about the one photograph i regret having missed at Namboole yesterday


THE one photograph from yesterday’s #NRMconference at Namboole that I wish I had taken was the first one of the day, right at the security checkpoint where I was waiting to get my laptop cleared.

The access at the start of the day where the President is involved is a somewhat uncertain affair that involves explaining oneself to many polite but firm soldiers whose commitment to the task they are assigned is such that you would rather watch somebody else put it to the test than volunteer for the caper.

I have had many years’ practice of standing patiently by the side till the soldiers in question have done their job, and Sunday morning gave me another thirty minutes of experience during which the photo opportunity presented itself:

A large fellow employed by Silk Events as a ‘Bouncer’ had squeezed through the Sentinel security checkpoint, inescapably rubbing his massive muscles along the inside of the thing as he went through, and walked quickly past the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier doing the checking in spite of the beeping sound that occurred as he had gone through.

“Gwe, allo!” the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier declared.

And the bouncer stopped, a little bit surprised.

I could tell that the large fellow was uncomfortable being taken through a process that he probably runs on a much less dangerous scale every weekend or every other day. He had this demeanour about him that I would expect from a doctor who finds himself being processed through a clinic in a foreign land where he fails to start up the conversation that says, “You know, I am actually a doctor myself…”

That conversation is useless because of the famous taunt, “Physician, heal thyself!” as well as the practicality of things when one is not feeling well.

The doctor could be an orthopaedic surgeon, for instance, but when he gets a toothache he would have to totally succumb to a dental technician without asking questions. Or he could be a professor of epidemiology but once he sprains his ankle he is as good as a cabbage farmer being asked to design a political campaign poster.

This was my bouncer pal, about the size of a cow, being stopped by a mere human being at a security check point.

He came to a halt quite quickly but then I saw him doing a mental calculation that took in the diminished (compared to himself) size of the plain clothes soldier who had said, “Gwe, allo!” and factored in the numerous other plain clothes and uniformed soldiers within walk-over-and-slap distance.

His mental mathematics clearly involved the fact that there were possibly many years of intense and specialised training in ways to maim or kill people identified as a threat or a danger, all compacted into the humbly sized body of this fellow.

The equation must have made sense because the only way anyone could say, “Gwe, allo!” to a person with muscles the size of a modest commercial building, was if they had some hidden element within them that could neutralise the strength and energy he could muster up in anger, irritation or at the call of duty.

Actually, judging from the speed with which he lowered his shoulders, turned his head down, and took a couple of steps back, I could tell that his calculation had replaced ‘slap’ with ‘mortally-destroy-beyond-possible-recognition’ – which made me realise that the fellow was actually a fairly wise man.

But that’s NOT when I would have taken the photograph.

He came back to the sentinel checkpoint and submitted himself to a pat-down that was not very efficient since the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier could not reach his neck. In fact, if the bouncer had somehow implanted bullets or a small landmine into that neck as thick as most people’s thighs, then we would be reading a very different flavour of news today.

The photograph I would have taken would have been the one after the hulk had finally completed his check and been cleared of most of the suspicion the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier harboured either by default or because of the beeping.

My missed photograph opportunity occurred as the traumatisingly-sculptured Silk Events giant cautiously bounced off into the stadium, and the small-bodied, plain clothes soldier turned quite deliberately and watched him carefully.

My missed photograph opportunity would have captured the small-bodied plain clothes chap thinking to himself the thought: “But if this guy had caused any trouble after I said, ‘Gwe, allo’… eh!”

I will regret for a long time, missing that photograph.

