When I Almost Burned My Underwear In Kabale

Let me tell you the story of how I went to Kabale and almost set my underwear on fire.

My reason for going there was one of the most common reasons anyone ever has for going to Kabale: It’s freaking gorgeous out there. 

It’s the most beautiful part of a beautiful country, guys. If Uganda is the pearl of Africa, Kabale is her left boob.

At this point I am assuming that Pearl is the name of a very sexy and beautiful woman. Beyond that I know next to nothing of pearls. 

I do understand that leading 18th Century coloniser Winston Churchill named Uganda the pearl of Africa because the place reminded him of something extremely beautiful, but we don’t have oceans and oysters around here. The only beautiful Pearls we know of in Uganda are Pearl Karungi, Pearl Kimuli, Pearl Agiro, Pearl Kentaro, Pearl Aber, Pearl Kirabo and the likes.

Please do not tell me to google what an aquatic pearl is. I already muted and blocked that search result because I don’t need coloniser propaganda.

If it were me branding Uganda as a colony, I wouldn’t have used oceanic jewelry. I would have called it the geopolitical Destiny’s Child of imperial acquisitions, because, like Destiny’s Child, when Uganda’s colonisation was just getting started it showed promise, but elsewhere there were other, more dominant colonies, like Kenya, the SWV of Africa and Ghana, the TLC of Africa, and, of course, South Africa, the Britney Spears of Africa.
Uganda would become even more aptly the Destiny’s Child of Africa because over time it would undergo much inner turmoil and then a series of unprecedentedly rapid changes in key personnel positions.

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 But if Uganda was Destiny’s Child of Africa, Kabale would be the Kelly Rowland of Uganda.

Kampala, of course, would be lead singer Beyonce, since, like Beyonce, everyone makes a huge deal about Kla, everyone acts like it’s all about her and her alone, she has all the money and all the attention, and yes, she was always, even from the very beginning the main point of the whole band and so on so forth, but being real here, being really real here?
I mean furreal foreyo?

Kelly is the most beautiful of them all.  But, like Kabale, Kelly just peacefully does her thing on the side, being a lot more beautiful than Beyonce, but staying cool about it.

So that is the reason I was going to Kabale. The excuse I was going to Kabale was to write this piece:

I was still a journalist with the New Vision at the time and had bagged an assignment to write about an island school in Lake Bunyonyi, (I bungled up the process and did not actually ride the schoolboat with the kids, which was the whole point. Maybe next time I will finish the job before I resign from the profession and become a free ebook novelist.)

I began my journey in Old Kampala, where there is a bus terminal that dispatches buses westwards on a daily basis. 

Due to the absolute, utter, full and ultimate depletion of all desire to wake up at 6:00am mbu just so I can get there by 9:00am mbu because that is when the bus leaves nga why since when of where shyaa, I booked the night bus.

“Good afternoon, handsome yet rugged middle-aged bus ticket-seller,” I greeted the man in the window.

“Good evening famous journalist and newspaper columnist E. Bazanye,” he replied, for at the time I was indeed those things.

I asked him, “Would you be so kind, and if not so kind then at least so competent as to furnish me with a ticket to Kabale, the most beautiful part of Uganda, arguably Pearl’s left titty?”

“Well, I, myself, am from Bushenyi, and hold the competing view that Bushenyi is in fact more beautiful than Kabale,” he replied. “But how much money do you have?”

I told him how much money my employer had given me as transport and per diem. He grinned slyly. “This is can be enough for a ticket to Bushenyi, you know? You have options.”

Fort Portal, Uganda

Our conversation was interrupted as one of his colleagues, walking past the ticket booth, stopped to inquire: “Is that the famous Bazanye of Sunday Vision?” She peered in through the ticket window. “He is even more roguishly good-looking in person than he is in that cartoon. Awobi ma leng, itye nining?”

“He says he wants to go to the most beautiful part of Uganda,” explained the ticket seller.

“He wants a ticket to Acholiland?” she asked. 

When I explained that I could only take in Kigezi out of all the nation’s beauty, due to this being a work assignment, they gave me a ticket for a nine pm departure ride and sent me back on my way to my home in Najjera. I did the whole journey to Najjie with a sad and heavy heart. All the talk of beautiful parts of Uganda had dampened my spirit and it made me sad to have to see Kampala roads.

The sun, Uganda (Image by Fredrick Kimbugwe from Pixabay )

Compatriots, and also, any Kenyans reading this (Niaje!), any Rwandans in the house (Muraho neza! We love and miss you guys so much!), just because Uganda is beautiful, I am not going to pretend Kampala is not hideous. I had to trudge through the tangled chaos of Namirembe Road and into the miasma of the taxi park and then eventually find myself embroiled in the morass of Nakawa. Kampala can be ugly. Kampala is unkempt, disheveled, chaotic and dirty. Kampala is a mess of a mess. I know I said Kampala is Beyonce earlier but Nakivubo, Nakawa, Nasser Road and Ntinda junction? Those are the enkyakya hairs on Beyonce’s feet.

