#RichParentsStupidKids


This week I looked up the word ‘Context’, because I had attended an event at which President Yoweri Museveni said: “Rich people produce stupid children. This is a problem in Uganda.”

Even if I were not sitting in that audience at the Acacia Mall launch to hear him say this first hand, the parabolic nature of the phrase would have been clear to me because he has been talking this way, in parables and using metaphor, imagery, nuance and other tactics, for close to thirty years.

Context, according to my iMac dictionary, means: “the circumstances that form Contextthe setting for an event, statement or idea and in terms of which it can be fully understood; the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

So here was the context:

The launch was organised by the Mall owners, the Mukwano Group, under Group Managing Director Alykhan Karmali, who sat with his father Amirali Mukwano.

The President told us how when he met Mukwano back in 1986 the now-old man expressed a need for US$800,000 in order to produce enough soap to meet Uganda’s needs.

The government provided the money and the company thrived. Later, Mukwano revealed to the President that Mukwano Industries’ annual turnover after that was US$10million. At the event itself, 28 years later, Alykhan had told the President that annual turnover was now US$500million.

Mukwano & M7 at LaunchAnd Mukwano Industries had grown into a Group of Companies still doing soap but also agricultural production and processing, finance, real estate development and more.

On that note, the President said, among other things, “You know, rich people produce stupid children. This is a problem in Uganda. But Mukwano there produced that boy and now you can see what he has done.”

And then he went on to say that some families only learn two of the mathematical operations in BODMAS – subtraction and division – whereas in serious families they focus on multiplication and addition; of wealth, we understood him to mean, and laughed heartily.

Bodmas

People like Alykhan had mastered formulae of multiplying their wealth and adding onto their riches, as evidenced by that day’s event; while many others, on acquiring wealth, title or property, only knew how to divide it, sometimes acrimoniously, and subtract it to zero. And somewhere during the speech the President talked about land fragmentation being another major problem to which a solution could be found in fruit growing, as fruit could be grown valuably on small pieces of land.

For some of us, #RichPeopleStupidKids was the take-home from the entire speech.

It was not surprising to see some taking the literal meaning of that one part of the President’s statement out of the context in which he made it, and responding as if he had taken to the podium to utter just that one sentence.

But it was disappointing.

As disappointing, some argued, as it was to hear the President use that word “stupid”. But those arguments reminded me of a childhood lesson in ‘How to read the Bible’: Don’t flip pages open and read the first thing you see otherwise you might chance upon the verses, “…Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him…” followed closely by, “…go ye forth and do likewise…”!

Context is important. As one cabinet minister in the 90s explained after the press published a photograph of him slumped over a bar stool in alcoholic mayhem, “Yes, that was me in a Casino late in the night. Now if that photo had been taken in a church early on a Sunday morning…”

Context is important.  For full understanding. For clarity. And in order for us not to miss the forest for the trees, as the idiom goes.

Rich people producing stupid children who only subtract and divide is a problem, and if we don’t reverse that then there will be very few indigenous business and enterprises to speak of a few generations from now.

We need to groom the generations after us; the next generation should take up their responsibilities with seriousness; those with wealth and resource, such as the ‘elite’ must not squander it; and so on and so forth.

With his family money, Alykhan Karmali could have been a playboy on the international stage and partied up a few thousand times more than all the people that keep featuring in the gossip and tabloid pages here and get called ’tycoons’ and ‘celebs’.

Instead, he expanded his father’s business into a real empire in real estate and any currency you choose.

Maybe because of the benefit of having been there, I heard the President’s #RichParentsStupidKids comment with a different ear; as he walked round the Mall touring the individual shops and meeting the tenants, he paid special attention to the younger entrepreneurs and kept asking them who their parents were.

He stopped quite deliberately at each young Ugandan he met at their shops to enquire after their backgrounds, as he laid up his speech.

Two of these young Ugandans stood out as they have done for most of their generation for the last few years. Olga and Nunu Mugyenyi have captivated the imaginations, aspirations and expectations of most Ugandans who have come into contact with them since they opened up Definition Africa and Bold.

