Page Not Found; A Viral Picture & A Looming Internet Shutdown.

coup

Image; A Sauti-Sol demonstration of a ruthless African Dictator.  naije.com

The day’s news had left everybody sullen, including two security guards at the presidential palace who shared the President’s second name. Metres away, as the clock ticked 9:14am, the presidential hotline flashed on Mr Djibril’s phone screen. The president’s voice on the end of the line, “Will you please come with a copy of the “Daily Herald” to my suite, now!

“Yes sir” Djibril, the long serving 42-year-old press secretary replied, put the phone down,  bit his lower lip, as he thoughtfully stared towards the corrugated roof.

Instead of the usual news brief, this time the President wanted a copy of the day’s newspaper delivered upstairs, directly to his presidential suite , a rare thing.

So as the presidential kitchen staff delivered breakfast to his front porch, the former rebel leader thoughtfully stared through his rare office window towards the Mediterranean  where his $30m lakeside Villa stood defiant to the populace’s 25 year old cry against impunity.

Turning in his heavily embroidered  gown, Mr. President, asked one of the kitchen staff to summon Nwankwo, the youngest staff at the presidential palace served as both the presidential IT “handy man,” and Djibril’s press assistant.

“What happened to Djibril, its 10:00am already, we are not safe around here, can I please have Nwankwo here?”

The kitchen staff gazed clueless in response to such a rare assignment from a now frantic “Dada,” (as they often referred to him) and that’s exactly the point when Mama first lady yelled from the next window.

“Dada, are you asking kitchen staff to break security guidelines? They are not supposed to access the document room, without supervision please call up Djibril directly, if you want to speak to him. ”

Djibril, the press man,  had’nt showed up, yet presidential action had to take its due course.

Meanwhile, tension hang across the entire presidential floor, and in the adjacent security room, the First lady had switched off the air conditioner for the first time in many years.

Meanwhile, tension hang across the entire presidential floor, and in the adjacent security room, the first lady had switched off the air conditioner for the first time in many years.

Jay Jay, the kitchen chief, knew all wasn’t going well that morning, he had noticed the first lady thoughtfully leaning on her “Mahogany”guest room chair. (made out of expensive timber   the first Family had distributed in Europe with the help of the trade and industry minister contacts) 

Mr. President continued to hastily comb the first three pages of “The Daily Herald” under the looming gaze of his curious second born 23-year-old daughter and  hotel group owner, Francesca Dee.

Francesca had just returned on  holiday from Boudreaux University, in France, and the anxiety around the presidential palace she grew up accustomed, was too visible not to notice, weeks into her holiday.

“I see nothing worth panicking about.” Mr. President spoke up.

“Well… , Francesca  replied in her newly acquired French-esque accent, a bit overwhelmed by her father’s usual sweaty forehead early in the day,  “Ask Mummy,“

“But that’s later, I want an update now.” Mr. President’s tone grew even more stern towards everybody in the house.  It was a tone well known to Francesca in her younger days as she took orders from his Father, then just an army commander)

Francesca then replaced her Italian brand loafers and ran down the stairs straight to Mr. Djibril’s office.

“Who are you  to keep Mr. President on the wait?” She seethed towards Djibril’s desk. Djibril’s computer cursor was at that point  moving towards the second Google result as he searched the key words,

 “Anti-Dada demonstration picks momentum. ”

And that’s exactly when Francesca interrupted with a second mini-presidential directive. When Djibril leaned forward to see whose voice exactly was lashing out, it wasn’t Mama first lady’s voice, he reasoned under his breath, for he did not expect her to be downstairs before mid-day, her usual wake up time.

“Djibril! “Francesca let out, “You are the people, you are the young people threatening the stability of this nation, Daddy struggled and bought this country by blood, and now, you young men want to destabilize the nation through the Internet we freely provide.”

On her apple tablet hours earlier, Francesca had secretly traced a viral Facebook conversation through Djibril’s mutual friends, the 42-year-old press sec had “shared” a picture from the presidential palace  party the previous night, that showed her father, Dada, sticking a brown envelope to a renown European musician invited to attend a  $ 1m  birthday celebration at the presidential ballroom.

