Flying the flag for Uganda.

November 1, 2015

A while ago, I was in an internet cafe getting some paperwork done. In the midst of it, an old Mzungu man walked in in a bit of a state. He needed to get a document to someone in the UK and he needed to do it yesterday.

So, the nice lady at the front desk scanned his document and then emailed it for him. Because he had interrupted my transaction, with my permission – respect for one’s elders and all that – I guess he felt compelled to share with me what the fuss was about.

The pensions authority in the UK had written him in June, asking him to send them his bank details (he retired here) so they could wire him his ka-pension. The letter reached him today hence his kavuuyo.

I advised him to go up the street to Aramex and open an account so in future his mail would arrive on time. It would cost him a bit more but he’d never have to rely on the empathy of strangers again.

While I waited for my stuff to be finished, we got into conversation. He was convinced that I had lived in his country (which I have but that’s besides the point) because “I was helpful like his countrymen”.

… I politely disagreed, pointing out that Ugandans are helpful! He must just be hanging out with the wrong ones … then we went into a bit of a back and forth, him dissing Ugandan mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, just about everyone in the service industry and me trying to defend all of us. Then he said this, and I paraphrase,

 “… The pensions guys in the UK ‘followed’ him up to UG and asked him for his bank details so they can give him his money. In UG, even if you personally trek to the Ministry of Public Service for months, nay, years, someone will still conspire to steal your pension. Lord forbid that after retirement you move to Kagera village in Kisoro! …” That Kisoro bit is mine but you get the point.

What could I say?

 Then I left the cafe and crossed the road to the car. Guess what, the attendant hadn’t ticketed me and when I asked how many parking tickets I owed him, he instead asked whether I didn’t have any money to give him. Kale imagine, I’ve just spent 30 minutes of my life assuring this Mzungu that we are not all thugs trying to reap where we have not sowed and here is this jackass trying to rip off his employer!

After giving him a proper earful, I drove to his company office and reported him. Then I called the pensioner, and accepted his offer of a drink to smooth over my ruffled Ugandan feathers.


Flying the flag for Uganda.

But Really!

But really!


Maybe I am not the best person to ask this question, because my great, great, great …… grandfather was from present day Eastern Congo, but the Constitution of our great nation declares me a Ugandan many times over (by birth and descent) so it is as a Ugandan that I ask this?


Why are we the ones who take in other countries’ problem citizens fwaa?


The other day Tanzania evicted cattle keeping immigrants of Rwandese origin and they all flocked to UG. Some of them had been in Karagwe before the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar produced Tanzania. So, why did they come here? Why didn’t they go to Rwanda? Or Burundi for that matter? And why are there stories that some of these evictees hold Ugandan voter’s cards?


Now Israel is kicking out Sudanese and Eritreans (while still taking in whites from western and eastern Europe) and they are coming to UG. Why? If you Jews know where your unwanted migrants come from, why would you want to bring them here? And, after what your forefathers went through at the hands of the Nazis and other bigots/racists, why would you terrorise a (dark skinned) minority who are in your country to escape political/economic persecution and/or give their children a shot at a decent life.


And who in GoU has sanctioned this arrangement?


Is it not enough that we already host the Somali, S.Sudanese, Congolese, Rwandese, Kenyans and Zimbabweans (white & black)? The Kenyans were really nasty to us when we ran there to escape Amin but when Mzee Kibaki stole the election, guess what, we gave their runaways land in Masindi to settle. The S.Sudanese treat Kampala like Little Juba but you go and try to run a ka-business in Juba and see, ever to harass you! The Congolese are stealing our land around Lake Albert and in West Nile but guess who’s killing and eating baboons on Mzee’s farm in Hoima, Congolese refugees! Bazungu are buying up land along the Nile in Jinja – wonder if any Ugandans own land along the Thames, the Seine or the Danube – whilst their governments in Europe aggressively go after immigrants, legal and illegal.


Owaaye Mr. President, when you’re busy settling house eviction wrangles of private citizens, who is looking out for UG’s interests here? You for you, you have your land … If you wanted to ringfence political posts in Bunyoro for the indigenous people to protect them from the Bafuruki, why don’t you also protect the land my children will inherit/buy, from non-Ugandans?

