Turning 27: lessons learnt over the years

Tsup

The Old Man seated atop the Kateete Hill in Mbarara, Western Uganda speculating, meditating, arithmeting, and cogitating. 

My little sister Edita, is in P.7 now. She is my mother’s last-born. Every time I look at her, I’m reminded of how old I really am. You see, I am not a birthday kind of person but whenever June 16 comes around, I busk under the sun, smiling endlessly at the love people shower me with.

The biggest highlight this year was Edita calling me from the school callbox. She asked how old I had become and I told her, 27. “You’re still very young. I am almost your height,” she said, prompting rib-cracking laughter from both ends. It was a life-changing phone call for me.

I walked to the bathroom, washed my face, stared at myself in the mirror for about three minutes as if to make sure I knew what making 27 really meant. Then I refilled my glass of water and sipped thoughtfully.

As the birthday messages continued to trickle in most through social media, I leaned back on my wooden chair, started to reflect on the things I have learnt thus far. Here are a few that might help you.

First off, I have learned to always keep my vibe positive. Negative energy consumes a lot and offers very little returns. Positivity does not mean that one has to be happy all time but rather know, that even on the hardest of days, there are better ones coming. In this turbulent life, one needs direction to thrive.

To stay focused, you have to let go of toxic habits and people. One needs to learn to discern what is necessary to keep and what is dead weight so it can be shed off.

My neighbour asked how I felt about making 27 years. I told her simply that I felt old and alone. Confused, she said with utmost certainty that I wasn’t alone. As Robin Williams said, the worst thing in life is not to end up alone. It is to end up with people who make you feel alone.

So, don’t keep a big circle of friends who do not add any value to you. A small circle of people that brings out the best in you is certainly better. Remember, if you have nothing in life but a good friend, you’re rich.

Life is less of the material and more of the non- tangibles. An act of kindness, generosity and love costs more than a packet of KFC or the latest iPhone. No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say, “He really had an expensive car or great pair of shoes.” It is the character and deeds that create the impression.

Otherwise, the late Ibrahim Abiriga’s eulogy would have been decorated by his yellow car and suits but because his heart was soft as sponge, his character and persona superseded his reputation. Indeed, he died a death worth living.

“We all have chunks of gold within us and need to make great use of them before they are stolen”

Lastly, use what you have to get what you don’t have. Don’t be like the miser in Aesop’s fable who sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he buried in a hole by the side of an old wall and checked on it daily. One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot and decided to follow him. When he discovered the secret of the hidden treasure, he dug it up and stole it.

The miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his hair, making loud lamentations. It is within his neighbour’s consolation that lies timeless wisdom.

“Take a stone, and place it in the hole, and assume that the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite the same service; for when the gold was there, you did not make the slightest use of it.”

We all have within us chunks of gold. We just need to make great use of them before they can be stolen from us.

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My good, old friend Ivan Naijuka, Congratulations

What a day!

The groom and bride having a good time on their big day. Naijuka Ivan/Facebook

I came back to work at Uganda Christian University (UCU) in 2015 as a Staff Writer Intern (a lame title if you ask me) for the community newspaper, The Standard. On the Tuesday afternoon, I had just been furnished my contract by the university Human Resource department and I was walking up the flashy carpeted office with a swagger.

Halfway through the walkway towards the Development and External Relations block, there is this tall lad with his camera flashing at me from a distance. He was obviously enjoying himself, wearing his signature smile. When I drew closer, the flashes intensified and so did the poses. I am terrible at posing for photos. Fast forward, the lad offered to show me how I looked on the camera. That lad is Ivan Naijuka. I could tell, almost immediately, that he had a pure heart.

Like me, Naijuka was physically young but mentally mature. He saw life at its cruelest but never flinched. Once in a while, I met him on night buses travelling upcountry to pay school fees for several dependants. I often joke about it: “too bad we both had to grow up.”

Ivan and his beautiful bride Edgar walked down the aisle at the Uganda Museum. Too bad I wasn’t there. I know, it’s awkward, right? While he said ‘I do,’ I was fighting with traffic to ensure I get to Kazo  in Kiruhura District, North of Ankole by nightfall.

The tough choice between family and friendship had to be made and as anyone, I chose family. But I heard the wedding was as expected – glamorous.

From the ‘clan’, Ivan was the first to show strength of character – to marry is a bold move. I remember when he first told me about the plans in January 2018, I dismissed it as a funny joke – well, he said it in a rather funny way.

We had gone to All Saints Cathedral, Nakasero, to audition for a communications job – one he soon took. But while we waited for the panel to gather, we watched as couples in a decorated Mercedes Benz drove in and out of the Cathedral.

“This will be me in May,” he said.

I do!

The defining moment that separates man from boy. Congratulations!

Because I thought he was being funny, I offered to buy him ‘katogo’ at the Cathedral canteen so I could prompt the details out of him. He was dead serious. It seemed like he had thought it over for months. He had all the plans laid out. In that moment, I saw a gentleman taking a great leap.

It is safe to say that Ivan is going to make a good husband and father. This is mostly because I will be there to kick his ass if he isn’t but also because he is an honest man.

 

Although we have competed in a lot of areas that have even made some question our friendship, had disagreements and the like, we have always brought the best out of each other, and I pray that this character continues even through his marriage.

There is a poem I have recently fallen in love with, titled The Beauty of Union.

There, George talks about the bravery it takes for one to open their life’s gates for another. Surrendering each other’s dreams, heart and soul to one another and accepting the invitation to be everything to someone else. This the bravely in union.

Congratulations Ivan and Edgar. I want to be like you two when I grow up.

Lies, empty promises and the gibberish you missed from the State of the Nation Address

34631402_1282521805216574_386758128512794624_nIn exercise of his constitutional mandate, President Yoweri Museveni on June 6, 2018, delivered his state of the nation address and also opened the 3rd session of the 10th parliament. By and large, it was a glamorous afternoon at the Serena International conference center in Kampala.

It was a history lesson, tangled up with a few statistics. It was a fashion showcase and a military fete for the initiated. But besides the glamour and glitz, these 10 things struck my eye and I’m almost sure you missed them.

Lies

After a long history, the president took Ugandans for a ride when he said that all the districts in the country save for Buvuma and Kaabong have been connected to the national power grid. If this is accurate, why does a simple google search reveal that only 26.7% of the 40 million Ugandans actually have access to electricity? There is a difference between electricity wires, poles and actual power current.

Museveni also did not acknowledge that for places that actually have current in the wires and poles, ordinary Ugandans are too poor to afford to connect their households to electricity, later on, pay the heavy tariffs UMEME is currently administering at over shs650 per unit for domestic use.

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The other lie that president Museveni told was that Uganda will be generating 2,216 megawatts once the construction of Karuma and Isimba power dams is complete. This is a good dream but we need to wake up from it ASAP. Let’s do the maths.

