take up opportunities in tourism NOW, since Uganda has signed up international PR firms to promote our tourism

AS our Members of Parliament made their vows at the start of the week my mind was on two unrelated events on either side of their solemn activity, creating a sandwich of thoughts that I am quite happy to share here.
The MPs have sworn to work for us with the help of God.
Their combined job, as the Legislature, is to be representative of the people of Uganda; make the laws that we want to be used to govern us; and check the Executive we have chosen to come up with policies under which our society will be managed in a manner that will enable us to prosper.
Some of these Parliamentarians will be asked to join the Executive, while most will stay in the House where they will meet regularly to consider the affairs of the Nation in Plenary, through Committees, Caucuses, and getting feedback directly from us, their employers, directly or indirectly through the media and other channels.
For the next five years we will keep reminding the Parliamentarians of the humility they showed us during the campaigns and the ‘down-to-earth’ antics they adopted to convince us they are “of the people”, so that they don’t go off on lofty tangents that have nothing to do with us.
We will bring many issues before them and push them to deliver on them within their mandate. My first issue for them is what, for me, sandwiched their swearing-in – and it is an issue all Ugandans need to take up in whatever way they can.
Rewind to the first event: Over the weekend I was in Adjumani to pay my last respects at the burial of the wife of Mohammed Kabba, a friend and colleague. In the midst of his anguish and grief, Mohammed, a passionate Patriot with surprisingly diverse interests, took the opportunity to show us the ‘Adjumani Tree’.
The ‘Adjumani Tree’. Photo by Simon Kaheru
He said the tree, a Tamarind, was many decades old, and it stood grandly in the courtyard of the Adjumani mosque providing shade to the mourners and a nice stand for a number of bicycles. The legend in Adjumani is that the tree marks the spot where, back in the day, the Madi (I believe they were) who had serious disagreements with each other would congregate to reconcile.
Whereas normally the Madi walked around holding axes, when they got to the Adjumani tree for a reconciliation ceremony they were required to take spears with them – the purpose for which I have not yet established.
In the backdrop of this little tale and its location was Deputy Prime Minister and one-time Minister of Tourism, Gen. Moses Ali. I walked over to him to make the appropriately respectful sounds, and mentioned that that spot could easily be turned into a tourism attraction. I left that thought there to proceed with the solemn issues at hand.
Had I more time on my hands I would have spent it going into some detail over the missed opportunities in Adjumani just because they had not recognised this tree as a potential tourism attraction.
On our drive up to the district we took the first of two turns left to Adjumani. We eventually discovered that this was a “security road” and is not generally in use now that the Atiak road is so well-tarmacked and the road from there to Adjumani is a much better grade of murram (laterite).
The thick, bushy vegetation beside this disused road keeps you searching hopefully for the sight of wildlife, and wistfully at possible forest trails that would be full of thrills and adventure, a massive campsite just waiting for tents, campfires and people.
Cue to the second event, two days later, sandwiching the MPs oaths – Uganda signing contracts with international Tourism Public Relations firms.
I was part of the process, in some small way, and proudly so because I believe strongly in the power of communication and the need for appropriate marketing. As the ceremony was taking place, I fielded a few questions from friends within the travel industry who were concerned that the US$1.5million was going elsewhere rather than to firms such as my own.
The firms, which my partners have written about here, are Kamageo, KPRN Networks, and PHG Consulting. Each is handling a different market, respectively: the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland; Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and North America. (I suspect I will be talking or writing more about this later on, judging from some of the comments I’ve seen on various platforms elsewhere).
The fears were besides the point, I explained, because the work to be done by the foreign marketing and PR firms is specifically within the realm of tourism and travel in those markets where they operate for the cardinal objective of increasing the number of tourists coming to Uganda.
That doesn’t leave us helpless or in a sitting position waiting for tourists to arrive; if we all identify tourist attractions and opportunities such as the Adjumani tree, and get our respective local leaders and entrepreneurs to develop them, then we will give these PR firms a lot more to work with as they storm the travel industry and media in Europe and the United States.
On the Adjumani Tree alone, if we can unearth the legend of reconciliation and, perhaps, get a few warring politicians to meet at that tree and emerge as best of friends, perhaps we can convince thousands or millions of unhappy siblings, couples and politicians to make reconciliation pilgrimages there?
Every district, Constituency and probably village has a likely tourism attraction that needs to be identified, developed, and then promoted – which is exactly what the foreign marketing and PR firms need in order to give us more value for the dollars being spent.
As the MPs take up their seats in those pews, have them think of this so they make it government policy and ensure it is implemented, just as we all should wherever we are in Uganda.
Find your spot in this tourism sector and occupy it.