There is a place for foreigners who come here to study, work, do business, marry, retire … and I know and love many such people but … large scale mass importation of people … in the same year that we’re giving out Nationals IDs … 3 years before a national election … in a country known for selling its passports to the highest bidder … way too much room for error.

Ffe tufunilamu wa?

But Really!

Drink, Be Merry & Pay Taxes.

Last night I was at dinner at the home of a neighbour, who happens to work in a brewery. Over some well-done goat muchomo, my tablemates and I got to discuss the brand of beer one of them was drinking. He explained that it was one of their own brands (a lot of the guests work in the same brewery). We asked because we’d never seen it before, not being beer drinkers ourselves.

He then qualified his answer by explaining that even if he was not bound by duty to drink his own beer, the state of beer sales in this country lately compels him to do something proactive about the amount of beer that’s being drunk.

Mbu, wait for it, people are not drinking beer!

Ever since a traffic police boss announced, as certain official types sometimes do willy-nilly, that anyone with alcohol in their system would be arrested if they were found behind the wheel of a vehicle … whether or not they were above the legal limit notwithstanding … as long as they had alcohol in their system, they would be arrested.

The announcer of this news, who I think is a PhD, has apparently singlehandedly reduced beer consumption to the level that one brewery has/is laying off workers as we speak; they have had to reduce their brewing frequency to thrice a week because they don’t have that many production lines to start with and a lot of their product is trucked in from Kenya. My dinner companion’s own company is itself contemplating reducing their own workforce and he warned us that we might soon see him out of a job. This in spite of the fact that his company is soon finishing construction of a new plant in Mbarara.

Why, you may wonder. Apparently, our companion explained, Ugandans heard the announcement, watched a few of their friends and drinking buddies get hauled in by the traffic cops for the merest whiff of alcohol, and decided that it was simply too much hassle to go out and have a drink in Munyonyo – where it tastes better and where all your mates congregate – when you live in Naalya. So chaps are going home and catching a pint there instead.

But you know how catching a pint at home doesn’t flow, you can’t house a round or be housed a round, there are no weave-wearing high heel & mini-dress rocking brown things to buy drinks for or cute waitresses to run up your tab for. The music is frankly depressing, you can’t be loud and tell off colour jokes, when the beer is finished, it is finished and let’s be honest, nothing spells sad loser like drinking alone. At home. In front of the telly.

So there we are, peeps are not drinking beer! Who woulda thunk it?  Aside from all those tax dollars going unpaid from unsold and unconsumed beer think of the potential taxes on airtime (to rally quorum), fuel (to get to the joint and back), salon expenses (to look worth the beer spent on you) and imported condoms (unless you want the freebies of UHMG). Things got so bad for URA that The Dear Visionary was forced to direct the traffic cops to stop disturbing taxpayers. And as for the farmers of barley and sorghum, well, I don’t know who’s looking out for them. At least now I know why I haven’t been able to get as much brew mash as I would like, for my pigs to also be in a full full condition.

So, fellow citizens, to paraphrase JFK’s words, in the spirit of asking not what your country can do for you, but instead, asking what you can do for your country, go out and drink some beer! Then URA will collect some tax dollars and maybe, just maybe, Ms. Maria Kiwanuka will not have to increase/introduce taxes on processed fish, processed milk, fuel (again), domestic water (WTH!), motor vehicle registration, international calls and mobile money transactions.

Drink, Be Merry & Pay Taxes.

Buy a Tesla Model S; then I shall be stroked

Friday April 12, 2013
03:11 am

Dear Ivan & Zari,

First off, this Ivan & Zari or Zari & Ivan business is not going to work for me so how about we just abbreviate it to Zarivan, eeh? That works for me, and I’m sure you two will get the distant allusion to Kimye, Brangelina and the like.

So, here we are. You’ve never heard of me, which is just as well, as I’ve had just about all I can take of the two of you popping up in the newspaper that I pay for. It annoys me that so many column inches, usually filled with bad spelling and atrocious grammar, are dedicated to following your exploits as you gallivant all over Kampala in your gaudy outfits and flash motors. It especially annoys me at this time in the morning because my cat died yesterday, I can’t sleep and when I tried reading the gossip pages, in the vain hope that I would be either bored to sleep or tickled to tears, there you two were. Living it up, while my cat sleeps the sleep of the dead, my poor precious kitty!

