STALKING IS A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER THESE DAYS

Rwabwogo

Sylvia Rwabwogo

A few weeks ago a certain ‘young man’ named Brian Isiko was in the news for all the wrong reasons, but strangely some folks did accept the ‘wrongness’ of what he did. Tabloid sites were all over themselves proclaiming how Isiko had been jailed for love. It probably sounded better than writing what actually happened, that this adult man was sentenced to 2 years in prison for stalking and harassment of Sylvia Rwabwogo, who happens to be a Member of Parliament.

Predictably, social media went to town with it, and there were cries that the punishment was too harsh, that the ‘young man’ was only guilty of falling in love with a beautiful woman and expressing it, and that he should have been treated ‘fairly’; which to me is absolute poppycock.

First of all the naysayers and Isiko apologists refer to him as a young man; poppycock, again. He is 25 years old, by which age Alexander the Great had already conquered half the known world in the 4th century BCE. During the Vietnam War (1955-1975) the average age of the American soldier was 19 years, tens of thousands of whom died before reaching the age of 20, so Isiko would have been a grizzled veteran comparably. I’m not sure what part of Uganda Isiko is from, but just two generations ago at that age he would probably be on his third wife. So scratch that, he is not young by any definition of the word, the fact that at 25 he is still going to school at the YMCA notwithstanding.

Isiko

Brian Isiko

Secondly, he did not send love message. ‘Lovely’ is defined as something ‘beautiful or attractive’, or even ‘pleasant or enjoyable’. There was nothing attractive or enjoyable about what Isiko did, when for eight long months he harassed and stalked Ms Rwabwogo, who tried her level best to prevent him from doing so. She blocked his number, but somehow he still managed to get through to her. According to evidence adduced before court, he even sent extremely graphic messages of himself engaged in lewd acts (where’s Father Lukodo when he is needed?).

And the pseudo-media trivialised the whole thing by referring to them as ‘love messages’; I’m not a bad guy, and don’t wish most folks harm; but what if those fellows writing such stories (must be men, I bet) had the same kind of attention? And in this age of liberalism be their luck the stalkers are fellow guys. What, then?

These fellows often tripped all over their UPE English trying to justify what Isiko did, effectively turning into defence counsel for the accused. They wrote how he ‘enticed the legislator and asked for her love’; to ‘entice’ means ‘attract or tempt by offering pleasure or advantage’, implying that Ms Rwabwogo was an active participant. Any different from ‘she wore a mini-skirt so asked to be raped’?

Ms Rwabwogo’s main problem was that she is beautiful (surely, that is not her fault?), and that she is a public figure. So the argument by the apologists would have us believe that any person pleasant to look at, and whose contact is available to the public is fair game for unwanted attention.  Hogwash and balderdash!

In this age of start-ups, many people wanting to promote their businesses avail their telephone contacts to the public. And it is a feature of the age we are in that these contacts are almost exclusively mobile phone numbers, so anyone can send you a text message, or even a WhatsApp message. But it is not, and should not be, a license for harassment. And these days of the ‘Inbox’, it has reached epidemic levels. And in a sick twist, it seems in vogue to send pictures of one’s private parts.

Ugandan public figures continually change their numbers to avoid this kind of thing, but I hope they have learnt from the Rwabwogo case – if someone is staking and harassing you, get them arrested.

The Internet is full of stories of ‘admirers’ turned stalkers, and many are frightening. One Madonna stalker was imprisoned for ten years in a mental institution for his unwanted attention, but he escaped, went to her home and was shot by her bodyguards. If Ms Rwabwogo had not had Isiko arrested, who knows to what extent he would have gone to meet his ‘crush’?

Other international celebrities that have suffered from stalkers include actor Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), singer Beyoncé and others. Some that paid the ultimate price include musicians John Lennon and Selena.

Reports from Isiko’s trial indicate that even when arrested, he continued sending Ms Rwaboogo the text messages. And he was reported to have laughed throughout proceedings in the court. I don’t know about you, but that is scary as hell. Anyone remember the film The Silence of the Lambs? The terrifying character of Dr Hannibal Lecter would laugh at his victims before he ate their kidneys.

