Let me tell you a story. When I was a young wart hoooooooog. (When he was a young wart hoooooog) I used to hit the club every weekend.
I may need to explain this unfamiliar term to the ducklings who just joined us this decade, by the way. Dear Future Leaders, in the 00s there was a thing called a “night club”. It was like Kenjis, Monot, Alchemist et cetera, except that the whole thing was indoors and you had to pay to get in. Yes. Pay to get in.
In spite of this, people still went there.
Hold onto your recently-achieved adult britches, Zoomers, panic is premature at this point because, you see, it gets worse.
You could pay to enter the club, but the interior was demarcated into levels, each with a more flamboyant amount of decor than the previous, and to gain access to the fancier parts you would have to get a ticket that came at a higher price.
In other words, you paid to enter and paid more to enter more. And then more to enter even more. Now you may say “WTF” and gasp in shock.
We had Club silk at first: a dark room whose air would be flooded with the music of Timbaland and the Neptunes. If memory serves me correctly and it probably doesn’t, there was Silk Royale next, raised above that floor and through which the music of Britney Spears and Nsync would swirl.
Then came Silk Oxycotin, or Silk Opulence or Silk Furthermore– I can’t recall the name now. Probably couldn’t recall it then either, due to these factors: I didn’t like it. Actually, that’s the only factor.
It was the sounds of 90s house music like Tenchotronic, Snap, or worse, Abba and the Bee Gees that submerged you there.
Clever kids have done the maths and calculated the fiscal policy as such: what you paid depended on what type of music you wanted to dance to.
But, Generation Z, with your ripped jeans whose jagged edges injure one another as you raunchily rubadub your peers at Kenjies, you are wrong.
The choice of Club Silk, Silk Royale or Silk Ostentation was not made basing on anything as merely rational as that.
The choice was actually made according to how wealthy you wanted to seem. You always picked the most expensive entry fee you could afford.
Silk Overpriced had a tiny dance area allowed but most of the space was taken by sofas. Partially, of course, because of how boring Abba, Dr Alban and that house music version of Another Day In Paradise were, not to mention the stultifying dullness of the so-called “Kool” and his gang. But also because it was not made for partying– it was probably the area where the blessers would sit and wait for their toyboys and sugar babies to work up enough endorphins for the cross-generational sex that would conclude the deal this whole night was a part of.
Silk Royale was where I would go. If the other one was for the blessers, this was for the ballers, the ones who waste money showing off by paying to climb stairs. This, wasting money, remains, to this day, the defining difference between having money and having kko some kamoney.
I had kko some kamoney because I was another thing you won’t believe existed in the 00s– a well-paid media worker.
I was a “society reporter” or “entertainment journalist”. We were the precursors to the dipshit slimeball muckracking scumbags that man those bu-tabloid websites, clawing at their spittle-encrusted keyboards in fits of frenzied, over-marijuanated envy, misspelling fabrications as shallow and unimaginative as they are mean-spirited and cheap.
I know that seems personal and harsh. And yes, I do have a tiny little bone to pick. Last year I had a spat with a rude askari at a mall, stormed out in a hiff, tweeted about it, one of their idiots saw it, scratched at its keyboard in a fashion so vulgar it would have done better work on a ballsack and now an article on their website says mbu I had horn-rimmed glasses.
We were actually journalists, though, and would be paid to go to Silk Royale to write about Obsessions doing a floor show, or Ragga Dee dropping his latest song, or Michael Ross being the super-talented phenomenon Michael Ross was then, and in my eyes, still is. Even Ginuwine will allow.
The DJ was, unfortunately, racist, and assumed all ballers had bad taste in music, which is why he only played boy bands, Mambo Number 5, Eyimacarena, and whatever it was that Peter Andre whined about. They say find a job doing something you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life?
If you love pop music and find a job going to dance halls you will work dreadry and drudgery-wraught nights.
So my three peers and I would stick through the crap music until the event we came to write about was done, then, finally, the four Guinnesses pulsing through my arteries would wake the true Ugandan in me. My kagoma gene would stir to wakefulness. The call of the drum would prick my African soul and my knees would say, “Young man, you need to make the most of us while you still can. Let us go downstairs to Club Silk, now! The DJ is playing My Love Is Your Love by Whitney Houston and Wyclef Jean!”
Aate was I going to argue against such?
So I ditched the ballers and ran downstairs to where the poor kids dance and sure enough, the DJ was playing My Love is Your Love.