The smile on the President’s face when he met them both, separately, was a good backdrop for his speech later on that morning. Their father, Dr. Joshua Mugyenyi – now departed – wasn’t a rich industrialist or tycoon in the casual sense, but was a prolific intellectual and highly celebrated technocrat; and their mother, Mary Mugyenyi, a colourful politician with a Parliamentary and Ministerial seat now behind her, and some successful businesses and farming around and ahead of her too.

The girls are still deeply rooted at home, but have also created their own way.

Definition Africa is “Changing perception of local production. Redefining the market with 100% African made products.” and produces some intriguing and highly entertaining designs that make one look at our ordinary Ugandan materials and quirks in a different, positive light. Etooke

In Olga’s own words, the brand offering is “products of an international standard that are indigenous to the region in both subject matter and materials used.”

Bold, is also into fashion, but not only their own – they are a clearing house or showroom for a wide range of other indigenous Ugandan fashions (including Definition) that could hold their own in any part of the world.

The brand names Nunu and her partners carry also include Gloria Wavamunno, Kiroto, Kwesh, Kunda, Qulture, Umuringa Jewellery, Zanaa, Amagara, Ndagire, Kaya Shoes, and more. Nunu and her partners say they “recognized the need for a platform to increase awareness and showcase their products in an affordable and accessible way”, but more importantly, they reacted to that opportunity.

The girls themselves might not realise it but walking through both their outlets and talking with them gives you a feel of the intellectualism and idealism of their father – put into practice rather than just written down on paper.

I watched both girls keenly as the President made the #RichPeopleStupidKids comment and was amused by their bemusement, but comforted that they did not flinch as if they were targets. Far from it.

During the arguments after the speech I recalled how at the age of twelve I had heard the remark that the success of parents is in seeing their children do better than them; this covered the idea that the next generation had a role to take over and go further, and the current generation had a role in equipping and guiding them.

Let’s get rich, and ensure our children are not stupid.

fetch me the chaps who make zebra crossings…NOW


Zebra Crossing

 

Somebody, please point me to the person in charge of deciding where zebra crossings go?

At my kids’ school it’s ridiculous.

The zebra crossing over there, on what I believe is called Gaddafi Road, is a little faded, but that is not the problem – it might actually be the solution, because the sooner it disappears, the better.

Because the crossing runs from one end of the road to the other, right onto the entranceway into a parking lot (see above, again).

Yes – the safe crossing point at my children’s school leads pedestrians straight into oncoming traffic. There are crazier things happening in the world, of course, but this would be high on your list if it were happening to your children two times every day.

This is not the fault of the Aga Khan Education Services, which is run by hard-working educationists and administrators, because my expectation of them is to provide an education and an environment in which that education will be received and absorbed in an enjoyable manner.

Which is why I ask again: who is in charge of these things? Who is the person who took time to examine the problem children and parents were facing getting across this busy road, and worked out that a zebra crossing would solve it?

That person must have researched the concept of zebra crossings and the fact that they give right of way to pedestrians – the same right of way that driving instructors, back when I was in driving school, explained to me in some detail.

On establishing that a zebra crossing would be a good solution to the problem of children and parents risking life crossing a busy road in Kampala City, the person behind the Aga Khan zebra crossing probably got to work designing it.

From the looks of it, that person’s idea of ‘design’ was to: a) Draw black and white strips. b) Leave.

The strips aren’t even all the same size!

Taking into account the speed of internet access used to google ‘zebra crossing’ (if that person’s internet provider is the same as mine), and the time taken to pick up one pencil and one sheet of paper, this entire process should have taken four minutes.

And that person certainly didn’t get involved in painting the actual zebra crossing onto the road, otherwise the folly of its placement would have been clear to see, if they had their wits about them while doing the painting.

That folly is clear to us, parents and children alike, as we make that crossing daily like gladiators facing vehicular monsters under the control of the maniacal drivers Kampala seems to produce in their thousands.

