Friday, December 28, 2007

Making New Friends at The End Of the Year...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hours to Go!!!

Tuesday 6:30pm, Entebbe, I’m coming home. Maybe for good. I’m coming home. My wandering days are far from over, they never will be. But I’m coming home. This December I will be breathing the same air Uganda breathes, the same paranoia, your day to day fears and cares will be mine. I will wonder if I and all who I love so dearly will survive Ebola and when President Museveni will come out and say something about it, stop being a poster boy revolutionary and show he cares, he is as worried about this as we are.

December will find me in National Theater to watch the again revamped Obsessions I met in Juba two days ago Beijing Hotel Juba, Ronnie Mulindwa still the brain behind that remarkable dance and singing troupe in a seat engrossed again in their dreams, I maybe seated next to you on my right because on my left she will be seated. Set date. 21st December.

Botanical Gardens Visitor, am keeping my promises this December, I’ll be there Yusufu, Thursday afternoons with my notebook scribbling with my Xuezi blue ink blotting pen my notes so that you can leave me alone to sit on that blackening wood bench to watch the lake once more. Before I come here on Saturday afternoon with her, the Gardens behind where I rented a house for her, packed with afternoon snacks we will not eat because she says I never let her get bored enough to want to snack on Pringles anymore, I will love her madly.

Life is not theory to me. Divorce laws in Uganda are my brother who is getting married this December and I wonder if he is going to be alright though I’m younger than he is and I have never told him how much it has honoured me that he chose me to be his Best Man. One of my few believers that I was not completely madandcrazy, he still wants me a part of his life and I wonder if he will be okay. I like the woman he is marrying. But I worry about him. I have seen his heart, held its gasping throbbing life in my bare palms in a night we thought he was dying and my father was weeping the first tears I ever saw in his eyes, living in that flat in a part of town we have not talked about since we left almost two decades ago. I remember that night. My curse is I do not forget. I love as much as I remember.

Blu*3 singing Working Woman in the best album of 2007 is my mother’s life. A woman among many who gave up her dreams I could have the chance to be Iwaya. Working Woman is MySun in my blogroll, few have I met so courageous as she is. Minty said somewhere that I used to have all the connecting links and I do not seem to have them anymore, Minty I do still have them, I just care so much more, I want them all to be alright, MySun teaching me that I can love all the world. I used to know all this from Percy Shelley but I needed MySun to remind me. I’m saying, Tandra, thank you and you know why, speaking to you bringing a little bit of my faith back, I leave more my clues for the wary than I should but you have changed my life.

Countryboyi said that I write about love too much. He recanted. But it stung. Let me explain myself. Writing, for me, is love. I cannot write about that which I do not love in some way. I’m listening to The Reason by Hoobastank praying there’s a reader who reads me line for line, I wrote this paragraph for you because only you perceptive reader would understand. I do not write about love in the sexual sense only though sex is oxygen to me. Clues to Iwaya here like never before. I could never live without physical sex. I’m just one of those people, will never change. I know this as certain as the sun will be in the Ugandan sky at some point today, I will see a flower by a roadside that will make me wish I had a digital camera, I will want to hear a Kiiba Herbert joke and Busingye Edward I still miss you more and more. My past is my future, inescapable ways revealed, before Destiny set. Ishta speaking of decisions taken before she was born, I’m taking them for the changelings that will be my children. I’ve found a reason to show a side of me that You did not know/ and the reason is You.”

I discovered Joy Division this year, this past month. Ian Curtis, studied myth, I was not too convinced. Strange nights those, Juba dreaming, watching The Notorious B.I.G on youtube, watching the Hit ‘Em Up video for the first time, grab your glocks when you see Tupac/ Call the cops when you see Tupac, appreciating that live Tupac was better, B.I.G was so shy it’s amazing he ever managed to shuffle onto a stage, but that voice remains! Have listened to Robin Thicke who reminds me of Justin Timberlake in so many ways, a singer I like in spurts of drunken glee; but I go back again and again to the original, the King who opens all The Doors of perception, Jim Morrison. We are not dark prophets of Paris nights dreaming of nights we tried to die anymore, we’re in the carnival of life again dancing wildly, husky lusty voice singing,

Don’t you love her madly
Don’t you need her badly
Don’t you love her ways
Tell me what you say

Don’t you love her madly
Wanna be her daddy
Don’t you love her face
Don’t you love her as she’s walking out the door
Like she did one thousand times before

To be on the march!!!

Love Her Madly

L.A. Woman, 1971, The Doors, Jim Morrison full throttle! Sunday through Monday counting the mad hours, I’m coming home!

See Me Change.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Juba Last Days

Baby, when we party we party!

There have been many nights and some slipped in afternoons of this, in restaurants rump leaning into the Nile. I’m one of the riders in the storm, everyday; this land will kill me. I have a week to go baby, and the slow mental arsenic poisoning has been upped. I’ve got to make it, somehow. Danger lurks everywhere and I never told anyone how much each day when my sweaty back sinks into my bare mattress, I’m shaking, my fingers tracing every line in my face, my voice in my throat caught, I can’t believe I have made it through another day, I will find no sleep until elbow sunk in the mattress, on my side again, I take several sips of this gin I have stocked up on. Oh yeah, baby, it’s that bad and I never told you. I don’t know how I could begin. I will never be able to tell you. I know I will look into your wonderful laughing face, and I will never be able to tell you the horrors I see and pass through everyday, I will make it all funny, I will make you laugh, baby, because this is why you love me so, I make you laugh good.

I know you’ll be laughing telling you about the night I walked half Juba, abandoned, and I don’t want to go into the details because into this world we’re thrown. Baby, you’ll find it funny. Killers on the road hunting for foreigners Customs Market brutality, Computer room detentions at Immigration borders kicked in the ribs while trying to squat as ordered, Baby, there is a joke in all this. How many VCT Centers in Juba, girls whose sero status is known through the grapevine looking for the one they had not thought of looking for before, now that the years are passing and the Juba dust cannot hide the wrinkles anymore want one man but all the men want is a one night stand, Home & Away bar and restaurant parked outside the gate 3am, give me a quick one in the car, no one will see, I got my Number One condoms here, double cabin blue pick up rocking side to side, never to call again because this network is so unreliable, Baby, you will be dying of laughter, I have laughed at the sights I have seen. Baby, I have seen more than I ever wanted to see.

How strangely wonderful, ironic even, I will be craving a return barely two weeks in Kampala, muddle water gazing into the future, whiskeys whose names I did not know in my system, I’m terrified of a Kampala return for so many reasons, Kampala has become too small, will I ever wander your streets rapt wondering like I used to, Baby you never got that of me. The desperate dust wind swirling lands are not in your streets, they have always been in my soul, Baby I’m a road man, will never cease motion, don’t love me so much. I don’t think you will know me when you see me again. Talking more than I ever talked, less tolerant, more impatient, time’s winged chariot brushes my left ear, and I know my time is running out, and Baby, it’s not that I’m afraid, I want more than I have ever wanted, I don’t know if you have all I want, I want so much more, so much. I do though still know this; I still find the whole world in a kiss from your lips.

Monday, November 19, 2007

--- '007 some

“Tonight they take me back to St. Francis' Hospital parking lot. I have ear phones on to block out my surroundings, but it's not really working. I'm getting a phone number from Persis. Her scared eyes. I won't ever forget those eyes.”
Idling at 4:18am
11:23pm Wednesday, Dec 20, 2006

This has been my first great year of disenchantment. I still want the same things I have always wanted but I want them more urgently. Your history is being written in a hip hop rhyme and you still can’t tell? The years of willful obscurity are nearly ended and I’m not certain if I’m wild bearded striding out of the wilderness and the desert parching desert left behind or lost, cliff edge headed, a precipice waiting. All I know is that it was written. I’m not going back.