Youth. Kids. Generation Z. Baana mwe. If you have not heard My Love Is Your Love By Whitney Houston and Wyclef, please, tell Siri to play it now. I assume you have good bluetooth earbuds– don’t play it on the phone speaker.
Clap your hands y’all, alright,” said Whitney.
I clapped both.
“Clap your hands y’all, alright,” she reiterated.
I repeated compliantly. And that groove hit the spot and soon me and this girl in a purple dress were getting down.
Youth. Kids. Generation Z. Baana mwe. Never dance with another person under any of the following circumstances:
Four Guinnesses on an empty stomach in an era before the popularisation of the rolex
One of you is wearing purple, and
Whitney ‘langside Clef are booming My Love Is Your Love.
You will fall in the most stupid love that has ever been plummeted headlong into. Even the Chitauri who fell when Iron Man closed the portal will look at you with pity as you plunge to such a doom.
After Whitney has said “It will take an eternity to break us and the chains of Amistad couldn’t hold us,” as her closing statement, you will ask Purple Dress Girl for her name and number and she will lie to you.
She said her name was Patience Kyomugisha and when I called after the traditionally mandated day and a half, the phone was answered by one Hajji Mulumba who runs a hardware business in Jinja and has never worn a purple dress, much less worn it at Club Silk.
I don’t go clubbing these days. No one does, apparently. You go “out” I’m told. I don’t go “out” but there was a time I drove past Nexus and I think I heard Ed Shearan claim that the club is the best place to find a lover. We need to find a way to stem the spread of harmful misinformation in this day and age.
Now, you guys met me when I was more mature and better presented. I had developed the sense to keep a regular haircut and I chose deodorant on the basis of quality, not the basis of just fwaa. I had become charming, good looking and was kind of famous to boot. When you began reading Bad Idea I was a snack.
But back then, I was a mess. The lousist aspects of being a lousy 23-year-old scrub were evident all up and down my scrawny, unkempt frame. So I don’t nenya Purple Dress Chick for taking advantage of my groovy dance moves for My Love Is Your Love and then running away from me, leaving me nothing but a litter of lies.
Hey, Purple Dress Girl, if you are out there reading this, I hope you are happy and have a great life. I hope you found a great partner and that your love is their love and their love is your love and it would take an eternity to break you. I hope you have a rewarding career and nice kids. I hope you still look astounding in purple.
No, don’t holla after reading this. I’m not interested anymore. I’m just saying if you are reading this, call Hajji Mulumba and explain, please.
I am a shortsighted person, the kind who wears glasses and is referred to as maaso aana by the kind of boda boda or taxi conductor who was not raised properly by its mother. I am sure the poor lady tried her best, but some heads are just too thick– the layer of emputtu is just too deep to penetrate and even after years of slippers, kiboko and engolo, no manners ever managed to get through.
So, this is the end result. I walk past the stage with my car keys prominently displayed in my hand, my stride deliberately pointed towards the parking lot, my face set in what I truly believe is the most brazen, flagrant and unmistakable expression of a man who is getting ready to drive in his own Spacio, and the bodas and condis still call, “Maaso aana ogenda?”
I am also longsighted. I turns out one can be both. So in addition to the glasses I wear for my myopia, I need another pair for reading. This came as quite a surprise to me, because the only time I ever read books on paper is when I am looking at my own written notes and if I show you a sample of those lawless tangles of chaos and mayhem you will understand why it took me so long to realise that I needed reading glasses.
Look at that. Don’t you automatically assume that the reason you can’t read that is because it is illegible?
In addition to this, I have wisdom, cunning, and a talent for understanding things about people and situations, a skill that lets me get the meaning beyond the obvious. This is called insight.
So, I have normal glasses or maaso aana, plus reading glasses, making it maaso mukaaga, then add the insightf and it makes apt and perfect sense that I own eight pairs of spectacles.
Five are from Wazi Vision and the latest three pairs are from House of Penda, a local small business that you should know about if you have short or long-sightedness.
You know how you have to spend like 200k to get the worst frames in the opticians office? Call House of Penda and get excellent deals on beautiful frames at half that price.
The discounts were so seductive, I bought three pairs of frames before Sevo locked us down and stopped my spending spree in its tracks. But once we are unlocked, I will be unleashed again, because I shall need to make myself sexually attractive again and one way to do that, as we all know, is having the right eye-wear.
But I did not come here to kulanga House of Penda. Check them out on facebook or on twitter or
on instagram but do it later. First, let me tell you a story.
