Monday, January 31, 2011

How to stage a Military Coup (in Uganda) by David Hebditch and Ken Connor

We think we know Ugandan history but far from knowing it, we know nothing. I have been reading excerpts from a document titled How to stage a Military Coup by David Hebditch and Ken Connor that has led me to believe that if we are ever going to have any sort of proper history of Uganda written down, we are going to have to admit some more characters into our history. Because until I read this document, I had no idea of some names like Beverley Gayer Barnard and Bruce Mackenzie, though no doubt the Kenyans were well aware of that last name. He was their Agricultural minister once, during the reign of Jomo Kenyatta. Many Ugandan businessmen from the 1960s to 1970s too should have been aware of him, especially if they were in the business of selling cars. It was Mackenzie under his Cooper Motors distributorship who played a huge part in flooding Uganda with Volkswagen beetles, British Leyland trucks and that beloved of Uganda’s undeveloped road networks, the Land Rover. This document actually calls him, “The most influential white man in East Africa in 1970.” (Who is today’s, I wonder!) 

  • First to Beverly Barnard. A history of Beverly’s activities reads like John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hitman without the redeeming ending of that ‘confession.’ Wherever conflict was about to break out, Barnard was bound to have been there a couple of months earlier. The tormented Middle East of the 1960s and 1970s, whose effects continue to echo even today, was in part because of the M16 sponsored activities of Barnard who became quite adept at quickly rustling up rebel groups and aiding coups. When Barnard suddenly camped in northern Uganda, grief was not far in the offing for us. 

  • I had no idea that an M16 officer Beverly Gayer Barnard took put in the 1971 coup that saw Amin come to power. Barnard actually personally trained five hundred mercenary soldiers recruited mostly from Southern Sudan to aid Amin in his moves to take over from Obote. It was these troops that Amin may have used to grab all the ‘important’ Uganda Army commanders and leaders of the rank and file soldiers. Those mercenaries were in Uganda to ensure that a government favourable to the now South Sudan cause was in power in Kampala. 

  • This had not been Barnard’s first effort to ‘do in’ Obote. In another document, British Intelligence and Covert Action Africa, Middle East and Europe since 1945 by Jonathan Bloch and Patrick Fitzgerald, the authors claim that Barnard is the guy who organised the assassination attempt on Milton Obote in 1969. The assassination attempt that came agonisingly close to succeeding, when Obote was coming from a Uganda People’s Congress conference. 

  • It is alleged that while fighting against the Mau Mau in Kenya in the 1950s Idi Amin had the nickname ‘The Strangler.’ Reason. Because of his superior body size, it is said that Amin’s favourite amusement trick was to grab a Mau Mau prisoner by the throat and yank him in the air off his feet. How true is this? No idea. Probably the same guys who spread the embellished rumour that one time Amin ran down a street stark naked after he was caught having sex with another man’s wife. Do the two side by side make sense? A big man who could lift an ordinary man up in the air by the throat suddenly running out of another man’s house, a man he could probably have overpowered if it came to a fight? 

  • The document continues to perpetuate the false impression that Idi Amin, according to Barnard, was “a little short on the gray matter.” I say false because a simple YouTube video check on Idi Amin talking immediately contradicts the ‘daftness of Amin’ angle we have been sold for many years. You can laugh at the man’s ‘broken’ English, but you can hardly claim he had no sense. 

  • But neither is Amin the ‘selfless nationalist and Pan-Africanist’ some writers and commentators on Uganda’s history like Timothy Kalyegira would like us to believe. The man had his literal skeletons in the closet. There are things Amin did in Kenya in the 1950s, in the Congo in the 1960s and in Sudan that weigh down Amin’s much contested legacy into the negatives. I had no idea that Amin supported Britain selling weapons to the apartheid regime in South Africa in return for being installed in Kampala as President. 

  • Another little bit of information I had no idea about but that is significant. This document claims that not only did the British M16 and government actively play a role in ousting Milton Obote in 1971; they actually played an equally big part in his return to power in 1979! The British even went ahead to compensate the Tanzanian government for the costs of the 1979 Tanzanian invasion of Uganda. Compensate! 

