Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Professor Wangari Maathai is dead. A great African is dead and she died on 25th September in Nairobi, in Kenya where she was born. Her achievements are many and in late in her life she began to receive all the recognition that was due her. You can read about how she was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to make the voiceless in Kenya realise that together, no government however powerful or entrenched could dare not listen to their demands and wishes.
She received that prize too because, long before global warming was a bar topic and TV panel round of experts obsession, intuitively, she mourned the loss of trees and nature but went further than elegiac wailing. She decided to try and stem the loss by, a tree at a time, replanting all over Kenya where communities would let her, the trees that huge lumber hungry companies had swept past like locusts from a Pharaoh’s Egypt, devastating and not replenishing.
You can read all about her honours. The first woman in East and Central Africa to receive a doctorate degree. To go on to become a Professor, much sought after by international universities and the speaking tour circuit, distractions she only bowed to when she needed the money to return it home to Kenya to fund what were always her passions-empowering the powerless from whom she had sprung, and like a mother goddess, seemed to derive all her strength from constant communion with them.
I could tell you about her achievements but that would miss why her death, like few deaths (South Africa's Brenda Fassie, François Luambo Makiadi of Congo, Uganda's DJ Allan ‘Cantankerous’ Mugisa) touches me. Has left me, in fact stunned. With a sense of grief two days later after I first learned of her death from Kenya’s Citizen TV, I’m still thinking about her, with a sadness like I knew her personally.
I feel like I knew her personally. For the courage of her life. Demonstrating that an individual can make a difference simply by honestly and humbly following their passion wherever it may lead them. Will in fact make their community better, because human nature, like a child, learns by seeing, not by preached at. The Green Belt movement started by Maathai, probably on a Saturday afternoon when she should have been seated on a veranda watching her three children screaming in childish delight instead took the noon off to go plant that first tree. Then somehow again, went and planted another tree. Pretty soon, everyone was asking why can we not have Uhuru Park a green space in Nairobi. Then, in a Moi Kenya long dominated by the “professor of politics,” questioning, “But why should one man rule us forever like we do not have other leaders?” The seed sprouting to a mighty tree.
A barrier breaker in her personal life as much as in her career, almost without by accident. Most of the time, you sensed, simply because Maathai did not sit down to wonder, “Can it be done?” Her driving zeal seemed always to be, “How can I do this?” Unwittingly, for me, Maathai becoming a “new” kind of African woman by breaking all the rules in gender relations in her community all the while desperately trying not.
Gender relations all Africans are still grappling with, influenced by a world that is no longer deniable by shutting the iron gray front door because it is already in all our domains. Through the TVs we watch to the MTN modem that brings the world wide web a whole lot closer, by a searching mouse click.
Maathai, once a married woman, with children, to a man who found her “unrelenting stubbornness” increasingly impossible to bear with, chucking her out. A hungry media and speculators quick to jump to her aid, Maathai refusing to resort to the pride armour of self defence that would have been expected. Resisting the temptation to trash talk her former husband, when she would have “won more points,” for doing so as an independent modern woman who does not need a man. In hewing to her dignity that was genderless but of the heart, respecting and a tribute to the memory of an intimacy of many years which would never end because of the living, recreating gift of their children.
This was the Maathai that mattered to this blogger. I’m guessing, this was probably the Maathai that mattered to a whole lot of people who have considered her a heroine, an inspiration, a role model to draw some of the template of the kind of life they wish to live.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
One of the most important women in my life has asked me to write this. How she feels about her man, in her own words. The words are not mine. They are hers, mostly. Only the harmony is mine, and I’ve tried to match it to hers.
“I love him because he is the wall my back rests against. How can I explain this? As long as I know he loves me and he is in this world, I will never feel not safe. He is the one number I have on speed dial. But even if I did not have my mobile phone on me, if the battery was flat and I could not charge because UMEME is loadshedding us again, I know he would find a way to reach me. To find out how I’m. He has always been like that.
Right from when I was begging him not to spend so much money on buying mango juice to call me. Do you remember when all mobile phone airtime was not called airtime but mango? Ha, we have been in love since then. Maybe even a little before that. He bought me my first phone, you know. That is when we discovered that a mobile phone was useless without being ‘juiced’ up with ‘mango.’ Hahaha, there were more discoveries yet to be made. He might ‘juice’ up my phone but I had no way of calling him because he could not then afford to buy himself a mobile phone as well.
