Monday, January 9, 2012

News of Uganda (last 3 months)

I can offer no substantive excuse for my lack of blogging, but as recompense, here are some of my favorite excerpts from the local newspaper. A note first about the periodical industry in Uganda: There are 2 nationally circulated newspapers (also a tabloid, and various local language region papers), the Daily Monitor, and the New Vision. The New Vision is a state owned periodical and, in my opinion, prone to obsequiousness when it comes to criticizing the current government. Hence all of the following articles and headlines come from the Daily Monitor.
I will try to faithfully copy the articles as best I can, but at times added input may be necessary; such instances where I make comments or additions will have (mm:…) as their format.
Addendum: As I have purchased all of the newspapers that the content of this post will concern, I do not feel I am violating any copyright, or restriction, and any critics can go whine to someone who cares.

Hydropower Projects Under Construction
• 250MW Bujagali hydropower project
• First 50MW expected before the end of the year
• 9MW Hydromax hydropower project, Buseruka expected to be commissioned in Jan 2012
• Electomaxx to revamp from current 16MW to 50MW in Jan 2012
• 3.4MW Nyagak, Nebbi district
• 800MW Karuma hydropower dam, Kiryandongo
• 18MW Mpanga hydropower project, Bushenyi
• 0MW Kikagati mini hydropower project, Isingiro

No Report yet as UPE probe uses Shs7 billion
Kampala. The commission set up to investigate alleged mismanagement of universal primary and secondary education has spent at least Shs7 billion and is yet to make public its findings, 25 months after its inception.
President Museveni constituted the five-member commission in Nov 2009 headed by Justice Ezekial Muhanguzi and gave it a six-month deadline to produce a report. The tenure was, however, twice extended on request of the commission with the last extension having expired in June 2011.

Single girl, looking and don’t know how to cook? No wonder you don’t have a man!
(mm: the headline really was enough, the article had nothing that added or subtracted from it)

Chameleone (mm: the most popular music artist in the country) sets up beach in swamp as govt fails to stop him
Surrendered. Commissioner for land says the musician defied a restoration order although Chameleone denies it.
Wakiso. Musician Joseph Mayanja a.k.a. Jose Chameleone has taken advantage of the country’s poor enforcement laws to set up a beach at Kyanvumbu Landing Site, Nsazi-Lulongo Zone in Kasanjje Sub-county in Waksio District.
Residents say the singer has since Mrach 2010 filled the wetland with murram before completing construction of the beach scheduled for opening any time this year. He has since ordered his workers to stop people from taking photos at the spot.
But the commissioner of wetlands, Mr Paul Mafabi, said they could not do anything after Chameleone defied the restoration order. “we have no environment protection police, we cannot do anything now,” Mr Mafabi said.
Mr Mafabi added that several companies and private individuals have taken advantage of the government’s inaction to reclaim the Lutembe Ramsar Wetland and Kampala city wetlands. “we can only be rescued by establishing either an environment court or a police body,” he said.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has detective constable Naboth Kusiima as the only environment law enforcer responsible for stopping all wetland degraders in the country. “We were given powers equal to those of High Court and if one refuses to adhere to the order, we cannot do anything much,: the commissioner adds.
Ms Naomi Karekaho, the Nema spokesperson, said the government needs to walk the talk and establish an environment police, short of which is rendering Nema toothless. “I think the media should help us show our plight in order not to fight losing battles because we have no enforcement body,” she said.
Chameleone said he spoke to the environment authorities who gave him a go ahead to develop the area, a thing Nema refutes. “Call those environment consultants. I spoke to them and they permitted me to develop it,” he said.

Rapist sentenced to 13 years in jail
A 25-year-old man was on Monday sentenced to 13 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to rape. Prosecution told court that Geoffrey Alal, 25, on October 9, 2009 at Oketkwer Village in Erute North, raped a 51-year-old woman. Alal pleaded guilty to the offence before Justice Byabakama Simon Mugenyi. The judge is presiding over a mini-session which started on Nov 28. Prosecution asked court to give Alal a deterrent sentence, arguing that he exposed the victim to HIV/Aids. She also said the woman was old enough to be his mother. Justice Byabakama, while passing judgment, said the convict needed to be put away for a while. “It is the duty of this court to send a very strong warning to other men out there who have such tendencies.

