Who can and is ready to change Uganda ?

I have come to learn that at one point in everyone’s life, there reaches a time when nothing makes sense. A time one desires to be alone. When the world is nothing but noise and you relegate yourself to being a spectator of your own life. I have been in this corner for the past year and five months. This period has largely been one of self-reflection, readjusted friendships and bad decision making. In spite of the fact that a lot can change in a few months, the only constant in my life has been me. This has brought me to question my role in society, specifically the world around me.

As a millennial born in the late 1980’s I would like to think I am part of the generation that has changed the world’s perception of Africa as a continent and Uganda as my country out from the colonial branding of “darkness” to the light. However, when I look for this change in my country, it is not as profound and impactful as I one may think or see. Besides education and enlightenment of the world around them, most of my fellow millennials view their empowerment and contribution to society through self-taught savvy usage of social media and blogging. This has been a great stride towards self-empowerment as it has allowed them to shape and tell their own narrative and extend connectivity through community driven activism against government oppression, social inequality and equip themselves with the knowledge to craft an adhoc innovative catered way of life. However, I question whether this is an accurate portrayal of who we as the supposed generation Z?

According to the older generation, our kind has been described in less positive terms. We have been called self-entitled, idle, narcissist and those who depend on their parents. Our generation has been viewed from a partly misinformed perspective, mostly motivated by over simplified characterization of our mindset. For this, several misguided campaigns haven bee directed at us on the basis of such myths and false suppositions.

However, when I look at my peers and age mate, I find that most of the notably assumed attributes used to define us are true. When I took to my parents, they speak of a time in their past ages when our generations where much similar. They to speak of a time they cared nothing about tomorrow or the state of politics, but instead where preoccupied seeking to live to good life. So if one is to say this and our parent’s generation where similar, would my/our assumptions of this generation be misguided? My generation is one that is relatively at ease with technology as an outstanding aspect and view themselves as setup from past generations. However, as an African, is this a complete definition of the attributes that others may associate with the developed world?

The smartphone has become permeating in Uganda. The catapult influence of many countrymen whose initial interaction with technology has been the smartphone has left a far reaching impact. So what are the fables and actualities of my generation?

We are young and the mainstream: Reality

Uganda by large is the youngest country on the African continent. The oldest millennial is approximately 38 years with the youngest being approximately 16 years. Factor this with a population of 45 million, millennial take a portion of over 70 percent of the entire nation. So yes, we are the new generation with the largest numbers.

We are mobile and allied: Reality

Even though we have a growing mobile phone penetration rate, only 5.22 million Ugandans own a smartphone according to numbers from the year 2018. Of this number, less than 50 percent of Ugandans have access to the internet which means approximately 20 million people in the nation are connected to the internet. These low numbers have been associated to inadequate elementary infrastructures for instance electricity as well as other factors such as costly internet fees and reduced household incomes. However, even in the face of such difficulties more so that of internet access, mobile phone internet penetration was expected to experience a growth of 57 percent by the year 2019.

We have a high phone usage: Reality

The most defining attribute of this generation globally is how we use and rely on mobile phones. Elevated reliance on technology and a mobile phone only approach is motivated by millennials. To reach those in the age range of 18-35, the surest way would be through a mobile phone.

We are all on social media: Reality

Presently, Uganda has 2.50 million social media usage as of 2020. This has risen by 532, 000 from 2019 which places penetration at 5.6 percent. This has made us all social. Even though the numbers using social media are low, usage among millennials is growing mostly as a means of communication and avenue for news and information. Social media is a fundamental component of day to day life and more than 60 percent of millennials who access the internet use it for this purpose.

We do not care about serious issues: Myth

The presumption that this generation does not care about issue concerning politics, civic interaction or public matters has been linked to their limited attention span. This is false as social media posts and content is rife with assessment bout interest in public affairs. Social activism has been driven by social media which has become a vital tool to voice contempt at the decay of corruption, unemployment among the youth and unbalanced distribution of national resources. This has made social media a vital resource by which likeminded voices connect and share their concerns and interact on issues that matter the most to them. This has been characterized by recent campaigns such as #StopPoliceBrutalityInUganda among others.

Source: https://nilepost.co.ug/2020/11/05/ugandans-demand-an-end-to-police-brutality-through-social-media-campaign/

So what is next?