 

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ABOUT JUBIREEWO – YOU CAN ALL EAT IT AND SMILE!

budo chapel

Jubireewo was the catch word for the 25th coronation anniversary of the 36th Kabaka of Buganda, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, which took place on Tuesday July 31st, 2018. I am not sure who came up with the term, but it is supposedly a play on the word ‘jubilee’, which means a celebration of 25 years of a king’s reign. To that end someone composed and produced a musical video to mark the occasion, and invited many schools from all over the Buganda kingdom to be part of it.

All well and good, right? But apparently not, because many people took exception to the fact that one of the schools that participated in the video is King’s College, Budo. Mark you, it is not the Budonians themselves that took exception, but other people. Now, you have to realise that for different reasons folks love to hate on Budo and everything the school represents. It used to be that the school would get regular bashing, but it had not happened for a while, probably because the likes of Kalyegira run out of new ways to bash it. So this came as a welcome reason to bash the school originally established for the children of kings, and social media went into overdrive.

Forgotten were the debates on the mobile money tax, and more recently the clash between feminists and other women about whether men are trash or kings, and social media trolls all came to town about the Jubireewo video. Bastardised to ‘jubileewo’, all kind of at times very funny memes made the rounds. But under all this was the fact that many people still feel hopelessly insecure every time Budo is mentioned.

The underlying theme to the memes was that Budonians should not have participated in the video, that they should have been above it. Uh? Budo is where the kings of the most powerful kingdom in the region have been crowned for the last 800 years, and its last two kings went to school there. If at all, Budo should have taken over the whole Jubireewo song, but somehow it was decided that some unknown fellow of dubious reputation should compose it. Imagine for a minute that Budo had declined to take part? The memes would not have been funny, but vicious in condemnation.

Some popular rapper said that the video was both cheap and local; again, uh? Did they want a sonata in F minor, or a symphony with multiple, probably 25, movements? Where would that have left all the other schools? And all those trolls conveniently forgot that the video had many other schools joyfully participating in celebrating the 25th coronation anniversary of the ‘man of all men’.

Many claimed that the video was below what they referred to as ‘Budo swag’, but Budo was in existence long before the phenomenon of ‘swag’. What Budo has is style, not swag, and in the words of a famous film character, “you can all eat it and smile”.

Time for Uganda to shine at the ‘African Oscars’

AMVCAs trophy2

When times of adversity come upon us, Ugandans tend to unite in either opposition or in efforts to overcome whatever it is that is befalling us. In ancient times, especially in Buganda, drums would sound ‘gwanga mujje’, literally calling on people to gather and face whatever calamity needed to be dealt with.

In more developed democracies this would manifest itself through elections, but somehow that does not seem to work in Uganda. But the very loud and sustained outcry against the taxes imposed in the last budget has shown that when push gets to shove, Ugandans can get together and act as one.

This column is a call for just that kind sentiment, and it really is for a noble cause, whatever people’s political inclinations are. Last month (June), nominees in 27 different categories were announced for this year’s Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, or AMVCAS.

The AMVCAs were established in 2013 by TV pay company Multichoice to recognise excellence in both film and television. The Oscars might have been taking place for 90 years (since 1929, gulp!), and the AMVCAs for only 5, but they are to African filmmakers and actors what the Oscars are to the global film industry. Winning an AMVCA has opened doors to many, and some have gone on to be recognised on a global stage.

Nabwiso

Mathew Nabwiso won Best Supporting Actor award in 2013

Unsurprisingly, most of the AMVCA winners since 2013 have come from West Africa, especially Nigeria’s Nollywood. Uganda has only had one winner, when Mathew Nabwiso won a Best Supporting Actor award in the inaugural awards for the film A Good Catholic Girl. Each year since then, Ugandan filmmakers have been nominated, and in 2016 Joseph Ken Ssebaggala’s film House Arrest had four nominations, but every single year we have come up short.

