there is NO ZIKA in Uganda


Aedes Aegypti
The Aedes Aegypti – from http://www.outbreaknewstoday.com

THIS Zika virus is pissing me off quite a lot.

The damn thing is causing excitement and concern in Brazil and other Latin American countries, and people have contracted its related diseases in the United Kingdom and the United States.
NO ONE in Uganda has contracted the disease.
In the last 70 (SEVENTY) years there have been TWO (2) people who got the Zika disease in Uganda.
But believe it or not, Uganda has entered into the story. You haven’t noticed yet, but there is already at least one travel advisory that affects us – Ugandans.
THIS has pissed me off, of course, because those less discerning than most will immediately assume that we have Zika viruses floating about in the air over here, and will begin to avoid us. Or they’ll come up with some silly extra airport checks for people who have been to Uganda, or have names similar to ours.
There is no predicting what could happen.
The last time a strange, scary disease broke out in West Africa we had sanctions and cancellations in East Africa. There is 7,000 kilometres of very bad road between Sierra Leone and Uganda, but people in the UK still felt that it was worrying enough for the disease to exist THERE, for them to avoid coming HERE. Sierra Leone is closer to the United States than it is to any East African country, but ignoramuses would still be more scared of coming here than going to the US.
(That statement about distances from Sierra Leone might or might not be true – so go and read up on the continent of Africa a little bit, just to be sure. The one about ignoramuses is true.)
But that’s not what is churning bile into my throat.
The casualness around which people – journalists inclusive – are talking about Uganda in this story is infuriating!
It took just a couple of days for people to misread the Wikipedia statement, “The virus was first isolated in April 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey that had been placed in a cage in the Zika Forest of Uganda, near Lake Victoria, by the scientists of the Yellow Fever Research Institute.”
Personally, like most of you who haven’t just heard about it from the title of this damn blogpost, I first heard of the Zika virus and the Zika forest about two weeks ago – in that order, separated by a couple of days.
On Monday the World Health Organisation declared Zika an “international public health emergency” and by that time Uganda was on maps labelled ‘Areas with current or past evidence of Zika’ (see http://www.nytimes.com – I won’t be supplying the link).
Within these last two weeks we have had journalists and ‘scientists’ (or science officials) make comments that simply fit into the expected narrative but don’t tell us much that is accurate or even useful.
They could have read the Wikipedia article in full, as well as embedded links therein such as this scientific-looking linkhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819875/
before launching into the Zika Forest for their stories, but…
Take this story headlined, “Ugandan forest where Zika hides”, complete with a photograph of an old Uganda Virus Research Institute  (UVRI) signpost in front of a patch of grass in what is clearly NOT a forest <—incomprehensible. The height of laziness is in NOT taking a photograph of even a single TREE for an article ABOUT a forest.
That article states with confidence: “Most local cases of the virus were mild, resulting in a rash, fever, and red eyes. Global health authorities barely took notice until an outbreak on the Micronesian island of Yap in 2007.”
