Jeremy Clarkson, Uganda LOVES You!


Into the abyss

There is a man called Jeremy Clarkson. He is a global media celebrity. If you’ve never heard of him maybe your media consumption is limited to Kampala-based tabloids, FM stations with a small radius of coverage and you have no satellite, if any, TV.

I am one of his fans. He is truly entertaining as British media people go: funny, irreverent, pointed, straight-talking and get-your-hands-dirty (particularly if it’s about cars and vehicles and stuff). He also has a weekly column that is good reading.

He is a husband and a father, and comes from good stock complete with the wealthy family.

That’s Jeremy Clarkson.

He was in town (Kampala, Uganda) this week reportedly filming for Top Gear, one of my (and millions, nay, billions) of other people’s favourite BBC TV show (now you remember him, right?).

Many of us yuppie-elite-city-dwelling-BBC-watching-petrolhead-wannabe types were beside ourselves with excitement at the possibility of bumping into him; and there were many sightings of him at the Serena, Bubbles O’Leary, The Junction…some places just started claiming he was there to get a bit of free publicity because the man is a celeb.

One of the fans, in despair at failing to meet this TV legend, spent a day googling him just to get close to him somehow and came across a column entry from September 2011 titled, “My Daughter And I Stepped Over The Body And Into The Brothel”

I read the article in half-disbelief hoping his irreverent comedic style would come to the fore but it didn’t. He seemed to be taking this seriously.

Apparently, his visit to Uganda last year was based on a domestic policy that has him taking his kids somewhere educational once every year.

Hence: “I’ve seen poverty in my travels…but nothing prepares you for the jaw-dropping horror of a Ugandan slum.”

Yeah – Jeremy Clarkson, global media celebrity and possibly graduate of a British educational institution of note, took his daughter to a slum for her annual spot of education about the world. And into a brothel in that slum. A place not many Ugandans have been to, I might point out – myself inclusive.

Of course, he doesn’t anywhere in the story tell us about the more posh slums he has visited with his children, but who cares?

The rest of the story is the usual idiocy – including a claim that “…in a two-hour walk I didn’t see a single girl under the age of 18…” They don’t survive (AIDS)”’

And this got published in the Sunday Times. In 2011. The same year the Sunday Vision over here photographed him with a fan at Quality Cuts, where he probably had a sumptuous meal of a quality you won’t find in many Surrey restaurants.

You can understand such drivel being published back in the 1800s when the Speke’s and Livingstone’s sent dispatches back to England about what they had found here, because they were the first foreigners to pop over and there was no way of verifying it.

But today?

Well I guess it’s what is expected of him, so I won’t challenge him to a duel lest he pens another piece about being mugged in the jungle or something  – however much we’d enjoy that (yeah – go figure which part).

His column on a visit to the Third World just wouldn’t be interesting if he said he’d dined at hotels with plush furnishings such as the Serena, Emin Pasha, Speke Resort, Paraa or Chobe Lodges; if he’d told his readers that Ugandans actually drive cars on tarmac roads and wear clothes that are sometimes bought brand new from the same clothing stores as the rest of the world does.

His readers would have been bored to read about the Ugandans who know how to read and write. Who actually put away three square meals a day – or try not to in order to lose some weight (ahem) just like many of those Brits you see on TV do.

Ugandans with internet access. Who can use computers. Who solve problems on a global scale at various private corporations and non-governmental bodies such as the UN and World Food Programme.

Ugandans who work hard at what they do – be it tilling land, grazing cows or making the art & crafts pieces that Clarkson probably bought a piece or two to take back to Surrey with him – the same way I always buy one or two to put at home in Mutungo.

Ugandans who spend money on Clarkson’s books. All of them. And who buy Top Gear DVD sets. Or used to, till today.

Clarkson’s only report of Kampala is from his visit to the slum. And he probably believed he was doing us a favour in some way by raising charitable emotions amongst people in the UK who have money.

For the record, Clarkson (and make sure your daughter reads this bit for her education): poor people everywhere don’t need handouts and charity. The money you spent in that brothel and in the bars you visited is much more important than the comic relief or Live Aid contributions.

But now, let me introduce Jeremy Clarkson to you again, only this time let’s meet him in a brothel in a Kampala slum, where he probably spent the visit here with his daughter since he doesn’t say where they spent their nights during the educational visit.

And we meet him after he’s had too many Nile Specials amongst some other treats and is now squatting over a filthy latrine:

Jeremy Clarkson is a big, white man with grey disheveled hair who squats over a filthy latrine noisily creating a splatter against the floor that I am certain gets onto his shoes. You’ve got to question the morals of a man who spends so much time in the cheapest and filthiest brothels of Kampala, but more so because he takes his children with him.

Luckily, nobody can accuse him of paedophilia or worse, because he only drinks a number of beers at the low-set coffee table with his daughter, who doesn’t complain either, so we must assume that he is a good father.

Unfortunately, considering the number of people who acquire the deadly AIDS scourge from interactions in these cheap brothels, we might not be seeing much more of Clarkson in the near future…

I could go on with this selective reporting but perhaps instead I’ll just move on and try not to spend too much money on anything that might end up funding another visit of the Clarkson household to a Ugandan slum, or prison, or mortuary.

And maybe the Top Gear report on Uganda will say a few good things about us. Just maybe – but that doesn’t pay back for the rot he’s written about us before.

We love you, Jeremy Clarkson, but we love Uganda more!