Will this year be different? There were over 3,000 entries received for this year’s awards, and Uganda has a total of 13 nominations. Of these 3 are among the 4 nominees for Best Movie East Africa, and are Devil’s Chest by Hassan Mageye, The Forgiven by Kizito Samuel Saviour, Rain by Mathew & Eleanor Nabwiso, and Bella by Matt Bish. Other nominees include songstress Cinderella Sanyu for Best Actress (Bella), Richard Mulindwa for Best Writer (The Torture), which also had nominations for Best Cinematographer (Rwamusigazi Kyakunzire), Best Actress (Joan Agaba), and Best Actor (Raymond Rushabiro).  In addition Devil’s Chest was nominated in the Best Overall Movie category, while Bella was also nominated for Best Soundtrack (Andrew Ahuura).

Nigeria leads all nominees with thirty-two (32), but it also leads in the number of categories just for Nigeria films (4), although many Nigerian critics were of the opinion that 2017 was not the best year for Nollywood films. Among others Ghana has seven (7) nominees, Malawi three (3), and Kenya eight (8).

The trick here is that winners for seven of the categories will be determined through voting by the public, and Ugandans have not been very good at that in the past. During the days of Big Brother Africa there would be all kinds of groups on social media dedicated to making people vote for any Ugandan housemate up for eviction.

Many times it worked, and several made it all the way to the final 5. Can we do the same for the AMVCAS? Can all peer groups concerned (actors, writers, musicians and others) go on a concerted effort to get Ugandan vote for our film makers? Whenever two or more artists of whatever kind are gathered together, can one of them remind the rest to get voting? At the beginning, and end of every gig, or play or comedy act, let us talk about coting for our filmmakers.

Can we get hashtags about voting for our nominees on the Uganda Twitter universe? You can all start WhatsApp groups dedicated to reminding Ugandans to vote, given that each one can vote 100 times. Instead of spreading gossip and fake news, can we do something worthwhile? We are paying the OTT tax, after all.

Filmmaking in Uganda has been trashed as something not much more than a joke (I won’t say anything about the folks in Wakaliga), and even if many of us would not give water to the fellows in the Uganda Communications Commission if we found them in the middle of the Sahara desert, and we had the whole of Lake Victoria at our disposal, the folks there have tried to get Ugandan films recognised. I am sure we can go further. We really only have ourselves to blame if none of these people come home with an award, when the winners are announced on September 1st, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria.

Voting opened on Saturday June 30th, and will close on Sunday August 24th, 2018. One has to register to vote on the Africa Magic website www.africamagic.tv, and it is free, you just have to register. Come on people, let us do this.

 

NOW THAT THE WORLD CUP IS DONE…

world cup1

Note: this article run in the New vision of July 20th, 2018

The 2018 soccer World Cup is done, and it is time to move on to other things. But before we do so, an after note of sorts, if you would like. First of all, this event left copious amounts of egg on many people’s faces, especially the so-called experts and pundits.

Almost all the ‘big’ names in world soccer did not make it out of the group stages, so maybe there is a new world order in the making, and like it or not the centre is increasingly looking like it will be in England. Even before the World Cup, which saw more players from the English Premier League feature in the knock-out stages, it was ranked as the top league in the world, based on talent production, quality of the matches, overall quality of the squads, players, coaches and stadiums, number of goals scored, championship structure, level of competitiveness and unpredictability.

This World Cup also saw the wide use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), and predictably there were cries of how it has spoilt the ‘beautiful game’. But soccer is the only major world sport that did not use some sort of video refereeing, and it was bound to do so sooner than later. And all the arguments of how VAR gave wrong decisions ignored one thing, it was the match referee that had the final decision. All the VAR did was to give the referee a clearer look at what actually happened, unlike other sports like cricket, rugby or tennis where the video referee has the final decision.