Despite being young and the majority, they have not made entry into the workforce in large numbers. Those born between 1980 and 2000 are yet to gain the needed work experience and transform their workplaces. As a socio-economic faction, they are not growing in power and investment potential. This has meant that they are unable to reshape their workplaces. However, they have remained pivotal in influencing marketing and advertising strategies across the country which has meant that learning to work with them has become progressively vital over the years.

The only ways to reach them is through carefully packaged communication with integration of offline and online avenues as well as hold an understanding of how they make decisions. So in spite their seeming interconnectivity and massive numbers, they remain a non-empowered force to bring about the change they desire to see. Change to them is less of an ideal than a reality. Social media being their main source of information means they sometimes consume largely distorted, one-sided and biased opinions about issues.

It is easy to jump onto the bandwagon of a hashtag and not think about the ramifications of how this change might be sustained or even achieve practically and in the long term. As such, most have accepted the lesser role of merely being a voice of the majority rather than a force to reckon with. This has left millennials susceptible to manipulation by social media platform algorithms, carefully crafted corporate and government misinformation and despairing to be the center of attention rather than the numbers that speak and act volumes. The revolution for these tech savvy mavericks is ongoing and yet to arrive at its destination.

Four reasons why Uganda is not only about gorillas and the Nile

  1. The people

As a Ugandan, I may not appreciate my countrymen and women to the extent worthy of praise. However, for those who have visited this nation, in the present and the past, expressions of warmth and approval of a welcoming and hospitable people make the most of their tales. All of this is affirmed by our globally acclaimed tradition of not turning away foreigners and maintaining a sort of open-door policy to refugees. Some have called it an integral component of our national character. You do not need a glossy magazine article or CNN fifteen second advertisements to experience this hospitality.

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Source: kuchutimes.com

One of these attributes is the culture I have experienced of being invited to dine with others. It is not uncommon these days as has long been for someone either as a joke or seriously to tell you “jjangu tulye”. Take note, however, that this is more of an invitation in spirit and goodwill rather than actual intent. So don’t be tempted to take such invitations as truthful. This is but one of the cultural variations Ugandan’s spread to visitors and locals alike.

2. The food

Besides being known as religiously loving matooke consumers, our nation more than any other African country has such as rich organic cuisine. Almost all the foodstuffs whether the main meal or accompanying sauce, all are naturally grown. A typical meal is 80 percent organic if not for the inclusion of meat. To go fully traditional with matooke, dodo, and ebinyebwa with no doubt is a complete organic serving that cannot rival any international cuisine.

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Source: newvision.co.ug

Another point worth noting is that it is not only the organic nature of our food but it’s abundance that has made us a “food basket” of the region. However, besides the lack of formidable market appeal to compete in international vegetable and fruits market in the same way as our neighbor Kenya, our naturally rich soils and good weather are proof that we are not poor in organic richness but rather underutilize and half exploit this treasure.

3. The weather

We are blessed to receiver sunshine with measure rain showers all year through. Not only does this supports our agricultural activities but also allows no hindrance to engage in other socio-economic activities. Disregard the city floods, unfortunate landslides or occasional heat waves. One a whole, the weather is exceptionally among the best in the world.

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Source: uganda365.com

4. The money

Economically speaking, the cost of living in Uganda is one of the lowest on the continent. This makes the country one of the most affordable to live in and in turn, gives us more purchasing power to indulge ourselves in rolex and nsenene eating.

counting

Source: biblesforuganda.com

How I learned what it means to be African through music.

For a long time since the age I was able to appreciate music, my consumption was largely dominated by western music. Partly because of its appeal to a wider audience. As an African, this music did not in any way resonate to the Afro-sub culture or ideology I was nurtured by. During those years, I could say I was the embodiment of the common remarks made by people of music being a “universal language”, since as a young boy growing up in a third world country, western pop and African American hip hop genres were my main source of musical inspiration.

Western music away from my traditional African sensibilities focuses on recording, production and technology with minimal live performance. It normally reflects an already existing or recycled trend with a processive movement stance. On the other hand, my culture aims to encourage its musical listeners to dance and use dance-oriented rhythms.

Growing up in the 90s, television and radio was mainly dominated by UTV, Radio Uganda, Radio CBS and Radio Simba in terms of nationwide coverage. In these years, the leading music genre was kadongo kamu whose compositions normally took duration of over 5 minutes and in some cases reached a peak of 10 minutes.

