Sunday, April 30, 2006

in your neighborhood...

for a week every month, taking leave of all my senses, i volunteer at a small monthly magazine called The Education Times. i often ask myself why i do this. this month's latest installment reminded me just why. reproduced verbatim is a letter from one of our regular readers, a secondary school student:


dear editor,

I was so astonished and shocked by a word which came out of my uncle last holiday which made me lose respect in any man on this planet.

You know am a girl who is friendly to everyone, at school am friendly to all boys and girls plus teachers as well. When I go back home, I seldom go with a friend at the end of the term especially those who stay far away from school. Sometimes we live school when it’s late and such students can’t reach home. So I go with them and stay home when next day depart.

One holiday when I was in my S.5 (Five) I went with a friend and on reaching home after like 30 minutes, my Uncle sent me to a shop very far away from home but I went though it was a bit late. When I came back, we had dinner and slept. While in the bedroom my friend told me what my uncle had told her but I doubted because my uncle seemed committed to his wife (when we reached home, his wife had gone to her parents homes.)

When I was in S3, my uncle was told false stories that I have boys I was loving yet as I told you that I have friends both boys and girls, also these were my friends. By then I wasn’t living with him so he came home and beat me seriously and I used to dislike him neither to stay with him.

When I reached in A level, it was his place to approach for any problem from school and I was being told by my sister not to pass on him when I’m from school since he used to assist me.

Now I came to believe my friend’s words in S.6 2nd term’s holiday when I went with another friend of mine. By then, my uncle’s wife had been given a transfer to another place of work and now had to separate but my uncle used to visit her.

It was Friday when we went home with Beatrice—my friend. She was a little girl in S1 (don’t ask why I admired to be with a senior one girl because beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder). After an hour, my uncle called me outside where he had sat and asked me a question am still wondering up to now.

He told me, “can’t you find mature girls to be your friends like the one you brought last time? Why have you brought such a little girl like that? Can she fit me? I told you last time to find girls for me at your school but you declined why?” At first, I thought he was drunk but it wasn’t because he is a staunch Moslem, I thought he is mad/ going crazy (he had smoked opium but it wasn’t, but I actually wondered because he is a big respectable man in an important position in a given office.

According to what my uncle did, his appearance and respect in public, I could not expect that and this made me lose respect in any man on this planet.

Parents please!! Take note of this and advise your children about such things because such men might be affected with HIV/ AIDS and pass it to their children.

(name and school concealed)
Wobulenzi Luwero.

Friday, April 07, 2006


"My house is carpeted wall to wall! Have you seen it?! Wall to wall! The best carpets you can get! Wall to wall! You can sleep on them. I slept on them many nights. I have marble tiles on my floor. The best also. My wife chose those tiles and you know she has taste. She chose me. Hahahahaha! yes, she chose me and she didn't have to choose me. I wouldn't have chosen me the night she chose me and she chose me. yes, my wife chose those tiles and I haven't seen them in five years, they last more than a century the manufacturer assured us and they are the most beautiful in the world and I haven't seen them in five years and I don't miss them. Sarah won't admit it but she doesn't miss them either. I like carpets. Carpets are easy. Anybody can clean carpets if you they have a vacuum cleaner. Did I tell you how many vacuum cleaners we have? I have a special room for them. I buy every one of them because I test each one myself before I put it in that room. Technology is so wonderful! We have a house help but I like to vacuum clean our house myself. I’m good at it. I’m very good at it. One time I was certain this was going to be my job for life, the way I was going to earn a living. I have much experience with cleaning floors. Any floor I can make it clean enough to gleam. I’m better than the house help we have and I can clean better than any woman! I’m good at floor cleaning. I was good and I keep in practice in our house. Yes, I have said it, I cleaned floors. What's wrong with it? I cleaned floors. On my knees callusing my knee caps, stooping my back, I cleaned floors. I cleaned floors. I cleaned Kawunga's floors.

I was only 20 and the best years of my life were already behind me. I was old before I was ever young.
The hardest part to sweep in that building was the corridor to the studio. coming here to sweep Kawunga's studios I thought I would best be able to write my songs again. I thought being near music again would make me musical again. I was wrong. I would sit on the steps outside after cleaning and instead of the words for my new songs coming to my mind faster than I could write, I would simply sit there tired and remembering. remembering. that mango tree in the backyard of my father's house, in the middle of the garden of my mother's sweet potatoes, tall and slippery, how come I could climb it so fast and effortlessly yet no one else could? how did I use to do it? God, I could run fast. I did not steal on the street I was better off. some mornings being barked at by that woman to come and sweep that house, I used to wonder if the street life was not better. life was hard there but the kick in my ribs from surly askari on the changing of guard in the morning was once and it was not unkind.

After living on the street, you can't help but smoke and drink. I was smoking and drinking a lot. To be able to go and beg Kawunga for a job as the cleaner of his floor, I could not be sober doing it. Coming to Kawunga's studio, I did not think I would sweep his floors for more than a week. I thought he would see. I was sure he would see me. I was sure he would recognise me the instant I appeared before him. I thought he would look up and say, welcome we have been waiting for you a long time. I thought he would know me. I thought he would know who I was. I thought he would know I was Mesach Semakula. He did not. I cleaned his floors from 1996 to 1997. In 1998 you would hear of me."