And finally, there are all sorts of claims that Russia delivered the best World Cup ever, that the western ‘fake news’ media had given a wrong portrayal of what that country is really like. But Russia is an autocratic country, ruled by a dictator, so there were no chances of demonstrations or even terrorist acts during the games. In fact, it was a real shock that members of the Pussy Riot managed to beat security and run onto the field during the final. I bet all the security guys that were on duty on Sunday are on their way to some labour camp in Siberia right now, how could they embarrass the great leader that way?

world cup2

Who’s afraid of a little rain?

And the final image we got was of the tough, macho Russian President standing under an umbrella while the rest of his guests, including many women, got soaked to the bone by rain. And of course he was upstaged by the Croatian President, who bear-hugged every winner, and did not mind the rain at all.

NO HONOURABLES IN UGANDA’S PARLIAMENT

Parliament

Note: this article first run in the New Vision on June 2nd, 2018

Honourable (adjective)

– bringing or deserving honour; honest, moral, ethical, principled, righteous, right-minded, full of integrity

– the Honourable (prenominal) a title of respect placed before a name: employed before the names of various officials in the English-speaking world, as a courtesy title in Britain for the children of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls, and in Parliament by one member speaking of another

Apart from raising their salaries to obscene figures, and then passing legislation excusing their fat allowances from being taxed, there is something our Members of Parliament hold very close to their hearts – being referred to as ‘honourables’. Except they are not quite that, when you think about it, or do a bit more research.

They love it so much that they have turned it from being an adjective, which describes something, to becoming an actual noun; a being, if you would like. Our MPs would like us believe that once elected to Parliament, they metamorphose into a different being, something known as an ‘honourable’.

Where did it all come from? From the British, to which we owe much of our civil service administration peculiarities. Except the British would not recognise these ‘honourables’(even the dictionary alerts you that there is a mistake, and such a word does not exist). Our former colonial masters usually use ‘The Honourable’ in addressing envelopes (where it is usually abbreviated to The Hon), but in speech what would be ‘The Honourable John Smith’ is usually referred to simply as Mr John Smith.

In the House of Commons members refer to each other as honourable members out of courtesy, but they are not entitled to the style in writing. But in Uganda, at times ‘Honourable’ even replaces the MPs name, and these salary-raising, don’t-tax-my-allowances, money-lenders-dodging bunch of windbags get very offended when you don’t use that term.

It is on all their profiles, I bet their business cards have it, and even their wives are referred to as ‘Mrs Honourable’ so and so. I also bet, probably copying from their brethren in Nigeria, that there exists people with titles like ‘second wife to Honourable’, ‘side-chick to Honourable’, ‘driver-to-Honourable’, ‘father-to-Honourable’, ‘second-cousin-twice-removed-to-Honourable’, and so forth, ad nauseum.

Inquiries as to whether there exists maybe an Act of Parliament where these people actually legalised the term ‘Honourable’ went unanswered, but if they have haven’t yet done so, it must be just an afterthought. Wait for a Member who has not said anything in the August chamber ever since they got elected to move a private member’s bill, which will be passed with a resounding ‘all ayes’.

It is interesting to find out what other countries refer to members of their legislative bodies; in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has not really had an effective government in recent memory, members of the upper chamber, the Senate, voted to have themselves referred to as ‘Venerables’ (again, the dictionary will tell you such a word does not exist. But the adjective does, meaning ‘accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character’).

In the Philippines, on the other hand, every elected official is referred to as ‘The Honourable’. From the lowest political unit, the barangay (a village council, equivalent to our LC1), to the Congress of the Philippines, which consists of a Senate and House of Representatives, they are all ‘Honourables’.

So when we finally get to elect our LC officials, and you go down to Kikuubo and want to authenticate some good or another, you could be directed to the ‘Honourable’ Hajji Twaha Mukasa, Secretary for Sanitation, LC1, Latrine Zone.

