have YOU written your last will and testament yet? what are you waiting for?


Taken from http://www.thebalance.com

THE conversation has come up often since I first decided to write my Last Will and Testament.

Early this year it has come up more as my lugezi-gezi made me share my year’s plan around, and some have been taken aback at the entry regarding updating my Last Will and Testament.

At first, after getting the WTH’s out of the way I would explain my process and people rarely bought it, but agreed to write their own in a way that told me they needed the conversation to end quickly.

So it would.

And after many such endings I developed a different method that has worked well so far this year.

First, I stopped telling people that writing one’s Last Will and Testament was expected of anyone who had attended school for long enough to write full sentences in English.

So far, I have found that it is not yet realistic to hold the expectation for everybody to understand that acknowledging one’s mortality does not necessarily invite terminal proof.

So I dropped all indications of that in my approach.

Instead, I have started telling people to consider the Last Will and Testament as a challenge to focus them on achieving their annual objectives.

See, in your Last Will and Testament you are forced to consider everything that you own and can bequeath to your loved ones. From a strictly material point of view, therefore, you will have to list all the property and assets that you have against your name.

One friend, who will remain unnamed for now, squinted almost in pain when I said this.

“But…but…” he sputtered a little bit: “I have NOTHING!”

“There you go!” I said, triumphantly, “THAT’S why you have to check that document every single year.”

I explained that point a little further:

Starting the year out by realising that at your ripe old adult age you have accumulated less than you would want to leave behind for your children could make you spend less on pork and whisky and more on chunks of soil identified by land titles.

Computing your official net worth should you suddenly stop being productive, and working out how long your dependants would survive in material comfort thereafter could lower the priority you accord to leisurely frolics over weekends.

Away from the worldly possessions themselves, you will find it interesting to evaluate which of your friends and relatives you actually trust enough to raise your children and keep your home running in comfort without breaking sensitive barriers.

Should your analysis be difficult, you have a whole year ahead to culture, cultivate and create meaningful relationships that will not fade into dust on your departure.

Your Last Will and Testament, ladies and gentlemen, is a serious document.

In fact, just contemplating it and knowing that you haven’t yet written one should also guide some of your actions. If you haven’t written one, for instance, you would be even more stupid than normal to take a boda-boda without a helmet.

The thought of you dying without having deposited a Will with your trusted compadres should horrify you – what will they say at your funeral? Do you want your children to forever think you were so intellectually challenged as to neglect leaving behind a plan for them?

There are more worries than can fit into one article in one day. To short-cut the rest of it just write your Last Will and Testament as an essential part of your 2019 life plan.

When it kicks into effect you won’t be alive to regret doing so, but your loved ones will be alive to not regret your having failed to write one.

my soap dish says happy new year!

my soap dish says happy new year!

AS the old year ended a focus point to aid one of my personal actions in 2019 – what some people refer to as a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ – showed up in my soap dish.

I won’t go into the reasons why I make use of a lot of soap, but believe me when I say it is a crucial item for me wherever I go and I tend to develop near-personal relationships with these inanimate objects.

I have learnt how to stick to a brand for years on end.

A long time ago I made a decision to drop the brand of soap I had gotten stuck to and opted for any Ugandan soap. I went from brand to brand and just couldn’t find the right one for my ablutions.

One day I even found myself placing an order for a regular supply of some green cakes from Katosi Primary School, where the pupils had been taught how to manufacture it using avocado and herbs. Their offerings were so smooth and aromatic that I bought up way too many pieces and two months later was regretfully throwing them out as they had disintegrated into an indescribable mush.

That’s one thing about making this life-changing (for others, not oneself) decision to steadfastly support Ugandan-made products – I have learnt to insist on high quality products that can replace the imported ones that take the money we spend to other countries.

So imagine my pleasure, some months ago, at discovering the ‘Body Milk’ product by Movit! The very next day I was back at the supermarket stocking up on this soap and I have never looked back – even when the cost went up from Ushs2,200 to Ushs2,500.

Image from http://www.movit.co.ug (which I am sure they will NOT complain about!)

It got to the point that I always bought an extra cake during any supermarket visit even if I’d walked in to buy a pack of breath mints, just to ensure that I had a reliable domestic supply should a sudden shortage occur.

Which brings me to the soap dish that startled me into what one could call a ‘Resolution’.

At one point late last year I stopped finding Movit Body Milk on the shelves of the supermarkets I visited. After many trips I started noticing a foreign brand of soap – bigger in size than my favourite Movit Body Milk – was suddenly available at a discounted price of Ushs6,500 for a pack of three.

