Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Land of the Brave

The decision to release, on compassionate grounds, the man accused of taking part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland has caused a lot of uproar around the world and especially the West. A lot has been made of the decision with many suspecting the Scottish government of carrying out secret financial deals with the Libyan government in exchange for Al Megrahi's release with disregard to the victim's families and international law. This they say is a miscarriage of justice. It is not difficult to see why anyone would imagine secret deals took place behind closed doors. In a world where material wealth is exalted above all else, the idea that one man, no matter the consequences, would uphold his values and beliefs, and do the job his people called on him to perform is considered a display of naïveté unbecoming of today's political reality.

Personally I believe that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill should be hailed for upholding the very ideals that we so often profess but fail to live up to. In a world where greed has compromised most upstanding world citizens, it is refreshing to see a display of such qualities that are reminiscent of the great John Adams who stood up for the rule of law when it was perhaps the most unpopular thing to do. He wrote in his diary after the defence of Captain Preston and his men that:

"I . . . devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, sense of duty..... The Part I took in Defence of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right."

MacAskill, it would seem, having no other recourse than the law and his humanity did what he perceived was right, something that should stand out as an example to all who profess such ideals as compassion for your fellow human being. Those who perceive it as a victory for terrorism should look hard at the facts and realise that it is instead a victory for democracy and liberal ideals.

Everyone seems to be disgusted by the fact that Al Megrahi was given a hero's welcome back home in Libya. Instead of attempting to understand why it is that these people would embrace a convicted mass murderer in light of international rebuke. There are so many misunderstandings and divisions between the Arab people and the West that ordinary politicians cannot address but which only ordinary citizens can resolve and heal. The attempt to boycott all things Scottish in protest is as foolish as it is unjustified simply because many wonders have come from the true "Land of the Brave" not least of which is penicillin and in doing so, you would seek to punish those who attempt to show the way forward. You would be no different from those that perpetrate these very acts of terrorism against civilians in the hope of punishing their leaders.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Multi-Ethnic Movement

I was reading Prof. Mahmood Mamdani's presentation at the Abu Mayanja Annual Lecture and I was moved by the man's eloquence and his grasp of fundamental issues. The gist of his lecture is simple, that we are at a crossroads.

"I believe that we are today at a national impasse.  Everyone knows that the Movement that came to power with the promise of 'fundamental change' in 1986 turned around and promised 'no change' in the multi-party elections that followed the adoption of the new Constitution in 1995.  On its own admission, the Movement had a modest vision of change, limited to the realization of security: 'at least we can now sleep'.  Having achieved this goal, at least in most of the country, its vision was exhausted.  Its energies now appear to be invested in preventing change, an objective that no one in history has ever succeeded to achieve.

The Opposition is narrowly focused on the question of exercising power.  Impatient to rule, it regularly protests the ruling party's failure to observe the two term limit on the exercise of presidential power as no less that a subversion of the spirit of the constitution.  But the Opposition does not observe the two-term rule in its own ranks.  It has failed to practice what it preaches."

He delves into the most niggling political issue in the country with surgical precision and gets to the heart of the matter. We are divided and there are those who threaten to divide us further for their own selfish motives. These very people have forgotten what we have given for this unity; our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters have died so that we may be united. Those we have elevated above us as our leaders seem to be leading us in the wrong directions. He simply says that

"Today the situation is ripe for a national alliance between all those who are determined to resist the politics of fragmentation, regardless of political party, or region.  This alliance needs to be based on two recognitions: first, the demand for federo is today the forefront of that resistance; second, this demand needs to be articulated in an inclusive manner, as indeed it was in the Luwero Triangle."

I cannot pretend to have answers in the form of government policies that should be adopted to address these issues, but it would seem that someone needs to remind our leaders that first and foremost the people must be listened to. My belief in that cardinal principle of democracy, that "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" leads me to the realisation that the people must speak. We must say what we think and feel about these things. The time for apathy and ignorance is past, now is the time to speak up and be heard!

It occurs to me that we who aspire to tell tales do so in the hope of changing lives, of making people better. Mamdani's words have inspired me to start a movement. It seems that "The Movement" we lent our names to is going astray and there is need for new energy, vision and leadership. We must help our leaders to govern better and the only way we can do that is by holding each other accountable for word and deed. We must lead by example and practice what we preach. Those of us who hold dear the belief that we are all one people, that the fundamental precepts of democracy are right and true should practice what we preach. Let us acknowledge that simple fact, that no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you are above all else a human being. Thus we shall begin "The Multi-Ethnic Movement" that we have been called upon to start.

