Friday, 18 December 2009


When I was growing up, the end of the year was observed as a time of thanksgiving, reflecting, and praying to God for the coming year. I still do that, but of late the New Year has found me sleeping, and at least once, in a club. I think I will be sleeping this time too. But today is the end of the working year at our office, effectively marking the end of the year career-wise. On Sunday I head to Nairobi, proceeding to the village mid-next week for Christmas and perhaps the New Year.


• I’m thankful for family, my job, and my new friends
• Thankful for old friends
• Thankful for great health
• I feel like I’m on track to get a grip on my finances, and for that I’m thankful.

Taking Stock

• It’s been a hard transition, getting into a somewhat different culture, learning to manage people, upping my ‘diplomacy’ skills, and negotiating skills. Not easy at all, but I strive to be better. Everything has a start.
• I’ve had fights with loved ones, some hard talking has had to be done, and all has ended well. We love each other deeply, though we rarely say this to one another, and I can’t wait to see everyone. I’ve made new friends, two who are very close
• The Man. Not sure where this is going. While Kisumu may be nearer to Kampala than Kigali is, it is farther away from Nairobi than Kigali is from Kampala. I aspire to aspire to be in Nairobi. I feel like I’ll be singing a different song when next year comes to a close. Ah, relationships! I’m not so good at them. Well, maybe I am, probably a tad too idealistic. I will never say never again .I’ve said this before , “I can never be ina long-distance relationship again”
• Houses. Nice, affordable housing in Kampala is not easy. How to say this? You can get a nice affordable house in a neighbourhood that doesn’t match the house. I moved into a new house in February. The rules? Not everyone who comes from Kenya should come to your place. Only have visitors on weekends, don’t come in after 10:30pm, 10:55 at the latest, that’s when the gate is locked. I’ll admit I got into this one with my eyes wide open, because after a long search that was becoming expensive, I had only one weekend before heading to Nairobi for a week. Couldn’t wait for the last Friday of April, by which time I’d found a house to move into the following day (having paid two months’ rent to the only guy who could accept as few). So I went out that Friday and came back at 11:30 pm. After all, it was my last day there, and wasn’t too late. That mzee tukanad me sana sana sana. Words like malaya. Then came to kick me out in the morning, as if I hadn’t already packed. And repeat the same scene in broad daylight. I was in tears. Funny thing is his wife is from Kiambu (yes, I knew this when I moved in. The broker said I’m muna-Kenya and she responded with “Uhoro waku?”) and she just stood there. I got the feeling the guy is the lion of that home. I moved to the Mengo area, not far from the Buganda parliament. This time it was an apartment, with the owner living in a separate house. I moved on out after the four months worth of rent expired, careful to give the required notice When I went to collect my deposit after moving to my new place, she informed me that one socket had burned out, and had needed UGX 35,000 for a replacement, and UGX 15, 000 for the service. Must have happened between when I’d moved out and came back for the deposit, but they had done the replacement already-and there was soot on the wall. There went my UGX 50,000 (Ksh 2,000). I didn’t contest it. And the broker who helped me locate the apartment had disappeared with my UGX 200,000 (Ksh 8,000) as a deposit on another house that we had been on the lookout for before the apartment materialized. That house was taken by another couple at a t time when the broker told me he had been imprisoned. He eventually gave me UGX 130,000. After going to the Local Council 1 chairman, who asked me for UGX 15,000, and various phone calls and visits to the broker, and threatening to go to the police, I gave up. I worried he could after me, hata kama he didn’t know my new place.
I like my current place. The landlord got his six months worth of rent in August, which run out at the end of January. He has been asking me for a copy of the lease (which I’d given to his agent). The agreement is that from January, I pay rent in three month instalments. Yesterday he called to say he has a tumour, and wants a year’s worth of rent at the end of January. The agreement clearly states that any notice shall be in writing, and each party shall give the other at least two months. I feel like contesting this, but then I like to go home to a place I look forward to going home to (God, I love my place, and no doubt it’ll be hard to find a place like it), where there is goodwill between the neighbours. If I contest his ‘request’, I’m not sure we’ll be talking to each other. Then, I’m scared for my safety. I live with his two siblings and two relatives on the same compound (mine is a semi-detached unit from their house), and the watchman is their relative. So if anything was to ‘happen’ there would be no neutral party. I don’t want to think about it right now. I just want to go home for Christmas, and a week’s leave on first week of work. If things turn out that I have to move, my friend is moving back to Kenya, and the house agent she worked with sounded like they’d be willing to have the house vacant in January if I assure them I’ll move in come February. It’s furnished, so I may have to dispose off my bottom of the range furniture. She lives across the street from me. I don’t intend to move after that, maybe when I eventually go home.

• My family
• My finances
• My country,my region, my continent
• My career
• Some personal things I’d rather not put out here
Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, 11 December 2009


Last Saturday I went for my colleague’s wedding. I am still trying to make the best of my Luganda by speaking it as much as I can. On our way back from the weddo, I wanted to say how good I thought it was, so I asked my other colleagues for the Luganda word for ‘wedding’. Somebody said ‘Embaga’, which could also translate into ‘Party’. Thought that was cool. Didn’t realize there is no difference between’ wedding’ and ‘marriage’ in Kikuyu (uhiki), though older people refer to it as 'home'. Not home as in house, but home as in family e.g. the home of PKW’s parents is nice/difficult. I take that to mean marriage is all inclusive, not just between 2 people. Not so cool. The Kikuyu word for a (married) woman is Mutumia. Directly translated, it means ‘the one who shuts up’. A (married) man is called a Muthuuri, from the verb guthuura (to choose). I once thought that was cool because it meant the man had chosen the woman. But I can’t tell you how many weddings I have attended in the village and hear this advice: Muthuuri etagwo muthuuri ni guthurania maundu, nake mutumia etwagwo mutumia ni gutumiria maundu (Loosely: a man is called a man because he chooses between different things, and woman is so called because she shuts things up within herself when issues arise). Not cool at all.

Oh, there is one more phenomenon as far as weddings go over here. People have what is called a kiwani wedding. A fake wedding. As, in ome people do actually fake weddings when they want to raise money, not get married. Look what happened to Straka, a local TV presenter.