  • I had little idea that at some point Idi Amin, during his years of exile may have been Saddam Hussein’s guest in Iraqi. 

  • Our history, it seems to the British and much of the ‘Western’ World does not begin until they colonised the area they call Uganda. It seems it is beyond their imagination that anything worthwhile could have been going on in Uganda pre 1860 and much of what has gone on post 1962 is viewed with disapproval.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You May Win the Race but thwack you!

Network Issues in Uganda

Let me do something I hate to do, but because I’m pressed for time, have no choice. Tell a really lovely little story, an anecdote actually, badly. 

I was in a taxi (my stories often seem to start that way!), late at night (I have that kind of job) and we were all just trying to get home in as much companionable silence as possible. Until on some stage, a cantankerous, loud talking group of three men from the bar clambered aboard. 

The fumes of beer, on the first half of the journey, had been tolerable because the mouths that belched them were shut most of the time. In appropriate guilt, we the non drinkers liked to think. Until this group literally seemed to invade us, to shatter the peace, to demand we rouse ourselves from our dozing stupors. 

We wanted to pay attention, listen to the adventures that had them alternately giggling and shoving each other in merriment. But there was one problem. We could not, at least I could not, comprehend exactly what they found so funny. I thought it was a lost in translation thing. Until the driver, who I was seated next to, at another stage, as these guys took far too long to clamber again aboard, demanded to know what was taking them so long. Leg co-ordination. 

Challenged, the three men became even more vociferous. There was one in particular, who seemed so moved, kept thumping on the railing separating the front seats from the kameme, to emphasise his point, with lots of hmm, eh! Kyoka ensi eno

We all wanted to understand but there seemed to be a problem. The driver, sharp-eyed in that dark night, saw it first, and expertly pointed it out. 

“Naye byogamba nga tebilina network?” 

Rough translation, “Have you lost your network? You are not making sense.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Follow Up on the ‘Juliana Kanyomozi Facebook account ‘robbed’

Juliana not happy with Facebook right now
It gets stranger and stranger, and a little scary. Just before putting up this post, counted the number of Juliana Kanyomozi Facebook accounts, and not counting the genuine Kanyomozi FB account, there are seven Juliana Kanyomozi accounts that the singer denies having anything to do with. In fact she says she too would have to ask to be ‘friended’ on them to have any sort of access to them. 

So what’s the big deal about Kanyomozi fans setting accounts in homage to their favourite female Ugandan singer? Because one of the account holders of the ‘fake’ Juliana Kanyomozi Facebook account has decided to fight back against the ‘real’ Juliana Kanyomozi. 

On January 5, 2011 at 5:58pm, this account holder posted, “Hello fans, plz have you realised that ppl are using my names illegally? This is the only fan page i did create. So plz what can i do?” 

On reading that, Juliana got in touch and rebutted, “oh my God when u get a minute look for one of the fake facebook pages (with a picture when im putting on a hood) this person actually writes messages to my fans on the wall n the reply cuz they think its me. the last one they've written is saying that so many people are using the juliana kanyomozi name on facebook illegally. and that that page is the only real one. This is scary. people r stealing my identity.” 

I read somewhere in an interview that Ugandan musician Sizzaman, he broke out with Mafaranga (though he is probably more known for his charade of a relationship with WBS TV Late Show presenter Pamela ‘Straka’ Mwezi), in his ‘spare time’ enjoys hacking and claims to be very good at it. Perhaps Juliana should give Sizzaman a call to sort out this little FB problem...

In other news...

Barbed Wire coming back soon 

Barbed Wire was a series of comedy skits shot for TV by comedy ensemble Theatre Factory founded by Philip Luswata. Barbed Wire, while it ran on NTV, throughout much of 2009 was immensely popular. It is actually the inspiration behind so many of the comedy ‘shows’ on most Ugandan TV channels. However all that came to a halt when Theatre Factory nearly fell apart when 10 core members walked out in December 2009 to go form Fun Factory. 

Shortly after, as the shell-shocked Theatre Factory management struggled to regroup and keep what was left of the ensemble functioning, Barbed Wire sort of petered out. Though through much of 2010, Luswata and co have insisted it was on the verge of a return with episodes already shot, this did not happen. 

