Monday, September 29, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Cabinet Court Jester.
I am the Devil's Advocate, so, you will all allow me a licence to humour.
I have been keenly following the Nsaba Buturo statements over the years.
I have, because he is so 'anti-gay'. So, perforce, I must know what my enemies are doing. I am aware that he is a PhD in Economics. Presumably that means Doctor of Philosophy. It was awarded by a prestigious British University.
The President of the Republic appointed him, at first, State Minister for Information. That was not long ago. He was the official government spokesman, and we got used to his severe, unbending, unsmiling face articulating one thing after another.
He did so well at that post that, in the next he was appointed to a higher post. More in fitting with his high moral standing and political force. He became Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity.
Nsaba Buturo is an intelligent man. I do not doubt that at all.
But his severe court jester face is puzzling me. Or, is it meant to puzzle us?
Is he just playing the game, apparently from off the pitch but actually well within the playing field? The NSSF scandal is a hot potato at the moment. Huge.
A cabinet minister is involved. A potential heir to the throne. Billions in workers' pensions. The opposition, the parliament. Everything.
Then how come the Minister of Ethics and Integrity is, of a sudden, interested in 'miniskirts causing accidents,' to the point he wants them banned? And the stamp down on prostitution to the point of chasing the buyers, and shaming them. Of course the sellers are shameless. Check out Speke Road at 10pm a Saturday night.
Red Herrings, jammers, diversions, distractions?
Could it be that the Honourable Nsaba-Buturo is actually just trying to create a diversion in the heat of the moment? Laughable? Well, I would not put it past him.
Nsaba Buturo, Member of Parliament, Minister of Ethics and Integrity- is he also the official Court Jester? A very deliberate Cabinet Comedian?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Bloggers Happy Hour
Rain in Kampala
A warm, slow rain.
Was raining when I woke up. My lovers warm body was too tempting. Too tempting by half. So, set off almost late for the morning. It was a drizzle then, but once out, I could see the dark thunderclouds to the east and I knew it was going to rain. Just prayed I would be able to get to work before the heavens opened up.
And they have, when I was already at work.
Rain over Kampala.
The sun is a favorite season, with the heat, and the brightness, and the sheer sense of light all around. But the rain is also a favorite season. True, the roads become ribbons of red mud, and we have to pick and choose where we step. The light is lost, and the overcast is usually heavy. But, usually, it does not last that much, which is a fantastic thing. Yet, when it is raining, the gentle drops on the roads, the splash of water as the vehicles go by, everything. It is a beautiful season.
Poetry, to me, is a wish, a desire, an itch
To take the world around me
Put it in words-
Not immortal, not transcendental,
That will lift from the spirit of the moment
Wrap in words to communicate;
Take muse's guidance
And make it sparkle and spin in words.
Take the day, today-
Grey skies, pregnant and heavy, releasing rain;
The mist of the morning, drizzle that will not let up,
Making so many of us, Kampalans
Uncomfortable with the, unusual wetness;
It is a bane
And a boon-
Muse's stirred, and listens
To the movement of the earth,
The faint stirring of the waters, though it be far off.
There's something in the air that I would put in words
Something in the skies, the dark clouds, the heavy mist
The traffic on the roads, the splash of rain on the streets;
The squish and squelch of water underfoot-
Common, common things
But nothing is more uncommon
Than me being here, listening to it, with the heart, the mind open.
Even my soul listens
To the mood of the moment-
Sombre ecstasy, the power of living, that of breathing-
There's something in the rain
And the skies, and the mood-
The heavy cars, rushing people
There's something beneath, that has muse stirring.
©GayUganda 20 September 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
National Book Week Closes
Monday, September 15, 2008
How to reply to a writer like so, and not seem like an ass? I am supposed to reply to this post.
If I try my best, I will come off looking just like an ass. Or a gorilla. Or, a baboon, like my dear sister kindly reports of me. And she does have a good insight into the workings of my poor mind. So, I will try my level best NOT to confirm her opinion of me, as well as make the ‘World’s like best humourist’ [according to 27th] look like a fool.
I am the Devil’s Advocate. And, it is just my self elected job to punch a few holes in the arguments presented, and then, of course, ask any and sundry to hold the two of us to your ridicule or praise.
First, Baz, that is a beautiful article.
Well written, well researched, well presented. I thought you would be taking a different point of view, that is why I accused you of lying. Well, I am quick like that. [by the way, Princess tells me that you have put me up for an award. I hope it is complimentary. But, well, I don’t expect it to be so!]