On the other hand, marriage is called Obufumbo in Luganda. Directly translated to English by me, that comes to something like ‘the cookery’, or ‘the place of cooking’. I’ll stick with the first since the names of most places or to be more specific, regions, start with Bu e.g. Buganda for the Baganda people, Busoga, Bunyoro, Bukonzo and (as learnt on Tuesday) Buddu,etc. A Buddu post might see the light of day someday.

The verb that Obufumbo comes from is okufumba ; to cook. Small wonder there is such variety when it comes to food over here. On a regular day, for lunch, I have the following choices: matooke, posho/kaunga (ugali), ebinjanjaro (beans), binyebwa (groundnut paste), mucheele (rice), olumonde (ngwaci), Irish potatoes, kyenyanja (fish), kaawo (I probably made that up-cow peas), enyama y’e mbuzi/nte/enkoko (goat/cow/chicken meat), juni (arrow root), nsuju (pumpkin), muwogo (cassava) and assorted greens and fruits. Depending on the area, that costs between UGX 2500 (Ksh 100-USD 1.5) and UGX 8,500. A lot of the time I pack my lunch.
Did I mention earlier that chips and chicken is not food, but a snack? Try walking into a restaurant one fine Sunday afternoon and ordering what’s on the menu. Chances are you’ll be told “we don’t cook food on Sundays, we have snacks only”. On further inquiry, you realize the said snacks are chips and chicken. I think that’s food enough for a regular Nairobian to eat Monday to Friday. And you wonder why the Kenyan man goes on and on about the beauty of the Ugandan woman. One told me that beauty is a package.

Onto okufumba. You may know that matooke is the staple food in Uganda, which probably explains why they are the only net exporter of maize in the region. Maize is not even grown with much zeal. Making matooke is not as straightforward as I thought: peeling bananas, putting them into water, bringing to a boil and mashing with a cooking stick once soft. No, that would make the matooke whitish, and it would also harden when you get it off the fire. Instead you do it as follows:
1) Peel the bananas, leaving them whole
2) Look for a piece of banana stem, cut it into pieces small enough to fit into a sauce pan (if a town dweller, you won’t get access to banana stems, but are likely to buy a bunch of matooke. Use the middle part, where the bananas get attached)
3) Pour water into the sauce pan
4) Put two large pieces of banana fibre (if in town, buy) onto the banana stems, making a cross.
5) Put banana leaves(have to buy if town dweller) onto the banana fibre
6) Carefully arrange the peeled bananas into the banana leaves, making them into a round shape
7) Steam for the appropriate time (~45 minutes). If you need more water, make space between the sauce pan and the banana fibre and pour it, using a cooking stick to ensure it does not come into direct contact with the bananas.
8) When cooked, knead with your bare hands.
9) Once ready, serve (along with rice/muwogo, juni etc) with groundnut paste, and/or meat beans, fish etc greens. Kneel when serving your husband.

I thought you may need to be leaving work at 3pm if you have to cook matooke like that everyday. Some people make Ugali in a similar manner, taking up a couple hours to make it properly. Apparently, if you have a big sauce pan, you could make all the different dishes in separate bundles of banana leaf wrappings and bring them all out at the same time.I mean, matooke, meat/fish, rice etc in one sufuria without mixing them. Meat made in banana leaves is called Luwoombo. It’s an art, I tell you. How does a Kenyan mama compete in such a market when your expertise is making ugali in 15-30 minutes and pushing the week? Doesn’t that also make it unviable to commercially produce matooke flour? At least for the Ugandans, it does. Kisiis, the Kenyan matooke experts, would probably buy it.

Monday, 23 November 2009

MTN Kampala Marathon

The MTN Marathon has been around a few years, and it’s getting to be serious regional event. Jana I ran the 21km. It was my second as I ran the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon last year. This time I’d prepared. I improved my finish time with 15 minutes. I’m sure I’ll do better with more practice for one, two or all (I kid you not) of Safaricom Lewa Marathon, Stanchart Nairobi Marathon or MTN Kampala Marathon next year. Needless to say, Kenyans outran Ugandans. And the Ugandans who really run are Sebeis from Kapchorwa and other places in the East. Really, the Kalenjins of Uganda.

What did I like?

-It turned out a good way to keep fit. I find it easier to exercise when I am working towards a goal than doing it kiundutho. My body doesn’t hurt like last time, too. That was funny. I hadn’t done any practice, and then realized I had to come start working in Kampala the following Monday. I hadn’t been to my Nyeri village in years. So what did I do? Go to my shags on Friday, get back to town on Saturday night, wake up Sunday morning and run (rather, mostly walk) the 21 km, come to Kampala in the evening, start my job the following day, asking the receptionist if I’m walking funny. My body hurt all week. None of that today.

-A good time for me and my few, mostly Kenyan, friends in Kampala. I like their sense of humour. Like when we were waiting for the marathon to start and wanted everyone within hearing distance to know that we are Kenyan. That meant we were there for the money, but thighs don’t lie. You can tell a Kalenjin, sorry, a serious runner by their legs. And then we started saying stuff like Eldoret having been a good place to practice, Mt. Kenya being higher altitude than Kampala, having finished only a few minutes behind Jelimo, Tergat during practice season. Talk of psychological warfare. Good thing is, no one knew that one of those who had registered for 21km decided to walk 10, calling it a change of strategy. Still, it was impressive for him to ‘finish’ 21 km among the 10km finishers. The numbers on our shirts were in different colours so you could tell who was running what distance. Not that he was among the first, say, 100 to ‘finish’ the 21km

-Better shoes, so my feet don’t hurt and none of my nails died this time.

-Better logistics. Last time I got into a matatu, and got off in the middle of town since a lot of the roads were closed. I was getting late, and had to run to Nyayo stadium before starting the marathon. I was exhausted by the time I got there. Jana I arranged for the cab guy to pick us up at 5:30am. 'Us' because my buddies drove and packed at my place. Turned out we all could have slept a little more, but no loss.

-It’s cheaper to register for the MTN Marathon at UGX 6,000 (about Ksh 240) or 5,000 if you use MTN MobileMoney. Stanchart Nairobi marathon was Ksh 1,000 (~UGX 25,000).

-I can be a feel-gooder at times, and it does feel good to know that my UGX 6,000 will somewhat help in the resettlement of the people of Northern Uganda. How? Simanyi.

-Food after finishing, thanks to a friend whose former company was represented. Dude came back from Nairobi to run the marathon. People have drive.

