The main course


image courtesy NPR

A world in peril. Rebellious winds and persistent rainfall that foils your plans. A long agonizing hiatus away from my blog and a spanking new laptop i had just got from my sister. huff! Unexpected events that yanked me away from some rich plans i had, all of this on my mind and the sojourn in a desolate hopeless little town where men sit on shop verandas from morning to dusk-when the shops open. They sit there, sheltered from the sun sipping gin, playing some cards or other game, ludo-the old ones prefer only to talk to each other, looking at the road, watching chickens crossing the road and young boys riding bikes past; to Isimba  HEP project being built by the chinese. They wave at people they know and take their time talking to strangers they encounter in the area, a dusty town of old folk and young men who have come to find work.

It’s a drab life out here save for the cacophony of jukebox  bars and a wooden movie ‘theater’ with crackling sound and occasional staccato of gunfire emanating from the kind of movies popular with village youth yearning for excitement. They are war movie buffs. A friend of mine invited me out there and i stayed for a month, eating an unvarying diet of cornmeal bread and vegetables and beans. The weather changes have severely hurt the farmers all around. All the seeds they sowed dried up or sprouted but are now stunted with yellowing leaves. The only plant to survive is a sugar plantation next to the dam being built. The Chinese at the site like to eat pork and to smoke. They smoke all the time.

I thought in the world where we live, people are beginning to adopt to frugal habits. You know when you walk around with a righteous feeling looking around you to catch someone doing evil. It is hypocrisy to believe you are connected to mother earth then go behind other folks backs and snatch it’s prized babies and take them away somewhere to butcher and make stew out of them. For health reasons. Why pick on the precious Pangolin, why now? How about considerately developing a taste for some of those numerous bird species? Over time, who knows, you might come to love it so much your body takes a liking for it it craves and starts asking for it. Perhaps you might start raising them or turn it into sport hunting like they do, the English and have full fun. The Chinese, billions of them, held it down as a conservative society for a long time and had much respect as conscientious livers but some devil got into them and they have become materialistic and now love  living life lavishly. So they say in the papers.

But shouldn’t one ask themselves why as tasty as pork is and quite so dear especially to my country folk we call it ‘the national delicacy’-have the good old Chinese picked on the prized and rare Pangolin for choice meat regarded very highly now we either figure out plans how to ruin their party by killing their appetite for it or find somewhere to hide our precious Pangolins. Alas, the wise men from the east, now avid global investors so prized by government keep strolling in through our airport lobby, carrying a lot of love in their hearts! Woe to my clan, that’s our totem god knows where it will end. The Pangolin is scaled, very rare and shy and is an endangered species now being eyed by a burgeoning Chinese middle class gourmand eye. The scales and skin are used for medicine in china. I know you have heard a bowl of it so i will shhh. In other sad news, much of the old gold is gone or ailing, it bruises my heart and they are too many to name. Carry on brave ones, the sun is a mighty force and will not leave us soon, stay blessed.

The year that was

Happy new year…i heard the words it was nice like warm chocolate and went quietly over and here is 2016. i cautiously peel the page on the new one and understand it could well be the pet with unknown habits. How was 2015? How did it end? Did it end on a note of triumph, mischief, or was it all a tragic disgraceful event where you ended up bent into compliance. Did it leave a bad aftertaste that made you regret allowing people to ride roughshod over you when you allowed them unfettered freedoms? (Do not wring your hands, go on and like the post).

The new year is still too new to fret about but i warn you, i so badly want fresh things in this one here. I want to feel the keen side of 2016, the biting, cutting sarcastic side of it. I read too much muck last year i think i caught the bug for a dose of some feel good hormone…i need plenty of gimme-that type of moments… i need sleaze!

I dont want to read anything to make me snort or look at anything that gives play to whatever impulse tickles my conscience without really having the slightest idea about how good it’s going to get . I want the stuff!

In the year, connivers have it out there will be enough to smile about and most will be busy trying to locate the tastiest morsel. I dont expect it to be laced with too much of shock value, just a morose dang sort of affair, something to keep ’em twitching. I need a sharp little bark in the brain

In the great new year is to be expected just th’ right sort of sleaze, if you get the drift, something to keep the socks dry but sobering enough to remind us how the mighty have fallen in the past and a cautionary tale to those too quick with a snide remark or a chiding smile. You too, are not immune.