At the end of 2017, Uganda was generating 927.4MW. Karuma, when complete, will give us an additional 600MW and Isimba, another 183 MW. This translates into 1710MW by simple addition. These are statistics from the Electricity Regulatory Authority. Where is the president get his?

The empty promises

It is in the DNA of every politician to make promises to their electorate. This also includes those they either won’t fulfill or have no plans of fulfilling in the first place. The president had a handsome share of these too.

Growing at 5.7%, Uganda’s economy is the fastest growing in the region but a look at the facts on the ground make one question this growth. The Ugandan shilling, for example, has performed poorly since the year started currently trading at 3800 and counting. Poverty levels are despicable, fuel prices are going through the roof to mention but a few.

But without offering no explanation at all, Museveni says the economy will grow at 7% the next financial year. Every the daily social media tax cannot give you such a projection.

The president also vowed to boost local production so as to reduce on the importation of almost everything that as he rightly notes, takes billions of shillings from the economy. It is how he plans to go about this that amuses me. Giving money to youths and women does not create wealth. This is the only lesson I hoped everyone should have learned from failed projects like the Youth Fund, NAADS, Wealth Creation and what not.

What the youth in Uganda need is an enabling environment that encourages innovation, let’s start-ups thrive without choking on taxes, gives them mentorship for better incubation, gives them protection from unfair competition and most importantly supports entrepreneurship. This is the thing the NRM government has successfully failed to do. That’s why Uganda, despite being the most entrepreneurial country in the world, also has high youth unemployment rates. Start-ups in Uganda are at the same as risk as newly born babies – dying before their first birthday. A man who promises to go about this problem the same way as last year is not to be trusted.

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I won’t even talk about the new Anti-Corruption Unit he created. That one, even a P.3 dropout will tell you that it won’t bring anything new to the table except take from it. Do you know how many anti-corruption related organs we have in Uganda? Let’s start with the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, then there’s the IGG’s office. We have an Auditor General, we have an Anti-Corruption Court and still, government officials found guilty of defrauding not just the government but the taxpayer to are sitting at a fancy hotel reading Matooke Republic. Maybe if the new unit is headed by UPDF. Don’t laugh alone; share this joke to 1,000 others.

 

That NO could be the best decision you will ever make

Mahatma Gandhi is on record to have said that “the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Out of respect, I fear to expound on the words of a fellow old man without his permission but because I love my generation and that he is dead, I will dare.

I am appalled by the inability by many in our time to turn down any offers, to pass on any advances, to fight for value and self-worth over gratification and pomp. Homosexuality, drug abuse,  terrorism, murders, kidnaps and other social ills are on the rise because we the inhabitants of planet earth at this moment are incapable of saying a simple word – NO.

To use Gandhi’s words, the weak men and women of our time are those who can’t say No. No has proven to be an attribute of the strong. I know a friend who missed a job interview because the temptation of having a beer with his friends the previous night was just too strong to pass on. Most of you will miss class tests, or be held up in courses or jobs you don’t love or even in marriages you don’t enjoy because you don’t know how to say no.

In 2013, I interviewed a man who was recruited by a friend into homosexuality. They rented for him a posh apartment in Bweyogerere, bought him a car, sent his children to school and his wife to the village in Kabale. He started a church that acted as his catchment – a perfect scapegoat and for a year or two, life was good. When we met, I asked him what decision he regretted most in his life and he said, “not being able to say no when I still had the chance.”

But why is important to say NO? Research from the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty you have saying No, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.

More often in life, you will be encounter questions like; will you do this for me? Can you lend me some money? Please sign for me on the roll call list. Can I please look at your coursework and many others and you will feel that it will be rude of you to say NO or create a negative impression of you with the other party. And maybe you’re right but have you thought about the consequences of you saying yes?

You see, to be able to use your NO correctly, one must be able to know to find their YES.  You can’t hope to say no until you know for sure what you really want. When you are feeling pressure to say yes and acquiescence feels easier than taking a stand, just think of your Yes.

If for example, joining a wedding fundraising committee means spending even less time with your children, focusing your attention on this fact will embolden you to say no and keep your priorities straight.

You need to make make a list of the things which are important for you in the descending order of importance and always keep this list at the back of your mind whenever someone asks you a question which involves the most valuable thing – your time. You need to take a moment to think, sleep over it and then respond with a simple YES or a NO.

If you don’t get better at saying “no,” other people’s’ priorities will take precedence over yours. You will lead a life of misery, become increasingly less productive because you are doing things you don’t love and you will have lost the freedom to make your life’s most important decisions and you will end up frustrated, depressed and stressed.

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Are you going to do something about climate change now?

BY ALEX TAREMWA

 

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They dismissed us as poor farmers crying for attention, and so they went about their routines in their roofed 4×4 monster cars and air-conditioned offices. And while we found the means to adapt to the harsh weather conditions, to sleep on empty stomachs due to the prolonged drought and watch our livestock and crops starve to death, they hopped from bar to beach, land to air enjoying nothing but the luxuries procured with our taxes.

But that has changed. The clouds have opened and the ground has levelled. The rich and the poor alike lose sleep whenever the cloud forms above their roofs. While the poor cannot walk to the garden or makeshift workshop where he makes a living, the rich too cannot drive their fancy cars in peace, the waters are higher than their 4WD cars take on.

The day schooling children in Bunyonyi cannot get to their school but neither can the day – care children in Kasokoso or the university going proletariat in Kyambogo. And while we endure the same type of food throughout the year in Isingiro, the Kampala middle class cannot stop talking about the current prices of groceries – two tomatoes at Shs1, 000 – onions alike.

 

While the rain is washing away people’s homes while they sleep in Busoga, it is also throwing down 45 year-old trees in the parking of fancy hotels and urban neighbourhoods, damaging properties in the millions of shillings. Not that this is a good thing but for once, the feeling of the general population is beginning to synchronise and the attitude towards the glaring questions of the day has taken a big battering.

For once, everyone is suddenly awake to the fact that climate change is real and is certainly tired of being ignored. It is making a statement that is sending shivers through even those who dismissed it as unreal and a hoax. These same ‘sceptics’ are the ones who cut trees for charcoal, erect buildings in wetlands and block drainage channels with impunity. Now the water is finding them in their scented apartments, covering their tiled floors.

Not that this is a good thing or that I am enjoying it but I have waited so long for a time when we can candidly have that long overdue conversation on climate change mitigation and how best we can adapt to the new way of life. If you’re cooking using charcoal or firewood, do you ever wonder where it comes from? Did you also know that there exists cheaper and more sustainable yet environmental friendly sources of energy that can cook your food equally well?

 

We have all seen those government officials returning from their villages with government trucks filled with firewood and charcoal. Are these the people you are counting on to implement laws for you?

