the versatile blogger award

versatile-blogI’VE collided with this assignment quite by random and will endeavour (FACT ONE – Endeavour Uganda was the name of the first company I ever registered right after I finished my University Degree; it was a tourism promotion company that could, if we were ever struck by the need, build ships)…<—I apologise for using those three dots so early in this one-post relationship (FACT TWO – I tend to use those three dots a lot because I am shy – in real life and also when writing. I can’t explain that quirk because most people seem to have a very different idea about me, both in real life and when reading what I write…anyway, prepare to step out of the parentheses to complete the sentence we started at the beginning of this paragraph and connect the dots)…to stick to the rules.
(FACT THREE – I sometimes appear to stickle, most manifestly when writing and editing, but also in real life. It amuses my children, and irritates my wife though she is secretly happy whenever I do it…I think…, and it infuriates the ordinary mortals I come into contact with, most especially those who find comfort in mediocrity because they discovered long ago that lowering one’s standards makes it easy to appear to excel – which makes me a problem to them in presence and in fact.)
The rules of this assignment are straightforward, from what my nominator – a word I doubt having ever used before – posted, and I paste them below so that the persons I nominate – called nominees, which is a more popular term – find it easy to carry this tradition on until we are called up to receive this Award to much fanfare narrated by a trending twitter hashtag and featured on millions of timelines:
RULE 1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
(FACT FOUR – I give thanks A LOT! My daily prayers are  almost a litany of thanks to God, and if there is one thing I want to pass on to my children it is the readiness to give thanks; I had it passed down to me by my parents, to whom and for who I give thanks, and I give thanks to God that I have been given the opportunity to teach my children how to give thanks.)
I therefore find it easy to give thanks to Joel for nominating me – and for being such an avid blogger and a serious Ugandan (which I have only surmised from reading his blog these so many months).
RULE 2. Nominate at least 15 bloggers of your choice. When considering a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, keep in mind the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subject matter and the level of love displayed on the virtual page.
(FACT FIVE – Contrary to the last bit of this rule, I do not believe there is a high level of love displayed on my virtual page, which makes me comfortable blogging. I am extremely uncomfortable with public displays of affection, which discomfort began dissipating when I started being a father. Now, visually step out of the parentheses for the rest of this…)
First of all, right there before you visually stepped out of the parentheses I was itching to use the phrase “step over” but that would have required me to use the singular for that pair of parentheses, which word I cannot find at short notice. ‘Parenthesis’ refers to a word (look it up yourself) rather than one of the brackets that form the pair of parentheses I have had you hop in and out of.
Back to the Rule, though, luckily for me, it does not say that the ‘level of love’ displayed needs to be high or low, so I will therefore use my discretion to select my nominees, who are:
(I do not like leaving so many people out, so these are the fifteen who have come to mind this evening, and I left out an eleven-year old boy just so I don’t appear overly nepotistic, but I have him in mind as I type this:)
7. Stompie (You guys don’t know this name) 
10. Norah
12. Paul
13. Aur
15. Zelah
This list is too short for it to be fair, and everybody who isn’t on it must not develop those uncomfortable, unhealthy feelings, because we need not justify why we chose who we chose…we being nominators (twice in one day!). Today being a Saturday, my thoughts were mostly themed along lines that probably reveal themselves in the collection of bloggers I have chosen. (FACT SIX: I love Uganda and always try to find a way of highlighting our positives, or correcting our negatives so we can stand out. This is where my family lives, and so I must make it my paradise, so that my family can be happy. The objective that some call ’the pursuit of happiness’ came to me in childhood because of our social and political environment, that was so despondent that we little people had to find ways of fighting back with our spirits. Being happy was hard, but not impossible, and that’s why I found myself voluntarily avoiding negative influences – since life around me had more than enough of them without my adding to them by watching sad movies or reading thrillers in which children died and crime went unpunished. To this day, there are many popular icons of entertainment I have deliberately let go by just so I can be happy; likewise, and more seriously, I go down paths unpopular for most just so my family can be happy…because if we are all happy, Uganda will be happy.)
RULE 3: Link your nominees and let them know about their nomination.
QED. I like the way this either stands for Quite Easily Done or Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Don’t ask which teacher in my past wrote the latter onto my answer sheet because that is as irrelevant to this post as this post would be to the question I was responding to that warranted said abbreviation elaborated in latin.
RULE 4: Share seven facts about yourself. You will find that I have done so, and a little bit more because, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I am a Writer. (FACT SEVEN: I am a writer. I have always been a writer. Just the day before yesterday I was thinking back to when I first started writing – at the age of three or four…yes, I kid you not, and I believe the evidence exists somewhere in the files that my father fastidiously keeps arranged in cabinets locked up tighter than cash-laden safes. Cash holds less value in our home than our memories do, and many of those memories have been recorded, in writing and photography. I am a writer, I know, because I would rather put my feelings down on paper by medium of lead and ink than speak from the mind. My pens are in my last will and testament. Buying a pencil is still as exciting today as it was back when I was a child – more, actually, since I can afford more pencils now than I could back then. I have notebooks that serve the function of comforter blankets, that I reach for when anxious to be assuaged by the sight of blank pages on which I can squeeze words in the event of a disaster. If the world suddenly threatened to come to an end, would I get to write about it? I hope so. Because I am a writer. A writer who blogs. A blogger who writes.

