Daily Prompt: Believe

via Daily Prompt: Believe

What Happened To Uganda, The Country We Were All Proud Of?

The early 2000’s to which most of my age-mates and I gain our political knowledge were great times to grow up into.

The economy was stable, the doughnuts and food were cheap and sizable, education was cheap, we attended  public school thanks to a government that loved us, got to pay less than $10 dollars a term for quality education, electricity was cheap and seldom on leave.

We were really the pearl of Africa and there was promise for more glory

There were few cases of nepotism, we trusted our government and didn’t scrutinize government programs even though some sounded dubious, we sat through tiresome census exercises, went willingly for immunization, as far as the people were concerned, the opposition were a bunch of losers.

As kids  we endorsed government programs without actually understanding them-such was the trust we had for our leaders, anyone who critiqued our “Museveni” became an automatic enemy.

Every helicopter that passed in the skies was “Museveni” and we rewarded to the fading airplanes in the airspace’s with the humble yet noble gift of our voices singing “Amba Museveni” a praise and worship song dedicated to our leader that was no where within the acceptable values of entertaining  but we didn’t mind, we sang along out of sheer devotion to our President.

When in mid 2004 word came out that one of those public school we loved so much (Shimoni Demonstration School ) was going to be sold to an investor we rallied behind our president rubbishing the report as false and watched with disinterest as our parents suddenly became increasingly exasperated with the government.

Ours was not a rationale belief in what facts were available but rather a passionate hero worship of a man we had been told brought peace and stability by waging war on dictatorship and even though in the northern part of the country, a deranged general maimed the lips of his own kinsmen while claiming he was fighting to liberate them we held onto hope and believed in our president.

When a young member of parliament from Kampala Central dashed forward amidst criticism and stood by our parents protesting the sell of our beloved Shimoni, I finally came to terms with the fact that the government had sold our school and I had been betrayed as a child.

I grew sympathetic with the Member of parliament and actually liked him, I didn’t think that throughout his entire political existence it would be a fundraising ceremony for sympathy.

More than ten years past, with an ailing economy, a jobless youth that would rather commit crime than work, an abusive police force that that rewards hooliganism and kidnaps children for the crimes of their parents, and a legislature dominated by greedy individuals representing themselves in parliament and the government still celebrates to the victories of the early 2000s, it is then safe to ask what independence are we celebrating?

to be continued

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Africans That Inspire Me:

I like to draw inspiration from situations I’ve been through which to be honest are quite many. I’ve gone through lots of stuff that if my life were a drama series, it would have 22 seasons and to be modest they’d all be be fun.

But today’s prompt is not about me, its about people that I look up to, and in that regard I have to admit that coming up with a top 5 was very difficult, but I had to decide so her it is:

Wangari Mathaai:

I could write a novel and it still wouldn’t be enough to express the affection I feel for her. While everyone may know her as a political activist, I related better with her as an environmental activist, fighting for mother nature and advocating for environmental conservation so in that regard she appealed to me at a young age as the woman who stood up against the world and defended the environment so yeah she makes it on my top 5.

Achebe

Chinua Achebe:

Last year ny then girlfriend gifted me with an Ebook collection of Chinua Achebe and to be honest, to date its one of the best gifts I ever received. You see, I love Achebe, in my head he’s the greatest African writer ever, like he’s that guy that stood up for what he felt was right and didn’t shy away from Politics just because he was a writer, he advocated through his work. The Okonkwo Collection (Things fall Apart, No longer At Ease and Arrow of God) something i can never get tired of, add A man of the People (apologies for previous error) to it and you know why I adore Achebe.

Norbert Mao:

For a long time I’ve followed this man’s progress, from his days as the Local Council Chairman of my hometown to his current position as a head of the Democratic Party (DP). I might not subscribe to his political party, but to be honest, I’ve grown to respect this man for the person he is; Inteligent, knowledgeable, well read, rational, honest and most of all patriotic.

