Saturday, December 31, 2016

Did You Read Your December Salary Terms & Conditions?

And after twelve months, 2016 is dead. Gone for good and only to be remembered in the history books, a discarded Sunday Vision now relegated to wrapping mandazi in the Old Park or in some old tweet.

It’s now 2017. Now what? I’ll tell you now what. ‘Now what’, is going to read as follows: ‘What what misery lies ahead?’ The problem with last month – December that is, and the ‘payment of salaries contract’ that came along with it, is that we didn’t bother reading it. We greedily hit the ATM and once our eyes were satisfied with the financial figure that accounts had deposited into our accounts, we didn’t read the rest of the contract – the small print on page 15, where the ‘terms and conditions’ or T&Cs were printed.


Everything we buy comes with T&Cs. Once we buy the laptop, as soon as we walk out of the shop, we toss away the receipt and often, the receipt would carry the T&Cs in case of fault and so on. Its only when it stops working and we return it to the shop to complain - a complaint that usually falls on deaf ears, that we wish we had read the T&Cs. Getting back, many of us did not read the December T&Cs before we went to the ATM and started spending. In the T&Cs, Chief Accountant had stated: “The office will pay your December salary on December 10th, and not at the end of the month – on the 30th as is usually the norm.”

When the month ends and salaries have been paid, on the first AM visit, we check our balance – just to make sure that Accounts Girl paid us what is due and that nothing has been deducted. On our next visit, again, we don’t bother checking balances because in our heads, we know we are still flush and healthy. And it happens over the next ten-to-fifteen ATM visits – draw cash, but never look at the balance.

Come mid-month and bunkenke seeps in. We know we have been spending like fwaa, and have been avoiding the ‘account balance’ option on the screen, but now, it’s an option we can no longer afford to ignore. We must hit it, but we must hit it with some tact. You see, people who believe the ATM might not give them money are very careful as to which ATM they use. They will pick an ATM that has next to zero traffic or, they show up in the middle of the night when everybody is home asleep.


They do it because they can’t afford to have people who are lining up behind them, see them walk away without cash. No matter how well you try to disguise that you only wanted to check your balance, everybody lining up behind you knows otherwise. They know your account is empty. And if they didn’t know it was empty, Askari, once you walk away, will happily walk down the queue telling everybody – “Ah, that man who just walked away, his account didn’t even have 5k for kindazi and black tea.”



Now that we are in January, many who have been to the ATM and found it only holds enough to make a 5K kindazi and black tea withdrawal, are not yet that bothered. Its New Year’s Day and as the office was closed for Christmas, salaries have been delayed but, will reflect tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest so they assume.

Obviously, nothing is going to reflect on Monday or on Tuesday and yet, Housie’s salary, Umeme, NW&SC, rent and school fees are pending. So, seeking to find out why the salary delay, they will stomp to Chief Accountant to complain and he in turn, will lean back in his swivel chair, snigger and say: “But TB, did you not read the T&Cs regarding end of year salaries? I wonder what misery lies ahead for you this January!”    

Pictures: Internet

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Crashing Kyalo Christmas Lunch

Christmas Day in kyalo? Hmm. While there, I guess there is no harm in going to that great institution of worship – church, to listen to Pastor frothing words of wisdom about Christ and also, trying to figure out what scam Pervy Pastor is going to pull. Will he usher the ladies into a backroom like Pervy Pastor in Zimbabwe recently did when he told Female Congregant to buy anointed cucumbers equivalent to how big she wants her husbands penis to be?


My attendance record at church this year has not been the best, so I’m going – not because I really want to go or I think I ought to go, but as everybody will be parading new clothes and I have a new pair of shoes, I think its an apt time to break them in – don’t you think?

In the kyalo church, peeps from Kampala obviously get the preferential front-of-house seating because they are - err, from Kampala. If not, Pastor would have cleared space at the front by the choir because Kampala peeps like to bring their own seats – which is understandable, because the bench in a kyalo church – or ‘foam’ as they call it, is not easy at all on the buttocks that I strongly advise you go with a cushion for the laboriously long three-hour service.


What I don’t grasp about kyalo, are the lunch arrangements. Every household I guess, has its own plans on how to spend the day. After church as we walk back to our cribs, along the way, I expect families to tail off to their homesteads and feast. Some kyalo peeps are thoughtful enough to give out invitations - that once you are done with your own feasting, pop over to theirs for drinks or something like that.

But a kyalo brain thinks and works differently – especially the male brain. Kyalo Man will confidently walk with you from church and pass his own home without a fleeting glance at it, that you think he’s going to the trading centre for some emergency shopping - or a pre-lunch game of ludo or snakes and ladders. However, as you get to your home and you turn to him to say: “Have a good lunch”, he always interprets it as: “Are you coming in for Christmas lunch?”

