#UGBlogWeek Day Five – #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter really is #SchoolsMadeMeBetter…me, the chap that i am today

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter. Yes – me.

By doing what schools are supposed to do, all my schools combined made me better. See, I was lucky because I wasn’t sent to school just to get good examination grades. Of course, those were expected as part of the return package, but that package involved much, much, much more.

That’s why I was sent in at a young, tender age and expected to emerge as an adult ready to take on the world and make a mark on it, rather than have it mark me.

I went in with very little in my mind, meagre amounts of flesh on my bones, and no worries in my soul.

I had to change, through school. Not by way of the classrooms alone, but in the field, on the schoolyard, in the dormitories, the corridors, the staff room, and on the roads walking to and from the various schools, and in the cars when they carried me across.

Even as a very young child I was a Daydreamer and fantasized every chance I got, but learnt to bring my mind back to the real world and put my feet on the ground, my hand to the pen and my pen to paper.

I was an Inattentive child yet came out having learnt to identify when it was important to pay attention, and how to do so in order to turn that importance into useful action.

I was Easily Distracted, and still am to an extent, but learnt how to turn away from my distractions when I needed to, in order to achieve clear objectives – the importance of which I had learnt to prioritise through paying attention.

I was Immature yet found maturity in many ways, from the simple ones like stretching out meagre resources and learning to survive in relative hardship, to the complicated ones like dealing with feelings – mine and others.

I was Weak – VERY weak, yet developed strength and found how to be powerful or even appear powerful in spite of my weakness. The lessons still work to this day …

I was Shy, and believe I still am yet I developed ways of overcoming that shyness to speak in public, approach complete strangers with bold requests, and to hold my own in very unfamiliar circumstances, surrounded by people I have never met before in countries I have only just walked into for my first time ever.

I wasn’t born with sportsmanship, teamwork, humility, courage, diligence, and a long list of other attributes that I possibly wouldn’t have been able to spell, let alone develop, if I hadn’t gone to school.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they took hold of my little infant self and moulded me into an acceptable adult with responsibilities that include raising several other infants into acceptable adults – with the help of schools.

So that they, in turn, one day turn up with the statement #SchoolsMadeMeBetter.

#UGBlogWeek Day Two – again, #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter isn’t quite right

See, #SchoolsMadeMeBetter, even if I didn’t pay enough attention to stay there long enough to earn the right to use letters such as Prof. and Dr. in front of my name.

By the time I earned my university degree I had had quite enough of the official part of ‘school’; and it was only years later that I worked out that the unofficial bits that I so enjoyed were a deliberate part of our time there.

The rules and procedures that we tip-toed around and dodged and broke and shattered were nothing compared to what we have going on in the real world, but thank God we went through that! All that close supervision and tight management by teachers and prefects was just practice runs for us to appreciate stuff like government authority and even the occasional askari.

The fun and games that we focussed so much of our time and energy on were sometimes the distraction that in real life exists with such ferocity that I really get amazed that we actually do stuff like work, take kids to school and even go to Church. That sensor underneath the skull that makes us do the right thing instead of the fun thing, a.k.a. responsibility, was inserted bit by bit every single day during all those schooling years.

The appreciation that not everybody out there thinks like my parents think, and their parents before them, only came to me when I got to school and met up with children whose parents did the one hundred and one things my parents did not do. Even the understanding that some families out there didn’t speak the same language as ours, only came to me when I got to school.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in the sense that if I had picked the wrong pill that morning before I was first dispatched to Baby Class, Morpheus would certainly have sent me down the chute leading to a life trawling through garbage skips for cigarette ends and things to tie round my waist for the amusement of the general public as they drive or walk past me to their daily jobs.

I may have been good on my own, but I am sure #SchoolsMadeMeBetter because of all those teachers I sat in front of for so many hours, who seemed to be larger than life regardless of how fascinating, fantastic or even downright boring they were.

The fact that they got to stand up there in front of all of us made them “big people” with a difference. I knew back then and know that even now they were the lowest paid of all the professionals out there, but they still turned up (most of them) and did their jobs with a passion that confounded me.

They didn’t teach me only english, maths, science, geography and the more complicated subjects – I didn’t pay enough attention to that; they taught me patience, perseverance, diligence, a sense of duty, responsibility, resilience, respect, patriotism and heroism.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in very many ways, and I’m not going to stop using #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter to relive those days and do this self-therapy.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in very many ways.

#UGBlogWeek Day One – #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter

I WILL try to keep up here, but the # just doesn’t read right. #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter? No. #SchoolsMadeMeBetter.

(I’ve got to say this also because I have children and I don’t need the discussion that could arise from them mis-understanding that statement when said by me. Ironically, their education thus far should be so good that they can sneak the phrase “thus far” into a quick post such as this, or understand fully what #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter actually means when typed out by the person who pays their school fees, buys food and has his name on the title deed to the house they live in.)