How old were we then? Maybe 17, maybe 18 years old? Still in school. He would not tell me how he managed to get me that phone but many years later he told me, “I lived in fear of your phone, eh! Sometimes it came down to either I walk from home to school and buy your mango or I use that money for the taxi and see the most hurt look on your face when you knew that for that week you would not be able to call your sister who was studying in India at the time. Usually I just bought the mango.”
He has not changed. When it comes to acting, in good faith, first, thinking later. When we were nearly blown up sky high, during the Kyadondo bomb blasts of July 11, 2010. He was the one who had dropped me and my girlfriends off because he had a meeting at Sheraton Hotel he said he could not pass up. I don’t know he got through the Police cordon, and the madness of terror around Lugogo by-pass when he heard about the bomb blasts that go on, a year later claiming the lives it has already permanently maimed. 86 lives and counting. We were there, the five of us girls. The row behind us was hit, we were not. Claire found a ripped off man’s palm in her lap. He told me later that I had brain matter sprayed all over the back of my head and the chair I was seated in. And blood, lots of blood.
I don’t want to remember much about that night. I remember the pearl white rosary swinging on his car dashboard, and his face most of the time turned to look at me, as he drove and drove us to hospital, and his mouth moving and how his voice sounded like the soothing lake evening tide coming in. No sense did he make, but I never wanted him to stop talking. Claire and Josephine said that they have no idea how he got us to that Nakasero hospital. How he marshaled five hysterical, screaming women into the reception area and somehow got a doctor to check each of us for injuries. I don’t know.
I smiled, back home, after two days, to remember the doctor asking me if the man who had brought us was a ‘soldier.’ Blood and what he had seen seemed not to have shaken him at all. The short hand explanation he staccato gave was what they needed and found had happened. His insistence that an ear doctor take a look at Kate saved the hearing in her right ear, and now Kate can still teach music. Only he could ignore my thrashing and feverish horror visions to bathe me in the women’s ward bathroom, pulling sticky matter from my braids he refused to let me see, bullying me for wishing to see the mucus of fear Josephine had sneezed into my hair.
He borrowed one of the doctor’s white lab coats to go with the doctor to talk to our parents. My parents had never met him formally before that July 11 night. Dad insisted he must not pay any bride price, after that night. We laugh about it.
I did not understand the effect of the whole experience on him until at his house one afternoon, as we were settling to watch a Barcelona-Real Madrid best of clashes, I dropped the saucer of his cup of lemon tea and he almost ended up in the ceiling of the house, shaking and trembling, like he was having an attack of malaria triple plus.
He considers that the most embarrassing moment of his life. I loved him more for it though he won’t believe it.
Fourteen years of loving this man and he still can say, “I know I have let you down but I will try harder. I don’t want to disappoint you.”
I want to ask him, how can you disappoint me when you still try to come home by 5pm so you can be with the four of us in our home? Even when you have an 8pm meeting in town, you insist on passing at home and seeing us, being with us?
I want to ask him, how can you disappoint me when you listened to all sides, heard the arguments and counter arguments, and let me go for that Masters in Norway? When I did not think you understood, even if I had this job where I was entitled to a company car, housing allowance and medical care for us all, that it was not about the money, a better job, it was about that masters and how much I had wanted it, been talking about it for years?
I want to ask him, how can you disappoint me when my own mother confesses I have a “man’s temper” say things I should not have, then have a hard time taking them back, made all the harder because you never ask me to take them back. You wait it out and our children never know there’s anything wrong, just that “Mummy likes to keep quiet sometimes. She has a lot to think about.”
I wish I could tell you all that. So much more. But I don’t know how to start.”
Thursday, September 15, 2011
|Firefox soon to have Luganda language option (CLICK4Larger)|
I’m mighty excited about this. Mozilla Firefox is going to have a Luganda language option! Luganda, for my ‘outside countries’ readers, is one of the ‘native’ languages most spoken in Uganda. Perhaps the most spoken. It is a language of business in the markets, on most radios, and a unifier when you are in an alien land and not too sure if the African across the aisle from you will take your overtures well.
Now Luganda is also going to be one of the ‘internet’ languages, thanks to some Ugandan guys here who have been industriously working in dark LCD screen lit rooms for years. A communication just came through. I’ll quote directly from it…
“On the 29th of September, Avant-garde solutions will be launching Mozilla Firefox in Luganda along side other applications that we have localized. The event will take place at Serena hotel, Achwa Room (located the 1st floor of the conference center).