I succumbed and bought up a pack, then got so taken by it that whenever I went searching for Movit Body MIlk I emerged with this new brand of soap. This went on for a couple of weeks till I checked my values and rebuked myself.

I went further and further until, in a district very far removed from my normal operating zone, I found the right soap and picked up enough to last most of this month.

The allure and shine of the intruder brand is still with me, as is its scent since it sits wet next to my Movit Body Milk, but my resolve is stronger.

It might have been a coincidence that my Made-In-Uganda Movit went scarce just as this foreign soap made it’s promotional appearance, but suppose there was a sinister plan afoot here? Wouldn’t that be plain economic sabotage on a national scale? I think so.

How many Movit employees’ jobs would be at risk if we all stopped buying their products? How much would the government lose in PAYE and other Taxes? What would our future look like if all these employees’ pension fund savings suddenly stopped?

If we let the likes of Movit disappear from the supermarket shelves, and our soap dishes, how will our children ever know that Ugandans can make good quality products? If we don’t create, develop, support and buy more and more Ugandan products than the imported ones, how will we motivate our children and grandchildren to invent and innovate?

Hence my 2019 action plan entry this year – to further promote Ugandan products and Uganda at every turn and corner, with a specific objective of giving at least fifty (50) products some good visibility within these borders and abroad.

If we all do this and also put our money where our mouths are, I honestly believe we will have a bigger, more promising economy to hand down to the next generation, and much more reason to declare things like: Happy New Year!

we need to become serious – on a national level. all of us.


Child in front seat
NOT Uganda – but an ignorant parent doing that daft thing of having a child sit on their lap in the front seat as they drive. (Photo from quora.com)

Forgive me because I am angry about the Lake Victoria Boat Tragedy that has consumed us in many ways for over a week. My anger is as justified as yours, having lost a close relative in the tragedy, besides other people I knew.

But I am not as angry at how unnecessary this tragedy was, as I am irritated by how many bright ideas everyone suddenly seems to have about how it could have been avoided yet we risk life and limb daily in so many ways.

Too many people in this country do not take life seriously – or, said differently, too many people in this country don’t take the avoidance of death seriously.

Among the people rightly and loudly declaring that the boat operators should have provided life jackets and the victims should have worn them, for instance, are people who we see every single day driving round without seat belts even if these seat belts are provided in their motor vehicles.

Some of these people, in spite of their education levels, often drive around with their infant children seated in the front seat of their cars – highly discouraged by all safety experts and even casual observers who might not be educated but can think critically. To make matters worse, most of these children wouldn’t be wearing seat belts in the back seats of those vehicles either!

Many other Ugandans hop onto boda-bodas in Kampala’s stiff traffic and flatly refuse to wear helmets. Some will use flimsy reasons like the lack of hairnets to presumably protect them from lice as if lice is a bigger problem than the effect of slamming one’s head against the ground at a high rate of progress.

The number of stupid things we do that put our lives at risk every single day are confounding and probably cause more deaths on a daily basis than the highly visible tragedy that hit us so hard this weekend.

Few of the people on that boat appear to have lacked a university degree, meaning that they knew – from primary school lessons – about the need for life jackets, and other safety measures. Too few of us think about this every day.

Because we tend to think more of what is on the surface than the foundation of things, too few of us are ready change our behavior so that we save more lives – including our own.

Some people have said the capsized boat was poorly maintained – which is highly likely to be true, judging from reports I heard more than a year ago about the same vessel. So, how many of us are maintaining our personal vehicles properly every single day – equipping them with all the right protective equipment including fire extinguishers and even first aid boxes?

When we buy our second-hand, twenty-year old vehicles, discarded from other countries mostly for reasons of the personal safety of their original owners and the environment of their countries of origin, do we first clean them out and tool them for roadworthiness in Uganda, for our own personal safety and the environment of this country?

Yes – go and check, then come back to finish reading this.

Vehicles aside, our disregard for preservation for life in spite of all the schooling we undergo is a sign of the concept of education in this country not being translated to life in the real world.

That’s the only explanation that can work for any educated person to entrust the lives and upbringing of their children to a person whose wage value per month is LESS THAN the equivalent of the cost of one week’s groceries in the very same home.

Look, we educated people employ domestic staff whose pay is so low that they wear second-hand underwear and in most cases live unhygienic personal lives of their own, but we expect them to handle our food and our children without passing on a single germ.

During the burial ceremony of Isaac Kayondo, one of the young victims of the Black Weekend, one speaker who went to help with rescue efforts narrated his interaction with askaris at the Marina where boats launched from. It was clear what the caliber of the Askari he spoke to was, and that there was no way the fellow could have stopped a vessel unworthy for travel.

