Saturday, November 19, 2016

Business Cards For Toilet Cleaner?

In the controversial 1993 Robert Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrleson movie – Indecent Proposal, there is a scene where John (Harrleson), an architectural lecturer, is giving a class, holds up a brick and says: “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be... See you on Friday.”
We all want to be something. We want to be better than who we are. We want to have a self-worth and more importantly, we all want to be taken as somebody important.
In Ogun State - Nigeria, there is Prince Ade Adesanya. Aside being a prince, his calling card reads: Friend of The Governor.


Err, what did Harrleson tell his class? - “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is - wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
Les is a soft spoken Englishman. When he landed on our dusty streets in the late 90s, he opened a small bar in Muyenga called Jacaranda at Tank Hill Parade shopping complex where he built a small loyal clientele – Dr Gladys Kalema – Zikusooka, Dr Paul Kiwanuka, David Mwakitele, Evelyn Kiapi and myself amongst others, where many raucous nights went down.
One thing about Jacaranda that made it appealing - especially to the women, were the toilets. There was Full-time Attendant who, checked on them round-the-clock with a zeal. One night as I sat with Les, Full-time Attendant gingerly hobbled over and perched himself a fair distance way while letting out polite attention coughs. When Les beckoned him over, Full-time Attendant handed him a note – a note that bore the supplies he would need to execute his duties the following week. It was well presented and it included a rough estimate of the prices for each of the requirements.
At the end of the shopping list, not only had he signed and dated it, but bless him, he had also given himself a job title – that of: Head Toilet Cleaner.
Like Harrleson said to his students in the movie: “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
Back to Nigeria and there is a certain Dr (Mrs) Merit Gordon Obua who bagged herself a title courtesy of her husband’s job. Her 'job' title read: Wife of the Chief Security Officer to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces – Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Again, the Harrleson quote comes into play: “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
In one of M7s early ministerial appointments after the bush war, he appointed a doctor as his State Minster for Health which, made sense. While it was the duty of Official at the ministry to furnish Minister with business cards, his wife was not to be left out and she too joined the party. She had her own business cards printed off - not for whatever business she was running, but and wait for it, wait for wait it – but as: Mrs Deputy Minister of Health. She went a step further that whenever she went to kyalo, at her insistence, she was not to be referred to as Mrs X, but as, Mrs Deputy Minister of Health.
Like Harrleson said: “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
For obvious lawsuit reasons, Simeon is not his real name. I had been in school with him and when I returned to Uganda in the very late 90s, over lunch when he we gave me his business card, I was impressed and happy for him because, his job title read: President and CEO.’ I couldn’t wait to see the million-shilling outfit he was running. The ‘million-shilling’ outfit he was President and CEO of, was on the third floor of a building behind Uganda House – down a narrow dimly lit dusty corridor and past Watch Repair Man and Juice Woman. In a small and cramped office, which he shared with a million-other people, he was President and CEO of his small desk which he rented and from where he plied his trade as a printer.
Need I remind you of what Harrleson said to his class?: “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
And finally, there is David Ibukun Maiye (Below). His card simply reads: Chief Barber to The President


What did Harrleson say? “Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something more than it is. It wants to be something better than it is. And that is what we must be.”
Seeing everybody wants a business card, I'm off to Nasser Road to pick up my cards and I haven't strung out all my names nor given myself a fancy title above my station. It simply reads: TB - Chief Tumbavu Crier.
In this case, what did Harrleson NOT say? "Even a common ordinary brick wants to be the brick that Boda Man pees against. It wants to be something fwaa. If that is what my brick wants to be, then let it be."