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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Travel Tales

The bus help rises up from his seat near the door and draws attention to himself by speaking loudly and standing in between the front seats.

He speaks English in homage to diversity, introduces himself to us, introduces prayer as the first item on our travel agenda after which he beckons us to humble ourselves for a word of prayer.

We close our eyes in obedience and he embarks on his conversation with the good Lord of Yacobo and David; He begins by thanking the Lord for the breathe we have, then he commits our journey and hands it over to the Lord, his prayer is that we arrive safely and fulfill the various missions of our travel.
After a solid two minutes of dedicating our trip he invites us to say the Grace. Then he thanks us for choosing to travel with Makome and walks out to our admiration.

In his place walks in the Turn boy who also wishes us a safe journey and heads over to the Dvd player near the bus door and inserts in a CD.

My chatty teenage neighbor taps me and assures me that I should get prepared to be entertained, re-echoing the words of the Bus park broker who assumed that i was a first time traveller and assured me that Makome is the best for entertainment.

“Balina ziri firimu embii!!” He had said.

The movie loads on the DVD and in ten seconds a familiar face appears replacing the sky blue of the Sony DVD.

Its the chocolate skin, tiny head and slim physique of a man who wears nothing except a leather loin “skirt” on his waist, its the man I’ve grown up calling “Bushman” of the “God’s must be Crazy” fame.

On behalf of entertainment, I feel offended, my neighbors had better not buy Ffene because right now I feel like a security risk and i still have four hours of this Kanda-Bongo man era entertainment.

We need more Investigative Journalism

The Xmen movie series, Valkyrie, Superman Returns and this year’s Oscar nominated film, Bohemian Rhapsody are a few Box office movie successes that come up when movie director Bryan Singer’s directorial exploits are mentioned.

Photo of Bryan Singer
Photo of Bryan Singer by Getty Images

And for all its worth the 53 year old is a great movie director, but his exceptional ability on the filming set is not the reason he’s trending online today.

He’s trending because of his sexual exploits with underage boys during the nineties for which four men accuse him of sexual abuse and rape. and while Singer is no stranger to accusations of this kind, this current wave of accusations reported today morning by “The Atlantic” have caused wide spread social media outrage at the 53 year old who denies any wrong doing.

Although the focus is on Bryan Singer and most online debates are orbiting around disgust and a ping pong of who should take the blame, I would like to shift your focus to Alex French and Maximilian Potter; the amazing, committed and hard working investigative journalists who broke this story after interviewing more than 50 different sources for over a year in order to to tell this story that has more than

No offence to “press conference journalism” but in my opinion this why we love journalism; the ability of journalists to contribute to public debate by not only reporting stories but also seeking the truth and freeing it from the people that would rather hold it captive.

Back at home here I can pinpoint stories like the investigation of sex for marks at Makerere University by Nbs Tv’s Richard Olweny, the Kifesi gang story by Solomon Sserwanja and the fishing Island turmoil by Ntv journalist Emmanuel Mutayizibwa all of which in my opinion have been masterpieces considering the journalistic environment Ugandan journalists have to work in braving issues like denial of access to information, misinformation and even intimidation.
But i think we can more as a country, we need more investigative journalism.

You can read more of the Atlantic’s story by clicking on the link below:

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/580462/?utm_source=twb&__twitter_impression=true

Eleven years Later; Remembering Benazir Bhutto

Thursday, 27 December 2007, Gulu, Uganda. The news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto makes its way to 102 Radio Mega airwaves. I’m sad for the death of a stranger I’ve never met.

I’d only known her for a month, thanks to a newspaper article that I’d read while in Entebbe, highlighting her career as a politician but my admiration for her is nonetheless over inflated, I feel like I’ve known her for years.

The article had spoken of a strong woman, twice elected Pakistani Prime Minister. For me that was enough, a woman that could twice become Prime Minister of any country was one worthy of my probably ill-founded admiration.

It was an admiration I shared with millions of people, both famous and ordinary who mourned her.

