Saturday, August 19, 2017

Miss Kansanga Is A Sure Plot!

In the 80s and 90s, Miss Uganda had all but died – not that anybody wailed at the funeral because often the pageant was ill prepared, rode on a shoe string budget and Contestant who braved the catwalk didn’t get the prizes promised to her by Organiser.

In 2001, in walked the unheard of Sylvia Owori who at a Rock Bar press conference, announced to the nation she had bought the rights to the pageant and was going to make it grand. “It won’t be held in Sabrina’s Pub (which then, was the number one spot for functions) or some backwater dive in Ndeeba. Miss Uganda is going up market. It’s going to be big and it’s going rock Uganda. Watch this space!”

Sylvia Owori
That said, she swung us – the media hacks, a soda or was it a beer or two and a ka-samosa and we were on our way. We had, of course, heard it before - after all, what credentials did she have save for a ‘failed’ stint as a music promoter when she brought that Jamaican dancehall artiste whose signature tune was: ‘Oh No!’ and called himself Red Rat, assuming my memory still sparks and I’ve not been struck by a bout of dementia.

But true to her Rock Bar hype, Owori wasn't talking fwaala because she did make Miss Uganda great again! She got sponsors with bottomless pockets – Total, Bell, Crane Bank and MTN. And as they say, the rest is history.

One thing about Miss Uganda is that they held regional’s – in Lira, Mbale, Jinja, Fort Portal and Mbarara. At the first regional in Lira, Lira didn’t know what to make of it when the Miss Uganda band wagon stomped into town. All they knew was girls are needed to take part in a beauty contest and with that, just about every woman from the district turned up for auditions and I mean EVERY woman from Grandma Ongom to Great Grandma Akol. In tow was Fat Woman, which surprised me because in my naivety, I thought that Fat Woman only came from Mbarara, Fort Portal, Bushenyi, Kabale and Buganda.

Victoria Nabunya, first Miss Uganda winner under the Owori reign in 2001
Moving on, before Ms Owori came into play, in a moment of temporary insanity back in 1998, I attended Miss Kabalagala which was held in Capital Pub, a pub renowned as being the top hangout in the land for Prostitute and thumping rock music.

From start to finish, Miss Kabalagala was a chortle. I don’t know how they sourced the girls, but when First Girl came sashaying down the rickety catwalk, we weren’t sure if she was trying to imitate a person with disabilities or if she had something stuck up her bottom. Second Girl, when asked what she would do with the prize money if she won, she said something along the lines of buying Roadside Vendor chicken for Friend and a teddy bear. Another tried to show case her dancing talent by withering on the stage like a snake trying to wrap itself round its prey. Hmm!            

Now this is where this week’s ramble cajoles for next Saturday, 26th, is pageant night - Miss Kansanga so the banner strewn at the junction of Kabalagala and Gaba road screams and I think it’s being held in that dingy pub next to the market. “Atte where else” I hear you howl.

I doubt regular readers of read my column will show - not OPP and Doc because they are in outside countries, not Tilly or Donna Muwonge because they would have flown out, certainly not Bayego because she smirked when I told her about it and Miss Na-Gundi, well she is not the sort of person to show case her latest sweeping ensemble in a down trodden pub. I however, expect Julio and Nodin to fall in.

But I am unfazed and will attend for the other day when I asked Car Mechanic what he thought I might expect from it, he said: “Wagenda kuba wajudde akabozi, n’abawala b’omukatale nga abaganzi baabwe abavuzi ba piki ne boda babawagira” (It’s going to be full of House Girl and Market Girl with Boda Boyfie cheering them on”).

The expected crowd at Miss Kansanga
Now, is that not apt justification for Miss Kansanga being a plot?   

Pictures: New Vision, Sylvia Owori, Bukedde


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Questions That I Can't Answer

I find myself perturbed this Sunday. Has the scorching Kampala sun gotten to people’s heads? Am I the only sane person in town? Or am I just being intricate? There are scores of things that I see happen in this dusty city of ours to which I have no response.

LUDO: Back in the day, Idle Man used to play omweso. Omweso, so I am told, involves a great deal of thinking. The brain has to work. But it seems Idle Man found it tasking and flung it out in favour of Ludo if not, Snakes and Ladders - games that don’t require any thought and winning is dependent on the roll of dice. And get this, Boda Man will stop to watch as will Level Headed Looking Man and with mesmerised and wow looks on their faces. Jeez!

UGACHICK: Why does Aga Sekalala call the company Ugachick, yet they don’t sell chicks but fully grown chickens?

