#UGBlogWeek Day Three – seriously, #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter means #SchoolsMadeMeBetter because of my parents

THE one lesson I remember from my university Sociology classes was the one where the lecturer told us about normalisation. She told us how norms in society are formed and passed on, and I distinctly recall understanding that lesson alone and feeling quite happy that I had gone into a lecture theatre.

Children develop their norms by associating with different influences at different stages of their lives. When they’re born they get everything from their parents, then as they grow siblings and other relatives come into play. Their nannies or governesses (depending on how posh they are) also contribute along the way. When children start going to school their teachers become the main influences, and when the children develop friendships their friends take over.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter by being a major provider of my norms, but only after my Parents had deposited theirs, and most importantly BECAUSE my parents decided so.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because I got thrown into the arena alongside all sorts of children (and teachers) who made me realise how different I was from them, and in some cases made me appreciate how outstanding we were in our little, humble family. And even as those new norms came upon me, the ones I had left home with were deeply embedded, thank God!

And so, #SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they made me love my parents more and more as I saw their hard work and sacrifice first hand and got to compare it with many other parents’ attributes.

It was in school that I learnt that not all parents went home in the evenings to be with their children and help with homework or supervise cleanliness and other aspects of our lives that irritated and annoyed us.

It was because of school that I discovered how hard life really was for my parents, especially on the days we would get ‘circulars’ and ‘chits’ (those two words have disappeared from our lexicography (Google it – I won’t edit it out) and should return in fact as well as usage, even for the nostalgia alone. Those circulars and chits in many cases advised that we would have to be sent back home if our school fees were not fully paid up by a certain time ‘t’.

Learning that we were on the list of students whose fees were not paid up by the first day of term made it easier to accept not having pocket money by the envelope-load. We understood why we couldn’t have as much grub as the next student, who also happened to be part of the same clique you were in and therefore ‘Birds of a Feather’.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because my parents were revealed to me more and more in school even if they were not present their; the way my teachers spoke of them when they had the occasion to, and the attitude the other pupils and students took towards them often made me pause and think about who they really were.

And more, because the way these same pupils and students spoke of their own parents and the parents of others amongst us made me REALLY look up with pride and say the names of my parents with the confidence that I wrote them down as my own name.

Every time the name was said out loud I saw their faces, not mine, and prayed that I was making them proud. Each and every time. When I wasn’t making them proud I was anguished, and wept, and hurt, and prayed for repentance and the chance to make it good again.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they all made me understand the importance of my identity, especially the importance that my parents would place upon the family name. At school I was an extension of who they were outside of school; I had to be careful, respectful, cautious, responsible and serious – all for the sake of the people who were working so hard to afford to keep me in school, and suffered great stress to do so successfully.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they taught me about parental love, care, and sacrifice.


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.) 

ugandans to build industries by sleeping and partying less

Reading the story below, I applauded the honourable minister for pointing out the obvious, annoying but true.

Indeed, if we sleep and drink and party less then we will be able to build up more industry and development without external assistance (read foreign aid) and therefore be able to sleep, drink and party more.

Simple. The kind of stuff your parents kept telling you as a child to make you do your homework instead of watching TV. Forget the fact that you now have a boss who gives you homework or a wife who is homework and still can’t watch any TV.

But then I got to the sentence in the story that read, “…We spend a lot of time organising weddings and funerals instead of making money,” he said at a cocktail to mark the Africa Industrialisation Day at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in Nakawa, Kampala…


We can build industries without outside help, says Gaggawala

Tuesday, 25th November, 2008

Nelson Gaggawala Wambuzi

Nelson Gaggawala Wambuzi

By Ben Okiror

UGANDANS can build industries without external assistance if they reduce the hours of sleep and entertainment, the trade state minister, Eng. Nelson Gaggawala Wambuzi, has observed.

He said that unlike other countries where people work for between 16 and 18 hours, in Africa, most time is spent sleeping and producing children.

“The greatest amount of time on radio and television is used for politicking and entertainment.” “In some countries like Israel, people used to work for 18 hours without food but we, Africans, think others owe us a living,” Gaggawala said.

“We spend a lot of time organising weddings and funerals instead of making money,” he said at a cocktail to mark the Africa Industrialisation Day at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in Nakawa, Kampala.

Gaggawala said Africa, the largest continent with about 800 million people and the biggest quantity of raw materials, contributes only 1% to global manufacturing.

Since industrialisation can also lead to economic transformation in Africa.

Culture Shock – Ugandan Hamburger

“Prepare yourself for the culture shock,” advised a colleague two nights before I left Kampala, “Because when you get there you will be quite lonely.”
My memories of the definition of the term, however hazy because I first heard it during those cloudy first weeks in University, didn’t isolate culture shock to the loneliness one feels on entering new climes, and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_shock) agreed with me.

