Saturday, December 19, 2009


While carrying out some research for one of my chapters dealing with the history of Uganda, i came across this site

One posting there particularly caught my eye and it reads as follows;

So did Buganda become great at the expense of Bunyoro?

For me I am fed up with this Bunyoro gloating about the emergence and present prominence of Buganda.
Surely at the time of coming of the British, Buganda had long overtaken Bunyoro and the fact that Baganda are the dominant tribal force in Uganda today in all spheres be it social, political, economic, intellectual, sport, music and entertainment cannot just be because they at one time are adjudged to have gained at the expense of Bunyoro.
Mirima conveniently never tells anyone about the rise of Ankole, Toro or Karagwe that were all said to have been part of Bunyoro Kitara. Henry, how and when did those parts of Bunyoro Kitara break away from your Kingdom?
We should never forget that greatness cannot be stopped however much one tries to impede it.
Museveni has tried to impede Buganda, but even he knows that its next to impossible because we are every where, in all domains Uganda!
We are the brightest, most innovative, bravest, most enterprising, etc, and there is no way anyone or anything in Uganda can stop us, and this is not to say that we have any sense of chauvinism in us. Its just a fact.
The likes of Mirima just have to get used to this fact!
Rita Mbabazi

Comment by ekitibwakyabuganda on November 24, 2009 3:22 pm
Rita Mbabazi, for the first time , l have agreed with you on Buganda-Bunyoro relations as portrayed by our elder Mirima. Let Bunyoro first claim lost counties to Congo before those else where. Did Bunyoro only loose Buganda? Why not Nkore, Mpororo, Tooro, Karagwe, Kiziba, Rwanda, Burundi, Wanga, Busoga, as you have realy shown?
Ahmed Katerega

This is my response to the said posting:

Comment by Daniel on December 12, 2009 2:55 pm
Dear Rita Mbabazi

Kindly advise me on what yardsticks you have used to reach the conclusion that ” We are the brightest, most innovative, bravest, most enterprising, etc, and there is no way anyone or anything in Uganda can stop us, and this is not to say that we have any sense of chauvinism in us. Its just a fact.” There is some research goingon in some parts of the Western world about whether or not the long held view that the white caucasian is the “brightest, most innovative, bravest, most enterprising” does hold true. I would therefore appreciate your views on this

I would also like to know what you mean by the word Baganda and how does one determine who is or is not a Muganda? Is it in name or lineage? Does the fact that one has a parent who is or was not a muganda make him or her less of a muganda? Does that in anyway contribute to the “social, political, economic, intellectual, sport, music and entertainment” prowess of the Muganda? Have any advantages of location, timing, former colonisation etc been considered when coming to this conclusion? or are all these attributed to “in-born”natural occurences by merely being a Muganda?

Interestingly, if the latter be true then its worth noting that our colonial masters, the Nazis and many of those who have subjugated others in history, have equally held similar darwinian? views

A question for Mr Ahmed Kateregga, does it really matter which claim Bunyoro should lodge first for the recovery of its land-if it beleives it has such claim? Willl claiming land from any of these other places resolve the claim it has against Buganda(whether such claim is justifiable or not?) Doesnt it defeat logic for one to delay an isue rather than go around in circles? In my view, we would rather ask Bunyoro or any other nationality of ethnic group to forego any claim they might have in the interest of national unity and development. A claim and counter claim will not help us

I await your responses

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do Evil Minds " Really" Rule Uganda?- Part Two

A Different Dimension...

Following my comments about the Editorial by the South African Newspaper which called Ugandan leaders Evil, I received the comment below from one of my colleagues and I respond there-under;

The Comment/response....


Here's an excerpt taken from the American Psychiatric Association way back in 1973...

"Whereas homosexuality in and of itself implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or vocational capabilities, therefore, be it resolved that the American Psychiatric Association deplores all public and private discrimination against homosexuals in such areas as employment, housing, public accommodations, and licensing, and declares that no burden of proof of such judgment, capacity, or reliability shall be placed on homosexuals greater than that imposed on any other persons. Further, the APA supports and urges the enactment of civil rights legislation at local, state, and federal levels that would insure homosexual citizens the same protections now guaranteed to others. Further, the APA supports and urges the repeal of all legislation making criminal offenses of sexual acts performed by consenting adults in private"

This was the APAs statement in 1973 after extensive research into the subject following great deabte and gay civil right movements in the USA. Homosexuality as a diagnosis was eliminated from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) II in 1973 ( p.s. the DSM is the encyclopedia of mental illness, a guide that all practicing psychiatrists follow)
As a practicing Medical professional, i find it simply barbaric that a law maker can even suggest tabling a bill such as this. It goes against the ethics of oaths of a few professions that might inadvertently be involved in the care of a homsexual.
I can't sit in my house and beam with pride as individuals at home decide to kill human beings based on emotion,cultural bias and ineptitude. Its no wonder the term medevil was used as i see no difference in the witch hunt traditions that existed in Europe in the medevil times.
There's no doubt, that the issue is repugnant, however at the same time, it's clear there are no clear cut answers to explain this behavior. Scientists continue research into the genetics behind this, the impact of psychological development as well as traumatic experiences and cross-cultural studies.
I think the real evil here is in the fact that a human life carries no value in the eyes of our leaders. This would be a similar trait i would have expected to see in someone like Hitler, Idi Amin etc. Because essentially the thought process is along the lines of killing any one whose lifestyle one doesn't agree with. I believe there are so many ways to discourage the behavior but to announce death upon any human being is plain evil. Its because of this simplistic and dismissive attitude towards any human life that our people perish in Uganda. Whether its the poor roads, the terrible hospitals, you name it, the lack of appreciation of the potential in any human being is what surely kills us. How honestly can i see our leaders in a favorable light.
Sadly i am not convinced that anything about this bill demonstrates a very robust democratic process. Everyone is debating based on the cultural perceptions and religious opinions which sadly is all that defines our people. I wish there could be strong deabte and democratic repercussion for the monies lost in CHOGM, bad roads, 30 years of insurgency in the North of Uganda.
I see nothing wrong in that article especially in this day and age when the world is alot smaller than it was 20 years ago.