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because, for one thing, they made me loathe homework and the punishment that came with not meeting deadlines or handing in homework on time.

That’s why this #UGBlogWeek challenge is so difficult – I was afraid to commence because my schedule these days is so tight that I go entire days missing out on things I used to do buli daily with the same regularity I brush my teeth with in the mornings.

And I cannot stand the idea of missing a deadline or not meeting an expectation.

Which is one of the reasons why, even though I was not a good ‘student’ in the strict sense of the word, I appreciate the things I can say #SchoolsMadeMeBetter for or with or by or…<— what’s that stuff called again? It’s like the difference between pronoun and that other thing.

School was full of such words and definitions, and many other things like that which were important for some reason that I cannot explain without much thought and analysis.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter versus #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter. It’s obvious which one will win.

#UgBlogWeek tips for the bloggers in Uganda and beyond

I HOPE tThis is a helpful contribution to #UgBlogWeek – especially for those who are finding it hard to either blog or get their blogs seen by the rest of the world.

This is a list of tips that are easy to implement and that should be useful this week and into the future of Ugandans blogging more than the other stuff we do.

1. Use the easiest-to-reach Writing Prompts: Unless (or even if) your blog is theme- or topic-specific, you can write about almost anything. The word ‘blog’ is shortened from “weblog” – as they started off by people keeping a log on a website of what they were doing through the day. It was the precursor of the social media updates that we do today, which have become more interactive and conversational.

So when writing a blog one can choose any topic and go for it, without being pressured to make it a certain length or keep it from being too short.

One tool that some writers use in order to get started is the ‘Writing Prompt’ – which is a phrase or statement or word that they pick up on to start a story off. Writing Prompts exist anywhere – conversations, books, articles, newspaper pages, adverts, overheard snippets, SMS messages, anything.

To kick off your daily blog, open the blank ‘New Post’ page then look around for these prompts and kick off when one catches your fancy.

And the reason I’m suggesting the easiest-to-reach ones is so that you don’t unleash your research skills upon an unsuspecting reader who might have a phobia for the deeply academic and will collapse at around paragraph 367 (a) (iii) citation 4.13.278 et al…

2. Maintain a note book: I use both an electronic one and an ordinary paper note book. The note book is the writer’s most powerful weapon – not the pen. The pen is to the gun as the note book is to fire practice. If you always have a note book handy then you will always catch brilliant thoughts that would ordinarily go whizzing out of your mind leaving a lingering memory that will disturb you for a long, long time and only return in full two days after you have published.

A note book by the side of your bed, in your pocket and always within easy reach will ensure that you never let anything go by.

(You have to be awkward to expect the next line to be ‘Keep a Pen or Pencil or Charcoal handy’ – either that, or your fingers have a little outlet for ink/blood to be used for imprinting purposes).

3.Write with simplicity: Refer again to the origin of ‘blog’. Don’t over complicate your writing otherwise it will confound most people. Of course, that is not to say that you should adopt those irritating abbreviations and colloquialisms that are so pervasive in our societal setting <— you see? Avoid that type of kaboozi but keep your writing decipherable (is that a big word, also?)

I can’t genuinely maintain this line of thought without revealing a little of my grammatical special forces experience. Do NOT write carelessly! Simplicity does not mean carelessness – which is why ‘Dress Code: Smart Casual’ means you can wear a t-shirt but ensure it is not wrinkled, does not bear dirty words, and is NOT a vest or piece of underclothing. Sandals are not permitted, so if you abbreviate words like “Okay” to “k” in your ordinary life, ensure that in your blog post they are only made part of quoted conversation.

But back to reality: write what you like, the way you want to write it. I am not your only blog reader, and you need as many as you can get to follow your blog and keep following it. Nobody writes for Everybody, so focus on your following and write for them.

4.Use the Follow button: This seems to be a sensible place to insert the tip about a ‘Follow’ button. Ensure that you have this button visibly positioned on your blog so that everybody reading it can click follow.

Follow skaheru.001

Don’t click on that one up there, it’s just a picture.

5. Use Images: And that’s another thing – use images as often as possible. They break up text and make a blog more appealing. Don’t use too many unless your blog is a picture blog (are those called ‘plogs’ the way video blogs are called ‘vlogs’?)

But do keep in mind that the vast majority of Ugandans online find surfing (I am not sure whether we still use this term) expensive, so pictures and videos might turn them off.

Just a couple here and there are good enough.

6. Tag Wisely: The tag is a simple word one appends to your blog to help determine how it shows up in searches. The tag is very important because if it is wisely chosen then your blog will pop up higher in the order when someone is doing research and types out ‘tag’ in the search box. Make your tag relevant, easy-to-remember and popular, but also try to make your tag unique so the blog shows up higher when someone is searching for your unique topic.

I have no examples to give you.

7. Because Size Matters: Don’t make your blog posts too long – you also have the option of writing and publishing a novel instead. That’s why I’m stopping here.