The plot thickened recently when due to genuine security concerns cars were prohibited from driving into the school yard to drop children off, and more recently when the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) rightly put a stop to the practice of parking on the pavements.

So now, all vehicles must go into that one parking lot, accessible strictly over the same single zebra crossing that leads children and those parents adventurous enough to accompany their young into the arena.

Not all parents or minders, I might add, face this danger; some are too busy to get involved and toss their little ones out of the car in order to head off into commerce and duty. They are not taking risks, I presume, since there have been no reports in the recent past of vehicular tragedy at this school.

Other parents, minders and drivers, while speeding off to their other lives, narrowly escape killing their children’s classmates every morning and afternoon while doing so.

Again, they can’t be fully to blame because their only access in and out of the parking lot is by way of the zebra crossing.

Luckily, there is a traffic officer present most mornings to guide the chaos. But if the zebra crossing designer had applied just a little bit of planning during their work, then that traffic officer would have been deployed to create a higher level of order or handle a more serious crime elsewhere.

The officer in question is most times assisted by some parking attendants kindly provided by the school and, together with parents and children, small crowds form to intimidate the vehicles enough to avert death.

The challenge is entertaining to observe, but some times also irritating. Like the Friday before last when one Nadia-driving lady impatiently hooted at a group of parents, children and attendants to get them out of her way after she had dropped her ‘passengers’ off.

On realising that her car horn was not achieving the desired effect, she took a leaf from the book of taxi drivers and drove over the pavement and kerb, inches away from ANOTHER group of parents and children, and made her way into the road.

The irony of a child-dropping parent being a threat to the lives of other children and parents doing the same is as thick as that of the zebra crossing leading into the parking lot; and just a little less thick than the designer of this zebra crossing itself.

 

Farewell, Spain, we are now very much both World Cup-less even though #SpainIsNotUganda


Dear Spain,

No hard feelings, right? If there are any, then tough. We are not the ones who scored those goals or failed to stop them going into the nets.

But at least you guys have photos with the World Cup in your cabinet, so kudos (clap, clap).

And since there must be space in your album, here are a few more photos to throw into the mix – kind of like making a Spanish Omelette…speaking of which:

Spanish Omelette

But if you’re not that hungry, then perhaps you can eat Ugandan (I sense a sneer on the face of the Spanish Prime Minister, but he would be pleasantly surprised after the first bite into this):

Spanish Rolex

He’d look a lot less grumpy after one of these, I’m sure; and hopefully he’ll share it with Vicente, del Bosque, who as he reads this blog must be thinking:

del Bosque & Rajoy

 

He probably didn’t get audience with the Prime Minister earlier otherwise like many other Spaniards:

Just Apologise

 

Anyway, last night we watched the game on channels such as UBC.

African_Children

 

It wasn’t an easy game at all for our ‘brothers’ and we felt genuinely sorry even though we ribbed them to no end…all unnecessary if Rajoy had only apologised as frequently advised from all corners.

Mama Fiina

We talked about a lot while watching the game, but kept a certain focus running.

Spanner

 

And also made it clear where we stood:

Spain Supporter...Not

 

So the inevitable happened, for reasons that had nothing to do with #SpainIsNotUganda – it was all practical:

Casillas

Before long:

Waiting for Casillas

 

Taxi

The options began to open up:

Visa Application

Either way, there was just one option left (besides the apology for saying #SpainIsNotUganda):

KEEP CALM

Ka-Jambo

 

 

right now, being a Ugandan is the DEAL!


LIKE any boy in any part of the world, I once had dreams of representing my country in sport on the world stage; specifically playing in the World Cup where I would score fantastic goals by way of a series of volleys, bicycle kicks and flash-speed dribbling footwork conjured up by an imagination that was ignited every four years by visions of soccer players from everywhere else in the world.

I started giving up on this dream only when I joined the university, and put all hopes finally to rest when I realised during one recent World Cup tournament that I had not physically kicked a ball with any sort of skill in more than three years.