Lucky Dube:

You ever loved someone so much that you cry on the day that they’re no more,well i cried the day Lucky Dube died. For me he was this costume-less super-hero who advocated for the freedom through his art. Without ever holding a gun he waged war on apartheid, made segregation and injustice shy away in his light. His music is still an important part of my playlist, the messages never grow old and I hope he is never forgotten.

Charles Mpagi Mwanguhya:

One day I hope that I practice as a journalist and in that regard I hope I’m intelligent, knowledgeable, calm, collected, listening, principled and as brilliant as this guy.

If ever one day I’m asked to describe good journalism then I’ll paint a picture of the “bald headed lion from Tooro”.

Storytelling in Africa

I like to think that long before the technology showed up in Africa we were blogging; like that is if you go by my definition of blogging which might not really be legal but because it’s mine and we’re prolly friends, I’m hoping you’ll take it.

I look at blogging as personal storytelling that documents whatever is happening in your life or better still your verse.
And in that regard in Africa we’ve been blogging from time immemorial, sitting by fires, munching on roasted maize, or groundnuts or even maize telling stories and recapping highlights from our days, laughing and listening to stories from our friends and family.

History aside, fade in modern day blogging, I believe we’ve really come a long way as African bloggers. Ten years ago blogging in Africa was this thing we looked at from a far and admired without really engaging into.

One of my earliest blogs that I called “Teenage Voice” grew to a have 35 followers- and there was no African among them, and if anything, these streets were really cold and after a while I deleted the damn thing, the biggest challenges at the time being the technology in the sense that you needed a PC to blog which meant an Internet Café, or if you had a PC then there was still the issue of internet subscription which was far from cheap, aside from that there was the issue of blogging knowledge, eliminate that then you still had the minor problem of engagement, my deleted blog could only afford like 30 views a month, with no likes and comments which I found to be discouraging at the time.

Today the same challenges exist and we have new challenges like harassment and threats that come from the the fact that bloggers have become powerful and threaten the status quo.

But time has done a great job in reducing on the hustle we have to go through; data is cheaper, power is available in many homes, smartphones are many so I don’t need to own a PC to blog, blogging knowledge is like everywhere (guess what I also teach) then there’s Afrobloggers, that’s creating a focal point for all bloggers bringing us all together through challenges like the Winter Blogging Challenge through which I’ve been introduced to atleast twenty different bloggers that are now part of my community, so yeah life is good, we’ve come a long way but the future of African Blogging is bright.

An Africa that prides itself in Simplicity

My life is made better by the capabilities of electricity; television
to watch soccer and movies, a flat iron for my clothes, fridge for
cold water, a charged phone which means access to social media, my
books, music, games, fitness app, notes app and sometimes movies
(especially while grappling with traffic).

In addition to electricity there are amenities like bars where I can
have a great time, pools where I burn calories by swimming, cars that
help me travel from place to place and lastly but not least money to
buy me most of the stuff I need.

Now imagine my surprise the first time I actually had the sense to
think about how people in the village who had none of the amenities I
had managed to be happy.
That was like 2years ago and I remember sitting at the shores (is that
even what they call them?) of our fishpond dug up many years ago by my
late Grandpa (God rest his soul) and asking what was the true meaning
of happiness.

I did not get the answer. But one thing I was sure of was this,
the solution wasn’t in material wealth and great amenities and like
the colonisers who I felt were mistaken in thinking that development
and good roads would make us happy, I resigned myself to feeling
guilty.

That assumption is built on the belief that Africans are Materialistic
people, the kind that can’t be happy without money and great roads and
swimming pools and electricity.
In being in the village I found that whatever thing brought people in
my village was no complicated thing, true peace of mind lay in
simplicity, a dip in the Pond when one felt hot, hunting for leisure
and fitness, fishing for food, a bonfire to evade the cold and give
people a reason to talk and tell stories, drums and music for
entertainment, close knitted communities to unite people-not phones,
long walks or riding bicycles to go to nearby villages, and most of
all a line of inherited cultures and traditional customs to unite
people.