The picture had been shared 7,345,555 times, with 567,999,881 likes, and the mass protests were now 12 minutes away from the presidential compound.

Trouble for Dada’s regime, and the country’s internet in general, was looming.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

If Albert Einstein had gone to a Ugandan school.

ein2

Image; houndudiaro.com

The terrible song about Ugandan education needs to continue, at least for as long as we have UCE students committing suicide.

Maybe that’s why our classrooms are arranged in rows. Every body’s got to know how assembly plants work, you know!

Anyway, I will begin with a public confession, my O level certificate has an F9 in Mathematics, so when my wife stumbled on it the other day, my only explanation was – “they were trying to force a fish to climb a tree.”

Fish climbing a tree, Yeah, I was gleaning from an Albert Einstein quote about everybody being a genius, and a fish that spends all it’s life thinking it’s a failure because it couldn’t climb a tree.

And Ugandan education somewhat looks like a forested pond where many fish are trying to, you know, climb.

Well, you who struggled at Math like me, are probably applauding, you remember how the struggle was, don’t you? I personally recall isolation when  decimals and equations were presented, I somehow never progressed anywhere as soon as digits showed up.

Actually, it could be said about me that the higher I went in school, the cooler it became for me in mathematics, yes, literally.

And I am not alone.

Many youngsters in this country  continue to show up behind desks every morning, not just to struggle at what they are not designed for, but  ready to photographically memorize and reproduce for yet another exam,  one school term after another. ( even when they remain untransformed by that knowledge)

The high school enterprise ( yes because that’s what it is) also seems to be built on this model, get more names to the Makerere admission list and keep the business brand hot enough to ensure your bursar is banking a billion at the beginning of the term.

The cycle goes on, and a culture of academic impunity thrives, as Albert Einstein- the fella who encouraged us never to force a fish to climb a tree- turns in his grave.

Yet all talk, and opinion-writing, is not enough, how about we parents act on some of these reflections?

Perhaps starting with your sibling would help, what about we help young people grasp their strong areas in life early on? Yes not everybody has outstanding talents, gifts, yet everybody is different, what about exploring our son’s hobbies, our daughter’s preference. I am certain we can find as many clues? uh?

What about, like boundless minds is doing, we target high school chaps  and equip them with skills readying them to engage the fast changing world?

Or maybe we begin at home and encourage Parents to consider their house like a training ground for the world to come, rather than a hotel, a movie theatre, and for some, a gaming centre, where these little ones, inexperienced in life and lacking in wisdom, yet (ironically) full of knowledge, return for holidays?

Perhaps instead of waiting for a Government program, parents would do well to remember their mentoring responsibility beyond food on the table, and clothes on the back.

And on a slightly radical note, what about we stop reinforcing the ‘popular school’ idea by preferring less traditional schools? Perhaps some money-driven proprietor  will eventually get out of business, and begin to think hard about causing transformation rather than just offering information.

Government inevitably has a lot to do about Uganda’s education sector,  but while we wait for some curriculum and structural changes to happen, how about we get our citizenry pondering on a few action points they can undertake?

Let me hear some of those now, may I?

Dear Digital people, Please Mind Your Audience.

 

soc

Image: nmtmarketing.com

By Eddie Ssemakula

A new-media age is upon us, and nobody’s waiting for a week to read his or her ‘letter to the editor’ in the daily newspaper any longer.

Almost anyone, and maybe your boda guy too, is a few megabytes away from publishing their thoughts online, in a few characters – yet this has not come without cost. A democratised web has arrived with lots of consequences.

A lot of digital carelessness is mushrooming at the same time, you just have to scroll through your newsfeed and prove, or perhaps check out a few Ugandan websites to remove any remaining doubt.

From poorly lit photography to verbose posts that care about the emotions of the writer than the person reading – the media carnage is everywhere. Even Reputable organisations care less about giving their audience timely news updates as their communications office receives another paycheck, yet again.

But who is to blame? Perhaps the Internet age found a people interested in the spoken rather than the written word, a people to whom it has been said “hide it in the book and they won’t find it.”