Enough talk. Let us take some action. Make it your responsibility to plant a tree after you cut one. Attempt to tap and store rain water before the drought sets in. Don’t let an ‘investor’ come and build in the wetland near you and if some unscrupulous worker forgot to cover the manhole he dug near your home, cover it.

The challenge before us is, are you going to stop littering plastics carelessly, burning bushes and charcoal mercilessly? Are you going to stop cutting trees at pleasure and building in wetlands just because you can afford it? This is a wake-up call, when skies cry, expect no mercy.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk 

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Agent Banking: all you need to know

OUTLET

What is Agency banking?
Agency banking is where a commercial bank appoints a third party (agent) to transact business on its behalf. The agent could be a petrol station, a supermarket, a permanent mobile money agent, a retail shop and hardware shop, among others. Those agents have the opportunity to share income with commercial banks especially on fees and commissions.

“You know banks make a significant amount of money from transactional fees. When you withdraw cash, the bank will charge you something. When you pay your bill at a bank, the bank will charge you something. Agency banking is now making this cake shareable to many other players across the retail foot print,” explains Mr Shem Kakembo, the head of Channels at Stanbic Bank.

In 2016, commercial banks made a total income of about Shs3.3 trillion. Of that, 21.5 per cent (Shs710b) was made from non-interest income. Fees and commissions – where agents will mostly benefit – contribute almost half of the Shs710b.

 

An agent, in essence, works as a channel – just like mobile money – and based on the agreement with a commercial bank can agree on how to share revenue.

“If you have a shop that has been selling groceries, this can be an added business on the side to grow your business as an additional source of revenue, which will also attract additional flow. As people come to deposit or withdraw money from their bank account, they can do a few more things at your business,” he adds.

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How it all started
In January 2016, Members of Parliament (MPs) adopted proposed amendments to the Financial Institutions Act (2004). Those amendments included the proposal for banks to adopt agency banking to increase access to financial services. At the time, several bank executives noted that the amendments would “revolutionise banking in Uganda because agency banking allows us to be everywhere.” “In countries such as Kenya, Brazil, and Mexico, among others, where Agent Banking is being conducted, there have been enormous benefits for the public.

To create the environment to increase financial services access, several more opportunities are being made for other businesses. The number of bank customers has been growing but the number of bank branches has not been growing that fast.

In the whole country, we have 500 branches from all the 24 banks for a total population of about 40 million. Agent banking is considered an opportunity for the banking sector to link more people to more areas in tandem with the financial inclusion agenda.

Higher returns
One challenge the telecom sector faced in rolling out mobile money was exclusive agreements where an agent would sign with a specific company. In the regulations that should be gazetted this month, BoU has stated that there will be no exclusive agreements between agents and commercial banks.

In order for banks to mitigate the possibility of exclusive agreements, through the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), about 20 banks have, so far, expressed interest in a shared platform. That allows an opportunity to be an agent of several banks and earn much more in commissions from several banks.

What it takes:
The agent should have been operating a business for at least a year and should have held a bank account for the last consecutive six months. The particular financial services to be offered by each agent must be specified in the agreement because these will vary according to the sophistication and capacities of the agent. For instance, an established supermarket outlet in a town could offer more services than a small shop in a village trading centre.

The regulator also emphasises that temporary structures – commonly used by mobile money kiosks – are not eligible to be bank agents. There are costs to be incurred by agents. In order to transact, agents will be required to buy float. Float, according to GSMA, is the balance of e-money or physical cash or money in a bank account that an agent can immediately access to meet customer demands to purchase (cash in) or sell (cash out) electronic money. This is exactly how mobile money agents also operate.

Investment

The capital investment for agents is being estimated at a minimum of about Shs2m to Shs3m.

“The agent might not make a lot of improvements at their shop, but they will need to put money aside to invest in the agent banking business. It is about Shs2m to 3m for them to have a solid business case because as soon as you buy the float, customers will learn about it and the bank will support marketing activities towards the agents. When customers come to you, they expect to find money and float,” Mr Kakembo explains.

The start-up cost of the agent is about Shs3m. The banks will be responsible for training, marketing, ensuring the network is available and providing the gadget for use. That makes the variance in the cost significant, saving the bank a significant amount of money.

Agency banking is low cost but it neither costs much nor makes much money by itself. It allows banks to serve more customers on the same infrastructure. Equity Bank in Kenya hasn’t increased its branches in Kenya since introducing Agency Banking – yet it has significantly increased its customers. The working assumption is that with lower costs of operations for banks, more people will be able to access financial services.

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How agent banking works in Uganda

Bank of Uganda
– Approves agents submitted by commercial banks.
– Responsible for regulating commercial banks
– Makes the regulations

Commercial banks
– Enter into agreements with agents
– Hold customer bank accounts
– Supply agents with gadgets
– Provide agents with float
– Identify agents
– Advance commissions to agents

Agents
– Buy float from commercial banks
– Carryout deposit taking and withdrawals
– No exclusivity to one bank
– Not employee of a bank

Customers
– Access bank services from agent
– No extra charge for using agent

All you need to know about stock trading at the Uganda Securities Exchange

Nicholas Opolot

Nicholas Opolot L’akwang

The term stock trading is not a familiar one to most Ugandans who are pre-dominantly involved in the informal sector of investment which employs 80% of the population according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).  

Many people feel that stock trading is either a preserve for the corporate business class or outright grand scheme fraud. However, these are all false assumptions and misconceptions. 

What if you owned a small portion of a public company by buying their shares? This could change the story of your life through empowerment, financial independence and asset value addition.  

In Uganda, stock trading is regulated by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and implemented by the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) which is used as a market playground for all listed public companies. 

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Invest in stock and watch your money grow.

So what are shares? 

A share is a single unit of ownership in a company. When an individual buys shares, he or she buys a stake in a company. One of the reasons and this being the main reason as to why companies sell ownership of their companies in the form of shares is the need to raise capital. You acquire one through an IPO (Initial Public Offering) issued by companies inviting the public to buy parts (shares) of the company which they will own.  

The buying and selling of these shares is done by stock brokers who earn commission from each transaction made. Your money is safe with the brokerage firms because they’re monitored and regulated by CMA. 

Alternatively, one can buy shares from those disposing off their company shares. It is then that one becomes a shareholder, a person that owns a part of a company. Your value and interest in the company are measured through a minority stake (few shares) or controlling interests (many shares). 

To buy shares, visit one of our licensed stock brokerage firms and open a Security Central Depositary (SCD) Account. To open an SCD account, you need a valid ID and 3 passport photos.Please note that account opening is free and there are no monthly or annual charges.

How do you buy Shares?

