farewell, lyrical soldier #RIPMowzeyRadio #RIPMozeyRadio #RIPMoseRadio #RIPMosesRadio

AS usual, I am playing a Radio and Weasel song.

Today it’s for a very, very sad reason and I am playing every single one of their songs that I have in my collections – legal and pirated alike. It is going to take me hours, they have so many!

I even found myself going back to Facebook to post a message to my wall rather than rely on my weekly auto-posts from this blog.

#RIPMowzey FB Update

(The wrong things about this death are so obvious I don’t feel like getting into them here and now.)

It’s been more than a decade since these young men burst into our ear drums to get our feet shuffling, hips swaying and mouths twisting in pretence that we could actually say those lyrics the way they did.

It didn’t matter what song they belted out, it HIT. I can almost trace events and people over the past ten or so years by what Moses Radio & Weasel (oba Mowzey & Weasel) song I was listening or dancing to at the time.

And that’s another thing about the Goodlyfe Crew that bugged me and I had made a note to one day fix – their atrocious spellings. It always irked me that they were not at all bothered by the spellings that came up around them – Mose and Moze and Moses or Weasle and Weasel and Wizzo…

I liked them so much I ignored that and always stayed true to the beat.

I was living and working briefly in Germany when they dropped Zuena while that other Nigerian guy had a similar sounding tune rolling at the same time, but my choice between the two was quite simple to make because of phrases like, “Ku lukalala abakwegomba, Zuena ndi namba emu; ku counter y’omutima gwange gw’ali mu namba emu! I miss you, you, you should get some time ne twogerangamu. Lin’ekkomera bwonsibidde temuli kalungi n’akamu!”

To this day, I have Bread and Butter on ALL my gym and jogging playlists – and I thank those boys for that melody buli daily.

“Sweet, baby olinga butter ku mugaati; olinga enkuba etonya ekiro ku mabaati!” <— hands up if you have ever used that to tune someone?

Radio Hand Up
(Borrowed from djkanji.com)

Shortly after that Radio used the word, “dinisa” and my stomach developed butterflies of nostalgia. People don’t talk like that any more!

Speaking of tuning, did you hear Dudu and those bits that will hands-down melt the hardest of hearts?

I hear, “Come let’s go dancing in the rain; my Dudu! Dudu, your like the air that I breathe! Dudu, you’re like water, Dudu you’re my life…!”

Then: “…Something about your face that can never be forgotten…you de make me feel defeated!”

Get Amaaso and try it out on your love interest then report back here to tell me.

“Ag’amaaso? Ag’amaaso go gali nsuul’ekiggwo! Amaaso go gankuba ng’omugo. Bw’enebaka ndoota ng’amaaso go gegamez’omuddo! Olulala nakulaba nga ntambula ne nneetega…”

I mean!

In Kuku: “Girl I’m singing this song about you; got something I’ve been wanting to tell you: njagala kuwandika linya lyo ku pillow; njagala kuwandika linya lyo ku njuba!”

Try singing that while dancing and there is no way the rhythm will elude you, walahi!

And by the time you break out into: “You are sweeter than Kuku! You’re the salt in my soup-u! Girl, you are sweeter than Kuku!” your deal is sealed for sure – think of the red hearts in their video of this song and just smile at his cheeky look as the lyrics flow out.

Even in real life he was cheeky, and funny – the few times I interacted with him. I only saw him once in the daylight, so you can imagine how merry everyone was (in my experience) around him.

In every one of their songs with romantic lyrics he had the fun, naughty and catchy lines and outshone his partner but there was never a hint of bad blood all through the years.

It certainly helped that he had this voice that conveyed the electricity flowing through his wire thin body, opposite Weasel’s gruff voice and buff-ish look. The name Radio made absolute sense when he started singing like that.

If you’ve ever made a dance mixtape or played a party you know full well the impact of punching in a Radio & Weasel intro to make the dancefloor know they are coming up.