My rather long response…..

Hallo (name withheld)

First things first- I am happy to hear from you….

Strong arguments for and against the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009

Now to the article at hand, you do raise valid points especially when you state that ''there are no clear cut answers" to what is before us, and I do agree with you. Indeed, as I noted in my initial response, there are issues with the bill that many do not agree with. However there are many who agree with some, although not all issues in the bill. My take is, and does remain that those with the benefit of knowledge should disseminate it as convincingly and clearly as possible, so that they draw more to their side, rather than awakening the calls for battle through course language and abuse.

It is better that we state the facts as they truly are, rather than tell half-truths that others will immediately pick up and misuse. This is unfortunately what caused the genocide in Rwanda. For example, when you state that “I can’t sit in my house and beam with pride as individuals at home decide to kill human beings based on emotion, cultural bias or ineptitude”, this is definitely not what has happened. No one has decided to kill human beings- however there is a proposal in the Bill to pass death penalty for those convicted of aggravated homosexuality. (See Section 3). Please note that this proposal has however been subjected to scrutiny to verify whether it is founded in anyway. This is the true state of the matter. There are many other issues in the bill that infringe on the right to privacy and others which are being scrutinized.

The above does not in any way mean that I am a wholesome supporter of the Bill. I recognize its failings and shortcomings. Like I mention in my previous writing, I don't support the death penalty for homosexuality or for any other crime. Neither do I agree that parents, friends, clergy and medical personnel of confessed or practicing homosexuals should be criminalized for not revealing the sexual preferences of those under their care. However, I still think that inter alia the rapist – (whether homosexual or heterosexual) should be penalized, he who spreads HIV intentionally should be penalized, and recruitment drives for homosexuality should also be stopped etc. Secondly, when you state that it is “barbaric” for a legislator to “even suggest” tabling the bill, it means that we are going to police people’s thoughts, words and in this specific case the words of a person who is mandated to speak on behalf of others. Now, you have probably heard that “even the devil does not know the intent of man’s heart” which means that it is a thankless task to try to police thoughts or speech for those are inherent rights of the individual human being and the rest of mankind should not try to go against this. Let people think and speak. In any case, one could argue, why should someone be prohibited from even suggesting tabling a bill against homosexuality, while another is allowed to suggest a bill for recognition of homosexuality? I see unfairness in that approach, contrary to the time tested norms of freedom of speech, thought and conscience. That is why when you say “it is simply barbaric to suggest”, one will also say or should in this instance be allowed to say “it is simply barbaric to be prohibited to suggest” and that for me creates a vicious cycle that does not help this discussion. At the very least, it veers off from the issues at hand. I would rather that, people are given opportunity to agree or disagree on these issues. See below for example,

Reverend Canon Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki, the Church of Uganda provincial secretary, (said): "It is an important law, but the provision related to the death penalty may prevent this law from being passed, because death should not be accepted as a punishment. Therefore propose another form of punishment instead of death." Kafundizeki said pushing for extra territorial jurisdiction would be counter-productive. "The Church of Uganda is saying we need to limit ourselves to the Ugandan territory, instead of extra territorial jurisdiction, because the Ugandan constitution is very clear on protocols and ratifications. Going beyond the borders will be counter-productive," he says.

Livingston Okello Okello, Member of Parliament in Chua County in Northern Uganda, says much as homosexuality was not allowed within his culture, he would not support the death penalty against lesbians and homosexuals. "In Luo culture the death penalty has never been part of our practice. Because what is the intended purpose of the death penalty, apart from causing suffering to the relatives of the victim?" he asks. Several other parliamentarians in interviews with IPS said they would support the Bill at its second reading, because the practice of homosexuality had never been accepted in most of the communities and constituencies they represented.

The above are people’s contrasting views and we should allow them room least we stifle debate and cause anarchy and war. To my understanding, the bill came as a result of many reports of boys being defiled while older ones were either raped or cajoled into the act by pastors, priests of bigger boys. Stories of recruitments were rife with confessions of former recruiters being given. The first reading of the bill in parliament gives indication to some of these issues and that is why there is a near unanimous voice from the house of parliament, which is normally rare. That there is need to look at the veracity of these claims is clear and that is why the democratic process is taking place in the same way that the Anti Genital Mutilation Bill and other laws have been passed.

