bicycles in Uganda can make you go dizzy


EVERY so often one falls upon a random story that carries no excitement until one exercises the brain a little bit.

This week it’s about ‘Fred’s Bicycles’, which has further delayed my treatise on the boda-boda mentality that plagues my people and I.

‘Fred’s Bicycles’ was started a few years ago by Jonny Coppel and Tom Freds Bicycle 2Davenport, in London, after Davenport visited Uganda on holiday one year and “…saw the ‘beautiful’ bikes used by farmers in Uganda to ferry cattle…”, at which point “he immediately saw the appeal they might have back home.”

Four years later, the story continues, “the 26-year old strategy consultant and his school friend Jonny Coppel, 25, are selling their own bicycles based on those in Uganda, as well as giving back to the place where it all started.”
I have issues with the “giving back” part of the story because it fits comfortably into the lazy narrative that Europeans have of countries like Uganda, but we will talk about that later in life.

More importantly, this story underscored to me once again the importance of a good education, rather than the instructive one-plus-one-equals-two type of schooling many of us got.

This is not to say that all British young men who visit Uganda are well educated enough to do what Davenport and Coppel did, but the fact that they came over here and identified opportunity out of an item that we actually despise as a sign of poverty and backwardness, means they are well educated.

The two young men also reminded me how much we have around us that we take for granted and yet could be very highly valued elsewhereFreds Bicycle 1 (Their bikes go for £249 each – about Ushs1.1million each).

The bicycles they talk about were not even designed or made in Uganda; from the photos on the website, these are what we used to call Hero bicycles, which eventually gave way to Roadmaster Cycles.

One other website containing a research paper by United States university Professor Jason A. Morris, even states that the Hero Bicycle was “originally built in 1913 for the British military, and it has not changed since”.

This researcher came all the way from the US to Hoima to design a bicycle for Ugandan use to replace the Hero and Roadmaster bicycles. His efforts are available in that research paper but I, personally, know nothing of the results being on the road.

Instead, I know Roadmaster Cycles started assembling bicycles here at some point at a US$6million facility (press reports say) in Nalukolongo in 1993, after seeing the opportunity in a populace that had poor roads then, lots of agricultural activity, and incomes too limited to fund car manufacturing or even assembly.
Surprisingly, to me, their website displays a wide range of products including bicycles for children! And yet, somehow, most monied people are riding mostly second hand bicycles coming in from the same England that Davenport and Coppel are selling their bikes, inspired by Uganda, or bicycles imported from South Africa and further afield.

Confusing?

What about the realisation that on the day I fell upon this story of Uganda’s inspiration, I saw three stories in one newspaper talking about sums of money being earned by Ugandans -Ushs100billion, Ushs15billion and Ushs400million – yet none of these will ever be converted into bicycle manufacture, assembly or anything similar anywhere in the country.

Wait! Wait! What is the most notable bicycle story YOU can think of…? Yes! The one in which Permanent Secretary John Kashaka was convicted over the sham importation of bicycles worth Ushs4billion, right?

You would probably have been less confused about it if the 70,000 bicycles in question there had been ordered direct from the Roadmaster Assembly Plant in Nalukolongo, wouldn’t you?

But according to the Public Procurement and Disposal Authority (PPDA) Investigation Report into the matter, Roadmaster was not even one of the bidders that successfully submitted bids – which list included names such as “Nile Fishing Company Limited and Shinyanga Emporium”.

I swear – go to this link for the full report  and see for yourself!

Yet, in March 2011, Roadmaster Cycles appeared in press reports alongside John Kashaka as he officiated at the distribution of 5,200 bicycles to Parish Chiefs (LCs). The bicycles, read the report, were worth Ushs669million (each just over Ushs128,000 – about a tenth of the cost of Fred’s Bicycles…) – and were distributed at the Roadmaster premises.
Exactly one year later, Roadmaster Cycles registered a complaint with the PPDA because the company had reportedly submitted the lowest bid of Ushs5.2billion for the supply of 30,000 bicycles, but the tender had gone to the wrongly named (for this purpose) Nile Fishing Company Limited who had won the tender to supply the bikes at Ushs6.4billion…
According to press reports, the Permanent Secretary who had replaced Kashaka, Patrick Mutabwire, said Roadmaster had no basis for complaint; see, under the winning bid: “Each bicycle would be delivered here at about US$85 (about Ushs200,000) yet on the open market they go for Ushs400,000 each…” (yet just a year prior to that, they had cost Ushs128,000 each!)
Bicycles can really make you go dizzy…

