Thursday, February 26, 2009

City Of Angels

I have always wondered about how life goes on in certain parts of the world... you know?
Kampala is the kind of city where nothing will move unless you bribe people; the trauma of owning anything and always being insecure about whether someone will steal it; the fear of achieving lest you court envy from even the most kindred of souls; the constant threat of being run down by a speeding cyclist, because in fairness, there is no way to control those blighters.

The argument has been for a long time that they need to earn an income and the elitist Kampala populace which had now become very lazy, encouraged them. Now the boda boda takes you right to the doorstep of where you want to go. The ease. The convenience. The sloth.

Then they started hitting people on the head with iron bars, mugging handbags, robbing innocent members of the snobbish elitist populace that would not ask government to put in place a proper transport system. But then maybe its not the population's fault that the leaders they elect don't represent them in government and instead end up aggrandizing themselves.

And so the pressure was on to ban the boda bodas from the city centre, which quite frankly was a measly-hearted move since they were not offered any option. Government said they should not come into town without permits, helmets, carriers, etc. And they hounded them like animals.

But yesterday, in the midst of an otherwise silent night, Owino market was razed to the ground. A market that has seen women and men educate their children by providing a source of income, a market that has given Uganda's middle class populations a vestige of self-respect by clothing them in western apparel albeit being second hand. Nearly the only place where you could get something unique; something without the multiplied feeling of Chinese copycat fabric produced for 1 billion people.

I shopped there growing up [no i didn't stop, I just haven't bought clothes in a long time] and I was told by the guy who sold me shirts that the suits they unwrapped which were good were actually sold to the upmarket stores to go for upwards of UGX 1 million! Now this population is caught without an out. They have taken loans, borrowed, burried their life savings into this. 25,000 lives changed by one action. What of all their dependents, families, their children at school? This is tantamount to terrorism!

And the politicians have the audacity to howl empty promises while hurling insults at government? To mock our parents, our neighbours, our wives' mothers, our friends, our fellow countrymen? Can any nation sink any lower in its sh*t and filth? Can we be more callous to people who genuinely want to earn an honest living? We forgave Mabira, we overlooked Temangalo, we turned the other side when the valley dams burst [wait, were they ever built?]; and the helicopters that never flew? We were even willing to bail out Makerere, an institution drowning in mismanagement and incompetence!

It has been said that a country gets the leaders it deserves. A filthy, pilfering country led by kleptomaniacs, so fragmented its tottering on the smoldering precipice of ethnic clash outbreak does not deserve good leaders does it?

Or does it? Because Tukacungura Jesse, founder of Charaterdot inc. says no. He says leaders are the torch bearers for the people they lead. Despite the fact that they are selected from amongst the rotten populace, they must rise above their larcenous genealogy, the impulse to pilfer, and become models, icons if even only for the purpose to inspire.

In the end, these are the people who work and toil and sweat and eat the sewerage that runs through their workplace. They are the ones who pay for everything that the politicians enjoy and covet. They are the ones who vote, the ones who take loans, who send their kids to school, who buy all that investor -produced sugar and tea! Who bloody buy airtime! They are the reason that most of these banks exist! These are the reason there is a tax base in Kampala! They support this city and almost this country on their shoulders! On nothing but those lean shoulders. When the rains fail, or the dollar falls or an investor is sold the very land they have been trying to buy; they close ranks and hold tight and the politicians dance on the table atop, puckering their lips to the top leadership's Gluteus Maximas.

They are our angels. Watching and complaining but never failing to pay taxes, never running abroad, never going to war. Our silent economic guardians. The real heartbeat of this city. This city of filth, and drama and fear and oppression.

Kampala is a City of Angels.

Ps: Liz has erotic dice as her profile? People help me lay this chic. She needs to get it and get it good!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Thoruggits:

1. Yes I changed the blog template. I was looking for something darker and if you're not yet on my blog roll, just give it some time.

2. This morning as i was on my way to work the taxi was tuned in to Top Radio. The presenters are talking about the recent scourge of beheading little girls that has spread across the country and how that has become a menace. The one guy says "This is a big mess. Government has to do something"
The second guy comes up with an idea on how the government should intervene to curb this blood curling practice "The government should buy helmets for all women and girls to prevent this whole be-heading thing!! " WTF!? seriously!

3. I've gotten a new apartment and its frighteningly awesome that i'll be changing location as soon as this week!

4. I met a girl this week with a weak heart, so she with a helmet protected it.

5. And is it just me, or do almost all bloggers somehow find themselves at steak out on rock night? I don't want to say its the taste for the weird and dangerous stuff but seriously, some of that shit needs to stop. Speaking to B2B, DarkKnight, and a lot of you that keep showing up without notice.

6. Feb has 28 days. To all the women, may this be a perfect month.

7. I miss that little red haired bastard called the 27th Comrade. I remembered him while I was watching the Daniel Craig drama 'Defiance".