As I said, I am very quick at judgement.
And slow to anger, and with a low boiling and melting point.
That is with praising me.
You do love your work, don’t you Baz? You trained for it, and put in hours, and go on to get do it to the best of your ability. You know where it falls short. But like a child of yours, you love it nevertheless.
So, it seems so natural to you to compare blogging to journalism. ‘Citizen journalism’ you call it. And that is where I get you, my dear.
Diamonds and charcoal, they are made of the same thing.
It is true. They are both made of carbon. Yet, Baz, you will pay through the nose to get a diamond to put on your lover’s hand. Common charcoal, the one that you get from the roadside vendor to cook your supper, it is made of the same thing. Baz, would you dare compare the two?
Can you compare blogging and journalism?
Surely yes? Because both things are writing. That is what you seem to imply.
That, of course, it the problem with the Monitor article which set this thing off. Someone decided to state a false thesis. And, because it seemed superficially true, he built a castle of reason around it.
Unfortunately, the bloggers who felt insulted, never even thought of attacking the central thesis. By being on the defensive, they validated it. And held themselves to the problematic comparison.
Sometimes one finds a level of meanness in one's self that transcends all desires and demands to the contrary.
Sigh, even I, the devils advocate, sometimes falls for that kind of thing.
Gug, Devil's Advocate
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Kampala's pre-teen street preacher gets international spotlight
He is energetically preaching to whoever passes him by."Let me be with you. Hurry up!" he shouts incessantly in a raspy mixture of English, Kiswahili and the local Luganda language, over the noisy traffic."Praise the Lord.
Labels: sights and sounds
Uganda the Beautiful
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Bloggers, Citizen Journalism and The Truth
riot season last year that we saw the most exemplary work of citizen
journalism. It was when the chaos surrounding the Mabira Forest
giveaway rocked the city centre. All over town people were worried and
afraid. A little less worried were those of us who knew about the blog
of a young Ugandan whose office was on the upper storeys of a city
centre building. He was posting updates every hour of what he saw from
The mainstream media is larger and more powerful, of course, than
amateurs with blogs, but like any large and powerful machine, it is
slow to turn. Bloggers are like quick zippy drones that can switch and
adapt quickly. That is why this sort of citizen journalism thrives in
moments of chaos. Such as the post election violence in Nairobi. While
the mainstream media focussed on the fighting in the streets and
villages, bloggers told us about the silent homes, supermarkets,
kiosks and bars; the mainstream media told us about thousand people
who died during those dark weeks and they are justly to be mourned,
but the Kenyan blogosphere also gave us an insight into the thoughts
of the hundreds of thousands more in Nairobi city who lived through
those weeks, and gave us a fuller picture of the situation.
But does this manoeuvrability mean that citizen journalism—blogs--will
ever replace the mainstream media? No matter how easy it is to be
excited about it, it is doubtful.
The mainstream media has a number of flaws. Being slow is one, but
being a business is another: Every media organisation that carries
adverts is compromised. The only question is to what extent. Plus,
competition in the open market means you have to pander to the
customers and give them what they want, even if it isn't necessarily
what they need. These media products also cost money in the cases of
newspapers and cable news, so they only inform those who can afford
it. It looks like tiny, independent, free blogs which are beholden to
no one, would be easily superior.
But for all its weaknesses, I still believe in the ideals of the free
press. I believe in its standards and its traditions and its methods.
I believe in impartiality, in full disclosure, in seeking both sides
of the story, in checking and cross checking and in training and
qualification. I even believe in the parts we don't like: I believe
bylines are not about ego- bylines are reporters staking their
reputation on their word. I believe in the photographer taking
pictures of the mob justice instead of trying to stop it. I believe in
putting the bad news on the front page before the good news. I believe
in all of it. Because when it works, when the principles are followed,
then it goes beyond just information being conveyed. A wonderful thing
happens: Truth is told.
But blogs don't have theses standards. They are not accountable to
anyone, not even themselves. With citizen journalism, you remove the
weaknesses of the traditional media, but you also remove its
strengths. Bloggers are notorious for spreading rumour and
half-truths, for being used by one party against another, for pushing
dark agendas. If you want examples of how the blogosphere can spread
falsehood and deceit, ask Barack Obama, who has suffered all campaign
long from smears and lies against him that spread from blog to blog.
Of course there are blogs that are run by responsible and competent
people, who uphold the principles of honourable newsgathering, but
dare we expect that these will change journalism in Uganda? Typically,
if anyone has the time, resources and skills to practice proper
journalism, that person already has a demanding full-time job
practicing proper journalism. The number of blogs started by Ugandan
reporters and editors that are only updated once in a months is
testament to the fact that the good stuff is still in the papers.