The occasion will run from 2pm - 5pm and will host guest from the Mozilla Corporation and International Development Research Centre as well as the State Minister of ICT, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda as the chief guest. The discussion will be majorly focused on Localization of software and technology.
Please send me a message in case you would like to attend.
San Emmanuel James
IT / Data Officer
Mob. +256 711 955559, +256 775 955559
Skype: jsan4christ, Yahoo Messenger: sjolweny85”
This is one of the very few ‘state occasions’ I really, really wish to be a part of! It is history in the making. While it is still a Luganda version in testing, if it does pass the rigorous user standards of Firefox patrons, Luganda being on the web will make it much easier even for those Ugandans who are hesitant about the internet as a tool of communication to come on in.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Once I thought I had you and you had me. Woman, I could not get enough of you. Just hearing your voice on the phone got me more excited than a teenage boy unable to control his nightly wet dreams, the snuggled morning happiness before the terror of how he would have to lie on the cream wetness as his mother pulled the bedroom curtains open, chirpy, asking him if he was not going to get up.
My need for you was a Sipi Falls tumult-all energy but no dam-you were a muse, an inspiration. For the first time I wanted to get out of the lethargy of self confidence and do something. But oh God, the wanting you was so volatile, lyric bursts were all I could manage, then I wanted to have you, wanted to be with you, talk with you, make you laugh, slowly start to make promises, I who never made promises-not even to myself or my talent, which, for a decade and more, I tried to disown as soon as it started making demands.
I did not know, until you, that to love was to grow adult, was to change, was to love less to love more. Yes, it did not make sense at first. But then it started to. When you had been signed on for a trip to Luanda-3 women, 4 men-that was not the trouble, the trouble was in Luanda and the southern Africa regional manager who had specifically requested you be on the team representing your company. You love travel, 20Giga Bytes of travel photos tell their own truths, I could not stop you though I could have-having no idea until two years later, in a hotel bedroom in Mbarara, New Year’s Day night, you told me, “I liked you, but I started to fall in love with you when I was in Luanda.”
You turned me into a Michael Learns to Rock actor who did not despise the Nollywood theatrics of the Ebonies Sam Bagenda, starring in own private soap opera until it was like a full time second profession. Exchanging debaucheries. Before I learned while that amused you, you still wanted the man, and with each year-the implanted demands of childhood were waking like sleeper cells to remind you what your man must get you, what your man must be. I lie, if I do not confess my own too were wakening, genes on a pre-determined destination, nothing could get in their way, not even the crowds that jam the Namugongo-Kireka road to Namboole to support the Uganda Cranes, a human crush.
Now where are we? We are here. A little out of love with each other, more committed than ever. You forgive a little less, I sin a lot more-we get along. Meet other lovers, who come to visit or we go to visit, trying to look behind their relationship corporation brand-the simplicities are gone, the contracts more labyrinthine. Who would want to get into all this? The heart still.
You have lost your girlish poutiness, I cannot stand lyrics or poetry or romcoms any more. There’s a camcorder porn clarity to what’s going on that cannot be escaped. Your lips move and I ‘have heard anything. Red bow-tied presents of chocolate from me can go unopened for two days, four, before screaming delighted nieces visiting discover them like Saint Nicholas treats. Now this is no longer a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Love is a marathon.
Friday, September 09, 2011
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
The Hostel Series
ATTENTION ACTORS: Auditions are starting today Wed 7th Sept -Fri 9th Sept 2011 from 9am-6pm at Fast Track Productions in Mutungo. Call Tina 0782 857 620 for directions. Can't wait to see you!!
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
I’m not quite sure to be honest. Sometimes I even wonder if I do wish to be called a Ugandan. Whether I should at all try to answer a question that I sometimes think should not be asked.
Saturday night (really Sunday morning would be a more accurate description because it was 2:48am in a taxi in the Old Taxi Park) I happened to sit with two young men. Waiting for the taxi to fill up, we started talking-first one of the young men telling us the story of how he had ended up spending over 2 hours in Kikuubo earlier that afternoon because of the heavy rain. Then a story about how he suspects a woman picked his wallet from his front trouser pocket and he is still trying to figure out how she did it.