Zarivan, what exactly is the point of you two? Why are you in the papers? Yes, I know we are a gossipy people and we seem to be evolving into a nation of show-offs, voyeurs and Johnny-come-lately’s. But you people just seem to be … attracting tabloid attention like white on rice. What’s that about? Are you paying for it? Can’t you just go and spend your money in discreet places like other people with serious money? I’m not saying you have serious money but more about that later. Surely, people like Mbiire and Martin Aliker like to push a pint, especially that Aliker, that one looks like he does a Johnny Walker Green or Blue, but you don’t see him all over the place fwaa, with balebeesi as if a sailor on shore leave. Why don’t you go and catch your pints where other loaded people go? Is it because there they don’t allow those of Red Pepper sijui Gossip Pages?

I realise y’all probably don’t know Aliker but at least ko you know Mbiire. Anti the one whose mother Bobi Wine and Juliana did a duet for. A duet is when two people, ideally a guy and a chick, sing a song together. Man, I’m not dissing you, its just that I’ve never heard either of you speak so I can’t assume stuff. Kati, both those guys, ok for Zari’s case lets add a chick … umph … how about Sarah Bagalaaliwo? … and Sarah are proper loaded. Their money has money. Like when you have an overgrown afro and they want you to cut off your hair, they tell you your hair has sprouted hair. Kat those people have a serious dime but you don’t see or hear of them kwetalaring all over the place like grasshoppers, do you? Why, because they have class, by the fusoload.

Kati mwe, what is your problem? Mwagala tubalabe nti mulina class?! That one, just chill kubanga tekiliyo. You can’t buy class, however much you want to pay. Bibuuze a certain honorary Professor, who btw has more dime than both of you and your children combined. So, is it a question of showing us nti you have dime? But that one we already saw, and know. You guys went to SA, got your hustle on and made a dime. Whatever y’all do or are rumoured to do, for real, tebitukwata ko unless or until it starts to involve children. If it ever starts to involve children or their parts then we shall get very concerned, very quickly! We know you have a dime okay, there’s no need to drive up a different car whenever you come on holiday. And as for your cars, nga we have seen cars in Kampala, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last!

Twalaba eza Desh, then eza Ezra, then eza Lydda neza Meddie oba ne Shanifa mmuteekemu? Atte nze ndabye ko eza abantu abasinga ko abo ku mpiisa, wharrup Hajji Speedo, kiri kitya? Kati muleese Lambo, what’s next? If you really want to stroke us, okay me, you bring a Tesla Model S then I’ll allow. If you can beat the 2 year waiting list for that ride, then you have clout and I shall allow.

Volvo 960 in case you were wondering. Yup, that’s my ride. I know my shit.

As I was saying, we’ve seen new money (omuzungu agamba nouveau riche) chaps come and we’ve seen them go. For me the difference with you guys is that your young parents and I hear mbu, Zari, you’re from Jinja like me. Seriously? Are you one of the Iganga Road chotties or one of the Lubas Road ones. Naye if you’re from Iganga Road … you Iganga Road chaps are deadly, simanyi even Adam Kalungi’s dad lives on Iganga Road. Anyway, ebyo bili mu Kotti. Tuvekubikadde.

New money comes and it goes. What will you have to show for it in 10 years? When Ivan has a potbelly and Zari’s chottie blood kicks in with the varicose veins and extra weight? Lwaki temubela nga Ashish Thakkar? Charlie yava eyo e’Rwanda mubiseera bya genocide nakola ka duka ka computer awo ku Kampala Road, kati wuyo eyo e’Dubai agenda ne mu space. Akozee ne Foundation eya ddala sibino ebyamme mbu mutwala powder milk ne sabuuni e Sanyu Babies home ku Christmas! Ashish temumumanyi? Naye namwe mukoya! Kyova mubela eyo e’Kabalagala in some dodgy joint hanging out with balebeesi nti ‘Tycoon Party’. Tycoon Party when you have simanyi Aqua Sipi water on the table, some Guinness and a bottle or two of whiskey? You want to stroke us with a party? Close down Speke Resort for an invite only all weekend party and import all the drinks from like Russia or Ibiza then we shall be impressed. Nvudde ne kku point.