I regret that I didn’t pick an bus that was early enough to take me through Masaka and Lyantonde at around 6:00pm because the sight of Masaka and Lyantonde around sunset is so enchanting, it would have completely cleansed my palate of the aftertaste of having to squeeze through the kaloli’s cloaca of the Northern Bypass roundabouts to get out of Kla.

But that was not to be my only regret.

You see, I did not look at my ticket properly and therefore did not see, properly or otherwise, that it was actually a ticket to Kisoro.

Nalubaale shore, Uganda (Thanks to Reinout Dujardin from Pixabay for the shot)

And I did not realise the mistake I had made until 3:00am when the bus guy– what do you call them? Bouncer? Maitre’d? Flight attendant? Sorry, I have not used public transport in so long that I have forgotten– until the bus MC announced, “The guy getting off at Kabale, disembark now. Gerrout quick so the rest of us can proceed to Kisoro where we are going.”

It was the most 3:00am I had ever seen in my life. It was so dark and empty that I felt as if I had stepped out of the bus at the end of the credits of Uganda.

But that was not even the problematic part.

I was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and sandals. I had a jacket in my bag, and back then I always wore a hat. This ensemble is usually enough to protect me from what we in temperate tropical zones like Kampala consider cold.

But when I stepped out of the bus onto the tarmac of 3:00am Kabale town I felt something I had never felt before.

Even my eyeballs felt cold. My eyes felt cold as if they could see it. I felt cold in the hair follicles in my nostrils and ear canals. I was detecting it in my ears and nose as if I was hearing and smelling cold.

My brain said, “Baz, it’s cold.”

I replied, “Th-th-th-thank you for the met-tt-tt-er-olog-g-g-gi-cal ana-l-l-ysis C-c-c-aptain Obv-v-ious.”

“Shut your sarcasm, dude. Let’s go back to Kampala.”

A road from one part of Uganda to another part, Uganda (Shot by SZappi from Pixabay)

Unfortunately Kampala was 400kms away and I could not even tell which direction to move due to how inky the darkness was that surrounded me. I think it was that dark because even photons could not work in that temperature.

Delerium is the state when a clever man starts getting stupid ideas and thinking they are intelligent. This is what set in. I dropped my bag, opened my luggage, took out every item of clothing I had packed and put it on. Two pairs of jeans, three t-shirts, a jacket and two hats. 

It did not work. I was still freezing. 

Lake Albert, Uganda. (Again shot by Reinout Dujardin from Pixabay

So I thought of fire: If I burned the outer layer of clothing… but no, not these jeans… I like these jeans… Maybe if I put the vest and boxers on the outside, and set them alight… 

Luckily a roving boda smoking a filterless cigarette (That is what I am going to call it, cos I ain’t no snitch) cruised up just in time to save me from setting myself alight and was able to convey me to a woteli, where I spent what was left of the night.

I was able to finish my assignment the next day, and even swim in Lake Bunyonyi.

So, the moral of the story: You guys Uganda is such a beautiful place. It is full of areas, sections, parts and regions that look so nice that it is a shame to spend all the time and optic energy we waste living in guKampala. There is so much splendour out there. We have such an amazing country.

I know you are cramped up and claustrophobic and tired right now, especially, but when this is over, let’s go out and see Ug. North, south, east, west, middle, over, under, left and right.

My plot is to get to Ssesse Islands on a moonless week where there is no light pollution. Because this is what the night sky looks like there.

You think when God told Abraham to count the stars he meant that meagre handful you see from Ntinda?

Today’s post is not sponsored because that would mean I was given money to say this. Let us say, today’s post endorses the following tour outfits that you should check out on twitter for a fun affordable Ugandan adventure.

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and if I find any more, I will update that list, then I will holler and we go and dance the jabba under Sipi Falls.

Thoughts on Home (i)

I am locked down in Makindye, far away from my actual home in Kyanja. I’ve been thinking about my homes, and thought I might share these thoughts with you.

The time is half past midnight. I am in the Hodulop, as I call my residence, a curious architectural phenomenon that has the fancy fittings of a posh mansion, but is the size of a muzigo.

I have those broad light switches that are so wide you need your whole palm to use them. You spank the switch to get the light off. Off, you naughty light!

The light itself is a white disc with a steelish lining. The only other place I have seen something similar is on a spaceship that was on Netflix.

I also have the posh taps which you lift and not turn, and I have wooden curtain rods. 

“Eh mama! As if Buckingham!” you are free to say at this point.

Barring the homes I lived in as a child under my mother’s roof, or my time as a prospective husband luxuriously cohabiting in some of the more quaint maisonettes of Najjera, this is the fanciest, most opulent, most classy pad I have ever lived in.

It just happens to also be the smallest. To give you an idea of how tiny it is, I never lose my keys here. Ever.