Whereas the democratic process in Uganda is not perfect, no system is infallible. The countries some of us look up to have not had a clean bill of health as far as their democratic tendencies or human rights observance is concerned. They speak in support of human rights then go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan or put trade embargoes on Cuba. Former leaders, Idi Amin and Adolf Hitler who are alluded to in your piece did not, to the best of my knowledge, ever give voice to the people of Uganda. Historians like Kiveijinja, Karugire, Kanyeihamba and others have covered what happened in these periods to great detail.

Let’s take the supposition of the Ugandan “dictators” scenario, is it not possible that the reverse is also true in some of these countries (Canada, UK and Sweden) where their citizens are being prosecuted for expressing themselves against among other things, Islam and homosexuality-which is the same mistake that the current bill makes. Hence, the justification for open space for debate. It is my humble submission that this is not what the American Psychiatric Association meant when it urged the “enactment of civil rights legislation at local, state, and federal levels that would insure homosexual citizens the same protections now guaranteed to others.” However, what we instead see today are situations where there is no room for the conscientious objector - there is no room for those who hold contrary views to say Islam. I am almost sure you know of many a case which has been won by gay rights activities all over the world because they were denied similar rights. See for example our own Ugandan case of Victor Mukasa.

In my view, the above does justify why I think that we need to avoid name calling but rather work out differences in a way that shows mutual respect for all concerned. Indeed, this is seen in your words when you state that “its clear there are no clear cut answers to explain this (homosexual) behavior. ...scientists continue research…”
Depending on which side of the table one is seated, there are strong arguments on both sides of the coin and many of us remain on the fence-conflicted. However, one will not receive support or audience when one calls Museveni an evil leader and blames him for something he has not yet done. Regardless of what wrongs our leaders have committed, and continue to commit, let us not throw away the baby in the bathwater. The heap of abuse that is levied upon our leaders and President does not and will not help this debate. That is why I say that whereas you have all the freedom to do so, and I will support your right to say so, I don’t think that statements you make such as “I think the real evil here is in the fact that a human life carries no value in the eyes of our leaders” will help us change the minds of our leaders. This is because I don’t think it is a factual truth and secondly some of our leaders do value human life. Such statements, as directed to the specific leadership in Uganda, will in my view, easily ignite a stubbornness in our leaders to walk away from the negotiation table and/or proceeding to prove a point that –Yes, they can. In my opinion, calling Bahati evil and implying the same for all leaders and legislators of Uganda, (a commentator even referred to them as animals), will not achieve the desired progress. It would be a failure on the part of us who are calling for reconsideration, restraint, healing and dialogue. Besides, the facts are clear - the government does support the bill but the Law Reform Commission clearly stated that it did not take part in drafting this private member’s bill. More so, the bill is still under scrutiny! Let us desist from being the boy who cried wolf! Besides, any ethical journalist would at least qualify their statements since there are many reports of world leaders who have responded poorly to disasters such as the Rwanda genocide, the human rights situation in China and the appalling situation in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Basis for dialogue

You make mention in your response that “Everyone is debating based on the cultural perceptions and religious opinions which sadly is all that defines our people.” I assume by using the word “sadly” means that you do not approve of the approach? If that is so, you do not suggest what “Everyone” should base their debate on. Should it be only on medical grounds? If so, why? That would help me understand. I do agree with you that people debate based on what “defines them” and that is why it is important to engage them in these very areas where they are rooted. If we discourage them from doing so, then we lose their participation which for me is the essence of any workable (not perfect) democracy. That is the basis for cultural relativism and legal pluralism as I understand it. I would be uncomfortable to make a decision based on say purely medical grounds because doctors can also get it wrong- see how they went against the Hippocratic Oath in Nazi Germany or how the WHO has changed its position on DDT over time. Consider further the decision to carry out euthanasia for terminally ill patients- in many cases the doctors have recommended termination of life but for cultural religious and social concerns, relatives have opted out. In other cases, like Terry Schiavo, the law has been abused to the pain and suffering of parents.

So, if you wish to have “strong debate,” then you ought to allow for an “all-cards-on-table” approach and with no name calling. Failure of which, then the only option is probably war which some have argued is the end of all reasoning. We should consider all view-points, the same way we consider the Third World approach to International Law and socio-economic rights, and ubuntuism- we are because they are-umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through (other) persons"). Let us not be seen to be selecting what does or does not apply depending on the situation at hand. We cannot stifle or abuse dissenting voices -they are after all our fathers, mothers, sisters, priests, pastors and basically form part of the world we live in. For them to be relegated to history, as the South African newspaper’s editorial suggests seems rather unfair and undemocratic.


In my article I argue -without using the word, that there is hypocrisy in the way this matter is handled. One cannot call the other “evil” because of one issue and keep quiet about other human rights abuses. We both agree that there is much more happening in Uganda and yet there is a deafening silence. I opine that this silence is occasioned by all citizens and not only our leaders; Businessmen sell expired drugs, drunken drivers continue to cause havoc on our roads, bodaboda(bajaj) riders continue to contribute to the highest number of accidents on our roads, lawyers give poor ill-prepared defenses for the indigent, traffic policemen wave on overloaded vehicles, doctors are not in hospitals, rich countries continue to sell landmines, women in developed nations continue to wear blood diamond, companies continue to profit from the poor, women give birth and dump babies in pit latrines and rubbish heaps, careless driving is rife, name it. Almost each one of us has contributed to the death of one or more human beings.