Described by politician Nawaz Sharif as “one of the darkest and gloomiest days in Pakistani history”, the assassination at Rawalpindi of the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) leader who had just returned to Pakistan from exile barely two months ago in October to prepare for the January 2008 election in a targeted killing that claims the lives of 24 other people goes on to send shock waves throughout the international community.

al-Qaeda would later claim responsibility for the assassination of Bhutto with its commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid citing Bhutto’s relationship with the West as the reason for her termination.

Born on the 21st, June 1953, at Karachi, Pakistan, to politician Zulfikar Ali, and educated at Harvard University, Bhutto was Pakistani politician who became first woman leader of a Muslim nation in modern history, serving two terms as prime minister between 1988–90 and in 1993–96.

Throughout her political career she faced many challenges including arrest and detention but her regime is one that will always be remembered for the huge strides she took to empower women, her belief in democracy and bravery to march on with her campaign even when there was an attempt on her life the very day she returned from exile.

Eleven years have gone by since that fateful day in Pakistan. But, while today the world remembers Bhutto as a liberal charismatic leader, a women rights activist, a pacifist who made attempts to foster Indo-Pakistani relations, the media fraternity will remember her as champion for Media freedom who restored to duty journalists who had been banned by previous dictatorial governments, she destroyed the blacklist system used to rank journalists, and at her very best removed print media from state control.

I’ll be Fine

Most days I regret waking up,
so in those moments I hope that the big guy in Heaven,
really sees everything, I hope that he’ll succeed where I’ve tried and failed
that he’ll finally grant my wish,
and I’ll get to meet him In his glory.

Some days I wake up hopeful,
so I fill my head with only positive thoughts,.
believe that maybe, things will get better,
so I smile, act positive and all that stuff,
that shrinks tell you helps.

And to be honest sometimes I feel better,
Not because of shrinks but, thanks to whisky,
but then it’s only for a short while,
then the elevation departs, back to square one.

I don’t sip to make my problems disappear,
I sip to postpone this shitty feeling,
this emptiness that won’t go away,
this pain whose origin i don’t know,
this hatred for a tomorrow that I don’t want to see,
I hate this existence. But I’m fine. I’ll be.
Because,
that’s the only thing I’ve been told I should be.

Murder She Thought

You say you love but I don’t believe you,
you’ve never showed me any affection,
most of your jokes suck, but this one is really funny,
you say you’re proud of me, but you’re an actor,
i ain’t tripping over you’re latest scene.

You reach out to me, with wide open arms,
want to hug, am scared you might stab me,
in the back on my big day
but since there are people here, let’s pretend;
like its always been rosy between us,
like you haven’t spent hours,
hoping I would get knocked up,
attract the attentions of Aids & syphilis,
and bleed out while in labour,
and die with my little bastard.

My friends are home for the first time,
they are shocked, you smile at them,
act nice, they start to think that,
I just didn’t like em enough to invite em home

You’re asked to give a speech,
so you tell them how you groomed me,
a tear escapes your eyes, you stare at the crowd,
so that they can all see it,
my guests marvel at the love you have for me.

I’m crying, I feel disgusted, stabbed in the back,
my memory won’t let me be, it drifts afar;
to those mornings when I had to dig before school,
the beatings i took for late coming,
the great textbooks you never bought me,
your nice hand bags from Dior and Givenchy,
you let me admire with my eyes without care that;
the Coca Cola bag you gave me 6 years ago wore out.

Another memory, am filing my nails,
you’re banging on the door, calling me a thief;
just cause you can’t find your new hair pins,
the neighbors hear you, they are disgusted with me,
mama Lozi swears she will burn my thieving hands,
if ever she sees me talk to her daughter,
who isn’t even my friend, am humiliated.

The year is 2006, you’ve invited the preacher home,
am excited, until i actually meet him then,
he calls me a fornicator and whore,
says hell is mine for the taking,
slaps my forehead looking for demons
asks me to apologize to you for being a sinner,
am humiliated, the man of God just booked me,
a VIP ticket at the front seat of Lucifer’s den.