To give you another idea, it is a bachelor pad that stays neat. Because it’s impossible to find space to waste on litter.

It is on the third floor of the building and the elevation is what charmed me into signing the papers.

I imagined myself sitting on a high balcony with a tumbler of Jack, James or Johnnie watching the evening smother the day’s stress away, like Alan Shore and Denny Crane. I would have a a nice third floor hillside view of Kampala’s suburbs and watch the city’s bluster and its hectic, crazy wolocks ebb into the night.

Escuchala la ciudad respirando I can feel the city breathing. Cheat heaving against the breath of the evening, as the poet said.

My balcony faces west but I don’t get to enjoy the view because, well, I’m never at the Hodulop at six thirty. I’m always at whatever it is I call work that week.

Don’t ask. I do too many things. I just bore three days of a headache trying to come up with a concise CV. They want one page. One page? How big is this page supposed to be?

I do a lot of things. And they keep me out late.

It was only when the Age of Isolation began and I was forced to be at the Hodulop all day that I was finally able to discover and enjoy the strange and unique beauty of a Kampala dusk. After the sun falls, it leaves five shades blending from fire to violet beyond the hills and trees out westward and Venus, the planet, the evening star is sharp, stark and bright.

A Post About My Left Bum

Subtitle: No, not since the last time I was caned.

Of all the thousands shocks that flesh is heir to, I did not expect to be debilitated by a pimple.

I don’t live the healthiest lifestyle. I get vitamins and vegetables in the form of nyanya embisi or embgoa in my tololating TV chicken. I hydrate with whiskey. Exercise consists of a sprightly walk to where my safeboda said he or she was parked.

Unless I have called an Uber, in which case, sprightly walk back to where I parked Spacio Wanderer Car Zibwe because the Uber driver has been twelve minutes away for the past half hour.

I never expected that the thing that would make me too sick to go and work would be, of all things a pimple.

And yet here we are.

The destructive power of this particular katulututu was like that of incompetents in public service. A useless fellow is merely useless, but put him in a sensitive position and a useless fellow becomes dangerous as well. 

In this case, the position of the pimple was my backside.

I was not able to comfortably wear pants, which anyone outside the gigolo profession will tell you are vital to going work.

I tried hitting my workplace, Innovation Village Ntinda, in other attire but that presented other issues.

Even in a kanzu, kiteteyi, gomesi, pencil skirt (Speaking of which, if you see Kentaro, tell her that I am on to her scam. The reason she always leaves clothes at my place is not because she wants to mark territory. It is because my washing lady is better than hers. Tell her she caught me looking.)

Where was I? Yes. Not being able to get to work in a skirt. It was because I could not sit in a car, or on a boda with my nyarsh in this condition.

I did manage to walk painfully to a nearby clinic to see a doctor.

Doc: How are you today?

Bazanye: Why do you guys ask that question when you see me clearly in the office of a medical practitioner seeking diagnosis and treatment? To quote Amy Poehler, Really?

Doc: Your umbrage comes from the fact that you think I am greeting you and expecting you to say you are fine. Not the case, genius. This is me asking for a rundown of symptoms. How are you doing today, meaning how are you suffering, in what parts and to what extent?

Bazanye: Oh. I apologize. Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains.

Doc: Then pull yourself together. Jokes aside…

Bazanye: It’s kind of embarrassing, but, Musawo, I have found a little swelling in my nether regions.

Doc: I see. This is a common situation many Ugandans in this region have, swelling in the nether regions. We in the medical profession call it your ass.

Bazanye: Doctor, this is different. Unless my ass is developing another ass, a third buttock, I don’t think your initial opinion is correct. Especially when we note that the new bump is painful.

Doc: The latter issue is not unusual. This being Kampala, everyone has, if not is, a pain in the ass. But let me take a look.

Bazanye: I hereby, for the record, give consent. You may ogle my bum.

What followed was the part I will not detail because you never know what Annet Kezaabu is aroused by. If she finds it interesting, this blog will be imprisoned.

The conclusion we arrived at was that it was what we call Ejjute in Luganda and I had to limp to the doctor every day for ten days to have the boil cleaned.

There is no point to this story, really no point in me telling you that I once had a boil on my ass. There is no moral to conclude with. Wash your hands and stay home.

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It’s still a beautiful world

It hit me while I was standing at a road junction in a local suburb called Bugoloobi. It was around three PM and my smartphone reported the weather at 30 degrees celsius.It felt as if the sun was sitting on my head and sitting with a very fat bottom.

I squinted up the road and that is when the realisation hit me: this is one ugly place. The roads are cracked and pocked with holes. On each side stand dusty, cracked buildings with ragged laundry wafting out of the windows. Wandering morosely among scattered mounds of trash are skinny stray dogs that look like they could at any minute crumble and just dissolve into a cloud of dust and houseflies.

This place is ugly. And yet it is what my hometown is made of.