#ExposeAfricell #Expose @skaheru – racism, xenophobia and business sense


AfricellLogo
The #Africell saga erupted fully last week along with two other stories you may not realise are related:
ONE: Makerere University graduate David Ojok was reportedly lynched by a group of students who accused him of being a thief. The news reports say Ojok was at the university to collect money owed to him by a student who had taken to evading him and, on this occasion, was labelled ‘thief’ and killed by a frenzied mob.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
TWO: Mobs of South Africans took to the streets in Durban, Johannesburg and other spots, and physically attacked and, in some cases killed, black foreigners of African origin. The attacks were incited by comments made by the inappropriately named Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and other leaders. In some instances, businesses owned by these black foreigners were looted and their premises burnt to the ground.
There are enough links about this online without my having to copy and paste any.
Before I go any further, here are a couple of disclaimers:
1. This is NOT a defence of the corporate body Africell Uganda Limited, or of the actions of any of its employees. This is my personal blog under which I only write personal thoughts, observations and experiences as and when I want to, and not at the behest of anyone else.
2. This blog is NEVER paid for and has only recently began considering taking advertising as you can see from the placeholder ad being tested to the right of this page. None of my clients in my professional life is ever given access to this blog as a rule that they all respect.
3. I will not alter my writing style, thoughts and observations to suit anybody besides myself and my family, so anyone who takes offence at this post – and others – is free to do so, as regular.
4. Only two people ever review any (not all) of my posts before I upload them – both of them for the purpose of holding me back should I be too angry or rude. Their comments are taken only as comments and I am not bound to act upon them, but these two people are important enough to me for their consultation to matter. Nobody else ever gets the chance.
Now, for some definitions, but presented briefly and simply so that the simpler minds don’t go into quick slumber:
Mob Justice: is not just the act of beating a thief to death; it is justice at the hands of a mob of people, whose actions will be guided more by collective emotion, mob hysteria, compromised information and insufficient consideration. <—I have made this definition up myself, so it would be good for a professional to chip in some time.
I believe that one of the reasons Mob Justice is different from Justice in a court of law, for instance, is the manner in which justice is arrived at. Because there are normally two sides to every story, the courts accept both sides, give them a fair hearing presented by professionals, and have an independent, well-learned and sagacious person arrive at a decision – a Judgement.
Xenophobia: The dictionary I use defines this as an “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.” On this continent, we normally hear this phrase applied to only the South Africans, but if we were more academic we could, perhaps, argue that the only reason some countries don’t talk about xenophobia is the arrangement of the country borders…
Racism: Again from my dictionary: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
As I’ve said before even right here under this very blog, we ourselves accommodate and encourage racism, both by distinguishing other races as superior to ours, and by presenting our own race as inferior.
And as I’ve said before, we must fight it. We must change the way we think, behave, operate, live, so that nobody has reason to think we are inferior. But we also must fight back when people treat us as inferior.
But we must not cry wolf.
Neither must we not engage in hysterical mob justice.
Nor be xenophobic in our approach to ‘foreigners’, if we must address people in this manner.
(Idealistic? Yes – it makes sense to live life as a pursuit of ideals.)
According to the news reports, the person who led to David Ojok’s death allowed it happen in order to escape a personal financial obligation, but the repercussions brought in many more people who administered the killing. Ojok was reportedly a small entrepreneur or businessman, even at his early age, and his demise is unquestionably a loss to his family but also to the economy – occasioned by a selfish accusation acted upon by an unthinking mob.
And the more illustrative news reports from South Africa state that the xenophobic mobs ranted and accused the black African foreigners of taking their jobs, grabbing their opportunities, and occupying space that by rights should belong to South Africans.
The links between both these and the Africell story should be obvious, and I’ll only return to simplify them if you really, honestly need me to.
To use a phrase favoured by my daughter when she feels that a situation needs final clarification with everyone paying full attention: So, Let’s Review:
A few weeks ago the mobile phone company Africell Uganda laid off 59 members of staff as part of its restructuring of the company.