Culturally speaking, folks in this part of the world are generally non-readers, and consequently not good content developers, dare we say?

We probably prefer talking than writing. And when we eventually do, it seems the carnage that proceeds is voluminous.

I am a culprit too, my carelessness with punctuation, even as this article may (hopefully not) testify, is on record, I am barely mindful about my online audience. I sometimes do not accompany my blogs with good photography, yet I very well understand digital people are visual.

I rarely put commas where they are supposed to be, eventually exhibiting my poor attention to detail. My posts sometimes come off longer than necessary, proving that I don’t care about the fact that online readers are lazy readers.

And it’s not just myself, the corporate culture around me reinforces the idea that social media can be sloppy and unskilled, as organisations hire incompetent staff, sometimes relatives, to manage the company digital presence, if at all.

Ugandan websites in particular often lack timely, and quality information, blogs stand un-updated, event photography poor, and cloud storage/access, even for important organisation documents – shady.

We have not even talked about the mushrooming online news media, with three paragraphs that promise heaven in the title and deliver hell in the body, plus a huge picture in-between text, as if the first misdemeanour wasn’t enough.

If African sub-Saharan societies are going to catch up with the fast pace of the rising global media, Ugandan digital natives should consider escaping the sloppiness that so easily entangles our web content, consequently undermining the glorious 21st century privilege we find ourselves with – in disseminating information, anytime, anywhere, relevantly, accurately, fairly and in a timely, yet likable, even journalistic manner.
 

Margaret, Morris, and Gerald: Ugandan voices on Tech progress?

 

usaid

Image; usaid.gov

By Eddie Ssemakula

When Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appointed a former lands minister, Aida Nantaba, as State Minister for Information Communication and Technology, it didn’t sit well with some Ugandans.

Some took to social media and ridiculed the move, wondering how Aidah, a former Lands minister without a “Twitter” account then, could be entrusted with such a huge mandate.

Why aren’t such incidents strange in Uganda; two reasons probably. One, perhaps because little or no attention is paid to the growing Tech industry especially by the typical baby boomer age most of our leaders are. Or two, because technology is fast becoming the conversation in Uganda, and so, some leadership mishaps no longer go unnoticed by the new digital citizens.

Whereas some, like Nation Media Ugandan editor, Daniel Kalinaki, have decried the failure of Uganda’s tech enthusiasts to translate their digital power and challenge the establishment, (a worthwhile concern too) many Africans tech-preneurs seem to weathering on, and making strides in employing technology for development- yet not without qualms.

One Ugandan, Margaret Nanyombi, 26, is one of those, having been raised by a single mother, who dubbed as a secretary in a Courier company; she was exposed to computers at an early age.

“ Whereas I always wanted to be an engineer, I developed a passion for IT, after high school, I knew the way to achieve my life’s dreams was through Information Technology. “

Margaret, a Google developer at Uganda’s largest University, Makerere, was also part of the National Tech-fibre challenge. She is currently working on BVKit, a self-test application that works with hardware to enable women to monitor their reproductive health at home.

Margaret, however, does not only see the cup as “half empty”, she affirms Uganda’s prospects too, “One thing I am certain about Uganda is that it has great innovators and a lot of potential in the technology industry, unfortunately, most of those beautiful ideas die even before they are prototyped or developed.”

 

Margaret, 26, also seems to carry advice for younger Ugandans, urging them towards continued tech entrepreneurship. Uganda annually churns out 400,000 graduates to a formal job market that only absorbs about 113,000.

On whether her leaders are doing enough to link Technology and Development, Margaret, whose seed capital project is supported by Resilient Africa, a USAID supported startup-supporting initiative, notes: “I have got no comment in that area until I actually see the Mandate given for innovations coming.”

Uganda’s official ICT Innovation plan aims at “facilitating the building of businesses and saving the country from spending on foreign systems and licenses.”

Morris Atwine is another Ugandan with a similarly strange story. After developing his first mobile app as a Computer science student at Makerere University in 2012, the 22-year-old Orange Community Innovation awards finalist was motivated to set up local technology solutions in his native country.

