what’s our beef with cows, steaks and leather in Kampala?


MY FAVOURITE Argentinian was a fellow in Uganda called Pedro Seambelar.
I found him working at British American Tobacco and made friends pretty quickly for a number of reasons, and the one time I was upset with him was when we were planning to host the gods of our global tobacco leaf business, on a visit to Uganda.
In that Board Room putting plans together, I was irritated that Pedro spoke up in support of the idea that the meat that would be fed to the visitors in Hoima be bought from all the way in Kampala. I objected on the premise that there were certainly enough butchers in Hoima to supply our needs, but heard back the view – not from Pedro alone, but also from a South African, an American and a Briton in the group – that our beef was generally not good enough.
I eventually lost the argument, but heard quite a lot about how we don’t achieve good cuts of beef, don’t age it well for tenderness, and so on and so forth.
As I ventured out to my first of many restaurants in Buenos Aires the other week, that discussion was on my mind because I very badly needed to demystify the superbovine Argentinian concept of beef.20150621_192606
Even as I type this out, my salivary glands are reacting to the juicy memories of the week’s dining in fine restaurants, train station meatstops and mall food courts. Every one of them, without fail, offered up a consistency of beef that caused me some concern about my situation back here.
For about a year now I have boycotted beef in general at home unless it is minced into a hamburger patty or braised in an upcountry location preferably at a traditional ceremony – both guarantees that it will be extremely tender and full of 20150621_194504flavour.
In urban spots and most Kampala restaurants I generally avoid it especially if it is served up in those chaffing dishes that form the buffet gauntlet that is honestly the bane of the busy lunchtime diner.
The Argentinians certainly know their beef, I agreed, but so do a good many people in upcountry Uganda.
As I munched through various types of tender, juicy steaks I read through piles of brochures and leaflets and magazine and internet articles about this Argentinian beef and kept finding references to the cows themselves being given special treatment throughout their lives.
20150623_221808
A lot of specific care and attention goes into the cows’ feeding, breeding, transportation and even slaughter and carcass management.
The role of the chefs, therefore, is made much simpler because the product presented before them is in such fine form, rather than driven down in cramped trucks to crowded abattoirs for slaughter then hacked up with pangas into indeterminate chunks.
With toothpick firmly in mouth, a number of questions shot through my mind after every meal:
  • Is it possible that beef over here would taste better if we had abattoirs positioned in upcountry Uganda where the bulk of the cows are produced?
  • And what is so complicated about abattoirs that we cannot have some set up in locations closer to where cows are herded?
  • Are refrigerated trucks very hard to create?
  • Can’t engineering students design some and modify things to make them?
  • What do our food, science and technology students study and why can’t they give us ways of turning all our cows into superb steaks that we can use to attract dollars to Uganda the way Argentina took mine the other week?
  • Where do all those hides and skins go after the abbatoir, and why isn’t Basajjabalaba a producer of leather belts, jackets, wallets, luggage and furniture the way so many Argentinians are?
  • What simple item can we pay enough attention to all through the process from inception to the time we serve it up, so that we make Uganda world renowned for it the way Argentina is for their beef steaks?
  • And where, in Kampala, can I find as juicy a steak as the ones in Buenos Aires? (This is NOT a rhetorical question. Email me, please.)