I have gained Entebbe, this year and the last merging. A girl with dimples when she laughs, I have sat in the grass under the tree shades with her lying at my feet in Botanical Garden, matching flip flops kicked off, she sleeping, me watching the waters invade the stony gravy beach and swim out again, Saturday hot noons, Pringles and passion fruit juice she made. Sunday evenings. I have walked with her into town, the lights in our living room bright with night surprise we’ll be back, to buy Mulefu’s grilled chicken because I want all her attention, and she surprises me still with her fingers slipping into mine while I make up a tale to make her laugh, Entebbe in her finger tips.

I lost her, briefly, in Juba star gazing. What was I thinking? It’s a lie when they tell you that anyone is replaceable. No one could replace her. You have been wondering why I have not been blogging? I was gone in wanderings, far from her, I’m coming home again. All I want now is the smell of her skin when she is stepping out of the shower, she wants her towel, and all I can think about, before I get up to hand her thick pink cotton towel, is how so lovely is every part of her, and she calls me her miracle. How strange! I forget about my white, long sleeved office shirt, crushing her protesting glistening water wet nakedness in a hug to me; home is the smell of her skin, my nose nuzzling her neck. I was so lost. I nearly lost this, this year.

She said she misses me, my mother, laughing shyly, hesitantly, and I would never have gained this but for Juba, the first time she said it, something catching in my throat, an aching I did not know I still had. She says it more. So does he. Now that I’m in Juba, and these tales of disemboweled murdered Ugandan men in market stall disputes for yellow jerry cans of petrol, women spread eagled gang-raped, all they hear; it had to take this. I’m taking more photographs of me than I have ever taken in all my life, there are pieces of Sudan that I want to always be with me, I want to keep memories for the first time, live long enough to have a scrapbook maybe, know what a pina colada tastes like, I have taken sparkling brown tea in shot glasses in Juba, laughing, looked into the barrels of pistols, laughing. The hand of a killer is like any other hand, the beer they buy just as sweet, coming to Juba to discover I want to live in Ethiopia one day, Sudan has returned so much I thought I had lost, Juba flat city dreaming, I will remember the endless dark pools in your eyes.

Café Viva, Kampala, opposite Constitutional Square (you can call me when you get to City Square), Saturday evening, my new DVD player and laptop bags weighing me down, Michael, do you remember? It took you and Kaiza to ground me again, the city quiet preparing for CHOGM, talking about our own quiet revolution, only you two still know me in the way nobody else ever has, living on the reserves you banked. The years pass but you’re still my home guiding stars, in constellations I have no Magellan telescope to understand; be with me always!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Memories of Saturday Night Live

Saturday happened. Juba. I was the main man. It’s Monday now. People calling me are still going...

Friday, November 09, 2007

The writer I would rather read when I’m not writing…

She reminds me of Scotchbiscuits, she reminds me of Yuda (who stopped blogging), there’s a bit of Dante in her, Wine&Thunder and her connect, her vulnerability is Ishta’s when she’s musing, I think Minty might write like this if she wanted, I know she has Sam-Lady’s pathos, she has the bite Petesmama will sometimes surprise me with, even at her most revelatory she’s as elusive as LissingMink and Ugandan Insomniac can be, but she will take a stand like the two Dennis’s and not back down, while she can be frisky like Darlkom, she can also leave you sweetly musing like Jovialjitterz does, she is one of the very few writer’s I would happily give up my time to be reading. She is PuttySauce

"i was driving home from Bantam Lake tonight, and i instinctively reached over to the passenger seat to grab lauren’s hand. her hand feels right in mine, like New Haven feels right on a bike, like how a mug of coffee feels right cupped with both hands on december mornings. i hadn’t really thought about her hands since our third date which we spent memorizing every curve and fold of each others’ fingers in front of a movie at my place. later, we progressed to other curves and other places, but it was something about her hands that told me that i didn’t need to rush, that we’d have plenty of time to unfold each other. her hand in the car reminded me that we were incredibly lucky to have found each other.

it was even more than that, though. in that moment as my fingers had found and wrapped around hers, i had come out (for the first time....'"

lauren’s hands and the weight of the world

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Robbed Properly for the First Time

"Todays agenda, got the suitcase up in the sentra
Go to room 112, tell em blanco sent ya
Feel the strangest, if no money exchanges
I got these kids in ranges, believe them niggaz brainless
All they tote is stainless, you just remain as
Calm as possible, make the deal go through
If not, heres 12 shots, we know how you do
Please make yo killings clean, slugs up in between
They eyes, like true lies, kill em and flee the scene
Just bring back the coke or the cream
Or else, yo life is on the shelf, we mean this frank
Them cats we fuckin wit put bombs in yo moms gas tank
Lets get this money baby, they shady, we get shady”

Niggaz Bleed, The Notorious B.I.G

This happened.

I had strange, inexplicable dreams all last night, woke up near the end of this never ending night to the first rains pounding a slumbering Juba, a dry land’s thirst slacking, could not sleep again. Maybe this all has to do with the fact that my first night I was coming to acceptance that my first precious camera had been cribbed from me, happened the day before, in a humid office in the center of Juba, trying to do what brought me here, work, everyone but me gone to bars for a view of the Manchester United versus Arsenal show. Alone. Oh yes, those classic American gangster films do not exaggerate, the robbers do come gunning through the door, with a rolling stone menace and hooded sureness, for my camera, two of them, and I have not been this helpless since I was a school going child, at the back of the class, silently tearing in dreaded Maths’ classes. In her week old virginity she was still on my work table, a feast for my eyes, planning to go out and take more memories of this Juba land, she’s gone forever now, my dreams too maybe.

Well these dreams that never cease, my dark night morning restlessness was not about my beloved camera only, I did not even dream of her who I did not think would ever leave me. Maybe this has to do with the fact that all cajoling failed until I was in the wrong and she asked me, now that we are no longer talking, can you be my FaceBook friend? It had been months. Oh CHOGM greed, I forgot her face, transfixed drooling in the money numbers of this deal, how will I ever apologize fully? I said YES! The least I could do in my happy Sudan exile, hiding my shame from her eyes, would be her FaceBook friend. It’s something at least. Serving my term. Oh bittersweet joy! She’s still one of the few people teaching me something new, like within every momentous Café Viva meeting with Kaiza, I should have been on FaceBook years ago! I’m spending even some of my working hours holding tight on a wild crest wave of the web, exclaiming, discovering new delights, oh so many friends and possibilities in these FaceBook connections. Shelfari, now FaceBook discoveries within fingers’ caressing weeks distances of each other, I’m blessed beyond what I deserve! Laughing, there are so many people I know here, maybe I’m not so alone in this world, like some moments standing in the darkening evening, outside our office, waiting for hours to be picked up by my colleagues gone reveling, I fall into sulky conjurings, the blue painted mosque opposite us, I think I maybe.

There is Savage on FaceBook with some pictures I will never forget, Ivan bringing back vivid memories of Pacino brutal young in that Scarface poster, aren’t we all waiting to see the rise and fall of Denzel Washington in American Gangster? Few movies have had me counting the down of months like American Gangster, Jay-Z was here too, there’s so much at stake, I want to know can creativity be sustained all my life or have I become corrupted beyond redemption, I could not sleep on this night. Maybe I will lose my job, maybe I won’t. Hemingway told me not to think too much about it now I cannot sleep but I’m not thinking about it. Went into Aristoc Booklex before I came back, last Friday of the month for me, boarding Zeraf Coaches later in the night for the bus trip back to Juba, they were all out of Hemingway short stories or novels except for A Moveable Feast, my stomach for a moment fell away, had Hemingway abandoned me too? I enlisted Mao, the Unknown Story and heard not a word from 27th Comrade since! Joshi clued me onto Savage’s pictures, hours after I was robbed, giving me reason to laugh, stand up choking on a swallowed bean going down the wrong way down my throat because I eat while I work—or look like I’m working—you made it better Joshi. You too Savage. It was from you the first thunderstruck realization sunk in that I’m now of the kyeyo band, Stephen Crane help me out, that cowering mass whose heart always misses a beat, breathless, will this police man be friendly or hostile? I have been thinking of us all in foreign lands far from home, I could not sleep, we are so many, the saddest Kampala evening for me was when I learned Dennis Matanda was of us now too. How many more of your prophets will you kill? Undo is holding on at least, Lira-lost to me, in Uganda still.