This is what I’d like to suggest. Sit down with someone who manages private wealth, like Daniel here (Yo, Daniel, why’d you stop sending me free tips and stuff?). Let him or her, design for you guys a strategy to grow your money into proper wealth. Like an investment fund or something. Ivan, olimusajja muganda, buy like a coupla square miles in eastern UG and set up a proper commercial farm yeah for your ‘tooke ne nyama, everyone’s gotta eat right? Then, create a venture capital fund like Zain did and look for all those bright young chaps who are onto the next big thing in UG. Give them some of that money you’re spending on enriching bar owners, fuel stations and tabloid journalists and in return ask for equity in their companies. It’ll be more worthwhile than just pissing that money away on sijui ‘Tycoon Party’, ‘All White Party’ and whatever else you got going on. And if these different enterprises succeed, which they should if you hire people like my cuz Dickson to help you out, well then, suddenly you’ll find yourselves shareholders in lots of companies! Then y’all can do your SA hustle half the year and spend the other half here, instead of this summer business that you seem to be on. I promise you, then and only then, shall we start calling you ‘Boss’ without you having to pay for it.

And while we’re at it, mwattu Zari, bika ko kumubili. I saw two photos of you and I feel like I … know … you. Its bad enough Lugudde might have seen ko naye nawe you’re a ‘married’ woman, show the man some respect, cover up already.

Then after you secure your financial future, how about you make some social advances? Get a personal dresser to advise you on your wardrobe choices; lose the flashy outfits and gaudy jewellery and get you some high-end shit. In other words Ivan, no more of those oversized blingey watches, get a Patek Philippe or something, I’m a TAGHeur man myself but you look like the type who’d wear a Kobold so, to each his own. Make an effort to look the part. Lose the balebeesi. Eyo e’Munyonyo muveeyo, buy an estate in Lubowa or Nakasero with room for a pony (Don’t bother trying to click this reference to pop culture, I absolutely guarantee that you will fail), a swimming pool or a tennis court. Host an annual blacktie benefit for charity and, crucially, be seen to deliver the proceeds to said charity. Get your sons into public school. Set up college funds for them to either go to Oxbridge or the Ivy League colleges. Hire a PA or something, someone to get you into places where you’ll rub shoulders, and bar stools, with the Mbiires and the Alikers. Wemunatuuka awo then the recognition you seem to crave might just start to come your way.

And Zari, a true Boss Lady doesn’t run a ka boutique … she owns the whole goddamn mall!

Nze ngenze kwebaka.

Buy a Tesla Model S; then I shall be stroked

Tugambire ku Editor wa Sunday Extra!

Ever since I was old enough to make my own money, I have been buying the weekend editions of The New Vision and The Monitor newspapers. That would amount to just over sixteen years. In recent years I only buy a hardcopy of the New Vision because The Monitor has a better online version than the Vision and, I still like to feel and smell an actual newspaper.

Also, I have been paying money because I like(d) to read the thoughts of Ian Clarke, Ernest Bazanye, Lilliane Barenzi, Kizito and in the days before she left for the Nairobi Star, Angela Kintu. Inevitably after reading those people’s columns, I will have the rest of the paper to wade through.

However, today, I am disappointed in the New Vision. The Big Debate on pages 30 and 31 purports to address our mannerisms, as Ugandans, based on our tribal origins. Therein lies the problem. Even though it covers not one but two whole pages, was written by two people, and, mentions in its preamble that UG has over 50 tribes, The Big Debate (really?!) only offers up a smattering of comments on the characteristics, mythical and otherwise, of … wait for it … only 13 out of over 50 tribes! A worse article, I have yet to read.

A few examples suffice;

“Banyankole. They are beautiful people. Their long faces are envied by many. But they can be arrogant too. They also love themselves so much. Look around you and you will probably see them in a group together.”

I guess that group of firewood carrying, lesu wearing, long faced, Swahili speaking group of women that I drove past on my way home from buying the paper were Banyankole. Who knew?

“Basoga. George Isabirye, a Musoga, says Basoga are seen as typical womanisers, primitive and gifted chapatti sellers. Basoga women are said to be very patient with their husbands and can tolerate any marriage, however abusive it is.”