it’s never rocket science

Since we have now officially began the season of political campaigns, we must brace ourselves for even more political commentary and discussion within our homes, other social settings and in the media.
All the commentary is going to be made with serious looks on our faces and delivered in deep, quasi-intellectual tones wrapping collections of words into phrases presented as wise gifts from all directions, not just the East. And this is just the political commentary, hovering above all the promises the actual politicians are making.
Sadly, a lot of it will be nonsense and if we swallow it down without thinking then we will deserve the intellectual indigestion later on.
In the past two weeks alone, for instance, I have heard and read the phrase, “It’s not rocket science…” from more than six different and unrelated people on different platforms.
This phrase is presumed to mean that rocket science is very difficult and that therefore any issue that is rocket science would confound the ordinary person such as myself.
It is true, but in reality I have never come across anything to do with rocket science.
The only people who actually attempt rocket science are people who have studied it in school at an advanced level. Those are people who are so intelligent that they actually apply for the courses required to get into rocket science classrooms and lecture theatres, and learn well enough to advance to become rocket scientists.
A rocket scientist does not find rocket science to be difficult; which means that just before you (if you’re an ordinary non-scientist like me) walked into a room full of rocket scientists the general consensus in the room would be that rocket science is easy, straightforward stuff.
For most of us ordinary people, an ordinary car engine is even more confounding than rocket science, because we have no idea what all those cables, pipes, rubber bits and canisters represent or do yet we have to deal with them regularly.
Instead of saying, “It’s not rocket science”, therefore, we could say, “It’s not a car engine” and achieve the very same meaning.
But also, two brilliant rocket scientists might be equally confounded if they were placed in front of a pile of matooke, banana leaves and bits of firewood, then told to make matooke.
See, because it’s not rocket science.
Phrases like those that go over our heads and are easily accepted but have much less of an impact than the political statements themselves do, even though they deprive us of the more in-depth analysis that sensible political commentary should give us.
The politicians may and can say just about anything they want to – since they say all’s fair in love and war, but the political analysts owe us much more.
Political analysts should dissect the promises that the candidates are making, the viability of their statements and the veracity of the claims spoken at podiums. Political analysts should use the luxury they have of conducting research into the issues and topics that the candidates address, to present to us well-filtered views and opinions.
Unlike the politicians who operate in conditions of campaign heat and excitement, political analysts should think and speak in the calmness of their rooms, offices, libraries and studios, then clarify matters for the general public.
And the media houses that host these analysts, also known as commentators, should begin to apply some standards that spare us rocket scientists trying to make matooke, just as we ourselves should do as we hold these discussions within our homes and other social settings.


1. H.E. the Vice President – KIWANUKA
2. Rt. Hon. Prime Minister – DR. RUHAKANA RUGUNDA
3. 1st Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Public Service – HENRY MUGANWA KAJURA
4. 2nd Deputy Prime Minister & Deputy Leader of Gov’t Business in Parliament – GEN. MOSES ALI
5. 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of East African Affairs – Vacant
6. Minister for Karamoja Affairs –
7. Minister In-charge of the Presidency – FRANK TUMWEBAZE
8. Minister in Charge of General Duties/Office of the Prime Minister PROF. TARSIS KABWEGYERE
9. Minister of Disaster Preparedness & Refugees – HILARY ONEK
10. Minister of Security – MARY BUSINGYE KARORO OKURUT
11. Minister of Information & National Guidance – JIM MUHWEZI
12. Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries – TRESS BUCANAYANDI
13. Minister of Defence – DR. CRISPUS KIYONGA
14. Minister of Education, – Science, Technology and Sports – MAJ. JESSICA ALUPO
15. Minister of Energy and
16. Minister of Finance and
Economic Planning – MATIA KASAIJA
17. Minister of Works and
18. Minister of Justice – KAHINDA OTAFIIRE
& Constitutional Affairs
19. Attorney General – FRED RUHINDI
20. Minister of Gender, Labour
& Social affairs – MURULI MUKASA
21. Minister of Trade,
Industry & Cooperatives – AMELIA ANNE KYAMBADDE
22. Minister of Water & Environment EPHRAIM KAMUNTU
23. Minister of Lands,
Housing & Urban
Development – DAUDI MIGEREKO
24. Minister of Health – ELIODA TUMWESIGYE
25. Minister of Foreign Affairs – SAM KAHAMBA KUTESA
26. Minister of Information Communications Technology – JOHN MWOONO NASAASIRA
27. Minister of Local
Government – ADOLF MWESIGE
28. Minister without Portfolio – ABRAHAM BYANDALA
29. Government Chief Whip – RUTH SENTAMU NANKABIRWA
30. Minister of Tourism – Wildlife & Antiquities MARIA MUTAGAMBA
31. Minister of Internal Affairs – ARONDA NYAKAIRIMA