The consolation I took, though, was in the hope that I would be supporting my own team one day in the World Cup finals. When a group of enthusiasts started the Uganda Cranes Initiative I even believedUganda Ball 2014 would be the year of the Uganda Cranes mixing up their yellow shirts and even lingo a la Samba (which means “kick” in my languages). 

I fantasised that some magic would have erupted from the Cranes gliding down gracefully into the World Cup stadiums and thereafter Ugandans of all shapes and sizes would be called up to join tournaments from Amsterdam to Zambia.

All fantasy, sadly. 

But the reality, I am realising, is not too bad either.

We’re increasingly occupying a certain stage well enough to change the Ugandan narrative.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited a few thousand kilometres out of my comfort zone to join a panel at the World Village Festival alongside Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss human rights in Africa. Our panel of four included a Kenyan, Dommie Yambo-Odotte; a Namibian, Robin Tyson; the Finnish Cabinet Minister Erkki Tuomioja, and my besuited self. 

The panel was only part of a whole week during which our group, including an Ethiopian, Meskerem Lemma, talked about our countries and mostly media and development-related issues.

Being there in general wasn’t the big news; the big news was us representing our countries in intellectual stadia and dribbling ideas and concepts around while blocking opposing teams from scoring into our national esteem. We showed off some tactful mental moves in a midfield full of swift players many of whom we hadn’t met before or whose play we had never studied.

And we did well; I did well enough to get a few more people interested in coming over to visit, invest and work with more Ugandans. Idi Amin was only mentioned once, in jest, by another of our group tickling me for a sharp witty reaction.

And that mention was in line with the movie The Last King of Scotland, which I told them I had refused to watch because too many people believed it to be a true story and defined Ugandans by one man rather than the millions who are much more sensible, passionate, intelligent, smart, eloquent, innovative, hard working, brave, victorious and so much more.

I made sure that if I were the only Ugandan any of the Finns ever met in their lives they would know Ugandans for being intelligent, well-spoken, focussed, time-conscious, neat, generous, patient, innovative, helpful…and none of it acted.

The number of Ugandans standing out and genuinely doing well at what they do is impressive; from the soldiers in Somalia and South Sudan to the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly.

I hope The New Vision series on Ugandans in the diaspora resumes soon so we pay attention to this.

Two months ago the South African Broadcasting Corporation announced that a Ugandan, James Aguma, had been appointed Chief Financial Officer, replacing someone who left the job in less than ideal circumstances.

Aguma’s track record was cited and his proficiency exhibited over years of experience highlighted. I thought back to how many times that story used to be the reverse, and applauded the man.

After that, Betty Bigombe was called up to head a Directorate at the World Bank, where she has held a big job before and made us proud. She is brave, hard-working, peace-loving, intelligent, committed and sharp in style, delivery and focus. She certainly won’t be the last Ugandan to get called up, because she has done so well in going ahead of us. Betty Bigombe

Then last week another Ugandan, Jimmy (not sure if that’s really his first name) Mugerwa was announced as new Chief Executive Officer of Shelter Afrique – his predecessor going off to join the list of possible candidates for President of the Africa Development Bank.

And speaking of Presidents, Kutesa’s accession to the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly is neither a private achievement nor individual privilege. It is ours nationally to use and enjoy.

Sweep all local controversies aside for this one and focus on Kutesa’s sharp intellect, astute politics, competent management, dapper turnout, regal bearing and wise counsel. All these, if identified as Ugandan, will apply to us wherever we go.

So even if we haven’t gone to the World Cup this week and we may not be known as some of the best soccer players in the World, we are going to be known as World Leaders in many other respects.

Sam Kutesa

#SpainIsNotUganda


20140614_102408

Exactly two years ago almost to this day, the Spanish Prime Minister sent a text message to his Finance Minister with the phrase ‘Spain is not Uganda’.

This hashtag returned to Twitter on Friday night after the Netherlands drubbed Spain 5:1 in their World Cup 2014 game.femmemoto.smugmug.com

I kicked it off quite deliberately because even as I tuned in to the game my hackles were up.