Then, inevitably, as happens more and more when more than two Ugandans meet and start talking-the state of Uganda came into our conversation. (Excuse the digression again, but he said something else that I found interesting that I thought I ought to throw out there for you to maybe talk about too. He claimed that there are so many guns among the citizenry in Uganda today that if more than two people are in one place, do not trust the third person because one of you is bound to either have a gun or have ways to get quick access to a pistol or AK-47.)
In talking about what is wrong or right with Uganda today, the second young man in the group argued that he does not wish for most people outside Uganda to know that he is a Ugandan. He gave his reasons. He said, “For me, in my view, I judge a country by two things, as my standard; that country’s airport and its capital city. How do they look like? What I feel when I see them, experience them? Sincerely if you compare Uganda’s and those of the countries around us, what can you think? Can anyone of us here stand between a Rwandese and a Kenyan and also proudly inform the others, ‘I’m proud to be a Ugandan?’ Basing on that standard of what our airport and capital city Kampala look like?”
Our murmurs were no adequate response! We could not, visualizing the scenario, find any sort of way we could have proudly asserted our identity as Ugandans. Would you have?
Then the Daily Monitor Common Sense columnist Robert Kalumba re-pointed to the same intriguing question in one of his posts-What identity do we have as Ugandans?
I have been thinking about. Trying to come up with an answer that satisfies me. That fills the void of the questioning. Because I do need answers. Urgently. I need to know. Am I a Ugandan and what makes me one?
The approved national symbols do not speak to me anymore. I read the motto-For God & My Country and I have issues with one half of that motto already. I should like to be patriotic, heart beating with tender love for my country but for years I have not had a mentor in that direction to look up to, study from, learn.
I have never been able to figure out quite well why anyone would have imagined The Crested Crane would be an appropriate symbol-supposedly of the beauty, gentility and grace of Uganda and Ugandans. I have nothing against birds but it is a bird and so fragile. Were they trying to say something about Ugandan and the nature of life in Uganda? It is sweet, it is glorious but oh so much any minute it can be snuffed out then?
I tried for a time to find my own version of what made me uniquely Ugandan. I tried to list down influences, loves, interests that I thought identified Uganda for me and well, sort of made me proud to be identified as Ugandan.
I liked to count my love for some of Austin Bukenya’s writing-especially the novel The People’s Bachelor, writing by Okot p’Bitek and his iconoclastic life-a man of letters and a man of the world, a man of thought and a man of action, reconciling a love of books with a love of more ‘frivolous’ interests like playing football, roasting nsenene etc., a deeply spiritual man who was not a believer in the Christian God of the Christian Missionary Society.
This was all before ‘rediscovering’ the geniuses of our time that snobbery had not let me listen to. Geniuses like Paulo Kafeero, Elly Wamala-and if you notice it increasingly became about musicians, perhaps it was because as I learned and knew more and more about writing, I found fewer and fewer Ugandan writers to admire-until the explosion of the blogging phenomenon and I started to stumble or be linked to bloggers who made much of the newspaper stuff I read dry and uninspired.
But when it all comes right down to it and you ask-so what makes you a Ugandan? It’s a question I’m still trying to answer. Do you have your own answer?
Friday, September 02, 2011
10:53pm-What's Maurice Kirya's motto, directly a spin off from his Misubbaawa album? TWAAKKE! From all we are reading and following, Huge Success, this Maurice Kirya concert. He did not just give off a warm cuddly candle light-he shone!
10:44pm-Reviews of the show flooding in at #Kiryalive trend, from the "dreamy" descriptions, you would think this was more than just a concert!
10:15pm-The Kiryas' are taking over. Okay, some in the crowd are mouthing, "They're brothers?" with Vampino coming on stage, like something's not right. LOL! Yes, they are! Not musical brothers just, blood brothers, mama omu! #Kiryalive. In fact it is only when Vampino was roughed up by Jose Chameleone outside a club sometime back, just when Vampino's song Kwekunya Kunya was blazing hot that Maurice temporarily lost his public cool temper persona and wanted to go native, fists and facebook wars!
10:12pm-With a real 'boda boda' on stage, Maurice is now revving up the crowd for the song that has been yelled at him and requested like oba how many times. He just did an accapella that blew away the crowd, too used to being fed on CD playback. Now I really wish I had recorded that rehearsal I attended! #Kiryalive.
