the Gecaga-ism in YOU revealed by Obama’s visit


Jomo Gecaga scoring a lifetime achievement
Jomo Gecaga scoring a lifetime achievement. Photo from http://www.kenyan-post.com/

OF THE numerous photographs that did the rounds on WhatsApp, email, Twitter and Facebook from Obama’s visit to Kenya, the one that made me look up and take notice of our overall focus was one of a chap with his hand on the bonnet of “The Beast”.

(“The Beast” is the motor vehicle of the United States President, and you can google the rest because I don’t have time for it here.)

I sat up because the fellow in the photo was described as the Personal Assistant (or Private Secretary) to the President of the Republic of Kenya, and named as Jomo Gecaga.

The man appeared quite foolish in that photograph as a Secret Service fellow appeared to be stopping him from putting his hand on the vehicle.

That Gecaga fellow’s excitement at being near the car that conveys the President of the United States was a little understandable until I discovered that not only is he a nephew of Kenyatta, he IS Chief of Staff of the Kenyan President and attended some of the best schools in the world – including, according to the internet, Eton.

Gecaga and The Beast 2

THAT GUY was the one having his photo taken next to the car of the US President the way those kids in your village do when you drive your second hand four wheel drive car over there for Christmas?!

I was flummoxed, which sounds like the Sheng word for the kind of punishment one would mete out to a fellow caught in his situation according to that photograph.

Even a well-heeled chap like that one could lower himself to this and get told off by askaris? America is a superpower kweli!

And I couldn’t laugh at him properly myself because over the entire period almost right up to this point, I find that most of the material being shared with me by otherwise upstanding members of society is the WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook equivalent of copping a photograph with one’s hand on “The Beast”.

Check your phone and laptop – how many people sent you links to the terms of the pacts and bilateral agreements signed between Kenya and the United States during that visit? How many of your pals engaged in insightful analysis about how Uganda (or whatever other country you are in) could benefit from the presence of the United States President and right here – right next door where we go on bus rides to see rally cars, eat nyama choma and collect cars from the port to drive them back to Kampala?

Did any of your pals talk about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, especially since Uganda was named yet again just TWO WEEKS AGO as the world’s most entrepreneurial country?

Did Ugandans set up Rolex stands from Jomo Kenyatta airport to trap all the Secret Service men and possibly even entice Obama? Did we do anything to stress to his entourage that the single entry visa that put them in Kenya could have elicited value for money if they hopped over to Uganda quickly for a day – perhaps even using the airport parking of British Airways, since those ones are not going to be around for a while anyway?

I didn’t even hear about any serious restaurants creating an #ObamaInKenya rolex and putting the menu online so they attract Google search hits to their websites.

Obviously I might be linked to the wrong social and business networks and should therefore seek to join those in which members were invited to or made their way to the Summit in Nairobi to mingle in with globally accomplished entrepreneurs from the United States and across this continent.

Do you know anyone who went to meet with the billionaires that accompanied Obama? Maybe one of them met ex-Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg (worth US$37.5billion), Businessman Aliko Dangote (worth US$17billion), and TV Sharks Daymond Garfield John (worth US$250million), Barbara Corcoran (worth US$80million), Mark Cuban (worth US$3billion)…the list is much longer!

Luckily for my self-esteem, none of the people I have been communicating with has sent me photos of personal achievements such as standing next to the Presidential Car or a Secret Service Guard.

But sadly, none has shared with me their prospects for increased business and entrepreneurship or even personal development pursuits with the United States. All I have received so far are Gecaga-istic exclamations around Obama and the paraphernalia around his office.

Let’s see if we do different when the Pope comes over…

how do you like your eggs – stupid or AGOA?


ON Monday morning most of the urban elite that crowd my visual space started their week off with the usual excitability around our national politics, while griping in passing about the rise in fuel prices and the strength of the United States dollar.
I picked up my copy of The New Vision with my mind on a story that I read a couple of weeks ago about a poultry incubator in Iganga that was lying idle and unused for inane reasons presented by adults of severely diminished intellect.
I gauged their intellect from the comments reported in that story – a cutout of which I have kept with me.
One farmer, for instance, said, “There is nothing we can do apart from abandoning it for now.” because the incubator, he said, could only work if it had 500 trays of eggs but “most birds that had been kept in the 23 chicken houses for purposes of supplying the hatchery, died…”
The “multi-million shilling” incubator was donated to the farmers in Iganga three years ago and has NEVER been used.
I went to google for the real cost of an Egg Incubator and found that a

Big Incubator
A Big Incubator – downloaded from some site Google sent me to

48-Egg incubator (forget that idea of 500 trays) costs between US$40-70!