You have heard of Uganda because it is famous, and what you heard, because this is what we are famous for, is how gorgeous a country it is. So whence this dissent? Why does this man then claim that it is hideous?

I didn’t say that Uganda is ugly. Uganda is beautiful. And every country is, to be frank. Every country on the face of the earth can be confidently called stunning to look at. Desert lands? Graceful sloping dunes under startling blue skies. Mountain ranges? Regal and mysterious from their mist-covered tops to their green valleys. Tropical jungles? Verdant and lush. 

Lake Bunyonyi, my crush. Thanks for the pix @Nvannungi_ on Instagram

I once saw a photograph of the midnight sun in Antarctica. It was breathtaking. 

Even though all I was looking at was the lower half of the paper being stark white, the other half being just a being a bit less white, and a small round bit that was a sharper, more brilliant white somewhere in the middle, it was still mesmerising. Absolutely amazing.

Every place that God made is beautiful, we conclude from our research, and Uganda, with our rivers, valleys, mountains, plains, skies, lakes, and forests, is no exception.

Until you come to Bugolobi. Bugolobi is cramped, crowded and chaotic. It is all dust, dirt and all you smell is the dung of stray dogs and the droppings of garbage birds. It is repugnant.

And the heat makes it worse, because we know it is our fault. This is global warming. When you are being grilled under 30 degrees and you are staring at four festering rubbish heaps, each within hopping distance of each other, you know why the world is doing this to you. It’s payback. Why do we trash so many mineral water bottles? In fact, why do we drink so much mineral water? Pure water literally falls from the sky free of charge on a regular basis. Why don’t we just carry cups around instead of making so much garbage? No wonder the gods are warming us.

It is as if we feel we have beauty to spare and beauty to waste. 

Kisoro shot By Niyonshuti @nshuti_grapher on IG

Take for example that old trope about which African country has the most beautiful women. It is a question that cannot be answered because, in life, the most beautiful woman is the one who is kind enough to smile back at you, kiss back at you, consider kids with you and not lie to her father about who you are. In short, typically, with the expected exceptions, the most beautiful woman is the one you are in love with. 

And Genevive Nnaji.

Maybe therein lies the lesson. It is my belief that Africa is not unique in history. Everything we celebrate and everything we regret, everything that has happened here has happened before, elsewhere at some point. We go through things not because we are Africans but because we are humans.

It just seems closer and more immediate because it is happening to us. Like Bugolobi. You stand sweating under the heat and dust of this dusty corner or the Bugos ghetto and that’s all you see and feel so you forget that you are actually in a very very beautiful country, a very very beautiful world. 

You fret and fuss over whatever crisis is wringing your poor heart to shreds tonight and you forget that beyond these trying hours, behind them and after them, are many many pleasant days. 

This is an updated version of a piece I first wrote for Suluzulu.com

CoronaVirus: Misinformation spreads faster than the germ itself

Someone coughed in the supermarket last night, so I walked out. 

My exit was calm and orderly, but rapid and deliberate. I steered my cartful of whiskey, toothpaste, Oatbix, and antiseptic dish-washing fluid to a corner of the nearest aisle, clicked my heels, adopted a straight posture and strode out, fast. 

I walked out the way you leave a supermarket when you see your ex in an adjacent aisle and she is holding hands and giggling into the muscly arm of someone taller, more rugby and more beardy than you.

The way you leave a supermarket when you see someone you owe over 50k and you have a bottle of black barrel Jamie in your cart.

The way you exit a supermarket when you see someone who just tweeted something despicable and you don’t want that energy in your lifespace at that time. Like, you don’t have the gas for confrontation, but you don’t want to pretend that you don’t know that they are the scum of the trash. You know the feeling. We all do.

That is how I exited. Quick steps, rapid and firm, back as straight as it would be if there was a literal stick shoved up my ass right next to the perpetual figurative one.

Someone coughed and I left.

I didn’t raise the alarm. I could have yelled, “That nigga’s got the Rona! Everybody, run!” Or at least been civic-minded enough to discreetly DM alert the @MinistryofHealthUg, but nah. I just got out of there as fast as I could. I was only trying to save myself. 

Some of us are only out to save ourselves and will let the rest of you fester in Covid contagion. It’s not like there is only one source of Black Barrel.

The Coronavirus outbreak has revealed a lot of things about Ugandans, like, mob panic is different from individual panic. Consider for example this question: How do you get a global outbreak, a global emergency pandemic that spreads far and fast enough to set the whole planet in panic, out of a disease that can be prevented by merely washing hands with soap?

All Covid-19 needed to get from one province in China to every continent on earth was a reliable string of unwashed hands. This is a plague if not caused, then perpetuated by dirty people.

Uganda should have learned by now, being the host of regular cholera scares, that dudes, you need to wash your hands a lot. 