Read the story for yourselves, because this is not going to be about just that event (but read the story so that you have some background to this).
Along the way, the Africell team consulted me on the communications they were doing – as sometimes potential clients do, in order to avoid being misunderstood or misrepresented. As a result of that, I became privy to quite a lot of information that I cannot make public without permission, but the following is acceptable:
On the morning before the staff were laid off, the Africell Uganda Chief Operations Officer, Mohammed Ghaddar, sent an email to all staff of the organisation.
Later that day, though, an email was sent from the email address ‘disgruntledemployees256@yahoo.com’ to all staff of the company and some non-staff.
The email had nothing to do with Ghaddar’s communication that morning, since it hadn’t anticipated that Ghaddar would send his email.
The first point of contention the email listed was, “Racism and discrimination towards African employees. This is exhibited in defamatory, degrading insults verbally and through emails sent to Ugandan senior, junior and casual employees. For example, the Commercial Director has personally referred to some employees as monkeys and black African idiots which Ugandan employees deem disrespectful.”
I asked both Ghaddar and the Sales Director, Milad Khairallah what this racism charge was about, and had them both go through their emails to find the offensive ones. They obliged and couldn’t find any. I asked quite pointedly and seriously, as I normally do, whether there was any truth to this charge and what disrespect anyone might have conducted that could be labelled racist.
In one email I found that one official had referred to a supplier as an “idiot” (not directly at him) during a review of a conversation – something like, “the idiot said…”
Referring to someone as an Idiot is not racist; it may be rude and disrespectful, but it is not racist. In subsequent arguments last week, a number of people said it was wrong for a foreigner to call a Ugandan an idiot, and I laughed back and asked whether it was okay for a Ugandan to call a Ugandan an idiot, or a Ugandan to call a foreigner an idiot.
The vitriol and emotion thrown at the matter, though, involved many people angrily using much worse words about Africell and people who work there – including suppliers of services…such as Communications Consultancy services.
But back to the point, I began asking for information about this Racism as stated by disgrungtledemployees256@yahoo.com. Right there in the Africell corridors, a day before the 59 employees were terminated, I asked a number of people about it and they all expressed ignorance.
A couple of them told me privately later in the day, off the premises, that there was quite some tension because of the anxiety of change.
I know about this anxiety of change – which is why Africell contacted me.
I have seen this happen in many corporate environments, in Uganda and elsewhere. In fact, at one of the companies where I worked, there was a charge of racism in our Germany offices because of a change in structure that put a couple of British people at the helm of a company operating in Germany!
The tactic of calling out “Racism!” during these company restructuring processes is effective for raising publicity and anger, but weak in achieving much else.
In the case of Africell, right from when the twitter campaign #ExposeAfricell was started, by the twitter handle @GeeksUg, I have asked everyone – anyone – to please share the evidence of Racism.
So far, none has been shared. It has been easier to ‘leak’ an email sent by me to Africell’s HR Director than the one containing racist remarks…
Speaking of that email, and complaints that I have sold myself out to work for racism, it would be good to read the email and note:
1. I am providing consultancy services re: the restructuring and communicating the positives of the move, not Racism.
2. The advice I provide in that email is quite sound and sensible, even if I do say so myself.
3. In that email, I am pushing for positive communication, which is what I always do; never negative communication.
As usual, though, some of the commentators in this matter have not even read the text of that email, while others bravely announced that they were “reading between the lines”, which is the same as making up their own information!
I am getting used to the jaundice that comes with people refusing (not just failing) to simply read text in full to try to understand, let alone analyse, it.
A little analysis into the matter, for instance, would raise questions such as:
1. How come the accusations of racism are coming out now, after people are being fired? And if it’s because they are finally free to speak, why are they not doing so (yet – in case the evidence is sent while I am posting this), instead of this anonymous, non-presentation of the facts and evidence?
2. What exactly are the crucial numbers involved here? Telecommunication companies talk about ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and only MTN Uganda declares profits in Uganda, so how badly was Orange Uganda doing? What were their ARPUs?
A quick google search will reveal this to anybody searching. Early in 2014 it was reported that the telecommunications ARPUs in Uganda were the lowest in the region.