-The souvenir MTN-branded water bottle that reminds you of FIFA 2010. MTN is an official sponsor

-Those Chinese or Japanese guys and (maybe) Ugandan driver driving slowly among the runners on the last hill in Kololo in a new sleek Nissan Navara. I wondered if you paid to market it on an MTN event.

-Who said I can’t put that on my CV?

What I didn’t like

-The prize, only UGX 5m (~Ksh 200K) for the winners. Not that I was the winner, but that doesn’t compare with Ksh 1.5m for Stanchart Nairobi Marathon, or USD 125K for the Boston Marathon the last time I checked. It’s a start, though.

-I didn’t get a cert, or a finisher’s medal like last time. I only know my finishing time because I kept it myself.

-The whole thing was a bit jua kali. The loudspeakers were not audible down at the airstrip where most people were gathered. When you finished, you went into the packed field in the air-strip, gave back your chip, and then got the bottle. Where was proof that someone actually finished? I didn’t think that was the best use for the ChampionChip. Then there were the people hustling to steal bottles
-The guy who took our pictures and my number in the morning, promising to bring back prints by the time we got back. No word till now. Ssebo, get serious.

Overall, a great event, getting better each year.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The 'Other' Woman

General Kazini died in the early hours of Tuesday this week. More like, he was killed by a 28-year old woman, purported to be his mistress of 5 years. That has been the hot item in the press most of this week. Lydiah Dralu Atim claimed that she hit him with an iron bar in self defence. I hope that everyone gets justice. M7 attended the mass yesterday and was looking visibly upset on TV, saying that a lot of former soldiers die from 'wreckless living'. I felt rather sad for Phoebe Kazini, the general’s official wife, and their most adorable daughters. I mean, it’s difficult enough to deal with the loss, but the manner in which they lost him doesn’t make things easier.

Incidentally, this week I discovered Esther Passari’s website via someone I stalk on twitter, probably on Tuesday evening. On her relationships page, she talks about dropping the bombshell during the International Women’s Day about having been the hidden wife. She makes reference to living a lie, the fact that there are many 'other woman' out there and we shouldn't ignore that. The fact that kids have to live the consequences of their parents’ lifestyle made me think several times over.

The ‘living a lie’ line and General Kazini’s death got me thinking; maybe it's time to accept that these 'things' are here and will probably take a while to go away completely. For some women,and I think most men, it is a lifestyle of choice. Some women just happen to be the other woman by accident, but IMO, a lot of women actually know that a man has an wife, probably even has a document lying at Switswiller (??thanks again twitter) Amos Wako’s office, meaning that unless he gets the last D in DIVORCED done, if he is planning to, that is, he isn’t likely to marry the other woman. I’ve had men I know to be married hit on me, and once gone on a blind date, only for the guy to show up with a wedding ring on, and pics of his kidos on the phone screen. I am wrong in assuming most women know that some man is married and has no intention of leaving his official wife?

In that light, I'm kinda tired of women acting the victims most of the time. Let’s face it, women. In Kenya and Uganda, there are more heterosexual men and women than gay. Chances are if he is cheating, he is cheating with a woman. And if he is cheating with you, chances are he will cheat on you with some other woman. We can’t really call men dogs without calling a lot of women, urm, female dogs. The only victim I see here is the official wife, and, having never been married, I am not in a position to accuse them or defend them for choosing to stay, sometimes in the full knowledge that the man has a roving eye, and other organ. Thinking about it, I have no idea how I would react. When I was younger....let’s just pray and hope it doesn’t happen if I ever get married!

Aside: I was once watching Oprah and a woman was confessing to having been the 'other' woman for several years. Our culture and theirs are a bit different but it still surprised me that they found where 'she went wrong' when growing up concluding that she didn't always feel loved, and could always settle for second place. I think it's more of a personal choice than a psychological state of mind.

In other matters sexual, it would appear like we have more issues to deal with in the heterosexual community than in the gay community. Uganda may be passing what someone called the Homophobia Bill that will make it legal for someone to be jailed if they are assisting a gay person. Kenya is passing another one that will let a man marry more than 1 wife (outside Muslim and traditional marriages, where they do, currently) legally in a civil marriage on one condition: he tells the first wife before he marries her. IMO, that’s a practical take on the reality of sexuality in Kenya. I hope that they will require some hard evidence like signed documents should the first wife want a divorce citing infidelity. Because if it’s his word against hers, many a man will say they had said so. Currently, if a woman marries a man under the customary law she can’t divorce him on that basis of marital infidelity. And it’s illegal for her to remarry, remember Kamangu and the other man?

Now, let’s go ahead and make it legal to be gay and make marriage inclusive of gay people.

Thursday, 05 November 2009

The Wedding Show

No, not the one on TV, but hopefully, a final rant about money. First, a disclaimer: God, please understand that I’m grateful for the opportunities you’ve given me, so please don’t take this as a complaint. I feel like I'm financilly responsible, and this post is about that. OK, I understand I should give more......but IMVHO, not for weddings! This is not out of pride but what I feel to be inconsiderate requests for money. So, shall we?

OD had one up some time ago about weddings and exploitation. I don’t publicly express my opinion about wedding committees and harambees/pre-wedding ‘parties’ for fear of losing friends, but what the heck, I will say it on blogger, I don’t approve! Juzi a colleague brought me an invitation card to be part of her wedding planning meetings that take every Thursday beginning last week till the first week of Dec. With a wedding budget to boot. The budget came to around UGX 12m, ,excluding attire for the bride, groom, page boy, flower girl and rings. I’m told this is on the lower side. I honestly felt that she was a bit inconsiderate, seeing as is it is that we haven’t known each other for six months, and they have been living together for some years. I skipped the first meeting on Thursday last week but told her jana that ‘I can’t come, but will give you what I can afford’. She was very nice and said she’ll appreciate what comes from the heart. I was tempted to say my heart is a blood-pumping organ and not a wallet nor a bank account. But social correctness dictates otherwise. I’m still debating what exact amount to give her, but honestly, it won’t be beyond a certain amount I’m too embarrassed to put on here. Call me tight-fisted. Or whatever. I digress: my place of work is a place to make money not spend it. OK, I won’t complain for when people lose relas, but when people leave, shouldn’t we just go to some place, eat, buy drinks, etc and pay instead of coughing up UGX 20,000K per person every time? I suggested the former but someone said contributing 20,000K each is more of team-work. I think it’s more of communism. Especially because I don’t like the taste of beer and think it’s unfair to order wine when the bill is split equally among all the drinkers.