8. Speaking of ... its been on my mind lately and I have probably tried to bring it up in every conversation I have had/tried to have lately. The maturation of Will Smith as an actor. From the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Enemy of the State, Bad Boys, to i-Robot, then I am legend, the Pursuit of Happiness the guy has come full circle and truly found himself *[Disclaimer: I think] in 7 pounds. Raw, dark, and nonchalant it makes you feel like you wanna love someone and yet be really selfish about the people you love.

9. I have this secret suspicion that Tumwi is a hot, bespectacled, petite, and hour-glass-figured woman. Yes, and so fiery yet so coy.

10. And a blast from the past!!!

Got me thinking, is there any repository where its possible to get some of this wahala? I mean some of you guys have Mind Your Language!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trip To Jinja

I recently made a trip to Jinja, actually on Val's day, on a totally work-related project. However i had the good fortune to meet with some amazing photo opportunities. And so i took some.

At the source of the River Nile I found a young man with a familiar obsession. He would grow up at the river Nile.learn from his uncle or older brother how to surf the tumultuous waters on nothing more than a plastic jerrycan. He had never crossed the Nile; that thundering bastard of a river. He asked for 500 Ugandan shillings about a quarter of a USD and i wouldn't have given it to him. But then he turned. I would give it to him, for a picture of his shirt. And now, brought to you for free at no cost to you my dear reader: Meet Rooney [as i came to know him] Are we seriously that obsessed?

Rooney The Fisherman
Then I saw a man fishing in the midday sun. Believe me you ain't seen nothing till you see a man fish in the middle of a hot day for some apparently absent fish. He sat there; he had no rod, all he had was some fishing string tied to a hook and him and his six other friends just continuously cast out the fishing hooks which were tied onto the string and waited. It was like a scene out of Huckleberry Finn. I was almost sorry for him.

And then there was fish making out. 'nuff said

4. And there was the attack of the guys in blue along the way. When you stop to buy fresh vegetables and they accost you relentlessly to the point where they will put the dog meat in your{ yeah i have heard that in order to stay profitable after the global credit crunch hit their stocks on the NYSE, these traders substituted beef for canine} it is always interesting to see them swarm around the stopping cars hoping to sell the occupants a piece of half cooked canine.

I have always thought Ugandans had a strange sense of business acumen.

5. And there was the lake house;

some things in life I will never get over, some things I will. Its just a matter of time and the reason why this place still looks like a trash can out of the Amin era still makes my heart bleed.

Yeah. some things I will. Get Over

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Face of Hope

Our future is inextricably interred with our past.
Though we parry jabs and jests
Though we move mountains
Though we rise to the stars

The burden of building a nation
The chore of changing a culture
The task of untainting our traditions
Will always be on our shoulders
The Sermon on the Mount,
The Lighthouse beckoning the weary sailor,
The silent whisper in the ear of a blind man

That is what hope feels like.

We talk of the audacity of hope
We speak of its shimmering on the twilight of the horizon
We talk of its whispering to a dejected mother whose only son is a white boy who sings black music.
While his name rhymes with cheap children’s chocolate candy.

Hope is not for when you are rich
Or when you just found out that you’re pregnant
No. That is not the time for hope
Hope is not for when you’re told that your son is in hospital
Hope is not for when two hundred shillings stands between you and poverty
There is such a time as when hope is the cry of a nation.
There is such a time as when weeping engulfs the men of a land.
That is the time for hope.

When it is not just that you’re pregnant
But that you must sacrifice your life for it.
When it’s not just that your son is in hospital, but your only son is on an operating table and you stand next to your menopausal wife looking in. Praying. Hoping.
When 200 shillings stands between you and your name; and it just fell through the hole in your pocket and you’re in an out-of-the-way place; beyond salvage.
But these are stories we hear about and rarely believe.
We sense and see them but they are never real to us until they are real to us.

They are the stories from a far-off land, that we hear as friends tell and colleagues converse of where misfortunes abound.
And yet all these people stand amongst us.
Faces in the crowd.
Contributing to the face of the ubiquitous crowd.
Faceless is the crowd.
But these people.
They have faces.
They have stories.
They have lives.

After all if the child is born, shall he not grow and is there not great mirth in giving life?
And if the son dies, shall the wife and husband not find solace in having done their very best? (For very often, that is what we do not do. We blame, curse, regret instead of reveling)
And if you should be caught without 200 shillings, is not the gift of legs and the greenery around you so much richer to look at?

In finding hope, we find the elemental placed in us by a millennial-old God.
In believing hope we rise to faith and allow for the possibility of miracles.
In having hope, we court the divine possibility of immortality in humility
And in living hope, we become truly, fully, exceptionally, wholly human; for then:
We Are…
We Can.

*Inspired by McCain's incessant reference to "Joe the Plumber" and Obama's belief and awe-inspiring orations but, dedicated to all Ugandans who are big enough to see beyond themselves and are building this country. One blog at a time, one story at a time, one smile at a time,one cracked rib after another, one Pound at a time [I mean through remittances], one idea at a time, one night at a time.