Jeez, he has unashamedly invited himself and will sit with you and your family all afternoon - eating and drinking the finer things in life that came off the shelves of Kampala’s supermarkets and were transported across the districts in air-conditioned 4x4s. Dare you ask him after the first course, if he harbours any intentions of going to his home to join his family for lunch, his answer is always embarrassingly (not to him, but to you) bland – “They will be okay without me. I even don't know what she cooked.”


Pause a minute. What does his wife make of the stunt? I mean, they left home together for church with the kids. They walked back in a group, but when they got their home, he didn’t stop. He carried on walking. He didn’t even look back or call one of the kids over and whisper: “Tell mum I am going to pull a fast one and crash TBs lunch. If there is anything worth spiriting away, I will certainly do so.”

I mean, she must vex, mustn’t she? You see when we were still kids, for five consecutive years, Kyalo Neighbour always strode past his house like he didn’t see it or like he didn't live there and around the corner to ours for his lunch and then, staggered back to his - way past the kyalo bedtime hour of 8:00pm. But get this. The following day on Boxing Day, he always turned up early and presented himself in time for breakfast.

Today, it’s not going to happen for I have a plan. When we get to his home, I am going to branch off with his family. Hopefully, I will be offered a seat and I will lunch with them. That will sort him – I think?

But Kyalo Man and Musoga Man at that, just like Bushenyi Man or Lira Man, I know he won’t be perturbed. He will snigger and say to himself: “If TB wants to lunch with my family, then so be it because the freebie meat I got the other day is long gone.”  With that, he will purposely march on to my home to eat my share of the meal and with my family.


But what the heck, its Christmas. Let’s leave him be to slaver on that turkey leg which hopefully, he will choke on. Otherwise folks, wherever you are, have a great lunch! 

Pictures:  Zimbabwe Herald, New Vision, The Daily Monitor      




Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Kyalo Christmas Migration

“As he leads the herd - sometimes down treacherous routes as they migrate across the country to far flung tracks of land, Alpha Male is in control. Huddled behind him are the females, the young and the new born. Younger Male – eager to learn and observe the technicalities of the migration, watches and picks up titbits from Alpha Male because in a few years, he would have grown and left the group to lead his own herd on the migration.”   

No, this is not commentary from a David Attenborough National Geographic documentary on the wildebeest migration from the Maasai Mara in Kenya and down to Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains but, commentary of a human migration from Kampala to Kisoro, Bushenyi, Koboko, Kitgum, Rwakitura to wherever and in my case, Ibulanku, for Christmas in kyalo.

Where human migration differs from animal migration, is all too evident in the picture below. We humans all wake up at the same time and we all want to migrate to wherever at the same time and to get there at the same time. Nothing wrong with that, except in our being impatient, we end up causing traffic jams in Busega, Bombo and Jinja roads and many other places. If only we were as patient, organised and adopted a single file like the camels below, perhaps Julio would have gotten to Bushenyi, Doc to Lira and Nodin to Fort Portal way before the 8:00pm kyalo bedtime hour.     



When the herd rumbles out of Kampala in the wee hours of the morning in 4x4 rides, in two corporate offices – those of water and electricity suppliers, PRO will beam as he cracks open a bottle of champagne. You see, for the past 12 months, his life has been a misery - having to answer a stream of never ending rude questions on social media as to why there is no power or water in Kireka, Muyenga, Namugongo or wherever. Each time, he posts the same response. “Engineer is working on it” or “kindly DM your details.”

He will smirk as he drinks, because he knows we don’t expect piped water or electricity in kyalo and with the migration, who in the empty city will incessantly txt him messages on Twitter or Facebook to ask when power or the water supply will be restored?

The migration also reveals that the average life span of anything that goes to kyalo lasts less than a year. Each year we go to Ibulanku, the 4x4 is packed with the same things - mostly from Nice House of Plastics. Plastic Chairs, basins, plates, cups, jerry cans and all – plastic because Kyalo Peep will break the China plates and glasses no sooner have they been unpacked from the boxes.

Kampala House Girl, if you take her along, will be in her element. She knows Kyalo House Girl exists – but more importantly she knows that they are not on the same level. Kyalo House Girl will be reduced to cooking in the about-to-collapse mud kitchen and using firewood while Kampala House Girl, will be in the smoke free kitchen of the main house using the gas cooker while barking instructions like she is the Madame of the house. She is also aware that she was brought along to supervise and to make sure Kyalo House Girl does not pilfer sugar, salt, cooking oil or a quarter kilo of meat from the 20 kilos of beef that was bought at a stopover in Kyengera.
           