 
The telecommunications business in Uganda has been difficult and there is more bad news coming, if this story about Uganda Telecom is anything to go by: http://news.ugo.co.ug/uganda-telecom-faces-closure/ 
3. Can the 59 Ugandan employees who were terminated really all get replaced by Lebanese? If so, how many Lebanese and what will they be earning, and does it make business sense to the owners of the company?
4. If the company says it needs to drop people in order to gun forward, what is the alternative that they haven’t considered?
5. What were the salaries of the 59 people who were let go, and how do they compare with others in the same job bracket in this sector – especially vis a vis the ARPUs mentioned in 2. above?
6. What was the performance of Orange Uganda Limited? Surely this information is available at the banks where Orange held accounts, and at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)? Was the company as unviable as we have occasionally heard it being said elsewhere?
The questions are many, and all end up back at a business decision taken by the new owners of a company that have taken on an entity that was going under but needed turning around through painful means.
It is an unfortunate step that companies have to take but one that is taken all the time – especially in mergers and acquisitions. That doesn’t make it easier for the people being laid off, and it doesn’t mean that the ones doing the lay-offs are devils either.
And it certainly doesn’t mean that the people or companies working for foreign-owned companies are ‘mafiosi’, as some chaps declared.
Of course, there are those people who are confusing Simon Kaheru their “friend” on social media, with Simon Kaheru the Consultant or Analyst with Media Analyst.
If the South African government contacted me right now for advice on how to get out of this quandary that has South Africans in general of appearing to be xenophobic, I MIGHT listen to them and offer advice.
But I would not take a meeting with that King Zwelithini, because he is quite clearly a mad man, as far as those remarks go.
I don’t think all South Africans are xenophobic, and I don’t think it is government policy for foreigners to be thrown out or discriminated against. But I do know that they have issues and seem to appear xenophobic even as a government, though I can’t indict them squarely – the same way we still deal with the United States even though all evidence says that blacks are still treated as inferior beings there.
You see, Simon Kaheru (@skaheru) your friend on social media does not jump about after any and every single cause that people express opinion on. With those that he does comment on, he normally tries to check the veracity of the information behind them before doing so…and the online record shows this quite clearly.
Luckily, I am not easily intimidated by trolls or taunts from people who don’t (or won’t) read, let alone analyse.
So I will continue to do what I do for a living – provide professional consultancy services in communications for corporate organisations, SMEs and individuals.
If that company collapsed today then that would put about 1,000 Ugandans out of work – on top of the 59. I would be a fool to wish for Africell to collapse – and those dropping their SIM cards in so-called protest at the 59 being unemployed are practically threatening the employment of the 1,000 or so currently employed at the company.
If companies such as Media Analyst, or Consultants such as myself, refuse to do work without rational reason, then we will go out of business and increase the numbers of the unemployed as well.
So for those who think I am a “Mafia” because I have been consulted by this company, use this:
Mafia
Some people might argue that since for a number of years now I have paid to this company well over Ushs500,000 a month (airtime and data services) to Orange and now Africell, it would be good to take paid work from them to provide professional services.
But those would be drowned out by the ones calling for my blood and saying that the correct thing would have been to refuse to do so.
And if I said that those are idiots, please don’t call me racist.
Plus, until I have something that shows me an individual is racist, I have nothing to go on to condemn them – the raw, personal negative emotion needs some fuel.

where are you getting your news on ebola in liberia, nigeria and guinea?


It’s always been clear that we are not in control of much, in these countries on the continent of Africa, but I stopped to think today about how odd it was that all the coverage on Ebola that people in Uganda quote and tweet about is from the Guardian, the Washington Post, CNN and so on and so forth.