This is my second month in Juba. I have been robbed every month I came here. Lost the Nokia I was so proud of, had not been mine more than two months, the Kampala afternoon Ivan helped me buy it still vivid, preparing to leave Uganda for the first time in my life, Mutaasa Kafeero haunting. Sometimes idly rummaging about in my black leather bag she bought me, I still find myself, hope growing, hoping to find it again still there when I turn this folded black trouser just the right way, lying there, a photograph of her still my screen saver. I still miss my phone. I already miss so much I have lost; did it have to be my camera? I will try not to be bitter. I still love Juba.

Nobody told me this, expatriate musing and dreaming in the sitting room red sofa the windows open behind me on this morning when I could not sleep, the first three months in a foreign land are the hardest. It’s taken me so long to miss anything of Kampala, I was not missing her. But suddenly on this night of a night I did not expect to come, in a week when I had also seen with my own eyes, a pistol pulled out in an argument in a Queen of Sheba bar I was in and plonked hard on a dark forehead mule-headed, finger on the trigger, pistol puller one of my new Sudanese friends, I missed her more than I thought it was possible, desperate to hear her voice, she seemed to know I wanted hear her to say “Yay, yay” when I called her, shaken. I was so grateful for her voice. For her. Oh this expatriate loneliness. As long as there are certain people in this world, I will never be truly alone, thankful for this comforting illumination, I’m still in Juba for as long as I can remain!

“You ain’t harming me!”
Brooklyn’s Finest, Jay-Z & The Notorious B.I.G

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Many Muses

This is for Tshila, who will never read this; Café Pap, Friday evening, impatient to get out of Kampala again; I was listening, when you were talking about him. Your eyes made me cancel my coffee order.

I love women more than I should ever confess. But not all my muses have been women. The women have lasted the longest though. This is no paean or maybe it is. I don’t know. The drink doesn’t help me sleep anymore. The black Suzuki I loved is off the road, I can’t park by the Nile anymore playing Beera Nange by Tshila trying to sleep, trying to decide if I want to drive on to Akok Riverside Hotel or into silent town to Juba-Raha, must stop at Queen of Sheba. Insomnia is romantic only on paper, take some dawn drinks with me, no city has haunted me like Juba haunts me. I’m certain my staked future is somewhere in your taciturn lazy sitting afternoon, dark brooding faces watching me drive by, after lunch when work ceases, waiting for the Muezzin’s 6pm call to prayer. Juba, your still innocence is like a five year old girl’s cheek kiss. No one will ever love you like I love you. Sleep sometimes still comes in your embrace. Beera Nange…sija kwerabira olunaku lwe wangamba nti oyalagala oku beera bwomu…ebigambo bimbuze…mukwano…all my prayers are for you…all my muses are gone.

I was in love with her because she was in love with me. I will own up now. I still listen to Michael Learns to Rock sometimes because we did some things to Breaking my Heart that many lone dawns have failed to banish from my mind. I still start awake some nights. For her. Her hold so strong, so long on me that when five years later she wrote me a letter, I left the school I was in midterm, left home, traveled two towns further than I had ever been to be with her for a weekend that became a fortnight. Getting drunk to Breaking My Heart I did not think I would ever love a girl again, learning why the gods say goddesses and men must never love. She was responsible for all my heartbreaking sins. Teaching me it was okay for a girl to ask me out. My near eternal Achilles heel. I still need to be drunk, after thinking of her, to sleep.

Perfect dimples belong to her. Before there was Poetic Justice, before there was Janet Jackson, there was her. Teaching me I could be a more effective rebel who wore my green tie and tucked in my white school uniform shirt, the girl for whom afternoon classes were skipped, I did not think of forever but I knew it would never end. I have been everywhere again where you took me. Since us. Muse before I knew what muses were, caught unprepared. Will this longing never end?

I used to be terrified of formidable women before she was my muse. Let me rephrase that. I used to be afraid of women preceded by their formidable reputation and she had more than one. Knowing her before I thought she would ever even bother to know me. I had never actually seen her, did not think I would like her, until the day I did see her, compelled into her presence. I will never see anyone lightly scratching the tip of their nose without thinking of her.

I never thought I would be worthy of her attention. Starting at the bottom in the scales of her eyes. The strange quiet one who never went for lunch not because he did not wish to mingle but because he could not. To this day I do not understand why she let me use her seat and her computer when no one else seemed to notice I was in the room when I was, a perspiring silent absence; I have heard of music collections but none moved me more than the one she had on her computer, the wails of those songs telling stories her severe black suits would never tell as well. Of all the muses I ever had, she was the muse I have needed the most. You were my courage belt.

She has by far been the best muse I have ever had and I’m afraid I’m losing her. I know I’m losing her and I cannot blame my being in Juba roaming for the distance that is growing between us. I have been in the passenger in the taxi backseat pulling away many times enough to know she is the one being lost to me. I’m the one with the wistful smile, my muse falling into what seems true love, she will never be mine alone again, she is no longer mine.

Last time I saw her, in Kampala briefly, I took a week to go see her because I knew she would leave me standing in the reception area where she works, the time would never be enough again, 5pm for others she still has meetings to go to. My many splintered muse had it together finally, not knowing whether to push my chest out with pride because there was she was, so in-charge, or no chest slouched shoulders leave the premises, she has forgotten me. I stood there, losing her. Not quite sad.

I stay up nights now thinking of another more than I ever thought of any other. I know it’s happening again, I’m laughing, it’s silly, really I should be beyond this, but it’s happening again. I make her laugh just to hear the chuckle in her laugh, I call her up when she does not expect me to be calling her to hear how she sounds before she realizes who is calling, I’m trying out new nicknames, thinking of places where we are going to go, talking to her by phone, by email, and yahoo! messenger, her favourite slangs’ entering my everyday speech, I want to know every thought she has ever had. I have never been able to talk to anyone for hours like I can talk to her, she is the muse I did not expect. The one Muse heart and head are willing to agree on but for circumstances; it’s like I have never gazed into a girl’s soul before her, I’m a kid and man before her. Not falling in love with her is harder everyday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is This Why People Love Wrestling?

My Life as A Fake

Am I a compulsive joiner? I don’t know. I don’t think so. Nevertheless. I just joined another internet interaction group and I have no idea what this says about me. that’s where I’m for the moment. You can go there too if you want to know what I’m currently reading or think is worth reading. I have no idea why I should even begin to think you would give a hoot about what I’m currently reading but there you go! Perhaps it’s this mood I refuse to acknowledge currently permeating all my life that makes me think this way? I would rather not think too much about it!

Dennis Matanda introduced me to, great site! You could go there too if you want. I don’t know how am going to sound with this but since I have been in Kampala the last week, gorging myself on cheaply bought books on that pavement opposite Radio One in my lunchtime hour, I thought I might as well tell you which book am currently reading, halfway through it in fact. I’m reading My Life as A Fake by Peter Carey.

For the longest time I held off reading Peter Carey until this week when in Kampala, I bought me a copy of My Life as a Fake at a pavement stall. I now know why I secretly dreaded opening a Carey book. A few pages into My Life as a Fake, an absorbing disturbing novel about literary hoaxes and lives, a mounting fear is gripping me.

Carey has made me care for characters in a novel like I have not cared since I was a child reading Penguin classics from Robert Louis Stevenson to F. Scott Fitzgerald and I will remember reading Charles Dickens David Copperfield all my life. I had not cared for characters in a novel that much until I begun reading Carey’s My Life as a Fake in a minibus taxi on my way to work from Entebbe this morning.

I’m so afraid for Sarah Elizabeth Jane, the narrator of this novel, trapped between two old men and their memories and they seem bent to exploit her in some sort of twisted revenge bid. I don’t know if John Slater, pompous man of letters with miniscule talent is her protector or her ultimate betrayer like she thinks he led her mother to commit suicide and drove her father to drink and a death less than what one can talk about in civilized company. But then again it might be that the real danger to her sanity and what’s left of her innocence maybe destroyed by the strange relic from another poetic age called Chubb in a Kuala Lumpur side street, a white man living like a native with blisters and a strange disturbing sanctity.