His breast cancer-diagnosing app, Breast IT, he says, has eased most of his project fundraising. Also a Director at Design Think IT, a design thinking driven software company aimed at delivering eHealth & enterprise solutions, Morris remains optimistic about the future of Uganda’s technology sector.

“The potential there.” he quips.

One of the emerging trends in the Ugandan Information Technology field has been social media, which has been easily embraced by Ugandans. “(A January 2016 UN, US Census Bureau report indicated 11.92million Internet users in Uganda and 28.66 million access to mobile connections) According to the population Bureau, Uganda’s population is 37.58 million.

Morris, however, unlike Margaret, doesn’t feel currently supported; he explicitly quips when I ask, noting. “No, the whole thing about technology in Uganda is still a mess. Maximising what’s available is the way to go. “

All hope is not lost for Morris, though, he still believes the room for Ugandan leaders to get working still remains.

“We need a tech-enabling environment. Investors have clearly failed to invest in tech startups because the environment is still lacking. Leaders should clearly understand that no country can grow without innovation, am not saying technology is the sole thing, but it plays a bigger role.”

Enter Gerard Busingye, 37, a Ugandan Berkeley University graduate and multimedia journalism trainer.

His school digital learning website, http://www.yaaka.cc sets a groundbreaking precedent in Uganda, where 70% of children drop out of the $302m supported Universal Primary Education (UPE) program due to hidden costs.

Nevertheless, notable developments in digital technology have not skipped his eye. Gerald, therefore, reiterates a position discernable in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Innovations are benefiting from the encouraging growth in affordable smart phones in Sub-Sahara Africa, increased access to the Internet thanks to many governments prioritising setting up fiber optic networks and an enterprising population especially of young developers who are churning out many technologies related solutions.” He says.

On whether he feels supported by his government, his response is twofold: Yes because according to him, the Ugandan Government has not only organised Innovation awards (which his Yaaka platform won in 2015) but has also improved on the update of ICT solutions by both public and private sector.

And no, because, in his own words “Most Ugandan government officials think technology innovations are for young university graduates or students ‘developing a new app.’ There is also a lot of lip service in the promises of supporting innovations.” He notes. (Current ICT Minister, Frank Tumwebaze, recently promised the creation of tech innovation hubs in the country so Government support can reach innovators)

Gerald also cites the example of how Uganda’s Ministry of Education officials, despite continued talks about his digital learning platform didn’t even open up an account with him to experience the interactive features he had developed for teachers and Ugandan students.

It is no doubt sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a revolution in widespread smartphone reach, (2015 report indicated 12% adults have one) whether that is an advantage Ugandan leaders can harness to consequently fast-track development is another conversation altogether – well, at least from Morris, Margaret and Gerald’s eyes.

The writer is an impassioned freelance Journalist living in Uganda. This piece was first shortlisted for the Haller Prize for Development Journalism. 

 

Ugandan bloggers agree on Mental Health Theme, wait.

ug-bloc

photo from Ug bloc

Ugandan bloggers, including yours truly, are now entering  another week of sustained meditation after agreeing to write on mental health as an October theme.

Unidentified reports indicate that in spite of their agreement reached at Atmosphere lounge weeks back; an unidentified wave of reluctance has swept the 15+member team.

Others sources that preferred anonymity stated that this could be a result of anticipated government internet data bundles that have recently been speculated to be descending upon their capital city,Kampala, consequently  causing numbing anxiety that has prohibited  bloggers from writing.

Our reporters also indicated that the Donald/Hillary debates could have prohibited their blogger muse from flowing in the right direction. “We are not sure whether to publish about mental health anymore because comments in the US debates keep diverting us.” one UGbloc blogger remarked.

Another unidentified blogger stated how all these weekends have required her to go salons, “There was no way I was going to find the time and write about mental health, she stated, do you people even see how much time my salon occupies these days?” she questioned.

With less than a week left towards the end of  October,  even yours truly remains uncertain on when he will post his first blog on mental health, for now, he is assuming this post may help disguise  his own reluctance, at least.

NB: Whereas the meeting at Atmosphere lounge featured more than five people, only a couple of blogs or so, about the subject have surfaced so far.