Back on topic. Flash back to sometime early this year. Buddy from Nbi and I had some plans to do income-generating activities (NGO-speak, go figure) together but none of us really followed up, so I guess that particular idea died. July this year, dude calls me and says long time! Have you seen my email? We need to catch up with the plans! I say, I’m out of reach by email, will get back to you nikishasoma. Buddy calls me later, and I say, no, sijasoma niko mbali bado. And later. And then says, I can as well just tell you the content of the email over the phone. Which was: his small father (paternal uncle younger than his biological father) was admitted in hosi, needed lots of dough, his friends including those abroad and the area MP were meeting some evening etc. I think that’s the right point to ask for financial help. As in to save the victims life, not to bury them. To cut the story short, when sending my mum her monthly allowance (yes, that’s how we roll, not the other way round), I ask her to M-Pesa Buddy some small amount, which she did but he didn’t acknowledge until I called to ask if he got the money? Well, he later acknowledges receipt via an email to say thank you, and there is a harambee to clear the hospital bill.

Week of October 17th. I’m in matatu, just passing through industrial area on my way to work. Buddy calls to say long time and have I read his email? I say, not yet, will read nikifika job and get back. So I come and the email says just that: long time, we need to catch up. Buddy catches up with me via chat and informs me he is going to see his future in-laws on 17th October, and then they will know when the wedding will be. Please pray for me and give me moral support and assist me in any other way that God will help you. So I promise to pray. I actually think it’s not culturally right to ask a mama for money to pay dowry. Well, he didn’t ask for money; I could have interpreted ‘any other way’ the wrong way.

Then jana. I catch up with Buddy on chat and ask how did the the ruracio go? He says, very well, in fact I should send you videos when they are out. After the niceties I ask when’s the wedding? 28th this month, I have asked the secretary to send invitation cards and I understand he hasn’t sent them: you are invited. Why don’t you stand by me at this time of need? Can you be part of my planning committee? I say, well, I’m in UG and wasn’t planning on travelling to +254 before Dec, so, sadly, I may not even make the weddo. Reply: the meetings are virtual, by sms and email only. At this point I want to say, cut the chase and use plain Gikuyu....ureenda mbeca cigana? But you see, I’m getting better by the day at being diplomatic. So eventually, I say, well, that’s a bit of a short notice on my side (he says 3 weeks is sufficient, in fact, that’s the regular time interval to invite people for a wedding. I think he forgets he’s asking me to be part of the committee). I can’t really make it, especially because it comes in with less than a month to the weddo, halafu it’s also within the same month (translation: yenyewe I’ve already spent some of my November money and don’t think this is a reasonable enough request to disrupt my budgetary plans for the rest of November).

Guys, weddings rarely, actually never, come by surprise. I imagine people know they’ll have a wedding at least several months before the date. Let’s stop abusing the harambee spirit. What’s wrong with having as much wedding as you can afford, really? See, I don’t think I’m going to be part of the crowd of friends and family contributing 350K when you have 300K when you could have been married with 13K after ‘buying’ the wife, aka paying dowry. I'd hate to be the one raising the money but not being invited for the wedding. An expensive wedding doesn’t make you any more married than a cheap one, much the same way a cheap funeral makes doesn’t make you any less dead. School fees and medical emergencies I will understand, but a weddo, please! Am seriously probably not going to give anyone else money for a wedding. (Hey you, hope this hasn’t made you change your mind about 20th Dec, si ndiyo?-or is it au sio?)Nitakuja bridal shower,baby shower, etc.

To use OD’s friends words, it’s your responsibility and if you can’t afford a wedding, please consider putting off the marriage coz marriage is more expensive than a wedding.

Wednesday, 04 November 2009

"Chikuyu or Ruo?"

50th post today-that’s a milestone.

I often get reminded of times when Ethiopians in DC would ask ‘Habesha?’ when I was waiting for the bus or train. Apparently DC has the biggest concentration of Ethiopians outside Addis Ababa. This happened more often when I was spotting some curly black hair extensions. After a while I got to know that meant ‘Ethiopian?’ and would respond ,” No, I’m Kenyan”. I read that Ethiopia used to be called Abyssinia (?) way back, but I think Ethiopians (used to?) call it Habesha.
Interestingly, some Ugandans think I look like a Munyarwanda . I feel kinda flattered :0). Some guy in Nairobi once told me the only reason he’d go work in Addis is because of the beautiful women.

Lakini the one that initially used to surprise me is when I tell someone I’m Kenyan and they go , “Chikuyu or Ruo”. The letter K is often pronounced as ‘Ch’ in Luganda (and the G as ‘J’ hence ‘Mijingo’-but not Ujanda). Like us Agikuyu, many Baganda (and I think Banyankole, too) replace the L with the R in many words. I haven’t come across an R in Luganda, and there is no L in Gikuyu. I guess that’s where it comes from. I feel no offense when people ask me about my tribe, so I will promptly say “Chikuyu”. It’s the “Chikuyu or Ruo?” that gets to me. Because I think many non-Kenyans only knew about Kikuyus and Luos just because of the 2007 elections aftermath. Sasa, I can’t claim to know what tribes are in what countries. I know there are Dinkas, Madis and Nuers in Sudan because I had a Sudanese room-mate, there are Shonas in Zimbabwe because Mugabe and Makoni are Shonas :0), Zulus and Xhosas in SA and Igbos in Nigeria because they are popular, Oromos and Amharas in Ethiopia because I had a Ethiopian school-mate (and read Michela Wrong’s ‘I Didn’t do It for You’) Sukumas and Chaggas in Tanzania because I had a Chagga/Kikuyu friend in college. But I think it’s a shame I forgot or don’t know what tribes my other African friends were from, and haven’t bothered to find out what tribes occupy which countries.

I also thought a colleague was a tad bit more ignorant when she asked me why Kenyans fought when there are only two tribes (Chikuyus and Ruos) whereas they have so many tribes in Uganda yet don’t fight. Well, if you know any history, you know that they have had more and longer fights in Uganda than in Kenya. Only that they were not along tribal lines. In fact, Baganda helped M7 because he recognized their kingdom and those of others, when Obote had abolished all tribal kingdoms in the 60s. He recently officially recognized the Rwenzururu Kingdom. And some guy who was working as a nurse’s aide in the U.S. is the King. Talk of tables turning.