The entire house normally goes electric, frantic, frenzied and in dance paka chini kesho subuhi mode.

“People are you ready?” as in Magnetic is enough to make people lose their minds in agreement – any day, any where…except today. We were not ready for Moze Radio to go like this.

The Goodlyfe duo had it going for them, wabula. Uganda Telecom used them for just Talk and Talk and people thought MTN was finished!

“They will talk but they can’t do the walk. Like Michael Jackson I’m a master of my moonwalk…” he sang, reminding me of how sad we felt when MJ went.

“Ebyange byenkola Mukama yandagilila! N’amanyi saffuna ago manyi gabalwanyisa Kambikwase… kambikwase… Almighty!”

Now he’s gone to the Almighty, joining his brother AK47, with whom they did Jah Guide

At some point I even hoped they would get a national medal of sorts for putting Uganda on a very good map – https://skaheru.com/2013/07/07/radio-weasel-jotham-musinguzi-you-are-true-ugandan-heroes/

Their reach went far and wide – they ruled Kenyan dancefloors with all their songs even before Amani teamed up with them on Kiboko Changu; I danced to them in Zambia on many a night even before they had met General Ozzy to redo Potential.

Speaking of which, that boy had Potential that actualised itself but wasn’t fully capitalised by the time he left. Moze Radio should have gone on making even old men such as myself aspire to insert Luga-flow into our normal conversations, pull dance strokes we can’t explain to people who know us well, and shake our heads at the wit and cheek in his lyrics.

In Ability he sung, “Olina ability; kozesa opportunity! ‘coz opportunity comes once in a lifetime!”

He certainly had many opportunities but they’ve all gone because of a Kiduula – another catchy tune with some eerily prophetic lyrics that he could have heeded in life to avoid this painful departure.

And it’s really painful because we all knew that there was more coming from the duo – surprisingly catchy tunes that don’t sound too different from the last ones but that are quite distinct thanks to Producer Washington (who was reportedly with him on that fateful night) and the entire Swangz Avenue crew.

Every year that they released something new it was refreshing – Nakudata to Ntunga through to Bikoola. I honestly assumed they would be doing it Neera, n’eera and it’s painful to realise that they aren’t.

The year of Bwondekawo, we we laughed and applauded and danced equally in amazement that they had come up with that tune with that exact phraseology – and the next time I saw it was at the junction of Kaguta Road leading to Rushere: “Mzee Bwogeza notulekawo, tujja kwekola ekintu!

No-one gave Radio that warning. And he’s gone.

Rest In Peace, lyrical soldier!

Moze Salute

we all need to be bleeding hearts for blood – #GiveBloodUG

Blood donors should all be declared heroes. (Photo by Simon Kaheru)

A COUPLE of weeks ago I was back at the Nakasero Blood Bank – the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services – to make whatever little contribution I could in a dire situation.

The family of the highly respectable lawyer, Gerald Kakuba, were looking for blood group O- so he could undergo surgery. He lived a long and well-accomplished life, impacting very many other lives in a way that made us all proud to have had any link to him in life.

Sadly, he passed on and we celebrated his life and departure in fitting form.

Nevertheless, a bad taste lingered on with the thought that if we had had enough O- in supply he could have gone on a little longer. The taste got worse when we heard that he had been an avid blood donor from early on in his childhood.

While standing in the compound making calls and sending mobilisation messages, I was hit by deja vu. Pausing for thought brought the reason to me quite clearly:

Exactly a year ago we were in exactly this same position for another friendly parent and all the elements were the same: no Blood Group (or Type) O-; surgery pending; frantic mobilisation; kind, helpful but hapless staff at the UBTS lamenting a ‘national blood shortage crisis’…

A year had gone by and almost nothing had changed – besides the fact that people would die, perhaps.

The issue with Blood Group O-, we always get told, is that it is quite rare and yet is the universal donor type – which means that Blood Group O- is compatible with all other Groups.

