Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kaaka Amooti

Kaaka Amooti!

Relentless
Untiring
Unwavering
Kaaka Amooti

Loving
Caring
Giving
Kaaka Amooti

Beautiful
Gorgeous
Magnificent
Kaaka Amooti

Prayerful
Careful
Wonderful
Kaaka Amooti

Gentle
Patient
Wise
Kaaka Amooti

Smiling
Laughing
Joking
Kaaka Amooti

Inspiring
Envisioning
Exciting
Kaaka Amooti

Tall
Strong
Energetic
Kaaka Amooti

Kaaka Amooti!

Rethinking Law School

 February 10, 2017

Rethinking LAW SCHOOL

In my days at law School, we students were seen, but hardly heard. We disappeared as soon as the lecturers were within sight. We were not smart mouths that retorted back in class or sneered at the jokes of the one with the red pen.  In those days, we waited for the lecturer to finish his class and we followed him or her out of the classroom. We asked questions respectfully and tried not to over fraternize with the dispensers of knowledge. Lecturers were tough and in so doing, they garnered the respect (or terror) they deserved from their students. We never had the courage to park our vehicles next to theirs. We never had the audacity to challenge the marks we were given. Deceit and fraud on our part were never thought of or imagined. We hardly ever heard stories of the same.

Today, things are different. Social media, an increasing population of young dons, privatization of education, and many others, have all contributed to a new culture. While not everything about our age is wrong, the new culture has also brought quite a huge avalanche of problems. Students cheating in examinations, students using forged or expired examination permits, plagiarism of work, disrespect of lecturers, are all part of our story.

Much as one will long for certain aspects of the old era, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that the only constant thing is change. So, we are confronted with human beings who are more ICT savvy. New applications like WhatsApp and Twitter coupled with the various effects of globalization have not only closed the lecturer-student gap, but have, with it, brought unique challenges like disrespect, careless communication, inappropriate comments and so on. The student population generally has developed the habit of finding ways around failure to meet deadlines, ignoring to follow instructions, crossing the boundaries of professionalism, etc. Yes, lecturers have encouraged it in a material particular and they too are to blame for the new status quo. Yes, parents and the old generation have played their part in this malaise. However, it is time to stop the blame game and start seeking solutions. This is because our nation Uganda needs us. We are the change that our nation needs. We are the ones to help this nation move to a middle-income status. To do so, the change has to start with us.

If ever there was a time for mentorship, this is that time.  There is a Chinese proverb that states, The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. While I must hasten to add that mentorship is not the silver bullet to address some of my concerns above, I think that it helps in producing a more respectful, no-excuse, hardworking and committed legal professional of the courts of law and justice. It will be these officers that will be the change makers within the Justice, Law and Order Sector, the nation, the region and the ever-shrinking world.

Those of us who have had the benefit of riding on the backs of giants agree that mentors help us along the journey of becoming professionals. The challenge is upon us  whether one is a lecturer, activist or a practitioner  to guide these youngsters (yes, I am aware some might be physically older than us) in the ways of professional ethics and good conduct. Guiding young law students in professional development, etiquette, presentation, skills building, character building, etc. has got to be a deliberate act. We have to be intentional about ensuring that the current and future law students are well-equipped to face the challenges of cross border legal practice and also deliver quality services if they are to survive and to excel.

As Uganda continues to train more lawyers, the nation is becoming more lawless: as our Roll of Advocates continues to grow, so do the number of cases before the disciplinary committee of the Uganda Law Council. Our adversarial system is becoming a battle of wits and unprofessional behaviour sometimes involving certain law clerks and allegedly, some judicial officers. While this might be easily explained as a result of numbers, I think we need to look deeper and query the culture in which our legal minds are nurtured.  I submit that some of these issues can be curtailed by intentional mentoring of young lawyers and students to become excellent professionals. In spite of its potential, a German Shepherd that is raised like a goat will never achieve its fullest potential unless there is purposeful mentorship. Potential without preparation is a failed dream.