  • As an investor wishing to buy shares through the USE, you must approach your stock broker and express your desire to buy shares of a given listed company.
  • Your Stock broker will provide you with details of the trust account specifically opened by the stock brokers to keep investor’s money intended for USE transactions
  • You will then deposit the money of any amount into the trust account. It is a requirement of the USE that for local orders, payment is made upfront by the investor.
  • Your stock broker will then post the order (bid) on the Automated Trading System (ATS) during trading hours.
  • When the bid matches an offer (an order to sell) by either the same stock broker or other stock brokers, then the transaction is considered to have been concluded.
  • Your Stock broker will then credit the shares to your SCD account.

How do you earn from your investment? 

According to the USE website, you can make your money from shares in two basic ways: dividends and price appreciation. Usually on the trade counter, share prices rise and fall from day-to-day. They are determined by the lowest price that any one shareholder is willing to sell his or her shares for.  

Prices tend to go up when a company is performing well. The advantage is that there’s potential for share prices to increase overtime. On the contrary if the market is sluggish, the share prices drop.

The advantage/disadvantage about this is that an investor who buys shares at this price would have made an even greater profit/capital gain whereas an investor who sold at that price would have made a greater loss. 

In the long run, holding onto your shares buys you time to make a killing for healthy profit in the future. Knowing when and how to buy is key to this success. Invest in companies that have good returns at a fair price. 

Paying out dividends – the pros and cons

Dividends are periodic cash payments that a company makes to its shareholders. They are the excess profit that the company has earned in the course of its financial year and are either directly deposited into a shareholder’s bank or trading account or mailed to them in the form of a cheque. 

The amount of dividends paid varies according to the performance of the company. The bigger the company, the better the amount paid out. However, this is not the same amount paid out compared to when one bought a share. Hopefully, each year companies tend to grow depending on the investment climate. 

According to the USE, dividend payments are not guaranteed. This depends on the companies’ overall performance of the financial year. Young companies/start ups can decide to use all of their extra cash to grow and expand. Other companies are forced to reduce their dividend or stop paying it altogether if they fell on hard times. Commissions and fees are fixed by the Capital Markets Authority at 2.1% of trade value for all transactions less than Ushs200 million. 

At the recently concluded UMEME AGM 2016/17 at the Sheraton Hotel, Rwenzori Ballroom. I learnt that shareholders acquire rights from their ownership stake. Shareholders can vote for the corporate board members, Board resolutions and dividend payments.  

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Monitoring market trading is key to securities trading.

At the annual AGMs, a shareholder can hold the company directors accountable for their annual performance and other business decisions taken. Shareholders also receive annual reports to learn more about the company.  

It is your right to demand access to public information to monitor progress and meanwhile it is mandatory for all public companies to publish their financial statements for the benefit of their shareholders.  

In so doing, owning stock in the company you work for expresses loyalty and ties your personal finances to the success of the business as a whole. 

Diversification of risk and profit 

Holding all the eggs in one basket is dangerous for a businessman. The stock market helps you to spread the risk which lessens the burden of loss should the share price fall. This means you can own various business ventures with so much ease of minimal supervision since brokers carry out your trading transactions. 

Holding stock can help you weather losses from other business ventures while adding potential for profit which helps investors to avoid ambitious strategies that have few alternatives for escape should the risk fall. 

The writer is a Managing Partner at The Workshop Uganda 

Email: theworkshopuganda@gmail.com

The art of betting on oneself

At the beginning of 2018, I decided to read the biographies of Elon Musk, Bill Clinton, Albert Einstein and watch several documentaries including one of producers and music moguls Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine – The Defiant Ones.

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Dre and Iovine founded Beats by Dre headphones and sold them to Apple Inc. for over $1 billion

It is from these that I have learnt what I will call the art of betting on yourself. Betting is a phenomenon common especially among sports enthusiasts. They stake (risk) sometimes colossal sums of money on games or events in the hope of getting benefits.

The key word there is ‘hope’; for often, the results are disastrous. His is not the betting that this column is discussing, no! We are talking about the art or science of taking measured, calculated risks and having the faith and confidence to see them through.

 

Starting a business without clients is a bet, love at first sight is a bet, switching careers is a bet, and so is farming in the present age.

As author Robert Anthony writes in his 1991 classic “Betting on yourself, ” the best bet you will ever make is on yourself, and when the payoff comes and outsiders think it is “luck”, you will know the reality.

Let us examine some examples:

With just 27 guns, President Yoweri Museveni decided to go to the bush to fight the status quo in 1981. Now, if you have lived in Africa or Uganda long enough, you would know that attempting to fight a ruling government with a paltry 27 guns was to say the least, suicidal. The risk he and those who believed in his vision took paid off. Thirty two years later, they are ripping the fruits of that decision to hit the jungles of Luweero.

In a separate incident, my favourite uncle, Dr Moses Mutikuuzi, quit three government jobs in 2003 to go home and engage in personal business. I remember I was in Primary Seven then and we were staying together in Ssembabule District staff quarters. Just before our PLE registration, he drove his Nissan Datsun (Sahara) to my school (Dez Junior Academy) and told me he was leaving. He gave me a mathematical set, and just like that, he was out!

Fifteen years later, the good old doctor is still happily retired with an amazing family and a life most civil servants will only read about. He bet on his own wild dreams and achieved them.

Of course, this is not to say that there is no downside attached to this subtle art. The only way to get out of your own way with fear, doubt, and negativity is to imagine the possibilities, and be confident in your ability to succeed.

ataremwa@energystoragemea.com 

The only Radio to which my tuning knob was locked

The least used application on my phone is the FM radio. I do not tune in at home and when I buy a vehicle, the first thing I will disable is the radio. Judging from my taxi escapades, I think radios have a way of making journeys longer.

However, there is one radio that won my heart and was immediately exempted from this dislike – the Mowzey Radio. Not only was that radio melodious, it had words that cut sharp through my skull and inked themselves into my brain. Since day one, I realized I knew all of Moses Sekibogo (Radio)’s songs by heart.

In our letter writing days, I am guilty of using some of his songs – with his perfect counterpart Weasel – as dedications to my high school pen pals. The results would always be impressive.

Fast forward, my favourite radio sustained serious injuries recently; the channel broke a week later and for a while, I was also speechless! I read hundreds of eulogies and every time I tried one of my own, the cursor would blink endlessly on the computer but not a single word dropped. Such a short life but yet so influential, so purpose-driven and by all standards, successful, however imperfect!

We live in a timeless generation. One does not need to live as long as the Old Testament Abraham, Noah or even Mandela to make their mark.

“I didn’t live longer”, will not be an admissible excuse for not living up to one’s potential. Jesus Christ only needed 33 years on earth to perform 37 recorded miracles.

Zuckerberg started Facebook when he was not even 25 years. And now, with a discography of more than 200 hit songs, multi- award winning singer, vocalist and songwriter, Radio passed on at 34 years, after upsetting the four hitherto top Ugandan music megastars. He was the first Ugandan to be nominated for the coveted BET Awards, and he had more global appeal than most politicians and professionals with PhDs.