THE LIFT BUTTON: Am in Workers House with six other people waiting for the lift when Chap turns up, looks at us like we are morons and proceeds to press the lift call button which I might add, was lit thus meaning it had already been pressed. Twenty seconds later, Chap presses it again – four-to-six times in quick succession. Politely I lean over and whisper that no matter how many times he presses the button, the lift won’t move any faster and it won’t skip floors just because he has hit the button six times. He retorted by swinging me a “who the f**k do you think you are” look.

BY ORDER: Who is this person - By Order? You’ve all seen the notices in supermarkets, restaurants, offices and shops and at the bottom of whatever message is being conveyed, it’s signed off as ‘By Order’.

KCCA POTHOLES:  When KCCA Engineer decides it’s time to patch up a pothole, he sends Repairman and what Repairman, does is to compose the pothole to look neat - as in slicing the edges to make it a square or rectangle. When done, he heaps all the crumbs on the side of the now neat square or rectangular pothole, gives it a good clean sweep and vanishes for the next four weeks until it’s time to repeat the process all over again.

POLICE and TRIBE: Cop loves to know what tribe you are when filling out a statement. A statement without mention of tribe is not a complete statement to him. Does Cop think that when the case gets to court, it all hinges on tribe and without it, Judge will throw it out?

ROADSIDE PREACHER: Roadside Preacher spends the best part of the day idling about Shell Jinja Road making a racket. When he gets home in the evening, does Better Half ask something along these lines?

Better Half: “Honey, how was your day?”

Roadside Preacher: “TB saw me approach his ride to preach for him and he quickly wound down his windows and blared out profanity steeped gangsta rap music.”   

HOOTING TAXI: Has taxi Driver been reading up on Pavlov’s dog theory and that if he doesn’t hoot multiple times, we wouldn’t know that we have to take a taxi and would walk to our destinations?

AM FEELING HEADACHE: “Am feeling headache”, is a favourite of Campus Girl especially, Akamwesi residents. Listen up Campus Girl and for the umpteenth time, it’s not “am feeling headache” but “I have a headache” or “I can feel a headache coming on.”  

SPECIAL HIRE TAXI: Before Uber came along, what were the chances of getting into a special hire taxi and Chap taking you straight to your destination without a detour via the nearest gas station? Virtually zero! 

LEANING WAITRESS: The day I walk into a kafunda and Waitress does not lean on the table when she comes to take my order, I will swing her 20k!

All those questions haunt me that I can’t get a decent night’s sleep and am frightful that I might end up in the loony bin if I don’t get the answers.   

Pictures: Ugachick, Bukedde, The New Vision, Internet


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kaboozi From The Kafunda

There is, something intrinsic about kafunda culture. Way before I take my seat, I know what to expect because people who embrace kafunda culture are real, down to earth and a far cry from those who go to fancy Bugolobi bars where out of 10k, you hardly get change to buy a second beer as I discovered to my horror one afternoon. Yet in my kafunda, 10k gets me three beers and change for tomorrows milk for breakfast.

Okay so kafunda beers may not be as chilled as those in Silk Liquid and the bottles not washed to rid them of the dust and grime. The plastic chairs are tattered and about to fall apart, and one leg of the table needs propping up with a pebble to steady it. There is also a chance that Waitress is going to fleece me and that my trousers will need to be put in for washing because I sat on a seat that was covered with a fine foil of dust raked up by KCCA Road Sweeper as well as passing traffic. And of course the toilets are most likely going to be dubious.

Kafunda Culture
But all that pessimism shouldn’t bother you, because if you want to have a good chortle and hear real kaboozi, it’s found in the kafunda with real people who have no airs and graces unlike the condescending snobs you find in Silk Liquid or say The Bistro in Kisimenti.

A couple of furlongs ago, on the adjoining table of a Muyenga quarry kafunda, three women were discussing horror Housie tales. The convo (conversation) as Nephew says it from Small Brown Thing to Equally Better Small Brown Thing and Tall Skinny went along these lines.

“New Housie had been delivered early on Sunday morning from kyalo so I spent the best part of the day showing her how things work in the kitchen and she seemed to grasp what I was telling her. That evening, I settled for a tuna sandwich for supper and opened the tin in front of her so she learns. Thirty minutes later and engrossed in TV, the sandwich had yet to make an appearance. Going to the kitchen to check on her, I found she had emptied the tuna into a saucepan, added water and it was on the stove boiling away!”

A Novice Over The Stove?
Swiftly moving on, at Nampeera’s in Soya, this is what Chap told Fat Friend. “The Marabou stork had pooped on the ride and upon getting home, I asked Male Housie to wash it off. 