ENDS

#MentalHeath #Ugblogs

Queen of Katwe, Long Before Disney.

Following a tip-off from American World Magazine Editor, Mindy Belz in 2012, this Journalism student-then, grabbed a little camera and notebook and off I went to track down an obscure little girl in Katwe, who was beginning to capture global attention. Four years later, I revisit my conversation with the Queen of Katwe, – Phiona Mutesi.

 

in-action

Phiona Mutesi mocks out a game during our interview. Photo by Eddie Ssemakula

By Eddie Ssemakula

It’s July 2012, and the path to Agape Sanctuary Church in Katwe, a Ugandan slum, is cluttered with heaps of Ginger and sugarcane, on sale.

A Bob Marley song bellows from a nearby speaker as the number of children playing around the run-down structure quickly reminds you Uganda is 34.5 million in population, with over 50 percent below  age 15.

One year above this majority age is Ugandan female Chess sensation Phiona Mutesi – who will be turning 17 next March. (2013)

Fiona has been featured by ESPN for her prodigious chess prowess, twice winning a prestigious local championship in the  Rwabushenyi championships, and representing Uganda at the 2010 chess Olympiad in Russia, as the youngest player on the Uganda women’s chess team.

On the edge of this valley is Agape Church, the minster that has long provided space for upcoming chess players like Phiona from Katwe’s rugged slums.

Hours later, a slightly towering Fiona emerges in blue denim jeans and a stripped pink and black blouse led by his coach – Robert.

She started training with Coach Robert in 2005, Coach Robert Katende is the director of Sports outreach Ministry, an evangelical sports outreach program in Kampala that holistically supports children from slum areas through football, chess among other games.

fiona-at-agape-churchPhiona, the senior two secondary school student goes to boarding school a few minutes away from this Agape Church, at St Mbuga, where she is obviously no ordinary student.

“I take time off at school to practice for 30 minutes every day at 5pm (most Ugandan High schools are closing by that time) and I am given permission on Sundays to go out to play, notes the three-time Uganda women’s Junior champion.

She recently returned from a chess championship in Kenya where she lost and attributes it to lack of training. ”I just can’t go without training.”

Phiona says she once held a position of an Assistant leader at her school’s Christian fellowship. All this, along her visits to –most memorably- Russia for the 2010 Women’s Chess Olympiad.

“The stadium was nice.” She quips, “(Airport) cars there, unlike  in Uganda, just drive you from the plane stop to the building, the roads were nice.”

She remembers Isabella, as one of those opponents she has been most afraid of in her career so far.

Such experiences have been a good blackboard in her seven-year Chess career and as she prepares to fly out to Istanbul for the 2012 Olympiad, she concedes she has learnt her lessons well.

“I have learnt how to think so hard and I am now better.” she quips.

Fiona’s 12-year-old brother Richard is also up and coming. “He also plays in junior tournaments.” observes her champion sister.

Ironically, Fiona dreams of becoming a medical doctor, a profession that has long stood as her childhood dream. She would like to take up Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at advanced secondary school level in preparation for a life as a physician.

As to why studying medicine still interests her, In spite of her phenomenal acceleration in World chess, the youngster notes,

”We had a neighbor who was a medical student, they inspired me a lot.”

Looking back, the female chess player whose maiden chess journey was as recent as 2005, says she has learnt a lot along the way.

“At first I simply used to move pieces but now I play with motive, I first think before I push my pieces, I used to rush, but now I take my time“

“At first I simply used to move pieces but now I play with motive, I first think before I push my pieces, I used to rush, but now I take my time. “

Fiona, whose pedigree has also recently drawn global media attention from powerhouses BBC, Dutch Television and Guardian UK, has also met those she admires most in the game, Like Russian chess grandmaster and former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov.”

“I used to see Kasparov in books, she says “but this time (on her maiden Russia visit) I saw him playing in the friendlies, I noticed him by his name tag.”

“I used to see Kasparov in books, she says “but this time (on her maiden Russia visit) I saw him playing in the friendlies, I noticed him by his name tag.”

Phiona’s other past time game is netball.

