Sights and Sounds of Uganda

tourism-police

Didn’t understand this sign post about Tourism Police. It is a sign by the Uganda Police Force on the road to Masaka past the equator.

 

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Eucalyptus Forest in the background

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Tea plantation in Lugazi town on the road to Jinja City

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Fire burning around a story telling circle

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Driving past a forest

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After the rains on a road to the village

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Driving through a swamp field

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Festive Season at Malls in the suburbs of Kampala City

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Mango fruits

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Down pour of rain and the greenery of the suburbs of Kampala City

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Kampala City at night

Déjà vu all over again

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.

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The Kabaka’s Palace is attacked by Uganda government forces

source: WhatsApp

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.

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Omusinga wa Rwenzururu (King) palace under attack in November 2016

Source: WhatsApp

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.

Why, Why?

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.

Oh Uganda

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

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Omusinga wa Rwenzururu being led away from Kasese Police Station

Source: http://www.theinsider.ug/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/index.jpeg

Clearly, we need prayers for the people of Rwenzururu. Seeing their King (Omusinga) in such circumstances under police custody is not a pretty sight at all.

It breaks are people down

It demoralizes are people

It traumatizes are people

They look around for answers but get nothing satisfactory

It is a sad day indeed for the people

To salt or not to salt is the question

couple-discussion

source: http://paternitytestinglabs.com/how-to-discuss-a-paternity-test-with-your-partner/

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?

For once I am lost. So, lost.

source: http://www.saltopiasalts.com/health-benefits.html

Money: What I discovered?

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.

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source:http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1438732/uganda-improves-business-ranking

Dust aka Powder

The Powder:

One of the issues one faces when back home is the pollution of all sorts from noise pollution to sight pollution. This blog is talking about one pollution that really, really disturbs me a great deal. It is dust. In the local parlance it is called powder.

It permeates everything and cakes everything.  As a returnee it is clear that using the Boda Bodas does leave traces of powder all over the shoes and lower parts of the pants.

The cleanliness or lack thereof of a person is perceived by the powder(dust) on one’s shoes.

A lot of the discussion about powder in Kampala City and its surroundings is negative because in all honesty it is pollution of sorts. It causes discomfort through constant coughing, washing and dry cleaning of clothes, women doing their hair weekly and sinus issues.

dusty-road

Source: http://67.media.tumblr.com/f7def362736e2df533c9b623dba526f0/tumblr_nj0ypwoVXx1taw7tlo1_1280.jpg

On the other hand, there is a bright light in all this powder situation it has created employment for the many car washing bays that exist in an around the city.

One of the best smells vis a vie the powder, it is when it is about to rain and the first drizzle hits the roads before the heavy downpour. That smell to me signifies relief. Relief from the constant barrage of powder(dust). Relief that our clothes, hair, food and well-being will be dust free for as long as it rains. Oh what a relief it is more so with the sound of the rain. This is epic.

In regards to plants I wonder how photosynthesis happens when the leaves are covered with the powder. Do we get the right process as the leaves need sun light to carry out photosynthesis? Do we get the fruits or plants as they should look like?

Photosynthesis according to Live Science is ‘Photosynthesis is the process used by plants, algae and certain bacteria to harness energy from sunlight into chemical energy. There are two types of photosynthetic processes: oxygenic photosynthesis and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Oxygenic photosynthesis is the most common and is seen in plants, algae and cyanobacteria.’

http://www.livescience.com/51720-photosynthesis.html

I am no expert on such matters but the photo below does show a banana that looks sickly to me as it lacks it proper lustre and definition.

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source: https://theglobalnomadlive.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/powder-on-banana-leaves.jpeg

I wonder what other ailments befall us because of the powder that we will in later years’ attribute as the causes of the powder (dust pollution).

When I wake up and get that ample dose of powder I say to myself Welcome home Brotherman. Welcome home.

 

Dating: Ugandan Style continued

To Tip or not To Tip

The other aspect of dating that threw me off guard totally is tipping.

The simple gesture of gratitude for services rendered, tipping in other words, is loaded with mine field repercussions in Kampala city.

Yes, I use tipping as a form of litmus test for the ladies I date. If they are for it then she’s my type. If they are against it then I am going to move on and avoid future clashes of opinion about yes, you got it tipping.

In establishments that are well known brand names tipping is not a must nor is it one the service bill(receipt) you can tip according to the way you feel after the service, However, in the local establishments tipping means totally a different proposition.