Yap is NOT in Uganda. The Micronesian islands are NOT in Uganda. There are NO LOCAL CASES OF ZIKA that the story cites, but that sentence, by-lined by AFP, is on the internet even though in Yap, according to the Wikipedia article on that outbreak, 73% of the island’s population above the age of 3 (three) had recently (by then) contracted the disease!
Later in the story the AFP states, “Uganda’s health ministry is keen to point out that there have been no known cases of the disease in that country, and that the outbreak in the Americas did not originate in East Africa.”
This is because it is true, though the story indicates that it is just a claim.
Why not, “There have been no known cases of the disease in Uganda (in recent years) and the outbreak in the Americas did not originate in East Africa.”?
The reporter could have done some simple research within the Wikipedia article and benefitted from this sentence: “There are two lineages of Zika virus, the African lineage and the Asian lineage.[19] Phylogenetic studies indicate that the virus spreading in the Americas is most closely related to the Asian strain, which circulated in French Polynesia during the 2013 outbreak.”
But the AFP could not be bothered.
And it even closes the story with, “There is no vaccine against Zika, which has spread to over 24 countries in the Americas.” <—the Americas – it has become like Africa. Would you imagine, reading that phrase, that anyone in the United States has contracted a Zika-related disease? Or that anyone in the United Kingdom has one? You think the AFP story would mention even that most amusing detail of how Brian Foy, a biologist from the Colorado State University, in 2009 returned to the US from a trip to Senegal and sexually transmitted Zika on to her?
Nope.
It doesn’t even mention that SIX (6) cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom – which detail I have only discovered today! I thought it was three – 3 – until this afternoon of February 2, 2016 when I surfed through various links to get to this one.
See, the text on the discovery of Zika in the UK says things like, “ZIKV does not occur naturally in the UK. However, as of 29 January 2016, a total of 6 cases have been diagnosed in UK travellers.”
Did you notice the use of ‘ZIKV’ there, instead of Zika? That’s deliberate so that you find fewer instances of internet searches linking the word “Zika” to “UK”.
This is from an official government release – and our Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs and Tourism should take a leaf from this and have all public officials comply; take A LOT OF CARE when making statements about matters sensitive.
The United States’ Centre for Disease Control (CDC) announced that, “No locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers.” <—again, distancing themselves as a country from this disease, and suggesting that “only travellers” (which they mis-spelt) have it.
Meanwhile, it would take me (I am too simple) too long to establish how many travellers to the US have actually been diagnosed with the virus, but I bet they are more than Uganda’s ZERO!
The UK reporting also keeps talking about “UK travellers” so that in your mind the disease is never RESIDENT there.
It is RESIDENT elsewhere. Maybe in the ‘Americas’ or Africa – and the same advisory states that travellers should avoid travel to “areas where any mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, malaria and Zika are known to occur”. <— see? It has started already!
But if anyone tries to cancel a booking to Uganda on the basis of this advisory, then please point them to this link from CNN which states with authority that, “the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, “which are found throughout the U.S. and are known for transmitting dengue fever and chikungunya, may also transmit the virus, the CDC said Friday.”
 