The Africa you never read about is an Africa that is happy from its
simplicity, that is not boring or uneventful just because it’s not connected on the hydropower grid, an Africa that is not backward but proud of its norms and customs, An Africa whose people get mad
whenever they see stories about themselves depicting hunger eventhough they have many sources of food, an Africa that is full people who given the choice would wear matching outfits with the
continent’s map on it out of pride.

hand written letter

Dear Boss

I’ve been reliably informed that some of you haven’t read my piece To a son in Kampala which is based on today’s prompt so I hope you click the link and go check it out, I wrote it from my Grandma’s perspective after she continued bugging my sister to write me a letter so I could come and visit, then I altered a few facts but it was my first letter from home so go ahead and kindly check it out.

Okay back to today’s prompt, growing up, my nickname was “Boss” I don’t know how or where it came from but it was mine to keep so if ever I were to receive a letter from home written by my Dad, it would be addressed to boss and you bet it would be really brief so let’s see if I can enact its diction.

Dear Boss,

How are you my son? I heard you’re growing fat, the other day Dorothy showed me a picture of you that you had put on Facebook while you were training some people from the cargo company, I certainly felt proud.

I know we rarely see each other nowadays but the truth is I love you, I’ve always wanted only the very best for you my son, I’ve always cheered you on even from here, in my own way, for every success big or small that has come your way, I’ve always smiled with pride.

We are here with Dorothy, and Mum and we are all okay, I spent last week in the village checking on grandma and she was okay, I also had to resolve a few issues in the village and I think it went well.

My backaches returned yet again so I’m struggling with that but I think in a few days I should be fine.

I miss you, we miss you a lot and we hope that this time when you return home you’ll stay abit longer so we can enjoy your company, parents ought to be with their children.

I wish you the very best in everything you do, hope to see you soon.

Dad.

A Case for why Africa hasn’t yet arrived through the Ugandan mirror

Growing up in the early 2000’s there was no internet, so somehow the biggest qualifier of information was seniority, if someone older or bigger than you said it then it most certainly had to be true.

Then in the 2004, while my playmates and I were still struggling with drawing the Ugandan map, one of our older friends (brother to my best friend) returned from his first term of high school, he seemed to have outgrown us, preferred to watch us from afar as we went on with our silly games and childish arguments.

Within only three months of Prince (My best friend’s brother) had become an authority on different topics, for instance a key debate for us at the time was whether Lampard was better than Gerard and while I always believed that Lampard was always the better player my friends who were Liverpool fans disagreed and we went back and forth making no points but calling each other liars. Then up would step Prince who after listening to us make all our points or rather “sentimental arguments” would step up, and tell us that we were all wrong and mention another player we had completely left out of the fold. His biggest argument; check the internet.

Now we didn’t have phones at the time so that put us at a huge disadvantage but neither did Prince, his only internet source was his school computer, but atleast he knew what the goddamn thing was so his opinion or rather always won the day.

No one I knew in 2004 could use the internet the main deterring fact being the lack of devices, people had Nokia 3310’s, Zte’s, Alcatels and if someone was rich enough then maybe they’d own a Motorolla phone which was the only device I recall to having had internet and I don’t ever remember seeing adverts for data bundles. The internet existed back then but it wasn’t affordable, reason being the technology had barely caught up, most phones lack internet and most people thought internet could only be accessed using computers. Its availability was also hampered by the technology both in terms of the hardware (phones) and poor network (yeah we laughed at bearded men climbing trees just to make a phone call)

Flash forward to today, almost every goddamn phone in Uganda has internet so obviously it’s available on most of their devices, is it affordable, “HELL NO”. My country is ranked at number 101 in a list of 230 countries with the most affordable data with the average cost of a GB of data being $4.69 which converted to Ugx would probably by about 17,000ugx, which in some households money that would rather be spent on food for four days so yeah it’s not affordable. The top 6 ranking countries from Africa with affordable data include Rwanda, at no 5, South Sudan at No 6, Congo at number 10, Egypt at No 24, Ghana at 25, and Morocco at No 28 which is rather disappointing.