Lubwama

But our MPs are the jealous types, and I doubt if they would be willing to share that title, so expect a very agitated ‘Honourable’ Kato Lubwama thundering on the floor of Parliament, and telling “Madame Speaker, Sir”  how they cannot let such a venerable title be used by such low lives, and how it should just be restricted to MPs. And they would attach it to a Bill raising their salaries, which would be duly passed by a unanimous vote.

To be honest, and give due where it should, we did have this debate on a Forum I belong to. After it was agreed that indeed the term ‘honourable’ should only be used in Parliament, somebody asked what the MPs should be referred to outside Parliament. There were quite a few colourful suggestions I shall not repeat here, but one declared that they are ‘traders who deal in selling Uganda at any price’.

 

LET’S GO ENGLAND, AND THE REST EAT YOUR SHIRTS

England press

Note: this article run in the New Vision of Friday July 13th, 2018. Because of newspaper deadline, it was written on Tuesday, before England lost the semi-final to Croatia on Wednesday

So you all know from the outset, this column is really about the England soccer team, and how it has made folks eat almost their entire wardrobes. It is also my chance to thumb a nose at all those so called pundits, but more especially ‘haters’, who always insisted round after round that England was going down, only it did not.

First of all, I don’t understand this animosity against the England soccer team. These amazing folks gave us what many call the ‘beautiful game’, so we should all be happy when they do well at the game they invented, right? Wrong.

One of the common-but-holds-no-water-reasons many folks give for all that hating is that the English press will go into orbit and beyond in being vocal every time the England team does well. But, what is wrong with that? When Stephen Kiprotich won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics (in London, no less), Uganda went on a party that lasted for months. Large crowds that made many politicians green with envy turned up at the airport to welcome him home, and media houses fell over themselves in competing which one would raise the most money to give this gallant Ugandan. Why should we expect the English to do any less?

And about the English press, I have been to most major supermarkets and newspaper outlets in this dusty and disorganised town, but I have not seen any English newspapers on sale. So where do all these people that get their underwear in knots get to see what the English press are all on about? They search for them on the Internet, that is what. They fervently search for what the more colourful English tabloids, especially the likes of The Sun and The Mirror, have to say about any English win and success, share the images on social media (that tax is not really working, is it?), and then claim how they are sick of it. Talk about self-inflicted pain, Butabika will need a very large outpatients section when this World Cup is all over.

It is kind of a ‘cool’ thing to bash the English soccer team, and folks have been at it on social media since the World Cup started. Every time the team was to play folks would post how they would eat their shirt if England won. It did, and then the more colourful would declare how they would take out that rare whisky they have been saving for special occasions and drown their sorrows and hopefully get some sleep. The team duly kept on winning, so I have no idea what is left in their closets to eat, or in their drink cabinets if England go all the way and win the World Cup.

I have a group of friends, we shall call them the Forum, who are almost united in deriding the English team as ‘mechanics’. I have no idea where this came from, because the most vocal of them support the Germans, who are so mechanical in their approach to soccer that they can one to sleep watching them play. But they have won it several times, so when this thing all started a lot of money was on them (insert evil grin emoji here).

Then there are the so called experts and pundits, who because they claim superior knowledge of the game, declared their predictions as to who would win the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Up there as favourites were Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and maybe Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. But as it turned out, all those countries did not go even go further than the group stages, something formerly reserved for the less fancied teams from Africa. Okay, Brazil did get to the quarter finals, but were roundly beaten by Belgium. So all those experts and knowledgeable pundits are probably looking around their closets for things to eat, or at least stuff in their mouths so that they can stop spewing out nonsense.

And to talk about the African teams, not a single one of them made it to the knockout stages, so of course we all pointed out how there were many players of African origin playing in the teams of the countries that did. The only teams in the knockout stages not to have a player of African descent were Russia and Croatia.

I wrote this column on Tuesday night, right after France had beaten Belgium for a place in the finals. England was due to play Croatia on Wednesday night for the second place in the final, but because of newspaper deadlines (this page was passed before that game), so I don’t know who won. But even if England got knocked out at the semi-finals, that is a lot further than many thought they would get. A lot of folks have had to renew their meds prescriptions at pharmacies, and will be looking to restock their closets.