The most interesting but not surprising is that we fight over our identity yet our origins are the same. You can’t convince me that a Mugisu in Uganda is different from a Bukusu in Kenya, or a Japadhola in Uganda and a Luo in Kenya, or a Sebei in Uganda and a Kalenjin in Kenya, or a Maasai in Tanzania and a Maasai in Kenya. So I think tribe is over-rated. Or underated, depending on who you ask.

Here’s some Luganda for you:

Okuja-to come
Okugula-to buy
Okulya-to eat
Okunywa-to drink

Some two words in Kinyarwanda

Orugendo rwiza-safari njema
Ijana-One hundred

Yeah, we are totally different, aren’t we?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


On Monday 26th October, it was one year since I finished the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon (actually it was 21km, and I mostly waked, finishing in....sisemi!), got on the 5:45pm Fly540 flight and came to Kampala to start my consultancy, which culminated in an employment offer in February. One year seems to have gone by fast. I seem to have fallen in love with numbering stuff, but here are my impressions, in a nutshell:
1) It’s beautiful, greenly so. Earlier this month when I was coming from Mombasa, you could see the soil in the park from the air. Even the islands on the Kenyan side of L. Victoria were brown. Soon as you’re on the UG side, you go green with envy.
2) Good food. Chips and chicken is not considered to be food: it’s a snack
3) Nice people. I imagine people treat ‘strangers’ than Kenyans would
4) It’s safe, much safer than Nairobi, maybe than my village. I’ve walked at night, never had my pocket picked, never been mugged. I pray it remains this way
5) Kalina potential potential...that’s a line from Moze and Weazle (local musicians/ ‘celebs’). I feel like there are opportunities to make lots of money in this place. (the place is productive and the food generally expensive, I think there are lots of inefficiencies one can take advantage of). The farthest West I’ve gone is Hoima (potentially, oil place), been to Katuna (UG-RW border), Malaba and Busia to the East, but never been to the North, though I plan to before going back home. I see a lot of opportunities all over.
6) Party republic: it may just be that I never have been a Nairobist for real. I mean, the longest I’ve been in Nairobi is like two months each time, once while studying for the GMAT. Other times I was chasing my passport or lost ID for a couple weeks, or checking on my HELB loan. Maybe that’s why Kampala looks like City of Fun because I haven’t quite experience the City in the Sun that way. There do seem to be quite a few events going down (in K’la) most of the weekends. Ekijjulo kya Record TV, Ekikompola kya Dembe FM, ekisomething kya someone else etc. Myriad album launches. The Kenyans in here too seem to know how to get down, too. Or, am getting old!
7) It’s expensive. More than Nairobi. I buy (brown) bread for UGX 1600
(~Ksh 64). The Blue Band margarine that goes for Ksh 85 bob in Nai retails for UGX 2500 (~Ksh100) over here. Quite a bit of stuff on supermarket shelves is from Kenya, a lot from further away. Did I say housing is expensive? I am comparing what you’d pay for a certain amount and what you’d get for an equivalent amount in Nairobi. This makes Nairobi attractive. Plus there’s more ‘stuff’ of my kind that goes on over there.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


I’m normally wary of calling plans ‘plans’ because I’m afraid of feeling like I failed, or being seen to have failed. So even when I’m very keen on doing something I either won’t tell it to all and sundry or if I do say something to someone, will put it thus: I “may be doing this or that around that time”, “hopefully will do this” etc. I’ve learned that that’s not too uncommon. There is the bit that is beyond my control, hence the ‘mays’ and ‘hopes’. In come hopes and dreams.

Here we go. In the next five years I hope to have (not in any particular order:
1) Two or three kids- there’s quite some brood pressure, especially from my mum. I happen to be the first-born and my younger brother and sister each have a toi. But that’s not the driving force. I heart kids. Tene I used to think that I’d want to have just one. Now, maybe more.
2) A man, hopefully (there we go again) a husband. One devoted man that I’ll be living with, whatever that arrangement will be called.
3) A satisfying spiritual live. Me and my religion have been going through phases.
4) A profitable business
5) My finances in order-the student loans not much of a deal
6) Become a seasoned SE trader, locally and otherwise
7) Become a CFA. I’ve postponed/thought about this long enough. I hate studying (for exams)
8) A body that’s 10 years younger than my age LOL
This is not a pipedream, it’s a plan! There, I’ve said it. So help me God.

PS: some dude who’s close to 4 years my junior once told me to:
A) Not to hope but plan to do something. Hopes get diminished, plans get accomplished
B) Just do it (“you know, like Nike, there’s no trying”)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Another One, This Time Funny-Raymond Chepkwony

Discovered Raymond Chepkwony via a link from @inteligensia on twitter today.

I'm enjoying his sense humour (no, I'm not a pervert, and it's not in that bad taste),though if you dig deep you'll get one post on the meaning of life. I dig the one on the proposed marriage bill he had up today. The money, baby, the money!

Meanwhile, some men over here are hating on the proposed marriage and divorce bill(if that's what it's being called) in UG because it will split stuff 50:50 between the Ssebo and his Nyabo in case of a divorce. Another Ssebo tells me he's waiting for it to pass before he can get married because it will illegalize dowry. That's like 50:50 already if you ask me.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Nice versus Confident

Still seeing what others say on dating and relationships :O) But I don't intend to say much more on my personal stuff, what's happening or not going to happen after today's sneak peek.

Today I found an interesting one on why women don't feel excited by nice guys. I'm not sure I agree with everything, but I'm with the her on confidence.Nice guys don't always look it.

It was a nice day when I realized that I loved jerks. Current guy is nice, but would do with some money. It's a case of new money. Actually more like no money. I'm not lost on potential though. I feel sad that I just wrote that, but I'm gonna keep it because I mean it. I don't think I'm materialistic. Lord knows I'm just being practical.

He could also gain some confidence. Did I mention he's 4 months my junior? Many people think ako na roho safi. I can attest to it. Helps that we were friends for 4+ years bila mambo ya mapenzi. I guess namjua kiasi on a regular day.