Since these are my people, and since we are in the zone of myths and anecdotes, where are the stories about our jiggers? Where are the accounts of our ‘natural viagra’ in the words of Hon. Basoga Nsadhu (RIP)? Where is our love of ‘emboli’ and groundnuts? Where is our pigheadedness, referred to in the vernacular as ‘empwiitu ya Basoga’?

At least my corner got a mention, the Bakonjo only merited this line, “These are said to be short people, but tough.”

My primary school Headmaster, Mr. D.H. Gawaya drummed into us that if you must eat a frog, then choose a big fat wart covered one, so that you make the entire nasty experience, at least, a memorable one. New Vision, if you must publish a two page spread on tribal myths and anecdotes, at least do a good job while you’re at it!


Having paid money for the bloody paper, I plodded through the article until I got to this gem;

“Itesot. They are romantic but ‘players.’ They do not like women who domineer them and beat them up.”

Really, New Vision? “… domineer them…”?

The story goes through 2 writers, 2 Subeditors, 1 Chief Subeditor and, I assume, a Features editor before the paper goes to print and y’all publish that?

Why don’t you chaps get your CEO to save some of that money he’s using to buy up radio stations willy-nilly and invest some of it in paying your sub-editors a decent enough wage so they can do their job?

And while you’re at it, please inform Michael Nsubuga (as well as his Sub and Sports editors) who wrote the backpage story on Moses Golola’s return from Nairobi that there is no such thing as a “…mortal mouthed Golola…”

I believe the word he was looking for was “motor mouthed.”

And now for the tagline;

The Vision Group. National Pride·Global Excellence

Tugambire ku Editor wa Sunday Extra!

Open Letter to Mr. Simon Allison of the Daily Maverick re Homosexuality in Uganda.

Monday September 24, 2012.

Dear Mr. Allison,

Forgive the use of WordPress to do this but I couldn’t find an email address for you so, I figured, you won’t mind if I put this on my blog and tag you or something.

Hello, my name is Emmanuel and I’m from Uganda. Yep, that little backwater up north from you, which is the setting for your article of September 20, 2012. The one here: You are a gifted writer and I like your sense of humour, I especially loved the piece on Zim’s new hangman, Tsvangirai’s marital problems (we would call that ‘ish’ here) and of course Comrade Bob’s foot in mouth references to Jamaica, and Jamaicans. Brilliant stuff really.

So, anyway, why am I writing you? Mostly because as a resident of this beautiful if somewhat frustrating to live in country (corruption, rigged elections, broken down healthcare, fake ass roads, electricity outages, spiralling cost of living – you get the idea) I feel you have done us a disservice in how you present some of the facts in your story. Here’s what I mean:

  1. David Cecil was arrested because he broke the law and staged a play in violation of the Media Council’s directive to hold off on staging the play until they had reviewed the script. He was not arrested for staging a play about the ish of a gay man in Uganda. On that we’re agreed, you say as much in your article. Please note that the Media Council had not made a decision yet, though now it is highly doubtful that they will formally approve the screening of the play. If you read some of the comments on Mr. Cecil’s arrest here  you will see that most, not all, of the ire is directed at a Mzungu (that’s “white person” to you) who’s thumbing his nose at our laws. My castle, my rules you see.
  1. David Kato (may he rest in peace) was murdered by his lover after a domestic quarrel because the lover didn’t want to have sex. That was the murderer’s confession, which you can read about here  He was not murdered for being gay or because he had been outed by the defunct local newspaper you referred to (it was a trashy tabloid to be honest, even by our ridiculously low standards). In the neighbourhood he lived in, Mukono town, he was known to be gay. The only reason the poor fellow’s murder made the international news was because he was, well, gay. A bit like Nelson Mandela being famous here (prison sentence and all) because he is black and Billy Nair or Ahmed Kathrada who served the same jail time being unknown, here, because they aren’t black. People in relationships sometimes kill each other, gay or not.
  1. Speaking of which, I don’t know where you’re getting your information but Ugandans as a whole don’t really care what other people get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms. What I do (or don’t do) with my wife is our business and I don’t wanna know what my neighbour does with his. If I’m wrong the comments on this will set me right (and I should hope there will be comments, one way or the other). Most of us attended boarding schools for our high school education, most of which were single-sex schools. Inevitably, there were chaps who were sweet on other chaps, ditto for the girls’ schools. While I will not mention any names, I always had my suspicions about one or two fellows. Now, we’re all grown up and these chaps are living their lives, doing their thing, getting their freak on …. In a country of 30 million or so people, only one person has been killed because (according to mostly white/Western press) he was gay. Shall we surmise that South Africans are a racist/xenophobic bunch because y’all set on fire and killed that Mozambican immigrant a few years ago? I don’t think so and I know this for a fact because I have a few South African friends (for some reason all of them white) and relatives who’ve gone to or are attending school down there.
  1. If you still don’t believe me, come visit me, I live in Jinja, a really small town and we have not killed any gay people yet and that’s not because we don’t have them – from dudes in full-on drag to homosexual couples that refer to themselves and are widely viewed as ‘spouses’. They can be found winding down after a long day at one popular hang out or another. Now, in a provincial town like Jinja, where everybody and their granny knows everyone else who grew up there, wouldn’t homosexuals be in big trouble if we Ugandans were a bloodthirsty, homophobic lot? How many people does your research tell you have been killed in Jinja for being gay? We have gay people. We live with them. It’s no biggie and it’s not new. In this country, sex in general is a private matter. Don’t let the liberals in Kampala fool you. We like to keep our private business private. Yes, there are extremists among us – just as you have your Julius Malema’s, Dr. Pieter Mulder and Eugene Terre’Blanche (R.I.P) – but please do not label us all homophobic. We have way too many ish to care what people do with other people in their bedrooms. Unless it involves children. And HIV/AIDS.
  1. Which brings me nicely to the legislation. Your country once forbade unions between white women and black men. Y’all got that law changed. My country, in a penal code inherited from the British, our former, some say still colonial masters, illegalised same sex unions. Now you might not know this but the Parliament of Uganda is filled with selfish incompetent idiots and yes-men/women for the ruling party as well as a scattering of opposition parties. Yes, there are exceptions, how else will the rule be proved? But, unless they are increasing their already generous pay packages or taking bribes to remove Presidential term limits, they honestly don’t get much done. Our President is even on the record as saying gay people can do their thing as long as they do it “quietly” .

Now, consider a Parliament, that in its current and previous lives, has failed to legislate on things as important as the Domestic Relations Bill, which would provide for among other things, the rights of women to marital equality and property et cetera. Consider that and tell me: do you honestly think that Parliament would have the time – forget the balls – to repeal legislation against same-sex unions? I don’t think so.

  1. It was never the intention of the Uganda Government to “Hang them” as you say. I’ll summarise for you, the details are on Wikipedia. A Member of Parliament, Hon. David Bahati (also a fervent Born Again Christian) brought a private members Bill seeking to introduce the death penalty for gay sex involving a minor and gay sex where one partner knowingly transmitted HIV. Sex, any sex, involving a minor is known as Defilement here and everyone takes a very dim view of people who have sex with children. A Ugandan minor is one below 18 years. The legislation to which this ‘Hang Them’ theory is attached simply asks that anyone having homosexual relations with a minor, or knowingly infecting another homosexual with HIV should face the death penalty. If anything, it is a law PROTECTING homosexuals.
  1. “Hang them… This was also the Ugandan government’s plan, until an international outcry forced them to drop the death penalty provision in their proposed anti-homosexuality legislation.” Dude, the international outcry happened after the President told Bahati to chill and the Attorney General informed Parliament that the Penal Code already criminalized and punished homosexuality. All this stuff is available online, I found the references whilst sitting in my pyjama bottoms on my bed in the provincial town of Jinja. Dude, you live in the RSA, African first world, surely, you can do a bit of research!
  1. Now, to the personal. My Bible teaches me that sex should be between a man and a woman. It also teaches me that being gay is a sin. It also exhorts me to love the sinner and hate the sin. Lord knows I am not perfect and I do try to be a good Christian. Most Ugandans will tell you the same, see here    even the ones who go to church during the day and the witchdoctor (sangoma to you) at night. So, for me, being gay is a personal struggle with one’s God or gods. I’ve got my own struggles, you deal with your own ish is what I say. I recognise in the RSA you are super liberal and stuff but up here, we are not, okay? It is what it is.

P.S. You really should come visit Uganda. Lonely Planet thinks we’re the bees knees, again, please see here

Open Letter to Mr. Simon Allison of the Daily Maverick re Homosexuality in Uganda.