How did he achieve this? Three words: talent, dedication and hustle. At The Workshop Uganda, we have a huge poster of Ross Simmond’s wise words on the wall: “Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.” Even with his imperfections, Radio has been one of the most gifted artistes a maestro who still worked hard.

I first met him in 2013 in Mbarara when the then Member of Parliament, Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, dragged me to the Goodlyfe Crew Concert at Agip Hotel. When I got a chance to chat with him backstage, I told him that I wanted him to sing at my wedding. I also told him that hearing him sing re-affirmed by belief in the existence of God because I believed (and still do) that a human alone cannot have so much talent.

Although Radio will not be able to sing at my wedding, his art and music will manifest and live on long after my big day. My children will live and love his craft the same way I love Philly Lutaya’s. He is an icon whose life inspired many. That is what a legacy is.

Thank you, Radio Moses.

Tokikwatako: Ugandans shouldn’t be afraid to associate with change or its agents

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Opposition Members of Parliament donning their red ribbons – a simple of their stand against the removal of the Age Limit Clause from the Constitution. A big number of them were suspended and forcefully evicted from the House.

“I don’t know what your plan in life is Patrick but mine is the change the world,” I told him as I shut the door to his office.

Patrick isn’t my boss in case you’re wondering. He is a close friend. After reading my posts on Facebook, he concluded that they were ‘too political’ and that I need a talk on how this could ruin my career.

As a 26-year-old living and trying to survive in this Banana Republic called Uganda, Patrick’s fears are valid. The Government is still considered the best employer thus less likely for its critics to enjoy the privilege of making a living.

But I am not the kind that entrusts someone else – especially the government with my cards. I like to be in control of my life. To be the Master of my fate, the Captain of my soul.

I am a citizen that is comfortable calling out the government – the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature and the Press whenever their service delivery is below the belt – why, because I pay for them.

The same reason you might summon the hotel manager over bad food/juice they served you is the same reason I will call out the President over bad governance and political claptrap he advances. I don’t selectively apply logic. And this is how everyone else should view their lives.

If the quality of life is below standard, we ought to take it up with the parties responsible. Like why should we have sound sleep when a 73-year-old President has shown capability to wrap Parliament, enforce his will on MPs to amend the Constitution so he can rule for life?

I needed a drink after what transpired in Parliament. I was there to witness it first-hand in the public gallery – one I accessed after two hours of persuasion.

I sat at a certain Sports Bar to watch the UEFA Champions League with my red ribbon wrapped around my round head. I sipped on my beverage, calmly.

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Watching UEFA Champions League with my red ribbon head-tight.

I didn’t even know or care that people were noticing my bravery or – to some, stupidity. After Manchester United scored the fourth goal against CSKA Moscow, a man I had never seen called me from across the room.

Apparently, he was saddened by the events at Parliament of Uganda – particularly that it had gone ahead with a move to amend the Constitution. But, in his own words, he was so happy that I still wore my red ribbon – a sign that I opposed the removal of article 102(b) from the Constitution. He offered a refill to my beverage.

I told him that much as Parliament dealt our efforts a blow, there was still time and great opportunity to change the events. I told him that indeed power is not with Members of Parliament but with the people of Uganda who they claim to represent.

I added that rather than feel sorry, he should galvanise his energies with those of fellow countrymen who believe that the battle against dictatorship, corruption, tyranny, terror and monarchical politics had just started and fight back.

He was evidently amazed by how confident and sober I sounded. But the people around him weren’t. They were scared for my safety. They said that the regime will kill me. That I shouldn’t speak my mind in public because regime operatives are always listening.

I told them the same thing I am going to tell to you: This is your country too. Your voice and action counts just as much. If you keep isolating yourself, you will die alone but if we come together and fight, victory is ours. 

Aluta Continua

 

When Museveni attempted to edit own age to remain in power

President Yoweri Museveni on a recent visit to Equatorial Guinnea. Flikr Photo - State House Uganda

H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni on a recent visit to Equatorial Guinea.  The Ugandan president will be 77 years in 2021 – ineligible to run for president if his desperate moves don’t come through for him. State House Uganda/PPU Photo

BY ALEX TAREMWA

33 years later, this is how far a dictator is willing to go in order to remain in power.

Uganda is yet at another tipping point. The mood amongst the populace is one of anger as it looks evident  that Museveni – the country’s ruler since 1986 is keen on another term in office after 2021 – to take his tally to an astonishing 40 years.

You are probably wondering; how? Well, Museveni is on a constitutional amendment to remove Article 102(b) which bars anyone from standing for the presidency when they are above 75 years.

Although the Age limit bill as it is termed in political circles has generated intense resistance from all corners of the country, from a strategic point seems like a done deal for Museveni whose party – National Resistance Movement – boats of a 299 Membership in a parliament of 449.

But Museveni is not your ordinary constitutionalist and doesn’t like to have one plan rolling. He set an alphabet of plans from A to Z but one that is perhaps more ridiculous than bribing Members of Parliament was attempting to change his birthday.

See, on August 3, 2017, he — in company of his family — went to St Luke Church of Uganda, Kinoni in Rwampara, Western Uganda to mark his 70th baptism anniversary.

At this event,  that the area Bishop – Sheldon Mwesigwa would display the Church’s records as if to publicise the president’s actual baptism date. But there was more to it; the record entry  would suggest that the president was baptised when he was only a few months old not at three years as he himself earlier maintained.

In other words, Museveni would miraculously become three years younger – a blessing albeit not for long.

A snapshot of Museveni's autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed where Museveni acknowledges being baptised at three years of age.

Excerpt from Sowing the Mustard Seed

THE MUSTARD SEED

In his autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed: The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy, first edition, Museveni writes and I quote that:

“The third childhood memory I retain was when I was baptized, along with Mzee Amos Kaguta and Esteeri Kokundeka, on the 3rd of August 1947, at Kinoni Rwampara. By that time, I was almost three years……”

Although there has been no conclusive record to confirm his birthday, September 15, 1944, is wisely used to that effect. This means that Museveni is 73 years old — ineligible to run for another term of office in 2021 as per the 1995 Constitution of Uganda as he will be 77 years old.

And with the controversy surrounding the constitutional amendment to remove the age limit from the constitution, the Church of Uganda’s near-magical revelation could have been Museveni’s sole hope of maintaining grip onto Uganda’s top spot.

Shedding up to three years off his record make Museveni 74 years in 2021 – just in time to run, yet again to run for another term without tampering with any constitutional provisions.

THEN CAME SOCIAL MEDIA

 Uganda – understandably went into a Social Media delirium after the news hit the streets with people questioning not only the convenient timing of the records but also their authenticity. And just as expected, the Museveni propaganda machine attempted – albeit unsuccessfully – to pun the story into another direction.