I’m most disturbed though that I may find out I too have been deceived by Jane who I already care for more than this tale of smoke and mirrors warns me I should not be. I want to stop reading now but I know I will not!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Poetic Justice

Before I had ever heard Again by Janet Jackson, before I had ever listened to a Tupac single, fire in the belly!, before all this, there was Poetic Justice

I'm going back to movies that used to make stay up all night, gripped by a human story which when I groggy from all night watching, stars in my eyes, deep breathing, I talked to friends. In tumbling confessions from their lips, lives like reflections on broken glass in the grass, discovering the same stories were in their lives. I'm going back to movies...that moved me...about my life....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not Exactly Ear Worms...

Baz, Jackfruity, y’all are to blame for starting me thinking about my Desert Island collection of songs I cannot live without. Some I play every damn day and their magic never wanes. Music I listen to on days when my coffee cup is empty, Juba Sunday afternoons when I do not want to go to the Nile shore with the guys, when there is pending work and I’m trying to remember how Thomas Mann said he had to learn discipline, on mornings when I’m alone in the office the weight of my new responsibilities crouched in the corner, a year to the day when I last received an email that I wanted to read through again and lovely Ishta sent me one, I listen to these voices. Wafting me to worlds that exist in the many roomed mansions of my mind…remembering my own story behind each song…who first made me listen…compact discs to my laptop Media Player…

My Struggle songs

In constant rotation

1. Everyday Struggle by The Notorious B.I.G or Sky’s the Limit
2. Nobody Knows The Trouble I have Seen by Sam Cooke
3. Only God Can Judge Me by 2Pac
4. Rock Bottom by Eminem
5. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
6. Nkoye Okwegomba by Philly Bongoley Lutaya

Mack my word!

Songs that leave me still tingling…still figuring…

1. You’re Nobody (Till Somebody Kills You) by The Notorious B.I.G
2. Riders of the Storm by The Doors
3. Still I Rise by 2Pac
4. Bad Boy by Amani
5. Fire Anthem by The Bashment Crew
6. Maniac Monday by The Bangles
Honorary mention. 7. Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits

Now if you were the girl…

Love paeans I will never get enough of

1. Another One by The Notorious B.I.G
2. Kim by Eminem
3. Ghost Ship by Sting ****not having that one*** If He Loved You
4. Beera Nange by Tshila (new entrant)
5. Red, red Wine by UB 40
6. San Francisco by Vanessa Carlton
7. Driftin’ by Jimi Hendrix

Never been a fan, but I respected...

What do I remember about Lucky Dube?

That he was loved more devotedly by Ugandan music fans than they have ever loved another singer. That his songs were not just songs to his fans but a secret writing to create a better world. That the taxi I was in this morning from Entebbe fell into a deathly silence as the news crackled through the radio. That silence continued even as the presenter moved on to other news items, numb shock on all faces. That I did not have joy all day though I deserved it today, Lucky Dube on my mind. No singer has made me respect him without being a fan like Lucky did.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh Michael, You Were So Right!

I want to wail “I’m a mess!” I want to cry she has left me and I’m in this room on the floor bawling my eyes out. I want to…but I cannot, there is no reason to. The shimmering tears in my eyes are from joy. Oh Michael, you were so right! I’m listening to Beera Nange (Be With Me) by TShila and I can no longer vow there is no Ugandan singer whose concert I will ever buy tickets to. I have found her! I will buy tickets to her show to hear her sing Beera Nange. I have not been this moved in so long. Oh Michael, you were so right! She is divine!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Friday Evening in Kampala

I have had too many of these.

This post is for the person in your life still standing next you when you have humiliated yourself to depths you did not think you had in you, to the person who still loves you, cleaning your vomit off a floor that is not of the house you built, the person who will wake you up in the morning just before lunch with a brunchfeast with a loving smile, or who on nights you think morning is too far, you call up after midnight and they are not annoyed you’re calling. (I have been blessed with several). From my friend, Jack Mataachi, this is especially for the one reader who read KIM +14, the last of that series.

“I'm sorry for the things that I did not say
Like how you are the best thing in my world
And how I'm so proud to call you my girl

I understand that there's some problems
And I'm not too blind to know
All the pain you kept inside you
Even though you might not show

If I can't apologize for being wrong
Then it's just a shame on me
I'll be the reason for your pain
And you can put the blame on me

You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me”

AKON, Sorry, Blame It On Me

I have not had so many evenings that I went back home at the end of the day and I wanted to flip open my laptop and record what I felt on the evening in the company I had kept. I have had too few evenings like that I can still count them on my fingers of one hand. For the longest time, two bloggers had contributed to two of those evenings that now number four in my memory. But I had expected them to be memorable and I was not disappointed when at the end of the evenings, many Guinness bottles later in Garden City The Venue on some of my first visits, those nights, those evenings still live in my memory like I’m relieving yesterday night’s events, and the blurry headachy line is not because I have a hangover but am trying to recall every detail.

The memories of evenings I will never forget given to me by bloggers are upto three now. The third memorable evening by a blogger was by Dennis Matanda and he did not know what he was doing. Did not intend a 30 minute meeting that ended with me jumping out of his car opposite Cairo International Bank on an evening when he was rushing to present his show at KFM Radio in Namuwongo and the mechanic was rushing on a boda Dennis had paid for to his garage to pick his tools and Dennis thought it was absolutely crucial I read a book by...oh I could never keep those South African author names in my head, on an evening I was going to meet her after a whole horrible week without her presence and a friend was dropping into bankruptcy crying out for help and I could not help though I passed by his business everyday to survey the wrecking of his youthful dreams, I did not expect an evening of hope when I had packed hope in a suitcase, launched that suitcase of dreams on a sea of dreams and never heard from it again, Dennis on that Friday evening provided the first scrambled signal that the suitcase had not drowned, 10 years since I last heard from it, and I was writing novels for adults when I was 14.

It would seem that my sweaty boda arrival did not matter, that I had got lost so many times and I had not had enough money to beep him on my phone bought on debts I would never be able to pay until I left the job I had then, to Dennis all these ceased in importance, strode-led into a world he admitted happily was Ivory-Towerish, my Kikuubo sensitivities not aroused and the secret communist did not cock his AK 47, Stalin has betrayed us so many times, I had wanted to see more, Dennis so large hearted, I was wondering how someone in his 30s in Uganda could still be so innocent in his suppositions, old before my time, becoming young again as I listened to him describing how he had acquired one book like it was the day he realized he could read and how thankful I was you switched on that Air conditioner and you did not move your nostrils to show me that that the Fa deodorant I had worn earlier that morning had worn off, a banker who did not talk like one to me, you had me wondering, walking down to the Old Taxi Park, past Radio One that broke my brother’s heart years’ of service after but never mine, I’m Iwaya! The one possible breaker of my heart broke it before she knew she had broken it, I’m Juba wandering now, staring inside pistol butts and there is no fear in my soul, Patrick know what I’m talking about, ready to die before I was born. You made me have faith on that evening, Dennis, the scents of Hotloaf bakery next to Tourist Hotel not yet wafting my way to remind me of morning table breakfast realities you have probably never had to in Buddha sobriety contemplate on brought me back before I shoved and pushed my way into a taxi to a destination that makes the existence of Iwaya continually possible longer than I thought he would last.

How many times do you think I have heard it said that an intelligence like I reflected for you is rare? Anywhere in the world? I was 9 years old when I first heard that from a teacher who I sensed had more than maternal attraction to me and I was not wrong, stone seat sliding, Saturday afternoon, coaching day, she had nothing new to teach me. Except that. My Christian Lady of Regrets, I understand Catholic guilt better than you will ever fathom. You had me asking questions no one would ever answer looking me in the eye. I remember the Thursday evening I took shelter under Teacher’s House on Bombo House, certain of my canes from my father because I had not been the first in my class when we both knew it was not my fault, I never hated you like you though, the world cleared in the rain. Dennis, I have known facts you will never know, my last real evening in Kampala before I left, you gave me a reason to come back.