Office of the President:
1. Minister of State for Economic Monitoring – HENRY BANYENZAKI
2. Minister of State for
Ethics and Integrity – LOKODO SIMON

Office of the Vice President:
3. Minister of State Vice President’s Office – VINCENT NYANZI

Office of the Prime Minister:
4. Minister of State for
Relief and Disaster
5. Minister of State for Northern Uganda – REBECCA AMUGE OTENGO
6. Minister of State for
7. Minister of State for Luwero Triangle – SARAH NDOBOLI KATAIKE
8. Minister of State for Teso Affairs – CHRISTINE HELLEN AMONGIN APORU
9. Minister of State for Bunyoro Affairs – ERNEST KIIZA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
10. Minister of State for
International Affairs – HENRY ORYEM OKELLO
11. Minister of State for – Regional Affairs – PHILEMON MATEKE

Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries
12. Minister of State for Agriculture – VINCENT SEMPIIJA
13. Minister of State for Fisheries – ZERUBABEL MIJUMBI NYIIRA
14. Minister of State for Animal Industry – BRIGHT RWAMIRAMA

Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports
15. Minister of State for Sports – CHARLES BAKABULINDI
16. Minister of State for Primary Education – JOHN CHRYSOSTOM MUYINGO
17. Minister of State for
Higher Education, Science and Technology – PROF. TOKODRI TAGBOA

Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development:
18. Minister of State for Energy – SIMON D’UJANGA
19. Minister of State for Minerals – PETER AIMAT LOKERIS

Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development:
20. Minister of State for Finance
(General) – JACAN (JALONYO)
21. Minister of State for Planning – DAVID BAHATI
22. Minister of State for Investment GABRIEL GADISON ARIDRU AJEDRA
23. Minister of State for Privatization – ASTON PETERSON KAJARA
24. Minister of State for Micro-Finance – CAROLINE AMALI OKAO

Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development:
25. Minister of State for Gender
and Culture – LUKIA ISANGA
26. Minister of State for Youth and
Children Affairs – EVELYN ANITE
27. Minister of State for Labour,
Employment and Industrial Relations – KAMANDA BATARINGAYA
28. Minister of State for the Elderly and Disability: SULAIMAN MADADA

Ministry of Health:
29. Minister of State for Health (General) CHRIS BARYOMUNSI
30. Minister of State for Primary Health Care – SARAH OPENDI OCHIENG

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban
31. Minister of State for
Housing – SAM ENGOLA
32. Minister of State for Urban Development – ROSEMARY NAJJEMBA
33. Minister of State for Lands – AIDAH NANTABA
Ministry of Trade and Industry:
34. Minister of State for Trade – DAVID WAKIKONA
35. Minister of State for Industry – JAMES SHINYABULO MUTENDE

Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities:
36. Minister of State for
Ministry of Water and Environment:
37. Minister of State for Water – RONALD KIBUULE
38. Minister of State for Environment – FLAVIA NABUGERA MUNAABA

Ministry of Works and Transport:
39. Minister of State for Transport – STEPHEN CHEMOIKO CHEBROT
40. Minister of State for Works – ASUMAN KIYINGI

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
41. Deputy Attorney General – MWESIGWA RUKUTANA
Ministry of Defence
42. Minister of State for Defence – GEN. JEJE ODONGO

Ministry of Internal Affairs
43. Minister of State for
Internal Affairs – JAMES BABA

Ministry of ICT
44. Minister of State for ICT and
Communications – NYOMBI TEMBO

Ministry of Local Government
45. Minister of State for Local Government – ALEX ONZIMA AADROA
Ministry of Public Service
46. Minister of State for Public Service – PRISCA SSEZI MBAGUTA

Ministry of East African Affairs
47. Minister of State for
East African Affairs – SHEM BAGEINE

(Bretton Woods Institutions) – MARIA KIWANUKA

Uganda’s Cabinet List as circulated officially from State House on March 1, 2015.

Farewell, Spain, we are now very much both World Cup-less even though #SpainIsNotUganda

Dear Spain,

No hard feelings, right? If there are any, then tough. We are not the ones who scored those goals or failed to stop them going into the nets.

But at least you guys have photos with the World Cup in your cabinet, so kudos (clap, clap).

And since there must be space in your album, here are a few more photos to throw into the mix – kind of like making a Spanish Omelette…speaking of which:

Spanish Omelette

But if you’re not that hungry, then perhaps you can eat Ugandan (I sense a sneer on the face of the Spanish Prime Minister, but he would be pleasantly surprised after the first bite into this):

Spanish Rolex

He’d look a lot less grumpy after one of these, I’m sure; and hopefully he’ll share it with Vicente, del Bosque, who as he reads this blog must be thinking:

del Bosque & Rajoy


He probably didn’t get audience with the Prime Minister earlier otherwise like many other Spaniards:

Just Apologise


Anyway, last night we watched the game on channels such as UBC.



