Bushenyi shall be my permanent home some day.
Beautiful blue butterflies twirl around in colourful circles. Fresh floral leaves drop down from tall dancing trees which sway delightfully to a light rustling wind carrying sweet tantalizing smells. The birds can be heard pouring out their early morning melodies in the small woodland nearby. Beams of golden light burst through the green foliage at the canopy and give the ground below just a peek of brightness. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t help whistling. I tread carefully creating my own rhythm as I let each foot sink into the bed of dry leaves and branches on the ground.
This is the reward for each morning of hard labour on the farm that begins at 4:30 a.m when the shrill piercing sound of the alarm clock invades the silent night instantly awaking me from my slumber. It’s time to milk the cows or else the milk will ‘evaporate’ as they say. The moon is out and gives me confidence to walk in the lifeless night. The only sounds are the hooting of an owl somewhere or crickets chirping plus the thud of my boots as I scamper downhill. In 20 minutes, I am at the farm gate draped in a heavy jacket, warm khaki pants, rubber boots to protect my ‘tender’ feet from the dew and wielding a herding stick and a LED flashlight. The two herdsmen are already up, just waiting for me to start off the day. Quickly we fetch the pails and milking salve cream and the drops of milk accumulate into litres with each pull at the cows’ teats. The stubborn ones are milked from the crush. Within an hour we are done with milking and feeding the calves that still take milk. Then the bulk of it is sold to the community around. By this time, the sun is starting to rise from beyond the horizon creating a sight to behold.
As the first glimpses of daylight appear, we set the herd off into the grazing paddock for the day. It’s a fresh paddock. One that hasn’t been used in a week and the excitement is evident on each cow’s face; fresh sprouted grass. If any of them stays behind or walks sluggishly, the simple deduction is that it is sick and the veterinary doc is called straight away. Fetching water from the nearby stream to fill the 1600 litre trough (80 jerry cans) is the last and also the toughest of the morning labours. This has to be done early before the sun is out to intensify the job. It is after this task that come the reward I speak of; the short quiet walks in the pastures and woodlands soaking in the beauty of this part of the world from which I derive a lot of pleasure.
The stream, full to its brim because of the November rains, happens to run faster at the eastern edge of the farm. It is a calm constant flow that you hardly imagine drying up in the dry season when the heavens are mean with rain and the dry grass is tasteless to the cows. The sun rises higher and forces me to think of returning home. The emptiness of my stomach has begun to make it churn. A few minutes after nine, I’m homebound with a bucket of milk in hand for a hearty breakfast.
Deep in my mind, I know this is pure bliss. Deep in my mind, I know that these are beautiful days. Yet these are but the exceptional days that I enjoy on the sojourns to my village Bushenyi, the place of my father’s birth, which never last more than two weeks. For the rest of the year, I must bear the buzz and rush of the capital.
Bushenyi shall be my permanent home some day.
And yet she wasn’t ugly per se. No, that would be unfair to the many heads she turned. She was one of those girls whom makeup helped a lot-especially when applied the right way. One of those girls whose selfies appeared stunning when taken at an angle. Her practice and research on Instagram based on likes of her own pictures, had revealed that a slight tilt of the head to the left, with the lips pouted downwards towards the camera, eyebrows raised beguilingly and braids tied down one shoulder always accentuated her cheek bones, enhanced her full lips and hid her prominent forehead. All seven of her latest selfie uploads on Instagram confirmed this. The number of likes and followers had sky rocketed ever since she discovered this new trick. All she adjusted in the subsequent ones was a change of an outfit, or expose a little more cleavage or change the colour of her lipstick.
But when Lisa turned up to take a real portrait at my room based studio in Lumumba that day, she had done an awful job with her makeup. A really awful job. Either she did not have a look in the mirror before she stepped out of her door, or she had very mean friends. The kind of friends who praised you yet in fact you resembled the Clementina Okot P’bitek had described in Song of Lawino. The one whose red lipstick made her look like a wild cat that has dipped its mouth in blood. The only things that deserved credit were the line of studs on each ear which looked like rows of street lights and the hair, which I still credited to her hair stylist.