The beauty about Christmas in kyalo, is the poor of Kampala always look rich and smart in kyalo. In Kampala, people can tell if you are wearing the finest Owino mivumba skirt, blouse dress, shirt or pants - and even underpants and knickers, to some extent. But wear the Owino mivumba in kyalo and they will look like new, in that they came straight off the shelves or hangers at Mr. Price or Sylvia Owori fashions.

Then there is the asset distribution that everybody looks forward to and usually happens two days before the herd returns to Kampala. From the time you landed, Relative would have made note of everything you wore throughout the vacation or saw hanging on the clothes line to dry after being washed and would have ‘booked’ the Sunday Vision T-shirt or the lighter you bought as a by-the-way at Total in Nyendo while, Cousin Rita wants your leggings to wear to her Saturday night outings to the trading centre and Cousin James, he merely longs for the earphones so he can listen to radio as he watches the cows graze.

However, the grand prize that everybody in kyalo wants are not the clothes, the Sunday Vision T-shirt, shoes, lighter or headphones. They want to be gifted with the ‘portable flat screen TV’ (read: Samsung tablet) just like Kyalo House Girl wants Kampala House Girl to gift her the hand-me-down blouse you - Madame Of The House, had given her to wear when you had guests round to celebrate little Martha’s 3rd birthday.

Getting back, if any of you with kyalos in the the east plan on making the migration that way - Pompi, Dr John Bua, Val Oketcho, Winfred Ongom, Mark Muyobo, Don Wanyama (Below), Jemima Na-gundi, the Kyabazinga, Lizel Muwaya, Esther Aster, James Odomel, Spe Kazibwe et al, might I suggest we do a Namawojolo pit stop on Friday at 10:00am for a Coke and some muchomo? Otherwise, everybody have a safe migration to wherever.  




Pictures: Alamy.com, Daily Monitor, Twitter

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's A Robert Kabushenga Decision

In Twenty Days, 2016, will be nigh. A year that many of us - especially Hillary Clinton, would rather forget and hope that 2017 yields richer rewards. Except, the year won’t start off on a good footing for Hillary because come January 20th, 2017, she is likely to be locked up in her bedroom and in an uncontrollable sob as The Donald is sworn in as president. 

Before the year ends, there are two memos we expect CEO - like Robert Kabushenga below, to have instructed HR to pin up on the notice boards at our places of work - that our end of year bonuses have been despatched to our bank accounts, and that the office Christmas party will be held on Friday at 4:00pm.




We all expect bonuses. We see it as a given for the work that we did throughout the year. Even Slacker who beat the systems that HR had set in place and always got in late and was the first to leave in the evenings or chopped work to go do his own things, expects a bonus.

It’s not just we who work for the big corporations that expect the bonus. Housie, Askari, Petrol Pump Attendant and Waitress, are all looking for rewards too. In the case of Petrol Pump Attendant, Askari and Waitress, they expect a double bonus – one from Employer and the other, from Customer who they so diligently served during the year.

But there’s a problem. By now, Chief Financial Officer would have informed CEO and HR, that the year was not good and thus, he is unable to find the money for bonuses – let alone spirit money away on a frivolous thing such as a Christmas party. And while Chief Financial Officer can hide away in his office on the 5th floor – away from the mass of workers and not feel the eyes of busungu burrowing into him, its HR and anyone who works in that department that’s going to get it good and proper. The trickle-down effect will also be felt at home when Askari takes his sweet time opening the gate in the dead of the night, while Housie will serve a meal that not even the dog will eat.

However, there are a select few, like MP, Waitress, Traffic Cop, DUI Roadblock Cop who so won’t be beefing with Chief Financial Officer because they are a law into their own hands and their bonus is assured.

By the time MP can get us to pay for his funeral, a new car, a second hand suit, underwear and a vest from Hawker outside Amber House, he has the powers to make us give him a bonus. Waitress on the other hand, will pick up her bonus from adding the odd five beers onto your bill while you are in a drunken stupor. If you want thwart her plans, don’t run up a tab. Whatever you order, pay for it there and then and watch her froth at the mouth.




While it’s unlikely that Employee of Crane Bank will be getting a bonus as long as they still under the bosom of Bank of Uganda, or those of Barclays in Tanzania – if a leaked memo (Below) is to be believed, the mega bonuses this month will go to Cop – especially DUI Cop. Who wants to spend the Christmas holiday incarcerated in Jinja Road, Kabalagala or Wandegeya police stations?             





In the meantime, on the notice board at Sunday Vision, no memos of an impending end of year bonus or a Christmas party have been posted. But wait a minute, let me go check with Gaetano (Below) and Malaika Nnyanzi at Urban TV and with Siima Sabiti and Rudende at X-FM just in case, Chief Financial Officer, HR and most importantly, CEO - Kabushenga reached out them and left we at Sunday Vision out in the cold.  