The harrowing stories from the rescue efforts, also, made me think – how many friends do I (read YOU) have who can perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should the need arise? Or any other form of First Aid? Can I (read YOU) do it myself, if a friend is in trouble?

I have even more questions but the right answers to all of them is a change in the way we behave and apply our education to ensuring we live long, healthy, productive lives.

a generation that moved the nation


Malaika Nnyanzi is an erudite and elegant, beautiful and brilliant young lady. She is smart in most respects and so well-spoken that she is often called upon to direct events of a mostly glitzy and glamorous nature.

The World Premiere of the movie 27 Guns was one such event.

The set up in the Metroplex Mall changed that nowadays-dreary venue into a glittering hall offering an array of displays all in support of the story that the movie re-created.

Malaika fitted in very well with the smartly-dressed guests, all in their black bow ties and flowing evening dresses. With her co-EmCee of the night, Dr. Mitch Egwang, she chaperoned our thoughts and kept the tempo high and befitting of a movie premiere of this nature, graced by Citizen Number One – the President himself.

She said one of the most profound things of the night – of which there was no shortage – at the end of the viewing:

“On behalf of all the millennials here and out there, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! I would NEVER EVER have realised what the Bush War meant, what sacrifice, pain and heriosm went into this.”

Her voice was shaking as she said this, and the hesitant microphone didn’t help either. Like most people in that cinema hall, her eyes were quite moist.

Walking out of the camera flashes of the Premiere Reception floor into that dark cinema to spend an hour under flashes of AK-47 and mortar shell fire on screen silenced us all. Going from an hour and a half of looking at three hundred people in smart formal wear into that cinema hall to watch a small band of rag-tag, unkempt men and women in assorted military fatigues was disorienting.

The juxtaposition of the two settings was probably unintended but worked quite well – as will the juxtaposition of the normal, day-to-day lives of the type of people who will be walking or driving off the streets of Kampala into cinema halls to watch 27 Guns.

The movie is not the normal, hero-based fiction that we normally go to cinemas for, but it is not a documentary, as such, either. It is based on real events and recreated according to the accounts – written and verbal – of the people who were there.

In your seat, for those more than one and a half hours, you develop a high sense of trapped anguish along with the combatants and civilians of the time – which, besides the millennials, was most of us in the hall sent back in time.

Malaika’s situation was understandable and proved the success of 27 Guns. If these couple of hours just watching that movie makes one feel this way, imagine what it was really like back then for the people who actually spent all those years in the thick of that action?

But there are two aspects to this movie, that should both be taken seriously.

The Opening Prayer at the Premiere was delivered by Lorna Magara, who captured both quite clearly, “…that this movie will specifically speak to our people, young and old – reminding us of our history and God’s grace over us all these years.” and that the movie be, “…shot out as God’s arrow, silencing every contention against Uganda, speaking not just for Uganda and it’s people but resounding across the world on behalf of all the African people!”

See, after the idea formed and grew in her mind, Natasha Karugire started putting together the elements required to make a movie of this nature but kept getting repulsed and questioned by the world outside of Uganda.

There was so much skepticism about the possibility of the story being interesting on its own and more interest in fictionalising it, that she pulled back and decided to do it herself. Using Ugandans in Uganda and keeping it authentic and realistic. Just as she promised when Isaiah 60 Productions was launched – this was an opportunity for Ugandans to tell their own stories to the world by themselves.

She packed up her crew and cast, headed for the Luwero triangle and months later her strategy had worked, just as the Bush War did 32 years ago. Malaika Nnyanzi’s little speech made that quite clear.

27 Guns Image

kamwe, kamwe, nigwo muganda…you will never get enough of this


Kamwe, Kamwe from newvision.co.ug
Photo from http://www.newvision.co.ug – thank you!

The day Rita Kenkwanzi called my number was extra busy for many reasons and ordinarily I would have left my phone at home to avoid distractions.

I took her call, having no clue who was on the other end, and she quickly introduced herself then explained that “Ralph” had given her my number. I don’t know many Ralph’s but that situation wasn’t critical. She was calling, she said, to thank me for mentioning her book in a recent article and to give me a personalised copy of ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda…and other lessons from my father‘.

“Thank you, but you can simply autograph the copy I have,” I said, but she insisted her end.

It didn’t make sense to me because from my reading of her superb book she was young and very intelligent – surely she should be trying to make as much money off the publication as possible?

We eventually met last weekend and she confirmed my feelings – about the money objective and many other things.

