Friday, August 22, 2008

Heroes and She-roes

“You have people who are exceptions,” said Stephen Francis, the coach of Bolt’s main Jamaican rival, Asafa Powell, the former 100 world-record holder. “You have Einstein. You have Isaac Newton. You have Beethoven. You have Usain Bolt. It’s not explainable how and what they do.”

… And when I checked into Cheri’s after a while, I figured there was something about the place that had changed and then I saw it. It was this huge poster of “The Bolt” in triumph!!
This morning as I rode to work, the guy who was commentating in Luganda, I don’t even know why I even listen, but yes, he said that Usain Bolt had dashed to glory to set a new world record for 100 metre dash and in one summer had also broken the 200 meter record.

Sitting there. Thinking. I remembered. And then he added something that told me he wasn’t too bright; a characteristic of most of Uganda’s radio presenters… anyway he said,
“ bwe yamaze okuwangula naziina endongo! Yakubye endongo ne ye kyanga!” [When he won he danced, so much! He danced and pranced all over the place.]
Now if a Russian had set a new world record and had cruised to a double Olympic victory and had done the kozak dance we’d all be like “ooh! How cute” but that fool had to go and spoil the moment.
It reminded me of a story my father told years ago about when a South African official in the era of apartheid went to England and in an interview on the BBC about why the whites were oppressing the blacks in south Africa, why they were making them miserable, raping their women, tear gassing them, segregating who they gave jobs, and so on…etcetera

WG *looks at the interviewer*: “you say we make them unhappy?”
Interviewer: “yes”
WG: *looks at TV screen across the room and sees a Zulu cultural troupe dancing and singing and looks back at interviewer with a puzzled look* “… but the fellows are always dancing and merry making. They cannot be unhappy!”

Anyway tangentially…

As I am in that taxi, my eyes start to water [yeah am a sentimental bastard. I cry at anything that strikes me the right way] I am thinking of all the black men and women in history who have stood for something. Every single one my small brain cluster can care to remember: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, William Wilberforce, Sirleaf Ellen Johnson, Oliver Thambo, Dedan Kimathi, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chinua, Milton, Wangare Mathaai, and dear old Nelson.
And then I thought about the sporting heroes and heroines who risk life and limb in the best years of their youth on the track; on the line; on the edge, for glory of country and home; people who had written the name of Africa indelibly in the hearts of the world, and set it in stone in the sands of time;
Mohammed Ali,
Haille Gebraselassie,
Michael Johnson,
Marion Jones,
Michael Jordan,
Chester Williams,
Moses Kiptanui,
Francis Nyangweso,
John Akii Bua,
Maria Muthola and [ am next to weeping as I write this]…
Dorcus Inzikuru.

Each of these in their won way provided a light; they held up a lamp when times were dim. They blazed a trail for generations to come. They should always be remembered, maybe not for all they were but for the period that they were.
They might not have been not the heroes we deserved but they were the heroes we needed. In the dark night when we despaired, there was someone holding a candle; bearing the torch, and people from all walks of life saw the light and did not give up.
And because we believed, South Africa was freed. Because we believed, Liberia will recover. Because we believed, the civil rights movement triumphed. Because we believed, THE SPRING BOKS RULE!!
How does “The Bolt” fit into all this? You ask me?!?


Go to hell!

................................................................Because I Believe

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thoughts in a Hospital Waiting Area...

In this life, we are not perfect and quite frankly neither are our bodies. It is true that I believe myself a god.


Not heresy. Just a god.


Because I am.

I am made in the image of Him who walked through the universe flinging the stars against the sky; spinning the sun on his finger into its orbit; summoning- like a king summons subjects, the plants and the millions of species to sprout of the earth; wild and free!

But the one quintessential element this Walker (lets call him Johnnie shall we?) forgot to give me was spare parts … you know like the Ferrari, or like the Toyota? How are you going to give me a mind that the universe has never had the chance to witness, the body of a man and then not give me spare parts? Indictment No. 1

These thoughts are scampering through my mind as I queue up in one of Uganda’s Healthcare Mis-Delivery System’s outlets [read hospital].

Frankly am tired of typing in Braille so am getting me a some software for my eyes, kinda like increased RAM for a computer… I am typing this post in the hospital with the slight murmur of patients!

So here is my problem. Ugandans are perpetually late for everything in life:

They stay longer in the womb; they are late when they go to school so they finish Senior Four when they are 19/20,much older than nearly anywhere else the world; they are late for wedding meetings and even later for the wedding itself; they are late to collect money from the bank and occasionally end up borrowing from a friend [call him John too] and then they have to pay him with interest (if they ever pay him). They pay him late and because he has no transport he cant come early to the wedding meeting… (whose wedding meeting?) Pick any one of the two million in Kampala and you’ll still be right. There’s always a John and a Richard in every wedding organizing committee!

Am done with my parents' threats mbu "if you don't attend your friends' wedding meetings, no one will attend yours"... Indictment No. 2

and now we interrupt normal programming to bring a special Leonidas moment:

Colinidas: Kampalans!!! What is your profession?!!

Kampalans: [in unison] Party crashing !Party crashing! Party crashing!!!

and now back to normal viewing...

But I digress. Ugandans are late for everything except here... Where people got up before Six O’clock in the morning to come here and queue up. I am here at 7:30 am and there are 40 people in the waiting area, which is sorted between priority customers and normal clients.