Lawyer and Activist Andrew Karamagi went as far as subjecting the records to modern technological forensic tests using a combination of ultraviolet and varying levels of brightness of indoor lighting. His conclusions were nothing short of alarming.

This Social Media fire did not spare the Anglican Church of Uganda which has time and again come under criticism for alleged partisanship with the state to further its agenda. Critics argue that the Church comes out strongly against issues like homosexuality but is silent on issues of domestic politics like election rigging, corruption, murder, hunger among others.

Church of Uganda record book of enshrining Museveni's baptism records as adduced on August 3, 2017.

Museveni’s babtism records as displayed at Kinoni COU, Rwampara

Opposition politicians tasked Ankole Diocese Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa to explain his role and interest in the sudden discovery of Museveni’s baptism records and whether it had anything to do with the Shs310 million donation that the president made to the diocese under various projects.

In his defence, Bishop Sheldon argued that as  a researcher with a PhD and the role of a researcher is to dig and bring to light new information for the betterment of society. But inasmuch as Bishop Sheldon defended his actions as apolitical, there timing, nature and purpose come off as a little too convenient especially when the country is locked in a debate on the country’s political future.

The strategy died on arrival but the grand master-plan – one of a Museveni life presidency – is so much alive only this time speared by Honourables Abiriga, Anite, Magezi (Mover) among other NRM MPs.

All hope is not lost – yet. Ugandans under #K’ogikwatako campaign seem determined to do everything to ensure their constitution is not amended and the only safeguard against a life presidency removed.

The question is whether their representatives still have the presence of mind listen and act accordingly.

 

On the Age Limit Debate in Uganda

Before they switch off Social Media – which I know they will, let me contribute a few ounces to the prevailing Age Limit debate.

To begin with, no book on the surface of the earth is sacred. Even the Bible has been edited more than a few times and for whatever reason – and certain verses removed/changed/added. So no one should claim that our constitution — which itself has been amended more times than I can count is sacred cannot be amended.

That said, the point of contention is less of whether or not the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda should be amended and Article 102(b) removed but more about intention for which it is going to be amended — the creation of a Yoweri Kaguta Museveni life presidency.

And I will skip the foreplay and get right into it.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a treacherous yet strategic fellow. No wonder he is already laying the foundation for an election that is still four years away. Bobi Wine argued yesterday and rightly so, that Museveni has used his silver-tongued language con us since 1986 and we have always fallen for the same lie – THIS IS MY LAST TERM.

For most of the 55 years of independence that our country marks on 9th next month, it has been this chronic, serial liar in charge and despite the rosy statistics, the economy is in tatters, health, education, welfare to mention but a few are in deplorable states. The only things going up – besides Museveni’s years in power — are corruption he and his cronies have orchestrated, insecurity, unemployment, poverty, famine….I can go on till the cows come home.

No one in this cunt-ry (pun intended) gives less of a FUCK about what MPs do like myself. Their actions are only symptomatic of the system of patronage that Museveni and co. have created – that people vote not much on the basis of issues and ideals a candidate is presenting but on the petty items like t-shirts, soap, sugar and meat he gives.

So I can’t even accuse (MPs) — particularly those in the NRM Caucus that voted ‘aye’ during their September 12, 2017, meeting – of having a conscious to sell — they sold it a long time ago and thus, their action was expected if not predictable.

The funny thing about conscious it that it cannot be re-bought or redeemed so counting on Parliament to safe guard the constitution is no longer a viable option for Ugandans so here is the punch:

Ugandans MUST step up and show these so-called leaders that there are consequences to tampering with the Supreme Law of the Land. Since Parliament cannot provide the needed safe guards to protect the sovereignty of the Constitution, we MUST do it ourselves – by all means necessary.

Ever wonder why despite the gun violence in the US, the president cannot remove the right to bare arms from the 2nd amendment of their constitution, it is because there are consequences that such a move would attract — including impeachment and the Americans have hence managed to keep their law intact for 200 or so years since the Founding Fathers; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al. it in place.

The bottom therefore is this, it is our sovereign right to defend our constitution with everything we can. Don’t be afraid to speak up and when called upon — like now, step up. Those we are afraid of are far more afraid of us. They KEY is to UNITE and RISE UP against bad governance.

In the past, it has been the failure of Ugandans to be univocal that has always handed the dictator a tactical advantage. I believe this is one of those few definitive moments when a stand is required and we shall speak at once and say no to Yoweri Kaguta Museveni after 2021. We have waited so long for a peaceful handover of power. Don’t let these goons in the name of MPs take that away too. They have taken enough already.

For God And My Country.

Who will save Uganda from its Ugandans?

Kabuleta-Mbonye

Sports Journo cum Pastor Joseph Kabuleta kisses Prophet Elvis Mbonye’s shoes at the latter’s honoring ceremony. Photo/BigEye.Ug

BY ALEX TAREMWA

On Eid Adha, the Kenyan Supreme Court in a historic turn of events nullified, on grounds of massive irregularities, the results of the August 8, 2017 Presidential Election.

Everyone, except perhaps President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee Party, welcomed the decision.

Here in Uganda, we now stand in awe of the Kenyan Court. We are praising it for having the muscle and guts to do what our Supreme Court has failed to do on multiple occasions.

Some Ugandans went as far as asking for Kenyan citizenship because they were “fed up” of Uganda.

The same Ugandans wanted to migrate to Tanzania when newly elected President John Pombe Magufuli took office and started off by firing almost everyone.

Rarely do you find a Ugandan praising anything Ugandan. When we open up to speak, it is one complaint after another.

As my friend Awany would say, we speak like we swallowed the book of Lamentations.

If anyone is going to sink this country, it will not be an alien spaceship from outer space. It is going to be the unappreciative, ungrateful, forgetful Ugandans who – by criticising almost everything not only sell their country but also themselves short.

And the ungrateful class is not Uganda’s biggest threat. Rather, it is the gullible group. The gullibility of Ugandans makes me want to Uber to Auschwitz.

Lately, I have had no trouble predicting the line any given conversation will take. Seven out of every ten people I speak to physically and online persuade me to join a networking or marketing pyramid scheme.

It is hard to fathom that the more people lose money to such fraud, the more others queue to join!

Do we not learn anything from history? Haven’t we heard how such stories end? What happened to Telex Free? You don’t remember? Ask uncle Google or read this.

Network marketing aside for a minute – nothing has exposed the gullibility of Ugandans like some churches!

One morning I was in Kampala by 6am and I witnessed something majestic – a long line of humans was heading to a certain ‘prophet’s church’ for ‘holy water’. At the peak of the drought season earlier this year, the same ‘prophet’ was selling ‘holy rice’ at a fee I have written about before.

