Eh actually, its not Yvonne!

You’ve got to wonder sometimes what kind of minds are behind some of the commercials in Uganda.

If you listen to especially radio, it’s likely you’ve heard the commercial promoting lifebuoy soap. It goes somewhat like this:

Voice I: ‘Hey, it’s Yvonne.’

Voice II: ‘Hi Yvonne.’

etc etc

The alluded Yvonne is venerated South African artiste Yvonne Chaka Chaka who is the face of the soap on the African continent.

The voice behind the commercial pretends its her. What’s worse, our Yvonne can even speak Luganda (all thanks to the translator.)

Leaves me wondering: 1) why couldn’t whoever is responsible actually get Yvonne to air a radio commercial in English and send it to Uganda; and 2) if they wanted the commercial translated in Luganda, why not find equally respectable people here as Yvonne (and they’re legion: Joanita Kawalya, Halima Namakula, just to mention two) to voice a Luganda commercial, hm?

Who are they kidding?

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A contrast of eras

There are few times when you chance upon a perfectly representative image of ongoing transitions and Friday was one such time. Pity I didn’t have my camera with me. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to take the picture anyways.

Walking past parliament I saw a young guy somewhere in his 20s with an over-sized misbaha (Muslim prayer beads) going up to his waist; over-sized jeans he had not only folded below but could only prevent from slipping off him by continuously pulling them up and walking with a serious swag this way and that way; and a huge turban over his head that is most common with guys with long dreadlocks.

Right behind him was an elderly man about twice and half the young man’s age;   with a graying bald head; a shirt nearing the kind Nelson Mandela likes to wear; some khaki pants and old school business bag.

This man was as amused about the young lad in front of him as I was about the contrast in eras the two people represented.

Who can catch a Tiger?

In the eye of infidelity (Courtesy photo/Google)

I’ve never come anywhere close to a tiger. Not in the few wild parks I’ve been to. Not in the one zoo I’ve been to. And certainly not on the luscious green golf courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia. So the vivid images I know about Tiger[s] is what I’ve chanced upon on television. Everything else has come to me in writing.

You get a sense when you know a thing about the Tiger that while he may not be the King of the Jungle, he is untouchable. He rules the cat family. So you wonder what could possibly ever bring down such a cat?

Wonder no more for the one thing that has repeatedly succeeded in bringing mighty men down has grabbed its freshest and juiciest (as usual) catch. It is woman, man’s bane as the poet Henry Barlow once wrote. And boy is it quite a catch! What else could beat the world’s highest paid athlete and the first athlete to earn $1 billion during a career?

As it is, the capture of the tiger is currently the story in the U.S. and on the Net, competing strongly with the country’s decision to send more troops into the Afghanistan graveyard.

You’ve got to pity this particular tiger in the woods. Yes, pity I said because infidelity is a more complicated issue than we’d like to acknowledge. And, taking the lessons of the good old book, let him who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone.

With that said, he lived his life quite smoothly and he was the last person you’d think would ever come down this way. A charming wife and family, he played his golf and watched his account grow extremely obese. He stayed away from the media (gave very few and far between interviews save for golf related press conferences) and denied the newspapers, magazines and tabloids their money. They didn’t like that at all. So the manhunt has been on and how God rewards the seekers!

The consolation in all this might be that it’s unlikely his blackness (did I say blackness?) will stick out because man’s bane knows no skin colour. She nips power and might regardless of whether its bodied in yellow, black, brown, or chocolate.

And what could be the bad news? Well, if history is anywhere true, the mighty and powerful man has got from least to no ways to escape this. Shaggy couldn’t have been any truer in his claim about the strength of a woman. After all, he was echoing a truth that time long validated in spite of all men’s machinations.

When all you need is some laughter

Davis, One of Michael Jackson's Biggest Fans (Courtesy/UgandaVideos)

The week’s been tough. Military ‘virtuoso’ James Kazini died at the strike of an iron bar (or maybe something more, if all the info zooming around is to be believed). The news media dashed for officialese (aka comment from police and the army) even when the story was right in their backyard!

I was beside myself. I think the state’s repeated repression and restriction against the media have finally paid off. We respond the way they want even when they aren’t around to crack the whip. Or, dare I say it, our game’s too low and we’re either afraid to raise it or we’re unable to. In both cases, the state wins. But more of this later (I know I’ve put away one or two more things for later, but am serious about coming back to them, ok?).

Then there were other personal stuff some I can mention like a swine flu scare, a very bizarre slow down in my gigs and other I can’t mention because a buddy I know means very well for me warned me I’d be wading in rough waters that I might find myself labouring with explanations about. So that piece of info is available on demand all you need to do is just ask.

So naturally I needed something to cheer me up, to gimme a laugh, to get me on the high again, and it came through browsing Facebook where I chanced upon a link, which took me to a website where I found this hilarious video. Nothing hilarious like it. I asked myself, following after Elizabeth Browning’s masterpiece ‘How Do I Love Thee’, how did Michael Jackson touch or influence the world. Nice people, let’s count the ways beginning with Davis here (or just click on the image above!).

