The camera never lies

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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.

 

Sandy left one day and has never returned

 

Just like that as dusk was descending, the bitch disappeared into the darkness, never to return. We never fought or quarrelled and she never seemed to complain. She merely slipped through the back door without any warning.

Each day from school I found her looking through the window anxious for my return. Then she would scamper down the steps to lick my face. Viva was her other name. Viva from vivacious because that was what she was! I enjoyed her company immensely although it was a potential distraction whenever I wanted to concentrate. She liked to swim and had learnt some hilarious dance strokes that she liked to show off whenever we got visitors.

I still wonder why the bitch left. Was it lack of affection? I don’t think. I always caressed her hairy back daily. Was it food? It couldn’t be. I always left enough food and fed her myself at times. We even went on walks in the neighbourhood almost daily. They were silent peaceful walks I thought she liked.

I sit at the steps to my door each evening, chin-in-hands like a man who has lost his mother in law, hoping to see her run into the yard and into my arms. Maybe one day I’ll understand that I am not one of her kind after all. That the constant gaze that she had over the fence was a longing for something I had selfishly denied her.

Could it have been that dog that was always peeping over our fence that lured her away?

Didn’t she see that she was one of the few dogs that sat in the front seats of their owner’s cars? Perhaps she didn’t. After all, she was merely a dog. (even though I know how self-defeating that consolation sounds )

 

At the SMACKOBA dinner in 2056

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Maj. Gen. Ssewalya, now chairman of the General Court Martial, looked over the epaulettes on his shoulder and gestured to me how Mrs. Okuku was seated uncharacteristically close to the guest of honour. The guest of honour that night was the mighty Chief Justice, Kaleeba Aaron Joel an accomplished lawyer, former partner and close friend. We had actually started out together from the bottom at Kaleeba and Ntungwerisho Advocates before he was appointed to the Supreme Court bench and recently Chief Justice. He was a remarkable gentleman, always smart to the nines. You could never catch him with his shit un-tucked even on the golf course where we played out a few rounds once in a while.

From my seat, I could sense the class that St. Mary’s College Kisubi had taught us to revere more than forty years ago. All were polished gentlemen, through and through. I could see it from the signet ring on Jeff’s little finger, or from the Chateau Margaux Bordeaux wine that Ojambo and Ongom shared. I could smell it from the unmistakable perfume scent that knocked my nose when I leaned over to hug Mrs. Ssewalya. Plus the five course meals in five star hotels serenaded by music from live bands. This was supposed to be the dream.

Also at the chief justice’s table sat Mr. Okuku Patience and his wife. He was effervescent as ever, easily mingling with everybody. His conversations were never dull. He told stories about almost anything, right from his student days in Canada to his latest political manoeuvre against the ruling party. It was a public secret that he was scheming for the highest office in the land. As leader of the main opposition party, his party was expected to sweep the polls in the next year’s elections. We still called him supreme leader.

At the high table sat another notable figure, Ms. Okello Jennifer our high school teacher of literature and English, now old and grey. Her hair was prominently white and she looked like she could use a walking stick but it seemed she had stubbornly insisted on labouring her wobbly legs. Even in old age, she had never stopped talking. She had plenty of stories for each situation and laughed as much.

It goes without mentioning that I was the 2nd most sought after person in the room (after the chief justice). You see my firm which comprised of 5 partners and 30 associates- a huge number for any firm, was one of the best in town. 40 years of consistent and pragmatic growth had moved the firm from a small stingy space on the ground floor of a downtown arcade to the 10th floor of Mapeera House and negotiations were in the concluding stages to acquire our own glass building right in the centre of town. This was one of those events which I attended, partly for the fun and partly for business, divorce, land deals, contract arrangements, name it. Now divorce is not an interesting branch of the law and neither was it my specialty, but it was one I had handled a lot for my Old Boys. That night alone, there were 10 of them for whom I had handled divorces and from the look of things, I predicted that I would leave with more to deal with since only about half had turned up with their wives.

Midway the event, Jemba Lutaaya Junior took to the stage to perform his latest hit. The youthful energetic star was a global star, but to many of us in the room, he was an embodiment of the half hearted dream of his father Kevin Jemba who had himself been a youthful upcoming music star before ditching a music career for a more rewarding one in law. He had initially made a name from protecting intellectual property rights especially music, again from his own experience as a musician but had moved on to serve as corporation secretary to the biggest corporation boards in the land. He had since retired but now trotted around the world as manager for his celebrity son. Tonight he was seated as ever next to Maj. Gen. Ssewalya. I still wondered what they talked about now as old men since all they ever did in youth was gossip. They thumped high fives often like they had done since the early days of their friendship in school. Nevertheless, Jemba senior had never lost the flamboyance that had characterised his youth. He was the only one dressed in a white suit.