See, Group A+ is compatible with two other Groups; A- with four; B+ with two; B- with four: O+ with four; AB+ with only one; AB- with two; and O- with ALL EIGHT. 


So people with Blood Group O- carry the most selfless or generous blood type, yet they can only receive blood from Blood Group O-.

The logistics of medical blood use complicate matters a little bit here because donated blood will only stand usable for 35 days – and if Blood Group O- has been banked and any other Blood Type need arises, then the rare blood type will be put to use.

That means that even if all the pitifully few people in Blood Group O- continually donate their own blood in case their own need it, there will always be a high chance that it will be used up by somebody else.

UNLESS the rest of us who belong to the common Blood Groups pile up stocks of our own blood so we don’t use up the Blood Group O- one.

It may appear straightforward but it isn’t so in implementation. See, nothing is changing. Last week the NSSF people ran their (apparently annual) blood drive and collected just over 4,000 units of blood – same number as last year, same time.

Last year the ‘blood shortage crisis’ was attributed to children being on holiday and therefore collections being lower, because most collection drives target schools and schoolchildren. Same thing now.

Also, knowledgeable people said, during the holiday season more blood is used up because people do more life-threatening things and hospitals work harder at keeping them alive.

Year in, year out.

And annoyingly, regarding those life-threatening things we do, more of us out there will tell you what our favourite drinks are yet we have no clue what Blood Group we belong to!

Why don’t we learn, change, do things properly?

Luckily for some of us – those who DO find blood or need it when it is in supply – the passion, anxiety and earnestness of the people at UBTS hasn’t changed either. But neither has their tendency to wring their hands, ask for more help and hope for the best.

But nothing’s changing for the better.

In the process of our collection efforts last week, we established a WhatsApp Group for Blood Group O- people and we hope to keep growing it so we have a donation roster that will keep the Bank in a continuous, reliable supply of the stuff.

It is a hopeful, optimistic, yet very small intervention. A more serious one would be for ALL our organisations to keep track of all our Blood Groups (or Types) and ensure we ALL get onto the roster for donation.

For NSSF to be in the headlines over blood donation with 4,000 units (applause, applause!) while the entire Civil Service has more than 300,000 employees working there and NOT being seen donating should be considered irritating, if not outright shameful.

We ALL need to be bleeding hearts about this, before our hearts need that blood and stop pumping because it isn’t available in the bank.

this year, let’s get the youngsters to save (for) Uganda

this year, let’s get the youngsters to save (for) Uganda

AT some point in December I was gallivanting round my neighbourhood and spotted a pile of curious-looking little boxes in a carpentry workshop.

My first thought was that they were some type of ‘Piggy Bank’ savings box made in a rudimentary but apparently effective manner for the use of little children. I had no clue what gave cause to that being the first option to come to mind, as I had been feeling irritated for months by the specific direction commercial bank advertising here takes.

I have watched this for years, and like any other ordinary Ugandan lacking in astute personal finance skills, have fallen prey. See, we don’t encourage saving money as much as we do spending it in this country.

As late as November 2017 I was catching radio adverts with high tone melodious backdrops to hyper lively voices enticing people to apply for loans to “win” stuff like “free TVs and airtime”.

The concept has always angered me especially because we appear to have a large population of people who are gainfully employed to levels that enable them to sign up for these loans, and yet not insufficiently intelligent to avoid the debt trap.

I have imagined many a time before that commercial banks would be better served by encouraging people to save more money and get them to take loans for things that will enable them to earn the money they need to pay back with interest. But I am no banker and certainly not an economist of the lofty levels that cause banks to make huge profits, so I probably can’t advise them properly.

If life were fair, though, the authority that supervises public advertising – like the Uganda Advertising Authority (it doesn’t exist – we have the private-sector Uganda Advertising Association instead) would monitor and veto all advertising that hoodwinks people in any small measure.

If life were fair there would certainly be no hope for a campaign that gets people to participate in a lottery while becoming indentured for a major portion of their productive future.