So the UK advisory discourages travel to the United States, as much as it discourages travel to Uganda.
The BBC also sent a team to the Zika Forest – where they also met the same guide, poor Gerald Mukisa, who is now quoted everywhere.
The Associated Press report of the same site states that the Zika Forest “is, now fittingly, a research site for scientists…” even though everywhere else on the internet states that it has been a research site since before 1947! <—but that’s a small point, so ignore it.
Or, maybe just to get into the meat of things, it might not be ‘now fittingly’ – the reason they probably chose the Zika forest as they would any other part of the world to conduct such trials back in the early 1900s, might be the availability of specimen such as the monkey.
The longer version of the AFP report, meanwhile, quoted one Julius Lutwama, 56, described as “Top UVRI scientist” who says: “Zika virus has always been a mild infection. Out of say five or 10 people who are infected, only one or two may actually show some fever that is noticeable.” <— WHAT THE HELL?
The BBC text report on the same subject quoted the very same Dr. Julius Lutwama saying that only two cases of the virus have been confirmed in Uganda in the last seven decades. SEVENTY (70) years.
‘This is because the types of mosquitoes that would transmit the virus to humans don’t often come into contact with the general population, says Dr. Julius Lubwama, a leading virologist at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.’ reads the story.
So is it only two people as the BBC quoted Dr. Lutwama saying, or “out of the five or ten people”, as the AFP quoted the very same Dr. Lutwama?
I called up the Uganda Virus Research Institute and was told that there was only one Dr. Lutwama but was told he was out of the country – hopefully in Geneva attending the emergency meetings that resulted in the WHO declaration. I was given his colleagues number, one Dr. John Kayiwa, but he didn’t answer his phone and I had to post my blog so I went on reading, only to find this in the  BBC article:
“But as Dr. John Kayuma, one of the laboratory managers told me, one of the reasons why there are few recorded cases in Uganda could be because not many people have been tested for it. ‘It is possible that there could be several people, or so many people out there with the Zika virus infection, but because many people do not seek treatment in the hospitals, we could be missing out”‘
They don’t stop there.
“‘And also the surveillance has probably not picked them out. There’s a possibility that there are more cases out there.’”
THAT is the kind of comment that has me shaking my damn head.
(Pause for breath).
And the story ends on the dramatic note of: “In the meantime, Dr. Lutwama and his team say they are keeping an eye on the type of mosquitoes in the country in case any of the ones that are good at spreading the disease enter Uganda.”
THIS is the BBC?
They can’t spell Dr. Kayiwa’s name right – so marks off for that.
But then, do you see how the narrative is being kept alive here? That “it is possible” that people have the disease “but they have not been checked?”  We are to think that people are walking about possibly suffering from Zika but they have not been tested for it so cue music of impending doom and sickness?
Quite simply there is NO story here unless someone finds that damn monkey that was the subject of those tests. While looking for it, though, please take in our thousands of other monkeys and apes, the magnificent wildlife, the great scenery and the extremely pleasant hospitality of Ugandans who are so kind we will smile and say what you most likely want to hear just to make you feel at home – sometimes to our own detriment.
At the back of your mind, please be aware that “it is possible” that very many people out there have a cold, or mild forms of malaria, or even cancer, but they have not sought treatment in hospitals.
Brazil is there with 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly (the birth defect that the Zika virus is said to cause), the United States has 30 cases, the UK has six, and we are here saying “see Uganda”?
It is these reports that have me looking a little more seriously at bloggers, or what some people call conspiracy theorists, because those ones appear to put more effort into their work.
Like one Jon Rappoport, who blogged last week: ‘Is the dreaded Zika virus another giant scam?’
Rappoport, unlike our international journalists, goes into the science behind the Zika virus, and the tests that would have to be conducted before certain declarations are made, and then even raises links that answer the question, ‘Why did we not know about this between 2007 and 2016?’ (let alone 1947 till now!). Why is it spreading so fast and frenzied in Brazil and Latin America?, and then (read his blog, by the way, rather than wait for me to reproduce it here) the link to pesticide use in Brazil and so on and so forth.
Then there’s sheezacoldpiece, who posted, ‘The Zika Virus – What They’re Not Saying…’, in which the blogger raises a vaccine that the Brazil government introduced in 2014 and says “The recent outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil is now being linked to genetically modified mosquitoes developed by the British biotech company Oxitec, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Leaving the corporate bodies out of it for a while, the blogger raises a point some other people have raised in the comments on Zika – what is the role of science in all this? Even in the 1947 tests, according to this scientific narrative – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819875/ – tells you that they were not just walking through a forest and noticed a monkey shivering with an attack of the Zika.
There must be some scientist out there who can decipher for us the meaning of the phrase, “was first isolated”; does that not indicate that there was some clinical laboratory work going on that could have involved placing a sample or something into the monkey in order to study its results?
I am clearly not a scientist.
But also, if, as the bloggers suggest, the microcephaly or Zika disease is a result of additional factors beyond just a thirsty band of mosquitoes then our scientists have lots more work to do than monitoring the borders to ensure that these vectors don’t get in.
Reading https://brazilianshrunkenheadbabies.wordpress.com/about/ you will find a lot of blogger-insight (see links at the bottom of that page) that sensibly argues how the use of medicines or pesticides untested for your area or blood type or genetics can create such alarming results.
As for the journalists, we have even more work to do so that we are more convincing than the bloggers and conspiracy theorists; if we can’t even spell a name right when covering such an ‘important’ story, how the hell are we expected to be believed on the science?

