changing the story


With or without a degree in Mass Communications and more than fifteen years of experience doing journalism generally, one of the street skills one should pick up along the way is the ability to change the story.

Not the ability to tell a lie, because that is simply WRONG.

Changing the story is a harmless activity designed to exercise the imagination. No trouble-causing, permanent damage, malice or prejudice. Just putting something differently. That’s all.

Take this photograph here that appeared within Ugandan circles a number of months back:

What was this guy doing?
What was this guy doing?

So, what do you think:

The first thought:

“A mentally disturbed man/ crazed drug addict today caused worry and excitement in the middle of Kampala City when he climbed aboard a fifteen-foot high electricity pole and threatened to jump. Worried traders in downtown Kampala attempted to persuade the man to abandon his threatened suicide, during which time he pretended to hold a cellphone discussion with fictitious contacts using the palm of his hand.”

The one that was emailed around to some of us:

“A Kampala resident, desperate to take advantage of the MTN Zone discounts, today scaled a fifteen-foot electricity pole in the centre of Kampala in the mistaken belief that the height advantage would increase the discount offered by the mobile phone company…”

Changing the story a little:

“A suspected thief escaped lynching by an irate mob yesterday morning in downtown Kampala by climbing up a fifteen-foot electricity pole. The thief, later identified as Something Someone, managed to pickpocket one of his pursuers just before scampering up the pole for dear life, and made a phonecall (pictured above) to the police, claiming to be an onlooker reporting a case of mob justice. The police arrived within thirty minutes and dispersed the crowd before rescuing the suspected thief, who was then taken to Central Police Station for questioning.”

Changing the story even better, and adding a twist in the tale:

“A suspected thief attempted to escape lynching by an irate mob yesterday morning in downtown Kampala by climbing up a fifteen-foot electricity pole. The thief, later identified as Something Someone, managed to pickpocket one of his pursuers just before scampering up the pole for dear life, and made a phonecall (pictured above) to the police, claiming to be an onlooker reporting a case of mob justice. The police arrived within thirty minutes but before they could disperse the crowd, a genuine onlooker informed them that the suspect was attempting to address an opposition rally, at which point he was shot in the head.”

4 thoughts on “changing the story

  1. Good observation, Sam. It has been said that the medication served up at Butabika Hospital conditions the body to react radically differently from the normal. This theory has been used variously to explain phenomenon such as the poor service delivery by Ugandan electricity authorities you allude to above, which is considered to be a symptom of a severe weakening of the brains of the people involved in delivering this electricity that failed to electrocute the demented gentleman in residence atop that electricity pole.

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