This stuff went through my mind swiftly as I walked over to the carpenters with the little boxes to establish what they were for – and I was blown away by the declaration that they were “Savings Boxes”!

The carpenters were surprised at my demand that they explain their motivation for making those particular items. The plain little boxes, made of the cheapest wood possible and clearly put together from off-cuts, cost just Ushs2,000 each.

I bought the entire lot and have gone back thrice since in four weeks.

My mission? To distribute as many of the boxes as possible to all nieces and nephews I come across in the next few weeks, along with a quick tutorial in saving money and a pledge from them that they would spend 2018 filling their allotted boxes with savings. They also get to colour and decorate their boxes so that they are personalised and fun to own.

Their parents are conscripts, and will find themselves having to provide pocket money and other revenue in exchange for work done by the children while avoiding child labour breaches. Weekend outings will not involve money being spent on fast food and sweets, but put into the hands of the children with reminders that they should keep some for insertion into the savings boxes.

My experiences with this approach have been so successful that I don’t directly suffer expenses such as mobile phone and airtime purchases. The children have allowances of their own that they bank daily using a journal system.

It is satisfying to see it in action – as first happened when one rolled out a ledger and ordered for an iPhone online – but also inconvenient when they rack up high numbers and come collecting together!

Nevertheless, while I keep lowering the radio volume when commercial bank adverts start encouraging people to take loans to spend on consumables, I will also be pushing this savings box initiative so these little ones are less likely to enter into the debt traps that many of our lives have become.

The next step in my plan will involve teaching them about interest on savings. By coincidence this week, one of my colleagues at work, Conrad Van Niekerk (a charming fellow of South African origin but Ugandan spirit) told us of the practical lessons his mother – a banker – taught him.

Once, when he had just left home and was setting himself up, he borrowed 600 Rand from her to buy a television, and saved up over a few months to pay her back. When he hit the mark he walked into her bank office proudly and handed her the money in full, beaming with pride at how impressed she would be.

She took it, gave him a warm motherly smile, and then replaced it with the seriousness of a banker, “That should be 623 Rand and twelve cents – but you can keep the 12 cents!”

He paid the interest.

My children have no idea how soon that story is coming their way…but with THEM earning the interest from their savings, rather than having to pay it when they borrow money.

what 2018 will be in Uganda

Meme New Year 2018

IN talking about what to expect in 2018, let’s start from the bottom and go upwards, since Age has proven to be such a factor in Uganda during 2017, what with the Age Limit debates dominating everything we’ve seen and talked about in all settings for the last so many weeks.

I know for sure that in 2018 we will see a record number of births in Uganda because this appears to have been the trend that has over the years led to our population being so generally youthful.

It’s going to be worse this year because not only do we have more educated people filling the space within our borders, but the doctors are now being paid much more money than before, and the nurses and midwives have also brokered a good salary deal for themselves.

Using simple logic, that means they will work much, much harder at ensuring that people stay alive from the time they are born till the time they really have to die. 

Newborn infants will therefore live till their old age, ill-raised toddlers will not die due to the carelessness of their ignorant parents who let them cross the road willy-nilly or chew on dry cells imported from China; teenagers won’t be expiring due to drug abuse because there will be doctors on hand to plunge syringes into their chests…

The list goes on and on – just like the lives of many more of the little babies that will be born this year. 

Besides doctors being motivated by increased salaries, the science also bears this thought out: infant mortality dropped from 54 per 1,000 newborn children in 2011 to 43 in 2016. Imagine that! In 2018 we might be below 30!

The clever people will have already realised this and invested in stuff that will take advantage of the existence of so many young people – besides big ticket items like electricity out of massive dams – ranging from more schools to more toy imports and local toy manufacturing.

2018 is going to be the year of all manner of things that our parents – those of us old enough to actually be reading this article – would never have dreamed of.

