It has been a five-year journey to relocate to Africa. There have been highs and lows, plenty of fears and sleepless nights. Alas the time has come and voila I am waking up in a strange bed but at least I am on the motherland Africa.
In Uganda, there has been an issue in parliament about our current President’s term limits and to remove the #AgeLimit from the constitution.
A fracas took place in the parliament as the opposition sang the national anthem to drown out the speaker of parliament. This is what happened on the first day then the session was postponed till the following day.
The second day this is when the State decided to use be-suited clad security operatives to storm the parliament. The aim was to arrest the opposition MP’s(members of parliament) who are against the #AgeLimit. It was easy to spot them because they adorned red scarfs on their heads as well as red hats to the amusement of the Ugandan citizenry. They did get names like Ninja Turtles, Bruce Lee etc.
What really caught our imagination as the citizenry of Uganda is the witt that Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah used to explain the fracas in parliament. He particularly started the clip when one of the security operatives jumped onto the table made a left Kung Fu kick that hit a chair and the person on it flew off onto the green long seats of parliament. Then this operative pirouettes, makes a spin like Michael Jackson’s, stops then he jumped off the stable onto the green seat to go after the MP that he had kicked off the chair on the table.
The motherland is amazing. After the relocation, orientation change as well as career change the whirlwind of change sweeps me off my feet. The mindset being different there is need for me to modify my expectations and learn to adapt.
I have modified my expectations by venturing into agribusiness. It is my first time and I am willing to learn through mistakes. The crop of choice is the plantain – green bananas called matooke that I have started to plant.
I have discovered that there are many advisors as per different type of matooke grown. Rather than mix and match, I will plant 100 sucklings from different suppliers. This is to enable me to learn which type of matooke is best suited to the type of soil at the property that I am using to plant the crop.
Green banana – matooke sucklings
I am excited because in the case of anything agricultural you can see it grow. I know when it needs to be sprayed. I know when I need to dig it slightly to do away with the weeds. What I have not reckoned with are the pests in the form of monkeys around the area. I have started to cut down the trees for two reasons. One is for the matooke to get light for their photosynthesis and the second is to reduce the damage the monkeys do to the growing matooke plant.
Yes, the time frame given to start seeing some real matooke crop is a year. I feel that this is a good time for research and development. Good time to learn and see if I can increase the acreage of the matooke plantation from an acre to two acres. It does involve proper attention as the matooke starts to grow and I am looking forward to that aspect of things.
This is what I want to achieve a lusuku (vernacular for matooke plantation) with cassava crops in the foreground
The idea of the agri-business comes in this way. Once the plantain has grown some will be used for home consumption and the rest for sale. I envisage using some of the matooke crushing it and creating a flour that can make home based cookies and biscuits.
In the matooke plantation there are some yellow small bananas that have been planted. These ones we are to try and see if we can make the local brew called mwenge bigere (banana wine). It is a sweet wine however, it is very potent and can be very deceptive because of its sweetness.
This is a totally new avenue to what I have been used to and a major career change. The advantage is that the matooke plantation is at home and all I need to do, is walk to the plantation, to tend too it.
The plantain we chose to plant is called mpologoma from Luwero and Ndizi from western Uganda. Mpologoma has bigger fingers which in turn brings in more money because of the size of the matooke bunch. It grows well in the wet season and this year of 2017 we are being blessed with plenty of rain.
Two week old germinating matooke plant(green banana)
One month old matooke plant(green banana)
In the plantation, we have also planted beans.
One week old bean plants
I am not sure why it is that in a lusuku (matooke plantation) it is advised to do mixed planting. In my naivety, I would think that all plants would compete for the soil nutrients, rain and sunlight. Nevertheless, because of the spacing done in between the matooke stems it lends to the planting of the bean seedlings. This is done prior to the mulching stage of the land around the matooke which starts in 6 month’s time.
A month after the matooke planting this is the current result together with two weeks old bean plants.
The project is getting very exciting because the rains have come this 2017 season in comparison to last years 2016 season. The results are encouraging. The beans take two months to mature hence harvest. Whereas the matooke take a year to fully grow and have the bunch to harvest.
So much to do so little done the plantation is growing in leaps and bounds
I enjoy a bountiful meal. Coming home has proved to be a testing time for my taste buds as well as my stomach.
I have realized that my stomach is extremely sensitive. Having said that watching chicken being smoked on charcoal is not new to me at all. What I found out of this world is seeing chicken smoked on top of banana peels which in turn sit on top of charcoal.