It wasn’t an easy game at all for our ‘brothers’ and we felt genuinely sorry even though we ribbed them to no end…all unnecessary if Rajoy had only apologised as frequently advised from all corners.

Mama Fiina

We talked about a lot while watching the game, but kept a certain focus running.



And also made it clear where we stood:

Spain Supporter...Not


So the inevitable happened, for reasons that had nothing to do with #SpainIsNotUganda – it was all practical:


Before long:

Waiting for Casillas



The options began to open up:

Visa Application

Either way, there was just one option left (besides the apology for saying #SpainIsNotUganda):





promoting and buying Ugandan: we need to walk our talk

Ladies and gentlemen, we have to start walking our talk.

The Friday before last, the Uganda Communications Commission hosted us to the Annual Communications Innovation Awards (ACIA) 2014 themed ‘ICT Innovation for National Development’.

I skipped lunch that day, for an unrelated reason, eventually changed into one of my nice Ugandan-made shirts, and made my way to the exhibition preceding the main event. I was full of hope because an innovation I was involved in had been nominated for an award.

A sharp kick of hunger stopped me short at a supermarket where I proceeded to implement this difficult personal policy of buying Ugandan if the item available is of a quality approaching close-to the imported equivalent I needed. My pals laugh at me but I always explain that, for instance, Uganda does not make Land Rovers so my choice of car is left untouched.

This time all I wanted was a small packet of crisps to tide me by till dinner. I was clearly not going to buy the ones in see-through kaveera because while walking through a slum with a well-meaning Pastor some years ago, I found out how those are made. He was showing me round his labour of love slum project when we turned a sharp corner and almost fell over a little boy engaged in some public toilet activity. This, a few metres from a woman, presumably his mother, deep frying crisps in a pan on a sigiri next to a small table with the buveera awaiting to be filled. 

Health and safety issues aside, I generally don’t eat too many crisps but on this day found a brand called Emondi, that stood as proudly on those shelves as the Tropical Heat and Pringles ranges did. I swiped them and drove to the exhibition, and by the time I had arrived had only managed to chew through a couple of handfuls and to this day cannot understand why they were so tasteless in packaging so promising.

Walking through the exhibition, however, lifted my spirits and distracted me from the hunger as I quickly browsed the Ugandan offerings of innovation in ICT and gained hope once again that not all is lost. Sticking with the theme, the keynote speaker was not some imported talent or celebrity, but a Ugandan working at Microsoft in a senior capacity – Ivan Lumala.

I pulled at my Ugandan-made collar a little bit and applauded the fellow for being what he was and representing me wherever he goes. All seemed to flow smoothly – except for some flies in the honey: Ignoring the suggestion at my table that the Serena Kampala had imported waiting staff from Kenya for the night, I applauded lead entertainer Myko Ouma for his fantastic guitar work but stopped short when I realised that his repertoire consisted of Sade, Jonathan Butler, Phil Collins…WHY? 

ImageBut that was not as bad as the performance of a one Eddie Kenzo (pictured being a pain on the stage elsewhere) whose Sitya Loss presented some infants gyrating on-stage in a disturbingly adult manner. As I said, go Ugandan only if the item is of a quality good enough.   

Someone at my table laughed at my murmuring and asked me if the menu was even Ugandan; and I made a resolution there and then to suggest that all government events when I am ever put in charge would promote strictly national offerings!

As-if to goad the ire within us at that point, the award nomination call-ups began and the music played when nominations were called up was…South African. Pan Africa, you say?

Okay, a quick Google search using the phrase ‘buy South African procurement rules’ returns the top result “General Procurement Guidelines -2 from the Republic of South Africa Treasury Department ” which contained the simply written paragraph:

“The government has implemented the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act as the foundation on which all procurement activities are to be based. Its aim is to:   (a) advance development of SMMEs and HDIs; …(d) promote local enterprises in specific provinces, in a particular region, in a specific local authority, or in rural areas; and (e) support the local product.

I don’t expect Eddie Kenzo’s music to ever play at a South African national or government event.

Another quick Google search with the phrase ‘buy Ugandan procurement rules’ got me to the Public Procurement Disposal of Public Assets Act two clicks later where the twelve (12) mentions of “local” referred to ‘Local Government’ except for three occasions in 59B. (Reservation schemes) that read ‘local expertise’,’local communities’ and ‘local organisations’.

Reservation schemes? Read the Act and work it out – but obviously it’s easier for the South Africans to buy and promote local.