Note where MJ had a white glove, Davis has chosen a red Santa-like sock and not anywhere on him but hung on the wall. Now, if that’s not original, tell me what it is!

Jerk Dumisani, anybody?

Ras Dumisani gets his kick out of South Africa's Anthem (Courtesy photo/YouTube)

I can’t remember any moment in my short life to date when Uganda’s national anthem was ever sang on an international stage. If you do, please bring me up to speed. Now that’s not something to be proud of. But…

Down south though, South Africa’s has. Many times. So I can only imagine how it must feel for a South African national to watch/listen their national song being murdered, actually obliterated, not once but many times over by some little known jerk of a musician who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry to his name! If you know a tiny bit how stuff gets on Wikipidea, tells how nobody is really uninterested in him. Not even himself!

Whatever makes some people think all you need to emulate Bob Marley is grow dreadlocks, smoke weed and croak! Might I be crying more than the bereaved?

Well, my friend (right?) Y.B.T., as well as anybody else, please be your own judge here.

Poverty has ‘its ways’

Life can be such that every now and then you get into a situation that takes you down memory lane, right?

So I’m walking on the right hand sidethrough a tunnel to meet two nice buds for what’s fast settling as a once-a-week lunch date. An activist or volunteer (they’re never in short supply here. Both are big deals.) is swaying at a junction and as I approach that point, she reaches out and hands me a brochure: November 5 DAY OF ACTION.

I’ve been invited to ‘TAKE ACTION’ and ‘JOIN THE MOVEMENT’ to rid this otherwise great province of poverty. I wonder to myself: Poverty?! Really?!

From my ‘invitation card’, here are the reasons we’re (including me, ahem!) in poverty: UNEMPLOYMENT IS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUTH, and EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF.

And this is the call we need to shout to power: REDUCE TUITION; PROVIDE PUBLIC HOUSING; QUALITY PUBLIC HEALTH CARE; AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE; EMPLOYMENT EQUITY; A LIVING WAGE; FAIR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RATES; and RAISE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE RATES.

My mind is taken away from what its mulling (can’t remember now what it was) and for the next minutes I have to walk to get to my destination, poverty takes the front seat.

Just recently, when the great countries of the world were only seven (G7, anybody?) we were high up on the pecking order, meaning we got to “fund” the unfortunate who were wallowing in poverty. Now those countries are 20. Not an overly huge club.While we’re still kind of up somewhere and look too fragile because our position (and influence) is really threatened by the raising giants we surely haven’t hit dire straits.

So I ask myself; what is this poverty I’m being invited to rally for? It looks completely different from what I’m familiar with. At that point my mind recalled how, not long ago, when I lived in Mbarara (I still technically do – it holds a special place in my heart), I and my buds had a way of taking in and living at peace with such scenarios.

And it was really simple, albeit a little curt but in a nice way. Say that you were feeling hungry and someone came to you sipping a cool fanta, or munching delicious Pringles, and the person bemoaned how hungry they were. Usually the fitting reply would be: Hunger can really manifest in different ways (enjara ein’emiringo). And so can poverty!

‘Lured’ to Stay

A group of students packed a small room on the fourth floor of the main library. A few blacks, a visible oriental majority, couple of Indians, sprinklings of what we variously call Arabs, and other nationalities my stereotype radar couldn’t easily pick out.

We were there to learn about all the the ‘easier or faster’ ways available to us to work and live, or live and work, in this country a former acquaintance hypocritically referred to as the ‘great white hope’. And all this because “we made a conscious decision to come and study here…” If you wonder what these easier and faster ways are, here; a potentially ready and waiting work permit, after which another potentially ready Permanent Resident card.

Believe it or not, I didn’t quite know why I was there. Ok, I lie. I did. I’m waiting on a book that’s taking Jesus time to get to me. As a result I’m kinda stuck on the project I’m working on. As a result of that my day sucked. As if that wasn’t enough, my fav. spot I hang out at pretending to look serious than I actually I’m closed earlier today. All that left quite some time on my hands, and to avoid returning to my humble abode at an unusual hour, this meet appeared a good way to while away the time.

But a question lingered in my mind; if you were asked directly and specifically why/what is it you’d like to be a permanent resident here for, what would be your honest to God answer? I didn’t have one. That wasn’t made any better by the assertion that I made a “conscious choice to come and study here”. I know differently why I’m, I came, here.

So as I sat there listening to a very well organised presentation (like i’d expect any differently from this government’s bureaucrat!), I couldn’t help a few nagging thoughts milling around my mind: Could it be our own desperate circumstances holding court in our backyards that make such offers too juicy, too irresistible; Or, could it be the desperate circumstances of our host country to fill its human resource needs that compel them, albeit in a somewhat exploitative way, to design such irresistible retainment programmes to non-national students; Or, could it simply be that we’re optimally utilising opportunities already within our reach (vis a vis thousands who stake everything to make that departure, that journey across the Atlantic)?