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Prince Job Paul Kafeero

Source:picswe.com

However, as western music took over, I came to appreciate more airplay of songs characterized by two to three minutes play time which meant in just 30 minutes, one would listen to ten songs or more compared to the 5 songs or less offered by kandogo kamu. As such, my taste in music grew to be consistent and I began look out for content with rhythmic elements, a mainstream appeal and a simple structure. I found choruses and catchy hooks to be the most appealing and I was able to just mumble melodically and bob my head to the rhythm since the beats and melodies were normally simple.

In addition, the lyrics of these songs where normally focused on easy to understand themes such as love and romantic relations with far noticeable exceptions. Even today, I continue to occasionally listen to a song or two as I have never overcome my love for those electronic beats which make the song dance-able even though I don’t know how to dance. At expense of the world around me, one arrives at the realization that western music exists merely as a representation of the procedure of Americanization. To my fellow Africans, it has homogenized the way they think and factored in as one of the reasons our indigenous ways have been abandoned for a more modernized or creatively appeal, which has all but bound us yet again to a cultural imperialism.

With hope however, of recent African music has had the most impactful influence on my life in that it has made me more appreciative of my traditional ideals. I have come to learn that as an African, and particularly a Ugandan, I am able to more realistically relate with the influence of my environment through the music it produces. With our unique cultures, one can appreciate the sounds from every single African nation and how their music has evolved from the different circumstances they have experienced. So whether it is bongo flava from Tanzania, Zulu isicathamiya or harmonic mbaqanga from South African and Igbo highlife from Nigeria, Afro music tells a story of the different peoples and cultures shaped by their communities. It is this unique “pot of mix” that has marked the change in my views towards African music and culture as a whole in a positive way.

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Cabo Snoop

Source: 360nobs.com

Therefore, whether it is the likes of Eddy Kenzo, Cabo Snoop, King Monada, Jose Chameleon or Simphiwe Dana, every African operates under the same environment meaning we have much more in common than we realize and music just might be our most rewarding and rich full resource.

 

For people who say “my hen is laying eggs in the village”, can you judge that by its breast? : The rash judgments of Kampala waitresses.

What defines us as humans are the bear minimal we either cannot exceed or that which we live by. Of late I have been personally challenged by what I understand by certain notions. I have come to the realization that I hold unto a warped perception of customer care. Or so I think. According to me, I gain satisfaction when for instance I am served in a restaurant with a smile and patient to my indecision as to what to select on the menu.

Often times when I hang out with my friend Bob, he seems to always shrug off my whims when I complain about not being served with “care”. One example of this was one time I went to one restaurant in an upscale neighborhood. Being my first time visit, I decided to order as a soda as I dissected the menu. I later chose to neglect anything to eat due to its unfriendly prices, for “simple meals”. Later one, a “more privileged” client took a seat besides us. Nothing out of the ordinary. This all changed when the waitress passed by Bob and I only to ask the “more privileged” client if they needed anything else. Call it my stereotypical labeling; I immediately wondered why this waitress did not ask me if I need something. Was I not a customer? Or was my order free? Did she feel as a Ugandan, the ambiance alone would fill my stomach or would I not appreciate the “customer care”?

This is not the first time I have experienced such treatment. As such, my perceptions are not new. The service industry we support as much of life in its reality judges people by their appearance which is wrong on all accounts. For my dear waiters and waitresses, I have watched, smartly dressed gentlemen and women driving the most posh cars not even tip a waiter and waitress only for a simple chap to come and appreciate, not because of the service which in most cases is queasy but because of a cultured upbringing. Most of these brothers and sisters of ours think that appreciation is an entitlement rather than something that is earned.

The anatomy of a bad decision.

The year was 2014 I convinced myself that it was a practical decision. I placed reason over sensibility. Six years later, all I have gotten are burdens, despire and corruption. There is always a tendency to blame people, situations and background. Others blame the weather, in disciplined boda-boda riders, and the government. The list of lament is endless. However, rarely do we blame ourselves.

The skin is our environment or surroundings.

In a dismal attempt at understanding a part of human nature so intertwined and complex to dissect, surgical evaluation of decision making is worthy to take into consideration.  For instance, one is more inclined to spend if they were in a shopping mall or market than if one was not in such an environment. In other words, our surroundings inspire action more than inaction.

As such, so as to illustrate this analogy, take a simple decision of whether to leave home or live alone. To better understand how I arrived to this point six years ago, we shall use the anatomical feature of our surroundings. To a certain extent, there is no excuse with where I lived. Looking back, I find absolutely no reason worthy to mention as to why I left. Whether it was pestering from work colleagues or convincing from my “friends”, the job environment did contribute to my final decision.