She recalls her Russian visit for the 2010 Olympiad games with vividness. “I actually tasted Turkey. Russians are cool, their roads are nice. ”

Her role model back home is fellow chess player Harold Wanyama whom she says “concentrates and makes good moves.”

Harold himself describes Phiona as “Talented and interesting,” adding,  “she has a fighting spirit and learns quite first, she was under immense pressure to perform in Russia 2010, she is now more mature. ”

During her school term holidays, Fiona cuts out her Wednesdays to also help out her mother Harriet, a cabbage and tomatoes  vendor in Katwe market.

Fiona says she will never forget her first trip on the plane. “The three of us from Uganda were headed to South Sudan on our first flight, we thought the Aeroplane windows were opening” she chuckles, “..and we knocked on them, trying to open.”

Fiona says she will never forget her first trip on the plane. “The three of us from Uganda were headed to South Sudan on our first flight ever; we thought the Aeroplane windows were opening” she chuckles “..and we knocked on them, trying to open.”

Her coach Robert, eavesdrops our chat while juggling a phone conversation (seemingly) about blogs and emails – a clue to the worldwide acclaim Fiona may be garnering.

Sports Outreach Project

Sports outreach, the project that has mentored Fiona was started 2005 and is directed by Robert Katende, who also acts as Fiona’s trainer and coach.

“This program is evangelical, chess is just a ‘by the way’ but the core is to preach the gospel. I also never intended to become a chess coach but I have found myself doing so, ” says Katende, while going on to emphasize the holistic spiritual nature of the program.

“There are other kids we are training and most of them are playing in the national team and are attached to clubs. We have programs in four other slums that reach these Children not just with games, but with counselling too, it’s like they come to play and we talk through their other challenges too.”

Robert adds that Sports outreach was using the Agape church structure in the valley but was forced to shift to another  place uphill because the church would constantly flood and yet it also featured programs almost every week.

“My dream is to start a feeding program alongside the games to get these children detached from the slums. We simply use sports as an opportunity to create relationships through Bible study and fellowship and prayer retreats once in a while.”

“Most of these kids” he adds “do not go to school and only go on one meal a day so with this chess training they come eat and play. So far, 11 of them have been enrolled back into school, they were not in school before, this is for the betterment of their academics.”

As an aspiring physician, Phiona, anticipates to have some spare time in the future and play chess.

“I may not be working the whole day as a nurse, so I will have time to play.” she says.

On whether she has a message for the world out there, the seemingly jovial Fiona, at one point joyfully  ferrying wooden benches into the chess training room, replies.

“Nothing, nothing.”

Eddie Ssemakula is an impassioned multimedia journalist, blogger, living and working in Kampala, Uganda, Tweet him @Semakeddie

Eleven Writing Tips I Will Never Regret.

 

writer

Image: bellanaija.com

You have heard about the man who buried his master’s treasure because he was afraid of  his boss’s wrath, I don’t want to be that man, when my master returns I want him to know I multiplied what he gave me, for his glory alone.Writing is one of those few passions I am privileged to steward, at the risk of sounding self-obsessed, I am humbled to share some lessons I have picked up in this craft, over the years.

 

Rock higher than I
When writing I have learnt, it is important to first think of the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’, I see writing as a “means” rather than an “end.” It is suitable that you are something else before you define yourself as a writer, another passion should drive you, another cause must stir. “… all other ground is sinking sand,” the ancient hymn goes.

Cause before pen.
For some I know, music trends move you, sound doctrine drives the heart of some of my friends, others are often unsettled by the state of politics, others -fashion, humanitarian stuff , blogging, the list goes on, yet not without caution, and I will tell you this as Christian, all identities outside the what we have become in Christ will eternally fail us. So we all tread with restraint and grab a cause before we grab the pen.

Gotta study boy!
I forget who said but I still remember what they said, “Writers who never read should never expect to be read.” God wrote a book, he even encouraged his people to “study to show themselves approved.” Whereas motivations to study may vary, the discipline itself is priceless. Writers do well to heed.