How come these journalists are so brave that they are the ones who go into war zones and have now deployed right into the infectious jaws of death by virus contamination? And if they can do so, why are our own journalists missing? A journalist is a journalist, by any other race/colour/nationality, right? We are committed to the truth, objectivity, the people, our profession…right?

Well, I focussed on Liberia and discovered that they DO have local media there; so somebody should start quoting them a little bit so we are sure that we’re hearing the truth from there.

Of course, what with our obsession with the ‘developed world’ we have no clue what the Liberian media houses on offer might be, but there’s a list of journalists up on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Liberian_journalists and newspapers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Newspapers_published_in_Liberia as well.

One of them even has a specific tab on Ebola: http://www.frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/ebola-central but does not compare well to our own news websites in Uganda.

The others are also not easy to find, but certainly exist – such as The Daily Talk – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Talk and The News (search for the link yourself).

Journalists, especially those on this continent who might not be able to deploy people to physically go to Liberia and wherever else, make those phonecalls to your colleagues, establish email contact and get us the REAL stories. Show us their REAL countries so we can appreciate what they are REALLY like from our perspective.

Tell us how different or similar we are through OUR eyes, please?

And readers in general, open YOUR eyes and LOOK FOR information rather than just consume what gets sent your way; and for everybody’s sake, analyse it carefully at all times – whether it’s from the Analyst Liberia or the Herald Tribune of the United States.

For instance, what does the phrase “lapse in protocol” mean in this ebola story, and why is it only used when a patient outside of the countries on the continent of Africa gets ebola?

Do you realise that it establishes in your mind the natural expectation that in some countries such as the United States and Spain (surprisingly) there are protocols that make it surprising for anyone – especially a health worker – to fall sick, but that in those countries on the continent of Africa where they do, it is normal?

Why is the phrase only introduced months after thousands have died in Liberia and Nigeria and Guinea, and in reference to three or four people elsewhere?

Do you realise that you almost know the name of the pet dog of the Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola yet can’t name a single dead West African even though their DNA is closer to yours than the said sick dog?

Source and read your news analytically, carefully, wisely and pay special attention to all the seasoning you taste as you consume it. Feel free to wash it down with libations that suit your traditional palate, rather than fancy foreign drinks that might disorient you.

happy independence week, only IF you are fully independent


independence-monument
Photo downloaded from www.thepearlguide.co.ug

The felicitation “Happy Independence!” this week did not apply to you if you’re not yet fully independent.

Full independence is hard to define on a national level but my simple mind associates it with breaking away from colonial ties, ceasing to be dependent on foreigners for ordinary, everyday stuff that we should surely be able to do for ourselves, and projecting Uganda with a positive confidence that puts us level with the best the world has to offer, where we can.

Ironically, this Tuesday (Yes! THIS past week!) the Princess Royal – NOT Ssangalyambogo of Buganda – launched a charity hospital ship on Lake Victoria, but on the Tanzania side. I heard it on BBC (again, Yes! That’s the British Broadcasting Corporation…smile) and listened to the commentator say how the ship was “bringing medical care to residents of the area’s 3,000 islands.

For real – it’s here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29516911

The “first ever ship of its kind on the lake”, said the enthusiastic reporter, will run for about 25 years to come…since it is second hand, having been put to work for decades in the UK – like many of your cars, electronics, furniture, clothes and even underclothes!

“I feel good,” said one of the shiny-faced residents after the calm Princess Royal had said some things about the gift, and after comments by a British gentleman with a white beard who was actually a Reverand and ticked all the stereotypical boxes required to make the scenario look exactly as expected.

It was as if the British monarchy had timed this gift because the thousands of examples here called Non-Governmental Organisations, and the percentage of our national budget that is funded by ‘development partners’ are not enough to illustrate our situation.

Full independence means being able to look that gift carefully in the eye and work out whether the ship wasn’t just being dumped cleverly onto Lake Victoria as wrapping around some admittedly much-needed medical equipment.