Now the other day, another ‘prophet’ had his followers kiss his shoes at an exclusive event as a way of ‘honouring him’. 

Never mind that the ordinary ticket to the event was a little over Shs300,000 and you still wonder why Uganda is not at middle-income status?

Some of the followers of the shoe-kissing prophet that I have engaged in conversation say that I should not even talk about their ‘prophet’ because the things of the spirit are too complex for people like me to comprehend.

 

I agree with them on the last one. Some actions by fellow Ugandans have really been hard for me to get my head around. They must be so heavenly, so heavenly that even those who engage in them don’t understand them.

#PrayforUganda and her people.

That WhatsApp group can do more than just share jokes

whatsapp-group

Reconstructed setting of a WhatsApp group. File/Internet

Motie Musiime, a former classmate, shared a snapshot from Facebook to the mass communication class of 2010/13 WhatsApp group. It was the birthday of Joan Ankunda, a classmate who had passed on earlier in the month.

 

The group, which is a little over a month old, suddenly exploded with RIP messages, most of which were from people who did not know the deceased too well. I was going to have none of it!

I quickly swung the group into another discussion direction. I suggested that rather than write winding words to the late Joan, which she wasn’t going to read, let us each contribute Shs10,000 to the well-being of her three-year-old son, Jayden.

This would be the time most WhatsApp group members climb into the kamooli, as non-responsive members are widely known. Having known Joan well from our time as interns at Daily Monitor (Mbarara Bureau), the group voted me as treasurer of the collection.

Almost immediately the mobile money messages started coming in and by close of first day of fundraising, the group of 99 people had contributed Shs219,000 and the drive closed at Shs414,000, an amount not overwhelming but enough to buy baby Jayden milk and bread for at least three months.

This brings me to other WhatsApp groups. I have personally been in the habit of leaving two kinds of groups: those to which I have no association like say Ntare Old Boys yet I am from St. Josephs; and those that assume the role of comedians with members only contributing by sharing not so funny jokes and memes.

I admit that humour and laughter are necessary to human health but we must face the fact that they can be overdone sometimes. I was in Kazo last month for my aunt’s burial and the Internet connection was poor so I was mostly offline.

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When I finally logged on, I found 1,400 messages from a certain group, and a better part of these were jokes and memes. As if this were not annoying enough, they ‘chewed’ about 70 per cent of my data bundle.

WhatsApp isn’t Comedy Central, people! These groups can do a whole lot more than gossip and chew people’s data.

That group can save a life in an insecure neighbourhood, it can generate capital for a member’s Start-Up through a saving scheme, it can save your marriage or relationship with a little advice or better yet, get you a husband or wife.

If  you are an  agriculturalist, share farming tips, if you are a bishop or reverend, you can share a scripture or two. This privilege though should be limited to certified people not wannabe pastors and overnight apostles who are lately everywhere asking people to type ‘Amen’ so they can get a blessing.

If you are an academic, share that e-book, journal or documentary you watched. And if you are a journalist, keep the group informed. See what I did there?

So if you are not a comedian, steer clear of the jokes business and see how harmonious and beneficial that WhatsApp group will be.

The writer – Alex Taremwa – is the founder of The Workshop Uganda

Why men must lead defiance against new Public Service dress code in Uganda

Karamagi

Lawyer Andrew Karamagi  (Author)

We men must lead the charge in taking exception to the new Public Service Regulations which imply that we are like cocks that cannot restrain their sexual appetite at the sight of a hen!

Any man who claims sexual harassment or suddenly experiences a burst of libido in his veins at the sight of a woman’s cleavage, thighs, shapely butt or whatever other body part, should go back to his mother’s womb for lessons on maturity and self control/restraint.

Under the new so called Dress-code Regulations for non-uniformed public service officers, what happens to those women who are naturally more endowed than others? Will they be compelled to wear sacks to work just so their male workmates do not get distracted?! Do the new measures apply equally to men who have effeminate body parts, well-chiseled abs or those who wear fitting clothes?

Can’t a woman whose entire body is wrapped in a hijab and nikab sexually harass a man? By the same token, can’t a man dressed in a cassock or tunic sexually harass a woman?

We’re fast becoming a pretentious society that values religious sacraments over spiritual depth; academic papers over intellectual rigour; palatial houses over homes; accentuation of speech over substance and truth…and veiled military rule over authentic democracy.

Totalitarianism, in my opinion, is the erasure of the line between private rights and individual liberties in the public arena. The State, especially a predatory, corrupt and poorly run as Uganda has no business in our bedrooms and certainly none over how we dress.

Dear Reader, please remember that rights aren’t taken away overnight. They are taken away in small bits and one day you wake up to find a soldier deployed at every house, children compelled to spy on their parents…and an increasingly senile octogenarian planning to amend a Constitution so that he can rule until he drops dead!

It is unfortunate that lately, and more often than not, every time a public official speaks in this country, the public is either scandalized, outraged, simply dumbstruck or all the three.

All the while their counterparts in neighbouring countries are launching medical evacuation aircraft, alternative mass-transportation systems, bio conservation plans, stronger internet connectivity platforms and larger bandwidths as well as long-term credit facilities for commerce.

In Uganda, we are being told how to dress, who to sleep with, how to sleep with them…and soon, perhaps, as a certain defrocked Priest who occupies a useless docket titled Ministry of Ethics and Integrity seems to think, what time and from where we should have sex! The nerve.

Sometimes it looks like these are attempts at diverting public attention from the ailing economy, institutional breakdown and all else that is messed up with our society…but then maybe that’s to assume too much thoughtfulness on the part of some of these hapless and hopeless so called public officials!

If those two women who signed and publicly defended those Dress-code Regulations are facing stiff competition at the hands of the younger babes at work, let them find better ways of appealing to the men…not by banning clothes that they are no longer capable of wearing.

In the meantime, someone tell the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate and her colleague the Human Resources Manager at the same Ministry, Ms Adah Muwanga that I am offering to buy them sexy and lacy lingerie (with matching makeup sets from the international department store, Macy’s) so that next time they feel inferior to younger women or are idle in their offices, they don’t waste government stationery to pollute the public space with such idle statements about how adults in public offices should dress…whenever boredom sets in, they can take time and try the pieces on or kill time by applying the different shades of mascara and eyeliner while waiting for the clock to strike 5.00 PM.

Sacrifice, deceit and/or the lack of in Uganda’s elite – a case for Drs Stella Nyanzi and Kiiza Besigye

 

Stella-Nyanzi-firedFollowing the 2011 General Election, FDC Candidate Kiiza Besigye championed the Walk to Work campaign, a non-violent protest against the fuel prices that had then shot a record high due to inflation.

Day in and out, Besigye and Co. would end up at the back of police pick- up trucks or be towed in their cars to destinations where the cops deemed fit.