Now about availability, this must be up there on list of marketing crap telecom networks manage to fix somewhere at the start of their ads, I mean I reside in Kampala where there is supposedly the best network but where I live barely has any, so often I have to rely on an App that scouts of me the best corners with the internet where I pitch cap for ten minutes before posting a mere article that is no heavier than 1mb. Then go to the villages, I can reliably assure you that In the remote areas of northern Uganda like Pader, Agago, Kitgum and Lamwo there’s barely stable 2G network, same in Fort Portal, Arua, Nebbi, Adjumani, Bukwe and other places I’ve personally been to but there’s an Airtel ad somewhere claiming that their 4G now covers the whole of Uganda which is very pathetic. I’ve been lucky to travel to Kigali, Nairobi and even Dar-es-Salam and it’s always been the same story, few places have internet access.

The issue of accountability Is one of those surreal things that you hear the same way you hear about the dinosaurs; the legends exist but the actual damn things are nowhere to be seen, possibly extent or rather made up. One of the biggest arguments for a successful democracy is that there should be accountability but how many bloggers have been incarcerated in Kenya, how come a journalist was kidnapped after writing a blogpost about the first lady in Uganda? How many times has the internet been blocked in various African countries?
The truth is there’s no such thing as accountability on the internet, governments don’t want to be held accountable, civilians love the fame posting sensual images gives them. And yes there are movements and campaigns for accountability and I hate to be negative but there are fighting a lost cause. In a space where I’m I can create fake news about a disease outbreak in the Congo using gruesome photos from a movie and get people reacting while hiding behind a computer’s virtual private network, there can never be accountability, what we should hope for is personal responsibility.

Why you should use the Internet and Blog

Hello, guys , My name is Ivan, and you’re probably wondering why a skinny guy branded with a White ill fitting shirt with lots of computers is standing in front of you today so I’ll gladly address that in a moment.

But before we get to that let’s first level the playing field here, since you already know my name, let’s get to the introductions rolling, be brief, your name and something about yourself. We’ll start from ummmh the front to the back so let’s get to it.
Amazing, am happy to meet all of you, like I said earlier, my name is Ivan Aboga Rackara and I’m among other things a bookkeeper and a blogger but as it is today I’ll be discussing blogging with you.

By show of hands can I see the number of people that have heard of the term blogging or the internet before?
One two, three, four, five, six, seven. Okay so seven out of thirty have heard a thing or two about blogging, that’s not a very good stat, but guess what you’re in luck because throughout the next thirty minutes I’ll be making attempts to improve on your understanding of the internet and the art that is blogging. So to start with let’s get the definitions out of the way.

The internet is a global connection through which information is stored on the World Wide Web. The creators of the internet figured they could create a system to facilitate communication and research between computers from different universities with the aim of sharing information.
Little did they know that the internet would become this huge, basket of information accessible to millions around the world who use the internet for a range of activities including research, communication, education, advertising and sales, sharing information.

Today the internet serves as a gateway allowing access to billions of pages with information which you’re able to access through search engines like Google which I’m sure majority of you have heard of.

Now a blog is basically an online journal where you share mostly opinions and thoughts about a wide range of things ranging from events, various topics and among other things situations so it sort of depends on your interests, for instance Timothy over there mentioned earlier on that he loves football so that’s something that he’s passionate about and could openly blog about. To create or even access an existing blog you need an internet connection.

If you’re wondering why it’s even important to have a blog then you need to wonder no more because I got you covered:

  • For starters blogging helps you vent emotion, be it anger or happiness or misery, your blog is this space where you can write about stuff you’re going through and just let it out, you could say it allows you tell the truth that sets you right, does that make sense.
  • What if you could write and get paid? Wouldn’t that be especially nice, considering that you’d be earning from a hobby. Well you can became a blogger and blog for companies and service providers that would pay you.
  • Caroline wants to be a writer, so what better way to practice and become better than through a blog? Blogging allows you the chance to practice your craft that Is if you intend to become a writer, you have readers that go through your work and give you opinions about your work, these opinions can be learning experiences.
  • Guys blogging is one of the most interactive activities you’ll ever find, you write then there are readers, your readers write and you read too, so that way you form friendships and bonds with people that might prove important to you in the near future, take for instance my case where I met my business partner from online, isn’t that amazing?