One thing I like about dating 'back home' is that 'the rules' are clearer, if there any. Like, you can ask a guy earlier on about kids than you would a guy in the West. In my opinion, the question here is not if he wants to have kids, but what if they don't show up? I already asked! I was thinking of my work buddy 'Kawiira' who told me that she started trying to get pregnant immediately following the Kwanjula (official introduction of The Man to her family, a ruracio of sorts) in September last year . By wedding day in November, The Man was under pressure from his friends; how could he marry a girl who was not pregnant? How did he know she'd him bear kids? She was really stressed. Thankfully, she's due in a month or so.

Also feel like over here, you don't have to play too hard to get if you're interested. I could be wrong on that lakini. Sababu my best jamaa friend was telling me last night that he likes it when women are 'mysterious'.Is why he never saw again a girl who spent the night at his place, did general cleaning the following day and introduced herself to the neighbours as The Girlfriend.

But he also said something weird when I was telling him about nice guys and 'manly men': that all women want to be domineered 'it doesn't matter if she is Angela Merkel!' Hmmm, really?!? All I'm asking for is a nice guy who is confident and can provide direction. I'm with the Bible (and conservative and African 'values') on this one; he should be the head. Many guys here want to be asses; they just want to sit on you.

I asked the Ssebafuruki in a nice voice if he'd help me do the dishes? And could he make the tea while I made the omelette? He obliged. I sure hope that's sustainable if this lasts.

Right now the Money issue is occupying my mind more than it probably should. We'll see.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Furaha ya Idd...

...inakufanya usahau hakuna likizo. I didn't go to work today, not because I planned not to. I spoke with my colleague on Friday on my way from Busunju. At the end of the conversation I said "Tulabagane Monday" (tuonane Monday) and the guy told me that Monday would be Idd. Banange I was so happy I told my other colleague that K., who had been fasting, said Monday would be a public holiday. But yesterday it was obvious that Idd was then, not today. But with my Kenyanness, it meant that when a holiday falls on a Sunday, you've got Monday off.

The Ssebafuruki was in town from Kigali. Leo afty we went into town and were coming back kindu 5pm when I noticed that both vehicular and human traffic were as bad as on a regular work day. Posta seemed to have been open. I commented to the Ssebafuruki that I might be the only one who had a holiday. Fikaing home, I found my neighbour driving into the garage. So I called two of my colleagues and they told me that today was a working day. So kesho I am going to kusema pole sana. I will bill those hours to my vacay time, which I'm likely not to use kabisa.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Relationships, Kids, Love, Marriage and Landing a Rich East African Husband

I think I'm in love-again! I rarely talk about 'these things'. See, I've been here before. I've been in and out of love several times, the high highs, the low lows, kila kitu. I'm even not sure I believe in The One. That's kinda like pre-destination, which I don't buy entirely.

But I've been reading more on love on other people's blogs and sites as you can tell from my list. I'm finding church more interesting when they talk about relationships between men and women, marriage, and family. I guess I'm trying to peek into the next chapter of my life, if life comes in phases. But I have to write it! Basically I'm feeling that I'm now done with school (Msichana wa Sura Nzuri...Daudi Kabaka?), have lived by myself for some reasonable time now, so guess I know myself,yeah? There must be more to my personal life than working paying off student loans, the electiricity bill, trying to figure out how to make more money, hanging out with friends and talking with and occasionally visiting with family. Plus, I'm already 31-you know all that stuff they say about (women) getting kids by the time you're 35! Still, I'm worried that I'm not really sure what I want relationship-wise. Man-woman. Loving one guy exclusively is wonderful. I worry about long-term, till-death-do-us-part kind of commitment.But I'm sure I want kids, and the other major benefit of having a man in my life. I don't have to be married for those, do I? Anyway, I kinda like dating guys whose parents have it together after so many years, though that can be deceptive. In our setting many women are in marriages juu they're bila choice. I'm strongly feeling that since we have copied other people's way of living, marrying and divorcing (probably even dying) ,it's about time we copied prenups if we haven't already. I think those help. Otherwise, living together for a year or twenty before signing those documents doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.

Anyway, Kaasa had an interesting one on landing a rich African husband. Here's herMsichana Unataka Nini post. To use her words, go ask God for what you really want, whether you think you deserve it or not. She seems to have bagged her very own Mr. Hot-really hot, interlligent and monied.

Didn't work? Here's ehow's How to Marry a Man with Money. Apparently the ones with the money don't brag about it, and want to see the mother of their kids in you. You can also make a millionaire out of a moneyless guy. Young guy, new money, a lot less baggage. As if anything's guaranteed after you both make the money.

Most importantly, I don't want to just go along and end up
marrying Mr. Wrong 1! Nor Mr. Wrong 2

I'm also listening more to married people and occasionally hear 'marriage can stressful!' 'Fikiria sana usijifunge'. Tying the knot and fungain pingu za maisha here conjure up some pretty bad images.

Good thing is, whatever turn I take, I know what I want, and what I'm offering. So help me God.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Self-Centredness is........

........when you only see things from your point of view. But where else can you see from?
Because of the riot, am spending yet another night and weekend alone. The Man was to come from Kigali, but they were burning buses on the Kampala-Masaka-Kigali road. He does look like a 'Westerner', so we put safety first. I'm more lonely than scared.

Pole to those that have lost friends and relatives in this madness. Hopefully it will be better after tomorrow.

I'm for Separation of Tribe and State

In my comments section when I was thinking about investing in Uganda, Tumwi said that the tribal hullabaloo in Uganda is exaggerated. I beg to differ. Because she admitted that she never got this memo . Nor this one.

Tribes and Tribal Kingdoms

I won’t pretend to know much about tribes or tribal relations in Uganda. I will admit feeling some bit of envy over the fact that Ugandans in general seem to have kept much of their cultural traditions long after colonialism. But unlike Kenya, Uganda was a protectorate as opposed to a full-fledged colony, so maybe that’s why. By cultural traditions, I mean tribal kingdoms that are fully recognized by everyone else, though largely ceremonial. Like a Kabaka (King of Buganda), Kyabazinga (King of Busoga) etc. It’s all beautiful.
But cracks start to appear when one kingdom starts to seek autonomy from the bigger one, and the Central government is accused of having a hand in it. In my opinion, the central government should steer clear of tribal affairs, and tribal representatives should remain that way. No King, elder or whatever designation, should be allowed to participate in central government appointments. Go be a king, be catered to and be happy. Central government should also steer clear of tribal kingdoms. That’s my opinion. But what do I know?