Yeah priority customers. Like esteem, executive or pinnacle banking! I wont pay priority whatever it is called. It will be a cold day in hell if I ever pay to receive a good service in a Ugandan government facility!

8:17am: There are close to 100 people in the room and counting! It worries me that all these people cant see and have hence all come to have their eyes checked. Good sign. I scan the room and I note particularly there are no boda drivers present or taxi drivers. Wait, unless they are disguised like sexagenarian [60year-olds] women in long shawls and pre- pubescent kids in the company of their mothers. My worry is valid.

As I worry a thought comes to mind, maybe we should toa order for all boda riders and taxi drivers to get mandatory eye check ups and secretly bribe all the opticians to slam glasses on them! Kinda like what one health minister suggested about circumcision? Yeah you heard me right. The bloody guy suggested that the government, which was struggling already under the abscondment of the GAVI funds should roll out [and hear this] a Mass Male Circumcision Plan [MMCP}!

I think someone should just roll out a massive beating to that idiot...

Over. and. out.

Inspiration is such a hard thing to come by in these days that when i landed on something interesting here i took it.

By the gallons i drunk it in and so that when i i looked up and figured that at the end of my life, i would be ready to pass on to the sphere of darkness at some point soon. so i have the option to either accelerate and complete the list or just be content. think i'll try and complete the list. The ones i have done are in red.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with wild dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone [ do brothers count?]

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise [Guy and Ray, you get first thought on this one!]

14. Seen the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables [at this point i feel like this is some sort of poverty index]

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25.Looked up at the sky through a telescope

26.Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment. [Lanterns !! what is your profession?!]

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30.Had a snowball fight.

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can [Family. Friends. Testify]

32. Held a lamb

34. Ridden a roller coaster [ Nairobi roller coaster too slow!]

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking [ i hope my ground zero buddies do not read blogs]

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (try a lifetime! and if you think am a fake why we dont all listen to Ivan M.)

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment [God knows i love post coital conversations!!]

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states of the US

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk - and it was in the middle of a bush school too! i must get extra points.

42. Had amazing friends [The most amazing!

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country [Arusha, you will always be in my mind!]

44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love [have no idea what this accomplishment is actually supposed to be. is it even positive?]

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them [every evening at Javas]

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow - and then some!!

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero - The old batman

58. Sung karaoke -And got laughed by my best friend; never forgave him too!

59. Lounged around in bed all day - Dont ever kiss and tell.

60. Played touch footbal(American football); or rugby

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain- must do soon. in search of woman who does not mind hair getting wet!

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business - first two days of college selling Keringet mineral water

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played a video game for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie- does a series count?

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days 4 1/2 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on television news programs as an “expert” or just been on t.v

83. Got flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage:singing,acting,dancing etc- Lanterns!!! what is your profession?!

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived - where do we start?

105. Wrote articles for a large publication or any publication at all - are reading this by braille?

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray/manta ray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a T.V. game show

113. Broken a bone in your body

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (well at least more than half-way)

122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about- how many times?

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach.

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey - can I get a witness?

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating—Goat, cow, chicken

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head- all the way down to the eye brows!

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life

151.Ridden a bicycle

152.Visited any of the National Parks in Uganda or any where else.

153.Touched a snake

154.Climbed a jackfruit tree,mango tree or any fruit tree to get some fruit

155.Stolen something from someone’s garden

156.Eaten so much that breathing became difficult,laboured- Seeta Boarding old boys and Old girls say oyeee!!

157.Had sex on the first date

158.Helped a total stranger

159.Been caught in a compromising position,e.g pants down

160.Played dool/dulu

Thanks Josh!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Poetry Recital

In a packed room lit with candles and dimmed lights, the Lantern Society of Poets in their inaugural recital put on a show to remember.

The Lantern Meet which has been meeting for over a year meets fortnightly at the National Theatre To share poetry, talk and critique young poets’ work was conceived over three years ago by four students who shared a passion for poetry. Guy Mambo, Oj Raymond, Aki Brenda and yours truly. With a view to raising the bar. What bar? Well… the social bar, the literary bar, the intellectual bar… all the bars you can think of!!!

But, hush performance in progress…

Next on stage is a poem called the musician performed by Rachael, she walks down the stairs and the orange glow of the stage light flows on her body. Her voice undulates over the room, the clarity of her voice carrying the poem across the room. It is like a smooth melody, floating on a cushion of wafty notes produced by the guitarist plucking obliviously away at his guitar. The audience in the back of the room stops talking for an absolute moment. Captured. Riveted. Transposed almost. In one puissant moment, as she takes her final bow, the room explodes into applaud…

The Lantern Meet of Poets has put together an ensemble of poems from almost all walks of life, drawing deeply on human nature and the way our own humanity relates to the circumstances around us. To the intricate tapestry in which is interwoven every man’s fortune and fate. From sorrow to exhilaration, to love and loss the poems flow, exciting, scintillating. Some drawing tears from the audience, others creating a long lingering laughter.

At the end of the show, as the Lanterns bow for recognition, and they promise another exciting show over the Christmas holiday, it reminds me of that old adage ”the best things are free.” By drawing on the talents of scholars from a myriad of disciplines the lanterns have shown the true color of intellect: colorless.

The Lantern Meet is headed by Guy Mambo and the poetry recital was directed by Samantha Kachwinya.

*Disclaimer: for the more objective view of the recital I recommend you read more objective [read less informed] views but more balanced nonetheless.