My rule of thumb to tip it is 10% of the bill. Now most establishments in Kampala do not add that service charge on the bill(receipt).

When my friends sat me down to explain the pros and cons of tipping in Kampala City I was left in shock. I am made to understand that if I tip any waitress that is not working within the brand name establishments, places like Sheraton, Hilton or Serena Hotels then chances are that the waitress that has received my tip will feel obliged to return the favour on my ‘investment’.  It is the way that many men use this method of investment to get sexual favours. When I heard this I couldn’t believe that such a gesture could be construed too mean loads of other things you know.

Honestly, dating in Kampala is an expensive affair but it is loaded with mine fields of innuendos that one needs to understand before going out. I would not want to end up in the jail-house or at the end of a barrage of fists because of innocent actions taken by me without really understanding that they can cause some serious repercussions.

Dating in Kampala has its adventurous side of things as well. I found myself on the road on this high speed Boda Boda whizzing me from one place to the next with babe I am dating sitting in front of me and the Boda Boda guy in front of her. Making that three of us on this Boda Boda. The wind that was blowing in my face and hair really brought it back to me. I am on a date with this babe on a Boda Boda. I do not have to worry about the tipping or not to tip issues I am enjoying myself and the babe is leaning back into me. The warmth I got from such an innocent but real act of her leaning into me made the ride all the much better. What a way to enjoy the closeness of another person without it being lewd in a sense but very wholesome.

Only in Kampala City!

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source: Google

Dating: Ugandan Style

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source: http://proggie.ug/events/lets-mingle-uganda-speed-dating/

Women:

In Ug, love is equated with how much you spend on a girl. The more you spend on her the more she feels and knows that you care for her and love her. This is what I was told by the second girl I went out on a date.

This is a very new concept to me. As a returnee that wants to make sure that each dime lasts I find dating an extremely expensive affair that is only one way. By this I mean me spending, spending with nothing to show for it but a terrible bank balance. Welcome to Africa I have been told many a time. I seriously need to find a solution around this issue.

Having said that, the ratio of women to men in Uganda is high. They are extremely beautiful. The word ugly doesn’t exist in the lexicon vis a vie Ugandan women.

They look good and carry themselves with aplomb and stature.

Everywhere you look you see beauty in abundance. With this beauty comes caution, namely be careful these beautiful ladies a number of them are HIV positive and the ARV’s are making them look good.

These women don’t want you they want your money. Once it is gone you are gone too.

These beauties have many more men you are like one in 10 that she’s seeing.

I am yet to hear something positive. It is as if the women folk are a different specie to us men folk. There’s nothing that they do right except look a whole lot hot and beautiful.

Hot Cake:

It took me awhile to realize that my friend was referring to me. You see I had been advised that as a returnee and looking around for a partner I need to be aware of the following.

Just keep the correct company and you will be fine. Remember that you are a hot cake.

Be very cautious with our young ladies. Everything is about money here and we are talking big bucks. Also a golden man (meaning one in his fifties) is going to watch out what generation you target for a wife!

But there are some older not married ladies in our circles who would make good wives and give you peace of mind. By the time I got this advice I had already dated two ladies and I had spent some money on them. Their demands of what they needed from me varied from a new Smart phone, to a new wardrobe of clothes, to starting a new business a chain of Pharmacies, transport to and from work and the clincher I love you we can start a family together.

To me I took this as aggressive marketing right. However, when I was describing this to a friend I was reliably informed that it is desperation and returnees are seen as the glimmer of hope that will ease their predicament.

How then can one avoid such ladies?

The kind that milk you dry and professing to love you

I am told that it is the passage of time and that one has to go through such ladies in the dating game before you find the one.

The one, not the one to marry or be your partner, rather the one that will swipe you clean, professing her love for you, promising you a baby and then you would have evolved into a true returnee. I didn’t like what I was hearing and I made my views known. I had to short change this process immediately and I didn’t know how but I sure wasn’t going to be wiped clean. I couldn’t afford it financially nor could I afford it sanity wise.

The thing returnees have to undergo in the process of being immersed in the host country culture can be intimidating to say the least.

The more I paid more attention to the women folk the scarier I got.

Advice given was scary.

The caution given was scary.

Even fellow women spoke about their fellow ladies in such a way that I was left more petrified to say the least.

How then can one avoid such ladies?

I don’t know. But this much I know. I am not going to fall victim of them ladies that milk me dry.

babe-africa

source: Google.com

To Be Continued….