filling up a #UgBlogWeek quota

I’M the guy sitting in a restaurant that offers reliably free wi-fi, where I stopped over to get some work done as the evening came to a close and the traffic had piled up in a way that was threatening my promise to a client that I would “email it tonight”.

That “I’ll email tonight” is the supplier equivalent of offering to pay the bill at the end of the evening when one is dining at an expensive restaurant in a very platonic arrangement.

It is impolite to let the first offer stand if you’re a client.

Every time I say those words to a client I suffer mental anguish as I think about the one hundred and one things that can make that promise turn into the reason why I get dropped as a supplier.

Those one hundred and one things could be anything – one hundred and one badly driven vehicles causing a traffic jam right from the gates of the client’s premises to the next point I can set up my laptop and type out the email, or fifty five of those vehicles plus 45 boda bodas and one traffic police person who can’t keep traffic flow fair.

(I did the maths there properly, I think.)

If you live in Kampala then you know that traffic police person – the one who has obviously never driven a vehicle in their lives and therefore cannot begin to click how infuriating it is to sit there and see three hundred cars in the other line being allowed to go, then only four in your line before it is stopped for another three hundred in the other one.

That one hundred and one things could be a combination in any order of low battery life on your gadgets, electricity outages, internet being off or slow, someone visiting for tea, the children insisting on 88 different distractions…

That’s why I’m the guy in the free wi-fi restaurant – I’d rather kill that time sitting in a place where I can send all those emails, download a couple of things (polite) and then upload something like this without pulling out hair.

When I have a driver (including the special hire guy) and my batteries are sufficiently charged up then I skip the wi-fi allure of the restaurant and power up in the back seat so I am out of the restaurant faster. Clients are blown away by such speed and efficiency, though I know it sometimes sets a bad precedent and creates unrealistic expectations in them.

Plus, one needs time and coffee with a snack in order to fashion a proper email to a client.

Hence my being the guy sitting in a restaurant that offers free wi-fi, who has finally sent the client the email I promised I would send just before I stepped out of their building to find traffic lined up end-to-end, and my laptop and phone batteries both dead on account of having had them on during the lengthy meeting with same said client.

I’m also the guy looking at this bill and trying to compute whether this money would have been better spent in an internet cafe over the same couple of hours. But then there, I wouldn’t have had these drinks and that snack, in these comfy chairs, with the nice background music…

…and I’d probably be filling up my #UgBlogWeek quota of the day with something significantly different. Something better thought out. Something you would be reading now and nodding your head at instead of going SMDH.

If you had a look at my bill you’d sympathise and be thankful instead of complaining that this is a rip-off.

And if you’re that client and you’re reading this then next time feel free to jump in next time I promise to email you “tonight” and insist that I send you the damn email on Monday instead?

Fridays are NOT made for this nonsense.

#UgBlogWeek tips for the bloggers in Uganda and beyond

I HOPE tThis is a helpful contribution to #UgBlogWeek – especially for those who are finding it hard to either blog or get their blogs seen by the rest of the world.