Here in lies my question - Why do we quickly single out only our leaders and never look at what our contribution to this situation is? We dump rubbish everywhere and block water passages but “look to our leaders to clean up after us”. We notice unfairness everyday but say nothing. How many times have we paid bribes, rolled up our car windows when beggars approach, need I go on? Why then do we dust up our banners for human rights that have been long cast aside when it comes to homosexuality? If the attitude that we have towards decriminalization of homosexuality is the same attitude we had for the twenty years Kony has been cutting off lips and limbs of our brothers and sisters, for the killings in Rwanda, Iraq, the floods, bad roads, AIDS, Ebola, name it-this world would be a better place to live.

To add insult to injury, the editorial even calls on our donor friends to put pressure - interestingly, these are the same donors who are allegedly helping us develop our democratic systems, which should be devoid of undue influence, etc. With one hand they build court houses and prosecutorial offices, fund the world of the IGG and other offices that promote good governance, and with the other hand they take all away unless we do as they say. No wonder Andrew Mwenda says that we can never develop with aid. It is no wonder that many now doubt the democratic system of this country. I do not see how our democracy will ever work in such circumstances. It just confirms that our Ugandan-ness is a myth. We only remember our alleged independence and state sovereignty when Inzikuru wins the Olympics or when there are grants for foreigners in the developed countries.

I think we need to be honest here-someone is picking and choosing which lives are more important than others-that is my point. In my opinion, there is a hegemony we are dealing with but that is for another day's discourse.

Bad Journalism?

I stand to be corrected, but in my understanding, the role of the journalist is to provide unbiased, empathetic information- at best to use that position to convince but not to abuse. You cannot abuse all leadership in Uganda for each and every evil that goes on there. I am still offended that our leaders-and that includes many others apart from the president and his cabinet-are being branded evil! Evil? for a private members' draft bill? When there are already indications that the provision on death penalty will not be carried into the final draft? Give me a break! That in my humble opinion is not ethical journalism or helpful discourse. I am already putting down fires in my class for something that is not in existence yet.

Which way now?

Here in lies the biggest challenge. Many people in the world and not Uganda alone are against homosexuality. Newspaper reports indicate that many commonwealth countries still criminalize homosexuality. That homosexuality is a controversial issue in most democracies, is a given; that it shall remain so is also, in my view a reality. That the issue is political in nature is also a given as seen in the voting pattern of democrats and conservative republicans. Like you mention in your response, the findings of the APA in 1973 came “after extensive research into the subject following great debate and gay civil right movements in the USA.” This means that until the re-interpretation of homosexuality as a rights issue, there was probably majority disagreement with the gay lifestyle within the APA and beyond. However, the human rights movement has changed this perception and we also note that the APA descends in the arena of advocacy on rights, legislation and acceptance. This shows further that no institution should deny this opportunity to another be it religious cultural political or otherwise on such issues. To condemn some and uphold others is in my view unfortunate and defeats the whole human rights enterprise.

Indeed the world is a lot smaller than it was 20 years ago” however, let us not kid ourselves, certain things have not changed- racism and xenophobia continues, multi lateral corporations rule the day, professionals from developed countries are still required to re-train in order to work-an experience many of us clearly know well, international students are still paying over three or four times the price of local students at universities and schools, the permanent members of the Security Council remain the same, our economies remain hugely reliant on aid and consumerism, Copenhagen seems to require more action from the third world states than the developed ones, name it. It is interesting what can and cannot change in this century.

Let me conclude by stating that whereas I have respect for the American Psychiatric Association because I am sure they have taken time to study and research before arriving at the statement they gave. Be that as it may, I still do not agree that “there should be a repeal of all legislation making criminal offences of sexual acts performed by consenting adults in private.” I believe that there are certain acts like incest which, even though performed in private between consenting adults should be criminalized by society. I could mention a few others but that is probably for another discussion.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Do Evil Minds ''Really'' Rule Uganda?

I am appalled by the Editorial of the Sunday Times Newspaper December 12, 2009 ( ) which stated that my country Uganda is ruled by Evil minds.

Whereas I appreciate that the Editorial, like many of us, is not comfortable or happy with the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 which is currently before the Parliament of Uganda, I do not think calling our leaders "evil" helps the debate. This debate, which has been going on for a long time, has indeed given me a real taste of the world - Whereas many people do support the Bill for a variety of reasons, many do not support the Bill and others support only certain aspects of the Bill. However, there is a group of people who do not support the Bill, who have chosen to go "name-calling"(and in some cases used abusive language which does not help). In my view, they should look for means to convince the other side instead of calling those in support of the Bill names such as bigots, fascists, and homophobes or as in this case, evil.