When you speak with primary school children, for instance, and ask them what they want to be when they grow up, they will say stuff like: “NeuroAtomic Scientist” and “Robotologist” and “Life Tone Adjuster”.

Those jobs will not be in actual existence yet, but the kids will have their sights on them and so will the academicians. See, the future is already here, we are being told, and it will not require lawyers and doctors and people with other regular jobs.

A colleague of mine told me how her multinational employer (soft drink beverages) had this year started to do away with their big, global Audit Firm because of the concept of big data and computer-generated robotic analytics.

Because the computers of today are so clever, apparently, they only need to have more information fed into them and they will think and analyse just like a human being does but in the millionth of time we do.

The Audit Firm is flabbergasted right now but considering that in the developed world supermarkets are employing robots to carry shopping and manage the payment tills, think how many jobs we will have left soon.

Of course, we don’t have that problem in such a big way yet but technology is wiping out some of our regular jobs – “Nanti Google yajja!” (“Google came, so…”) is already pushing out jobs that used to be so knowledge based that some people were gods – Doctors, Lawyers, Economists…

Today before you take the Doctor’s word for it from Abim to Zombo, everyone will have first done a quick google to check the symptoms, making the conversation with the doctor a kind-of “I dare you to get this right” guessing game.

This lugezi gezi will increase almost tenfold in 2018, since we will have more smartphones in circulation and bundles (properly pronounced ‘bandwidth’) will be much, much cheaper and easier to access – not to mention the number of apps that are going to continually be rolled out by thousands of innovative ICT-nurtured youth. 

We ordinary mortals can only imagine the irritation by comparing it to the times we are doing homework with the children and trying not to google the right answers, only for the whippersnappers to challenge us – having googled the stuff themselves earlier in the day!

But we won’t break out into violent parenting methods, thank God. There are enough threats of violence around us without our adding to the pile – from the United States to North Korea and even some regional sabre rattling over here.

Luckily, none of these will come to fruition – most of 2018 will be like that time Kiiza Besigye and Kale Kayihura shook hands and smiled at each other just weeks after one of them had been let out of a police cell.

Speaking of politicians, after all this excitement of #Togikwatako we will have at least one surprise in 2018 – a young (REALLY YOUNG) politician with charisma, eloquence, poise and even serious local backing, stepping forward to declare his (not her) interest in the Presidential seat.

The name and identity of the candidate won’t be as much of a surprise as the fact that he (or she) puts themselves forward – and I am not talking about any popular musician here!

The youthfulness of the candidate is to be expected, what with our demographics, and we will then have to address ourselves to any other factors that come into play with these young new people.

That youthful politician will talk about cryptocurrencies as if they are about to be introduced in Amolatar and Isingiro, but again that will not surprise us either.

See, in 2018 there will be more cryptocurrency-genic people living and working outside of Kampala. One major advantage of all the internet connectivity we are seeing these days is the ability it gives people to work from anywhere they please.

Rather than live and work in Kampala, more young and upcoming professionals are going to move out of the capital city to take up residence in rural settings with less stress.

Because Kampala can cause you to have a nervous breakdown. All the traffic, bad driving, erratic road works and phone snatching roadside thieves will push many impatient and imaginative young people to take up cheaper accommodation well outside of the city and even Wakiso.

These young people won’t be employed by the big multinational companies – small and medium scale companies are going to be as flexible as their larger cousins, providing the internet access for their younger staff to be able to perform money-earning tasks from remote districts.

Some of these youngsters, unfortunately, will be the ones responsible for some high level crime as seen on TV. Not corruption related crime as such – that will still be in plenty since as a people and a society we have gone down that path quite consistently for many years now – but that terrible crime that makes us wince when we see it on TV.

The kidnappings we are going to deal with this year, and serial killers, and blackmailers are going to be much, much more serious than what we have talked about in 2017 – mostly in ignorance.