It is a familiar battle that those afflicted with myopia must fight over and over again, a never-ending source of strife: the day always comes when you need your glasses but you can’t find your glasses because you are not wearing your glasses and can’t see where your glasses are.
Long before I became rich and reckless enough to go about buying eight different pairs of spectacle frames (I have a different pair to match each of my watches, man. I am either a baller or I don’t know fiscal policy), long before that, I owned only one pair, like a normal person.
And living a normal person’s life, I walked into my kitchen and chopped up my onions.
I smiled inwardly with self satisfaction and laughed quietly at all those losers out there who can’t cut onions without weeping all over the room because those losers don’t have glasses to shield their eyes. Lol! Such losers.
After enjoying that moment, I chopped the tomatoes. Wasn’t as much fun but was necessary, so I did it anyway. I then assembled the spices. I addressed the chicken (It is just something I believe, as an African. We should show chicken more respect than we do. So when I get the chicken out of the bag and lay it out on the board to be chopped up into pieces, I first say a few words:
“Hey kuku. Gyebale. Yeah. I can see that you are dead now and stuff. I don’t know how that’s working out for you, but it’s going to be great for me. Cos I’m going to eat you, I am so going to eat you. Man, I am going to eat the ass off you. Literally, cos I can see the twingiri part there. Some people say the twingiri is the tail. I think it’s the ass. Anyway, I just want to say, I hope you lived a fun life, were free range, and were slaughtered humanely. You were not one of those chickens that like were set upon by a pack of stray dogs and ripped apart limb from limb but just before the hounds could finish you off, the LCs heard the noise and came over and scattered them, so you were left there, dismembered and disemboweled, slowly dying a gruesome death, before one of the LCs spotted you and then thought, ‘Hey, I could take this carcass and pack it in a bag and sell it to maaso aana who lives up the hill. He won’t know its not from the supermarket.’ I hope that’s not what happened. Anyway, let’s do this.”
I had the ingredients ready, the pan on the fire, the podcast connected to the Bluetooth speaker and was ready to cook.
Which I proceeded to do.
I spun and stirred and they sizzled and sazzled and steamed with all the promise of deliciousness that was to come and it was during this process that the problem started. The steam was clouding up my glasses. I could not see what I was cooking. I had to take them off.
No problem. The distance between my head and my pans is not great. Even my relatively lousy retina can still capture the details I need to bring the enterprise to a successful conclusion. So I took the glasses off, put them away, and proceeded to cook my wonderful dish.
When the stew was simmering, I did as all the finer chefs do when the saucepan is ready to chill but the podcast is not finished. I started on the washing up. Popped the knife and the cutting board and all other related paraphernalia into the sink, dunked them into the suds of antibacterialised soapy water, did a bit of scrubbing, until finally, the podcast ended, then I abandoned the sink and went to eat.
I had a delightful dinner. Alone of course. I am a great cook, but not a generous one. Mbu I invite who mbu jangu tulye? Did I invite them mbu jangu tugule ingredients? Did I invite them mbu jangu tugule gas?
I enjoyed the meal, and enjoyed the nap afterwards, and then it was time to do other things.
But I couldn’t find my glasses. I checked all the usual places– my head, my chest, the desk, the bag, the floor, all the usual places.
Things got so bad I had to shout into my sitting room: “Okay Google! Call Kevin! On Speaker!” because I could not grope around and find the phone. Two things you can’t find without your glasses are your glasses and your phone.
When Kevin answered I had to begin with a litany of apologies. “Look, I’m sorry. I know you say it every time that I am not the neighbour you want to get phone calls from, but please, listen, I need your help.”
The insight we mentioned earlier is why I did not tell him that the neighbour he did want to get a phone call from, the one at C-3, was not going to call him at that hour, not at that night, because I had seen her boyfriend’s uber drop him off. I had heard the Usher CD they always play at full volume so we don’t hear them doing their Usher things. But now it was quiet in C-3, so she was probably deep in post-coital slumber and was not going to call anyone’s phone any time soon.
Kevin walked into mi casa, with his big, round 20-20 capacity eyes and reported that the spectacles were not in plain sight, not even to him. So he then did that thing you people do whenever someone tells you they can’t find something.
He asked, “Where was the last time you saw them?”
A: I don’t see my glasses. I see through them. They are glasses. They are transparent. And B. Every time you ask someone where was the last time they saw something, it is annoying and irritating because duh, don’t you think that was the first question they asked themselves? And then they go straight to the last place they last remember having the lost object and, as always, lo and behold, there the guthing is.