Like its author, ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘ is simple but brilliant, elegantly put together, pointed, positive, unconventional and difficult to get out of one’s head.

When I first started reading the book I got to the second page when I first paused to think about who and how old the author was. I was pleased that she was going to teach me about one of our cultures, and excited that the learning was going to be so eloquently put.

A few more paragraphs in and my mind had began to boggle at how rich this book actually was. I sensed a kindred at her attitude when one publisher she approached with the book asked why her father qualified to be written about.

“Who is he? Is he a politician? Musician? Is he a public figure perhaps?” asked the publisher, who Rita has asked me not to reveal at any point – a pledge I made without elevating it to a promise.

She went ahead until she got it done – which is another reason this book is so meaningful. If more of us out here were like Rita Kenkwanzi this country would reach middle-income status before the promised deadline.

That was one of the reasons I gave her to encourage her to print and sell more copies of ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘.

The other, more serious one, is the reason for the book. She decided, at her father’s 65th birthday celebration, that the man meant so much to her that a speech at the dinner just wouldn’t be enough.

For about three months she combined her literary skill, remarkable energy, curiosity, some money, her old soul and a deep-rooted love of her parents and her culture, and emerged with ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘.

“Friends, we are here,” she writes at the start, “I could have harnessed all my energies to writing a brilliant collection of essays about Nelson Mandela or Kwame Nkrumah but neither of these men took my face in their hands and wiped the traces of soup from the edges of my mouth, before teaching me how to hold my spoon correctly.”

Even stopping there, one would already be a better person.

Rita Kenkwanzi defeated that publisher whose thinking is deep inside an awkward box most of us reside in here in this country; the idea that we only say good things about people we care about when they have died; that we only write or talk about people when they have achieved big things; that our expression of thoughts, ideas and feelings should be verbal rather than written…

I suggested to her that ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘ was the exact opposite of a Funeral Order of Service – it is much more complete; more carefully put together than most; celebrates the life of a person who is living and has therefore read it; and, most of all, it is complete in many ways funerals don’t allow us.

Her father, Christmas Benon Godfrey Kataama, ‘Chris’ for short, is the key focus of her book but Rita introduces us to a large section of her family going back generations. It is a history lesson delivered in a lively fashion by a lively spirit. And she did it so well that there are more people out there following suit!

When I finally sat down with Rita I was taken aback by how consistent she was. ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘ reveals how introverted and yet cheeky she is, which she proved when she told me the Saturday plans I was interrupting.

More: when my pet dogs came frolicking around her she froze in terror – proving the bit in the book when Chris returned home during a lunch hour and she lost valuable time opening the gate for him because the dogs were loose in the compound.

He talked her through it and she let him in, and reading that episode made me warm at the thought of how many fathers raise their daughters in this way – guiding them through their fears, encouraging them to try the impossible, and never giving up on the job.

The more time you spend with her, the more you realise how old this young lady’s soul is. I shook my head when she held up her Polaroid-type instant camera and showed me the last prints she had taken because she “like(s) capturing the moment in the moment…”

Actually, one of the reasons she even read the first article in which I mentioned her book was her old soul and her love of reading. That article was my take on the superb book, ‘The Call Of The Peacock‘ by Mahendra Mehta – and it’s here: https://skaheru.com/2018/07/05/heed-the-call-of-the-peacock/

In that article I mentioned the book, ‘Dream Half Expressed: An Autobiography‘ – written by Mehta’s father, Nanji Kalidas that inspired many to venture out and chase their dreams.

One of those that was inspired by it found a very old copy of the book in his father’s library and has since read it many times over is a mutual friend – Isaac Kayonde – who turns out to be quite close to Rita. Rita herself has been eagerly waiting to get access to it.

When she turned up she had the copy, carefully enclosed in a cellophane wrapper, and presented it to me for my holding and viewing (NOT reading) pleasure. That pleasure will only be exceeded by my one day reading the words in that book.


But back to ‘Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘, I insisted to Rita that she had to print and sell more copies of the book, so that more Ugandans could enjoy and be influenced by it. She was reluctant – her introverted side in control. Her father is quite the same way, and had tried to reject the book as “Too much” when she first presented it.

We argued the point, over printing and selling more copies, till she agreed – provided the proceeds went to a charity or to funding school libraries in her home district.

She is a determined young lady, so I know that this shall come to pass – just as many more of us will be writing our own books to celebrate our loved ones while they are still with us here on earth.

Kamwe, Kamwe, Nigwo Muganda‘ may have started a revolution that many will thank Chris Kataama for. – because he raised her and enriched her life to inspire this beautiful publication.