Now that we are binge-watching crime thrillers by way of pirated DVDs and subscribing to pay TV packages that are cheaper than the price of a litre of milk daily, there are going to be many more twisted criminal minds out within these borders. It will not be pretty.

Provided we don’t grow the type of gun culture that countries like the United States has developed, we will be fine. 

See, we will continue to be optimistic during 2018 and we will continue chant things like “Hakuna Mchezo” and “Buy Uganda, Build Uganda”.  We MUST.

I know – a lot of this sounds like a dream. 

But we should dream – provided we spend less time sleeping in order to have those dreams, and more time actually putting them into practice.

we will soon have boulders thrown at us if we aren’t mindful of the disadvantaged

WhatsApp Image 2017-12-01 at 20.24.22
The smaller rocks by the roadside. Photo by Simon Kaheru

OF recent I have taken up a new daily commute down a road that presents nostalgic value that will be the subject of another tale some day.

This marram road, going through a small trading centre whose real name I am yet to establish, helps me cut my commute by about half on most days.

Sometimes, though, the strategy is confounded by external factors such as heavy rain and truck drivers who care very little about anything five metres away from their steering wheels.

One such time a couple of weeks ago, a couple of container carrying trucks got stuck into the muddy marram and blocked progress at rush hour. We found ourselves turning around and following a fellow who knew a route that went through a village called Kireku – and I still don’t know how we knew to follow that driver.

As we navigated the narrow dirt road squeezing past houses angled randomly, we got to a group of little children chanting and waving us along. I was astounded when I got close enough to hear their chants.

“Mutuviire! Mutuviire! Mutuviire!” they repeated, all smiles as if they were singing that “You are wellokam” song. (‘Mutuviire’ means, “Depart from us” or “Leave our space”!)

There are horror movies that follow this theme – using small children doing surprisingly cold things while smiling to catch you off guard. I drove home silently pondering over who could have coached those children to gather and chant like that.

Back in the day, or in most other places (I presume) little children like that would wave smilingly at you as you drove past.

Then last week, driving through the dust in the evening behind one of many reckless drivers along that road, I noticed him swerving quickly into the centre of the road. I normally drive slowly because of visibility through that thick brown dust, and I am outnumbered by the stupid, selfish people who speed right through it from one end to the other.

Those are the drivers who don’t care at all for the residents along that road, always raising piles of dust that settles quickly onto the clothes, food and wares of the people living and operating in those shacks, kiosks and houses set admittedly too close to the road.

The idiotic driver in front of me that day, who was speeding behind an equally idiotic driver, was forced to swerve quickly into the middle of the road because of the realisation  that there was a boulder in his path. I saw that boulder, about three metres high and a couple of metres thick, in good time and calmly evaded it.

In the morning, going the other way, I noticed that there was an increasing number of such rocks and boulders in the road. They were placed specifically at points designed to force drivers to slow down and raise less dust or splash less water, depending on the weather.

That was a fair enough intervention, I thought to myself, and even though I could only imagine the discomfort of the residents from the speeding  vehicles I was worried about the malice involved in placing the rocks and boulders.

Many of the small piles were positioned, like the boulder of the evening before, in such a way as to trap cars one way or another. That malice, was borne out of those residents being fed up of the mindlessly selfish manner in which drivers speed down that road raising dust or muddy water with little regard for the little people living and working right there.

Personally, I continue to drive carefully and pledge to always be mindful of those residents so that I don’t run into one of those boulders, and I hope other drivers take this into account as well.

I have a lot to say about how mindless we are as road users, and how we will fully deserve to run into massive boulders one day. Those who speed around with convoys and sirens, the ones who skip lanes and create traffic jams, the ones who drive up on our miserable pavements and push pedestrians off…the list is long.

And I fear this is not just about roads, but soon we will hear more chants of “Mutuviire” from the most unlikely sources. And if we are not well mannered enough to think of others as we do what we do, we should be scared or threatened into being mindful of the little people by the side of the road…before they pick up those boulders and actually throw them at us.