sending Bruno to the parking lot fwaaaaa


Progres

IT’S been a while since you heard about Bruno, and I want to assure you that he is still doing quite alright and providing his endless stream of irritating entertainment guided by thought processes running at a very unfashionable speed.
Luckily for me, he is employed to drive somebody else – my wife – and when I am unlucky and find my car taken custody by a mechanic, I submit to Bruno and the uncertainities involved in travelling with him.
Today, after leaving the dentist’s chair, we got into slow traffic outside the Acacia Mall and I decided on a whim to hop out and change some money.
NOTE 1: Never do anything on a whim where Bruno is involved. Plan very carefully and plan again, just in case anything can go wrong – because it will. When it does, revert to the next step in your plan.
I knew this about him, so I thought my plan out clearly then told him, “I am going out briefly. Drive round to the Kisementi parking and I’ll find you there when I’m done.”
My brother believes the problem with Bruno is his understanding of the English language, but I have often proved that not to be the case. All instructions to do with his money and his feeding, for instance, are received and acted upon quite well in english, yet those to do with my money or my feeding go awry.
I thought about the Kisementi arrangement a little bit more and came up with a better idea – City Oil is a much smaller place and was right there, about twenty metres ahead of us.
Plus, because it was right there, I could point at it on top of giving him the verbal instructions.
What could go wrong?
NOTE 2: Never ask “What could go wrong?” when doing anything involving Bruno. Murphy is nothing; a child – mere games to Bruno’s war-ness.
“No. DON’T go to Kisementi; go to the City Oil parking instead. That one there.” I pointed at it.
I waited a couple more minutes as I thought about what I was doing and considered seriously what could possibly go wrong, wondering what else I should tell the man in order to ensure no disruptions to the plan or nature itself.
It was that additional minute of waiting and extra consideration that led to my leaving my phone behind when I eventually hopped out of the car as the traffic started moving again.
I realised it when I had arrived at the building, and turned back to see traffic back at a standstill and Bruno not too many metres from where I had alighted.
Perhaps I could complete my errand and make it back before anything went wrong?
I tried.
Speeding through the process that had made me hop out of the vehicle, I made it back to the road within four minutes but…Bruno and his car were gone!
Surely he had driven straight to the City Oil parking lot.
The clouds had darkened with the threat of an afternoon shower, so I hurried across the road and was in the parking lot well within a minute.
This is when I realised I had a problem. I had gone to the forecourt, where the fuel pumps are, which I had pointed at when I said “Parking Lot”.
Suppose Bruno, overthinking matters and aiming to impress me, had thought to himself, “This man said ‘Parking Lot’ but pointed at the ‘Forecourt’ but I am sure he meant for me to go to the Parking Lot at the back.”?
This highly improbable thought was a likelihood because Bruno’s car was not visible within the confines of the forecourt. So I went to the ‘City Oil Parking Lot’, which I realised – when I go there – was actually the Cafe Javas (not City Oil) Parking Lot!
There was no way Bruno would think to himself a thought such as, “But this guy said City Oil Parking Lot and this one is the Cafe Javas one. Maybe the City Oil Parking Lot is the one downstairs?” before proceeding downstairs.
But because I could see no sign of either him or the car he was driving when I last saw him, I accepted the extremely unbelievable premise that his mind had gone that way.
Even as I hurried down the staircase I was calculating to myself that the time that had gone between my leaving the car and that point at which I was trying to work out his whereabouts, was generally too short for Bruno to have made all those decisions.
He wasn’t there. Neither was the car.
NOTE 3: Never think too much when working Bruno out.
Just in case – in the very unlikely event – Bruno had happened to be driving to and fro as I had walked from forecourt to parking lot to parking lot and we had missed each other that way, I basically sprinted back.
Remember, at this point, that I had just been on a dentist’s chair. One side of my face felt like a basketball and my tongue was as thick as my belly (I’ve REALLY skipped the gym).
I told myself, when I got through the upper parking lot and was standing on the forecourt, that perhaps my words had been garbled when I told him to park in the City Oil parking lot.
But then, if that were the case, how had he heard me telling him to go to Kisementi? Maybe my pointing had been unclear, because of something to do with the painkillers I had swallowed at the dentist’s?
If so, WHERE could he be? Had he gone to the City Oil on Bombo Road? Bakuli? Kyambogo? Had he gone to a Sitya Loss concert?
I maintained baffle stations as I walked into Cafe Javas to find someone – anyone – with a mobile phone I could use to call him (remember I left mine in the car?) even though I knew the odds were that his phone would be off.
For the first time since it opened, I walked through Cafe Javas Kisementi and recognised nobody there – not even the staff!
I resumed my bamboozlement about Bruno’s whereabouts, which led me to the simplest possible explanation: Perhaps he had stopped listening after the Kisementi instruction.
There are people who do this. Like when you ask someone for a phone number over the phone and you don’t have pen or paper, but after they read it out to you they try to continue the conversation while for you you are just reciting in your head “0-7-9-2-8-0-0-0-8-0”. Eventually you just hang up on them, planning to save the number then call back claiming the network was bad, so that you don’t appear to be a selfish caller…then they call you back when you’ve only typed out four digits…
Bruno was at Kisementi.
So I turned and headed over there, quickly. Even as I got to the corner of the Acacia Mall, I realised the risk of turning off to Kisementi at the same time as Bruno was probably giving up on finding parking there and was driving to City Oil.
So I stopped and pondered my options.
And it was while I was doing so that I turned to face the direction from whence I had conducted my frantic search, to see Bruno’s car slowly reversing into a parking spot, in the ‘Parking Lot’ of Cafe Javas.
As he turned from inspecting his parking prowess, since he doesn’t like to use the side mirrors, our eyes met and he quickly dropped his away. The guilt was obvious, and I pondered over it as I crossed the road yet again to finally embark the vehicle.
“Bruno,” I said quite sternly with my temper fully in check and my tongue quite restored, “Where did you go?”
He tried that tactic of mumbling something unclear but I sustained my line of questioning, unwavered.
“Sir,” he said, “I drove around.”
This was insufficient information, so I probed further.
“I am sorry, sir,” he conceded a minute later, “I went to Kisementi…”
So I had eventually been right.
But then…why had he come here, then, at the end of it all? What had made him think of City Oil? What had happened at Kisementi?
“There was no parking at Kisementi…”
Think about that for a moment.
Yes – if he HAD found parking space at Kisementi, he might have parked the car there and I would have STILL circulated round City Oil and Javas before walking to Kisementi. But supposing I had left the car with my phone, or had found one of you guys with a phone inside Java’s, was his mobile phone on?
“No, sir. My battery is dead…”

whoever killed captain alex did Uganda a major favour!


