Friday, February 24, 2012

Going AWOL

I’ve got a bone to pick with that Ernest Bazanye fellow of the Bad Idea fame and who peddles his ramblings on the second last page of this, your favourite Sunday Magazine.

You see Baz, as they call him in the small confines of Sunday Vision, wafted into a dream that I was having after a night of clubbing in Silk Lounge. How he got into the dream remains a mystery and thankfully in the dream, it had nothing to do with what a certain pastor of a Rubaga based miracle centre church is alleged to have sexually done to a number of men – or where they young boys?

In the dream the prolific writer that he is, Baz wrote about me kissing some lady. There is nothing wrong with that, except that, he wrote it in Luganda and the Luganda translation of kissing is not entirely the best. He wrote: “nabalaybe nga beekomba” and further down in the article he added: “yamusunye omumwa”.Charles Sendi who is my resident Luganda translator tells me that putting those words into English would translate as follows. ‘I saw them licking each other’ and ‘he pinched her on the mouth’. Eek, Baz and all along I thought we were friends?!

Enough of Baz. I have known Ronald Safari since he started work at Serena Hotel in the food and beverage department and Sean Christian while he was head chef at Emin Pasha. I put Safari, Christian in the same league as Godfrey Gyagenda of Kampala Sheraton Hotel and Akilesh Malik of Speke Resort Munyonyo. Undoubtedly they are the best in their field. They know what they are doing and when it comes to execution, as long as they are there to tend to your needs, nothing goes wrong.

As most of you well know, I like my food. I like rich foods and I will seek out the best culinary chefs that Uganda has to offer and sample their kitchen delights. And I will also seek out the best food and beverage managers, the ones who I know will pamper the living daylights out of me. And it was in Boda Boda on a Thursday night that I settled in for the BBQ night – and by that, I mean a 7 hour affair in which Safari and Christian did their thing. Yalabi, talk about slavering, that was me throughout the night at the food. I wonder if Gyagenda will go one step better when I am next at the Sheraton – and I guess I would have to pick a day when presidential advisor John Nagenda is not dining there for when he is, the hotel practically comes to a stop and revolves round him.

But it got me thinking about both Safari and Christian. They left their previous employments at the end of January and ended up in Boda Boda but how exactly did they leave their last jobs? Okay I know they were not fired but it is common practise among people who work in the food industry, the house help and a number of blue collar workers that when they get tired of the job that they are doing and are moving on, they don’t tell the employer.

In Soya where I tend to go for pork, the staff turnover is ballistic. Just as you start to get used to say Susan, Mabel or John, they are gone. When you enquire as to what happened to them, the answer is always: “Yagenda. Kirabika yakoowa” (they went. It looks like they were tired of the job.)

When House Help want to quit, they wait until you give them leave and once they are out of the gate, that’s the last you will ever hear of them. Godfrey Kivumbi who is the Creative Director at Silk Events knows a thing or two about staff who never come back for he says: “I hired a young chap as a graphics editor. He started work just before lunch and diligently worked the day out. When he was going home, he thanked me for giving him the job and even asked about his work schedule for the following day. And then he was off home and it was the last time I ever saw or heard of him. Was it too hard a task for him to tell me that I can’t hack the job?”

A few years ago I spent the night on the back of a police pick up. No, I was not arrested but was doing a story on them. It was to be a two night affair. The evening started off well. We raced all over town from CPS after a briefing down to Gayaza Road and the across town to Kireka to apprehend a number of thieves who I might add we actually caught red handed trying to steal a generator from the home of a Korean expatriate. Then there were the car accidents we had to deal with along with petty domestic squabbles. All that happened before midnight.

After midnight the night sort of settled and the cold came in. It was the real cold and when you are on the back of a pick-up and racing all over town, the cold gets to you. In fact it actually gnaws at you as it sends shivers down every opening that your jacket or jeans have not covered. And then the sleep hits you and as the sleep and cold are doing their thing, there is this struggle to stay on the back of the pick-up.

Matthias Mugisha who was my photographer was having a hard time. I was doing so baldy and it got to a point that I really hated Simon Kaheru who was then Deputy Editor at Sunday Vision for barking the assignment into me.

When morning hit, it was more than a relief and when we clambered off the pick-up back at CPS, we made small chat with Police as well as getting a brief about our next assignment later that night.

We listened intently except that I was not listening intently. There was no way that I was going back on the police pick-up. One night was enough. All I had to do was to tell them that but I didn’t. Rather and just like House Help, Waitress or Waiter who don’t tell their employers that they quitting the job, I too didn’t tell Police that I had had enough.

That evening and an hour before I was due to report for ‘duty’, I switched my phone off – again which is something that House Help, Waiter or Waitress do.

The following day when I switched it back on, a flood of messages filtered through including one from Katumba Wamala who then headed the police force. The message was simple enough. “Tim, if you were unable to make the second night, all you had to do was to tell us. We would have understood.” Whilst there is a need to apologise to affande Wamala for my going AWOL even though the incident happened almost seven years ago, can somebody please tell me why House Help, Waiter or Waitress leave their jobs without at least telling us that they are never coming back?

And to my friends Manzi, Paulo, Willo, Dorc, Muzee and all, they left Miki’s without saying a word and now they have left Monot without saying a word either so maybe the leaving without saying good bye is not just a Waitress, House Help or Waiter thing. It is also a white collar thing. Now that’s got me thinking, when M7 fled the jungles of Luweero for Sweden when it was all too apparent that the war was on the verge of being lost, did he tell the rest of his fighters that he was off and was not coming back? Affande’s Salim, Muhwezi, Kutesa and the rest of the group of 26, perhaps you enlighten me?