In this case the glasses were in the sink with the half-washed dishes.
That was a long time ago. A long long time ago. Such a thing can not happen to me now because I cook so rarely. At the most twice a week. Otherwise I order in from Portions down in the valley (If you are in Kyanja area, do the same. Their chicken stir fry is so good, I am sure their chef addresses his chicken in tribal proverbs and quotes philosophers.)
And, of course, because, I have eight pairs of glass, fam! If I can’t find one pair, well, I pick up another pair and use it to find the other one.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How are you guys? I heard that Kipse passed the Bar exam. The Kenya National Water and Sewerage Company must be wondering where this sudden upsurge in load came from. You had better duly inform them that after whole clans crapped their pants upon hearing the news, they decided to spend the rest of the week in the lavatory, just to save on laundry and detergent as they came to terms with the news.
I remember him as a child back in Buru Buru and the excuses he would come up with when he was caught with sugar sticking to his lips and his fingers. I remember him as a teen in Parklands and the excuses he would make when he was caught with underage alcohol on his breath. I remember him as an undergrad and the excuses he would make when he was caught with his lecturers’ daughter’s lipstick all over his head. That boy’s mouth was great at getting him into trouble but that same mouth was just as adept at getting him out of it.
Now he is a lawyer? Other people can actually come to him and hire him to use his lies for their own exoneration? We have a saying in my village: “The rat found the keys to the closet where grandma stores the grenades,” we say. We save it for situations such as this.
But we will drown under that bridge when he collapses it. For now, let us think happy thoughts. Like what a wonderful time you guys had at the Climate March last week. I saw the selfies! I don’t know if it is woke to say, given the circumstances, but Shamim was looking hot,
Guys, we should all do what we can to save the globe. Climate Change is as you say “Noma kabisa” and “Woiyee” and “Ai Jameni!” and “We’re like so totally scrizzewed, dawg” in your various colourful and graceful ways.
Here in Uganda all we are doing is mocking climate change deniers on twitter while buying more and more cars, shaving the trees off hills and smothering the lakes with plastic. I would be a bit embarrassed about this if it wasn’t for this unique and unexpected contribution to the problem you guys have offered.
Thanks to you guys, we don’t feel so bad about slowly murdering our planet. Because, as usual, Kenya has one-upped us.
You guys have been farting a lot.
Not only did I get this message from The Daily Nation:
“Rangwe MP Dr Lilian Achieng Gogo has demanded a law to combat farting on planes arguing that it can cause ‘discomfort and insecurity on board’ flights.”
But the BBC soon followed with this news:
“A heated debate about market stalls was disrupted by a foul smell and furious finger-pointing at a Kenyan regional assembly on Wednesday, local reports say.”
Kenya, what is going on? What are you eating?
I don’t want to sound intolerant, even though you guys sound lactose intolerant, but what have you been feeding your leaders if their emissions are of such potency?
We in Uganda have long looked to Kenya as role models, as something to aspire to — wow! A nation that actually changes presidents through the ballot? Ugandan tourists to Kenya scramble for bus tickets just to set eyes on the miracle that is the Kenyan voter.
But now I suspect that what we have long feared has come to pass. We, and that includes nations all over the world, have long allowed our government personnel to spew foulness into the air with abandon, to exude vile fumes without consideration. Only up to this point the fumes had been coming out of the top end of the alimentary canal in the form of words. Now that they have decided to just let the farts come out the more natural and easy route, should we be surprised?
No we should not. This was inevitable, to quote the great economist poet Thanos.
But I am sure you are thinking what I am thinking. We can use this to our advantage. Now that we know that not only do leaders go pfutt on planes and at assemblies but that they disperse at the smell, we can use this to our advantage.
Kenya, you are truly pioneers in the region, you guys have all the great ideas.
Next time we see a bunch of politicians gathering we will just serve them some beans, cheese and eggs and wait. It will only be a matter of time before the assembly is forced to disperse.
Thanks for the idea, guys. This is the best thing you have given us since the last one.
I have got to go now, because we have to gather the eggs that induce the most potent chemical reactions. That means the wild chicken of the Bulabira Jungle region of Uganda. They are not easy to catch because they are the size of goats and have teeth, but we need the best eggs for this excersise.
Please give my best regards to Hellen, Adhiambo and Richo.
My first suggestion is the best. Don’t. Don’t do it. Let that cadaver continue to rot in whatever sector, stratum or suburb of hell it was assigned to by our just God and do not resuscitate. It died. Let it stay dead.
