Something strange happened to me at the beginning of this week. Something that so rarely happens to me that when it does, it takes me a bit of time to figure out what has gone wrong with me. What is not right. I fell ill. Sorta.
On second thought, I should not have been surprised. Consulting the calendar would have informed me that it is near the month of December, the month I dread the most in the year because no matter what I do, some sort of mishap usually connected to endangering my health occurs.
With a wedding to attend, at which I’m expected to make some sort of speech about how upstanding my elder brother is and what a lucky woman his soon-to-be wife is, I’m suffering from acute food poisoning (never, never eat those pancakes again!) that threatens to overwhelm defences no Juba disease could.
I have been laid out. Yeah, incredible for me. I have been forced to spend whole days nearly nude in bed with no company but Mr. HP (didn’t tell you I finally got my own laptop and Betsey the PC did not take too well to a co-wife? Shucks! I did.) and some old browning newspaper clippings I have not perused through in quite a long while.
I was thinking of things to throw away, to reduce the clutter, but I did not end up throwing anything out really. Well! It is something to see what one was reading when one was so much younger. Those old newspaper clippings had me wondering why is that nowadays there is no paper I want to keep after I’m done reading it? Why is it that there are no articles I want to snip out and with old Orbit stick in my scrap book before I ever even knew what a scrap book was.
I guess this is why I read blogs and keep some blog excerpts because there seems to be no writer in the newspaper lately who speaks to me. She used to rile me up, she used to annoy the hell out of me, I often wondered where all the bile she had against men originated from but I could not miss reading Lilliane Barenzi especially when she was writing her Never Trust columns.
In those days there was a wonderful counterpoint to Barenzi in The Blue Corner by Arnold Asaba (I later learnt it was a pseudonym) who gave the men’s take on women and relationships and love and was as witty and funny and as engaging as Barenzi was compelling. Before I would scout off to check in with Marcus Tabaza and his Bachelor’s Diary before it all fell apart for him, a precursor to Old Fox by Tumusiime Rush (RIP).
Now let’s not talk only about the glory that Sunday Vision used to be, leaving out a still favourite writer for that publication, Bad Idea by Ernest Bazanye like there were no other papers back then. In the days when Daniel Kalinaki proved his versatility by being able to write from humour to serious political analysis and he had that column in Sunday Monitor about house girls and his character’s predilection for them.
That was then when The Crusader was kicking its last and I first stumbled upon the arty, puzzling and rewarding ruminations of David Kaiza before The East African snapped him up and though Ofwono Opondo has never been an easy man to like, I could not miss reading his columns just as Kevin Aliro (RIP) was still funny too and talked about some things we dared not mention outside of our nightly pillow talk. Just like I still have falling apart issues of Teddy Ssezyi Keeye’s Confidential and the monikers he coined for some politicians still roll off my mental tongue like Sir Rich and I wonder what happened to that wonderful fearless editor to become the man he is today. Before, in the days when the media was truly vibrant, Muno cheek by jowl next to Shariat and I remember walking along Namirembe road, my eyes down, the banners of so many papers I hungered to read jumping up at me.
Do you remember the time when John Nagenda had a rival and competitor for attention in the days when Ear to the Ground by Charles Onyango Obbo was a waited for event of the week, and of course Wafula Oguttu was a fearless gadfly who refused to be intimidated and there was this writer, Timothy Kalygeria who had these ideas and he was going to make them come to life. Do you remember that time?
Timothy Bukumunhe on radio and in the papers bringing some innovations like Table Talk that we had never considered, we who had never read beyond what we could access in the days before the World Wide Web brought the world into Uganda. Kadumukasa Kironde writing as beautifully about food as his style was.
Learning how to write for the newspapers from the Gossip Guru of the Sunrise, wondering who this chap Steven Tendo was because his On Second Thought column was what I wanted to read first in that weekly that was not my starting point but a great mother. Learning a new love of the word, write for the pleasure not the money principle, oh boy!
Do you remember those days of Chic and Belle and so many other magazines before African Woman and the Red Pepper came along and the wonderous stories that were in some editions and there are writers there whose names I have forgotten but not the stories they wrote and it seemed so certain, for a moment there, the literary desert was sprouting, the artistic one too with its first intimations of greatness as Ras and Danny Barongo tried out their cartoon wizardry no doubt at the feet of the master, the first class cartoonist who abandoned the art to become a film maker. Snoggie!
I remember those days. I remember those years. Do you?