This is a list of tips that are easy to implement and that should be useful this week and into the future of Ugandans blogging more than the other stuff we do.

1. Use the easiest-to-reach Writing Prompts: Unless (or even if) your blog is theme- or topic-specific, you can write about almost anything. The word ‘blog’ is shortened from “weblog” – as they started off by people keeping a log on a website of what they were doing through the day. It was the precursor of the social media updates that we do today, which have become more interactive and conversational.

So when writing a blog one can choose any topic and go for it, without being pressured to make it a certain length or keep it from being too short.

One tool that some writers use in order to get started is the ‘Writing Prompt’ – which is a phrase or statement or word that they pick up on to start a story off. Writing Prompts exist anywhere – conversations, books, articles, newspaper pages, adverts, overheard snippets, SMS messages, anything.

To kick off your daily blog, open the blank ‘New Post’ page then look around for these prompts and kick off when one catches your fancy.

And the reason I’m suggesting the easiest-to-reach ones is so that you don’t unleash your research skills upon an unsuspecting reader who might have a phobia for the deeply academic and will collapse at around paragraph 367 (a) (iii) citation 4.13.278 et al…

2. Maintain a note book: I use both an electronic one and an ordinary paper note book. The note book is the writer’s most powerful weapon – not the pen. The pen is to the gun as the note book is to fire practice. If you always have a note book handy then you will always catch brilliant thoughts that would ordinarily go whizzing out of your mind leaving a lingering memory that will disturb you for a long, long time and only return in full two days after you have published.

A note book by the side of your bed, in your pocket and always within easy reach will ensure that you never let anything go by.

(You have to be awkward to expect the next line to be ‘Keep a Pen or Pencil or Charcoal handy’ – either that, or your fingers have a little outlet for ink/blood to be used for imprinting purposes).

3.Write with simplicity: Refer again to the origin of ‘blog’. Don’t over complicate your writing otherwise it will confound most people. Of course, that is not to say that you should adopt those irritating abbreviations and colloquialisms that are so pervasive in our societal setting <— you see? Avoid that type of kaboozi but keep your writing decipherable (is that a big word, also?)

I can’t genuinely maintain this line of thought without revealing a little of my grammatical special forces experience. Do NOT write carelessly! Simplicity does not mean carelessness – which is why ‘Dress Code: Smart Casual’ means you can wear a t-shirt but ensure it is not wrinkled, does not bear dirty words, and is NOT a vest or piece of underclothing. Sandals are not permitted, so if you abbreviate words like “Okay” to “k” in your ordinary life, ensure that in your blog post they are only made part of quoted conversation.

But back to reality: write what you like, the way you want to write it. I am not your only blog reader, and you need as many as you can get to follow your blog and keep following it. Nobody writes for Everybody, so focus on your following and write for them.

4.Use the Follow button: This seems to be a sensible place to insert the tip about a ‘Follow’ button. Ensure that you have this button visibly positioned on your blog so that everybody reading it can click follow.

Follow skaheru.001

Don’t click on that one up there, it’s just a picture.

5. Use Images: And that’s another thing – use images as often as possible. They break up text and make a blog more appealing. Don’t use too many unless your blog is a picture blog (are those called ‘plogs’ the way video blogs are called ‘vlogs’?)

But do keep in mind that the vast majority of Ugandans online find surfing (I am not sure whether we still use this term) expensive, so pictures and videos might turn them off.

Just a couple here and there are good enough.

6. Tag Wisely: The tag is a simple word one appends to your blog to help determine how it shows up in searches. The tag is very important because if it is wisely chosen then your blog will pop up higher in the order when someone is doing research and types out ‘tag’ in the search box. Make your tag relevant, easy-to-remember and popular, but also try to make your tag unique so the blog shows up higher when someone is searching for your unique topic.

I have no examples to give you.

7. Because Size Matters: Don’t make your blog posts too long – you also have the option of writing and publishing a novel instead. That’s why I’m stopping here.