And I even remembered something about poultry and incubators from my past – we used to MAKE OUR OWN INCUBATORS! They were fitted with lightbulbs and other ordinary things that were available even back in Obote II.Small Incubator
Can we get some youths to manufacture them so we address the unemployment issue, even as we convince Iganga farmers to use the bloody things?
I think so – but first, let’s run around politicking.
But then, on the day that story ran in the news and even the day after, there was not much of a hue and cry in my circles about how ridiculous this was.
20150706_102707
Jump to this Monday morning where, on Page Two of my newspaper, I found a small article stating that the United States President had signed the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) last week, renewing it for another ten (10) years!
The key changes to the Act are found here (http://agoa.info/images/documents/5659/agoa-extension-and-enhancement-act-of-2015-2.pdf), but the full text has not yet been released – not that any of you would read it if it were.
There is a long list of products – 6,000 in total – that countries in sub-Saharan Africa can send to the United States without quotas and tariff free under AGOA.
Uganda is one of 40 countries eligible for the AGOA benefits, and has been on the list from the start in October 2000. We even set up a factory and recruited people who actually made clothing (apparel) that made its way to the United States – and I saw some with my very own eyes in a store over there.
Today, though, as you drive past the Bugolobi factory where this project was established you will see samples of imported tiles positioned to indicate that they are being sold inside there somewhere.
Countries like Ghana get good mention as suppliers of apparel to the United States markets, while we don’t even make our yellow or blue campaign t-shirts here on the ground!
And the irony gets thicker when you consider that the United States dollar is now at its strongest worldwide, and we should therefore be doing our damnest to earn in THAT currency by exporting TO them.
But when did YOU last hear about AGOA, if you didn’t notice that little story on Page Two Monday? Have you seen any follow up story yet, or been invited by anyone hurriedly setting up a project to take advantage of the AGOA extension?
No?
More importantly, though, egg and chicken products form part of the AGOA list, ladies and gentlemen, so…
…should we go to Iganga and retrieve that incubator so we use it to produce eggs that can be exported tariff free to the United States in exchange for that very strong dollar?
It is important that you look at this table: http://agoa.info/profiles/uganda.html

radio & weasel, jotham musinguzi: you are true Ugandan heroes!


United States President Barack Obama “visited Africa” last weekend and, as expected, sparked off debates and conversations about United States policies on the entire continent, and the meaning of his visiting only three countries – or the meaning of his not visiting each and every country we’ve got!

Uganda was one of the countries he did not visit, but much more importantly for us, artistes Radio and Weasel went to America at about the same time, to attend the BET Awards where they were nominated for the ‘Best International Act: Africa’ Award.

Online reports say the BET Awards were watched live by 7.7million viewers in the United States on Sunday night alone – 4.3million of those being adults (don’t ask me how they know these things – THAT is America!)

So by merely showing up on stage and having our country mentioned in positive light, Radio and Weasel put Uganda into the minds of 7.7million people in an excited state of viewership.

And that’s not counting the viewers who caught the later broadcasts on DSTV and other channels that re-broadcast the event.

Image

The Awards also generated ten million tweets on the night, and whereas Radio and Weasel did not get mentioned in each and every one of them, they picked up a good share of tweets amongst Ugandan tweeps and our followers. All this was fantastic for Uganda!

And so on Saturday night we tweeted up a storm over the Radio and Weasel nomination and showing, so that Uganda could shine on the international stage and replace our most recent negative news a la high profile arrests over suspected drug trafficking or extortion, despicable politics and disgusting corruption.

But in the middle of our tweeting that wretched fuel tanker in Namungoona entered into an accident and erupted into flames that created a tragicomedy that is still running – from the accident narrative itself to the scramble for ‘compensation’ that is probably giving ideas to other criminals of a more regular and non-flammable nature.

Our inefficiency at some things was helpful in one regard that first night, as the media in patriotic somnambulance ignored the negative story for a while and saved us the international ignominy.

For only a couple of days.

But even after it had erupted, and Radio and Weasel had left the BET stage for the after party, we were saved again thanks to Dr. Jotham Musinguzi.

The former head of the Population Secretariat in Uganda made headlines international for receiving the 2013 UN Population Award in New York, handed to him by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Forget the fact that we haven’t had a census here for quite a while, Dr. Musinguzi’s work over the years has focussed on more than Uganda, and the citation given to him mentioned interventions that spanned the globe in reach and impact.

The unlikely trio of Radio, Weasel and Dr. Musinguzi gives us more pride in this country than the fuel-infused shame we feel over the actions (and inaction) of the hundreds of people involved in the Namungoona incident.

In fact, I’d happily push a motion to award national medals to the three – and all Ugandans who bring positive recognition to this country by doing what they do well enough to shine a positive light on the Pearl of Africa. The heroes of the bush war should all have received their medals by now, since the likes of Gen. David Tinyefuza are proving the law of diminishing returns in this field, and the focus of everything we do must now move to YOU – the ordinary Ugandan of every day who stands out and gives Uganda reason to be proud.

But until the national medals committee takes this up, in honour of Radio, Weasel and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, I’m singing the three stanzas of the National Anthem – OUR national anthem.

For God and My Country.

 

“Oh Uganda! may God uphold thee,
We lay our future in thy hand.
United, free,
For liberty
Together we’ll always stand.
Oh Uganda! the land of freedom.
Our love and labour we give,
And with neighbours all
At our country’s call
In peace and friendship we’ll live.
Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us
By sun and fertile soil grown.
For our own dear land,
We’ll always stand,
The Pearl of Africa’s Crown.”