These days, it is possible for a law student to pass his or her exams without reading cases or a legal or non-legal book, attending classes, participating in a debate on national issues, maintaining a blog or even submitting a 300-word article for publication in the local dailies, let alone watch a debate on television or even quote a philosophy in a social media post.   While I do concede that some of our law graduates might never have wanted to study the law but were cajoled to do so, the thought that someone is willing to throw away four or five years of their life without pursuing what builds their character for the next phase of life is frightening.

It is time for law students to move away from business as usual and start doing the uncomfortable: read law cases, consult, seek out mentors, develop social skills, practice emotional intelligence, read widely, take time to make serious reflections for the future (critical thinking), and forge partnerships or seek the company of people who challenge them to be better. Failure to do so, we shall continue to reproduce a crop of ill-prepared graduates and noneffective legal professionals.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The 'Honourable'

He has been talked about before
Yet in ways that we do not see 
He remains the same
He is no longer fat or flabby
or is he?
Nay
He is no longer bald headed or greasy
Neither does he dress in oversize suits
and multi colored shoes

The honourable
Hmmm
He is slim now
Fit actually
So they say
Sometimes spotting a beard
sometimes dying his grey hair
Yes
'He' might even adorn Angela Merkel's style
Smart, sexy
Even eloquent

Yet that is as far as it goes
The honourable has remained true
A constant constant
He changes - but a little
only to remain the same
The aesthetics
And the age

He is honourable
Who cant wait in line

Ignores the traffic lights
Those are for mortal men
He has to go
 His honourable work demands it
A newspaper to read
An allowance to collect
A journalist to impress
A breakfast to catch
before committee begins
in the air conditioned rooms

Oh and he is too honourable
to sit at the back
of the Chapel
No -
It will not look good
So he displaces me
The early morning bird surrenders its worm
that favorite seat at the chapel
Even before the eyes of the Almighty
Where the pulpit guys talks about Equality
About no Greek, no Jew
the honourable still receives the communion before i do

For he makes a huge pledge
before the eyes of all
What difference does my tithe make anyway?
He is the honourable
His suits and vehicle and fart say so

I withdraw before i am seen
or heard
I make excuses for his delay
At my village meeting
and he has to speak longest 
at my father's funeral
and we ought to bury quickly
He has to return to his work
A pork joint and  cold beers 
with peers

He is 'honourable'
My foot

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

OF LIFE AND LIVING


There is something about life that gives me 'life'. It is in the early morning happy screams of my nephew next door as though he is welcoming the sunlight or trying to out compete the birds a-chirping; It is in the incessant knocking at my door by my daughter who wants a pin or rubber or pen or even a hair band as she prepares for school; It is in the bouncing dog - Sockey - a Maltese terrier I think - which is excited to see me as though for the first time ( i might be mistaken - she is excited to be free from her kennel)

Life is in the architecture of the termite mound (erroneously called Ant hill); it is in the gait of the chameleon as he moves from one branch to another( a lesson in patience?); it is in the brush of  human bodies in the busy St. Balikuddembe market; It is in the thick of traffic jam ( wouldn't life be boring without any other cars on the road?)

Oh life - what a gift

Life - 

Life is  in the big hug that my son gives me as if his goal is to chock the supply of air to my brain; Its in the crow of the cockerel at dawn, the kiss of the chilly air in the morning, the sound of the hymn on radio. Life is in the smile from that stranger with red lip stick as she crosses the road ( or is she appreciating the fact that I stopped for her to pass by?); it is in the buzz of market women over the dim of traffic at Kalerwe market -

We often miss the true life moments as we chase the winds of success or what we consider progress. These winds blow from left to left to center to left and then sometimes right. They follow no rules and can be quite frustrating. The writer of Ecclesiastes said it all. It is vanity. It reminds me of the rat race, or better still, i can clearly see her - Sockey (the maltese terrier)- trying to catch her tail - often growling, often falling over and leaving me laughing until it hurts. Is this what God does too? Laughing at us when we are chasing the useless things in life? Trying to impress our neighbors with the latest model of SUV? Trying to show off our most recent acquisition of smartphone? Does God laugh at us when we leave the more important things like our families and try to impress the joneses?

