I HAVE had a long day and therefore only arrived at newspaper reading now, at about 2130hrs (though I am posting this an hour later due to the time it takes to type stuff out, upload pictures, recover from an apoplectic fit, and do a final spell check).
Skimming lightly over most stories just to get an idea of what’s going on in my country besides Amama Mbabazi’s every and any speculative move/decision/thought, I got to Page 55 of the newspaper and had to sit up and pay some attention.
Not because there was some complicated article by a major intellectual outlining some complicated concept that required all my faculties to be on the alert; but because the page contained ten photographs and the word (in caps) “CLASS”.
“Beera mu kilaasi?” you ask?
But now, let’s enter class a little bit:
The page in question is as below:
Not even two weeks ago we were here celebrating Uganda’s Independence Day, and I even wrote this ‘nonsense’.
Now, TODAY, in 2014 I am here looking at one and a half pages of a partly government owned newspaper in Independent Uganda dedicated to horse-riding (which is NOT the issue) and titling it ‘Class’?
How is horse-riding a sign of ‘Class’ in Uganda today? Forget all the news around the She Cranes netball team that is getting Uganda into the World Cup even though they couldn’t afford water just two months ago; and forget everything else about Sports in Uganda.
Today, out of the FOUR AND A HALF sports pages that The New Vision allocated to sports news, ONE AND A HALF have been given to horse-riding.
Now, let’s evaluate those ONE AND A HALF PAGES of horse-riding…eh, I think it’s called Equestrian…no. The story doesn’t use that word. I apologise for thinking so colonially. The story kicks off as follows:
“Eight year olds Kya McComb and Zoe Furness thrilled spectators with their riding skills at the inaugural Equator Cup at the weekend. Showing calmness and control beyond their years, Kya and Zoe led their ponies to victory in the pre-novice cartegory in Uganda’s first equestrian competition…” <— okay, they used the word ‘equestrian’ but their mis-spelling of category in the same paragraph has to be a disqualification that discounts it.
IS THIS 1924?
Instead of writing something like “What the fuck is this shit?” as one of my colleagues (follow her) did a few weeks ago on a journalist’s (I don’t care about that apostrophe placement any more) forum last week, it might be appropriate to use a Ugandan swear word so: “Komanyoko!”
I don’t even know the names of the kids who dance in the globally acclaimed Sitya Loss video of Eddie Kenzo with its 5,000,000 YouTube views but I know the eight-year old McComb and Furness kids’ names for their “riding skills”? Did they ride their horses over the Marbug virus and kill it?
Did their horse-riding attract massive amounts of foreign investment into Uganda?
They rode ‘Bullrush’ and ‘Blackjack’ “in the two-day event at Flametree Stables” n Kijabijo, Gayaza (you BETTER pronounce that properly as you read it!).
And they were not alone, the elaborate story further lets us know.
They were with:
- Sonja McLaughlan
- Katie Bowser
- Tariq Hudda
- Ana Nikolaeva
- Pippa Bird
- Natalie McComb
- John Kinyua
- Robin Martin
- Ellen Barnes
- Lala Haidara
- Tori Bagnall
- Jackson Adriko (a Ugandan – phew!)
- Robin Kasumba (another Uganda, I presume, and the only one who got into the photos)
- and Georgia Taylor.
No – for real:
You may now be wondering how many Ugandans ride horses every day to warrant this sort of attention, but I suggest that you desist from the mental anguish this line of thought might lead to.
Don’t even ask yourself whether any British newspaper covered the Bikka soccer thing that happened in Britain last month – or was it even Bikka? Or soccer? Or in Britain?
And the mental debate over whether a British newspaper would cover Ekigwo if the Ugandan community there lost it to the extent that they staged one should also not arise unless you want to exhibit your lack of ‘class’.
In fact, I feel funny, now, italicising all the words that appear in vernacular. Maybe going forward I should just leave them as they are so that I stop deferring to this mindset.
Even as I am agonising over these horses being ridden in Kampala to the extent that my leading daily can allocate this space to the event, my very own President and those of Rwanda and Ghana are in London attending the Global Africa Investment Summit (TGAIS) and no British newspaper has allocated much space to THAT!
Yet the above-listed are exhibiting ‘class’ riding beasts whose very existence in our day to day lives here is more of a story book feature than a reality.
Again, we only celebrated Independence on October 9! Twelve days ago.
We ‘achieved’ same said Independence fifty two (52) years and twelve (12) days ago.
But our minds are still enslaved.
How many of these horses were born in Uganda? Do they eat Ugandan food? Are the jodhpurs <— I can’t even believe that I spelt that word without a single mistake the very first time round!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway, as I was saying: Are the jodhpurs made in Uganda? Is any part of the outfits that these people are wearing as they exhibit ‘class’, made in Uganda? Were the barriers that they jumped also made in Uganda? Is Black Beauty a racist story subtly designed to make us feel inferior to horses or something?
The management at The New Vision would do well to read up on the colloquial definition of horse-trading because it is highly likely that a bit of it has taken place for the story to appear so prominently today…
And the entire sports department should be taken for some programme to rid them of this notion that engaging in an activity that dates back 4000 years in a land far, far away does NOT automatically translate into exhibiting ‘class’.
But even as that happens, let’s stop being so stupid as to just allow that we are so insignificant that our lives can go by accordingly as we talk about Oscar de la Renta and Oscar Pistorious and even these bloody horses ridden by …okay: Adriko and Kasumba.
And I hope that the advertising revenue from this event goes in some way towards getting the She Cranes some additional sponsorship to the World Cup.