The end result taste wise was ono (Hawaiian meaning finger licking good). The chicken had that smoke smell to it. The meat was firm because the chicken was the local kind that was allowed to forage for food on its own.
In the City we have two loads of poultry farmers.
1. Local farmers that let their chicken roam freely
2. Chicken farmers that build poultry houses. They are not allowed to roam freely at will. These chicken are taken care of and tended to 24/7 as they are feed, given medicines etc.
The plate had the local green banana (Matooke), rice, coriander, greens with slice of onions, chicken mix called Royco, salt, gizzard, tomatoes and rice.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Gambian President Yahya Jammeh at the White House in Washington in August 2014. On Dec. 4, the White House issued a statement expressing dismay over rampant human rights violations and the persecution of LGBT people in Gambia. Amanda Lucidon / White House
It is election season in Africa and some remarkable results have emerged.
For Instance recently:
Two incumbent Presidents lost the elections.
Two Presidents conceded genuinely and then one of them said, there is need to recount the votes again.
That one President is from The Gambia.
To many African watchers his concession to Mr Adama Barrow the President elect took many of us by surprise. The question was how could President Yahya Jammeh really accept the electoral results. Most African leaders tend to ‘manoeuvre’ such results to their benefit. When President Jammeh said that he has accepted the results and called the opposition leader to wish him well, it was a first for many of us to witness. A strong man of Africa relinquishing power peacefully.
Then the shenanigans started. President Jammeh of The Gambia asked for and sought for a recount of the results. Much as we were surprised with his accepting the results now with the recount, we see the old man African style leadership back in full force. He has ruled The Gambia for 22 years. From what we gather his party is not happy and have lodged an appeal to The Gambia’s High Court.
This side of Africa is akin to what we call the norm. Africa’s strong men clinging to power regardless of what their citizens feel and say.
The other side of Africa, gregarious, magnanimous, enigmatic, exuberant, youthful and exquisiteness belies the strength and depth of what Africa is about. Change that we see. Change that represents the aspirations of this youthful exuberance. Change that exudes the hopes and fears of a young generation ready to handle their own affairs of business. Change that epitomizes the we shall overcome feel.
We only hope and pray that this new Africa does come to pass, happens and make the two Africa’s one and whole.
Sometimes in life there comes a point when one asks, don’t the leaders who are entrusted to lead us really study the history of the country they rule. It always, always leaves me perturbed.
This week in Uganda, right, we saw events that reminded me about an attack of a palace of the Kabaka(King) of Buganda in May 1966.
Fast forward 50 years and yet another King(Omusinga’s) palace is attacked leaving scores of people dead. What I find amazing is the lack of proper information as to why the palace had to be attacked in the first place. Omusinga is the King of the Bakonzo people who hail from the Mountains of the Moon – Rwenzori. They are sometimes referred to as Rwenzururu people.
Government acknowledges the King(Omusinga) was inciting terrorism. But coming from the fact about what happened 50 years ago, such information from government should be taken with a pinch of salt.
We may never really know the real story about that palace attack, we shall leave that to the historians. Having said that, bear with me, let me take you on a journey a brief history of Uganda.
A brief History
Before Uganda became the motherland Uganda on independence day in 1962, all the constituent tribes had their own leaders from Kings, to Queens to Chiefs. With the creation of the country Uganda a republic was formed. It had a ceremonial President, a Prime Minister together with a parliament and political parties to lead the country. The Kings, Queens and Chiefs remained very instrumental in the cohesiveness of their people and this made the tribes stronger. The cultural norms and heritage intact. That high office espoused the pride of belonging, rich in history and instrumental in the future of the people by the people. Naturally frictions occurred as the new norm being the new form of government, a republic vis a vie the tribal kingdoms was put on a test from time to time.
History most definitely is repeating itself in 2016.
What is so deafening, in this case, is the that there is little discourse about what happened in and around the mountains of the Moon, in the capital city of Kampala the seat of all power in Uganda. When there is such silence then all kinds of voices appear to fill the void. Social media is awash with all kinds of stories and photos. Hard to get any facts, clear picture about what really transpired and why. Maybe the authorities feel that this is a far away Kingdom and not too much fuss will be made about it. Personally I do not know.
This much we know.
The King(Omusinga) is in remand charged with treason and trial starts December 13th 2016.
The deposing of any King anywhere by use of force is a very traumatising experience for any group of people. In 1966 when it happened to the Baganda it led to consequences far foreseen by the leaders of that day. For one hatred brewed to anyone from the north of the country from the Baganda tribe. Why? The prime minister, Dr Obote, a northerner (of the Langi tribe) and the commander of the operation of the day was another northerner (Kakwa tribe), he went by the names of Idi Amin. Five years later he too led his own coup and overthrew Dr Obote.