A Marabou Stork Messed Up Ride
Obviously there was a need to splash some water over the poop to soften it up. Instead, Housie just started washing with a rag and when he realised the poop wasn’t coming off as easily as he thought it would, he had an ‘eureka (!)’ moment. He got a brillo pad – you know the stiff green washing pad that Female Housie uses to wash sauce pans and proceed to give the car a good scour including messing up the paint work.”
Brillo Pads

The last horror tale is from a Salaama Road kafunda between Middle Aged Woman and Dark Skinned Male. “Girlfie brought me New Housie who just looked featureless. When she went to the washroom, moments later there was a loud thud along with the sound of stuff crashing to the floor. It was obvious she had fainted and I rushed to help except, Girlfie showed no signs of concern. Rather than sit on the toilet, Housie had opted to squat, lost her footing, toppled to the floor and took the cistern cover along with her.” To wrap it up she said and wait for it, wait for it – “anti mu kyalo when they squat, they have enough floor space to steady their feet unlike a toilet rim which is barely an inch wide.”
Squatting On The Toilet
You see what I mean? In the kafunda, you get real tales and tales that we can all relate to and not that garbled hogwash that is spewed out in upmarket places. 

Pictures: Internet                       

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Clueless women

There is something I don’t fathom about the fairer sex. Either I don’t relate to them, or they are the ones with issues. A couple of weeks ago, I hooked up with Young Lady for the first time for a night out on the town. I found nothing wrong with her because she actually did lift up her feet when she walked instead if dragging them. Another thing that amazed, is that she wore proper heeled shoes and not the usual slipper or ballet things that are the preferred norm with women these days and regardless of whether they at work, wedding or meeting the pope.

The twilight went well and when it was time to take our leave, I asked if she was driving. Well before she spewed out ‘no’, I had already marked her as Young Lady who didn’t drive. “Is there any place I can drop you?” I asked. Her response which took me by surprise, is that she lived somewhere in the sticks of Mukono and that it would not be fair for me to drive that distance. “Anywhere on Jinja road will suffice” she said. I did just that and dropped her at Centenary Park.

After she had said thank you, I expected her to open the door and be on her way. Instead she sat gawking at me. After a baffling standoff of sorts, I broke the silence. “You know it’s about to rain?” Rather than retort, she rolled her eyes like I had said the most stupid thing, reached for the door and with one foot on Jinja Road, she turned to face me and out came: “Some transport”. It’s important to note that the preceding word of ‘please’ didn’t figure at all when she asked.

I did have some dime – 50k, two 20ks, a 10k plus an assortment of 1ks in my back pocket. Thankfully when I dipped my hand into it, it came back with the 10k to which she swung a morbid look of “only 10!?!” But who on earth asks for transport on the first meeting? Suffice to say I never called her again.

Second Lady and going by her responses as we talked over the phone was totally scattered. The conversation went along these lines.

TB: “Where would you like to go?”

Second Lady: “I don’t know, anywhere.”

TB: “Can’t you suggest a place?”

Second Lady: “I don’t know places.”

Hmm, like she has never been to Chicken Tonight!

I settled for Java at Village Mall in Bugolobi and as soon as she perched, I wished I was some place very remote, for not a moment after she said hello, she wasted no time in whipping out her Techno to start WhatsApp-ing and watching ebisessa on Bukedde TV.

When Waiter presented the menu, it took me less than 30 seconds to figure what I was going to waffle and drink. She on the other hand, went through the menu like she was doing an exam and Invigilator had harped on about how important it is to read the questions before answering.

With Waiter hovering about, I pressed her on what she wanted. The good news is she did want to eat and drink but, was not sure what she wanted. “I will order later” she grumbled. I didn’t have the patience to baby sit, so I ordered myself a TML and steak. Twenty minutes later and I was slavering away on a medium rare and washing it down with the coldest TML that I had been served in a while. She didn’t eat or drink but spent the entire evening on WhatsApp.

Days later, I get a call from Lady Friend. That Second Lady found me rude, repugnant and obnoxious because I didn’t talk to her, offer her a drink or food. Hmm!

Pictures: Internet

Monday, July 10, 2017

M7s UPE Has Failed Waitress

Are we a conceited society that is averse to being told what we don’t know? We are. Everybody who has passed through say Gayaza, Budo, Namagunga, Mwiri, right down to one of the many universities or Law Development Centre, figure themselves as people who are scholarly and know it all.