#AreYOUDoingWhatMagufuliWouldDo?


John Pombe MagufuliIT’S been two mirthful weeks since John Pombe Magufuli’s actions in Tanzania inspired the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo on Twitter.
Under that hashtag, thousands of Africans on social media came up with hilarious memes (humorous images poking fun at an idea) on the concept of frugality that Magufuli’s actions represented.
See, the newly elected President of Tanzania took up his job with a zeal rarely seen amongst politicians on this continent and went around firing inefficient officials on the basis of visual evidence, blasted his countrymen in positions of leadership and authority, and most of all, started cutting costs of extremely important things.
For instance, the man stopped civil servants from undertaking international travel and urged them instead “to spend more time traveling to rural areas to fix the country’s problems there”, according to one report. Another report says he cancelled Independence Day celebrations due this week and diverted the money to buying medical equipment or something, as well as directing that the time be spent cleaning the streets.
All these noble moves appealed to most of us as extremely sensible and quite the tonic we need to see in all our societies across the continent, and the reaction on social media by way of those #WhatWouldMagufuliDo memes seemed to be evidence of our overall support.
But after two weeks of spreading those memes around and pointing fingers at our own Presidents and political leaders, there is very little evidence around us that even those who’ve been saying the #WhatWouldMagufuliDo phrase are actually asking ourselves that question.
We’re treating it just like the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) badge – which many years ago some people wore as wristbands or pinned to their shirts or onto their cars as stickers. It was surprising, at first, to be rudely and recklessly overtaken by a car with the WWJD sticker on the back, but then we got used to that.
And now, we’re moving on from #WhatWouldMagufuliDo without really doing anything like Magufuli would.
One young fellow on Twitter who shared round the memes also circulated a wedding budget last week and I was tempted to reply with #WhatWouldMagufuliDo but held back a little bit as I, myself, have not yet sold my car and opted for public transport to take my children to school even if I could make serious cuts to my domestic budget that way.
When I made a wisecrack about this to a dispassionate political observer currently researching our election campaigns, she retorted with one about politicians standing atop expensive four wheel drive vehicles upcountry and promising to cut government costs when voted into ‘power’, and applauded the single lady presidential candidate for making a small show by riding a boda boda at some point in her campaign.
On another forum one evening last week, a group of us sat round some bottles of dearly priced imported drinks and marvelled at Magufuli and his hard actions, our voiced support for him growing more heated as the night grew more cold. Not one of us suggested a menu change to something less pricey or locally made, even if most of us at that table belong to an ‘investment club’ that could have made great strides if we had ‘Magulufied’ our expenditure into savings for investment.
The next morning I raised the idea with a couple of pals that had been seated round that table and their response made it clear why the actions of His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli had gone straight from being presidential news to a humorous twitter hashtag with nothing in between.
Rather than take up lessons from him and actually change the way we do things in our individual lives as Africans, East Africans, or Ugandans doing whatever we do on a daily basis, we’re safer pointing fingers at ‘those people up there’ or turning it all into a joke that we can laugh at and ‘leave it here for a while’ (that, by the way, is another meme reference we like to use.)
On that note, I’m just going to leave this here myself – stop asking #WhatWouldMagufuliDo – #AreYOUDoingWhatMagufuliWouldDo?

keep an eye on exceptional Ugandans made in Uganda – and bring them back if they’re away