 

Friends that make the world go around

Love…Love…Love

And so the day begun like any other but with the rigmarole that surrounds life.

Sun was seeping through the cracks and hints of warmth, despite the dreary insides, promised a new day.

As the clock ticked on and on and the snooze button having been hit a couple of times, it was about time, to get up and face the world.

Brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror I had to convince myself that I am who I am even if others do not think so. I had to motivate myself with all the propensity that I could muster to take on the world. You see I had been told by someone I really and truly love that she was no longer in love with me. All my postulations about the luv I had for the said lady vanished in thin air. The cool and calm way I was told that it is over felt like a hot knife slicing through butter. It was gut wrenching, confusing, debilitating and above all else my world just stopped.

When I fell in love there was a lot that really went on within the body. From the chemistry, to the hormonal imbalance that led to a natural high. Therefore, when, the object of my desire said that I am no longer in love and do not want anything to do with you, my self-esteem takes a major thrashing and I questioned myself till the cows came home.

You see I had heard that love conquers all and in the end the winner takes all. I had also heard that all is fair in love and war. To me all these schisms meant nothing to me at the end of the day.

I can understand that love of a parent and a child.

I hadn’t understood the consequences of love between a woman & a man until I faced a heartbreak.

I could not eat and yet I did not get hungry

I could not sleep my normal 6 hours and yet I was neither tired nor sleepy during the day

I put a lot of effort and emphasis into my running and martial arts. In fact, I looked forward to the two things.

At work I was like a zombie. I was neither here or there. I was on autopilot. The good thing was that I worked the graveyard shift (night shift). As I didn’t have that many distractions at work with my mind, it became a breeze.

The only issue I faced was that when I woke up I thought about the lady. Before I slept I thought about the lady. It was then I realized this is what love really feels like when it is no more.

Friendships that make the world go around

In my state of utter confusion, I resorted to ask friends for help. They responded well and came to my rescue with all kinds of advice some were extremely practical like go to this website and read. Others their advice was way beyond the level I was at in that I had passed the many levels of grieving, sorrow, anger and the like.

These two links though helped me a great deal.

The one link I was given to read that I found extremely helpful in my healing was www.psychologytoday.com/blog/me-we/201406/the-7-stages-grieving-breakup.

The other one was http://www.2knowmyself.com/10_ways_to_get_over_a_breakup_fast

The actual show of friendship that I really appreciated and helped me immensely to solidify my bond was the friend that invited me to his home for the entire weekend. Fed me, housed me, we drunk together to the wee hours of the morning and it was cathartic to say the least.

You see the lady has been my first love. I have gone out with many ladies prior to this nevertheless, she has been my first love.

The ideal was to marry the lady in 2016. But this will not happen because she married someone else.

A lot of questions arose and they still do.

I met the lady through a mutual acquaintance and the talking ensued. We talked and talked. We then met. She was a tall, brown, beautiful African lady, curvaceous and vivacious. It was the voice that got me on the phone however, on meeting her, the smile got me. We had a blast and in the process of knowing each other I realized this the one the I would like to marry. The more I was around her I did tell her that I would like to marry her, and the guy that I am I even set up a timeline of when and how it will all happen. As things tend to happen I fell for the lady and it felt so good. At last I could clearly feel what it means to be in love with another human being not a child nor a parent.

The year moved by pretty slowly as we grew to know and understand each other. The disparity in distance was cut short by technology. We both lived on two different continents. Therefore, the use of Skype, WhatsApp and WhatsApp phone really brought the distance down to a minimum. It was the best year in regards to love and romance. That is why when it ended the heartbreak was humongous, paralyzing and left me with more questions than answers.

I had to pick up the pieces and move.

Prior to meeting the lady, I was extremely guarded and made sure that it had to be the right one to let go and fall. Fall in love that is.

Love hasn’t worked out for me. The feeling is so good but I am not going that route again. Once bitten twice shy. The heartbreak has really messed me up big time. I have been advised that I will outlive my first heartbreak. In the meantime, I want to relax and let me go through all the motions of the heartbreak after all never say never.

Love…Love…Love

my-love-for-you

Source: https://twitter.com/odhiambostanley

 

Keep at it! Ug is an experience!

Coming from abroad for many of us, returnees, we look like everyone else however, our thought process is totally different from the host citizens. This is understandable because as a Global Nomad, ours is to make sure that we adapt to each situation we find ourselves. We face various uncertainties and also have imaginary fears that we think about constantly.