In the room that night was also Messrs Ongom Brian, Jeffrey Kaddu and Ojambo Peter, another set of accomplished and well bred lawyers. At their table were all tribes of alcohol. The trio were well known connoisseurs of wines and spirits. If any of them recommended a bottle of wine, you were sure not to go wrong.. Ongom Brian meanwhile was fixed on his tablet- I guess playing FIFA55 or some ancient video game like Teken or Mortal Combat like he had done on prom night. He was an avid gamer and I was stunned by the levels he could take it to. Once when I visited his chambers, I noticed the huge screen, consoles, pads and joysticks that cluttered one corner of his huge office. On the other hand, Jeffrey Kaddu had found his niche in oil and gas law while Peter Ojambo was the president-elect of SMACKOBA.

As the function came to a close, I squeezed my way through the sea of bodies covered with the flamboyant suits made from the finest linen. In fact it was a well known fact that some among us like Mr. Naigambi Kenneth, Q.C ordered their suits from Savile Row- Mayfair, London. Anyway, I needed to have a word with the learned chief justice, about some files of mine that were stuck in the Supreme Court registrar’s office. The files had to do with a multimillion dollar merger between oil companies that had gone wrong. Some could call it buying favours, but was it my fault that I studied with the Chief Justice? Surely not.

On the whole, we had turned out to be a bunch of lawyers whose abilities were never in doubt. I had faced off with most of them in court and we had nevertheless gone for each other’s necks. Top notch lawyers that you would recommend to anyone. Often I joked, that one could close his eyes and pick any of us and be sure that we would do justice to a case. At what rate did we come? Only top dollar.

PS. I know life is not a straight line but it has never been a crime to dream. If any of the above never turns out as I write it, please don’t judge us harshly.

16th April is the day, Grand Imperial hotel is the place. Be there

WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS:

I discovered a great blog today! highly recommend it. Indeed Reka’ayehadikire

KANYEHANDIKIRE!

I am tired
Of hearing suited fellows
Hurl obscenities in my face
Simanyi Freedom, sijui Constitutionalism
What this country needs
Is a good dictator;
The kind of man born
By the mating of a leopard and a buffalo
Not these fellows
Begotten by half-gay men
What this country needs
Is a good dictator
The kind of man who would wage a war,
Who would teach weaned babies
How to sever heads clean
In his pursuit for power
What this country needs
Is a good dictator
A man who would swear
His barrel will spurt out fundamental change
And not a single copper bullet
Only later
With all the mischief a crook can muster,
To say
“Did I really mean democracy?
I was naïve then.”
What this country needs
Is a good dictator
One who would offer a constitution
And insist it be written in pencil
On who would stage an…

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Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye and his unfinished revolution

Its almost polling day, temperatures are rising and the leopard is shifting uncomfortably in his warm seat. A seat he has occupied for 30 long years. I don’t blame him for the uneasiness, I would feel the same. You see, the tide of change is sweeping with so much force that we may just yet be in for an unusual announcement from the Electoral Commission. The man who seems to be scratching the leopard’s ass is Kizza Besigye. Something he has done constantly for the last sixteen years but not as painfully as he is doing it this time.

I do not recall  seeing or reading about anybody over the course of my short life that has genuinely challenged a seating government in Uganda like Kizza Besigye has. For 16 years, this man has dug his own trenches among the people of Uganda rallying them not to settle for less and demand for more than they are being availed by the government. In the course of those 16 years, he has been thrown in virtually all police cells and prisons in Kampala, endured a humiliating trial of rape and trumped up charges of treason clearly aimed at breaking his back. He has been brutalized, almost blinded at a point and indefinitely confined to his home under the guise of preventive arrest. Yet this man has outlived each trick that the state pulls out of its docket.

This same man will today make his way to Makerere university to stir his supporters once again. I honestly don’t know how this man does his thing. It confirms that God has blessed us all with different talents. Enormous emotionally packed rallies have become his trademark during these campaigns. A feat that some must be attributing to black magic. Not even musicians can keep people on their toes like he is doing.

Daniel Kalinaki chose to call his book, an account of Rtd.Dr.Col. Kizza Besigye’s attempt to unseat the present regime, ‘Kizza Besigye and Uganda’s unfinished revolution.’ It is a fitting title. whether Besigye wins or loses or whether he ever becomes president, his name will forever remain synonymous with defiance, perseverance and courage in the face of insurmountable state pressure. Credit is also due to him for keeping the NRM government in check through his criticism of their policies. The mass support he enjoys all over the country is testimony of this unfinished revolution.