After failing to gather the courage to say what her friends should have told her, I picked up the camera and clicked away looking for all the right angles momentarily forgetting about my predicament.Many praise Photoshop but hardly ever know about the grudging and dreadfully long hours photographers spend applying masks, filters and more to retouch photos.
Photoshop helps, but the camera never lies. Even Charles Dickens wrote as far back as 1838 that painters make out ladies fairer than they appear, but as for photography, the trade is a tad too honest.
The just concluded trip by the leader of the free world to Kenya has caused me to rethink about an old topic that I had previously put to bed. You see, Barack Obama’s visit to his father’s homeland caused such a wave of euphoria in Kenya that I expect to see in Uganda in the coming months when we host Pope Francis. It will be a circus similar to that that enveloped the country in 2007 when we hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.(CHOGM)
Oh, how I remember those days. The streets were expected to turn green overnight, millions were poured into beautifying the city, street lights were installed, roads were renovated and magnificent hotels were put up. A by-law was passed ordering all owners of buildings in the city to give them a fresh coat of paint to look good for her majesty the Queen of Britain.
Come a few weeks to the summit, Kampala sparkled. It had a touch of glamour so foreign to even its occupants that it looked like our neighbor Johannesburg. It was unusual not to find heaps of garbage scattered on the streets, or to travel on Kampala’s roads without meeting a single pothole.
The road from the airport through Entebbe which has a few bad spots that piteously expose our slums especially at Kibuye and Katwe was lined with long stretches of posters to hide the third world or rather to spare the queen of such pathetic sights. Nevertheless, we welcomed the queen in style, hosted a successful meet and showcased the pearl of Africa to the rest of the world as best as we could. All in all we put up faces for a good five days or so.
Fast forward two months after the meeting and life returned to normal. The newly renovated roads started to cave in one pothole after another; enormous far reaching rot was uncovered in one corruption scandal after another going up to the highest levels of government. The vice president at the time even found himself in prison in corruption cases involving the procedure for procuring services for the summit. Garbage returned to the streets to save the marabou storks from dying of starvation, and the grass plus flowers that had been planted soon began to wither.
Events in Kenya have unfolded in an almost cut and paste scenario to those of CHOGM 2007 in Uganda. It’s been hype, excitement and a strong dose of patriotism coursing the veins of our brothers in Kenya for the last 2months. (Ask CNN and you will know what I mean. The #KOT took it upon themselves to give CNN a day to remember when they responded en masse to a story run on the news agency about Kenya being a hotbed of terror using the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN.) Artists have got inspiration to pick up their brushes and paint their canvases, musicians can’t stop singing about the son of a sleepy village called Kogelo, and as always you can’t have a party and fail to invite the media, if you do they’ll gate crush it. All media outlets reported mostly on Obama the whole month.
In Kenya, the streets were cleaned up and roads received a touch of ‘Obamacare’ including the one to the state house. The streets sparkled so much that perennial eye sores like street kids were picked up from the streets albeit under the cover of darkness. I laughed my lungs out when the governor of Nairobi Evans Kidero called on people to steer off grass planted a mere 72 hours to the visit. Did he expect it to be fully grown in such a short space of time? One twitter user joked that perhaps the grass should be painted green. Another recommended a sprinkling of Aromat seasoning to be applied to the grass for miracle results while another advised that the president should be given glasses with a green shade so that everything on the streets looked green.
Focus now turns to the highly anticipated visit of the Holy Father to Uganda. Uganda is unusually blessed in these matters as this will be the third pope to visit the country, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II being the first two. Christians especially the Catholics can’t wait to see this successor of saint peter. My local parish sits in the vicinity of the papal nuncio’s residence and this is where the pontiff will reside during his visit. Already, work is going on to repair the roads leading up to the residence, the shrine of the Uganda martyrs which the pope will most certainly visit is undergoing a massive facelift to put it up to standard for the pope and so many security measures that well enjoy in that period. Of course some of the changes and preparations held to welcome such big personalities wither away with the tide of smoke from the planes back to their homeland, while others remain for all to see and remember. What excites me though is the frenzy we all get into to be ready for visitors; it makes me think we should host a huge personality or event each year. How about the African nation’s cup, then the world cup, or even the Olympics?