I made mention of the fears. Some are real and some are far-fetched very real in the mind dynamics. For instance, the fears stem from not having enough funds to make the dreams on the motherland happen to the aspect that as I have no tangible assets I am a failure.

Success in my part of the world, Uganda, varies from which tribe you hail from, as in the pastoralists they will want to see me with a herd of cows and the agriculturalists a modest house with a shamba (farm).

Others is in the number of children and wife or wives.

Either way success is different from place to place within Uganda. As for me success is the ability to follow on a progressive ideal and seeing it through. Having that dream and making it happen now that I am on the motherland that is success in and of itself.

My life journey has been interesting indeed and my youth very colourful. Having been born two years after independence, the country has gone through upheavals from one generation to the next. The one thing that has remained steadfast has been faith in the forms of the various religions and beliefs.

What I have never understood is the aspect of citing God in everything. For instance, when someone is faced with an issue you will hear something like ‘this is how the things of the good Lord move and work.’ What does that really mean? To me it smirks of someone absolving themselves of responsibilities of making things happen. Go out there and hustle if need be however, do not give excuses.

The other is the road or rather driving ethics.  The impunity of the road driving culture and mindset is sapping. It is extremely stressful driving and one gets home with an actual headache.

Mindset

One of the wonders of driving in the city of Kampala is the roundabout. My understanding has always been that when a vehicle is in the roundabout you always wait for the cars that are coming from your right hand side. In Uganda we drive on the left hand side of the road and most of our vehicles have the steering wheel on the right hand side. Anyways the right hand side rule doesn’t count on the city roundabouts. It all depends on the maze and dexterity in how you manoeuvre in and out of that roundabout. For many like me that wait for the cars on the right hand side to pass, the taunts, the hooting and abuse one gets is amazing.

The motorcycles, commonly known as Boda Bodas, are an enigma. It is an amazing way to move in the traffic congestion, however, one wonders if they have any rules that they follow. They ride towards oncoming cars, the ride on road islands, they ride on pavements, on stop lights they keep on riding through the red lights. They are the law onto themselves and they are a cause of many road accidents. Yes, they are convenient, the trouble is that they compete for the same space of road, with bigger vehicles that sometimes do not see the Boda Bodas and fatalities do happen. The referral hospital, Mulago hospital, has created an entire wing just to deal with the accident victims of Boda Bodas accidents.

The anxiety in driving a vehicle in Kampala, comes from the aspect that the Boda Bodas overtake you from the left and right as you are on the road. This can be bewildering because you have to make sure that you do not crash into them.

The other issue is the taxi minibuses(matatu). They too create their own lane either on the left hand side of the road or on the right hand side of the road of the vehicle that you are driving or being driven. They overtake cars even when oncoming cars are driving towards them. The road accidents that we witness in the country are because of such reckless, daredevil drivers, with little or no regard to the lives of the passengers they carry in their taxi minibuses(matatu).

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Boda Bodas & Matutu in Kampala City, Uganda
Source: https://www-kiva-org.global.ssl.fastly.net/cms//import/fellows_blog_sp_import/boda21.jpg?w=455&h=326

If one is to use the driving culture of the city to gauge the mindset of the drivers, it is chaotic, dare-devil tactics, no regard to human life until it is too late and there is no regard to the rules and regulations of the traffic code. The battles one faces on a daily basis because of Boda Bodas is immense this is because of their strategic force on the political landscape and later regulating them becomes an issue. For the reason that of high unemployment the use of Boda Bodas reduces the statistics of the unemployed hence their political clout. Their organizations are a force to be reckoned with. Woe betide any politician that wishes to do away with them because of traffic congestion. They are here to stay on the political landscape as well as being part of the traffic disorder.

 

In the beginning was the obstacle, then the challenge and voila the solution

I am an African male, that has lived on three continents, a resident of the United Kingdom and a native from Uganda. I am an Alumna of Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii – USA and hold a Masters degree in Business Administration(MBA) concentration in Finance.

The reason I thought about writing this blog happens to be that doing my research to return home to Uganda, there wasn’t enough information in the cyberspace to help me prepare myself to the mine field I faced.

I found this improbable so decided to write a journal about various topics I witness and face because as a global nomad I realize my perception which is my reality is totally out of sync with those of my sisters and brothers from the motherland Uganda.

Enjoy the maze that I find myself in as I go around moving from one obstacle to a challenge and getting that aha moment with a solution.

Karibu (Welcome on board). Fasten your seat belts and join me on this journey.

flight-details