Even those who decided to quit shortly after leaving nursery school and the men who idle while getting their kicks from throwing dice at a game of ludo and moving up the ladder, they think they know it all and will melee if told otherwise.

Back in the day when I started writing, it suddenly dawned on me that there were many words out there that I didn’t know of. Anyone who knows Lilliane Barenzi, who was on top of me while at New Vision – (Lol) not in the actual sense of the statement, but in that she was my immediate boss, will know that she says it as it is. She doesn’t mince her words – nor does Simon Kaheru or Andrew Mwenda.

Caricature of Lilliane Barenzi
One word I had trouble distinguishing was artist. While I knew an artist painted, I didn’t know that people who sing are called artistes. I had heard the word being floated now and again in the features department and thus when I wrote one of my first articles and referred to Bebe Cool as an artist, Barenzi came down hard on me like an army of miniature ninja Barenzi’s who deserved roles in Quentin Tarantino’s movie, Kill Bill Vol. 1.

“What’s with you and referring to singers as artists” she spat. “They are not artists, but artistes!” I ought to have thrown a tantrum and argued with her, because I am educated and thus I know better but I didn’t. She sat me down and explained the differences and I learnt. But that’s me. When I don’t know and get put right, I don’t puff my chest and start scattering my toys about.
Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol.1
A few weeks ago, I chanced upon Friend having a drink in a kafunda just shy of the quarry in Muyenga or Bukasa as the residents will say. Waitress was an energetic young lass, but who skipped about like a bewildered hare while looking for cold beers from her neighbours.

But when it came to ‘foxing’, she was spot on. When I placed my order, I didn’t dither with my words. “The beer must be cold. Not room temperature, but cold.” I suspect that way before she left the table to go and bring said beer, she knew she didn’t have any cold ones because like I said earlier, she was skipping from bar to bar looking to exchange her warms ones for cold ones.

No sooner had she placed the bottle on the table, than it had been opened and she had scarpered to take refuge in the dim of the bar because and I guess she had anticipated what was coming to her. I bellowed: “Nyabo!” Waitress had served me microwave temperature beer.

After giving her the usual grilling that I tend to give Askari, Pump Attendant, Traffic Cop, her only line of defence was: “It has only just been delivered” followed by a malevolent smirk.

Cutting through, when it was time to go and the bill presented on a tad of paper torn from what must have been the corner of a dust covered Picfare exercise book, she had written Nile as ‘Naile’, larger as ‘lager’ and Smirnoff as ‘simanolt’. Now it was my turn to sneer.

The Bill That Was Presented
When I told her that each day she sees the spellings of Nile, larger and Smirnoff when she is serving Customer or when Chap from the brewery makes the delivery staring up at her in the face but instead she goes and writes something else, her reaction? Her petite senior 2 looking bosom swelled from a barely 32A to 32B, she cussed and gave me a look of: “Who the f**k do you think you are!?!” 

She felt she knows it all and if only Kaheru, Barenzi and Mwenda were around to rip her to shreds and tell her otherwise!

Picture and Caricature: Internet, Danny Barongo, Timothy Bukumunhe

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Flats With A Wall For A View

Back in the day when I moved out of Parents crib, the instructions I melted out to House Broker were explicitly clear. It had to be a three bed-roomed house in a wall fence and somewhere between Muyenga and Munyonyo.

Hardly had I pulled up outside Sunday Vision than he called with news. Broker Friend knew of a house in Kansanga that he was going give the once over. Hmm, he need not have called until he had checked it out or perhaps he was trying to show me that he’s on the ball and intends to earn every cent of the 50k I had swung him for his services? Keep me appraised so I told him.

Twenty minutes later I pick up his call and he’s awfully energized. The house was indeed three bed-roomed, in a wall fence and less than 100 meters from the main road. He further added that I needed to hurry and view it because it was bound to be taken by the end of the day.

I heeded his urgency and half-an-hour later, I picked him up outside the gates of Kampala International University which, was a neat place to meet because I also got to eye up a couple of 'small brown things' as they headed to class. The house was just before Kansanga trading centre and true to his word, it was less than 100 meters from the main road. More importantly, the road on which the house sat had a fine layer of tarmac.

When the gates swung open, I expected to see a driveway down to the house. But what driveway? What I saw were garage gates. To get my ride past the gate, I had to drive straight into the garage because there was no parking yard. Inside, the kitchen could barely fit a fridge, cooker or a frying pan and the bedrooms were no bigger than the toilets on Emirates or KQ. Basically, it was a box with no garden and no soul.

Any need to guess what word I hurled at him once the thirty second tour of the house was done? Yes, you guessed it – tumbavu!