Am just saying..
PS; for the record, this is the first post with images that are not my own.
The new teacher of general paper
That morning as the class sat lazily conversing at the top of their voices, a big dark man stood at the entrance of the room blocking all the sunlight that came through. The loud chants and arguments that had previously occupied the class turned into whispers as all eyes turned to the new comer. His distinct shiny bald head looked like a patched football field. His eyes like round golf balls rotated in their sockets as they scrutinized the class. His gaze was so strong that nobody could look him in the eye for more than three seconds. His belly stuck out like that of a pregnant woman unable to be hidden by the loose fitting and old fashioned four buttoned jacket he wore. His throat was very huge and this obviously denied him the chance to tie his collar button. His whole ensemble was amusing. In fact, the yellow tie he wore which did not match the green shirt and brown trousers at all resembled a hangman’s noose.
“Good morning senior five!” he bellowed. “I am your new teacher of general paper” he continued in a loud confident voice such that no one could doubt him.
The literature teacher
He wore spectacles which lay precariously on his nostrils and not on the bridge of his nose like most people’s did. His neck had layers of flesh that concealed his Adams apple. When he spoke, he did so with hearty expressions forming wrinkles that crowded his face. Lines ran between his eyes making them look like a waterfall. He had a hollow laugh which hardly lasted more than a few seconds. Often, it sounded like an old tired car engine that had failed to start. The only quality about it was that it often transformed his lame jokes into sublime ones. Nevertheless, we enjoyed his lessons.
Looking back at this past weekend with all the hype, anticipation and glamour that characterized the birth of her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, I’ve resolved that my own flesh and blood will be born with similar pomp. If not for the attention of the whole world, then it will be in celebration and honour of that lady who will brave the pain of child birth.
Bringing life into the world is no easy job and although some women make it seem like a routine visit to the dentist (the duchess of Cambridge included), I believe each birth is special and deserves to be welcomed in style. If the glitz does not come naturally, then rest assured I’ll create it. Here’s how!
Daily Facebook updates on the progress of my wife’s pregnancy, maybe a picture of the baby bump each week on my photography page, a monthly post right here on my blog and brief updates from the labour ward when the hour comes are some of the things I’m considering. I’ll make sure I keep the ‘press’ on its toes waiting for the child’s birth. When the baby is finally born, and it is time to go home, we will get out on the balcony of Mulago hospital or whichever hospital it will be and briefly wave to the ‘crowd’- whatever its size. If there’s no crowd, I’ll personally call a press conference to announce the birth of my beloved little one. I’ll make people (read family and friends) bet on the name to christen the child. In addition, I will announce how the name holds a special place in the family, dating way back to the baby’s great great grandfather who was a man of valour and courage. Not all of us can be princes indeed, but who says we cannot live like princes in our own little worlds.
Ohh, now I realize my imagination is running away from my judgement. All the same these little dreams swam in my mind all weekend and I can bet I was not the only one. The truth will probably be we’ll quietly leave the hospital cradling the little one and head home only to the excitement of only family and friends. And who says that is not enough!!!
i long for the tranquil blissful days of summer. where life can be no calmer. i want to fly up above the ground where no mortal hands can reach,sore with the eagles and hug the clouds. i want to peep through an open roof aeroplane and steal a look at God’s face.
i want to swim on my back in clear blue pools head riveted upwards to the sky. l want to roll in the grass, tumble downhill and rumble with nature. i want to walk through the thick forests, hide under the dense cover, hear the rustle of the leaves as they go down under the weight of each foot. i want to run across bare hills, hear the chirping of the birds, feel the wind on my cheeks and close upon my heels.
i want to watch the sun set as it goes to sleep and roast fresh-smelling maize cobs in the dark on a small wood fire. i want to listen to the music of the creaking crickets and croaking toads. i want to chase after fireflies and reach out to touch the stars on tiptoe
at the end of the day i want to lie back in a comfy bed of hay and from there dream of the rest of Gods creation.
yes, this and much more i want to do