I’m out of tears, but you’re speech goes on,
you talk of responsible parenting.
Am scared, but for the first time,
am not scared on my behalf, am scared I might stab you in full view everyone.

A semblance of humanity stil exists:

Yesterday i sat in a Najjera bound taxi and experienced one of those joyful moments for society where you just open up your mouth and sing the national anthem in pride ad regard for your country.

I was heading on my way home at around 4;00pm after a fruitful discussion with a potential business partner and then as we stop at a taxi stage in Ntinda for a passenger refill, our taxi conductor notices a young pupil of about seven, clad in a semi-white shirt and faded khaki shorts that his school called uniform.

So he calls the child of and addresses him to the irritation of passengers who are in a rush to get home. He asks the child where he wants to go, then the child informs him that he’s on his way back home to Kiira but he’s lost his money.

Conductor then commands us to squeeze ourselves abit and to the discomfort of his passengers who are paying the fare, sets the boy up in a comfy spot and when a sulky woman tries to complain he rudely replies that she can walk out if she likes but he’s not leaving a coinless seven year old on a street about six kilometres away from his home.

So the woman sat still, the conductor basked in his new found victory while he gained the admiration of me and other passengers, guess a semblance of humanity still exists.

Is the Ugandan Media too Negative in its Portrayal of the Country?

Last year I had the unique privilege of attending the Media and government meeting on security that happened on the 16th May at Office of the president called for by then minister of Security Gen Henry Tumukunde to craft an amicable working relationship with the fourth estate. It didn’t take the then minister of security long to outline the importance of the media in Uganda.

“The press is second in command In security” he said. “we both trade in the same business which is information” .

The meeting was heated as media and state pinpointed out flaws about each other; while the media raised complaints over state brutality, and accused the govt of hiding info in their possession forcing the media to speculate, the narrative of state actors was that the media chaps reported way too much negative news which was not good for the image of the country, since we were trying to attract tourists to our country.

“We are promoting Uganda as a tourism and investment destination. Negative stories damage this effort”. These were the words of Moses Watasa, a commissioner with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)

Lydia Wanyoto the leader of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM )women’s league and also a regular panelist on radio program “Capital gang” has on occasion accused the media of “alarmism” and creating alot of undue panic among the public.

As much as I agree with Watasa that we need to promote Uganda as a tourist destination and negative stories injure that attempt, I don’t buy the point consistently made by Wanyoto and possibly ten other prominent government spokespeople who accuse the media of creating panic by reporting negative stories.

I agree, the influx of negative (toxic) stories has been high on media of late but it’s not the media to blame. In less than two months the following events, (not organized in their chronology) have happened and the media in my biased opinion had nothing to do with them.

– Yasin Kawuma, driver to MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was shot dead,
– Thirty three (33) people arrested in connection with stoning president’s motorcade and detained for days.
– Bobi Wine and Zaake tortured to the extreme.
– Journalists Akena and Mujunga beaten while doing their job. (army caught on video commuting torture)

– President claims veteran photojournalist Akena was beaten because the army thought he was a camera thief.
– Tortured women showed up at court and bled from their private parts while appearing in court.
Rachel Ayebazibwa, finalist student at Kyambogo University dies a week after being shot by a stray bullet.
– Soldier caught on camera shooting wildly in public.
– Unconscious Zaake dumped outside Rubaga hospital and later accused by President Museveni of escaping from lawful custody.
-Eddie Mutwe, a friend to Bobi Wine arrested and detained on allegations of treason
– Maverick cop ASP Mohammad Kirumira gunned down in company of his friend Resty Nalinya.
– Army: We don’t torture like that. Instead of we don’t torture.
– Bank of Uganda (BOU) admits that we lost 627bn after implementing mobile money tax but still goes ahead to uphold tax.
– Mps’ parents to get medical insurance cover.
– Member of Parliament Zaake still fighting for his life.
– AG releases report showing that Bank of Uganda blew 478bn in Crane Bank takeover and Mutebile and CO still has best job security in Africa
– Speaker wants commander of Fisheries Protection Uni, Col James Nuwagaba arrested for torture on island villages.