Meanwhile half-informed, conspiracy theorists and rumourmongers, and
even outright liars, continue to thrive under the pretext of
practicing citizen journalism.
And that underscores the difference between citizen journalism and
professional, dare I say, REAL journalism. Whereas bloggers can,
should and do write on their thoughts and views on whatever issue they
chose to take interest in, be it entertainment, lifestyle, religion,
business, technology or news, actual journalism is a calling and to
serve as a journalist you need to dedicate yourself. It will be a long
time before amateurs clicking away on their coffee breaks will be able
to usurp the position of the traditional professional media.
After all, I myself work at a newspaper, and even I find it hard to
get the time to do a post for my blog that can beat a published news
story in terms of information content!
This post is published on behalf of Ernest Bazanye, who (on top of being The World's Like Best Humourist) seems to have misplaced his password for getting into this here group blog.
~ The 27th Comrade
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Nonsense, or non-sense verse?
See, it is not my language-
nor is it of my people, nor of my will,
that I had to ‘master’ it.
No, so I’ll take the liberty, and excuse of the foreigner;
So, what if I mangle it, in tense, accent, usage?
I am a foreigner, you see?!
I’ll strangle, throttle, mangle and murder it.
Just consider it, well, a privilege
if a sense of what I mean you gather;
but, dare not, upbraid me not-
for speaking a foreign tongue so well!
©GayUganda 01 Sept. 08
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Princess called to my attention the fact that the blogloren was in uproar.
The issue, an article in the Monitor newspaper, which was disrespectful of the blogloren. It had put them under the microscope. Found them, er, us, collectively wanting.
I was amused.
Lifted the article, put it here, with a few choice comments from yours truly. And thus invited some feedback. Very interesting feedback, and some enlightening insight.
I ‘hear’ that most Ugandan bloggers were not happy with the lack of respect. They felt short charged, un-understood. The flippancy of the article, the general tone of disappointment, the call to pull up their socks, collectively, one and all. A call to action, which was quite resented.
Amusement at every pore.
Eh, I am a Ugandan blogger. True. One of the fringe, radical elements of the Ugandan right or left? I am usually ignored by Ugandan bloggers. So, I ignore them back, in suitable, Ugandan like pique. After all I am Ugandan.
Is all the perceived anger because the writer of the article was actually spot on?
I do not read Ugandan bloggers, with the exception of a few. A very few.
When I first hit cyber, I was hot, and young. And livid with my anger at the whole world. They reacted like I had dropped some pupu in their midst. Sorry to intimate.
I realized that they had established a procedure.
One would write a post. And then the others would troop over, and aaaahhhhh, and eeeeehhhh, without exception. Dutifully, I also did the same. And then realized that I was not really welcome. They would not reciprocate.
In my pride I drew back.
Well, I am gay, and Ugandan. And the fact that they would barely notice my posts was at first galling. I needed some acceptance.
Few did. And I reciprocated.
Comrade 27th. Actually he tiptoed in. Curious, anxious. But he was brave enough to comment on my blog. Eh, the in-your-face homosexual blog that claimed Ugandan cyber ground. We did have some fun time. He allows he is not really gay friendly. I do allow that he is at least honest in his curiosity about me. And well, he was a reluctant admirer, though I never really understood what he admired. Apart from telling me that the girls admired my attempts at poetry.
Princess. Girl, I admire your spunk. You hit the blogosphere determined to learn, and your curiosity brought you to me. You questioned. I answered, or refused to answer, as the whim took me.
I do not read blogs, as I have said before. I just felt I had to read Princess, and 27th. I am no judge. But I think Princess can write. Though she is better in the dialogue with others, role playing. I think 27th can too. But he puts me to sleep with the soporific length of his posts. Iwaya? He used to be a favourite. Till I had to admit he was too cryptic for my poor head.
I know they read GayUganda. But they just do not comment. Ha ha ha! Cowards.
So, if I call you cowards, and it is true, is it wrong?
See, my long time in the wilderness has thickened my skin. Rhino hide at the moment.
Carlos, [pardon mum, are you the one of the famed boobs on the blog post?], she lashed out at my post here. Why all the gayness? Was her demand. Am I empty of anything else?
I laughed out loud.
Why deny it? I am the in your face gay
See, my time in the wilderness has been of great use.
Dennis Mutanda. Oh, I remember the initial contacts. ‘bout a year ago, wasn’t it?