To say that ''Evil minds'' rule in Uganda because of this bill seems to mean that there are no evil minds in countries that have de-criminalized homosexuality. However, this is far from the truth. Evil lurks everywhere. Even the devil does not know the intent of man's heart-including the hearts of those who don't support this Bill. In any case, there are many other issues like rape, defilement, poverty, racism, corruption, terrorism, murder, xenophobia, pedophilia, name it which are lurking all over the world-I am yet to see this paper give the leaders of nations where this happens (and this is all nations), the same kind of "brand"-Evil
It seems the editorial team intentionally decided to feign ignorance (I wonder whether deliberate or not) about the way laws in most democracies are made. If they had inquired, and I sure hope they did, they would have known that this is a private member's bill; that like in any other democracy, the process of reading the bill is going on; that just as RSA voted for President Zuma, a person many thought was not fit to be President; our democracy should be equally respected; that our President Museveni, who is being attacked unfairly in this Editorial, has not yet consented to the bill -which has not even been passed into law anyway.
If there is an example of BAD JOURNALISM, this is clearly it!! Whereas, many of us do have disagreements with many provisions in the Bill, we still respect the fact that there is freedom of thought, expression-but most of all, this is a democracy-and until we change our democratic values, we should not have our legislators and their "medieval attitudes" kicked out of the 21st century as the editorial suggests. If it were so, how come there is need to allow "thoughts" of "some citizens" seeking love and companionship with members of the same sex."?

Advocating for "Donors to “use their clout to demand the scrapping of the bill" is basically advocating for donors to interfere with our democratic and political process -and am surprised that a fellow African newspaper would suggest this. Using one proposed bill as the bench mark to advocate for the "return of human rights to (our) country.'' is equally astonishing. We have so many human rights concerns in this country, including but not limited to, the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, freedom of the media, freedom of expression, association, closure of media houses, blocking of opposition rallies, floods, name it- but I am yet to read an editorial from this paper in these issues.

Why this specific cherry-picking of human rights causes? Most annoyingly, the editorial asserts that the bill will drag my country "back to the dark and evil days of Idi Amin" – a clear display of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about the history of Uganda

As for now, unless the contrary be shown, I am very suspicious of the real motives of this editorial

Corruption- IGG and the fight against Political Corruption

Yet another piece i wrote last year on corrupution. It can be accessed at

Basically, i argue for a holistic approach to fighting corruption instead of only looking to the governement for miracles.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Grappling with the Ugandan Anti Homosexuality Bill

A friend asked a couple of us this question

If Jesus were a Ugandan Member of Parliament, do you think He would:

a. Vote for the anti homosexuality bill?
b. Support the bill?
c. Sponsor the bill? (Tabling the bill that is...

Why do you or do you not think so?

Obviously alot of debate ensued but this was my response...

Well, looking at His Record from the Bible, I can only deduce that Jesus would seek an amendment to some parts of the Bill and not support the Bill in its entirety (in its current form.)

Rather, he would only vote for those parts that criminalise aggravated homosexuality and homosexual rape Sec. 3, promotion of homosexuality,Sec. 13, aiding and abetting Sect. 7, procuring by threats Sec.9, Same sex marriage sec. 12, . He would probably seek to strike out those provisions that deal with punishing people with death or those which punish people who dont report homosexuals eg parents, pastors, friends and others who instead choose to pray and counsel them-as they would for any other sinner-thief, drunkard, liar, adulteress etc.

As for Sec. 2 which deals with those who are practicising homosexuality amongst themselves with consent, I think Jesus would instead advocate for what he told the woman caught in adultery...GO AND SIN NO MORE...Meaning that He would ackowledge that it is a sin but seek to have them sin no more rather than have them killed OR imprisoned for life after all the prisons in Uganda today have a very high rate of homosexuality(including homosexual rape). I say this because , my understanding of the Bible is to the effect that JESUS has given mankind a period of grace within which to style up-failure of which, the events after the rapture are very clear.

In the olden days, the Old Testament clearly shows that God would either have sought immediate stoning to death or swallowing of the earth for such crimes.

In conclusion, i think Jesus would sponsor a similar bill or support a bill which had some but not all the above provisions

See the Bill at

See the tabling of the Bill at


Saturday, December 05, 2009


For the past few days i have been challenged by the various issues in the media and wondered what i can do. This song by Michael Jackson has challenged me further...

"Man In The Mirror"

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That's Why I Want You To

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With
(Starting With Me!)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could've
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make The Change)
(You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time)
('Cause When You Close Your
You Can't Close Your . . .Your
(Then You Close Your . . .
That Man, That Man, That
Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
(Man In The Mirror, Oh Yeah!)
That Man, That Man, That Man
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I'm Gonna Make A Change
It's Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
(Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You've Got To Stop It.
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I've Got To Make That Change,
(Man In The Mirror)
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I've Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
(Man In The Mirror)
You've Got To
You've Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
(Change . . .)
Make That Change.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Drivers’ Prayer


The Drivers’ Prayer* * *

Thank you Dear Lord
For this amazing world of Vehicles
Ruled by hands, feet, mirrors
Adrenaline and sport rims

Now that I have managed to
Clear these incredible government taxes
That seem to always keep increasing
With nothing to show in return
Lead me not in the path of illegal drivers
Who do not know what a driving test is
But be in charge of my gears
So that Number one will not be five
As I balance at the Nakawa Business School rise

Help me to see the swaggering truck
Laden with sugar cane stalks
Yet devoid of any lights
In its drunken dance this night
On the Jinja Road Highway

And when this excited youth
Blinds me with his full beam
At the Gaba High Way
Whilst Speeding
As though he has a running stomach
Let me pray that he reaches his home safely
And not the morgue