But then again, we don’t really take cholera seriously, do we? Every time it rears its ugly head, we just shrug the shoulders that carry our filthy hands and proceed as if we didn’t see said familiar face of pestilence. 

I always picture the ugly face of cholera as grey and long, with cockroach tentacles instead of eyebrows, with sunken eyes and a hollow, echoing laugh emanating from a toothless mouth. I imagine its ugly head looking unsettling enough to cause cholera symptoms like vomiting, sleeplessness and racing heartbeat, something that will cause the viewer to shit themselves rapidly and forcefully– instant diarrhea.

And those are the more tolerable symptoms of cholera.

Others are, if not death itself, then rectal pain. That symptom alone should be enough to scare anyone into washing their hands.

And yet Kampala has never treated cholera with as much respect as it is treating Covid-19.

Cholera breaks out and the most you blog-reading elites expect is a few weeks of headlines about other people in slums somewhere in a faraway shadow otherworld beyond the reach of cafe wifi. We don’t ever think it’s going to get us.

Spreading faster than the virus itself is the gallows humour and the gossip, the memes and misinformation. There is a lot of talk about Coronavirus, to the point that, and though I am no mathematician I have a lot of confidence in this calculation– if everyone washed their hands every time they said the word “Coronavirus”, the pandemic would end in x²(b⅔√π)=43.25 minutes.

Many of us, eager to contribute to the conversation, are reading and repeating what we saw in whatsapp forwards, even though we should all know by now that if anything comes to you via a whatsapp forward, it is a lie. 

Even when BelovedOne sends nudes, do not believe them. She is probably wearing a transparent skin-tight gomesi if she sent them on Whatsapp.

And it is not as if the actual facts are that hard to find.

Every day another reliable news outlet, medical site, health organisation re-releases the same list of facts and an updated list of accompanying myths to be debunked.

And every day we spawn a new myth.

I was one of those that scoffed, but if you had seen how I whooped when someone tweeted that Sevo had banned night prayers… I wanted to believe that the Pharisees would let us sleep in silence for just a month, I didn’t even wait to see if dude had actually banned them.

I am looking at a mythbusting graphic now and feeling like quite the hysterical idiot for the way I hotfooted it out of the supermarket last night.

It doesn’t say that I would have had to french kiss Coughy Olumidde at the supermarket for two hours in order for the infection to take root, but it does suggest that I was a bit hasty in the way I ditched my whiskey so fast. 

What I have done now, and I suggest you also do, for the sake of our health, our next few months, and our black barrels, is subscribe to the WHO Covid-19 page. Keep checking for updates, crosscheck any story you hear.

Wash your hands a lot. Avoid crowded places. If you feel the symptoms, get tested right quick. And Check For Accurate Information Regularly.

Here is me and Suki Social Distancing/ Remote Working.

The Youth Are The Leaders of Tomorrow? Since When?

If everyone is a killer where is all the chumps? If everyone is a gorilla where is all the chimps?

That is a line from one of the more delinquent gangsta rap songs I waste my time with now that I am a curmudgeonly old man with no more conscience, compunction or reservations about dancing to songs that glamorize wanton violence and murder.

There are way too many random rap phrases in my mind. And they keep popping up at the least conscionably appropriate times.

Like today. I saw a young woman (lower twenties I will presume, and if books can still be judged by their covers, she is a church-affiliated, NGO volunteer. That sort of look.) She was wearing a t-shirt that said “Leader of today”, by means of having the word “tomorrow” crossed out and replaced.

Leader of tomorrow. Today.

I looked behind her and there was no one following her. I was amused by this. As I have said, I’m old. Old guys amuse ourselves very easily.

I also chuckled to see the adjustment that had been made to a slogan that is older than even me and my crotchety, weather-worn decrepit ass. “The youth are the leaders of tomorrow is a slogan that has been around since I was a youth myself.

And that is what makes me qualified to tell you it isn’t true.

I was told that I was going to rule the world when I was a youth. Because I was a youth, they said, tomorrow, I will be king. But look at me now.

The phrase needed updating, obviously; and the honest thing would not have been to change the word “tomorrow” to the word “today” because the youth are not the leaders of today either.

The youth today are flotsam and jetsam, blown this way and that, powerless against the true leader of any day. The youth are not the leaders of today, they are the chumps, being manipulated by agitprop like that T-shirt to fall in line to be financially, ideologically, and socially exploited by the very opposite of youth — the ancient age-old forces that actually lead the world. Call it fate, call it capitalism, call it tradition: whatever it is, it is not young.

It is been like that since the world itself was young. When Adam and Eve were the only young people in the world, they were manipulated, through flattery and false promises by agents older than them, the serpent which was working for the fallen angel, who was older than the earth.

The youth are not leaders of today, girl’s T-shirt. No they are not.

Okay, okay, let me stop being a smart-ass. I do understand that the phrase doesn’t literally mean that the demographic between the ages of sprouting pubes and sprouting grey are the tyrants who will jackboot and fist-slam their will over us ancient frail and helpless relics.