ABOUT five years ago the trailer for the movie ‘Who Killed Captain Alex’ was posted to YouTube.com.
Many of us suffered physical injuries caused by laughing when we were first introduced to that two minute trailer, and we sought out the full movie with both caution and relish, but zero success – until about a month ago when it was actually ‘released’.
The danger of additional physical injury due to uncontrollable laughter was real and almost life-threatening right from when the film opened up. The hilarity of ‘Who Killed Captain Alex?’ runs non-stop from the opening credits stating, “This film is lost and all that survives is a low-resolution DVD master. This is due, in part, to the harsh working conditions, but Nabwana IGG also erased his computer to be able to make his next action film, Tebaatusasula. He never imagined anyone outside his own village would see this film.”
From there on, the viewer is subjected to over one hour’s footage of ludicrously comedic proportions in terms of presentation, plot, production, and everything possible and impossible on screen.
Many of us watched the trailer on its own and never got round to catching the full movie, and many more dismissed it as inferior to the quality that they are accustomed to, from Hollywood and such other lofty heights.
But this week the man behind ‘Who Killed Captain Alex?’ has made it to the mainstream global news and given Uganda positive media coverage while the rest of the region is engulfed in floods right in the middle of their cities, and coup d’etats.
It turns out that after that first trailer was released back in 2010, a young fellow in the United States, in New York, spotted it and within forty seconds of viewing had made the decision to come to Uganda.
The American, Alan ‘Ssali’ Hofmanis, didn’t even call the number at the end of the trailer – 0712921775 – or do a background check on this ‘Ramon Productions’. He processed himself, bought a ticket and came straight on down to Uganda, and then somehow made his way to Wakaliga, the village where Isaac Nabwana (I interchangeably call him Nabwana and Nabwaana because one is more likely the accurate one and the other has been assumed) lives and shoots his movies.
Yes – movies! Nabwaana didn’t stop at ‘Who Killed Captain Alex?’; he has also produced or shot trailers for ‘Tebaatusasula’, ‘Return of Uncle Benon’, ‘Bad Black’ and ‘Rescue Team’, among others!
Ergo the term ‘Wakaliwood’ – a merger between Wakaliga and Hollywood (visit http://watch.wakaliwood.com/ for the high profile version).
The number of YouTube views the young man has garnered are in the millions, and should be immediately taken up by the Uganda Tourism Board, the Uganda Investment Authority and any commercial entity in Uganda that is interested in international exposure. Seriously! Those are millions of eyes of people whose cognitive association with Uganda is happily full of mirth – not Idi Amin, Ebola, Politics or any of the usual stupidity!
Plus, the comments of the viewers tell you everything there is to know about the power of creating content and posting it onto the internet.
The fact that Hofmanis needed only forty seconds of film to make the decision to  leave the United States for a life in Uganda is proof that we can move millions of people’s dollars, euros, pounds, yuan, yen and even Zim dollars if we create the right content and use it wisely on the internet.
You see, platforms such as YouTube are incredible tools for countries like Uganda if we learn how to harness them properly. This week Uganda also won the award for Best African Exhibitor 2015 at the Indaba Tourism Fair in South Africa, thanks to the hard work of our Tourism sector and the people at the helm there.
That stand cost us lots of sweat, money and additional hard work doing sales and marketing, and was probably visited by thousands of people whose primary function in life is directing monied tourists to the countries they should spend their time and money in. It was VERY important.
But consider that with about US$200 per film, Isaac Nabwaana and Wakaliwood has the potential on YouTube of reaching 1,000,000,000 (one billion) users, and that every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube. This website is localised in 75 countries and is available in 61 languages – so films like ‘Who Killed Captain Alex?’ with its amateur but extremely funny expressive comedy, could be replicated 61 times if our Department of Languages put some work into it – probably getting us 61,000,000 views in the process!
If just one percent of each view got us one visitor here within forty seconds the way Hofmanis was snared (or forty minutes), that would be … US$30million in visa fees alone at US$50 per visa payable at Entebbe Airport!
Give Him A MedalUS$30million revenue to the Republic of Uganda from the selfless creative efforts of an uncelebrated slum-dweller called Isaac Nabwaana of Wakaliga who neverGive Him A Medal 2 features in any of our celebrity pages and never gets mentioned on Twitter and Facebook and certainly won’t be on any of our national medal lists any time soon…except mine, now, because this Give Him A Medal 3young man has definitely made my week as a proud Ugandan!
If you are online and savvy enough to join the crowdsourcing initiative, you could visit their Kickstarter page and throw in your offering.
If you are in Uganda and can’t be Give Him A Medal 4bothered to do such things as transfer money online, perhaps you will visit that page and see how Nabwaana and company have converted bits of old vehicles into film-making equipment. If you do make that observation, and have a couple of old hard drives, computers, and other stuff that could be useful to a film-maker, donate it to Nabwaana and team.
I haven’t asked for their permission to say this, but I am sure the clothes they wear as props come from some wardrobe somewhere that could do with replenishing with whatever the rest of us can come up with.