My life is such that I have come to realise how nothing is out of reach if only you have the ability to dream. It is interesting that it has taken me all these years to realise something so simple and true, that no matter what, your dreams will always be yours. I have hope that tomorrow will be a better day and I am doing my bit to make it so.

In brief, I came to tell you that we are starting a movement of peace, a revolution if you will. Let us give the people a voice and see if it truly is the voice of God. I invite all of you who so desire to be a part of it, all you have to do is be the change you want to see in the world. Perhaps that will be our legacy, we as Africans. Perhaps we are the ones destined to give the world the true meaning of peace and humanity shall forever remember us as such. Let us make history people and begin a true "Multi-Ethnic Movement".

PS: Anyone who has information on starting a Civil Society Organisation please send me an email at krays_ug@yahoo.co.uk. I would appreciate your thoughts on this because I cannot do it alone.

PPS: Whoever has a book by Prof. Mamdani and wouldn't mind me borrowing it, holla at me. I'm off to attend a wedding, will tell you about all that later.

Israel’s “Just” War on Gaza

How can you justify a war in which 83% of the people killed were civilians? And then to attempt to silence the voice of the people by such rubbish as whom their friends are. Such insolence! If the truth is to come to light then you must let every person involved speak, the men and women who fought this war must speak and we who were there will speak for the dead. Thus will you be judged by your peers and either vindicated or damned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wish You Were Here

Let's go
So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a fair
Do you think you can tell
Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for goals
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in the game

Whether you listenin to hip hip-hop
Or you tuning to rock
Refugees on your box
We gonna take over your blocks

Lets go
How I wish, how I wish you were here
Were just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year
Runnin over the same old ground
But have we found the same old fears
Wish you were here

Whether you listenin to rock
Or pumpin the hip hip hop
Refugees on your box

Critics dont mistake this for just any cover tune
I'm a take y'all to the dark side of the moon
Kickin in my moms room this song was just a thought
A young refugee labelled, jus come with a passport
Dad used to tell me about the American dream
My dream was waking up the projects
A young teen listening to hip hop
My brother tune me into rock
Put me up on pink floyd and banned from the British blocks

Whether you pumpin the hip hop
Or you tuning to rock
Refugees on your box
We gonna take over the blocks
From NJ to BK to the UK

........Wyclef Jean

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vox Populi, Vox Dei

I watched in dismay as the UN Security Council expressed "serious concern" about the extended detention of Myanmar's Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It is interesting to note how this decision highlights the state of affairs on the international scene today. Britain and the US have always condemned Myanmar's military leadership as illegitimate and branded the generals violators of human rights. China, the west's biggest economic partner has always had dealings with the Burmese generals and has largely helped keep the country afloat as well as shielded from UN sanctions. China insists that Myanmar's sovereignty should be respected and the people allowed to determine their own fate. The reality on the ground however is different, with absolutely no free press in the country; it has become next to impossible for the people to voice their opinions. In fact, international news networks have no presence in the country and rely on "Citizen Journalists" like "Burma VJs" to get news from the country. Analysts say it has become increasingly difficult for these independent voices to keep the news coming out as the military government has cracked down on their activities, forcing some of them to flee into exile.

The UN's so called non binding document expressing serious concern is nothing more than a show of words. It is simply the world saying to the people of Myanmar that "we've heard about your problems but money rules!" The west cannot afford to go against China especially in these times of a global economic recession where it has become the west's biggest lender. The US recently strengthened ties with Beijing with various bi-lateral trade agreements and despite stating that it would pursue the issue of human rights, it remains to be seen if Washington will convince Beijing to pay more attention to such matters. It seems that money and influence compromises integrity even or most especially in the highest corridors of power.

For the people of Burma/Myanmar who struggle to bring the truth to light, the UN statement is mere lip service that they have been given before. For a people who increasingly feel that there is no one left to speak out for them, the hope that the people of the world will stand with them is that much further. These events should perhaps give other would be champions of peace food for thought, for we who are peacemakers do what we do with the belief that we speak for the people, for "The voice of the people is the voice of God."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bridal Shower!

Yes! I went for a bridal shower! "Why?" they ask, "Why the hell not?" I have a desire to have as wide a range of experiences as possible; I actually find that most people are scared of new things, of breaking old customs that don't make sense anymore, of stepping out of their comfort zones and learning. Me, I want to know more, my excuse is that I want to be able to incorporate these experiences into the things I write.