I cannot promise that Besigye will be a good leader (if at all he succeeds in this election) What I am sure of is that if he addresses the urgent issues of the country with as much enthusiasm, vigour and credibility he has professed all along, Ugandans will have got a good deal.

Today I will fetch only my first lecture and then all roads will lead to the freedom square to thank Dr.Besigye for keeping up the good fight. For jumping ship early before the likes of Amama Mbabazi who always thought that there was a queue. I plan to listen keenly but fear that I will most likely be taken up by toka kwa bara bara. Either way, it will be a fine way of adding my voice to the revolution. One day, some day, the revolution will succeed!!

 

TOPOWA-Lets all vote

18TH February is the day and I can’t wait. You see this is the first election I will be eligible to participate in. On the other hand there are many ignorant people that continue to infuriate me because of the oblivion that they are trying to create around themselves by absconding from voting. Just a few months ago I was bemused by the seemingly useless #TOPOWA civic education adverts that were starting to clatter the media encouraging people to go and exercise their constitutional right to elect their leaders. I always thought these were uncalled for in the main stream media and the civic education that was really needed was in the rural areas- those without newspapers or televisions. This was not until I started to encounter friends telling me how they were going to remain home on the 18th. Each holds his own reasons ranging from lack of confidence in the electoral commission and failure of any of the eight presidential candidates to convince him.

Hiding inside a political vacuum and pretending to be politically inert is the worst mistake one can make for his country. It is clearly made to me each and every other day that almost everything we desire in our country depends on the quality of services provided by the state and the state is controlled by leaders who are voted into office by ordinary citizens. Whether it is favorable conditions to start and operate businesses or quality healthcare and education, taxation and availability of jobs, the government of the day has a hand in each of these.

It bothers me how the illiterate people come out in droves to vote their leaders and the elite who should be the liberators remain home and spend the day like any other public holiday. It is not surprising that we continue to vote into power wrong leaders who have mastered the art of manipulative politics by playing on the minds of the illiterate most times with cheap handouts like sugar and t-shirts.

Five years from now those in my age group will be fresh graduates searching for jobs. But few realize that the availability of jobs then depends on the leaders we choose right now. I for one will graduate from law school in January 2020. When you consider the additional 9 months of LDC, it’s pretty obvious that I’ll be as ready and as qualified as I can be to take up my first case. This is the part of each candidate’s campaign that I am interested in. It scares me each day as I retire to bed after spending long hours learning the law that in 2020 the rude reality may be that I will probably pace the streets of Kampala for months even years on end looking for a law firm or organisation to hire me. Yet there are those who are finishing school in the next 3 years and choose to lie to themselves that politics is outside their realm. Which country do you live in? Mbabazi promises 5million jobs in five years, Besigye is promising teachers a starting salary of 650,000 shillings, Elton Joseph Mabirizi is promising to export us while Prof. Baryamureeba wants to create a million jobs through Business Process Outsourcing alone. Whether each of these promises is tenable is a debate for another day. Most importantly, these are issues that influence whom you will cast your vote for.

It does not matter whether the elections are rigged and I really don’t care whom you vote; that is your decision. At the end of the day make sure you get out of your house and vote like every responsible Uganda will do. Somebody in my constitutional law class yesterday argued that there are some numbers that are difficult to alter. Overwhelming popular support for one candidate will fill those who are planning to rig the election with shame sent from above. Besides, do not create excuses that you will regret just in case the results go to court and there’s need to prove ‘substantial’ rigging.

Be cool like me and go and vote. Be even cooler and vote for change. I say again. LETS ALL VOTE!

A Year Of Musings

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I opened this blog a year ago when I was fresh out of high school with 9 months of holiday on my hands and my fingers itching to write down something on almost anything and the time to develop and improve an old hobby; photography which i both hoped to share with the world to critique. Did i succeed? The jury is out to give its verdict.

Occasionally, I found myself writing without any compulsion but on other lyrically dry days I had to stimulate the muse to give me those nice blues that I read through today with so much delight.

Fast forward 1 semester of my first year at university down and here I am with less time on my hands (law school doesn’t  get any easier) but lots of stuff to write down about. The difference in the writing is that it is not only limited to the musings of an idle teenager but the thoughts and insights that a fledgling law student holds about life. Plus thank God I don’t have to appease the muse anymore to send me some beautifully woven words and sentences, they throw themselves-boom-right at me.

Got a month of holiday still ahead of me. I pick up my pen from where I left off with unbound optimism confident that I kept tabs on my muse. But how can I when each day it said

“Fool, look in thy heart and write.”

PS; Please look through all the pieces from the past year and tell me which one you liked the most and which one sucked. the photographs from my learning days in vacation are available on the links below

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