Having paid some attention during my Sociology classes – and as usual relying on basic logic – I read up quite a bit on Germany before boarding the plane and was grateful to my relocation agent for equipping my little apartment with a small booklet on Hamburg written by two auslanders (foreigners). Their perspective, however foreign, was not Ugandan and so didn’t top my comparison charts, but it was useful in a way.

And so I wasn’t ill-prepared every time I walked into a shop and people said, “Morgen”. And I didn’t find it awkward that some people rode bicycles on the pavement with their dogs chasing after them; or that others actually went shopping with their dogs, as did the lady in the Saturn store on Monday evening whose dog seemed keen on the Playstation 2 games on offer. I wasn’t even thrown when my new work friends dropped everything and insisted on going for “lunch” at 1130hrs on my first day in and every day since. Now my breakfast time has somehow merged with lunch and I am rapidly losing weight at the office as well.

I am even getting into the groove of keeping right, which isn’t easy after all these years of walking and driving on the right side of the road – which happens to be on the left. For the first ten days or so I kept doing that pavement shuffle that happens when one such as myself lands among a people that have walked and driven on the wrong side of the road forever. Thank God for the traffic light systems here, otherwise the road traffic fatality numbers for the month of September would have gone up by one because of this Ugandan whose natural check before crossing a road is to look right. For the first two days every time I looked right the road was clear – and in the split second before I’d raise a foot to start crossing, I’d glance left and go into a panic because of the deluge of heavy traffic coming my way!

But the beast that is Culture Shock was biding its time to live up fully to its surname, watching me silently off the Supermarket shelves the first day I went out to stock groceries and sundries; chuckling quietly to itself as it overheard me muttering to myself words off the packets of noodles, sausages, chicken and what-have-you (you end up buying a lot of what-have-you if you don’t understand a language) in an attempt to find their english equivalent in the little phrase book I had bought.

Culture Shock followed me home and burst into laughter when it saw my expression after I unwrapped a chicken and then realised that I was lacking the usual ingredients for turning it into a meal; ingredients such as spices and a maid to do the cooking. A German maid, at that. Culture Shock almost had a paralytic fit when I moved on to the pack of fish fillets and dropped a couple into a pan of oil without letting them thaw out properly; and I couldn’t be blamed – the instructions said something about six/6 minutes which could have been anything from, “Walk six minutes from the supermarket to your flat” to “Try and concentrate for six/6 minutes while reading these instructions and see if you suddenly start understanding German”, both of which I had done, the latter with less success.

Later, on the metrobus, I rode all the way to the Mönckebergstraße and on my way out offered the driver money but he turned it down.

“Er…don’t I have to pay?”


And that’s when I noticed that some people hop on to the bus and off it without paying a cent.

Back home? That’s the kind of thing that could cause you to subscribe for a heavy supply of painkillers. In fact, at some taxi stages/ stops there are well-muscled men waiting around specifically to lay hands on a fellow who tries to leave public transport without paying.

And then one day I noticed the queues. To be honest, I should have noticed them right on arrival at the airport, where I stood among hundreds of organised people, but there were so many Schwarzneggar-size cops milling about that I felt it was obvious why everyone was in a line.

But t hen everywhere else, I noticed queues appearing to crop up like mushrooms – even outside a (this feels uncomfortable but apparently it’s quite normal to use the word) pissoir. And when you see thirty people queuing up outside a place of public convenience, then you know they take queues seriously. I know the only way I’d have joined the end of that queue was if I were planning, in the next hour or so, to require the services of said pissoir.

Culture Shock? Refer to the simplicity of getting from anywhere to anywhere; as in, I have become accustomed, over the years, to being directed from place A to place B within capital cities with instructions (strictly verbal) such as, “Get out of the taxi, cross the road, turn left and go for like 50 metres. Then you will see an old-ish guava tree stump. Turn right there, opposite the man with a sewing machine. Take that road for another 100metres then you will find boda-bodas (motor bikes for hire). Offer one of them five hundred shillings and tell him to take you to Mama Tom’s place. When you get there, continue for about five minutes and it will be the second last house on your right…”

Over here, I can either use one of the guide books or google a place and download not only a map from point to point, but directions that show me how long it will take if I have a car (I don’t and I won’t) or if I decide to walk.

Plus, again part of the disorientation caused by Culture Shock, I don’t have much of an option besides google; I learnt painfully after getting lost fifteen times the first time I went to town, because verbal instructions don’t really work if you don’t know the language!