It is a slogan meant to inspire and motivate young people to believe that if they take the initiative they can change their world for the better. If they don’t resign themselves to be passive victims of circumstance, but rather, actively pursue decisions to alter things, they can improve the world. That is, that if they believe they can lead, they will be able to lead the world. Tomorrow, though. Not today.

And this is true. But, true like the words of the serpent in Eden were “true”. Deceptively true.

Where are all the chimps if everyone is a gorilla?

If everybody is a leader, where are all the followers?

Youth and others in Gorilla form

Even as a youth, when they first told me I was the heir to the throne of the future, I was quite sure I would want to abdicate. I didn’t want to lead anything. I was, and still am, undisciplined, spoiled, lazy, quite greedy and as you can see, prone to cynicism… qualities that do not make a good leader.

And here is the dangerous thing with leadership: it can be good, yes, but it can also be bad and still be leadership.

It also takes special qualities, a special set of personality traits and a developed arsenal of skills to be a good leader: you need empathy, vision, patience, conviction, faith, selflessness, wisdom and humility to be a good leader.

And that is not all. On top of this, you need to be able to learn how to use these attributes, how to mold them into something that can be applied practically to the purpose of taking your society somewhere: skills and training.

To be a bad leader, however, also takes a particular set of traits. Narcissism, entitlement, cruelty, greed, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and the will and readiness to destroy.

Now, give this person the same skills and opportunity that you give Barack Obama and what do you have? Trump.

The Youth Are Leaders Of Tomorrow is the motto of a movement to equip young people with, not just confidence, but leadership skills: not just motivation, but the ability to move.

However, someone equipped the leaders of today with the same skills and this is how we ended up in this mess.

I look at the leading capitalists, politicians, religious shepherds, media gatekeepers, industrialists and lobbyists today and have to shake and scratch my aching head while at the same time trying to shove an another anti-anxiety pill into it. And while asking myself, where did they get the audacity, where did they get the balls, where did they get the gall to do this to the world?

Yeah. Someone gave them the skills. Someone who shouldn’t have.

I am not saying Leaders of Tomorrow Organisations are to blame for today’s tyranny of incompetents.

I don’t believe finger-pointing is the right response when your lack of foresight leads to unfortunate results. Everyone’s lack of foresight does that. And everyone lacks foresight. Even people who blame others for lacking foresight show a lack of foresight in doing so.

Maybe we would have been better off if we had not given assholes the skills to become leading assholes, but that is too facile, too easy, too simple. Complex questions don’t have simple answers — it can’t be that obvious.

Perhaps if we compensate for the lack of foresight with the application of hindsight, a quality us old people have in abundance, we can find a clue here.

This is what I suspect: The problem isn’t just that we can’t sift the good from the bad when we are making leaders — truth be told, the really great leaders, whether they are going to be great in being good ones or great in being evil ones, are quite capable of making themselves. There is such a thing as a natural leader — The problem is us, we have not become better followers.

The youth of today, along with the overwhelming majority of the oldies of today, are the followers of today.

And we are shite followers.

Because we follow bad leadership, that makes us bad followers. Because we let them get away with it. We let them take us to the worst places. We allow them to lead us to the wrong destinations through the wrong paths. We are shite followers.

We never learned, no one ever taught us, not since I was a youth, and not now, how to be a follower. So instead me, my age-mates, the youngins that came after, we are just so much so much debris in the winds blown about by other more powerful forces, so much unresisting, uncomprehending, uncomprehending victims.

I could give examples here. Theft of public funds. Incompetence in public office. Lake Victoria is shrinking. Why do we still have a gender pay gap? The Najjera road. Cops. Political oppression. We are not citizens of Uganda, we are helpless victims of Uganda. We are the grass that is trampled underneath the feet of warring elephants of the proverb. We are the detritus, the collateral, and the fault is not in the stars, but in us that we are underlings.

The youth are mostly, most of them, are going to be the followers of tomorrow, even as much as they are the followers along with us, of today.

The difference is that we can make them better followers. We can teach them to be citizens, to know their rights, to know their duties.

We can teach them expect and demand more from those who come to lead them. To not fall for that transparent ruse of the emperor who claims to be clothed in superiority but to say it loudly, that he is just naked, vulnerable flesh like the rest of us.

To respect themselves and demand that their leaders respect them, too.

To respect their respect and never waste it, understanding that it has to be earned and deserved before it is given.

Most of us, and most of the youth, are not going to rule, govern, guide or lead. We are going to wake up, have breakfast, spend a bit of time with our loved ones, go earn a living, spend some time with our friends, go home, spend more time with loved ones, go to sleep and do it again and again and again until youth is gone and old age has come.

Most of the youth are going to be ordinary people living ordinary lives tomorrow. But to secure that, they need to be able to defend themselves from that tricky, duplicitious and trecherous thing called leadership.

