Monday, June 12, 2017

I Properly Slept At State of Nation Address

A couple of weeks ago, an invitation to attend President Museveni’s Sate of The Nation address at Serena Conference Centre fell into my lap. Normally I tend to shy away from state functions because 1. Mr Museveni is likely to turn up three hours late, 2. His security detail will confiscate our cell phones, 3. Security will also sequester my lighter and match box and I will never see them again. Suffice to say that all the above did happen. M7 turned up two-and-a-half hours late, our phones were taken and I never saw my lighter again.

Head of State: President M7
According to the programme, we invited guests, were supposed to be in our seats by 12:30pm. I was in my seat by 12:35pm. The Governor of Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Mutebile was due in his seat by 1:00pm and followed by Prime Minister Ruhakana Ruganda ten minutes later. Except that Ruganda turned up just before midday. Either he is a time keeping stickler or he was so eager to listen to what his boss had to say.

The card also accorded me the privilege of sitting in the section reserved for heads of institutions. So behind me was Deputy Governor of Bank of Uganda, Louis Kasekende, UNRA roads boss, Allen Kagina and KCCA boss, Jennifer Musisi while Richard Byarugaba of NSSF sat in front of me. When Byarugaba queried why I was sitting in this section, Ofwono Opondo of The Media Centre was quick to point out that news of my ‘appointment’ had yet to reach his desk.

Moving on, you know when you attend a wedding and you ask Friend who is already there to save you a seat? Well, Kagina and Musisi did exactly that. Kagina walked in first and perched her bag on the seat next to her. Ten minutes later, in saunters Musisi and when Kagina called out to her and pointed at the seat next to her, Musisi gave her the thumbs up. Interestingly enough, Kagina and Musisi are like sixth formers. Along with Doris Akol of URA, they giggled, they laughed and told jokes. Good friends they are.

Sisters: Doris Akol, Jennifer Musisi, Allen Kagina 
One thing we all had in common was our fear of the press who were on the prowl to take pictures of anybody who dared to nod off. Byarugaba made a pact with Person sitting next to him to pinch him if he fell asleep. I had sat myself next to a sign post that provided some cover and was mortified when one of the ushers took it away. The problem with the media is that these days, is that they have sophisticated long lenses and they could be in the far corner of the room and still manage to get your picture without you noticing.

And somewhere into the speech I began to nod off. I fought hard enough but four or five times I did nod off and was only woken up by Speaker of Parliament shrieking to MPs to calm themselves down. And every time I woke up, the first thing I did was to check my mouth in case I had drooled strings of malusu while I was asleep.

Me: Trying to stave off sleep
Over the next three days I bought and scoured all the newspapers and phew (!), there were no pictures of me asleep. I had obviously slept in such a way that it was impossible to have gotten a clean and clear picture of me.

Then one of my tights, Paul Kaheru decides to go and ruin everything. I don’t know where he got the clip from, but it was Agnes Nandtutu ‘shelling’. And in the clip, I am clearing seen contorting my face and swirling water in my mouth. Not good.

Now, what did M7 say in his speech? He said... but alas am out of space. Sorry.      


Pictures and News Clip: New Vision, NTV


    

The Fat Malusu Drooling Waitress

When I sat down, her lips were drooling malusu on the bar counter, eyes wide open and focused on the television set pinned to the wall. I couldn’t see what she was watching but going by the dialogue, it was some soap of sorts.

A minute later when she registered there was a customer, she frowned and screwed up her face – almost like I had walked in at the most inappropriate time and if she came to tend to me, she would miss out on the plot. So her lips stayed drooling malusu on the bar, her eyes narrowed and she continued to watch. And I sat there muttering a string of tumbavu’s under my breath.

Normally I would have walked up to her and not only assured her, but also given her a lecture on the importance of customer care, but I wasn’t in the mood. “Not today TB” so I told myself.

Waitress at Work. She is not the one depicted in the story
 
Customer care in Uganda is wanting. Few of those pretty but extremely daft girls that corporate companies hire to front their businesses have an understanding about it. Once in uniform, they stand there with a bland look that reads: “Please don’t come to me. Go to the other girls. I have not had lunch and I need 2k for boda to take me home which, I don’t have.” Hmm!

Getting back, when Waitress eventually clawed her lips from slavering malusu on the counter, she slithered over in the slowest of slow motions, stood before me and you will never guess what her first words were - not ‘welcome’ or ‘good afternoon’.