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

the rain and the children


There is a certain number of children beyond which one is not guaranteed that continuous deep sleep under heavy rain and thunder.
Study that statement carefully.
Basically, the logic is that if you have one child then you have a 50:50 chance of having your heavy rain deep sleep interrupted; anything more than just that one child decreases your chances of sleeping drastically.
In general, most of the children will take advantage of the rains to also enjoy some deep sleep, but there will always be one who departs from the script under ordinary circumstances. In a worse case scenario, you might even have more than one doing so, taking turns to send you for water, toilet tours, entertainment and so on and so forth.
Last night after the first major peal of thunder, I was summoned to the presence of only one of my brood and presented with a classic heavy rain problem:
“I can’t sleep. The rain is too loud.”
She was quite right about the volume of the rain, and I immediately acknowledged so then told her to just close her eyes and try to sleep.
“I did that and it didn’t work,” she responded, in a tone of voice that signalled frustration and anger at science in general.
As usual, I started a discussion about the science of rain and lightning and thunder, hoping the dullness of the topic and depth of my voice would bore her to sleep. Failure was complete, as I started nodding off in mid-sentence myself and she had to wake me with:
“I still can’t sleep. It’s really too loud.” This time in a tone of voice so hard that I realised I had to be more careful approaching the problem.
I suggested prayer, story-telling, and a couple of other tactics but she had tried some and rejected the rest.
Eventually, looking out of the window at the torrents of rain, my mind went to the Bobi Wine song ‘Singa’ (“Singa, nze Museveni…Singa, nze Sudhir omugagga…”) and I tried to imagine what those two would do in these circumstances.
We would have fallen draw-draw, as some would say.
This was a problem no money or power could solve.
But I needed to look on the bright side of the issue and, first and foremost, stop the conversation from going any further. You see, the problem statement was one that I could possibly tackle: “I can’t sleep. The rain is too loud.”
If we went on talking there was a chance that we would get to a demand such as, “Make the rain stop” or “Decrease the volume of the rain.”
These are fatherhood nightmare statements, in these situations, because they put our hero-status to a direct test held under stressful conditions invigilated by a hyper-alert young one with very high expectations.
Those are the kind of demands that make fathers create entire dramatic productions backed by nonsensical stories that they pray will be forgotten before the children enter into their teenage years. Acceptably embarrassing options in these extreme circumstances include phonecalls to so-called ‘Rain Offices’; the use of imaginary remote control devices to decrease the rain volume; and even positioning oneself before windows and using some mind-force energy to push the rain away.
It is very embarrassing but can be highly effective if timed right and the elements of nature comply within reasonable measure. The only problem is that eventually you get asked to “decrease the heat” during the hot dry seasons and whereas the solution is switching on a fan, the act is not as heroic…
So “I can’t sleep. The rain is too loud”, needed to be managed and for the moment I was the man for the job.
If she had been of age, this problem would have been fixed by a double measure of a wide range of tonics from various bottles kept in the relevant cabinet.
Sadly she was above the age where moving to our bed was a solution to any problem from “My stomach is hurting” to “I had a bad dream”, and so my options narrowed down even further.
I couldn’t dare, meanwhile, curse the rain; we’ve waited for it long enough and will be forever grateful for it.
The solution: wait out the rain in her room while ensuring conversation does not get to “Make the rain stop” or “Decrease the volume of the rain” levels.
So I transferred the failure to sleep and took it on in full measure. That’s me here. Being an insomniac on behalf of my daughter so that she can get enough sleep to manage a few hours of school tomorrow.
See; all I have to do during the day is go out to work so I can afford their school fees, the mortgage, their food, clothes and so on and so forth.
I will sleep when they are old enough to get their own house.

congratulations on the US$18million golf course in Kihiihi, Mr. Garuga Musinguzi


Seriously – I applaud you!

Garuga Injects 50bn In Golf Course
The New Vision, December 10, 2014- Page 52

And in case you can’t read it clearly in that photograph, that paragraph reads, “Musinguzi said he had invested over sh50b in the course designed by domestic engineers Charles Katambira and Gad Musasizi.”

That’s US$18million.

Hence the support of the Uganda Tourism Board, I’m sure, since a development of this nature would certainly bring in hordes of high spending golfer tourists.

Interestingly, the online version of the same story dropped mention of the Ushs50billion cost-tag (http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/662693-rugunda-to-officiate-at-garuga-course-opening.html).

Most likely because most golfing authorities available online put the cost of construction of an average golf course at about US$5million. And, as the more Cost of an average Golf Courseknowledgeable in these matters say, construction is one thing but maintenance of a golf course is quite the other bigger cost – http://www.asgca.org/frequently-asked-questions/175.

But back to the Ushs50billion, journalists could have asked questions such as those on https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080512184824AAnMjMg just to be sure that they had heard right. It is under this link that people with lugezi-gezi say things like, “A fair golf course can be built on a minimum of 65 acres.When brooks, rivers, bodies of water, rock ledges are present the acreage increases appreciably. You also require acreage for the clubhouse, parking facility, driving range and putting green which are additions.

Being sports journalists, however, perhaps their focus was more on the game itself rather than the stand-out facts – and I am sure that this weekend they will ALL be heading down to see this magnificent golf course being put to inaugural use.

Afterwards, they will file reports about the acreage, the features, the views, and so on and so forth to explain the Kampala-mall-sized cost-tag.

Garuga is not a novice in business, as many stories – even online – tell. In http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34518:-what-has-amama-mbabazi-done-for-kanungu-district you read about how he “quit politics and concentrated on his businesses. Since then, Garuga has engineered the launch of two tea factories (Bwindi and Rugyeyo), a maize mill, an FM radio station, a three-star hotel (Savannah Resort), an airfield and other developments that provide employment to several Kanungu locals.”

US$18million for a golf course, therefore, could be a feasible investment for a man of his means and wherewithal. Still, I began to wish Garuga had read the link below and saved perhaps US$10million for something additional to the Golf Course: http://www.usga.org/course_care/articles/construction/general/Building-And-Maintaining-The-Truly-Affordable-Golf-Course/

And as I was thinking of ways to approach him over his future investment plans, another newspaper broke the spell: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Sports/Golf/Garuga-to-unveil-Shs5b-Golf-Club-this-weekend/-/690278/2550494/-/ixep33z/-/index.html

So there was an additional, misplaced ‘0’ in the first story….mssssschewwww!

Garuga Quits FDCBut then again – US$1.8million for a golf course…thank God this particular fellow quit politics for business!

Congratulations, Garuga! Seriously.