Spain has done that to me for a while, and my feelings for the country as a whole dipped even more when the Spanish Prime Minister (also called President of Government), Mariano Rajoy, sent that ’Spain is not Uganda’ text.

The translation of what he actually wrote continued as follows: “We’re a major power, not some random IMF-case Banana Republic”.

I laughed today to note that the El Mundo newspaper covering this story on its front page carried a photo of Spain’s national soccer manager, Vicente del Bosque 🙂

el-mundo Spain is not Uganda
Spain is synonymous in my mind with racism, and I detest the country for this so much that I cannot stand their soccer – moreso because their racism is best communicated through soccer.

Sure, there are some people in Spain who are not racists, just as there are some people in Uganda who are not corrupt, poor, thieving, homosexuals, pro- or anti-homosexuals, and so on and so forth. But considering that the world seems to bundle us up with national adjectives, I must have the right to do the same to countries like Spain.

And later on I will be confirming that because of Donald Sterling the United States is racist, but that’s another story.

In January, http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/2/  listed the eight (8) worst countries for black people to travel to, and Spain (of course) featured for its “long-standing reputation for virulent racism…The nation was singled out by United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, who called on Spanish leaders to take greater steps toward eliminating racist and discriminatory practices against Africans and other immigrants…”

#RajoyIsNotAMacaco
#RajoyIsNotAMacaco

Ruteere was calling on leaders like the Prime Minister who believes that countries like ours are basket cases expected to accept less than theirs – which is fundamental to the definition of racism.

Incidentally, Rajoy referring to Uganda as a banana republic was this year echoed physically at a soccer pitch when a soccer fan threw a banana onto the pitch during a Barcelona-Villarreal game.

This act only brought to public attention a reality that has existed for years in Spain: during all those La Liga games people have been shouting racist chants for YEARS! And the chants have especially revolved around calling the black or African players monkeys (macaco, in Spanish).

While many of us on the continent cheered on the Spanish teams and even adopted versions of these chants in languages we don’t speak, we have probably been repeating racist comments!

And right up to Friday night, there were Africans supporting Spain’s World Cup campaign. Africans oblivious to the reality of Spain and how much support Spain would give them in return. Africans who don’t realise that their ongoing support, love and admiration of these Spaniards fuels and funds our ongoing enslavement. Africans who wear clothes made in Spain, drink Spanish wines and sing Spanish songs.

WE make those mental cages that Rajoy and his compadres keep us in as monkeys.

To quote the great Marcus Garvey

“WE are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.”

Our neo-enslavement is managed by the media, and we must resist it using our minds. We must fight this war using all the tools at our disposal, including social media platforms – which is why we said #SpainIsNotUganda even when the issue at hand was a sporting matter.

Sports, more so soccer/football, is supposed to help flatten the world, build relationships, create mutual understanding, wipe out prejudice, and so on and so forth.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that her government would use the World Cup as “a global marker against racism”.

But the official reaction to and management of racism by the footballing world is pathetic. The fines for overtly racism behaviour such as the banana throwing are low (12,000 for that one in particular), while those for financial impropriety in clubs are often much higher.

The unofficial reaction to and management of racism should be more serious and will include reminders such as #SpainIsNotUganda.

Racism is not a joke, and while we are laughing at Spain for losing in such a pathetic manner Friday night, the underlying issue is much more serious – Italy is just as bad, if not worse. The Netherlands itself, in spite of having so many black people within the fabric of its society, is not whistle clean either, and we were not celebrating their 5:1 victory over Spain when we exhumed #SpainIsNotUganda.

Yes, we should use soccer to do all the right things as I said above but Spain has not yet done that. That’s why Rajoy is still Prime Minister/President of Spain even though his comment was clearly rude, undiplomatic, and most of all, based on prejudice rather than fact as many commentators and analysts explained!

That’s why you can’t recall any official apology from the Government of Spain to the Government of Uganda over that #SpainIsNotUganda comment.