#UGblogDAY – today and every Thursday


Mwe Ugandan bloggers!
Please let’s get serious about this blogging that some of us claim as a job title, occupation or symbol of our social and intellectual status.
Let’s actually blog, not in the original sense of the word where we just log our every activity on the web (surely, you must know this – ‘web-log’ turning into ‘blog’ probably via ‘we-blog’), but by blogging – coming up with interesting notes and comments published on personal pages on the web and attracting much commentary.
These thoughts came to me last Thursday while I was being held hostage by the blog of a fellow Ugandan.
It found me minding my own business, traipsing through my digital forest with it’s lush tropical trees of client reports, overdue presentations and requests for proposals, occasionally kicking listlessly at the little flowering mobile phone apps by the side of the path.
For hours that day, I had managed to resist distractions from the wildlife – the ugly trolls under timelines and the cute, friendly fauna that social media presents in numbers so large that one wonders why we’re not all engaged in the tourism business.
But then I spotted that blogpost and couldn’t resist it’s allure. It held me rapt in the corner of the blogclub, looking so deep into its eyes I couldn’t hear the soundtrack the office DeeJay was playing until it was too late and the blogpost’s doors slammed shut behind me. Without ceremony, the blogger passed me on to one of her mates who kicked me on to the next…
…an hour later, I was being kicked to another blog, my mind bruised and battered by the kicks of wit and my skin stinging from the acidic drops of satire…
I was eventually released, sides aching from bouts of NN (Nsesse Nnyo), after the intervention of a rather impatient client who reminded everyone that he was paying the bills for my time. <—See? We are allowed to do this while blogging; with no regard for the reader or our english grammar teachers or even our parents, if we choose not to care.
Which is why I am asking, nay, BEGGING! Mbasaba n’obuwoombeefu. Tafadhaali.
Write. Blog. Post. MORE!
Blog, banange! Write more blogs, Ugandans! Post stuff the way you want to post it fwaaaa or even fwaaaaa-ga!
You guys are interesting. Some of you are hilarious. Some of you are funny. Some of you are just there. A few of you are downright boring, but worth reading all the same, so that the trolls can bare their ugliness, because what else is a troll to do but troll?
But please: Write. Blog. Post. MORE!
Look at the Kenyans for inspiration, if you must. Of course they are more than we are in number, and because of that they seem wittier, but I swear there are nights I get mesmerised by my Twitter TimeLine because of ordinary Ugandans saying ordinary things in such an extraordinarily funny way that I wonder where you guys were when those comedy shows began.
From today I will be reading as many blogs as possible written by Ugandans.
My Thursday is now called #UGblogDAY.
For me.
Send me all the blogs you’ve written and I’ll read them and comment under them and tweet the links to them.
If you’re shy, use a pseudonym (NOT Simon Kaheru). But write.
We’ve tried this before, in many different ways, but for some reason the energy keeps fizzling out.
But we can’t keep bursting out in occasional good ideas then going back into literambulance. That ka-word there is supposed to be a combination of literacy and somnambulance but it has come out looking like literature inside an ambulance – which is where we honestly are on the road of global online intellectual expression.
Inside some ambulance that is caught in the traffic of Kenyan bloggers, Nigerian musicians, American commentators on YouTube videos and trolls of indeterminate origin. We are as-if on life support.
We occasionally blaze our hazard lights and sound a siren to try and create space but they see us coming and ignore us with that, “Ah! You jump over!” signal.
We’ve got to take control. Grab the internet by the blog. Unsheath your words deep into the belly of the blogosphere and kill it!
Like that, like that. (I told you, blogs come with ZERO rules except – BLOG!)
There is no kawunyemu here.
Don’t force yourself to write in english only – especially if you aren’t proficient in the use of the language or familiar with Partridge’s ‘Usage and Abusage’.
Don’t feel constrained to write about politics and what not  – there is enough of that to go around already.
You don’t need to write about sex, drugs and alcohol – even though those three provide the fuel for the best of our (polite) most entertaining activities.
Kwegamba, lose yourself in kaboozi of a written nature on the internet.
And, most of all, make your blogpost public with the hashtag #UGblogDAY – on Twitter, on Facebook and in emails.
At the very least, write a blog post telling other Ugandans to write blog posts and to use #UGblogDAY.
Then, after that, go to as many Ugandan blogs as possible and make the comment #UGblogDAY under any or every one of their posts so that they know about it, and get others to know about their blogs.
My day is Thursday – join me or choose your own day.
But let’s get more Ugandans writing blog posts!