Do remind me
To forgive the taxi-man
Who recklessly speeds past my left-side
And splatters sewage water
Onto the uniformed pupil
As she runs to school

Help me Dear Lord
To swerve past the boda-boda brat
Who rides towards me
Like a blind bat
And when that old tattered trailer
Starts rolling back the Namboole Rise
Let me peacefully move aside
Instead of thinking Evil and doom
For those traffic cops
Who allow such DMV's
To grace our roads

Restrain me
From those four letter ****words
As I sink
Hook, line and sinker
Into this cemetery of craters
Called pot-holes
At the Yard
In order to avoid
A brush with that
Sweating in his fake leather attire
In this hot midday heat
And blasting
His bike
Thinking it's a Harley-Davidson

Help me pray for that bumper-sticker Christian
Who displays lovely Christian messages on his car
And yet overtakes me recklessly
With horns blaring and an arrogant face
As I negotiate a corner in Kololo

And when I find my parking lights and mirrors
Missing and only to be found at Kisekka Market
Lead me not to wish ''doom and gloom''
For that hunger stricken juvenile
For you are reminding me of my duty
To You and my Countrymen

Cast away the desire O Lord
To knock the bicycle
Carrying *'ffenne'*(jack fruit) in the middle of this
Recently renovated path
Called a Road
And when ''Seya's Boys'' clean the road gutters
Let me appreciate their efforts
Instead of complaining about the
Heaps of garbage they leave
On these very narrow roads

And when this idiot, sorry, man
Decides to swerve past me
At breakneck speed
Along the Entebbe Highway
Help me ignore my testosterone
That is begging me to yell obscenities
And to do the same
For that is not the true test of manhood

Protect me O Father from the newspaper boys
Who splatter the ''Red Pepper''
Into my face
Making me stare longer at this triple-X display
Than my wife is comfortable

But give me grace, O Holy One
And *lot of self-control*
In this snail-paced traffic jam
Whilst being cooked by the sun
To park aside
As the ''V.I.P'' convoy and their noisy sirens
Demand arrogantly to pass by
And speeds past
With the 'Boss' smiling at ''Black Mamba'' filth
And reckless boda-bodas and taxi drivers
Following suit at a break-neck speed
Oblivious of my very pregnant wife

May the City Council officers rid us of the
Carrot and Orange peddling Batooro boys
Who accost us with baskets of their goodies
As we hit the gas
To speed off at the Wandegeya green lights
And when these huge Coaches and Tippers
Bully me off the road at break-neck speed
Caution me not to laugh in glee
When I find them broken down along the roadside
Or pleading for mercy from the Cops

Please caution me Dear One
Not to follow suit
When the military police
And the police patrol
Decide to amend the traffic rules
And drive at the reverse side of the road
Even when I barely miss a head-on collision
With the 999 Police pick-up
Which has decided to make Buganda Road
A-two-way traffic
Conveniently for themselves only
Inspite of the one way traffic signs
Let my mouth always find restrain O Father
When shouted and hooted at
By these gun-swinging ‘gentlemen’
Who keep Law and *Order *

Grant me patience, O Lord of Patience
For the pregnant woman
As she crosses the road
And let me not hoot at the L-plated driver
Moving at 2km per hour
Frustrating our efforts to avoid
The thick 5p.m. Nakulabye jam

And when the street kids
Jostled by their suckling mothers
Stretch out their glue-fuming shriveled hands
At Rock Gardens
For a 'Kikumi'(One hundred shillings),
Let me silently oblige
Rather than stick my nose in the air
And question why and how they were begotten
Or blame ''the Government''
Like everyone else

Do bless me O God
When I stop
And smile
With all restraint I have
At the bullish cop
Who demands to see my driving permit
Whilst asking for ''lunch''
And yet ignores my right to fresh air
Having 'forgotten' to brush his teeth

Let me not misuse my horn
At the annoying fellow
Who decides to sway his vested-chest
In the middle of the road
And when I ram my brakes
In haste
Let me manage a smile
At the stick-chewing herdsman
Whose shriveled cow
Has decided to cross the road
And defecate thereon
As though to emphasize its rights

Help me keep the biblical covenant
Job made with his eyes
Not to stare
At the scanty dressing
Of the Hot 100 FM lasses
Whose succulent thighs and tight behinds
With 'malice aforethought'
Attempt to distract my clean thoughts
To other unspeakable things?
Moreover at this Kira Road Round about

Do bless those faithful callers
On the *Radio One Talk Back Show*
Who never seem to run out of airtime?
Having talked their lungs out on *Spectrum*
The Night before
As they advocate for better roads
And deny our leaders any descent sleep

And Father,
As I try to overtake
These squeaking rufura-bound Isuzu's
With their cargo of cattle
Packed almost like timber
With the attendants seated on their backs
As though they were potato sacks
Driving animal rights activists insane
Remind me to graciously clean my wind screen
When one of these death-bound scared beasts
Squids a sloth of green stuff at me
Let me not make any New Year resolutions
That will deny my family of meat
For life

And Lord?
Teach me to be content
With my 1.8 litre Engine
And remind me that it does the same job
As the 'Hummer' and 'New Eyes'
Albeit at a cheaper price
And when Shell and her sister petrol companies
Decide to increase the fuel prices
Help me to graciously park my car
And join the huge horde of
Fellow Ugandans
Walking to work
And back?.
Whilst pondering how to book
A seat on a boat when the roads flood


*The poet is clearly a regular driver on the streets of Kampala*

Remove British American Tobacco from Central Business District!

