let’s celebrate Philly Lutaaya again on December 1 – and take up his challenge to DO SOMETHING ABOUT HIV/AIDS

This coming December 1 will be World AIDS Day once again, and you might (should) wear a red ribbon to commemorate the day.
A short while ago I was in a classroom in Bweyogerere covering the visit of the RTI International Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Holden, and some of his Global Executives. Part of what they do, along with USAID, DFID (UKAID) and the government, is support educational programmes.
One of those programmes, strangely enough, promotes reading in vernacular. So I was in this classroom full of children reading schoolbooks in Luganda while a group of Americans who had no clue of the language, nodded in appreciation of something.
I was nodding at something different – the story the teacher was reading out to them, in Luganda, was about Philly Bongoley Lutaaya, and his role in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
The children were reading along and looking up in silence and serious attention as she enunciated her words carefully for their learning benefit, and they imbibed everything about the Ugandan hero.
I knew for a fact, as I watched those children, that my own did not know much about Philly Bongoley Lutaaya besides the comments I kept making every time I played his music.
As the teacher read his story I recalled his visiting us at King’s College Budo, and how I felt when I got to shake his hand. That was a mark for me that helped me overcome the stigma of how contagious the disease was.
And I still feel the rush of adrenaline I felt when he played cricket up there, with John Nagenda, and after swinging for one ball, collapsing in a heap to a collective gasp that seemed to go round the whole school.
He got up smiling after a panicked group had raced to him, unsure what they were going to have to do – it had been a small prank.
But when he eventually passed on the gasps we exhaled went round the whole world, as did our tears.Philly Lutaaya III
The man was a hero. A heavy-on-the-mind Ugandan hero.
I was sad that my children don’t know enough about him and that their schooling in english was neglecting these lessons, but I was happy that many other children in the countryside are getting this exposure.
And then it hit me that the gap was my responsibility.
That evening, I went home and asked them if they remembered him – and the name was familiar, so I assigned them the task of doing research on Philly Bongoley Lutaaya and presenting their papers to me within a couple of days.
To help them along, I played his music for a couple of days and was myself refreshed by how much he promoted tourism in his songs and videos, how much he promoted Uganda’s (not just Buganda) cultures, his contribution to health awareness, and how he ably demonstrated the fun and creative side of Ugandans.
I eagerly awaited the children’s papers and was pleasantly surprised when they handed them in Saturday morning – and I discovered from them that that very day was Philly Lutaaya Day!
Philly Lutaaya
As I was reading through their papers, celebrations were being held in Kanoni, Gomba District, which the official flyer I eventually received said were “to mobilise wanainchi to take action by coming out openly to share what they are doing as individuals, as communities and as a nation to STOP HIV as Uganda moves towards zero infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths.”
I couldn’t go to Kanoni that day, but we spent the day thinking about Philly Lutaaya, and that evening lit candles in his honour as we watched his music videos and appreciated further – adults and children alike – his importance in our history.
On World AIDS Day this December 1, we will pay attention to him again, as our Ugandan hero of the day, as well as address the challenge: “What are you doing to stop HIV?”
All triggered by a Luganda story book being read out to schoolchildren in a classroom in Bweyogerere, by a schoolteacher whose name I did not get but who also represents another group of Ugandan heroes out there making a massive difference in this society of ours.
Philly Lutaaya IV

Ugandans, re-arrange Ebola to spell opportunity

Please bear with the ebolised focus; this disease is like that. It takes over your mind, your every waking thought, and you eventually succumb.

But before it kills us all, you guys need to get up and smell the handwash detergents. Ebola can be spelt O.P.P.O.R.T.U.N.I.T.Y.!

Seriously, guys, stop whining and dying and pay a little bit of attention here because there is serious money to be made doing the following:

1. For Ugandans, start with the fact that we kicked Ebola soundly out of the country many years ago and proved that we are the most bad-ass at kicking Ebola’s ass (you need to use Americanisms like that because the main target market for what we are about to start selling will be the Americans). Get the entire world talking about how seriously we handled the disease the first-time round so that the world looks at us with a seriously newfound respect as they try to handle the disease and realise that it is actually harder than HIV/AIDS by FAR! If we can spin that story carefully with the Kony one, we could become the targets of all manner of efforts ranging from being asked to identify someone faster than Usain Bolt, to providing a supply of X-Men and Women.