Now news filtering out of the Uganda National Theatre based group is that Barbed Wire is not just on the cards again. It should be on your TV screens again. Perhaps because NTV signed up their comedy rival’s skit, U-Turn, Barbed Wire this time will be airing on national broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation. Barbed Wire apparently slated to begin airing next week. 

NOTE: Here’s to the hope that Barbed Wire will not be tossed, like NTV does with The Krackers’ Mic Check, into the late night. Somewhere past 10:45pm. And it will not be a ‘rip-off’ with 10 minutes of actual comedy with the other 20minutes spliced between commercial advertisements and advertisements of other shows Theatre Factory has going on. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Juliana Kanyomozi Facebook account ‘robbed.’

There is a fast becoming popular programme on NTV, a Ugandan television, called Tricksters that airs every Sunday at 7:30pm. The programme has become popular because it dramatises the many scams a clueless Ugandan is likely to fall at the hands of Kampala’s ‘enterprising’ conmen and women. 

This blogger’s personal favourite is one where a man in a car sees a drop dead gorgeous woman by the roadside and slows down to offer her a ride. Of course the woman is more than grateful and her prattle during the ride leads the man to begin to hope that maybe, just maybe, he should ask for her number. He could call her sometime. 

It is when he reaches her stop that all hell seems to break loose. The woman adamantly refuses to get out of the car until the man pays her. At first the man is amused, then annoyed and pretty soon of course he is outraged! She should be the one paying him for the ride, if anything. But the woman won’t hear of it and to the guy’s shock, she begins is shouting on the top of her voice, attracting attention, “This man is a thief! Bannage, help me, this man does not want to pay me. Did I complain when you wanted to have sex with me?” 

Needless to say, if the man is rich enough, has a reputation he cares about, and does not want to be lynched by the growing crowd of passers-by, he empties all the money in his pocket into the woman’s palms. 


The same phenomenon seems to be creeping onto Ugandans who are online. This week, the victim being none other than our own diva in the making, Juliana Kanyomozi. Someone has been posing as Juliana Kanyomozi on Facebook. Not content with that, this person or persons has now ‘upped’ their game and is now actively soliciting for money, “Juliana Kanyomozi urgently needs” on her behalf! 

In fact, one of her friends on the genuine Juliana Kanyomozi facebook profile goes as far as to reveal, “A friend of mine in fort portal just told me he was chatting with "Juliana" who told him to take money to a friend in Kabarole for her.”  


Monday, January 10, 2011

Navio Concert for 29th January 2011

This just in from Ugandan hip hop musician Navio's management...


Venue: UMA Showgrounds Main Hall

Time: 6pm

Ticket Price: 15,000 Regular, 40,000 VIP

"Uganda’s number 1 hip hop artist, Navio, returns for a massive show, dubbed the “Nawuliranga” concert, on Saturday January 29th 2011 at the UMA showgrounds from 6 pm. Featuring some of Africa’s top artists including the ONE8 trio, Amani, JK and Alikiba as well as local supporting  acts: Klear Kut, Bobi Wine, Jackie, Lillian, Maurice Kirya, Juliana, Peter Miles and Michael Ross, the show will boast some of the best special effects ever seen in Uganda.

2010 was a huge year for Navio! He was signed to the major record label Rockstar 4000/Sony Music, he was chosen to be in the ONE8 Supergroup which featured international megastar R Kelly, and he won 2 PAM awards for Best Hip Hop Artist and Best Video for Raw.

Come and see the latest hits from Uganda’s newest international artist. The show will be produced by Fenon Entertainment and Navcorp and managed by Talent 256. The platinum sponsor for the show is Airtel, gold sponsor is Pilsner Lager and other sponsors include Rockstar 4000, Hot 100, Radio Simba and Graphic Systems."

Now three questions come to mind: 

1. Will it be a success or will be it a flop? 

2. Will you be there? 

3. Do we need a Navio concert right now? Does Ugandan hip hop perhaps need it more?

More later!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Jackie Chandiru shoots video with live python

How many Ugandan music videos can I say I have looked forward to watching? Let’s keep it short-say just from 2010. Of the hundreds of music videos released by Ugandan musicians: not many. 