But as they were sniffing in teargas and getting pepper- sprayed, we ‘the elite’ were always in the comfort of our offices, enjoying our ACs, drinking coffee and updating our Facebook and Twitter statuses.

We argued that the Besigye approach toward change was radical. That it appealed more to the idle gut of the unemployed youth in the urban centres who smelt opportunity to break into people’s shops but not the ‘intellectuals’ whose aim was to advance a just cause.

The Walk to Work campaigns, just like the Defiance Campaigns, that ensued later after the 2016 elections died natural deaths because the elite – who claim to want change – found them too extreme to engage in.

A week or so ago Stella Nyanzi, a sharp-tongued scholar, took the country by storm. No, she did not undress this time but instead undressed the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, in a series of foul- mouthed Facebook posts.

As a result, the Ugandan elite found themselves at crossroads again. Half of them judged Nyanzi, calling her mad, insane, vulgar, obscene; and the other half looked beyond her vulgarity and focused on her argument(s).

From the onset, one is left wondering where the loyalty of the Ugandan elite really is. Are we just cowards or simply a bunch of judgemental ‘know-it-alls’ who instead of getting in on the action, would rather play judge, jury and executioner on those who do?

If we want change, we are going to have to get in on the action. I recently had a debate with some colleagues at The Standard and told them that the reason President Museveni and the NRA guerrilla bushmen claim to have sacrificed a lot for the country is because they did not just sit on the sidelines.

They left jobs, scholarships at prestigious universities (read Amanya Mushega who left his LLM at the London School of Economics), families and leadership positions to hit the jungles of Luweero in their early 20’s to deliver the change they wanted. And they did.

 

For us, the best we can do is lament on social media. How do we expect the change we desire to come without making any effort?

It is this intellectual dishonesty that is killing our generation. We do nothing to change the status quo yet we want to criticise those who try. Change is not going to fall from heaven. It is going to take a twist in strategy and a lot of sacrifice.

The microphone and pen are the new tools of change, not guns and bombs. The earlier we stepped up the challenge and embraced them, the shorter the journey will be.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

Pads, hoes, malwa and Museveni’s hollow campaign promises

Leopard

Uganda’s long-term president Yoweri Museveni ‘beat’ seven other contestants to stretch his presidency to an astonishing 35 years.

BY ALEX TAREMWA

While campaigning at at Alira Primary School in Alebtong District, northern Uganda, long-term Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni promised to give school going girls free sanitary pads the following financial year if he was voted to power.

This promise later made an interesting twist when his wife Janet Museveni who also is Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology told Parliament’s education committee in a budget proposal meeting that there is no money to allocate to the purchasing of sanitary pads her husband promised.

Her comments attacked a backlash from Ugandans – notably prominent Scholar at the Makerere Institute of Social Research – Dr Stella Nyanzi who called the First Lady insensitive and unworthy of the title ‘Maama’ as she does not act as a mother of the nation.

“She is not only wife to dictator Yoweri Museveni who lied poor Ugandans during his presidential campaigns about giving sanitary pads to their daughters, she is also the dry-eyed beneficiary of nepotism as the Minister of Education. What is the usefulness of powerful women who sleep under dictators to poor women in the masses?” Nyanzi wrote on her Facebook on March 5, 2017.

Nyanzi was arrested, charged and convicted for allegedly calling the Museveni a #pairofbuttocks in one of her Facebook posts.

Nyanzi even started a campaign dubbed #Pads4GirlsUg to raise funds to sanitary pads for school going girls. The campaign was widely embraced and has since covered over 20 schools.

The sanitary pads are not the only campaign promise from Museveni that the National Resistance candidate has since turned back on. Below a a few.

The 18 million hoes

This is probably the most unprecedented that most people have called illogical – 18 million hand hoes to six million subsistence farmers.

Museveni promised that hoes will be delivered in the 2016/2017 budget at a cost of Shs135 billion ($39.5m), which was 28 per cent of the Agriculture ministry’s budget for that fiscal year.

Never mind that the NRM manifesto talks about transformation from peasant to modern agriculture by availing machinery for bush clearing, ploughing, harrowing, planting and harvesting.

This promise was particularly ridiculed and ‘peed-on’ from great heights of Civil Society, Private Sector and the media as critics argued that for a country eyeing Middle Income Status by 2020, a focused president should be talking agriculture mechanisation for better economic output rather fuelling petty subsistence  otherwise known as hand to mouth.

“Who talks about hoes when we should be talking of agricultural mechanisation?” Kassiano Wadri, a former legislator for Terego County in West Nile told a local daily.

But Museveni is not one to bow down to pressure, rather than increase its budget, the Agriculture Ministry took a budget cut with government allocating it a meagre 2 per cent of the total budget in 2016/2017.

Despite the prolonged drought that hit the country destroying crops, increasing hunger levels and killing about 100 people, the government is not poised to increase the ministry’s budget to the recommended 10 per cent as the Maputo Declaration.

Shs 2million to Malwa groups

life001px

Somewhere in Uganda, clients enjoy a pot of Malwa, a local brew (Credit: Daily Monitor)

If you thought 18 million hoes in the digital age was a crazy idea, then you have not had of the ‘revolutionary’ Shs 2 million the president pledged to give every village that has an organised group that produces millet beer locally known as malwa.

Museveni made the promise in December 2015 while he was campaigning in Karamoja region, north-eastern Uganda.

The president said the pledge was to help women in each of the 82,920 villages across the 112 districts in the country boost their incomes.

The problem however is that Museveni needs to squeeze  at least Shs1.6 trillion, equivalent to the total amount allocated to Defence and Security ministries in the 2015/16 Budget to meet the pledge in all the villages countrywide.

Aside the above promises, Museveni needs Shs13 trillion to fulfil host of personal pledges he made while seeking what he has come to call ‘Kisanja Hakuna Muchezo’ (the term of hard work) that will him see him hit 35 years at Uganda’s top chair.

One does not need to look far to validate the claim that manifestos are just declarations of good intentions, all they need to do is look at Yoweri Museveni.

 

Over 10 job openings in UCU

OLUM Douglas

UGANDA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY

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Fare thee well my friend, my hero, my mentor and my daddy.

CzarSolomon

Daddy said that he enjoyed my writing and so I believe it’s only fitting that for his final send off I write him something befitting. A lot has been said about my daddy on social media, newspapers and even on television. In fact I recall one particular instance when I sat in a car with three individuals I was working with who were in the process of insulting him. Quite unaware of the fact that his youngest son was present in the car with them. I don’t blame them because they didn’t know him like I did and ignorance is bliss like the English say. The world is small, but the Lord Jesus is big and he enabled me to contain my anger.

I was closely following the match between Manchester City and Liverpool when I heard my phone ring and it was my sister calling. Daddy hadn’t been well…

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