It also means being capable of providing medical services for all our people rather than having to rely on handouts of this nature, especially on the same lake that hundreds of tycoons spend weekends whizzing across in luxury boats loaded with fine whiskies, imported salmon, cream cheese and crackers, and leaving expensive whiffs of eau de toilette in the wind behind them.

Full independence means not thinking like the colonialists wanted us to think; it means breaking away from the education system that has made us the way we are, and it means being more than the native Africans they came to liberate with religion and basic education. This education point requires a long treatise that will be handled later, but that tackles the colonial idea that the African brain was limited and could therefore only be trained to do simple things following clear instructions.

Full independence means understanding economics well enough to harness our resources from production to consumption. It means knowing well enough to produce well enough to supply our own market, and those larger ones elsewhere; it means adding value to what we produce by way of simple and complex processing.

And full independence means, on the consumption end, NOT buying foreign products where local ones exist and in good comparison and competition. It means government procurement officers, or even private ones, buying Star Cafe and Good African Coffee BEFORE Nescafe.

Full independence is when you buy more locally manufactured products thanimported ones because they are of good, if not better, quality and because the money you spend doing so stays within this economy and is used to grow it. It’s realising that hardwood floors made in Uganda by Ugandans can actually be much smoother, warmer and more beautiful than ceramic tiles imported from China or Spain (and #SpainIsNotUganda); and that furniture made in Uganda Uganda Flagcan actually be steady, nice and durable – (the carpenters themselves should realise this first).

And it’s not being so daft as to walk through shopping centres and believing the phrase ‘Made in England’ is proof of good quality, “China” means ‘fake’ and Uganda doesn’t even exist. 

Going back to ceramic tiles versus wooden floors, being fully independent means defining ourselves by our situation rather than that of foreigners; our houses are constructed based on foreign concepts and considerations – brick and mortar as if we are prone to wintry weather requiring such insulation, instead of our natural materials suited for tropical Africa.

It goes back to our colonial education, which is still being rolled out till today – just check your children’s schoolwork or ask them a simple questions such as ’How many seasons do we have?’

I was pleased when my own gave a lengthy explanation that included the four usual suspects from Spring to Winter, and then our equator-based dry and wet seasons as separate, but I know they still suffer some vestiges of colonialism – and I will do my best to free them of these by the time they get to adulthood.

They will NOT be like the middle class pretenders highlighted in my favourite read this week – a blog post (http://thisisafrica.me/decolonising-mind-eddy-kenzos-success-irks-ugandas-middle-class/) that explained why Eddie Kenzo is so disliked by a mentally colonised middle class that believes his inability to speak english is reason for ridicule.

(I am a grammar nazi myself, but I only police those who have studied the full thirteen years from primary one to senior six, and those employed in professions that require them to be grammatically astute – such as journalism.)

The ridicule instead, should be aimed at those who didn’t realise that this week they should have mourned, reflected and re-adjusted themselves. Don’t get me wrong – we HAVE made some good strides, but we still have very long way to go before we can really celebrate mbu Happy Independence!

king of the bungle


Disbelief slammed me right in the centre of the forehead on reading Thursday’s hot news re: ‘Uganda gets two lions from UK’, followed by a strong bout of nausea that intensified when I got to paragraph three where the reporter wrote, “These two lionesses were recently donated by Paradise Wildlife Park in the UK to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC).”

A Wildlife Park in the UK donating lions to Uganda? WTF?

My anger rising at the same rate at which stupidity appears to be spreading among certain sections of the management under which our society finds itself, I read on in astonishment: “The UWEC executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, hailed the arrival of the two lionesses, saying they would boost the campaign to conserve lions.”

What is hailing? According to my Apple dictionary: “acclaim enthusiastically as being a specified thing: e.g. he has been hailed as the new James Dean.”

The Executive Director of UWEC, therefore, poured enthusiastic acclaim onto the UK wildlife park for their donation because it would “boost the campaign to conserve lions”.

The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre’s contribution to the campaign to conserve lions, from what the story tells us, has so far led to there being one (1 = moja = ein = un = une = imu = emu) lion in existence at Entebbe.