Anyway, I walked in at about 8:30 and found Jaq (who invited me!), Barbara (whose shower it was), Brenda, Angela and a bunch of girls, most of whom I knew. Apparently I was the stripper! I was anxious of course, this was forbidden territory and many a man has ventured here and perished! Leaving behind only tell tale signs; discarded belts, shoes and the like. I settled down quickly, helped immensely by the punch! I think punch should be the official party drink from now on. This was the most ballistic punch ever! I could not understand why everyone seemed sober especially the bride! Jaq set about fixing that and I got down to the talk thing. Tracy, Joan and the punch provided all the necessary ingredients. Tracy was not forthcoming with the kb; all I could learn was that she works in one of those reputable financial institutions (banks) and that she had to work the next day. More punch, food and then it was time for the "Ssenga".

My friends are hip; they get tired of these traditional things, some of which don't make sense anymore. So it came to pass that I was the "Kojja", so armed with that "ka towel" thingy and mob kb I set about educating. I went Buddhist Zen, stressing how no matter what advice anyone gives you, loin cloth and all, at the end of the day, the most important bit is the kb between two people. No sooner had I finished that statement than I was bombarded by questions from all over the place. "What if you tell him this and he does theat?" "What do you do when he keeps doing the same shit you don't like?" "Can I replace my guy with a dildo?" Okay that last one is a joke, but seriously, what the hell do you guys do to these women? Interestingly it was the married ones that had the most questions. I am not a person who handles groups well; I am more comfortable in a one on one situation so I lay back and let the punch take me! Thankfully everyone else seemed to have succumbed to it and people got up to all sorts of things that culminated with some French guy stripping! More punch and more kb with Linda, Brenda, Jaq, Harriet and Angela. Oh and one of the French guys promised me a story good enough for some of our leading dailies, so I will be following that up. Plus I have a court date with Brenda; I want to see if guys be doing 'Boston legal' stuff in there. Somehow we managed to transport ourselves and litres of alcohol to 'Bead for Life' which is not bad at all! I think most of us wrapped up the night shortly after that. I went to a friend's car to be easy and fell asleep. I have to say that Bugos has the harshest mosquitoes ever; they chewed me like vampires at 'Bloodfest09' and now my arms look like I'm recovering from chicken pox.

I have to say this for bridal showers though; I think more guys should be invited because I got the feeling that people actually have serious stuff they want addressed and the Ssenga can only tell you so much. As for the sex talk, I will be conducting practical demonstrations wherever and whenever necessary! Don't feel shy!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Beer Ni Bora

On Friday, a couple of friends and I decided to try out this Nakumat proggie. Basically, you drive to Nakumat, buy eats and cheap beer, chill in the parking lot with music and engage in conversation. It was nice plot and was almost ruined at the end by money grabbing policy wonks. See, we didn't have empty beer bottles, so I asked the guy at the counter if I would be able to get my money back on returning the empty beer bottles. He said it was okay. So we bought the beer and proceeded to while away a good chunk of the night. When we were ready to depart, I collected the bottles and armed with my receipt went to rescue my money from other people's pockets. When I got to the returns counter, I was told by a one James that I could not have my money back. That according to company policy, as long as they had gotten their hands on your money, you were never seeing it again. I was free to pick any item from the supermarket of equal value. I tried to argue as eloquently as I possibly could, stating the facts as they were

  1. I was not informed of this policy before purchasing anything from the store and this is in violation of consumer rights
  2. I did not desire any other item from the supermarket
  3. No, I did not want to keep the "voucher". I was leaving the country and I wanted my money!
  4. I was informed by the clerk at the checkout counter that I would be able to get my money back, though he was denying this.
  5. I had all the relevant documentation i.e. receipt
  6. I had witnesses, although they were all pretty drunk
  7. I was pretty pissed and would possibly do all in my power to expose the company to negative publicity (never mind the fact that I cannot even get my friends to read the shit I write)

I was on the verge of causing a scene when James suggested that I could get more beer instead of my money. What? How could I not have thought of that earlier? I had just wasted a good 15 minutes standing up for consumer rights and all he had to say was "more beer". I grabbed two cans of Heineken and gave up my fight. I have done my bit for consumer rights. "BEER IS BEST"

Commenting 2

I thought I would write something about BHH but Nevender beat me to it. All I'm here to say is that I agree with Number27, those first three paragraphs are art, and then come the artists. You, my dear sir, are without a doubt an artist par excellence. It was ballistic painting that damn picture with you guys. Another day, another time! Um who remembers the URL for Santo's blog? And what say you guys we move the next BHH to a Friday or even Saturday and some place with mob seats? Someone promised us a house party or some such thing, Lulu, bring the cameras next time, we have all the lights and action. Ugandan Insomniac, some of us be as if wanting to meet you but you never show. I'm off to write a damn book about your country people. Later!