Letter of the day,
If we can’t run even a national bank, let Bill Gates manage our nation
(mm: the letter simply expands on this statement, which I believe is enough to convey the writers intent)

Kenya hunts al-shabaab door-to-door
(mm: after suspected al-shabaab militants from Somalia kidnapped several tourists in Kenya, Kenyan soldiers invaded Somalia to hunt them down. These types of stories dominate the “East Africa” portion of the paper.)

District chief takes ambulance for keeps
A patient died because of lack of ambulance to transport him to Mulago Hospital (mm: biggest public hospital in the country), but the district chair claims the ambulance is for his official use.
Nakapiripirit. Residents of Nakapiripirit District have given the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) a four-day ultimatum to recall the district hospital ambulance that he allegedly gave the LC5 chairman John Lorot for official use. A group of youth form the district have vowed to ambush the vehicle, arrest and beat up the chairman and the driver of the car and drag them and the vehicle to the police if the ambulance is not returned in four days.
A senior district health official, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal, said the CAO’s deed has affected their operations. “A patient with a heart condition was referred to Matany Hospital and we tried in vain to ask the district chairman to give the ambulance to transport the boy. The Chairman didn’t respond and, unfortunately, the boy died,” the source said. The CAO, Mr moses Kisembo Bahemuka, admitted giving the ambulance to the chairman to travel to Kyejonjo District in August, saying he is also disappointed Mr Lorot did not return the ambulance, claiming he has no official vehicle.

The New Year dream that drowned before midnight (mm: this is an article from the ‘notebook’ section, which typically gives personal advice and relates domestic stories of its columnists)
Ahhhh, brand New Year! Alright, the year is a few days old, but still new. It found me rapidly reversing from a fence, watching the New Year fireworks in my rear view. It doesn’t sound like much fun, and believe me there was nothing funny about the whole incident.
What had started out as a very well planned evening, one that was meant to show the romantic side of me, ended up with me running for my dear life. For Jenny, I had no idea what she was up to. Jenny is, or was my girlfriend. I am no longer sure.
The plan had been for us to have dinner in a fancy hotel, then sit and sip on some wine while we waited for the New Year to clock, the head off to celebrate a little more privately. We both agreed it was a solid plan, well planned and bound to convince the girl I was romantic, despite the suspicion she had been having that I might be romantically lacking. Oh, I am a romantic man, but once in a while, not every day.
So, at 6pm, I went to pick my lovely Jenny from her home. Her father isn’t exactly my best fan, so, I didn’t want to stay long. Luckily, he was busy in another part of the house. She came out, looking sharp! (Of course she is beautiful, otherwise why else would I be this twisted up about her?). She was unusually talkative, but I rubbed that off to personal issues that might or might not have had something to do with the girls’ biology and the time of the month. I was sure that it wasn’t that process that happens every month for females, and seems to totally disrupt every other function, especially the logical functionalities. Whatever it was, I hoped it wouldn’t spoil the evening for Jenny, because she had been looking forward to this for a long time. I even had flowers for her!
At the fancy hotel, we started off well, and we were already halfway through the meal, and about two hours to mid night, when things started happening not according to plan! Suddenly, Jenny lost her appetite! In fact, she insisted that the steak suddenly smelled bad. I thought she was being funny, but then, she said she was developing a tummy ache. I got her some tonic water, but that seemed to make it worse. In rapid succession, she became sick.
I decided to take her to a clinic but she insisted she only needed to lie down and she would be fine. I took her to my place to lie down. Bad idea! One hour later, she was all burning up. I took her to the car, to drive her to a hospital wondering if there was even a hospital open at that time. But again, she said she had her medicines at her home, that it was an allergy she was having. So, I took her home. The moment I entered the house carrying his daughter who was asleep or unconscious, I wasn’t sure, her dad took one look at me, and all hell broke loose. I don’t know what he thought I had done to his daughter, but I wasn’t going to stay around and find out.
Remember, he was not very fond of me, claiming I was leading his little girl astray. I dumped the girl in the nearest sofa, ran out of the house, into the car, and blindly reversed out of the fence, with her dad screaming things I didn’t hear properly, because suddenly, the sky went all bright. It was New Year! Well, Happy New Year to you too, Father of my girlfriend!