So, your praise and flattery, mixed with the spice of comment.
Sorry Dennis, but you remind me of someone.
I think he stumbled across my blog. For some reason he liked the poetry. And he decided that I was new at poetry, and needed a teacher. So, he elected himself. I declined. He tried flattery. He tried cajolery. He lost his temper, started bullying. I lost my temper too.
If my poetry is good, so what? If I want to develop it, well and good. If I don’t, so what? It is mine. It is my poetry, it is my story.
Sorry Dennis. Your praise on the ‘brilliant’ post, mixed with the carrot, ‘many things missing’ detract from something, something which you do have in common with Carlos. She wants me to drop my gayness. You want to give me a hand up, however obliquely, to make the brilliant posts better. At a cost of course. They will no longer be me.
So, lesson, to my dear Ugandan bloggers.
You were all so miffed and angry at the article in the Monitor because it happened to be spot on. You have forgotten the incredible freedom of cyber, and instead shackled yourselves with the need to impress. With your English. With your grasp of what you write. With how shocking you are. You forget that, as you master these things, you lose the essence of something more precious. The freedom of independence.
You mind the article because it was spot on. You are acting like a lot of hot air.
So, if I am wrong, sue me! I don’t mind being wrong! Sure, why should I mind? Time out and you have the chance to see how great the promise of cyber is. Freedom. With not a Ssempa to look over your shoulder and show you how to think. If a gay Ugandan is there, why fear him, or her? Engage them, and show them the wrongness of their ways. Instead of trying to recreate the narrowness of your thinking in Ugandan society in the blogosphere.
When I asked to become a contributor here, I was hesitant. I was told, sure, come and share, because you are part of the scene too.
Well, I am part of the scene. The whole of me. Attention bloggers, here comes the Devil’s Advocate.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Ugandan bloggers gone crazy
I have broken my sulk.
You see, I used to post here. Then someone commented on my posts, and I went away in a sulk.
Now, sweet revenge. Someone has decided to comment on the blogloren in Uganda. And they are miffed. Here is the article.
On the evening of July 31, a short woman in blue compact jeans chased a beefy man around a bar table as she mirthfully pleaded to have her phone back. Patrons raised their eyes from their drinks and watched on mystified, wondering if this “run-and-catch” was part of the entertainment menu.
The players were members of the Ugandan blogging community who had just gathered at the Turkish restaurant, Effendys, with the rest of the inner circle for their monthly meet-ups – what they call the “Happy Hour”.
Before arriving here an hour or thereabouts, a debate had raged between two bloggers and a visiting American: Are all Ugandan bloggers okay with taking their meetings to a bar? And what’s the whole essence of having a Happy Hour? Is it just to celebrate life by drinking expensive coffee and beer, fraternising, raising money for an orphanage or engaging intellectually say on the rising food prices?
With Michael Jackson’s Thriller playing in the background, Thomas Smyth literally shouted his order, for that was the only way the waitress was going to hear. That’s about when the two adults pursued themselves around tables. It was the beginning of a shocking evening for the American.
Soon, girls were eyeing him surreptitiously and whispering (possibly about his towering height) and taking pictures with their phones. Thomas Smyth gulped his drink and left the Happy Hour prematurely. He had come with a hypothesis: That this community of erudite bloggers was going to transform the Ugandan society but a few minutes with them and he began to doubt.
He didn’t know that a clever Ugandan blogger, S.A.G.E, had in August 2007 summed the Ugandan blogging scenario as “the theatre of the absurd” for which he incurred the wrath of the “blogren.” Blogger Savage had called him “a waste of space on earth and a disgrace to the entire human population” and insulted his parents saying they would have done the “world a huge favour had they decided to have a good night’s sleep instead of engaging in hanky panky the night” S.A.G.E was “conceived.”
Ironically, Savage’s attack of S.A.G.E drew a backlash as equally inane. One blogger Keitetsi said Savage sounded like “a menopausal goose” and that if his comments were “on paper, it would be the kind of stuff people in jail use to wipe their butts.”
As drama ensued, the personalities of many Ugandan bloggers were exposed to a level where the discerning would no longer find it confounding that a woman would for example upload a picture of her g-string on her blog and ask if the readers like it.
A June 30 blog entry boldly titled “Boobs!” by Ugandan blogger Carlo, contained four pictures of women’s cleavage. Her blog soon jammed with comments from men and women begging with desperation to know to whom the ample busts belonged – Carlo’s or her sisters. Only a few wondered if she was crazy to flash such erotica.