So in the new year, be gruff and earthy, demand with righteousness. Let them feel they are a-comming on to you, be smug and content, share, learn to share-i will be on this end waiting with itchy toes. Pass on and foster not anyone’s bad habits. Let us all thrive and live long.

2016 will be the great new year we’ll get to find out nothing lasts forever, everything good comes in small doses. If someone loves you, it’s only right to love ’em back, that’s the spirit so do the dew, don’t sweat the small stuff, let us all care and peaceful journey.

Are You An Anthropocentrist?

Laura Grace Weldon

animal intelligence, anthropocentrism, Paradise, by Gillis d’Hondecoeter circa 1575

When I was growing up we were taught humans were at the top of every chart, far superior to all other living beings. Our textbooks, illustrated with stereotypical images of “cave men,” proved the assertion with a long list of what our species could do that others could not. The list was so smug that I was a bit embarrassed on behalf of my fellow homo sapiens. A skeptic even then, I thought the list was somewhat prejudicial. Worse, it didn’t acknowledge what feels obvious to young children, that we are all things and all things are us.

I don’t for a moment dismiss our many human accomplishments—among them language, science, the arts, and shared rules meant to advance mutual compassion. I simply mean to point out that we’re not better, we’re different.

Besides, what I was taught as a kid doesn’t really hold up. Here are…

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A dismal plan

There shall be peace on earth

Or there won’t be an earth

-you can take my word for it

there shall be wise men

To rise up and lead

With bold action and a sure step

Going forth with a steady vision;

calm gleam in the eye

Where shall we live on earth?

shall we live by the edge of the sea

in order

to guide back returning ships

heavy-ladden with goods from foreign lands

my dear?

perhaps we will be happier further up the coast

where we will live in a staid villa

And take walks in expansive quiet parks

There will not be snarling dogs

Or hissing snakes

I dream of a forest nymph

Doing a dainty dance all alone

Oblivious to obvious stare

Eerily at peace

I dream of a time to come

Such as non before

A time of sovereignty and peace

We will take our walk along the boulevard

And survey our grand empire of a city

In the soft light breeze of an evening hour

And atop a hill off to the side,

take in the sweeping view

and marvel at the wondrous nature

of our work

music and laughter and mirth

shall be all we know

come with me mon armie

lets take our walk

our walk of truth and purpose

now older

more certain of our beliefs

come with me on a whim;

nay-have faith

the word is right


A place called memory


def: [merriam-webster]

1. :a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past

2. something created by humans usually for a practical purpose; especially :  an object remaining from a particular period <caves containing prehistoric artifacts>

My definition goes like this:

“man-made [material] objects produced within a given society over a given period of time and which represent a particular time in that society’s evolution”.

As society, we progress and advance and we carry with us our ‘materials’, our tools and devices that we use to perform the tasks necessary to live. There are some things we need on a daily basis like our cell phones, and all the other small accessories that have come to define the tech age of civilization. I like the  solar phone charger. There are numerous other new products out on the market and for one who lives in Kampala, if you want a phone with any type of feature, be assured you can find it here! We are indeed living in wonderful times. Speaking of ‘artifacts’, there will  always be the Sony Walkman. The turntable. The Panasonic mash stereo player with the super-woofers. Such stuff. I feel we are at a crossroads, like something is about to disappear from before my eyes while i am looking at it, still enjoying the look of it and savoring that look. Some images are disturbing to look away from. You see, as technology gives us more, it takes away what we  cherish so more than anything new life could ever give and i know there are folks who feel me on this.

We give up something in order to get a taste for  what gets served next. We give up what was familiar. It’s like losing a friend. We give up the joy of physically holding something, we give up memory. Texture. Contours. I myself need to find the wherewithal to collect some of the precious things from my past and hold those close before they disappear like a mirage before my very eyes! The good things have this tendency to disappear before one’s very eyes. Fellow nostalgics, be pleased to learn that i don’t want anything new immediately. I want to preserve the music and the iconography of it’s various genres/artists. In this new hormonal, utterly selfish, irresistible sudden urgent feeling, i am like a teen. I want the classic pin-ups on the walls-wrong;  i want one classic pin-up on the wall. Wrong i want all  my pin-up classics on one wall. Ugh. Bye y’all.