Kids, follow better tomorrow. Don’t be like us.

Vusi Thembekwayo: That Kind of Rock Star

They call him the rock star of public speaking. But the fellow who chatted with us at Innovation Village last week didn’t seem very rock-star-like. Why would they call him that? 

Rock Stars are glamorous, angelic beings from another world, one far removed from the dry dirt, the sweltering sun, the hard earth mere mortals strive through every day. Rock Stars are stars. They inhabit heavens. 

You don’t expect Beyonce to sit on chairs chatting with mere mortals. She probably levitates over a throne.

Vusi perched on his seat, bantering and chatting away, is as unBeyonce as can be. 

Like the way he looks at his audience, making eye contact with one person at a time. He speaks with a keen and earnest tone and rhythm, as if he honestly wants to talk to you, as if he has something important to tell you, something he wants to share with you. He is not performing while you watch, he is talking to you

This is not a rock concert, this is a chat. 

Vusi Thembekwayo is a renowned speaker and entrepreneur who has crossed the globe several times and gathered massive fame and fans since he started speaking about business at the very light age of seventeen.

Now 33, he is one of the best-loved speakers on the continent. His masterclasses attract droves. His YouTube videos draw multitudes. His talks bring in hordes.

His sessions at Innovation Village drew so many fans that the room was packed. We had to set up another array of seats outside the room.

Sounds like a rock star, right? But rock stars are slick and  shiny and spectacular, like Beyonce with her battalions of dancers and her astronomical stage extravaganzas. You leave her rock show feeling like you have witnessed something impossible.

Vusi wasn’t that. Everyone in the room left feeling like they had been having a chat with a buddy.

Albeit a very wise one.

Of course he is not just the talk; he has, in gigantic strides, walked the walk, too. He is a bold and experienced venture capitalist and entrepreneur already, one of the rangers who have conquered the wild frontiers of Rising Africa to the tune of a reported net Worth of $550 million.

Plus, having made his first score at 20, he has only been in the game for twelve years. He is already one of the baddest at the business in Africa and he is only just getting started.

Those twelve years have not just been about accumulating money: he has been gathering hard lessons and hard truths. 

He didn’t just learn how to make money, he learned how to teach, reach out and share what he has learned.

There is a much-liked youtube video where he speaks of failure. He is freshly clean-shaven and clad in a white office shirt. Apart from an ornate purple tie with baroque embroidery, this is a simple and straight-forward scene. Just like meeting your workmate in the lobby.

Vusi talks about his own bad days, bad months, hard times. 

He talks about neuroscience and the psychological imposter tricks that the brain falls for that dampen the drive to get back up and fight on. He quotes Rudyard Kipling.

At the end of it, though you thought he was talking about failure, you realise he was actually talking about the nature of success, how and where to find it.

Vusi talks are like that. He weaves these stories, threading personal experiences and anecdotes into references to great thinkers like Deepak Chopra and Mandela, which he intertwines with everyday life examples drawn from sports, romance and cooking and then, adding a cunningly knitted string of humour, finally presents a warm, secure  garment of wisdom.

He is really good at this. The audience sways to his beat, they vibe along to his song, they are right there with him. 

It is kind of like a really good musician. One of those singers you admire because they make it look easy. 

Except you do more than just admire their style; what makes you a fan is not just how good they sound, it is what they say with that sound. They speak to you. You relate. Their words help you understand your struggle and their stories illuminate your path. 

Like Paulo Kafeero, or John Lenon, or Lucky Dube, or Tracy Chapman: that kind of musician. That kind of star. That kind of Rock star is what Vusi Thembekwayo really is.

The Anita Everything Ebook Project Vol 1

Good evening Uganda and other regions, I am here to announce a series of announcements.

In the form of announcements about series.

Allow me to present, one two three enta

Anita everything epub, pdf, mobi. All Anita Everything chapters compiled into one ebook. Because I don’t think I will be adding to the series, but I loved Anita so much that I can’t just let her vanish into obscurity.

So here’s the link to the epub.

Download The Anita Everything Collection Here

Or if you prefer a pdf, here you go. You can download it and have it printed if you like, or read it on your mobile device.

It’s not free. There is a price.

I’m going to ask that if you like it, please just follow @AnitaFromGgwa on twitter, or like the page Facebook.com/anitaeverything on facebook, and share with someone. Hope you get to love spending time with her as much as I did.

Kisementi and Cussymenty.

Okay, there is Kisementi and there is Cussymenteigh: two circles in a venn diagram.

Each is easy to identify. Cussymenteigh is vulgar, dank and jarring, like a hyena with black bits of old blood coagulated on the end of its neck hairs. A scavenger that comes out at night to rip jugulars out of helpless necks then retreats at dawn with no shame.

Cussymenteigh stretches from Que Pasa, via Sky Lounge to the shadowed alleyway far up the other end, where the discarded durexes pile up each night.