The second house he took me to days later, had the door handles upside down and another, the light switch in the master bedroom was not in the bedroom, but in the corridor! Needlessly to say, more tumbavu’s were readily unleashed.

A couple of days ago, Chap took me to see some flats on Salama Road, Munyonyo that he was marketing. As we drove, his spiel was about how each flat had a balcony with lake views, a supermarket and was less than two minutes drive from the main road.

Now this is where you wait for me to tell you there is a ‘but’. There is a ‘but’. Not a mere ‘but’, but a BUT! The only thing Chap got right is that they are off Salama Road. And from Salama Road to the flats was not a two minute drive as he stated, but a 15-minute drive up an almost impassable road. There was a supermarket nearby whose shelves were bare save for a couple of bags of Nomi washing powder, some Top Up tomato sauce, coffee and a plastic jar on the counter that contained ghastly coloured lollipops. Well, I assume they were lollipops.

Before I carry on, please send Housie to the shops for a muzinga of Uganda Wa because you are going to need it once you are done reading the next part. The flats did have balconies. But the views of Lake Victoria were only visible from a small port window in the bathroom because the actual view from the balcony was of a wall and built less than an inch from the balcony railing that blocked out the sunlight!

Now look at the picture above, is this what you call a flat that has a balcony with views of Lake Victoria? And the funny thing is that, all the flats are occupied. It seems some people are perfectly okay with sitting on their balconies and staring at the white paint washed walls. 

Since I viewed them, I make it a point of driving past every evening with a sledge hammer in the trunk of my ride and in the hope of finding Owner and more importantly Architect so that I can clobber their heads together with the aim of knocking some sense into them. 

Pictures: Timothy BukumunheInternet                       


Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Gift Scroungers

We all like gifts. And we like to be gifted. Back in the day when corporate companies were still splashing load of cash about, one thing that was certain is that whenever they had a function, at the end of it, you just had to walk away with a gift bag. They gave you everything from polo shirts, muzinga’s of JW, dairies, umbrellas to 4x4 tyre covers.

And whenever I attended one of those functions, people always made sure they caught the eyes of Usher because once the function came to a close, it would be Usher handing out the gift bags. She would remember you and set a bag aside for you. If you didn’t catch her eye as you walked in, she might say, “They are over.” 

Which, neatly brings me into the next phase of today’s ramble. I have always been miffed when I walk out of customs at Entebbe airport to find hoards of people waiting for just one person. Last time I walked out, there were fifteen people benching (slang for waiting) One Chap and on his trolley, One Chap had four over sized suitcases and a number of duty free shopping bags.

Obviously when Peeps saw him, they screamed in delight and rushed up to him. But wait a minute. Save for two of them who showered him with hugs and kisses, the rest were more concerned with relieving him of his luggage. They scrambled for the duty free bags and they almost fought over who should push the trolley. I felt sorry for him.

Arrivals At Entebbe International Airport
People go to the airport not to meet you but to lay claim on what you might have bought for them from your travels. They feel they must be at the source and if they are not, then they will miss out on gifts. One chap who I know – let’s call him Julio, cut work to go to Entebbe to meet his sister. Upon his return he narrated he might miss out of gifts because he found many of his siblings and extend family also waiting and going by the solitary suitcase that she flew in with, there wouldn’t be enough gifts to go around.

The man with the hat – M7 that is, is a frequent flyer. Had he be using a commercial airliner, he would have chalked up enough air miles to travel the world for five years after his retirement. And whenever he comes back, there are always people to meet him. Even when he decides to sneak in during the dead of the night, people sit looking at the skies for his plane and dash to the airport.

The people who do that include IGP, Kale Kayihura, army commander, David Muhoozi and prisons boss, Johnson Byabashaija.  I asked those in the know what the story is behind the trio always going to meet him and they tell me it has something to do with State House protocol. They say that whenever M7 returns, the trio have to be hand to brief him on the state of the nation – especially on security matters.

Vice President Sekandi Meeting M7 At Entebbe 
But it’s a lie! And I know better. You see, once Cabinet learns of an impending trip, they lobby to meet M7 and if they can’t meet him, they make do with approaching his ADC and slipping him their shopping lists to pass on.

Like the 15 people I told you about earlier on who went to the airport to meet One Chap and those who catch the eye of Usher, Kayihura, Muhoozi and Byabashaija also fall into that category. That he who goes to the airport and catches M7s eye, will be remembered and a duty free gift bag will be saved for them. 

David Muhoozi and Johnson Byabashaija
Pictures: New Vision, PPU