The flesh is our desires.

Every young man longs for the day he will leave home and become independent and make a life of his own. Within me was a longing to see this come to fruition. Endless thoughts as to why I should or shouldn’t ultimately set in motion a mental war that was eventually lost.

Why was this decision a loss? The losses outweighed the benefits. Despite what gains we think we achieve from bad decisions such as growing a harder skin, learning from our mistakes or gaining wisdom from experience, every action has an impact on the present trajectory of one’s life. The impact with certainty either makes the journey of life longer or shorter.

In dissecting the decision anatomy, the gist is our desires. For instance, it does not take much convincing to incite a talkative person to talk. All it takes is feeding the desire and letting it grow. Our desire for pleasure is driven by whatever form of gratification short-lived as it may be satisfies our carnal nature. By large our desires are the drivers behind our actions.

The bone in this anatomical analogy is our thoughts.

We have all been at the edge in a moment when our thought process comes to a grinding halt at the weighing scale. We grapple with simple decisions such as whether we should buy the phone and remain broke the whole month or excite our test buds and remain in self-loathing and regret as to why we did not buy the phone. In all, our surroundings and desires converge at one point; our thoughts. And so our mind becomes the central nervous system to who we are or who we aspire to be.

The battle is won or lost in the mind and so are were good or bad decisions prevail.

 

No! The meek shall not inherit the earth.

Humans are inherently parasitic as set forth by their nature. We depend on each other and in so doing have grown accustomed to a misconception that by sacrificing individuality for like-ability, we shall find comfort. As a Christian, I do not agree and vehemently oppose the sarcastic use of the phrase, “I am not Jesus”, that is commonly used as an excuse by people to dodge doing good to others.

However, of late I have found that there is a twisted but true reality to this statement. First and foremost, you cannot treat others better than yourself. How can you do well to others before doing well to yourself?

The falsehood in such actions is that when one does well, they are keeping in storage a hope that good will hopefully be returned to them by those who unto whom they give it. It is false because you fail to understand that what motivates you to do well is not necessarily the same belief that others carry.

For instance, I have found that lending money to others does not actually mean that when I am in a similar position they will reflect upon their past need and return the good gesture. So what do we do? Should the law of the judge apply in this case? One could argue in support of this. Our mammalian counterparts have survived over millennial living by such rules.

The one difference being of course that they are driven by carnal instinct rather than reason. A wise man once told me the weakness of humans is our emotions. We always involve them in everything. Much as we pride ourselves as being an evolved being, we are yet to live up to this claim. I borrow the biblical phrase,” I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

I am now somewhat confused. It seems as if even our creator is saying the law of the jungle is more applicable to dealing with evolved beings that reason. However, I think the meaning behind this statement resonates to the claim I made earlier. As humans, we tend to neglect or disregard the reality that our fellow beings are driven by motivation, desire, ideals and the same carnal nature in humans. This nature is always to open to betrayal and seeking its needs above the needs of others.

In this case, we are meant to approach each other with the sanity that we are dealing with reformed “beasts” capable of tearing us to pieces to fulfill the laws of nature by which they live.

Breaking resolutions with a 10km walk

Earlier this year, I promised myself I would break the ugly routine I have been following for a long time. Untangle myself from a life of sacrificing my time and efforts only to be treated insignificantly without even the courtesy of appreciation. Traveling has long been a desire I learned following experiences of working out of Kampala. Out of monthly commute to upcountry was born the love of discovering new places and experiencing different environments.

So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, travel came up in the sort of way one rekindles a lost love. I don’t know most parts of my own country lest towns in the city I live. In an inspired motivation driven by misguided and poorly thought of achieving something worthwhile this year, I made the decision to at least travel every district once a month up to the point when I could say I have been all over Uganda. How short-lived was this madness when reality set it.

I was now left with questions only, what can use a stepping stone to drive me towards having a new year’s resolution ticked off. It was at this point that I stumbled upon the muzungu’s travel tips. Alas! 25 little known destinations seemed like a plan. The easiest part at least some of these destinations and within easy reach both physically and financially. After much deliberation, I settled for destination number 16; following in the footsteps of the Uganda Martyrs. At this point, armed with the muzungu’s Google map, I planned an “excursion” following in her footsteps. Beginning from Bethel Healing Center Church formerly Pride Theater, I begun the trek.