The trauma of the Kabaka being attacked by the military was huge. So, huge. What many Baganda found perplexing was that the Kabaka, was a member of the British military and they refused to come to his aid. It is things like this that make one wonder 50 years hence, don’t our leaders learn anything from history.
You can marginalize a people for so long, but deposing their King(Omusinga) opens up a can of worms that in 2016 we cannot foresee.
May God uphold thee
We lay our future in thy hand
These are the first stanzas of our national anthem.
The Omusinga (King) bespectacled gentleman in the middle at Kasese Police Station
The question has come about from a little chat I had about salt to be added into cooking food.
Unfortunately, I have no money to buy salt, so I say. The lady looks forlorn and says nothing.
Cooks the food without salt. She doesn’t eat because she’ll not eat food without salt.
Then a discussion ensues. ‘You are a man you should have money at all times’ she says. I say ‘this is the one time I have no money’. She says ‘I don’t believe you.’
Then I ask, ‘why didn’t you buy the salt? I know you have the money.’ She responds ‘Mine is female money. You the man are supposed to bring and pay for everything at home.’
I am gobsmacked. The lady has money to buy salt but will not buy it because I have no money to buy salt.
Herein is the quandary. I am not at home neither am I obliged to buy the salt because this is not my residence. I am a visitor okay.
I wonder are such matters which seem minor in the scheme of things bring discordant in a home. Can the aspect of the man not having money to buy salt really make or break a home? Whatever happened to partnerships. Is it only give, give society that it has come down too?
It is heart wrenching if the foundation of any form of relationship is reduced to money and lack thereof.
Totally flabbergasted. Now I know what to do next time. Have my own salt in the drawer and she can cook saltless food. I’ll add into my food at my leisure. I will be visiting this place a lot more often therefore I will do the cub scout motto of be prepared.
Not very happy person at this point in time.
The dynamics of gender are not lost on me but I am finding them ever the more complex. How one wants to make a point in regards to gender roles about unspoken rules baffles me immensely. How then can the women be emancipated if they still think in a dependency format rather than the independent format? Do the women play the gender roles because society dictates or because family dictates?
All countries in the world have enormous issues, however, the place that the US of A holds, in the world as the only super power warrants that what happens in America does affect the rest of the world. Hence the adage when America sneezes the rest of the world gets a cold.
Let us hope that the perception that Mr Trump’s campaign has caused will be eased by the reality of governing the country and by default the world.
To the new administration wishing you all the best in healing the polarized world that is watching your every step.
What I discovered with my return, the concept of money vis a vie the host citizens is different. It is this difference that comes with a lot of responsibility. This is because we have not yet understood the money back home. In our minds, we are spending as though we are still overseas. This disparity stands out markedly when we do not bargain for products we are buying. The sellers notice this cue and when they see you charge you exorbitantly. The same happens with services life car mechanics. They charge you an arm and a leg for the very basics. If you are not around they either put in older parts or don’t remove the parts but still charge you for new parts and labour.
It is a buyers beware place. As most of the economy is basically a cash economy it behoves of returnees to be extra vigilant because the money one has come with can go so fast. Being in the host country and broke is such an unpleasant place to be such that many do return to the countries they resided in prior to the journey back to the motherland. Their comfort creatures are many and they understand the system in order to survive.
The survival rate in a cash economy is enormous. This is because everyone demands of you of money in one way or another. The ability to stretch your shilling to give some of it away and still be able to live is an art in and of itself.
I have been advised that if I am to lend any money then make sure you are willing to lose it. Peeps in the host country will not pay you back because they too feel that they need to enjoy the fruits of your labour from overseas.
The orderly and organized way in which many from overseas (outside countries) get their pay can be a very daunting task when that orderly fashion ceases to be the order of the day. In the cash economies, like the one I find myself in, the local denominations are misleading and very dangerous because of the loads of wads we end up having in our wallets and pockets.
The need for budgeting is crucial without which, finding one self in a financial nightmare is a sure thing. Living in a cash economy is stressful enough one should try by all means possible to avoid the financial nightmares.
With the distress in the economy coupled with the long sunny period hence no rainy season to help with agriculture growing, money is scarce and word about the R word – recession is becoming the new normal.
In other words we are headed for some turbulent times as money goes walkies and doesn’t stay long in our wallets.
My topic of reference being a returnee back to the motherland, the pitfalls, the insights of what one should do before returning and as we all know if you do not plan then it means you plan to fail. Too many managerial clichés. Right.