m million who perished there, nor do people find their way down to Kanungu in Rukungiri District to celebrate the 158 who met their fate in an inferno.

What people might instead want to do today, is to head to Namugongo to solemnly remember and pay homage to those who died and give the whole kivulu thing a break.       

Pictures: Daily Monitor, The Investigator, New Vision  

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