Starting point : Pride Theater

The downside of taking what is supposed to be a guided walk tour and doing it by yourself is you never understand the significance or relevance of certain locations. Case in point is this place.

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Old Kampala Secondary School

At this point I don’t know if the Martyrs actually took this route or if it was just an assembly point for those keen at taking the guided walk tour.

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Yiga Chambers

On the way to St. Matia Mulumba Church which was built in honor of one of the martyrs.

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St. Matia Mulumba Catholic Church.

Now the journey begins. A quick history search aided of course by the internet (my tour guide), I learn that Mathias Mulumba was one of the four martyrs from Mityana.At the time of martyrdom, Matthias Mulumba had escorted his Chief Luke Banabakintu (the Mukwenda) to Mengo to rebuild the palace in Mengo which had been destroyed by fire.

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Who said my self guided tour had to be boring ?

Apparently it seems social media business is not doing well. Is Mr. Zuckerberg tapping into the Uganda’s “humorously titled” restaurants/bar market ?

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Hotel Barbados

Keeping up with Charlotte’s well thought of “bread crumbs“. For sure I won’t be lost. I think.

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Hotel Sojavalo

If only I could actually “eat” these bread crumbs.

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Kabaka Anjagala Round About

I can only imagine what was going through the martyrs minds as they faced the king’s palace standing majestically a distance away from this point. Would he be merciful ? Would he forgive them ?

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Some side scenery as we go to meet the “King”

For my Baganda friends that don’t know their clan or what it looks like, you can thank me later.

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Lubiri Mengo

Unreal thoughts fill my mind of the moment and emotions that filled this place when it was time to face their judgement from the then King of Buganda .

It actually cost me UGX 5000 to take this selfie. The amount was negotiated down after the security officers manning the gate told me any pictures taken inside cost UGX 10,000. Now we all know they wanted ka soda. But of course no Ugandan security guard says that out rightly. Just like their bosses, bureaucracy rules the day. And who says am not a good citizen, I paid my dues and thanked them for their work. I mean who doesn’t deserve some soda with the heat these days ?

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Uganda Red Cross Headquarters

I had to make some of my bread crumbs after missing out on some. For some reason, I never saw Eagles Nest Secondary School along the route. Even after Google Maps told me it was just on top of my nose.

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Lubaga Road Junction

The irony of passing this route as the religion they were about to sacrifice their lives for stood majestically up the hill in form of  towering ecclesiastical structure. f only there was power in such majesty to save their lives. But then, where would we find such African inspiration in the “white man’s” religion ?

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Miracle Center Church, Rubaga

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St. Lawrence University Uganda

More bread crumbs I live for you.

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Pope Paul VI Memorial Hotel

More than half way the journey and I have not yet stopped to take a rest. I am proud of myself, though my feet are not.

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Nalukolongolo Railway Workshops

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Checkpoint : Nalukolongolo 

The irony in this dedication.

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I guess politicians (sic: leaders ) will always be politicians

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At least a church was built. In spite of the sad turnout of events leading to the history of the Namugongo Martyrs, the outcomes outlived the “short lived” gloom of their death.

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Nalukolongolo Market

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Nateete Market

My first run-in with the kifesi. My pictorial account almost ended here, if it wasn’t for my quick reaction.

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Nateete Police Station (CCTV Command Center)

Rioters: There goes their police station in flames

Government: Hold my beer.

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Final Destination: Uganda Martyrs’ Church, Busega

The journey and trek comes to an end. It was a kick in the butt opportunity for me to learn the somewhat experience the history of my own country. Again thanks to Charlotte for making something to get me out of my comfort zones.

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Now feed on the beauty of this location with a grim history.

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How over planning and routine poisoned my life.

With the end of the year comes a time to reflect on achievements and failures. Like the past year, this year for me has largely been characterized by self-discovery. I took upon responsibilities that I should not have. Why does man always think sacrifice is fulfilling? Is it blasphemy to say “Am not Jesus” as a way to respond to those seeking helps to carry their burdens? I wasted a larger part of the year taking care and trying to change things I cannot change. Enough of my “blubbering”. As I end this year, I learn the lesson that I always seem to ignore. Comfort can only be found in your own skin. Learn to love yourself; no one will ever love you. And so on that note I enter the year with a different mindset. Yes to following my ambitions, yes to engaging in outdoor sports, less to being a people pleaser, less to giving people chances (I think my chances card run out), more to travelling and more to blogging/vlogging.