Style
Author Max Lucado once put it well, “ there is only one you, you will never bump into yourself on the street” I wouldn’t hesitate to apply that to writing too, we all arrived here custom-made, different by design, from the maker of all things, some folks are smitten by how computers work, others like Zuckerberg are fascinated with what computers can accomplish. So hone your style, admire and emulate other people’s style, but in the end, let it all rub on yours, which is original.

Punctuation. 
Like the Grammarly quote goes, “People  who do not use punctuation deserve a long sentence.” – enough said.

Precision
This is my favourite; my journalism tutors used to say keep it short and simple- (KISS) I still agree, the world is full of information, don’t add to the problem, surgery is painful, but good, love your reader and cut the long sentence, avoid unnecessary words, mean what you say and say what you mean. William Zinsser, author of “On Writing well” famously quipped, “Clutter is the disease of American Writing,” he probably had never been to Uganda. So cut and cut, slice even your dear sentences, it might all turn out bloody, but then again, you save your dear reader the burden of thick paragraphs, like the one I just wrote now.

Jargon
We are a society strangling in unnecessary jargon, but engineer talk should be left to Engineers, legal jargon shouldn’t be used in market stalls, in other words, write how you speak, if you’ve never told your wife she’s “pre-eminent”, don’t use it in a sentence, just tell us she cooks you awesome Irish and later asks how your day was. We will Gerrit!

Chunking
This is one I just learnt, digital natives are lazy readers, they rarely scroll to the bottom of your stuff, (unless it’s your relative reading) so we say it again, keep paragraphs “chunked” to four, five lines, or less, single page in total for digital is good advice, Unless your editor or lecturer requires otherwise. And like our friends in advertising put it, “less is more. ”

One Thought at a time
If you want to tell us how awesome your barber is, don’t tell us about his cousin’s friend, who moved  upcountry last week, and how he’s also starting a barber shop like “his nephews’ ” keep it to him, describe his laughter, his facial expressions as he trims your beard, we can know about his nephew in the next post, right?

Free to fail.
The trouble with life-hacking stuff is that when we hear “tips,” we try to get it perfect first time round, wrong, every craft takes time, punctuation and style grow, readers too, so dust yourself fast when your content looks horrible in the beginning, everybody starts there. Feel free to fail and break some rules once in a while, the ultimate things in life are high above pens and Microsoft word.

Led by the spirit
Of course everybody has their inspiration, some say music, others serenity, whatever it is, as a Christian, I have personally found relentless nutrition from prayer and God’s word, the hope of most of my writing is that my readers  get to see (like author Tim Keller would put it) that, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Yep, I could say much more, but see what else I have got say here, as you also let us hear your own lessons, Will you?

A Naive Suggestion: Ugandans, Let’s Petition For A New Olympic Medal Category.

 

team-uganda-in-rio

Team Uganda at the welcome event in Rio, photo: Dailypost.ug

I hope I don’t sound satirically unpatriotic but this “no medal” song has simply played on too often. Hasn’t it?

The routine around this time is always the same; Team Uganda gears up, some Government official flags them off as Ugandans murmur with skepticism. Meanwhile, opening day images stream through as our team, pompous in national apparel, raise our flag high – often for the last time.

Days latter, our house of cards comes tumbling down, once again. If no games village mishap is reported in between, Team Uganda is often faithfully resigned to attend the closing ceremony as spectators.

Save for the break we had in London with Kiprotich four years ago, it seems like we have descended to old post-Akii-Bua season, once again. Somebody just replayed the “no medal” song, yet again. This time, we hope it won’t keep on replay through Tokyo 2020. But just incase it does, perhaps this one attempt can pre-occupy us as we wait for the next Kiprotich.

My suggestion; Why not petition the international Olympic committee to arrange for new award categories for countries like ours. What if we petitioned the Olympic organizers to include an extra category for countries like Uganda, whose sports infrastructure often rewards winners, rather than equip potentials?

Something like a ‘zinc’ or ‘copper’ category, or even ‘rubber’ medal would stir up our country sports administrators to at least reward the morale of would-have-been-failing teams, eventually boosting the general sports morale. After all, our leaders only seem to take notice when somebody returns with a medal, no matter it’s what it’s made of.