Remove British American Tobacco from Central Business District!

I recently visited the Uganda Management Institute along Jinja Road to help a colleague clear for the recent graduation. Whilst there, I took time to enjoy the well kept gardens of the institute as well as take in the nice cool breeze as I watched the swinging branches of the trees sway to the afternoon wind. I must confess this was a nice break away from the hustle and bustle of the city a few meters away where most of the trees have now gone in the name of development. It is hardly possible these days to get such shaded parking these days. My rather short moment was interrupted by an ugly thick whiff of tobacco smoke that engulfed my nostrils. It was coming from the British American Tobacco Company situated along Jinja Road. Immediately, my day dreaming ended and my short enjoyment of peace and tranquility was brought to an end.

It was then that I realized the inconvenience that all non smokers in UMI and those who work in areas around this tobacco company are suffering. I think if any medical tests were carried out, most of those passive smoking employees in the Ministry of Internal affairs and Celtel might display high levels of nicotine which is indisputably a high health risk proven to cause cancer and other diseases.

I think it is high time the government and especially the Ministry of Health came out strongly and organized for the relocation of the said Tobacco Company away from the central business district. The National Bureau of standards, NEMA and all right thinking Ugandans should know about this risk and the Human Rights NGO's should know that our right to health is being abused by this BAT Company.

As it is, the company remains a high risk health hazard. And while they are at it, please check the Uganda Waragi producing company which is targeting young teenagers in its adverts and thus ensuring that it destroys the lifespan of our younger generation who will die young due to alcohol.

Daniel R. Ruhweza Esq.

Mini Skirts and Crouch Scratching Italian Men

As an avid listener to the BBC, I recently listened to a story of women in South Africa campaigning against the taxi touts of Johannesburg who undressed a woman 25 year old Nwabisa Ngcukana, because she was dressed in a mini skirt. Many argued that the men were wrong to undress the woman. In fact some like the National House of Traditional Leaders argued that women often wore short skirts in traditional ceremonies. Others argued that the men were even of the same cultural group (presumably Zulu?) which has skimpily dressed cultural wear for women. The woman then organized a match supported by the owners of the taxis to protest against the way their fellow woman was treated. However this demonstration met with a lot of hostility from the taxi touts.

Zulu Girls

Interestingly, in another BBC broadcast, some thing interesting was happening in a different part of the world. A Court in Italy stopped Italian men from scratching their crouches in public, an act they allegedly often performed in public as a way of warding off bad luck 'with a quick grab at what are delicately called their "attributi". According to the story, the Rome Court said that public genital-patting "has to be regarded as an act contrary to public decency, a concept including that nexus of socio-ethical behavioural rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively-held feelings of decorum".
King Mswati of Swaziland at Reed Dance
These two stories got me thinking especially about how human rights are respected or abused in the world. However it got me thinking about the different views regarding human rights( and decorum) in the world. I condemn the way the men treated the poor woman by stripping Nwabisa naked. It was a total breach of the South African version of Uganda's Article 24 of the Constitution which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such actions indeed ought to be condemned. As alluded to above, we are talking about a country which has one of the most famous traditional/cultural Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremonies which involve dressing up in very skimpy clothing.

Umhlanga or Reed Dance-Swaziland
Of course there are those who would argue that it serves the woman right for dressing up in such a way and in a predominantly male work area. Indeed in Uganda today, any woman who dresses up in a similar way risks being undressed by taxi touts and drivers in any of our designated taxi/matatu parks. However, I suspect that others would argue that people have a right to dress up as they deem fit and comfortable - a right which should be respected and protected. We can certainly continue these arguments ad nauseum

Reed Dance March
Instead, I would like to propose a middle ground here - a proposal that is based on my reading of the concept of legal realism - ; that is, whereas women (and men) have a right to dress up the way they wish, ( a right that can be justified also as a cultural right if we are to take the reed dance ceremonies into consideration), they ought to take note of Article 43 of the constitution which is to the effect that in the enjoyment of one's rights and freedoms, no one shall prejudice the fundamental and other human rights and freedoms of others or the public interest. The crux is the interpretation of Public interest under Article 43(2)(c) of the Ugandan Constitution, which does not permit any limitation of the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms beyond what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society or what is provided in the constitution.
Reed Dance RSA

Therefore we need to question whether the three activities mentioned, that is, wearing a mini skirt, undressing women in public or crouch scratching would (at least in the Ugandan context) be acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in our free and democratic society. It seems to me in all these scenarios, the reaction of the society does not seem to suggest that such activities are either 'acceptable' or 'justifiable'. Of course this is a view that some readers might not agree with. Infact one famous leader has argued elsewhere that there is no such thing as society -but i digress.

However, I am of the view that the South African taxi touts would not have undressed such a woman if she was dressed up in an attire that is considered more 'decent' in that society or in that area. I also think that if she was dressed like this for the Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremony or related traditional ceremony or performance, the reaction would have been different.
Reed Dance RSA

In the same way, the men in Italy would not have been taken to court for scratching their crouches (presumably in the enjoyment of their rights  under our version of Article 29) and yet to the utter disgust of those who were watching them.