Unlike many other people of self-importance, the man even has his own documentary selling on Amazon! See here: http://www.amazon.com/Wakaliwood-Nabwana-I-G-G/dp/B00F4CNEXE – putting Uganda on the map for much better reasons than fraud, theft, embezzlement, wars and what not!

I just wish I could translate this into the commentary language that the Wakaliwood guys use in their movies – complete with a translation of the volleys of bullets (“Wololololo!”); and THAT’S another thing Nabwaana and company are doing for us – putting us out there for that innovative translation of movies into our local vernacular.

Nabwaana is a good Ugandan!Give Him A Medal 5

Social Media & Radio Katwe: what’s your source and how seriously do you take it?


THIS week two ‘stories’ filled up the online conversation on Twitter and Facebook in Uganda, and both made me think of the Katwe area at the start of Entebbe road.
Actually, referring to the two as ’stories’ is to elevate them to a level that used to be respectable, reliable and trustworthy.
Back in the days when we relied only on traditional media, a story was something you read in a newspaper or heard on radio or watched on TV and had the confidence to discuss, analyse or even repeat.
If we heard about a story from a third-party we tried our best to go and read it ourselves, or to catch the next radio or TV bulletin. Such was our need for story validation that libraries stocked newspapers for people to go and refer to, and there was even a thriving business enterprise behind Uganda House that sold old newspapers.
I remember checking with that business enterprise to establish whether the old newspapers were mostly being sold as kabalagala and mandazi wrapping, and the proprietor telling me they weren’t. Many of them were bought by people who had missed their personal copies or needed to double-check one story or another.
That was then.
Back then, you were respected if you could hold a conversation about current affairs or a topic on which you had knowledge and withstood any challenges to your quantity of knowledge. I even recall quiz games played in school corridors in which people showed off their knowledge of different topics and current affairs – one such game was called ‘Bwino’, which in some vernacular means “ink”, further testimony to the level of respect we had for print as a concept. The participants, school children, took themselves quite seriously and dreaded taunts such as ‘Radio Katwe!’
The term ‘Radio Katwe’ meant you had just made up a fact in your head; it originated in the days when the official media was forced to go underground due to the politics of the day, and we relied on unofficial information – the grapevine or rumour mill – ‘akatwe‘.
The name was a play on the Katwe area of Kampala where ingenious artisans fabricated things locally out of metal and other materials. In those days of scarcity and shortage, it was impossible to find new Katwe Workersdevices, gadgets or implements such as we needed in homes and even offices, and that led to the rise of Katwe. Similarly, with official news sources being scarce, we were forced to rely on word-of-mouth as a medium, ergo Radio Katwe.
And in Katwe they fabricated these things quite well without any professional training, it seemed, but just by looking at or studying an original and then copying its parts or altering it.
But that absence of professional training is an important factor, because whereas you could get a locally fabricated machine that did the basics of what it was intended to do, because of a small omission such as earthing you could kill yourself while making popcorn or ironing a handkerchief…
And that’s why I was thinking of Katwe, because that absence of professional training is what differentiates a journalist from any character with access to a Facebook, Twitter or blogging account. Professional training that gives a journalist the ability and skill to double check facts and present information in a clear, lucid, accurate manner, for instance.
Which is why anybody who gets their news from only social media sources should be as careful with it as the person who buys a popcorn machine fabricated in Katwe. A nail could come loose and shatter your teeth while you munch away at your salty snacks.
It may be accurate, and might work just fine, but there is a high likelihood that it’s not all safe.
Both of the stories that caused excitement this week contained major inaccuracies that didn’t make sense right under the surface, but the chatter on social media was torrid, angry and spread like a wildfire amongst people who didn’t even read them fully but just took the headlines and developed strong opinions.
And this is not about the media; rather, it’s about the consumers of media. Radio Katwe should continue fabricating stuff, but when you buy a device fabricated there, please use it carefully.