Photo by James M. Dobson for the Garden City Telegram - Isaya Kisekka
Photo by James M. Dobson for the Garden City Telegram – Isaya Kisekka
AT THE end of the first day of presidential election nominations this week I caught up with my emails and found a notification with a link to this article titled, “Ugandan engineer works to save Kansas aquifer”.
I could understand the words well but the day had been long so I took a while to unravel the confusion; the service that sent me this link normally updates me about white Americans, Australians and Britons saving Ugandan villages with shoes, compassion, brassieres, and very many other such items.
For the very same service to suddenly be declaring that a Ugandan was out there “saving” Kansas was odd – unless Kansas was short for Kansanga.
But it turned out to be a true story; a chap called Isaya Kisekka was working at Garden City, the story read, as an irrigation engineer for the Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Southwest Experiment Station.
Not Garden City in Kampala, Garden City in Kansas, the United States of America.
The entire story is a good, refreshingly surprising read. Kisekka studied agricultural engineering at Makerere University, having arrived at the course without the combination of professional career guidance and personal passion that normally helps people fashion paths to successful, enjoyable careers.
But he liked the course and eventually worked with a private company and also the Ugandan government. It was as a government employee that he opened his mind and eventually pursued further studies well enough to get employed in the United States and achieve such veritable mention online.
But now, I think it is important that Uganda keeps tabs on this guy (and others like him).
It is obvious right now that Uganda needs engineers of his kind to channel El Nino to stem the effects of drought in places like Karamoja.
But more long-term, people like Kisekka should be appointed inspirational ambassadors for Uganda to both Ugandans and the rest of the world. All government employees should strive to be as good as Kisekka at what they do, not so they get jobs in the United States, but so that they are good enough to do so.
The Kisekka’s of this world should be used to inspire other Ugandans to realise that even if you do study and live and work in Uganda, moreover in a government job, you can be good enough to stand out for doing your job well even without being submitted for an Award or a Medal.
The young man studied in Kampala and was good enough to go and work in the United States NOT doing kyeyo – that’s the type of image our children need to see.
Plus, the government needs to get such fellows back into employment over here, to sort out the aforementioned link between El Nino and droughts elsewhere.
Rather than continue being the butt of internet memes and snide remarks by people wishing to take over the management of the country, this government should attract all the efficient, useful and committed people like Kisekka into its employ and retain them there so that they save Ugandans rather than Americans.
In the article about him, he said a number of significant things, but one of my favourite quotes was:
“If you have opportunity, it’s up to you to work hard and use those opportunities. Education for me was very important. A lot of people without work look to America as this idea that you can make it regardless of your background if you just take the opportunity.”
Right now, today, we have the opportunity to be like Kisekka, to make our children follow the path Kisekka followed, to employ people like Kisekka, and to attract the Kisekka’s back to Uganda to save Ugandans rather than leave them in America saving Americans while Americans come here to save Ugandans.