Michelle Obama in Indonesia
This therefore means that some rights are not absolute. That is why for example, although someone has the right to drive his/her vehicle, that person, should respect the traffic rules that abide in the country. If such person did drive in total disregard to the traffic rules, they would certainly face the scorn of fellow drivers as well as the long arm of the law. In the instant however, I am aware that others will argue that those offended by an attire or activity should simply look elsewhere since everyone has a right to their body, to what they wear, to when to wear it and to how they wear it. At the same time however, I am also aware of the maxim 'When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do'. This is best exemplified by the way the Queen of England wore a head scarf on her visit to Saudi Arabia, and Michelle Obama, the First lady of USA wore a scarf on her visit to Indonesia and her husband removed his shoes at some point. I will however add, that it is true that 'terms and conditions' apply.

The Queen of England adorns a head scarf

My advice therefore is that in order to avoid being stripped naked, maybe the lady should forego the miniskirt when moving in that particular environment. Similarly, in order to avoid being sued any further, the accused italian men ought to resist scratching their crouches until they are in the privacy of their bathrooms. 

In so doing, I believe we shall have a 'win-win' situation and everyone's human rights respected at least in this context.

By Daniel R. Ruhweza Esq
 [Any rebuttals are welcome]

Put Forest Giveaways to a Referendum

Uganda: Put Forest Giveaways to a Referendum
Source: Copyright 2006, Monitor (Kampala)
Date: December 26, 2006
Byline: Daniel Ruhweza
Original URL

Like most concerned Ugandans, I have been following with sadness the debate on how our environment is being handled especially the proposed giveaway of Mabira Forest land in Mukono and Bugala Central Forest Reserve on Lake Victoria's Kalangala Islands.

In Mr Alex Atuhaire's article "How Long Can The House Stay On The Fence?" which ran in Daily Monitor of December 13, 2006 on Page 26 stated that Kalangala/Bugala forest reserves are not mere forests but categorised as "... core high canopy tropical rainforests...critical sites for biodiversity conservation in Uganda because of their physical isolation in the middle of the Lake Victoria... whose contribution to Uganda's hydrological cycle and biodiversity cannot be overstated.." I certainly agree with him. Our primary and secondary school teachers did a great job in teaching us how rain is made and the importance that forests (especially those in the middle of the lakes) have.

The New Vision articles of December 13&17, 2006 respectively entitled "Africa Is Drying Up" and "It Is High Time We Took Climate Change Seriously" should therefore wake us up to revaluate the way we are handling our environment.

Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso said in his article "Cutting Forests Suicidal" of December 15, 2006, that "prudent leaders (emphasis mine) and well informed communities all over the world are working hard to protect the natural diversity of the ecosystem and increasing forest cover so as to mitigate the effects of global warming (emphasis mine). We all remember the terrible drought that we have been experiencing which I am told partly led to the lake Victoria water levels receding.

The Thursday December 14, 2006, KFM's Hard Talk Show featured Minister of Environment who said that it was not fair for the developed world to destroy their environment in the name of development and then expect Africa not to do the same and remain undeveloped.

This statement is sad to say the least, because we all know that "experience is the best teacher". If someone has been bitten by a snake, I am sure that is the best person to tell you how terrible snake bites can be. However to stubbornly refuse and insist on being bitten by the snake to be able to tell for yourself is unfortunate. Our development partners, who have helped us reach this far, now unfortunately "...send our President to sleep, (See "Why NFA director had to leave his job" Kelvin Nsangi Sunday Monitor December 10, 2006)" are advising us not to make the mistakes they made.

The Ugandan public should also understand that management of some resources like forests, waters and air are considered to be of global significance. Some resources are essential for the survival of humanity and should be protected to serve the common interest by all civilised nations and peoples.

We are not against development. I do not think that Mr Olav Bjella (who comes from a developed world) is against development per se. Neither are the experts and technocrats that resigned from NFA before him. Let's not forget that the President's own Adviser John Nagenda and his Uganda Wildlife Authority Board, refused to sanction golf courses in national parks for the same reason of protecting environment.

Interestingly the Minister of Environment went on to interpret the relevant law, saying that the palm trees will be a forest as envisaged in the laws since they shall allow undergrowth therein. Give me a break. The mere fact that a cow has been placed in a forest does not qualify it to become a wild animal. Similarly, we know what type of forests were envisaged by the Act; these are not man-made.

I am hoping that my learned friend Mr Kenneth Kakuru and his team at The Environmental Action Network (TEAN) will seek a court injunction against this looming danger on Bugala Central Forest Reserve.

As for Ms Hope Rwaguma who is now the acting NFA director, Mr Andrew Kasirye and his UWA Board and all members of Parliament, I encourage you to be patriotic and refrain from sanctioning illegalities.

Look at the NSSF mess, Tri-Star, electricity crisis, Global Fund, the Besigye rape trial etc. The examples of Ugandans who have sacrificed their professionalism at the altar of personal gain is long.

The current catastrophe will not merely be resolved by amending the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003 in order to enable a presidential directive to give away natural forests.

That is why I suggest that we have a referendum and ask Ugandans whether they would like to have these forests given away since history has shown that Parliament can easily be influenced.