“My blog is called Carlo’s for a reason; it’s all about me, so I put up what I want,” she defended herself. “I put them [cleavage] there to attract attention as a light-hearted beginning of a week so we’re not totally focused on serious issues but can laugh sometimes and be ridiculous, you get?”
While it’s true it’s the blogger’s prerogative to fill their blogs with whatever material, those creating blogs are prompted to restrict their sites to invited readers or to put a disclaimer that the blog contains adult content.
From S.A.G.E’s understanding, bloggers are supposed to update their lives and voice their opinions on things they strongly feel about to provoke intellectually stimulating debate.
“But in Uganda, it’s more of who’s more dirty,” he says. “They are not going to be interested if you don’t tickle the bad boy and the bad girl in them; so girls talk about the first time they lost their virginity in the shower room, and boys about how sweet sex in the morgue is and everyone cheers and their egos are massaged. Their superficiality comes to the surface as they smite those that would rather tell them the truth than hype them.”
Journalist Rodney Muhumuza agrees. “We don’t seem to have a lot of reported blogs in Uganda, which is very disappointing. In America, bloggers investigate and conduct interviews to scoop The New York Times but most Ugandan bloggers that I know care about life at its most basic,” said Muhumuza, who writes The Kampala Review blog. “It’s more often about sex, sex and more sex. It’s hardly the stuff that will inspire a sober mind.”
Could it be that they know they write banality that they hide under pseudonyms? Rather than heroes, you meet unrepentant cynics and provocateurs that spend a bulk of their time venting, fantasising and gibbering about trivialities with unflagging devotion.
Writing about life in the Internet age, David Kaiza dramatically captured this in the June 30-July 6 issue of The EastAfrican by noting, “The culture (of blogging) puffs out like a hot air balloon; directionless and pointless.”
It is this lack of focus that has left Ugandan journalist and blogger Benon Herbert Oluka disappointed: “I would expect people to use their blogs to give more insight into everyday happenings because I tend to get hooked to thought-provoking articles than someone whose blog is about where they hang out last night and blah, blah, blah.”
One of the most popular and respected Ugandan bloggers, 27th Comrade, thinks many Ugandan bloggers are “simply not interested in serious discourse; it’s not a bad thing; it’s just different.”
Flipping the other side of the coin, there are also purpose-driven bloggers, however few, that command the respect of the intelligent and educated alike. Tumwijuke of the Ugandan Insomniac blog is for example loved for her ability to “poke the social conscience of people”.
Writing with zing and flair, she has almost single-handedly cracked into the dominance of traditional media by arousing discussion on issues of national and global importance, for which she was in February this year voted Uganda’s best blogger by fellow “blogren”. For some however, the uniqueness of blogs is the greatest thing to happen online.
“Bloggers don’t have to follow conventional rules like the newspapers and that’s what I love most,” says Jared Ombui an avid reader of blogs. “Writing for them is a heart thing and often you find closet stories; the kind you will never see in our newspapers. I love that they are usually short and funny and also the comments from readers are hilarious.”
For blogger Denda, it’s the spirit of comradeship that he loves about blogging. “It’s like neighbours checking on each other,” he said. “I knock on your blog anytime and find out what’s going on in your ‘house’. During the Happy Hour we share ideas and swap books and meet some of the bloggers we love to read –that’s the whole beauty about blogging.”
It’s a positive sign especially in this era where blogs are increasingly being seen as points of reference. Already, there is a heated debate on the Internet that they will soon replace mainstream media which shows the power blogs possess.
Still, if the world’s best comic-strip artist was to invent something that best depicts the Ugandan blogging experience as whole, it would not be the kind patriots would like. It’s only after we have revolutionised the way we think and blog that people like Thomas Smyth will not leave the Happy Hour with inhibitions.
Apparently, I am too insignificant to be commented on.
Funny, being a gay Ugandan, I thought I deserved a little bit of mention, given the ire with which the other bloggers are lacerated and dissected.
Maybe I survived that microscopical examination because I am gay. But I do have a feeling that it is because of the 'gay' in the GayUganda that I missed out on the, er, verbal dissection!
If it was, well, COWARD! But it might have been the 'editor'. Should I cry more shameful 'coward'?????
Sorry for being so off topic. Next time I post, I will try to be more relevant.
For those who were praised, good for you. For those who were not, my commisseration. For me, I do not exist, so, I will be happy with my invisibility.
Princess tells me that the bloglorens response and comments are hillarious. they are! Including mine!!!!