Pierre Nkurunziza: the man of ironies could learn something from Yoweri Museveni


Nkurunziza from Afrik.com

BURUNDI’S Pierre Nkurunziza is a man of ironies.
His political party is called the National Council for the Defense of Democracy, but he is right now caught in the headlights of accusations that his election to a third term of office is most undemocratic – even though Burundi’s Constitutional Court ruled that he was within his legal rights to stand for another term.
Before being appointed President he was even Minister for Good Governance in the transitional government there, but today his adherence to governance principles is being held questionable.
For a sports enthusiast who normally shows up on public kitted out in colourful track suits and who’s a common figure on public soccer pitches playing footie, it was weird last year to hear that Nkurunziza had banned jogging because of security risks associated to the exercise.
Indeed, after the announcement, opposition members from the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) were jailed for jogging, as their run had reportedly turned into a political demonstration.
And the chatter in Kampala when it was announced that the mediation over Nkurunziza’s third term deadlock would be run by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, was that it most most ironic because of the number of terms Museveni himself has served as President.
For Museveni, though, Burundi presents more nostalgia than irony, and as he arrived in Bujumbura for the talks, he might have either felt a small twinge of it or triggered some in Burundians.
The nostalgia of the Barundi must lie in the number of Presidents they’ve received at Bujumbura airport since the mid-90s to mediate in political conflict there. Counting from the top, they’ve hosted Presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (all more than once).
Museveni’s own nostalgia, on the other hand, is not over the political battle he faced when he stood for the Presidency in 2006 and in 2011, as all indications are that he will be on the ballot paper again in Uganda come 2016.
Instead, it must be linked to the number of times he has been at the helm of mediations for peace in Burundi – which goes back about twenty years when, at the behest of Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Museveni got Burundi’s Sylvestre Ntibantunganya to reach a settlement with his opposition that settled tensions for a few weeks before it fell apart again.
In the years following that, Museveni featured starkly in the negotiations, pushing a hard line that eventually swept away the more radical players accused of genodical tendencies, and those labelled coup plotters.
Back then the Tanzanians took lead in managing the peace process mostly because they found themselves hosting heavy flows of refugees that had crossed the border, as well as funding a large deployment of Tanzanian military personnel to secure said borders so the violence didn’t follow the refugees.
Museveni, though, always at Nyerere’s side in the mediation continuously spoke of the need for Burundi to be settled in order for regional cooperation to become a reality, since Rwanda had been sorted out – cutting his teeth further as a regional leader.
The opportunity was the first in which African leaders took full charge of resolving a conflict on the continent, which also gave Museveni a further boost to his anti-imperial ideologies.
Since then, he has been central in conflict resolution in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Somalia and now, again, in Burundi.
This time round, though, the concerns Museveni faces are much greater in number and scope.
To start with, the reasons for the conflict in Burundi are too close to home – just months to national elections in Uganda, political upheaval over a tussle for the presidency is the last thing Museveni and many other Ugandans  would want to see, after all these years of relative calm.
The closest to civil upheaval Uganda has seen in the capital city came in 2011 after the national elections, when opposition politicians launched a volley of demonstrations veiled as attempts to “walk to work” because, they argued, economic conditions were so bad they couldn’t afford fuel. Ironically, like Nkurunziza, the protests threatened to make the economy worse by paralysing business in the city centre.
The government clamped down hard on the “walks”, deploying squads of anti-riot police with water cannons and tear gas canisters, while frequently jailing demonstration leaders. The message was clear – the sight of demonstrators on the streets was unwelcome, especially so soon after North Africa had hosted so many to the detriment of the countries themselves.
When Nkurunziza left Burundi in May for crisis talks in Tanzania demonstrations broke out on Bujumbura’s streets leading to the attempted coup or coup announcement.
The glee with which the opposition in Uganda received the news of his toppling was worrying enough for any sitting President to be concerned.
Allowing any opposition leaders or groups of youths to casually exhibit a sustained defiance to leadership would be highly problematic for Uganda, where the population of the youth is a sometimes scary 70%.
If Nkurunziza needed to be removed, it had to be through peaceful, regularised means otherwise there was a chance that the ghosts of the Arab Spring would return to wreak havoc.
Luckily, Nkurunziza returned and restored himself into the seat but shortly thereafter noises were made about Rwanda possibly being involved in the attempt to remove him.
Museveni was keen to put a stop to those noises as a priority, otherwise East African Cooperation would suffer.
Besides the political worries, Museveni is also keenly aware of the dominoes of instability caused by the combination of conflict and refugees from Burundi through Rwanda and Tanzania into Uganda, which even now probably hosts the largest number of refugees in East and Central Africa – close to 500,000 of them from every other country.
And, most importantly, Burundi is a good opportunity for Museveni to emphasize the importance of his philosophy that African countries must first settle security issues before tackling democracy and their economies – quite distinct from some views that democracy should always come first.
As he quipped about Somalia a few weeks ago: “If you say defence is not connected to agriculture, then I invite you to start a coffee farm in Somalia.”
Whereas Museveni’s mediation in Burundi was focussed on a political solution, the defence and security angle was so central that when he left Bujumbura his assigned placeholder was Uganda’s Defence Minister, Crispus Kiyonga.
Nkurunziza did not need a veiled message from Uganda about what would happen if war broke out afresh today. He knows first hand how adept Uganda is at deploying troops and holding ground more than two borders away from their own, as Burundi has run peacekeeping operations side by side with Uganda under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The disputed election has taken place and the expected result has been achieved.
But what Nkurunziza now needs to learn from Museveni is how to hold his Presidential seat and his country together two terms away from the peace accord that first brought him into power, as the old man has managed quite comfortably these many years hence.
– a version of this article ran in the Sunday Independent of South Africa on July 26.