Of course this  is abit of a naive suggestion, but then again, maybe a little naivety is what we need to remind our leaders to do more than simply reward the Inzikurus and the Kiprotichs, without building capacity for future ones.

 

 

In Banana Republic, Rotary Clubs Run For Cancer Wards, As Legislators Ride On.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 12.29.43 PM

You must wonder what kind of conversations happen over breakfast in our August House?

Certainly Nsambya Hospital is rarely mentioned, perhaps one Member of Parliament bemoans the rising price of car lights before he is interrupted by a female legislator across the  table, who then laments about the constant phone calls from his upcountry farm boy.

“It’s like he doesn’t listen” she quips, as one male legislator in the circle straightens his necktie, sips his coffee, and leans in to listen, she continues, “I told him to sell the goat at 900million, now he’s calling to tell me they bought it at only 600 million, imagine, Imagine?”

The conversation picks up the following week, and this time, phones buzz, interrupting, car dealer numbers flash on the fancy legislators’ gadgets, – the garage folks  most definitely read the newspaper headline “MPs to get 150m each for cars. ”

Tea chat continues anyway, week in, week out.

23 minutes away, in another blue- window building, a lanky 50-something year-old executive plans for his next foreign trip, as the tea girl walks in, he quips, “Also give these documents to Ben in Finance Office,” he tells her.

On her way to the elevator, towards the Finance Office, her eyes roll as she looks at the “total” in the last column, she remembers the price of her baby’s formula compared to sum  on her boss’s travel budget, aw! she almost trips, risking the expensive tea flask his boss bought from the recent Stuttgart trip.

But what can she say? – little servant girl! Her Auntie brought her to work here after her UPE Education stalled. At least she escaped the tumultuous program, most of her childhood friends didn’t, no wonder they still languish in the village.

Across the street, where tea girl often buys breakfast cakes for staff, somebody is wearing a Rotary shirt with an “end cancer” brand, right there, tea girl and stranger begin to chat.

Their conversation is all too familiar, after all, the same discourse is happening countrywide; in a hundred market stalls- among overtaxed vendors, in Kampala coffee shops- among mobile-data buying millennials, in Hotel lounges – among “workshoping” NGO elites, in  reception lounges, where 4 fresh graduate await their fate.

Welcome to the Banana Republic, where some foreign trips highly matter, and Rotract clubs run for cancer wards, as our Legislators ride on.

(High) School Questions That Still Linger.  

HS

Why Why Why ?

Why was my 15 year-thereabouts-old brain subjected to 22 subjects in senior one, why did I have to wake up at those odd hours, was it all designed to help me sit in front of this desktop, all my adult life? I mean, Agriculture and French and German and Physics, and yet I still arrive sweaty to deliver my 4th job application this week!

What about the Mathematics teacher that always gave me that weird look, was it because he foresaw I was going to turn out a Journalist? Tell me about “Canadian Prairies” how on planet universe was that going to help match  Muhanga’s goat wealth.

You! what was the well-meaning Chemistry teacher talking about, “Bunsen burners”? I use gas, Mr. Gundi, have you been to my little house?

What about you Madame Gundi, why did you despise us because of our wrong calculations, did you foresee the information age, where our God-given passion for words would be weightier than “Dy Dx”?

Tell me Mr. Head teacher, why did you isolate us for apparently not being brilliant, was it because we took longer to recall after you had rubbed the formula off the blackboard?

By the way you people, where is that boy that always led the class? Oh Yeah, you don’t have to reply.

And now to you the University-first year advisor, why did you tell her Parents to get her into law school, didn’t you notice her photography and art skills, did you realize she was going to spend 5 years (plus “Hell DC”) in a place that only suffocated her fashion dreams? Was it a matter of prestige to you, or something?

Ministry of Education, why do you continue to reinforce these kinds of crippling Colonial inspired things, do you notice there are millions of more endowed talents still enduring morning and evening preps, in a classrooms where only those with the strongest photographic memory excel?

But since your new head shares a bedroom with the President, we hope things will change, we hope.

#UgBlogweek #Schoolmademenobetter