And to really rub it in, there were more players from the English Premier League in the knockout stages than any other football league. So there, eat your shirts, hats, dirty jeans and all.

 

 

GOSSIP? WHAT GOSSIP?

gossip

Do Ugandans really gossip that much? And is that probably the reason why we may not make the holy grail of middle income? According to our President the main reason behind the much criticised social media tax is the attempt to stop our countrymen and women from idle activities and get them to doing something productive.

According to Internet World Stats released in December 2017, nearly half (19m) of Uganda’s estimated population of 44 million had access to the Internet. Of these only 2 million subscribed to Facebook, and assumedly other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. In other words less than 5% of Ugandans use Facebook, and it is safe to assume those also use WhatsApp.

In contrast 6 million out of Tanzania’s 61 million people (10%), and 7 million of Kenya’s 51 million people (14%) are on Facebook (Tanzania reportedly declared recently that it has reached middle income status). In fact in the region only Rwanda (4%), Burundi (3.5%), Ethiopia (4%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.3%) have a smaller part of the population on social media than Uganda. Somalia, even with the Al Shabab breathing down people’s necks, has 6% of its population using Facebook.

So if Ugandans are gossiping a lot, it definitely is not on Facebook. All those advisers to the President are obviously not doing their job, and the Uganda Communications Commission, yet again, did not do its research and is supplying hot air to the Government.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA TAX – TO BE OR NOT TO BE

(Note: This article run in the New Vision of Friday June 29th,2018, before the social media tax kicked in)

So, starting from next week (July 1st, 2018) Ugandans are supposed to start paying what has become known as the ‘social media tax’. Except no one really knows what it exactly is, or how it will be implemented. That our nation’s Parliament passed it without explaining how exactly it would be imposed or collected also shows a lot about our not-so-august house, and I really hope that when they go back to their constituencies for ‘consultation’ they will be taken to task to explain it.

An Internet search for ‘social media tax’ brings more than 500 million results, and almost all of them refer to Uganda. So in addition to being known as the country where Idi Amin ruled, the source of the Nile, and mountain gorillas, now we are known as the country that plans to tax social media usage.

What exactly is the social media tax? Sometime in April, President Museveni was quoted as complaining that Ugandans gossip too much, instead of engaging themselves in productive activities. So to reduce our countrymen and women from this harmful gossip, and at the same time add to our tax coffers, the President instructed the Finance ministry to tax all Over The Top services, which is a term used to describe the use of applications like Facebook and WhatsApp.

In the absence of an official explanation of how this tax will work, there have been all kinds of speculation on how exactly it would play out. Some have suggested that the government is importing software from Korea (supposedly the source of Lokodo’s porn detecting machine which we still have to see) to determine when anyone opens an app defined as a social media app. As soon as this is done sh200 will be deducted from your data bundle, and telecom companies are supposed to remit this to the URA as tax.

The argument here is that Facebook and WhatsApp are not owned by the government of Uganda, so how legal is the charge to use it? Will Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp, take the Ugandan government to an international court to not only recover these monies collected, or stop what they probably consider an illegality?

For the record, the use of Facebook is free, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has insisted that it will remain free, especially in the less developed parts of the world. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and since there are only about two million Ugandans that log on to Facebook daily, as opposed to the two billion worldwide, what are the chances that Facebook will probably decide to cut out Uganda, to stop a precedent of governments making money from technologies that they don’t own?

The government also explained that the tax will not affect ‘educational’ use, whatever that means. Will companies that use the Internet (which companies don’t?) also be exempt from that tax, since that will definitely not be gossip? What if the company employees use the Internet to log on to Facebook, then? And of course there is WhatsApp for the web, which is accessible on a computer. Is there any software in the world, Korean or otherwise, that will police what sites one logs on to? Questions, and more questions.

Many experts insist that this ‘gossip tax’ is not sustainable, but if that tax was to be really effective, and the government asked for my opinion, here is what should be done. While social media can be very useful, it can also be a pain.