Man beheads father over land
Residents of Seeta Village in Kangulumira Sub-county in Kayunga District are still in shock after a man beheaded his father for allegedly refusing to allocate him a piece of land.

MP asks parents to love their children
Mbarara District Woman MP Emma Boona (mm: the civil system has a certain number of parliamentary seats reserved for only women) has appealed to parents to handle their children as a gift from God. Ms Boona made the remarks while addressing Christians at Karamurani Catholic Church in Mwizi Sub-county on Sunday. She commended the UPE programme which she said is eliminating illiteracy and helping children observe proper sanitation and urged parents to always provide scholastic material, boiled water, and packed food to their school-going children.

In Golola, Ugandans have what they deserve (mm: Golola is a Ugandan kick boxer)
If President Museveni had a rival in popularity, it has to be the man who claims to hold a PhD degree in pain. Moses Golola is a phenomenon that subtly speakes volumes about who we are as a society, and how one can make it if they are determined to do so. The story of Golola is quite amazing. A few years back, he was a houseboy who dreamt of a beter life. His situation was so dire before he became a houseboy, he slept in a chicken house! Out of that misery rose a character who held sway last Friday at Hotel Africana with a mammoth crowd of thousands of people all coming to see ’the reason why Sahara desert has no trees”, simply because as he says, he “kicked out all the trees in that area”. The crowd was so huge that queues of people wanting to buy tickets stretched all the way up to Wampewo Avenue!
Can you imagine a former houseboy having the whole nation glued to their television sets watching his fight with the Hungarian chap? President Museveni ceased to have that much attention when he addressed the nation on TV! Don’t ask me why. Moses Golola’s fight was watched by more Ugandans on television than the CECAFA finals (mm: something involving soccer) – though the Cranes actually won! How did Golola make it this far? Well, it’s partly down to his determination and partly the empty society that we are. Golola, if you were observant, was more hype than the real McCoy when it came to kick-boxing. The commercial character was the version Golola and his handlers sold to us, and thousands bought into. If you mentioned Golola, what came to people’s minds wasn’t his ability or inability in his sport. It was about what funny line the “kick-boxer” had concocted this time around!
No one was interested in Golola’s strengths and weakness as a fighter. No one bothered to find out how Golola for example became Africa’s “kick-boxing” champion, when according to the world kickboxing federation, Abbey Steven, a Ghanaian, is actually the number one kick boxer in the world. No one was bothered to separate jokes from facts. What we all wanted was another of those statements from him, - “I’m the only man who pockets while naked,” (some called that “intelligent comedy!”). We wanted the jokes so much that apparently millions of shillings were collected as gate collections from last Saturday’s fight.
Some say credit should go to Golola and his team for having such a marketing plan but I would like to disagree a little. What all this “Golola-mania” shows us is that we are not an analytical society and we jump onto anything so long as it promises to offer us beer, music and entertainment.
A one-hit wonder outfit with a song whose meaning leaves you puzzled every time you listen to it, (…bend over… bend over…bend over…) comes all the way from Jamaica to hold a “concert” here and not only do they get a full house, they manage to get their picture as they touch down at Entebbe Airport on the front pages of newspapers!
You find a politician that’s been accused of embezzling our millions, making his way to court, with an army of “supporters”, shouting his name, some holding placards with messages like, “God is with you no matter what you did!” written on them!
We are a weird society.
How can someone manage to get Shs 100m from us simply by uttering lines like, “I’m the one that kicked River Nile out of Uganda!” rather than for his mastery in his sport? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? The likes of Muhammed Ali and Floyd Mayweather were known for their comedy, but they had a track record. They backed up the nonsense with a serious CV which everyone knew. But can someone tell me what weight category Golola fights in or what his track record was before last Friday’s fight?
Stories of money disappearing, famous pastors involved in the fight and families fighting for money have surfaced. Typical of Ugandans isn’t it? Why then do we mourn about the quality of leaders we get?

Golola Moses

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