I have said this before.

How does one survive Uganda? You drink a lot. You need that facility-ability. The drink is not because you’re an alcoholic or because you’re looking for an excuse. The drink is not because you want to prove how much you can take and still function much better than most of your colleagues. The drink is to dull your reactions your country. To the waste abundant you have to confront everyday. A waste that begins with you because no matter how much praise you get, in the nights after midnight when all the rest are asleep and your restlessness keeps you awake, only you know how much your abilities and talents are not being utilized by a country and an environment that would most benefit from your services. And it is not vanity speaking but a dire need to be used for the functions for which you were created and everything in your being reminds you are supposed to be doing.

What drives you to drink is not because of your current unemployment where you know you are most needed. What drives to you drink, early morning tippling before you brush your teeth, when she is still in bed, and you bade the children a good day at school, is because you know you will never be needed. You will never be called upon by your own country to help build her. All your life she will not need you, she who you were built to serve at your best because for various reasons you are sure you were not born at the right time. It is what makes 11am come around and though many people would think you’re drunk, you can’t walk in a straight breathalyzer police line, you are more aware of your fall than you would ever be if you were completely sober. The sinner without original sins of his own except against his talents. What drives you to drink is the realization that begins around 3pm every night that not only will you never be called to serve your country, but that you will never be needed enough for your country to search you out.

I dream of death more than anyone I know. False visions of my demise, I have become an expert in spotting; I have been having these dreams since I was a child. Death does not stop me anymore, spurs me more.

Know this.

Iwaya cares. More than Iwaya cares, Iwaya is on your side.

“Enemies give me reason to be the last motherfucker breathing.”
2Pac, Breathin’

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When I Could Write Happiness...

This is for Scotchbiscuits who wants me to write happiness and Countryboyi, seconded by Haji Zack who onced wondered if I could ever write about anything but love. I used to. This is from five years ago, when I could write happiness and about everything but love!

"It was a hot December afternoon, the last day of school before the holiday break. The science class in its dying minutes was the last of the term. Seated in the fourth row on a desk for two between two girls, Janis Ntindo could hardly contain himself. With every pause the teacher now made his and the class’s hopes soared that he was finishing only to be crushed a new as he resumed. With the rest of the class still awake, he was damn impatient to get out and though he loved the science lessons, with the many dozing, was bored.

Christmas was not more than three weeks away and there were m any preparations still to be made! He wanted to get home and join in the fray and confusion! He could hardly wait and from the conversations he had had with many of his friends, overheard and the look on many faces now he could tell he was not the only one.

It did not matter that they now lived in a dilapidated flat in a not so reputable part of town. He had always wanted to live in a flat! Have lots of neighbours and friends his age! Whatever was happening, Christmas had always been special! Memorable, rising like a colossus above the irritating sameness of live as usual to abundantly colour and transmute with immeasurable possibilities not only the vast opportunities the two month holiday could bring and the new year but also crowning gloriously the end of a year, a school term, another class. The promises of this wondrous future embodied by all the beautifully wrapped presents and gifts, decorations, the Christmas tree! There was the food too! The best part of it, for him however, was the anticipation, the preparations, the waiting!

To think that they had to continue coming to school so far in December when all this was happening infuriated him!

Yet in its own way too, it increased the excitement especially the part when he left home everyday reluctantly and then spent the whole day impatiently wondering whether when he returned he would find the flat a shimmering oasis of Christmas season particulars as if by magic waiting for him to open the festivities; the guest of honour. It was a drug all of its own intoxicating more and more everyday and today was the final day! All the pretence he now fathomed in the agitatedness in the air as time unhesitatingly ticked to 3:30 p.m.

Books were disappearing from desks, bags sharply zipping shut and all eyes restlessly drifting to the windows and some beyond to the road outside the barbed wire fence where cars with parents eager to pick up their sons and daughters were increasing. Sighs, mutterings were becoming audible though the disciplining bamboo cane lay in full view atop the teacher’s table. The teacher had no choice...

“I wan all this work on the first day of next term, you hear?” Sternness in the voice. No one was paying attention anymore except Miriam, the class monitoress, gathering up into a neat pile the textbooks the teacher had entrusted her with on her desk. Grins and smirks met the teacher’s last statement, shoes now freely loudly scrapping against the dusty cement floor.

As the teacher departed,

“Be careful and have a nice holiday and a merry Christmas.”

The reaction was explosive! Janis found himself with other boys scrambling over their wooden desk for the door, the girls were shrieking in indignation, some screaming as unsteady figures striding over them threatened to lose balance and at the door, all sexes pushing and shoving and pressed against each other like a pack of rugby players in a scramble, gusts of hot air escaping from open mouths into other grimacing mouths, the heart pounding in each chest whose possessor was in the thick of the fray.

The door spat them into the long cement corridors and the long cement corridors into the dazzling sunshine where many white shirts with brown shorts or pinafores transversed the graveled centre of the school, each fleeing from one source to a more attractive destination; the class of a friend perhaps with temptations to come out and play, with plans for holidays’ engagements to be finalized at last, the tall yellow and maroon buildings sometimes loved, many times loathed during the dying term seeming to kindly look down upon these small, buy creatures that no longer needed their shelter.

He was among them! He moved from one activity to the next in a ferocious whirl sweat dripping from his flushed face, determined not to lose contact with the throbbing, rushing current.

To leave the school at the peak of this gaiety, to walk away out of its rickety copper gates, down the dusty cracked stairs and onto the road leading home, maneuvering his way through the endless stream of cars on Buganda road picking schoolmates he knew and did not, was the supreme moment of living and he felt himself overflowing with joy!"

From yet-another-unpublished novel, mine-- Last Christmas

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Play A Sad Song We Know

(For Cavalier & the many semi-returns)

I could not be there for the magic and the wonder.

Play a sad song we know. The truths of the heart are too sad to reveal here. Oh play a sad song we know. I leave for work and I come back home everyday and I’m not sure in which hours I’m alive, only if they could play a sad song we know.

I have stopped searching for magic anymore in surprise restaurant dinners, Friday night, waiting like a hopeful waiter for his tip for your reaction to the seats with a view of the street I have been trying to get. The magic is not anymore in a Tuesday afternoon Old Taxi Park sidewalk purchase, the sandals you used to have as a child and have not had for years.

It’s not in the taxi trips to see you, the tense moments before I leave my room, looking around one more time at the jumbled unmade bed, the jackets I meant to wear and did not this week, the blog posts on white paper of so many I printed out scattered on my floor, wondering, frowning, what have I forgotten and knowing I will never remember because I can hardly wait any longer to walk out of the gate on quick feet, shoes crunching gravel, to get to a taxi that will bring me to you. The magic is no longer there.

My heart still jolts when my phone screen lights green with the nickname only you and I know I gave you one night we will never forget but that magic is not the magic it was, and I do not count anymore how many times you call me in a day, SMS me or send me an email. The magic is not there. I still look up when a girl with your name is called, my heart on wing, but no, the magic is no longer there too much.

It’s in Saturday afternoons, after the swim, watching you sleep on my towel, palms under your cheeks, under our tree, strange smile hovering over your lips, dimple in one cheek, one stretched out to hold mine under yours. Oh play a sad song we know.

My spirit is calm in this still bottled panic. I have found the silence in the bedlam whirl of my life, I’m the unbreakable lever, a fulcrum of many worlds, waiting to play a sad song we know. Street corner prowler, I’m still singing my song, trying to sing before there were the bright lights, the monthly planned days, fan tours behind tinted car windows, ties I still find hard to knot, one name recognition, I’m still searching for a stage to play a sad song we know. Oh play a sad song we know.

Oh play a sad song we know. I still know where I kept that guitar.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I LOL'd!

Having Company? Guess Which Guest Kitty Will Like Best ...
Posted Fri, Aug 03, 2007, 10:00 am PDT

Does your cat always seem to end up in the lap of the one visitor to your home who's allergic? Or maybe it's the one visitor who doesn't like cats? Why is it that, very often, your cat-loving visitors get passed over for the one person who doesn't want to interact with Fluffy?