There are folks that insist on sharing useless and nonsensical information that really helps no one. If one has to pay sh200 a day once they log on, they will feel free to share even more of that rubbish, since they are paying for it anyway.

So this is my plea, and I hope someone in government hears it. There are some people who like sharing whatever they get, whether there is any sense in it or not, without even reading it. Once they receive it, they share it, like it is some kind of compulsive behaviour. Their explanation? ‘shared as received’. Tax them each time they do that, please.

There is stuff that has been circulating for many years, but someone will insist on sharing it as breaking news. For anyone sharing old and repeated posts, tax them, my government.

With Google, one can check the authenticity of any information, but folks will still share all kinds of rubbish without checking them first, could you please double tax those blighters? There are also those that really enjoy posting that so and so has died, I have never understood the glee with which they do that. The next time someone posts that Eddie Murphy, Robert Mugabe or Thabo Mbeki has died, triple tax that gadfly.

And those posting gory pictures of accident victims, something that even Bukedde does not do, get those pests right off the Internet. In fact, take away their phones.

Then there are those that like sharing video clips of up to thirty minutes long, without explaining what they are all about. You open it and find someone claiming how a so called doctor from Pakistan has discovered the cure for cancer, tax those good-for-nothings right off social media.

So there.

 

THE WORLD CUP, MEN’S SILLY SEASON?

soccer

The football World Cup used to be the single most exciting sports event, and not just because for a long time it was the only major sports event we would get to watch live. In the years gone by, the then UTV had no live sports. We used to watch ‘Football made in Germany’ when it was a few months old, and the only regular sports programmes were some athletics programs of which didn’t know when they actually place, but we would watch them with relish all the same.

For those that played and enjoyed basketball, every time the USAID showed NBA games a year old at their office along Mackinnon Road the place would be full to the brim, hours before the appointed time.

But every time the World Cup came up, it would be gloriously live, and the government would make sure of that by paying the necessary fees for UTV to acquire the license. So the month or so when it was happening everybody’s life would change. Schedules would change according to the games’ schedule, especially the beginning and the final. Those who didn’t have televisions sets at home became very friendly to those who did, and these were expected to act very valiantly and let anyone who could watch.

Even as recently as the nineties and noughties, watching the World Cup was something special. Men, married or not, would use it as an excuse to either stay out very late at night, depending on where the tournament place, or wiggle out of paying attention to their better halves. Jokers would issue guidelines on how women should behave during this very sacred time that only comes along every four years.

Women, on the other hand, would wonder how the spectacle of 22 grown men chasing a leather ball could be such a big deal (for the record, I’m unfriending any females that comes up with that lame joke again).

Some smart women would counter that the usual schedule of events at home would continue, whether the man was there or not, including bedroom matters. And this year members of the fairer sex are saying that Russia is in the same time zone as Uganda anyway, so no excuse about late matches.

But it has all changed now, because there is live sports on TV every day, at times the whole day. DStv now has 15 channels dedicated to sports (in the early noughties subscription to Multichoice and buying of new decoders always reached a peak during the World Cup).

The English Premier League is the most popular sports to watch on TV, and it happens every year for almost half the year. There is live rugby, tennis, cricket, athletics, golf, motor sport, even horse racing.

And these days you have to clarify which world cup you are referring to, is it cricket, rugby (union or League? Sevens or fifteens?)? Or is it football (some call it soccer)? You even have to clarify further if it a women’s world cup or the men’s. And if it is men’s football, is it the under-17, under-21, or under-23 world cups?

For the record the world cup that kicked off this week in Russia is referred to as the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

But the biggest change is that you can find almost as many women watching sports in pubs as men, it is a rare female that is totally and absolutely against watching sports. But chances are you will be supporting different teams anyway, and that may depend on what the team coaches look like, not how effective the team performs on the field.