Well its been an amazing session but I’ve done a lot of talking so I think let’s now make it two-way, I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions in the next ten minutes, then we’ll call it a day.

Question of our times;

One of the biggest questions and perhaps most thought generating topics has always been summarized in the statement that without leading you on queries whether technology is a blessing or curse

This debate innocently pitches Modernists against traditionalists, who hold alternate opinions on the matter and as such questions like “Has technology done more harm than good always seem to somehow pop up with the answer to today’s prompt being determined by a sort of weighing scale that decides whether tech is a curse or rather the blessing we should all be proud of.

Mine has always been a sort of moderate stand. based on the fact all there are two sides to every question but knowing this hasn’t made my evaluation of technology any easier and this has got everything to do with my bias with technology.

I mean I’m seated in a taxi right now at the end of a long day of training and I’m writing this piece to share with you all so I can interact with you and we can share ideas good and bad, and that is all because of technology, my Techno phone makes that possible so obviously technology is a blessing.

On a daily basis 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created everyday, this is probably more information than my whole continent can process in a single day, I mean isn’t that Amazing, the internet has taken center stage in the collection and storage of information which can be accessible to just about anyone which for me makes it amazing.

A couple of years ago If I wanted yo buy a plate of food or a shoe or even clothes I had to run to the shop probably wait in chew and walk quite the distance just to get a service nowadays I can do all that with a simple phone. App.

One of the biggest joys of my life is traveling , so every once in a while I find myself more than three hundred kilometers away from home, feeling lonely and nostalgic, that is until I draw my phone and call a loved one. The phone breaks barriers, covers insane distances and delivers messages where we probably would have stayed out of touch or been forced to use pigeons to send letters that might have been dropped if the damn bird would want to holla at its homies.

So yeah I would think of technology as a huge blessings, even with its flaws and modification of the status quo I like to think that it makes our day to day lives better.

Apps that make my life better

To say that I can’t live without an app on my phone would be kind of a gross exaggeration but isn’t that the beauty of the Queen’s language?? There these things called figures of speech so I’ll let that slide and answer a different question.So as it is these are my favorite phone apps in no particular:

ZenNotes:
I don’t remember the last time, I wrote a story and or for that matter anything and it didn’t start from this app. It’s light weight, simple to use and gives me lots of space to write down anything, compared to the other Notes apps I’ve tried, this one it seems to have no character limit so it allows me to write just about anything.

Whatsapp:
I have three whatsapp numbers, and of my 500 contacts at least 150 are on whatsapp which by all means should be a sort of endorsement for the social media network that I use on an average of 2hrs per day so obviously Whatsapp finds itself on that list.

Lithium:
If I were to write a story about this app and I then it would be a sort of romantic story with all the flair and affection. Lithium is an Epub reader so it allows me read my 500 and something Epub format books so for that am grateful hence the shout-out.

Twitter:
I first joined twitter more than eight years ago, and if there’s one thing that has always stood out for me, then it’s the app’s ability to keep me informed (even with the high influx of youth whose libido would have the Pope shaking his head in disgust, twitter for me remains an important source of information and opinion about many things, add to the fact that I’m a digital marketeer and Its part of the areas I cover while teaching, then you’ll perfectly understand why I love this app.

Subway Surfers:
If y’all knew the number of coins I’ve accumulated while playing this game, then y’all would be waving at me each time you saw me on a street. This is the one game that I almost got addicted to and it helps in those moments when am bored, or stuck in traffic or out of ideas, I just play so for that I’m highly indebted to this app.

It’s been an amazing 7 days, still got a couple to go but we’ll, whose counting!!