Most cats are friendly to everyone who comes through the front door, but other cats are very concerned with potential territorial intrusion. These cats don't necessarily want somebody barging right over to pick them up and interact. So while your cat-loving visitors may be just trying to be friendly, the act of reaching down to pet or pick up your cat before the cat's had time to investigate this unfamiliar person can cause your cat to back away.

The cat-avoiding visitor, however, makes no move toward the cat, and usually avoids eye contact. That may actually allow the kitty to feel comfortable enough to come closer for an investigation of this stranger. As the cat inches closer to sniff the visitor's shoes, the visitor makes no overtures. This is another indication to the cat that there is no immediate threat. The cat may then jump onto the couch, sit next to the visitor, and continue to check her or him out.

If YOU have a cat who's suspicious of strangers, tell your guests to let the cat set the pace! As always, it's just at matter of looking at things from your cat's point of view, and learning to ... Think Like a Cat!

And now some smut...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Scared of No Nigga

“I was the baby boy, I could do no wrong.”

Been here five days, fuck that, I’m loving it here. Life is hard, each day is a beat-down to survive and life is so precarious I do not know if I will eat today. I thought I had lost it but I had not. It is still here. Tougher than ever. I’m laughing all the time. Nothing stresses me. At least I was not fired on the first day here like the other guy. His first few hours in Juba, right from the airport, his laughter was gone. We are in a car and we do not know if we will get where we are going. The road is a slush of deep, rich brown mud, and if this car dies here we will have to come out and push. The dread because we know there is no water at home, we will have to go to the borehole and get it ourselves. But if we are to do that we will not have supper because supper here is first come first served and then all that is left are the beans with weevils and matooke that is so sweet it is like eating mashed bananas then there is nothing to do. I love those times.

Meal done with, shirt off, we are seated on the stairs of the dormitory style house we live in grassing. Talking. This is like counseling time, everyone talking of how their work day has been except they are saying it like they are not talking about their workday. It’s this and that and though no one smokes, it feels like this is illicit pleasure talking smack about the boss who pays all the bills in half hearted fashion and the comedy that is life here in Juba, but others have been further than Juba. They have been to Wau, Yei, Darfur, Bor and all the towns and small villages in between where they are received like they are a delegation sent down the mountain by God.

Yeah, there is this guy talking about how often he was ill, head hot and vibrating like there was an all night dance going on inside his head and it was morning but he was the last man standing at his station. Everyone had already been bussed back to Kampala malarial, and somehow everyone was counting on him. All he wanted was sympathy, tell me you understand, that’s all. But there’s none here and you work even when your legs can barely keep you upright, he was told when he said he was too ill today, “This is Sudan.”

Look at this philosopher, the wryness not coming from his years on this earth, he does not eat anything that he knows comes down Juba from Khartoum because he heard that the Arabs want to render the Southerners less fertile and “I have not yet done anything for my family. You want my girlfriend to start complaining when I’m become a sterile action pump?” his eyes might see different ways, but he has a talking voice like you will never hear anywhere else and there is a richness when he guffaws he does not miss TV, any sort of TV, because “I’m living in the Big Brother House itself. This is Big Brother Sudan. You get to watch all types of characters.”

He is beyond it all, he says little, speaks in staccato, but everyone waits because what he says comes from a year and half of living here, “I’m the grandfather of living in Sudan.” He has never been ill, he has never gone back home, he is not on the run, he enjoys the solitariness and silences of Sudan and he is happy manning stations where no one else will go, he sleeps ready to go, in the couch in what we could call the sitting room, “My double bed couch,” every night. Life is in his grim lopsided smile. “When Sudan loves you, it takes you into its heart and you will never want to live anywhere else.” He has eaten foods that make other stomachs cringe here and when he tells you of how he has seen men in the bush squat by River Nile and dip their faces in the chalky, dirty water and gulp then get up and walk away, you believe.

Everyday is a lifetime and I’m loving it!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Juba Bound

Smile your smile for me one more time…

Tonight I go,
I do not know when I will be back
Or who I will be if I come back

Tonight I go
My friends tonight I go
This is not the sacrifice of innocence
This is the gaining of experience I want to believe
Tonight I go

Tonight I go
I will not be back for many days and for many nights
I do not know when I will be back
Or how I will be if I come back
I’m saying farewell
Tonight I go

My friends tonight I go
Pray for this wandering soul I will miss you!
I’ll miss my Bumble Bee
Curt tongued
Severe like fashion panel judge
Feather soft heart ill concealed
Tonight I go, how I will miss you!

Tonight I go
My rucksack is under my swivel chair
Favourite notebook of mine
That reminds me of Pete’s smile is on my desk
I’m ready to go, these are my last moments
I know
Tonight I go, how I wish your smile was not only in my heart

Tonight I go
I will not be coming back for many a day, many nights
I will not be here anymore, why do I want your song once more
The transition is over for
Tonight I go

Oh my friends, oh my lovers, oh my heart companions!
Embrace me one more time for
Tonight I go
They’re hooting outside in the dark for me
Tonight I go

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


No one told me there would be days like this. Days when I do not want to listen to music. Bring the headphones to office, there’s music aplenty all begging to be heard and all day I look at the headphones forlornly on top of my computer CPU and I never once reach for them, never want them but I will be bringing them here again tomorrow. Weathered battered friends of many months, black muffs slightly coming off, you been with me through the most noises and now all I seem to want is silence and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days when I come in, sit down in the seat I once coveted, hey, even made a few not like me, and I don’t know where the day went, I’m getting up to go, the day is done and it seems I did not sign in for this day. But it is not just this day, many days, I come here and it seems I did not come, how strange, I’m not drunk I know. The days pass with my back to the window and though I hear the drizzle that comes more often this year than it ever has and though I hear the laughing children’s voices chasing after their feet on slippered gravel outside, that old gray Mercedes Benz coughing to start and sputtering--he’s tinkering with it again, the scent of boiled maize floating basket-by, I never turn around and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days like this when I see her everyday and I see the cad she thinks I’m in her eyes but I will not do anything about it, like it was not me that was there. She greets me and my sometimes grunted reply does not betray that I have heard her voice in cries that made my heart leap, made her laugh afterwards when I asked her whether I could patent that. That was me. But I sit here, days on days, Lord knows I know how many times she has run to the bathroom and everyone asks her why she does not like her bright floral dresses anymore, they miss her lunchtime chatter, I did that, I could bring it back, but I don’t and days pass and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days when I look into my once coffee cup but there are no stain marks around the rim now, I have not drunk coffee in months and when Undo called, he wondered maybe days are like this because I have not been drinking coffee. I have not thought about that. I only get my cup out, put a teaspoon there, a teabag too, my buns black kaveera-packed aromatic infront of me and it will be hours before I can get up to go to the dispenser, maybe there’s hot water there, it doesn’t really matter because I don’t care and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days when fingers fly over keys on this board, the tap-tapping announcing BUZY! here, it ain’t no lie, see how fast I finish all the work you give me, you wonder did I go to secretarial school but not once am I smiling, you’re reading, amazed, you have done it again you claim, I haven’t. Or maybe I have. It’s no pride or game or anything, I don’t want to look it over, and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days listening without listening, maybe I don’t want to hear more, maybe I have already heard it all before, maybe it saddens me that you of all are bringing to me the realization that this is it, this is life, I’m in suspended grace, the fall will come whichever way I duck and days past are with me unbidden unexamined when self-summoned, I stopped lying I was in hibernation, this is all there is, full-stops don’t make me cringe anymore there’s no startled realization of that and I don’t know why.

No one told me there would be days like this. Days standing leaning in the doorway, I have opened the cream-white metallic door, I’m not through my phone-book scrolling, I’m taking in the sun, tired of wearing this woolly sweater thing, and the self- secret smile on my face is not fake. Undo just survived a death-scare and The Phantom had a baby, and that makes me so happy and I don’t know why. We out!

U Know U have Been Blogging Too Much When...