But this is NOT the real opportunity, it’s just a foundation.

2. Ugandans, Start selling soap and hand sanitiser. I mean, World, Start buying Ugandan soap and hand sanitiser. It works best!

We need to get the world to understand that we didn’t get rid of Ebola by using dainty hand sanitisers in little teeny weeny bottles ensconced within feminine clasps and handbags, or using silly little bits of hand washing soap a la miserly hotel bathrooms. We used Sabuuni!

Adapted from http://www.globalsoap.org

We used hardcore, proper, germ and virus decimating Ugandan made Sabuuni. It doesn’t smell unnecessarily sweet or fragrant; it doesn’t disintegrate for days and days even if you forget it in the basin when you delay to wash clothes for a little while; if it goes into the drain then the entire neighbourhood complains about a certain smell due to the blockage to the soak pit.

Sabuuni! The hardest soap ever made, only available in Uganda. If the rest of the world does not begin importing Ugandan made soap then they should import HazMat suits against Ebola and coffins.

All these so-called ‘lapses in protocols’ while handling ebola are just a result of an ill-advised reliance on soaps NOT made in Uganda.

Be like us, the people who beat ebola hands down back in the day when it was fresh and unknown and at its deadliest since there was so little research done into the damn disease and so little was known about it.

Use our Sabuuni. Or our JIK hand sanitiser solution, in canisters used from State House right up to my own home. In fact, dispatch it to the Ugandan candidates in the Big Brother House right now (mpozi who are they?)

3. Make videos about how to handle Ebola: Park all those Ugandan music videos I hear Sitya Loss ndi Boss and Panadol…keep the names and replace them with ‘Sitya Ebola ndi Boss’ done by the same Eddie Kenzo or Chameleone/Bobi Wine/Bebe Cool/Isaiah Katumwa/Maurice Kirya/Juliana Kanyomozi/The Afrigo Band/Rema/etc. In fact, let’s do a Ugandan All Stars Ebola song the way those other guys did We Are The World – call it We Beat Ebola! and fill it with the same catchy, dancy, rompy Ugandan beats that the world loves so much.

Do that and we will beat Naija music hands down. We won’t have Nollywood renamed Ebolaville because that is just scary, but if we multiply the popularity of Nollywood with the notoriety of Ebola and turn it into prosperity, then China will probably create a virus of their own called Ebolq just to get in on the action!

From www.mediaanalyst.co.ug
From www.mediaanalyst.co.ug

4.  Why are we not all international consultants on Ebola eradication? How are you a Ugandan sitting in your home or office just reading about this on the internet or watching CNN reports instead of being consulted, yet even random characters in the world of science, like Chris Brown, are making headlines talking about Ebola even though the most he has ever had is that disease that makes men slap their spouses black and blue?

Be serious!

Any one of you can release a book titled, ‘I Survived Ebola’ or a documentary about ‘How To Wash Ebola Out Of Your Life’ and this week you will be guaranteed more sales than that woman’s Anaconda video.

5. There are also hidden opportunities such as one chap posted onto Facebook, when he said he had walked to the end of a long supermarket queue in the United States, then taken a phone call in Luganda only for the entire supermarket to clear out on hearing the language because they realised he “was African” and therefore likely to be carrying the disease.

#Eish! That opportunity means you can open up an entire retail shopping business provided you have a white guy to help you with deliveries; or, on the dark side, you could rob banks by simply standing akimbo in the banking hall and shouting out stuff in your local vernacular while looking African – nobody will shoot, they will just flee till someone finds HazMat suits, by which time you will have emptied the vaults.

What you do, though, is don’t say “Gunigugu” – they’ve worked that one out already thanks to Eddie Murphy being so popular for so long.

I’ve told you – Ebola can be spelt O.P.P.O.R.T.U.N.I.T.Y.

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!