The seven hills

a view of nairobi form community hill. net image

The beautiful picture above is of Nairobi city. The angle it was taken from is atop community hill and the photographer is none other than the inimitable Mutua Matheka. I know community hill because i lived in Nairobi for a while(i grew up there) and there is the Kenya National Library which i frequently went to. Very well-stocked library. I am writing this in fiery reaction to a story i have just read online about the “top intelligent cities” awards. It is essentially about cities that have continually adopted to changing technological, social-economic and business environments and innovated in this new era, using different strategies to cope and adopt- i mean actually thrive. Well, now i am back home and living in my capital city; Kampala which at this time of year is very hot and everyone is perspiring and the smart ones hydrate themselves often.

What i miss about Nairobi is the road network. The connectivity and ease of movement from point to point. It is very convenient to move about in Nairobi. You can go from east to west, north to south without passing through the CBD. Over the years, there have been intensive capital investments in the Kenya’s real estate industry and to see what i am talking about, just visit the suburbs such as West lands. The Kenyan governments from past eras have encouraged this development of roads infrastructure to see to it that it helps improve transportation to and from hotels to airports. This emphasis was meant to ease the movement of Kenya’s formely numerous tourists. Thanks to Al-Shabbab, that, sadly; is no more.

Nairobi was very well-laid out from the very beginning. Contrasted with Kampala, whatever they ever laid out has survived through periodic maintenance and upkeep. We in Kampala suffered the travails of war and political instability and the tanks rolled in the country and through Kampala, guns blowing holes in the buildings.

President Museveni came to power in 1986 and found a war-torn, emptied Kampala. Soldiers and rebels had been living in the hotels which were mostly shattered.  During the 90s, i went for school holidays and was dismayed at what i saw. Gaping holes in the sides of buildings and a warren of paths through a local second-hand cloth and agricultural produce market where most of those who sold decent bedsheets/bed covers were Makerere graduates. I could not understand this. Well, it was because there was very little office space then. There was a miniscule bureaucracy and so there were no jobs for all who streamed out of universities. The culture of ‘magendo’ or dealing in buying and selling of industrial products, cloths, small hardware, things like bar soaps, sugar sacks, confectionary, cloth, etc took root during this time. People did it this way to survive. There was almost no existing industries in Uganda then, all our industrial needs were met by Kenyan imports. Especially medical and household supplies.

I did not set out to compare two cities but the fact i want to point out that Nairobi won the spot for “most intelligent city” in Africa not by default. Kenyans have always embraced change positively, both political change and social and economic change. They are supportive of government programs that promote local investment. They are not all supportive but the supportive ones are those who matter. We in Kampala, with our natural resources-green countryside, abundant water resources and plenty of a wide variety of foods, exotic wildlife and beautiful hills, the good topography as well, Kampala could look very good if only we had enough capital to build a modern grid of roads and clear away the garbage. Perhaps if we streamlined the rate of graduates spilling out of our institutions of higher learning with meaningful job creation(someone actually working the job they trained for rather than merely rotting away selling chinese-made phones) we could grow our intellectual capital-people development whereby they contribute to social change. The business of development cannot be left to the few who hold real jobs. They are so very few.

Nairobi sped away while we were busy opposing different regimes in the name of the tribe and ethnicity- in the bush and elsewhere. After the war, government worked very hard disarming militants and clearing the country of weaponry. As a result of years of turbulence and lots of youths that had terminated their studies, a ‘kibanda’ or get-out-of-my-way-let-me-do-my-thing culture and way of thinking took root after the war. Those who survived the AIDS scourge and managed to prosper through the succeeding years are now self-made business men swaggering  around or schmoozing with moneyed people, always talking about riches and wealth. To them, nothing else matters.

We therefore let in through our doors this element of small local business way of personal progress where everyone is on their own, ‘making their own money’, numerous small personal projects many of which fail or crush shortly after take off. Our eyes are not elevated toward the national horizons where they should be. To put it mildly, i think we lack a common struggle but many of us have not realized that yet. Happy new year to everybody!