the Gecaga-ism in YOU revealed by Obama’s visit


Jomo Gecaga scoring a lifetime achievement
Jomo Gecaga scoring a lifetime achievement. Photo from http://www.kenyan-post.com/

OF THE numerous photographs that did the rounds on WhatsApp, email, Twitter and Facebook from Obama’s visit to Kenya, the one that made me look up and take notice of our overall focus was one of a chap with his hand on the bonnet of “The Beast”.

(“The Beast” is the motor vehicle of the United States President, and you can google the rest because I don’t have time for it here.)

I sat up because the fellow in the photo was described as the Personal Assistant (or Private Secretary) to the President of the Republic of Kenya, and named as Jomo Gecaga.

The man appeared quite foolish in that photograph as a Secret Service fellow appeared to be stopping him from putting his hand on the vehicle.

That Gecaga fellow’s excitement at being near the car that conveys the President of the United States was a little understandable until I discovered that not only is he a nephew of Kenyatta, he IS Chief of Staff of the Kenyan President and attended some of the best schools in the world – including, according to the internet, Eton.

Gecaga and The Beast 2

THAT GUY was the one having his photo taken next to the car of the US President the way those kids in your village do when you drive your second hand four wheel drive car over there for Christmas?!

I was flummoxed, which sounds like the Sheng word for the kind of punishment one would mete out to a fellow caught in his situation according to that photograph.

Even a well-heeled chap like that one could lower himself to this and get told off by askaris? America is a superpower kweli!

And I couldn’t laugh at him properly myself because over the entire period almost right up to this point, I find that most of the material being shared with me by otherwise upstanding members of society is the WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook equivalent of copping a photograph with one’s hand on “The Beast”.

Check your phone and laptop – how many people sent you links to the terms of the pacts and bilateral agreements signed between Kenya and the United States during that visit? How many of your pals engaged in insightful analysis about how Uganda (or whatever other country you are in) could benefit from the presence of the United States President and right here – right next door where we go on bus rides to see rally cars, eat nyama choma and collect cars from the port to drive them back to Kampala?

Did any of your pals talk about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, especially since Uganda was named yet again just TWO WEEKS AGO as the world’s most entrepreneurial country?

Did Ugandans set up Rolex stands from Jomo Kenyatta airport to trap all the Secret Service men and possibly even entice Obama? Did we do anything to stress to his entourage that the single entry visa that put them in Kenya could have elicited value for money if they hopped over to Uganda quickly for a day – perhaps even using the airport parking of British Airways, since those ones are not going to be around for a while anyway?

I didn’t even hear about any serious restaurants creating an #ObamaInKenya rolex and putting the menu online so they attract Google search hits to their websites.

Obviously I might be linked to the wrong social and business networks and should therefore seek to join those in which members were invited to or made their way to the Summit in Nairobi to mingle in with globally accomplished entrepreneurs from the United States and across this continent.

Do you know anyone who went to meet with the billionaires that accompanied Obama? Maybe one of them met ex-Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg (worth US$37.5billion), Businessman Aliko Dangote (worth US$17billion), and TV Sharks Daymond Garfield John (worth US$250million), Barbara Corcoran (worth US$80million), Mark Cuban (worth US$3billion)…the list is much longer!

Luckily for my self-esteem, none of the people I have been communicating with has sent me photos of personal achievements such as standing next to the Presidential Car or a Secret Service Guard.

But sadly, none has shared with me their prospects for increased business and entrepreneurship or even personal development pursuits with the United States. All I have received so far are Gecaga-istic exclamations around Obama and the paraphernalia around his office.

Let’s see if we do different when the Pope comes over…