Where therefore is my life? It should be in responding to the greetings on WhatsApp from my loved ones. My VIPs ( Very Important People); It is in calling up a friend who is bereaved. It is in encouraging that student who didn't perform well in class. It is stopping to listen to a distressed wife who is talking about a cruel spouse or greeting the stranger on the street

Ooops! i need to call up my mother. Without her, there would be no me. No life

Reviving my blog


It has taken a bit of time for me to get back into the mood of re-blogging. When i was confronted with the idea of blogging again, I didn't think much about it. After all, I had been blogging for a while. However, as I begun to think of what to write about, I realized that it was not going to be business as usual. I realized that I had not dealt with the ''PTSD'' that came from writing my PHD thesis. This is because, I had taken off time from blogging in order to concentrate on the last lap of the PHD and that had taken quite a toll on me. 


They say, ( I wonder who), that as the ship approaches the shore, that is when it is likely to capsize. I saw a sample of that as i wound up my PHD. Indeed, after long spells of editing and re-editing, writing and re-writing, repeating chapters - copying and pasting here and there, trashing print outs and doing it again and again, changing fonts and so on, I had grown weary of the journey. Weary of the laptops hanging, headaches, painful eyes, drinking lots of tea, downloading lots of articles, etc. I really need to write about that journey soon. Anyway, when I reached the shore finally, I rested but didn't deal with the stress that came along. I still don't know how to deal with such stress but i think the best way is to keep writing and here we are. 

It was Nelson Mandela who said that was when he got to the top of the mountain, that he was was able to see more mountains to climb. So, here we are. Lets deal with this PTSD

Let the blogging begin - and the writing, continue.

MANGO TREE


There is a mango tree that is growing right in the middle of our compound. (My wife thinks I should chop it down, but that story is for another day). See, this mango tree was a mere seedling about seven or eight years ago. I recall my daughter clipped off its apex leaf much to my chagrin. Today, she sits under its shade - sometimes painting her finger nails, sometimes playing matatu or resting from the hot African sunshine

Mango has of late starting producing plenty of fruit. Lovely fruit i must add. This means we need not buy mango fruit for weeks on end. If provision of shade wasn't reason enough not to chop it down,then the bounty of fruit should surely convince me to keep Mango around for the distant future. In my earlier blogs, I did mention how plants generally teach me a thing or two - one of which is being resilient.  Indeed, in spite of the current state of our environment, Mango remains unaffected. She is producing new leaves, more flowers (and later fruits) while all around her, many of the plants are shriveling, drying up or dying away. If it wasn't for irrigation or the occasional rain, our compound would look pathetic. 


Mango, however, seems to flourish more in the dry spell than during the rainy season. I suspect the reason for this lies in Mango's 'decision' to prioritize rooting over 'showbiz.' While many of the flowers and shrubs in the compound produced brilliant flowers of pink, gold, red, purple, indigo and some such, Mango, whose flowers are really nothing to talk about), chose to concentrate on rooting. That is, growing deeper in the soil and looking for the most important thing - water. Its as though Mango knew that there were days of scarcity ahead. There was hardly anything about Mango to write about during this time. She remained her dull self - green and dull. No one looked her way during this time apart from the occasional compound biker who rammed into her stem. While many were attracted to the scent and petals of the nearby flowers, Mango steadily grew. Today, she is the centerpiece of the compound - the 'corner stone' of the garden. She is unmissable - brilliantly green when all around her is dry and dusty.

Mango therefore teaches me once again a very important lesson - Beware of those who seem to flourish without depth. It might be depth of character or depth of wealth or even depth of learning. In other words, we need to ignore the showbiz and concentrate on what really matters. Often times, it is in silence, in the shadows, away from the showbiz that leaders, inventors, authors and other pathfinders grow their skill and perfect it. I have seen this often. In the dead of the night, when all is silent, ideas are created and visions are cast. May the Lord help me to remember this even when I, like the moth, seek the light of the candle only to be burnt out. When the time of reckoning comes, might our character, developed in the silent years of seeking the waters of knowledge and wisdom,  be evident to all. May the time spent in learning reveal the true wisdom we seek to acquire when others sought the pleasures of life. Lets buy that future now.....