Can you find that apology anywhere? Please share it?

It didn’t happen. This was not an issue for them at all.

In fact, the one Spanish apology you will find is the apology of Spain’s King Juan Carlos after going on a hunting trip to Botswana in 2012…while Rajoy was negotiating for an economic bailout.

And the apology was NOT for killing African animals, or for generally King Juan Carlos Huntliving the life of someone in the 1800s. He was apologising to HIS PEOPLE for spending tax payers money so frivolously at a time when Spain was doing so badly that they needed to borrow money from their fellow Europeans, but still felt that they were better than Uganda which has to go to the IMF when we are broke…<—eh? Yeah – THAT’S how racism is demonstrated.

(In an aside, this same elephant hunting King of Spain was at time the honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund responsible for wildlife conservation! The Spaniards are corrupt, walahi.)

So #SpainIsNotUganda and we are a banana republic that deserves no apology.

Yet somehow we are expected to apologise. When Uganda passes a law such as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, we get attacked by the likes of even people in Spain!

#nnnnntlkkkk! <— if you are Spanish, you won’t know how to make that sound. Bana-Uganda, you can go ahead and even do it again.

#nnnnntlkkkk!

And even #msssschewww!

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. It’s even easier now to stop supporting Spain because they put up a pathetic performance last night and deserve your love and admiration even less than they did before!

And let’s be clear about this: their bursts of brilliance (mbu) over one and a half hours of soccer play every so often should not absolve them from living lives that hate, denigrate, and disrespect us – YOU.

Again I say, #SpainIsNotUganda!

(Below are a few quips and if you’re not Ugandan you might not understand them fully and if you’re Spanish, come visit Uganda, learn the language and share in the joke enough to say #NsesseNnyo.)

Sebaggala

Charles And Camilla

Here they are:

#SpainIsNotUganda because they don’t know the word “okumanyira”.

#SpainIsNotUganda because they don’t know the kiboko concept of “Lie down! If you touch, I don’t count!”

#SpainIsNotUganda because they didn’t have the good sense to stay at home.

#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise they would be singing ‘Mama afumby’ekitobeero…’

#SpainIsNotUganda because if that President of theirs paid for the World Cup to be Live on TV he is LOSING the next election! Walahi!

Ettofali

#SpainIsNotUganda We have N mosquitoes outside our nets, they have N goals inside their nets…

#SpainIsNotUganda because for us we know how to play it safe…

#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise their keeper’s name would be spelt G-a-s-i-y-a… (sorry)

#SpainIsNotUganda it’s as if the goals were sponsored by Kazinda and Obey?!

#SpainIsNotUganda so they didn’t shout out “Mama Nyabo! Nfudde nze!”

SpanishBaby

#SpainIsNotUganda so even the UN General Assembly President can’t help them re this #WorldCup2014 debacle…

#SpainIsNotUganda otherwise they would have realised that Xabi’s goal was allowed as only konkonyo!

#SpainIsNotUganda See, our anti-Pornography Act prohibits such obscene displays of penetration

#SpainIsNotUganda clearly what they needed in goal & defence was a combination of Aronda & Kayihura. #EkyoNakyo?

Angry Birds

#SpainIsNotUganda they don’t know The song ‘Ba-Ba-Bamusakatta’

#SpainIsNotUganda but someone should help play them any song to the tune of “O-kello, talina mpale…” ANY song!

#SpainIsNotUganda – our national budget did NOT allow for such high levels of inflation/goal deficits/surplus attacks!

African apes laughter study

#SpainIsNotUganda …try and find ANYONE in Spain at a kafunda right now and compare. Bana-Uganda, have another drink!

#SpainIsNotUganda but there was that ka-goal where Casillas was rolling about like a Rolex guy whose eggs had fallen down.

#SpainIsNotUganda because really they would have identified the Netherlands team as the real KIBOKO SQUAD!

Kiboko Squad

 

Chickens-Mating

Matador 2

Spain Pitch