See paragraph two: “The (two) big cats bring to three the number of lions at the centre…they will share their new home with Kibonge, the lion who has lived a lonely life since the death of his partner, Salama, in 2003.”

For the last six years, UWEC has had only one lion.

A couple of sentences later, the Executive Director, Dr. Seguya, delivered a fantastic quote befitting of his job title, academic qualifications and, obviously, vast intellectual prowess: “Lions are one of the renown big five (animals)…”. This profound revelation, which my six-year old daughter has been aware of for the last two years at least, the Doctor quickly followed up with his contribution to the development of Uganda’s tourism industry: “…There are national parks in the country that were once known to be populated with lions, but they no longer have any lions.”

I won’t go into my private efforts to pull more tourists into Uganda.

Angered enough to wish the lonely lion had lost his mind years ago and mauled his keepers to death, I noted that the story quotes three employees of UWEC – the hapless Executive Director Doctor guy, the spokesman, who gives us a quote that underscores the kindness and empathy of the Paradise Wildlife Parks as well as the numb idiocy of our one and only zoo, and some other doctor who claims that should any disease be identified in the donated lions, “…we will be able to monitor…carry out different tests…and knock it out…” which is a damn lie considering that they have had only one lion to study these six years past. The buffoons.

But the point is, here we have three officials and just one lion. WTF, I ask you again? Seriously, what is wrong with this picture besides the fact that the country’s leading newspaper chose to run the article in a straightforward manner, allowing the ludicrous to go past like a silent fart in a public toilet?

Story follows below for your disgust. Please avoid spitting on your computer as you read this: 

By Steven Candia 

AMID the chirping of birds and beneath the gently swaying tree canopies, 11-month Zara, who arrived in Uganda on Tuesday night, paces about agitatedly in a holding facility. 

A few metres away in a separate enclosure is three-and-half-year-old Bisa, seated peacefully trying to come to terms with her new environment. 

These two lionesses were recently donated by Paradise Wildlife Park in the UK to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). The big cats, bring to three the number of lions at the centre. 

After habituation, they will share their new home with Kibonge, the lion who has lived a lonely life since the death of his partner, Salama, in 2003. 

Zara, who turns one on May 13, was raised by Brian Badger, a senior keeper at Paradise Wildlife Park. 
The 72kg lioness was rejected by her mother at the age of five months. 
Badger, who accompanied her to Uganda, leaves for the UK today. 

Bisa on the other hand hails from South Africa. She was flown to the UK at 12 months. Unlike Zara, she is not attached to Badger. 

“I am no magician and I cannot put myself to unnecessary risk with Bisa. There are things that I do with Zara that I can not do with Bisa,” Badger said. 

Ten-year-old Kibonge roared with joy upon the arrival of the lionesses. 
The UWEC executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, hailed the arrival of the two lionesses, saying they would boost the campaign to conserve lions. 

“Lions are one of the renown big five (animals) which face extinction. There are national parks in the country that were once known to be populated with lions, but they no longer have any lions,” he said. 

UWEC spokesperson Mbaganya Niwomujuni said: “Members of Paradise Wildlife Park visited us last year and were touched by Kibonge’s loneliness. They decided to donate the two lionesses,” 

When theThe New Vision visited the centre on Wednesday, Kibonge sat at peace under a tree, as if in harmony with the arrival of the new guests, now quarantined in the facility next to his. 

The lionesses will spend 30 days in isolation, which UWEC’s Dr. Noel Arinteireho said is aimed at guarding against the spread of diseases at the centre. 

The quarantine will be followed by two weeks of integration, conservationists said. 

Lions have a life expectancy of 15 years in the wilderness and between 25–27 in enclosed environments. 
While lions reach maturity at about five years, lionesses attain it at about four years. 

“From here we will be able to monitor them and carry out different tests to check for diseases. But the duration is also long enough for a disease to manifest itself just in case they have any and for us to knock it out,” 
with their maturity depending on many factors like healthy, nutrition and the environment among others. Some lionesses have been reported to reach sexual maturity at 2.5 years and others at 6.5 years, says Arinteireho.