I know that the need for autonomy is the reason we have Ethiopia and Eritrea. I also know that tribal violence does not start on Election Day, or the day after. Or the day people decide to clear ‘cockroaches’, weeds, madoadoa, or Bafuruki out of the face of the country. If history is anything to go by, stereotypes exist and are embedded in society with time. Like the Baganda believing that they are more civilized because they interacted with white people first (driver telling me), or are more economically advanced (guide at Mengo's Kabaka palace telling me). Or the Banyankole are more blessed because they have godly names as opposed to Baganda, who give clan names (friend telling me), and are more hardworking that the Baganda (someone else telling me). At some point, they are linked to how these tribes are doing economically. Politicians then prey on peoples' misperceptions of others and before you know it, ethnic cleansing is well on its way. Especially around election time, at lease in Kenya.
The presidential election in Uganda is in 2011. You’ve been warned. By a Mufuruki.

On a lighter note, I’m looking to pair up with a fellow Mufuruki who is willing to be to be coronated the Ssebafuruki. Any takers?

Tuesday, 08 September 2009


Haiya,it's been a year already.

What has got better

• Closeness to family and hooking up with old friends. Going home more frequently
• I have a job that I love
• Cheap organic food
• Nice people, (in Uganda at least), generally
• New friends,new language (that's very similar to Gikuyu and Kiswahili)
• No winter, leaving and returning home when it’s dark outside
• Low bills. $10/month for electricity and $5/month for water. Now am not paying for water
• The profit potential
• And then some

What has got worse
• Death. Lost 2 relatives this year, the Mungiki massacre. Have also been to two funerals with work colleagues, and other colleagues have lost people and I haven’t been able to go. At least two meetings have been cancelled because someone has died and there is okuziika. The frequency has made me a bit of a worrier.I hope to live long, seems planning is not enough. An idea comes to mind. Creative people are making making a living out of the death industry. It's sure, and it's recession-proof.
• Blackouts, H2O rationing in Nairobi
• Traffic. In Kampala, Boda Bodas don’t help with that
• Bad customer service, if existent. Not being able to return stuff once I’ve paid for it
• The poverty that I see, or the manifestation of it

What I miss
• My friends and ‘family’, those who saw me in my good and bad times
• Good customer service. Being entitled as opposed to being treated like someone’s doing you a favour when you give them business
• Reliable power, water, things generally working efficiently. You know when the train comes
• People who take responsibility when they screw things up
• Open-mindedness, even at church. Now you know I didn’t commit to the fundamentalist world view
• Springtime and Summertime, my mind and moods popping up with the flowers, the sun setting late

What has changed
• I’ve blogged more. This is my 21st post this year. I did 17 in 2008, 1 in 2007.
• I am no longer dating ‘Chorge’. He is a great guy, I enjoyed his sense of humour (“you know in Kisii we can never go jogging in the mornings or evenings, especially if it’s (still) dark. Someone may think we are night runners and we end up getting lynched”), and a perfect body. Won’t delve into the details of my current state of affairs. Stay tuned
• I am more assertive, and that can be a bad thing sometimes. I am working on being nice about it
• I’m no longer deeply religious and don’t want to be. I’m a Christian, yes and I’m working on getting my relationship with God back on track. Guess who had moved?

Wednesday, 02 September 2009


I passed up a chance to show love last Christmas. They made an attempt but I was cold and distant. Now they are gone. I feel horrible.
My father was not a good father/husband, but he is definitely a good person. And my mum? She is the truest reflection of God in my world.I am older than my brother and sister, but clearly, they are way wiser than me. I wonder if it comes with marriage and/or parenthood? My uncle was telling me last night that people get wiser as they get older, but clearly that hasn't applied to me, at least compared with my siblings.

RIP G. I pray you understand. And I promise to be different with the rest of us.

Monday, 31 August 2009


Over at kwa Wambui, I was reading a post she has on Kenyans and Facebook. nteresting.

I felt like the oldest person on Facebook when I signed up in the fall of 2005. At least that's what it seemed like back then. The dude who introduced me to the site was 23 (I was 27) and everyone else seemed to either be an undergraduate student, or graduated from college the previous year. That was then. Not any more.People older than my parents are on there. Even organizations as big as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, just to mention one.

It's nice reconnecting on facebook with people you haven't met in the 10+ years since seco, get to know who married who, has kids (the wildest gal in our class is a mother and no one seems to believe it), who switched religions,etc. And meet new ones. I once met a a jamaa that I had an immense crush on through a conference that I only knew about because of facebook. (And dated another one that I met on I weird or what?)

One of the biggest inhibitions I find when using Facebook is that I use my real-life names and pictures, so it's not like I can blurt out something like "I want my boss's job!". That may not be professionally savvy especially since some of my collegues, local and regional, are also my facebook friends. I remember posting an update about (possibly, back then) losing my religion and getting feedback from some unexpected corners. I wish I could choose who sees my status updates!

But here are some of my 'rules' on facebook:

1. I'm probably never putting my relationship status on there. I started with 'It's complicated' (and it was in real life, then) and stuck to it for a year or so. In real life things may be getting less complicated now. But still, were I to update my relationship status every time it changed in the past 4 years, I could have been 'in a relationhip', 'single' and 'it's complicated' for---never mind how many times. I don't want to have to explain each time.

2. I try to not live on face-book, though it's tempting enough. I feel like there are people out there who do. Like: I'm now feeding my cat, I'm riding my bike, I'm making chapati, I'm in a matatu, just killed a mosquito with my bare hands, going to see grandmother, going to take a shower. You get the feeling their virtual lives are more interesting than their real lives- do I make sense? But well, there are pictures to prove that's not the case...still, I don't want my whole life on facebook!

3. I try to not bring my 'issues' on facebook. With some friends, you know they are having baby-daddy drama by what they post kila siku. Man-hating,the philosophical statements, the works.

4. I try to project a positive and balanced view and attitude. Fake, it may be, but well, it's like interacting with real people. You don't want to have a long face when interacting with your friends in real life simply because you're having a bad day either. Again, there are people who party on facebook all the time or go to church all the time. You can almost 'know' someone from what their status updates.I know I've formed opinions on people based on them.

5. I've never been facebook friends with people I've dated, my siblings or half-siblings. Not even sure the last two categories are on there. I don't think I'd be with my parents if they were technologically savvy either-they are sooo not.

6. I don't want to get automated emails each time a friend updates their status or changes their relationship status. That clogs my inbox which I can hardly keepo up with. Neither do I want my friends receiving such emails. Or notifications.