Do not give government another business. Giving government a business to run is like giving me high heels to walk around in Komamboga– Every time that happens they get ruined. I don’t know if it is my bowlegs or the fact that I tend to walk with this weird off-axis, broken-rhythm shuffle that makes the GPS wonder if I am trying a new despacito-influenced form of jabba, but every time my girl lends me her high heels I ruin them. Deformed in the front and shattered in the back. Shapeless and broken.
She has learned not to repeat the mistakes of the past. That is why she left me to just wear Puma sneakers.
And it is also why she just left me.
Telcoms are not in the business of selling simcards or even of selling numbers. They are in the business of selling airtime. The more numbers you have out there the more business you get.
So, I was going to suggest that they give the utl cards out for free but then even I am not that daring a humorist. That joke is way too extreme and outrageous for me. Mbu give a person a free utl simcard. And he does what with it? Pick kitatis out of his teeth?
You need to add value. Incentive. You can’t just give a Ugandan this card, you have to provide a reason for us to bother to take it.
So, make utl lines OTTT exempt.
Nze me for me as Bazanye, son of Bazanye, muzukulu of Sempebwa, born of Nagawa, I have extensive experience in being a Ugandan, as evidenced by my grey chin. Me who you see here, a man so patriotic I should be carrying a red black and gold vibranium shield and being referred to as Captain Uganda while I strut my mulondo enhanced muscles in tights, even I jammed to pay OTTT. And I don’t use VPN either. If you see me online it’s public WiFi.
It’s a stupid tax and I am not so patriotic that I will do stupid stuff for my country.
Until gava comes out and says, okay, we lied. It’s a tax on educational, business and information communication through these selected channels not a lugambo tax as we said; until you come clean I will keep my two hannad. If you come clean, I will pay it.
But that is besides the point. Editor, do what you feel is appropriate with that diversion. Serve the people.
So, if UTL gives OTTT-exempt sim cards we will take them. Not that we will flock to them because well, it’s still utl and Twitter just isn’t worth that much bother.
Okay. How about this. Gava really wants guys to register for IDs but significant numbers of us are in no rush to. Not least because the public sector is a tedious, inefficient pain in the ass but also because well, when the choice is between going to NIRA and going to the DVD store, no contest.
They have tried all kinds of threats. They cut off our phone numbers? We are now using the numbers of deceased relatives or at least buddies who went to outside countries. Mugenzi and Mutambuzi are still very busy talking from mast to mast in UG.
They locked us out of our bank accounts, so now Bank of Ugandan records show that my Askari has several million shillings in her Stanchart current account.
How about carrots instead of sticks, gava? How about a change of perspective. Imagine if we were citizens who you are here to serve us, not subjects here to be ordered around. Imagine if you were the government of a democratic republic and not lords of a feudal state. Then instead of beating us you could try incentivising us.
It may be too much to ask you to make getting an ID convenient, easy, efficient and more liable to get the gender right the first time so maybe just give the us the ID with a free a utl simcard with a couple of GBs on it.
It’s not the same thing as bribing us to vote but it will work as if as well. And three free GBs will go some distance in mitigating the irritation at being labelled a 23-year-old by NIRA.
Plus, if we all have government issued phone numbers you can track us properly from whatever KGB HQ you are building that made you want to give us Soviet Union-style ID papers in the first place.
I don’t really know who Sheila Gashumba is. She may be, and this is the theory I am running with, a kind, pleasant, warm, smart, hardworking, Christian lady; she may be an angel, a paragon of virtue and industry. Don’t say I am trying to throw shade.
But I am old so I don’t really know much about her.
I did see her on a billboard advertising a service that allowed those who cannot afford to pay for full mobile internet access as well as OTTT to get online.
I mentioned that my interpretation of this was that Sheila Gashumba was the spokesperson for low-income phone users.
Whereupon my head was chewed off.
I stood corrected, aggressively educated nti she is a very wealthy woman who makes it a point to have this fact regularly manifest in her social media. My bad.
But this leaves us with the lesson. Don’t use rich chicks to advertise broke chap’ stuff. If you want to advertise cheap phone services, use Roger Ochen. Roger is so cheap that he buys a Rolex, separates the ingredients to make three meals for the day. Eggs for supper, nyanya n’emboga for breakfast and chapu for lunch.
That’s the one who should influence free utl simcards with no OTTT and free GBs if you go to NIRA.
Finally, don’t call it utl in lower case because .auto correct keeps changing it to UTI.