Cussymenteigh’s main function is to facilitate hyena predation. Or, to drop the metaphor, to facilitate the situations where you find someone to have sex with, not because they are cute, but because they bought you four shots of liquor. Fornication. Adultery. Vice. Sluttery. Obwenzi. Usherati. 

I sound judgemental and bitter, don’t I? It is because I am all that and more. I am deeply jealous of the ease with which sex is transacted at such places and embarrassed that I just can not suppress my entrenched church-boy hang ups and just go into Que Pasa and be a normal Kampalan. But I am not a hyena. I have no fangs or claws. I am a fluffy little squirrel, an incorrigible Ted who can never muster the testes to be the Barney the night requires. 

Last time I had a one night stand I sent her a message the next afternoon to see if she got home safe and I suffixed it with a “say hi” to her six-year-old son. It’s needless to say so I needn’t say what never happened again with her.

Kisementi, on the other hand, is warm and tranquil; elegantly, traditionally classy; calm and welcoming. It is not hectic hookups; it’s late-stage stable relationships.

It’s Endiro. It is the Bistro. It is, or it was LaFontaine.

Lafonty was a legend that should have been put on a list with the historical landmarks of this city. Makerere Main Hall, the Queen’s Clock, …..

Lafonty was the perfect cafe: it had all the requisites, all the boxes were checked. Staff who knew your name and your preferences (and whether or not you wanted your conversation with your date to be interrupted mid-sentence with “Is everything okay?” or not. Hint, Java House: the answer was always not.) 

It had coffee so deep and sensual and dark and … there is no better adjective… soooo African

And most important, it had comfortable chairs.

Kiementi, unlike Cussymenteigh, is more  a place to find solitude than a place to seek intercourse. It is a place for people to go and combine caffeine, laptop and cleverness to produce work.

It was the sort of place where you saw white people nurse single bottles of mineral water for four hours straight, demolishing stereotypes and preconceptions about bazungu all being rich and in that way helping bring us all together as one people. Lucky Dube Forever.

Lafonty had arm-chairs and a sofa. Old ones. Those ones so aged and so experienced in the craft of cradling bums that they would not only hold your arse, but your spine and neck would be so supported you would forget gravity was a thing. Aaaaah!

I wrote some of my best work there.

Now all we are left with is Endiro and The Bistro.

I love Endiro deeply, but it was always the side chick. It had the coffee and the great staff, but not as much food and saddest of all, it lacked the seating. 

Endiro seats felt like muwasa jjutte. They felt like takeaway seating. 

Endiro had wooden chairs, like for school. Senior 5 B. Divinity.

I am going to defer to common wisdom that says this is a good thing: to aid concentration and focus, because Endiro was designed, unlike Que Pasa, to be a place for yuppies and e-commuters to work. But I am like Bad Black in her prime: I do my best work in an at least semi-reclined position, if not completely supine. I need cushioning, man.

Great writers all have this elaborate system of rituals and habits that are prerequisite to entering the state of mind that lets them begin to work and I, being a pretty great writer myself, even though you haven’t noticed it yet, have my own. I draft on paper, with a 2b lead pencil, before I type. I take notes while loitering up and down hallways seemingly aimlessly. I try out sentences by speaking them out loud to myself. It looks like I’m crazy, but genius often looks crazy to the uninitiated. 

And also, I lean back.

So this day I brought my yoga mat with me.

So I am sitting here my laptop lit up by Endiro’s easy Roke wifi, with  coffee, and a pair of chicken skewers.

I’m supposed to be writing the Chandler and Frasier novel but my WhatsApp is buzzing with the burden of the week. There’s always something to make my Prozac work up a sweat. This week it’s the coincidence from three different sources– I’m sure they mean well. They mean to be encouraging. But they are all essentially disappointed that I am no longer Bad Idea and that I didn’t transition into something more; I’m not Bikozulu, I’m not Elnathan.

I’m sitting here looking at Where Fat Boys, Just Kicking used to be. I can crane my neck yo see Iguana. Fatboys, Just Kicking, Iguana…This axis of debauchery.

And thinking of change, of duality, I’m changing, you are changing. I am thinking of what Macniece called “the dying that brings forth a newer life” and wondering if I will ever be loved by you again the way it used to be.

I’m still writing Chandler and Frasier. I’m still doing political satire, I’m still throwing jibes at celebrity culture, but  without a bestselling newspaper behind me, I can’t find the same audience size. I’m growing less famous.

I am also turning into an older writer. Parts of me are more introspective, parts of me are more observant, parts more bold. Where I would say what I felt you wanted to hear, now I find myself sometimes imposing, telling you what I want you to hear.

Like this: Uganda has barely existed for half a human lifetime and in that span it has been several different types of country. Hopeless, inspirational, war torn, peaceful, free, shackled, wretched to doom, brimming with promise. Some days it has been two opposite things simultaneously. 

Cussymenteigh and Kisementi.