I remember wanting to see the Eddy Kenzo Stamina remix video, I remember watching TV music programmes all the time because I hoped one would show Vampino & Goodlyfe boys Kwekunyakunya music video. Who was not on tenterhooks to watch how Bebe Cool would shoot his wildly popular Kasepiki video (and did not disappoint! That video was one of Bebe’s best, and I have not known him for shooting especially good videos). Just a few! 

I had the great good luck to hear Jackie Chandiru sing Agaasi live before I even knew she was planning a solo career, so you can imagine how much I could hardly wait to see the video. The vampire dark night motif she took with Agaasi could not ruin the song for me. And because Agaasi was so good, I have been waiting and waiting to see what she follows it up with. Here it comes: Overdose. That’s the name of the song. 

But it’s not the song that’s got me intrigued. It’s the leaking details of the video shoot for Overdose that have got me wondering how it is going to look. Overdose video was shot by Jah Live (new to the music video game-like three years old on the scene now) and during the shooting of the video, a live python from the Uganda Reptile Centre in Entebbe was on set! Not only that, but the reptile got cosy with Chandiru who cavorts with it. We have the pictures to prove it!

Jackie Chandiru's reptilian friend
This is a video I want to watch, must watch!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Dennis Dutton is dead. header that welcomes you into a whole world
He died on 28th December, 2010. A Tuesday.
He is not a man you are likely to have known. He is not a man even I knew. But I knew his work. If you have met me, and I think you are interested in arty things or political things or how the world works, you too may know his work, because I’m certain to have mentioned it to you. Raved about it. Told you his website is a must visit website.  Because it is a website with everything. As much of everything a website can contain of what is online, and much of the time, the best of what is online. 

If you have never been to, I envy you for the pleasures, the delights, the many new finds that are awaiting you, when you get to . Like all great things online, seems so obvious but is one of those services that take a truly original mind to conceive and execute. Think yahoo messenger, Skype, Friendster & Friendfinder, Myspace, Wikipedia, Facebook-websites that creates an online community of similar spirits who together cause a change that individually they would never have been able to pull off. That’s what is really about. 

World Changers-Dennis Dutton
Alerting the community that Christopher Hitchens had written something truly startling about God, there was a new Julian Barnes novel and to anticipate the novel’s release here was one of Barnes’s meandering, factual filled nuggets of an essay about the travels of a certain famous stuffed parrot. served to remind you that the venerable New Yorker magazine, even after almost a century of publication, even if long ago its greatest pioneering writers, the legends of Dorothy Parker & James Thurber & the E.B. White’s were long past; if you stopped bemoaning the passing of those greats, New Yorker had new writers with some insights into the world we live in now, who from time to time, might make you catch your breath. There was much of the dandy in Eustace Tilley, though he was still resisting going gangster. 

On you are as likely to read about some Chinese intellectual whose name you cannot pronounce nor ever read a word of their work, reading it for the first time in quote excerpts; as to find your own little corner of the world-Uganda wants homosexuals hung! Then someone, in some comments, would begin a whole other discussion about the puns and allusions suggested by that title and before you knew it, in taking part in that link dialogue, you knew the Latin word origins of several words and had discovered a blog that specialized in tracking all over the world, stolen artifacts from 19th century Africa. 

This is what Dennis Dutton was to me. This is the bit of his work I knew, I know, started knowing about four years ago, when quite by chance I happened to discover this website that dared to proclaim, ‘”Arts & Letters Daily. I wondered how long they could keep it up, being a practicing journalist for six years or so I know how hard it is to keep readers interested in ‘serious stuff”” as one of my wary eye-rolling editors used to say. After discovering Christopher Hitchens, Julian Barnes, Alex Beam, Michael Dirda, Clive James, Norman Lebrecht, Camille Paglia, I started buying books again-walking slowly along Kampala’s street, eyes skimming over the books laid out by the vendors in the sun, hoping, sometimes almost crying out in delight-when a name I had first learned on was here emblazoned on top of a book with tattered brown dust covered dog eared pages in the Kampala sun, then in the taxi, once in my seat, oblivious of all around me as I read. 

This was Dutton for me. Dennis Dutton is dead.

Monday, January 03, 2011