During the 2010 world cup that took place in South Africa, a TV commercial used the song very much loved by English fans, ‘Two world wars and one world cup’. In that chant England supporters refer to the UK’s victories in the first and second world wars, and the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

Supporters of other teams point out that while Brazil has own the World Cup five times, Germany and Italy four times, and even Argentina and Uruguay twice, England has only won it once, although it was against Germany. So these supporters use it as a put down to any England fans.

For the record I support England, and I point out to these naysayers that England actually has more world cups than any other country. It has won the Rugby World Cup, the Under-21 and Under-23 world Cups, and even the Women’s World Cup, both soccer and rugby. So there.

I will watch the world cup, especially games when England is playing, and there is a good chance it would at least make it to the quarter-finals. If it does not, a black box on me.

 

GIVE JUSTICE BAMUGEMEREIRE A BREAK, WILL YOU?

Catherine

(this article first appeared in the New Vision of May 18th, 2018)

There are certain types of people, of whom the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, said are fond of “…talking loud, but saying nothing.” These people (the British have a polite word for them – windbags) like drawing attention to themselves, it does not matter if they are making fools of themselves, but as long as they get some 15 minutes in the lights. This column is for all of you, gobermouths, fopdoodles and flibbertigibbets of this world.

Politicians in Uganda seemingly can do anything they want, and very often do, with the knowledge that they will most probably get away with it. Influence peddling, using their offices to commit all kinds unsavoury acts, down to outright murder – they have done it all. But very few of them get called upon to answer for their actions.

Uganda is beset with many problems, but one of the most painful is how public officials break the law or ignore it with impunity. I am willing to bet that almost every politician or government official, small or big, have used their offices to unfairly acquire land.

This is where the Land Inquiry Commission comes in; there have been complaints that the report that will be produced at the end might never see the light of day, as indeed many other commissions’ reports are lying somewhere gathering dust. The report may be shelved or, as some lawyers argued, there may be legal reasons why it will not be binding or acted upon. But what Justice Catherine Bamugemereire is doing is shedding light on what these gobermouths have been doing, away from the public eye.

It took the Commission, way before it has concluded its inquiries, to stop a reign of terror that the ever obnoxious Ronald Kibuule, State Minister for Water, had inflicted upon people of Buikwe. Not only had he used state machinery (including the police) to evict residents from land that did not belong to him, his agents had inflicted actual physical harm on the people. A case where one of the residents was killed is still in court.

Kibuule

Ronald Kibuule, State Minister for Water

But when the residents took their case to the Bamugemereire Commission, all the dirty underhand dealings were exposed. Eventually the land titles that Kibuule had fraudulently acquired were cancelled, and maybe the residents can now sleep comfortably without fear of being attacked in their homes.

Then came the Minister for Lands, Betty Amongi, under whose docket the Commission of Inquiry falls. It took the threat of a warrant of arrest to make her appear, and the theatre of the absurd ensued. She huffed and puffed and tried every each way to try and avoid accepting blame for a whole litany of wrong doings.

Amongi

And that got Justice Bamugemereire hot under the collar, so much so that the good Justice even raised her voice in trying to get the Minister to give truthful answers. That did not go down well with some Ugandans, very typically so, especially lawyers.

Unsolicited opinions from so-called ‘learned friends’ made the rounds, expressing disappointment that the Justice had dared raise her voice to the ‘Honourable Minister’, and even referred to her as a ‘young lady’ at one time. They went on about legalities and matters of ‘procedure’ ad nauseum.

You really have to give it up to Ugandans to choose the petty over the very important, and it brought back memories of how members of the legal fraternity had attacked Lady Justice Ssebutinde’s Commission of Inquiry into the police. If Ssebutinde had been treated more seriously, maybe the police would not consistently rank as the most despised public institution in this country.

Like my colleague and BBC journalist Alan Kasujja put it: “…Until you’ve heard the stories of impunity, blatant abuse of power, dispossession of the poor and theft by government officials with no scruples that Justice Bamugemereire has heard, please sit down.”

So, y’all give Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire a break, and pray you’re not appearing before her next.