Friday, August 31, 2007

"Love Is Dancing on My Finger"

For the girl who asked and loves this song.

"San Francisco"

I, I know what you did
Like a boy of summer gives his first kiss
Love, is dancing on my finger
He got to the heart of the matter and lingered
Now I'm walking with the living
I always liked Steinbeck and those old men whistling

We're back, we're back in San Francisco
We're back and you tell me I'm home
Talking in the Mission
Over coffee this is my utopia
Man, I'll be your lady
As the ocean rises, the sun is fading

We're back, we're back in San Francisco
We're back, we're back in San Francisco
We're back, we're back in San Francisco

And now I feel the ever after
Over red wine on the eve of summer
The buzz, the buzz of the city
As we settle in it's majestyI, I know what you did
Like a boy of summer gives his first kiss

We're back, we're back in San Francisco
We're back and you tell me I'm home

You tell me I am home
You tell me I am home
You tell me I am home
Back in San Francisco

And I know what you did in San Francisco
I know what you did in San Francisc
San Francisco

Vanessa Carlton
I had a fight I shouldn’t have had. About nothing really. I get like that. When I expect you to get me so perfect no words should be necessary. So I end up saying too many, too much, more than I meant to, more than I mean; an abiding fault. You know I will be back. These journeys have to be gone on. With you I’m walking with the living. I will be back.

I miss hearing you say, “Silly.” Say I was “silly.” It was.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

You, Again

I will wait for the rain to stop. Surely it has to stop sometime. I hear it smacking into puddles under my window and the window is not closed, the night is already dark, my light must be the last. I would think I was imagining all this if the cold, chilly wind coming through the window did not make me rub my hands to keep warm from time to time. My ears hurt, the cold again. I have run out of handkerchiefs. I will wait still. I will wait, listening to the rain outside my window. It can’t be much longer. I have been waiting a long time. I have been waiting so long. It can’t be much longer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

He Made Me Want To Defend Amin

I stumbled upon this...

Like every African dictator, he was confusion's masterpiece

Idi Amin, who died on Friday, was not an idiosyncratic murderous buffoon but rather a typical representative of the new African elite that came to power in the wake of decolonisation. His antics, that half appalled and half amused the world, were not by any means unique.

He carried within his breast all the confusions and complexes of humiliated colonised people who both admire and hate those who rule them, and who are suddenly translated, through no virtue of their own, to the pinnacle of power.

Amin's ambivalence towards the British was one of the keys to his character. A semi-literate of cunning but little formal education, he was always aware of the condescension of British approval of him while he was a soldier at their command in the King's African Rifles. He was a "good chap": that is to say, he was obedient, reliable, loyal, strong, unconsciously amusing, but - in the word of one of his commanding officers - a bit short on the grey matter. In summary, he fitted the colonial stereotype of Africans in general: physical giants but mental dwarves.

The natural authority of his British officers impressed him, as did their punctilio, and the spit-and-polish organisation of the army. Amin's favoured uniforms were British, and his love of fruit salad on his chest was but a form of mimicry. Mimicry become satire. His problem was that he admired what he could never be. Admiration and resentment co-existing are very dangerous, especially when you are in a position to act out your ambivalence.

Amin's ambiguous relations with Britain and with all things British (even at the height of his dispute with Britain, he was importing British consumer goods by airlift) were not unique. Mobutu of Zaire wanted the love and admiration of the Belgians, and to teach them a lesson they would never forget.

The Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic was utterly loyal to France, but provoked it frequently at the same time. A fierce nationalist like Hastings Banda of Malawi, once imprisoned by the British for his anti-colonial activities, ended up looking like a city gent of the old school.

Many of Idi Amin's antics were ascribed to his lack of education. It is certainly true that he was sensitive on this point: when he addressed the students of Makerere University and they laughed at him for the bumpkin that he was, he took a swift revenge. The university, which had until then been one of the leading universities in Africa, was comprehensively destroyed. Amin taught the students to laugh on the other side of their faces and very soon, many of them were dead.

Amin's sensitivity about his level of education was again by no means unique. Macias Nguema, the first (and democratically elected) president of Equatorial Guinea after independence from Spain in 1968, harboured deep doubts about his own educational achievements and intellectual ability.

He had everyone who wore spectacles murdered: for spectacles equalled short sight, and short sight meant intelligence and having read too much. When Samuel Doe, the semi-literate master sergeant, came to power by coup against a semi-colonial Americo-Liberian government, he lost little time in obtaining an honorary doctorate from South Korea in exchange for some timber concessions. Thereafter, he was always known as Dr Doe in the toadying press and other publications, for how could a man with a doctorate truly be illiterate?

It is not true, however, that Amin's bloodthirstiness, incompetence and idiocy were the consequence of his lack of formal education. Africa has had many educated leaders whose effects upon their countries were just as disastrous as Amin's, and who were every bit as brutal.

Amin's expulsion of the Ugandan Asians was only the putting into practice, in a rather literal-minded way, of ideas that were widely accepted by many development economists of the time. Wealth was regarded as the mirror image of poverty: in other words, the rich were rich because the poor were poor. In Uganda, as in East Africa as a whole, the Asians were rich: it followed that they had enriched themselves by exploitation of Africans, whose poverty was dialectically attributable to the Asians.

The solution to the problem of African poverty in Uganda was obvious: get rid of the "blood-sucking" Asians.

So the Asians were expelled. But Amin only did by brutality what his neighbour, the much-adulated but deeply sanctimonious Julius Nyerere, did by stealth, making it impossible for them to continue to live in Tanzania. But his and Amin's idea of the role of intermediaries in the economy was fundamentally the same: they were dishonest profiteers.

The tragedy of Idi Amin goes far deeper than is often allowed. His behaviour was not the product of tertiary syphilis as was sometimes alleged. He was sanguinary. Amin's tragedy, like that of so many Africans, was to have admired a civilisation whose external trappings he strongly desired, but of whose internal workings he had no idea, while at the same time he was partly enclosed in the mental world of a primitive tribalist.

He was a product of multiculturalism, African-style, able to use relatively advanced methods to achieve brutal, primitive ends. Like every African dictator, he was confusion's masterpiece.

Anthony Daniels is the author of Monrovia Mon Amour and has written extensively about Africa for many years

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm hoping for A Weekend...

"Alchemist you know me man
I'm the type of nigga that write rhymes right on the spot in the studio
soon as I hear the track; you know what I'm sayin?
Word but I wanted to bring a couple of books to the studio today
Man I foundthese shits up in the crib man in boxes man
I don't even remember when I was writing these..."
My Book of Rhymes, Nas

With her. I have not communed with her in months. I’m guilty of promising so many people I would but I have not, repeatedly. It’s not that anything significant has got in the way. Whenever I look back, I realize it’s because I have lacked motivation, drive, nay even inspiration, because my Muse has abandoned me too!

So my weekends and my free hours when I do not have sit in office, blearily going blind for a man who does not even wear spectacles are spent in pretending that she is not in my backpack, accusing me more persistently than the furious vibrating of my phone in silent mode.

I borrow more movie DVDs, 5-in-1s than anyone at the video libraries where I’m registered does and watch them all through the night. I pretend to myself that I still need to do this. That if I have not watched the latest movie, the people who used to read my movie reviews will be disappointed and wonder what is happening to me.

I stay in the office later than I have to. I have lately run out of what to surf because an internet accessibility that I have never enjoyed before and I have taken to tinkering with photographs, tweaking this way and that. I IM chat for hours. Anything to keep busy. I love to be in town.

My latest obsession is riding on the back of boda bodas. The boda bodas on the stage where I work know me now and do not find it odd anymore when I thrust a 5000sh note in their hand and say, surprise me with a place I have never been too. I will spend a night trawling through gullied roads listening to the life-stories of boda boda riders, I’m living their lives vicariously. Anything to not go back and well, she will still be there waiting, not with tears or reproach or angry confrontation, but by just the mere being there. I see her and I know where I should be. I do not even have to see her.