Pictures: New Vision, M-Net, Twitter

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Museveni Left Us For 'Dead'

Kicking off with a shameless but, self gratifying plug, Barbra Kaija (Below), is editor-in-chief of this great Sunday product – Sunday Vision. Jemima Na-gundi, who vivaciously defines herself as a ‘tiny frame full of endorsements’ and I concur with her on that, is one of my Twitter tights. Between them, they are responsible for this ramble because, for the best part of the week, writers block had set in until a WhatsApp txt from Barbra and a tweet from Jemima, jogged my memory.



In the run-up to Christmas, we are all looking for money. Some will get it legitimately. Others such as Goon, and due to embeera, will rob and kill - if need be. What Goon does, is to lay in the middle of the road at night when he ought to be at home with his family while pretending he’s a ‘left-for-dead’ accident victim. When you stop to help, along with Best Goon Friend who has been skulking in the shrubbery, they pounce and relieve you of your valuables. If not, Goon feigns his car has broken down and once you stop, I need not tell you what happens next.

We had spent the best part of the day in Kalangala, Sesse Islands, eating fish - something I am not particularly fond of, but more importantly, we were there to interview Mark Shuttleworth (Below), a South African who has a $750 million net worth on his ATM card, and who hit the headlines when he became the first African space tourist - an 8-day privilege that only set him back $20 million.


On our return to Kampala, I too felt privileged because I had opted to drive to and from Kalangala rather than hitch a ride in the sardine cramped Coster media bus. While Jeff Mbanga worked for Weekly Observer, he was nevertheless a friend who I invited to ride along with myself and New Vision photographer, Ronald Kabuubi in my Pajero as the rest of the media pack looked on in envy.

While we left Kalangala late but, in time to catch the last ferry to the mainland, there was no need to worry. Pajero had been serviced only days before and I had no issues with driving at night even though parts of Masaka road were known Goon blackspots. Then Pajero decided to overheat that necessitated stopping at a small village and politely asking for some water. With radiator replenished, minutes later, we were on our way.


Once off the ferry and though Pajero kept on overheating, we made it to Total, Nyendo where Mechanic did his thing and declared it fit to make it to Kampala.

Except, we didn’t make it to Kampala but, to the middle of a Goon infested operational zone where there are no houses and no life. To get help, we sought to flag down passing motorists at 11:00pm - like anyone would be foolish enough to stop.

The first car that turned up slowed like it was set to stop, then picked up acceleration and dove off. The second crossed the lane to avoid us. The third would have stopped but didn’t, when they saw Jeff and Ronald emerge from the Pajero. The terrified occupants shouted: ‘abo babbi’ and sped off.

That got me thinking. I’d seen people standing by cars in Mabira forest and frantically trying to flag me down in the dead of the night and did I stop? Heck no. That’s a such a Goon stunt so, better safe than sorry I would smirk at the stranded motorist as I sped on to safety.

At 2:00am and resigned to the notion that Goon and Best Goon Friend could slither out of the dark, slit our throats and rob us, out of the dark comes a car with flashing lights. As it slows, its exactly what we wanted to see - a police Subaru. Help had finally arrived.

Except, police Subaru didn’t stop. The cops in it, peered out at us then carried on into the night and minutes later, a convoy of army Land Cruisers followed. And that’s when the shilling dropped – Museveni’s convoy was heading to Kampala. We clearly saw him (M7) in the back of the Cygnus because the overhead light was on but, he didn’t see us for he was busy reading. However, his driver and his then ADC, Wilson Mbadi, did see us as did the rest of the convoy.


Do you know what they did? They didn’t stop. They drove on. They left us at the mercy of Goon. They left us for dead and the headline in the papers the following day would have read: “Goon Slits Scribes Throats on Masaka Road”, with Bukedde chirping in with a one-liner ‘Bafu’ headline.

Was I vexed that they didn't stop? No. Were Jeff and Ronald vexed? No. We took it in our stride. Yes, we did utter a few no so kind words after the last Land Cruiser got swallowed up by the dark but we didn't vex. We took it in our stride as any other scribe would have done.    

We figured the reason Police Subaru Cops, M7, Mbadi and the rest of the convoy didn't stop, is because they too, had heard of Goon’s Masaka Road nocturnal activities and that when they saw us, Mbadi turned to M7 and shouted out: “Mzee, abo, babbi. Tuduke!” And with that, Driver didn't need a reason to floor the Cygnus all the way back to the safety of State House Nakasero.

Pictures: Sunday Vision, Internet

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