We recognize that the government isn’t perfect though we also wonder how the government spokespeople, cheerleaders and spin-masters expected the media to overlook all these events mostly orchestrated by security organs and report the good and positive that that has happened, credit to the mighty NRM government that liberated have from tyranny.

The achievements or rather positive news that has made it to our airwaves and digital platforms is quite sizable too:

* Mulago Neonatal, a specialized women’s hospital was opened up a week ago with the capacity to house 450 beds and top notch services for both VIP and ordinary citizens.
* Kabaka, titular head of the Baganda tribe, a symbol of cultural tourism marks a silver jubilee.
* Four (4) Ugandans that include Humphrey Nabimanya, Brian Mutebi, Kevin Lubega and Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Win named in the list of most influential Africans.
* Musician BebeCool and his President Museveni join hands and voices to send 5 patients in need for surgery abroad for treatment.
* Three thousand (3000) seater netball facility is operational and impressive, it just made its debut in exclusive fashion with Uganda winning the world netball Universities championships.
* Story of Mbabazi,21 year old Ugandan girl who lays bricks to pay her own tuition and support her family goes viral.
* SheCranes went as to the Semi Finals of COSAFA.
* Installation of cameras around Kampala underway.
* 185MW Isimba dam project and Karuma 600KW near completion.
* Joy Doreen, a UGANDAN named as one of most influential business journalists in Africa.
* Atiak sugarcane factory launched.
* Uganda still has more than half of the world’s largest Gorilla population 54%- big opportunity for tourism.
* The guy that called us the Pearl of Africa (Winston Churchill) is still dead so there’s no chance of him retracting his statement, we are SAFE and are still one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations.

But for all these achievements and their magnitude I like to think that philosopher Aristotle’s view that “Man is a political animal” is still relevant, people will choose to ignore the cool stuff the government wants them to see and consume and opt for news on politics.

SOLUTION, stop looking for a scapegoat among the media to blame for your vast flaws, apologize to the country, do better clean up security and politics, resist all attempts at battering people and journalists will have nothing negative to report about.

“Security agencies, when you make a mistake own up, apologize, don’t keep suspects after finding out that you’ve a wrong person” Gen Henry Tumukunde.

Love you my man!!

He made it home a little after two, in the morning
the familiar stench of waragi on his breath,
“I love you my Man” he shouts patting my chest,
And stretching out every syllable of the sentence
he’s too zonked to remember my name,
but I don’t mind, I know he means it,
same way I know he’ll take a cold bath in the morning,
make peace with his hangover,
and be a great father to us all.

I know he’ll wag his finger at me and siblings,
“stay away from the tripple B’s”, he’ll say.
Then he’ll order us all to recite the mantra,
And we’ll all add our names to the oath,
promise to avoid booze, babes & betting.
I know I love him too, but I can say it right now.

He’s in a rather bad mood today,
I reckon his gambling didn’t go well,
I have to choose my words carefully;
lest I’ll get a beating for an inexistent offense,
He heads to the table, uncovers a dish;
fried cow peas stare back at him,
he ignores the food, staggers into his bedroom;
mama is snoring like the “snoring General”,
he likes to call her behind her back.

But she doesn’t sleep for long,
she tries to keep it low but I hear her,
reprimand him for seeing other women,
he barks at her, angry and as disgusted,
he probably slaps her, there’s a struggle,
I hear her weak feeble sobs, she’s not asking for mercy,
I can hear her beg him to keep it low,
“kids are sleeping”, she reminds him
but today he won’t hear her out.

I check on my siblings; Adrian and Pascal,
as always they are sleeping to through it all,
Am waiting for my license to sleep;
but the loud drunken laughter,
that signals that he’s apologized,
and she’s forgiven him doesn’t come on time.
Am crawling out of my bed to check on them,
then I hear the struggles begin again,
I rush to their door and walk in on them.