I have been running, running, for months now. With many excuses, so many. I just created another. But I’m hoping this weekend is different. Faint hope, vain hope perhaps, but I’m hoping to go back to her. I’m hoping to open her up again, take a pen, my yellow liquid sparkling glass not too far, begin again, spitting words that will thrill you!

Liquor Vicious

A girl I used to know.

"Uh-huh, I was a shame, my crew was lame
I had enough heart for most of em
Long as I got stuff from most of em
It's on, even when I was wrong I got my point across"

Sky's The Limit, The Notorious B.I.G

I saw a girl I used to like. It’s been a long time but for a split second there you were again, opposite Makerere University, right where the shiny boda bodas wait. There you were again. Like I used to know you.

Jean strapped girl, tee-shirted lover tucked in but if you looked closely not quite, the back hanging out in a challenge, a hint that she was not cowered. Not naughty that I will go out with you if your offer to fund my need for pork and beer down in Wandegeya but that I have a pick of the man I want, I will pick who I want like a man does.

Walking like no girl I had ever seen, let’s not fool, not bothered by perfecting a wriggle like women learn a man wants to see his woman walk. She walked with a different swagger, comfortable, make way for me--I can put up a fight like a man but if it comes to it am double-armed, I will not hesitate to use my womanly advantages to win.

My kind of girl, once-upon-a-time. My first girl, even. The greatest subversives are the takers on the lam, I learned. Retreat and learn. I will always remember your kitchen efforts, not your field, Friday evening when you did not want another night roistering, let’s get quiet, cook a home meal, sweetie, let’s be like everybody else. Your frustrated tears at your burnt table offerings quickly bursting into throat pealing laughter at my determined verdict this was the best meal I had ever eaten, on my fourth glass of water to the two mouthfuls of black smoking rice I had swallowed. Friday night freak you!

I saw a girl like you again, ah! I can afford the boda boda ride now comfort easy. I can do the car thing. The house thing is sorted. I can eat wherever I please and I’m realizing it was all in the attitude, your Tuesday stolen hamburgers coming back. Yeah, you were right, sky’s the limit with me. I never understood how regal you were, everyone calling you crazy. Yeah, I called you that too, a couple of time or two, tomboy even, why wouldn’t you let me protect you? Yeah, I saw you.

All my dreams will die. I will be broken. The best minds of my generation will go mad or leave, some already are leaving. I know though you will be the last. You will never compromise, you will never mellow, damn I couldn’t stand your stubbornness when you turning away what we wanted so desperately because it came at us wrong angled, you were the craziest! But no one would tangle with you.

I know this too. I know I will see you dead long before my dog’s day comes. You were not born in the wrong country, wrong century, wrong society. No, not any of those. I know this now. It’s not that. I remember the grasp of your hand on my arm. You would never let, are never letting go. There. A fuckin’ shame. They are going to get you before they get the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Makin' 20

It was all good...


Some Sort

I let it get to me. I forgot you were there and I was gone a long time like you know I'm wont to go. I was gone so long you thought I would not come back. But I have come back.

I'm tired of these dry and dusty leaves. I'm tired of looking over my shoulder while driving. I want you to know that I'm with you. I want you to know we are together. I want you to know that you are all I ever think about. When I compare, I'm comparing everyone against the wonder you are not comparing you to them. I want you to know that when I said that your phone calls always come through just in time, I was not rhyming, they do. I want you to know that you are my roots.

The thought of you makes me smile. I know little rest except when I'm with you. I come home earlier when I know you are there. I have never wanted the company of one like I long for your company, even when you are away from me in the next room. I find all this strange. I find all this normal. I'm becoming more me with you because of you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"He's Gonna Be A Bad Boy!"

Plain speaking.

You watch a movie and wonder, how come so many people have not seen it?

“I have been waiting for you.”

These are movies about darkness and the edge of darkness and the darkness beyond the darkness. For the Watteau dream revellers.

I watched Caught again and all the movies I have watched with the swaggering bad boys came tumbling back in mind. Movies I have watched like To Blue Moon Junction, Shaft (the original) the deliciously disturbing Last Tango in Paris to novels that made much of the bad-ass brothers, DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley I’m talking, and which boy heart of adventure will ever forget RL Stevenson’s Treasure Island? Personally I’m still getting over that Kenyan who wrote Son of Woman.

Son of Woman in rambling craziness ranks for me with Brando’s turn as the man looking for death and redemption in a frighteningly physical relationship with a young woman in Paris. A relationship that begins when the two meet in an empty apartment both want to rent. His redemption, his solace, his relief, the only thing he will offer this young woman hungry for his attention and love is what is between his legs. He insists that is all he has to offer.

His wife has died, he is a widower and though he did not like her, it is just possible that he was in some way responsible for her despondent death back in America where he lived in her boarding house. He is a rich man now, a businessman in Paris and he will not be entangled with another woman. Except women can’t seem to stay away from him no matter that he is the coldest, most dastardly man they will ever meet. He does not even want to have a conversation with this young woman and every time they meet, all he wants to see is her on her knees, her rump in the air facing him. He is that cold. And yet she can’t stay away and the watcher cannot draw his eyes away from Brando. When he speaks, the little he speaks, fall from his lips with a beauty that makes up for all the sordidness that must reign his shrouded heart. And then there is the way he fucks…

Son of Woman is like that too. Except this is in Africa and he careens through cities in Kenya on the run from women, avenging husbands, irate employers, poverty, his mother, and in pursuit of that one woman who he believes will change his life. Will bring him inner peace so that when he leaves a woman in his bed waiting for him to go to a grocery store to buy condoms, he does not feel the urge anymore to chat up the woman who mans the store for a quickie in the back with the condoms he has just purchased on credit. Son of Woman has loved two women in his life; his mother and his sort of half sister and while both women loved him in their own way and he loves them wholeheartedly, they also made him the kind of cad he has become. In prison or down a mine, this brother can smell and find a woman where you would not expect to find one. And not just search her out; he will have to fuck with her even if it means the next morning he will be scrambling through windows, no trousers on, one hand grappling to pull on his shirt, his belt clenched in his mouth, the next morning, feet beating earth in heart-beating flight for his life. This is Son of Woman.

Nick (Arie Verveen) from Caught is another kind of predator, bad boy. The worst. The taker. The hunter with hands hard as a stone-cutter’s but delicate in handling as a piano players. And he has those eyes that burn holes into inanimate objects like he does in Caught in Betty’s (Maria Conchita Alonso) and wrest her away from her husband. The husband quite fond of Nick who begins to teach him the art of being a butcher, a seller of fish without compare. Nick learns. But while he is learning, when Joe’s (Edward James Olmos) back is turned to see the fish frying and sizzling, Nick is watching Joe’s wife change through the window across the street from their shop. He is not just watching. With an arrogance that would not be forgivable in anyone but Nick, will not let her have her privacy in her own bathroom. And she is a woman with a grown son the age of Nick who watches her wrinkles in her mirror and pastes her face like the fish her husband sells. Time is running out!

“Happiness is boring, sometimes.”

I have watched a movie like this before. It was called Two Blue Moon Junction, a sinful minor classic that refueled an interest in a genre with good movies hard to come back. Not since Basic Instinct had I met another that looked into a side of life the movies prefer fade-out on and in everyday conversations we cover with puns, giggles and flicks of eye that seem to tell more but actually do not. Two Blue Moon Junction is one such movie. A movie you should not watch when you’re in a spell of lonely horniness some weekend afternoon and everyone else seems to have a laughing companion head leaning on their shoulder apart from you and life seems everywhere but where you are.

Perry is no Nick. Perry (Richard Tyson) in Two Blue Moon Junction even owns a dog, a dog he loves more than he has ever loved another human being perhaps in his circus following, living in a truck life. Perry has roots and a flourishing of natural black hair women frantically each week try to earn at a saloon. When Nick leaves, Nick leaves everything behind. Of value to him is nothing. He is a philosopher who wears his sweat soaked white sweatshirt like it is a skin. A skin he would discard if it impeded him. He has not come to deliver you, he has come to take from you. He’s a bad boy.

To die with rain drops beating down on your eyeballs.

To die in the rain.