Rather, it was a loud shrill of sook’ojje (first come) and directed at Hawker walking by. After getting him to show her dozens of hair bands and accessories and haggling with him for almost five minutes, she briskly told him she doesn’t have the money and sent him packing. Then she turned round to me, swirled the opener on her index finger and stared at me. So I stared back at her. After a two minute standoff, she turned on her heels and in slow motion took her very large butt back to her soap where I distinctively heard her telling colleague that: “Customer is not telling me what he wants. What am I supposed to do?” That calls for an ‘hmm’ don’t you think?

But not all customer care stories are horror stories. I was at Nampeera’s in Soya and glued on the door is a poster that reads: “Premium Quality Offer. Buy 4, get 1 Free” - a promotion that runs every Friday and Saturday. I reminded Maria who works there, that I was there the previous Friday and had bought four beers but didn’t get my freebie. In her defence, she said it was not her fault but that of the UBL who didn’t deliver the freebie drinks. She also advised that I to talk to Young Lady who was replacing posters.

Promotion: The Offer at Nampeera's

When I explained to Young Lady who works for UBL – Valerien Namuli, she didn’t give me one of those “so what do you want me to do” looks. Instead and with purpose, she went and had a chat with Maria, came back and profusely apologised stating that there was a communication breakdown then offered two TMLs on the house to sooth my ruffled ego.

The other day, I was having a chat with Charlotte Beauvoisin, a travel writer, who told me of her experience in an Uber cab. That no sooner had she sat down than greetings were forthcoming including offering her a variety of magazines and newspapers she could read during the trip. Plus he also offered her complimentary bottled water and hand wipes!


Uber Experience: Charlotte Beauvoisin
 
Now, Namuli and Uber Driver, certainly have the right approach to customer care! 


Pictures: New Vision, Charlotte Beauvoisin    


Friday, June 2, 2017

Jenny Musisi Got The Dust Policy Wrong

I don’t like being perturbed especially on a Sunday. It disorganises me and leaves me trying to figure out ‘why’ yet, I could be doing something more useful like – err, like chilling with a cold TML and a skewer of meat in hand. But, I am perturbed with what’s happening at Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) because Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi, got the dust policy all wrong.

I once met her at Heathrow Airport where we had a ten minute chat and I walked away with a high regard for her. I also think in the time she’s been at the helm, she has done positive work for the city especially in trying to keep it clean that every morning, Army of Women take to the streets and do their best to sweep away our litter.


But there is a problem. Right from Speke Resort Munyonyo to Kansanga or as far away as Industrial Area, Bugolobi, Ntinda or Old Kiira Road, 95 per cent of the rubbish that Army of Women sweep away, is not actual litter like – empty bottles of water, cans of Coke or paper. Rather, they spend the working day sweeping away dust – or is it soil?

By 8:00am, they are on the streets ridding the roads clean of dust and soil which, they sweep into the gutters. If there is no gutter, they heap it into small mounds which, they leave abandoned by the roadside, or throw on the steep banks of the road.

Obviously during the night when there is a rain shower, the discarded soil on the banks of the road is washed back into the roads. And the following day, the efforts of the previous day have amounted to zilch. So what do they do? They repeat the process all over again - sweeping the roads clean of dust, piling the soil into little heaps, sweeping it into the gutters or throwing it onto the banks of the road. And they do this Monday though to Saturday, throughout the year.


But there is more to the tale. When they sweep the dust and soil into the gutters, I guess there is no need to tell you what happens next, but I have to because Official at KCCA doesn’t see it.

The gutters eventually get clogged which causes flooding. And on the rare occasion that that the powers that be at KCCA realise the flooding is caused by clogged gutters, they dispatch Official wearing one of those high visibility jackets and a shiny hardhat that looks like it was unpacked from the box that very morning to see what can be done.

Official in high visibility jacket and shiny new hardhat walks about with a clipboard scribbling some idle notes and once he has gathered all the necessary information, I presume he retreats back to his office and brainstorms with Colleague until ‘Eureka!’ is achieved.

His eureka solution, is to return to the streets wearing his high visibility jacket and shiny new hard hat to tell Army of Women to dig the soil and dust out of the gutters so the rain water can wash away unimpaired into Nakivubo Channel or wherever it’s supposed to go.


Army of Women simply do as told and dig the soil up out of the gutters and once again, is there any need to tell you what happens next? No there isn’t, but I will, because Official in high visibility jacket and shiny new hard hat doesn’t appear to know.

The following day, Army of Women sweep the soil and dust they dug up back into the gutters, or leave small mounds of soil or throw it onto the banks of the road so when it rains...

Now do you see why I am perturbed?


Pictures: Daily Monitor, New Vision                       



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