9:40pm-Maurice Kirya was 'famously celibate' for some six months and more in 2010 (this blogger reported on it), getting over a relationship gone a little haywire and concentrating on his music. The screams from the women in the audience, very doubtful he is going to remain so, if he still is celibate. NO. WAY.
9:30pm-'Twitreporter' Mark Keith Muhumuza just confirmed that special musical guest Valerie Kimani is in the house, looking very delectable & now let her sing!
9:05pm-Did you need a full confirmation of the erotic mayhem being unleashed at Serena Hotel by Maurice Kirya and his gang. Our 'twitreporter' Brentaka confirms all with her latest tweet, "When he starts singing, my heart beats like its going to jump outta my chest! Goosebumps! #KiryaLive"
9:00pm-Further 'twitreport' from Natabaalo, let's quote this, "Two crazy chicks just made placards that say they love Maurice Kirya, oh my. Ha!"
8:47pm-Grace Natabaalo just tweeted from #Kiryalive "Maurice Kirya killing the women at his show. They won't stop screaming. Hehe..."
8:42pm-It's going to be like celebrity listing time up in here, but Blu*3 singer and Sundowners leadsinger/boss Lillian Mbabazi just confirmed she is in the house at Serena bathing in the Mwooyo music. Soon the question is going to be-who is not here?
8:29pm-Are you at the #Kiryalive concert at Serena-tweeps are playing a "Where are you seated" game as the concert gets under-way. Connections are going to be made tonight, hey maybe even our first tweep baby 9 months later.
8:27pm-Gorgeous NBS TV morning news anchor Joy Doreen Biira is also #Kiryalive! She says, "It's a cold Friday night but where I'm it's blazing hot!"
8:21pm-We have our first pix from #Kiryalive from our trusty 'twitreporter' all purpose Jack Onyait of what is happening at the Kirya concert. Already on! Looking good!
7:48pm-In press interviews before the concert, Maurice promised that there would be no 'curtain raisers'-musician code speak for buying time as more patrons stream in, sometimes to cover up for a small back catalogue. Will he keep his word? Waiting...
7:29pm-Michael Niyitegeka is hinting that there are surprise basket goodies awaiting lucky Maurice Kirya concert guests. Trying to find out what they be!
7:25pm-Tip for first time concert goers-always go early! Don't listen to the last minute arrivals talk mbu it makes you look important or whatever. The jam can be murder! As Siima has pointed out. Especially if the artist performing is in demand. The buzz around Maurice Kirya has been building for years and it is reaching a hard-to-ignore crescendo. No brainer there would be heavy traffic on roads to the venue. And especially on a Friday-when most concerts are held.
7:17pm-Shouts at the lovely Siima whose at Maurice Kirya concert! We are following her on twitter.
7:15pm-Boda Boda seems to be a favourite of many Kirya followers on twitter and facebook. Beemola too...
7:09pm- From Onyait, we are assured security is high priority. Even sniffer dogs are being used to ensure no Al-Shabab chaps turn up.
7:04pm-It's been a drizzly, wet afternoon, it's still quite cold, but that surely should not be an issue for those who turn up for the Kirya Serena concert. I mean it is a very comfy, sound proofed hall,and from the pix so far I've seen-warm and intimate. Like sipping coffee to fantastic sounds. Envying the guests!
6:58pm-Word on the street is that the jam in town is real hectic. 2 big concerts in town at the same time. Maurice Kirya's at Serena and Jose Chameleone's Omukisa Gwo at Hotel Africana.
6:51pm-Oh, by the way, that Mr. SoUg tag, Tom-The Mith-Mayanja came up with it, I believe. He is live in Serena tonight too! Kirya describes his brand of music as Mwooyo...
6:51pm-In case you missed the call out, Kirya is taking last minute song requests at his twitter page, & his facebook page. You are still in time to let Mr. SoUg know what you want to hear tonight!
6:45pm-If you are having issues with keeping up with all the tweets, or even worse can't be at the Maurice Kirya concert at Serena live, we got you covered! We are doing the stress of keeping up with all the tweeps and messages coming through blogger so you do not have to miss the occasion entirely!
6:30pm-Maurice Kirya is in concert today at Serena Hotel. Did you miss the memo? Hope not. We at M&C were supposed to be there-in person, stuff has got in the way.
But if there is anything learned from Maurice Kirya, stuff gets in the way-find a way around it!
We have. Going to follow the concert online, with the help of some tweeps who are there!