They are on the dirty floor, he’s on top of her; restraining her with his body,or is it his foul breathe,
raining a fury of slaps down her cheeks and head.
she scratches at his neck, tries to bite his hands,
but they are beyond her reach,
like a vicious eagle, she holds nothing back,
she never allows him an easy fight.

I stand at the door, tears down my eyes,
am angry at him but scared, mum warned me against taking sides,
I’ve never felt so weak in my entire life,
I want to intervene and mediate,
overpower both of them, force them to make peace,
shake hands and embrace their scuffle away;
just like I do at school when my friends fight,
but the circumstances are different,
And even though I won’t say it out loud,
I’ve already taken sides like I always do when they fight.

He wants to know what am doing in their room,
I want to know why he’s so mean when he drinks,
but mine is a silent question he’ll never hear,
and an answer is something he won’t get from me,
instead I have a wish if he’ll just listen;
“don’t beat her, just chase her away” I say.
He looks at me, thinking about what I just said,
he doesn’t like the idea of it,
instead he’ll beats her up for putting those words into my head,
while I feel guilty for fueling an already hot fire.

She stares at me from her dejected and brutalised position,
she’s lost the fight in her, something to do with me,
I think she freaking hates me. I know I deserve it,
but I hate her too, for being weak and broke,
I want us to leave him, but she can’t take care of us, she depends on him, she loves him,
because of that love;
she’ll apologize for provoking him,
she’ll take a beating until he finally kills her.

Am angry. Not on drugs, but I feel strong,
I don’t just want to make peace anymore,
I’ll want to fight him and save her,
size no longer matters, my love for him,
can’t stop me anymore, I need to end this,
I grab the stool and whisk it towards his head.

He retreats from his position from above his wife,
leans against the bed, writhing with pain,
bleeding from his forehead, he giggles to himself,
” I knew you always wanted to kill me” he says,
but I don’t want to argue with him,
instead I help mama to get on her feet,
She moves out to wake up our neighbor,
she doesn’t say a single word to me,
I leave their room and return with a Panadol,
and wet cloth, am bandaging his wounds,
like he did for me last time I cut my hand,
but I can’t seem to stop the bleeding,
but he’s too weak to even raise his hand,
so I force two Panadol pills into his mouth.

Am not angry anymore, am scared instead.
Dad just continues wailing, he’s in too much pain,
he makes meaningless sounds,
I can’t understand anything, he says,
he’s struggling to stay conscious,
am trying to come to terms with what I’ve done,
tears are rolling down my eyes once again,
dad is crying too, I don’t know what to say,
so I finally reply to his earlier admission,
“I love you too” I say, “am sorry, please don’t die” .

But he’s not listening to me,
he’s never listened, It’s always been about him,
he closes his eyes, I stretch them wide open,
he allows it just for a second or three,
closes them again, speaks with them closed,
“I love you my man,” he says with a feigned grin
He pauses, gathers more strength,
“take care of Mama and the twins” he adds.
Am sobbing, I want to tell him that’s his job,
I want to say am just eight years old,
but he closes his eyes one last time.

Mama returns with our neighbor, Musiramu,
orders me to get away from her room,
I don’t want to, but she’s not given me an option,
she looks disheveled, almost inhuman,
I walk outside in the 4:00am air and empty my bowels,
the sound of sirens draws closer,
I can hear a loud knock on the gate.

A female officer, walks in without saying a word,
behind her three gun welding men in uniform follow,
They enter our two bed roomed house,
when they return a few minutes later,
mama is in handcuffs, I run to her,
I want them to let her go, I did it,
but with the little strength her imprisoned hands can dish,
she pushes me to the ground she doesn’t want me,
I run to the female police woman to explain,
but Musiramu intercepts me before I can get there,
I kick at his shins but he doesn’t loosen his grip.

They take her and our future along with her,
We’ll get evicted from our house,
an eighty two year sentence awaits mum,
but she’s taking none of it,
she will die four years later,
the twins will follow shortly;
first Pascal of malaria then Adrian of Typhoid,
the streets will forever be my hone.