7. I delete wall posts and comments on my profile that I don't like-because I like having a wall and want people to comment but don't want people bringing issues that I have decidedly left out of my profile.

Do you have facebook rules?

I got this link from Wambui's comment section: Here's to managing your online life once your're dead. From there, went on to realize why your facebook relationship status is complicated. Oh, and try using facebook in Kiswahili, as Cee asked on my previous post. Utapenda. Not sure why 'Grad School' remains 'Grad School' in the Kiswahili language setting. I suggest 'Chuo Kikuu Zaidi'.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Connecting People in Kiswahili

I got one new K-series phone on Saturday. A friend calls the cheap phones the K-series because almost every network has a ka- before the name they christen the cheapie. There is the Kabiriti from MTN (some ZTE-made phone) ka-tikitiki or something from UTL, and my new ka-tochi (some Nokia so called juu iko na torch).

I was trying to do away with their suggested spellings when typing out SMSs but couldn’t figure out how in a short time. I thought choosing Kiswahili as my language may be a good way to get rid of the suggestions. Not really, but I’m more surprised by how much more Kiswahili the programmers know that I don’t. Stuff like Kihesabu Ujumbe (bado sijajua nini hii), Rajisi ya Simu (call log), kikokotoo (must be calculator from the picture) mifumo, mipangilio ya kitufe cha kucha....kulia, safisha (clear) na kadhalika. Kwa sasa, nataka kurejesha mpangilio wa kiwandani for a while but alama ya siri ina makosa.

Meanwhile, from Kahenya, ati this is what an Equity Bank ATM reads in Gikuyu.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I dig LKW

Just discovered Tart and Soul. Clearly, she has guts to say stuff that I can't say on here. Loving it.

Wednesday, 05 August 2009

To Invest or Not to Invest All?

I've been thinking of putting some or all of my money in Uganda. Unfortunately, the political risk may be quite high though UG has been generally stable over the past 23 years of Museveni, if you ignore the northern region (which most people have, IMO).

The fact that there is an election in 2011 puts everything in a different perspective. There's already some talk of some tribes being at risk , and possible violence during the elections. Land, too is an issue. Call me pessimistic, but I can't ignore what happened in Zimbabwe, Kenya and xenophobic South Africa. I've to imagine the worst case scenario, even as I plan and hope for the best outcome. Yesterday, the Vice President's team survived a mob while trying to evict people from some land

I'm not about to close my 401 (K) account-not that I've that much saved, anyway- and invest it all here. Portions of my salary, maybe.

Monday, 03 August 2009


I’m now solidly in my thirties-wah, 31, na hizo miaka zinasonga! The b/day was jana but I didn’t have a chance to celebrate properly-too much going on. But will have a make up in the coming weeks.

I fulfilled one of my goals just one day to the birthday.
One of my lesser goals for rest of the year is to be tidier-neat desk, no clothes on the floor, and no asking myself everyday “Now, what am I wearing today?” because I can’t find anything that doesn’t need ironing.

And dude, thanks for that MP3 player. Really helpful on a 12-hour bus ride, especially when the herbalist is selling concoctions that can cure everything.

Friday, 31 July 2009


This has happened to me twice, and both times I’ve come out feeling like I’m a saint. Until this morning, that is.

1st Time

It must have been January or February. I’m walking on Kampala road, from the Jinja Road junction towards the Bank of Uganda. At Commercial Plaza outside KCB, I decide to cross to the other side, near Krystal Forex Bureau. There are two guys walking in front of me, one about one or two steps behind the first one. Soon, the first guy accidentally drops an envelope on drops to the ground, and I can see a few Uganda Shillings bills protruding from the edges. But the ‘dropper’ moves on, the guy behind him picks it up and tries changing direction. So I try to alert the dropper that he has lost his money, by which time he has crossed the road and is walking towards Rift Valley Railways. In the meantime, the guy who picked up the money is trying to convince me to leave him alone, so we can share the find. Being the good woman, I quickly walk after the guy who dropped the money, show him the guy who picked it up, and off they go. I’m left feeling like maybe he’s not the one who dropped it, guy number two was plain lucky and maybe we should have just split it between the two of us. After all, these guys seem to be off to somewhere discreet, away from the people who just observed all that drama, and I’m the fool. But, character is what you are when no one’s watching, right? So I feel a level gooder than the rest of you.

2nd Time

That was last night. I’m moving to my new place (yes, again!) and so have to go read the electricity and water metres at my old place so we can settle everything with the landlady, and she can give me my deposit back. It’s about 9:30pm. The matatu guys decide they are not taking two people into town, so decide to stop somewhere in Old Kampala. This is Kampala, and it’s waaayyyy safer than Nairobi. So I decide to walk down to the matatu stage to get a matatu to my new place. Near the Masaka Fridge Sales shop, I catch up with two guys. Like before, they are walking very close to each other. Soon enough, an envelope drops, this time with loads more money. Within no time, the dropper is on the other side of the street, and guy number two has picked it. Yes, you guessed it. I call out to the dropper who doesn’t seem to hear me at first. This is like 9:40pm and the streets are a lot less crowded, almost deserted but I can’t think like that. I’m that good, you know? I mean, the currency here is rather bulky; it could be the guys whole days’ worth of work or more, God must have made the matatu to not come into town so I could save this guy from this misfortune. Same as before, guy number two picks up the envelope and tries to convince me to just share the spoil with him quietly. Soon enough, the dropper realizes he doesn’t have his money and comes back to us. I’m trying to tell him, “ Ssebo, ono musajja alina sente zo. Umeangusha akachukua” (Sir, you dropped your money, this guy has it). But he’s too confused to hear that and starts walking back up towards the mosque mumbling about some two women who must have stolen his money. Guy number two is still telling me to keep quiet, it’s a lot of money, it’s all gonna be all ours. For the second time, the dropper walks back towards us, confused. Before he gets to us, guy number two tells me that that’s quite some money and this is Kampala: there are many bayaye (conmen)and he could lose his money so shouldn’t we look for some safe place to give it to him? By the time the dropper gets to us, he has calmed down a bit and can actually listen to me, and guy number two reluctantly gives him his money. The dropper says “Thank you Madam, let me give you something small”. But, being the good woman that I am, I say, “No thanks, it’s OK, really, usijali” So dropper walks away, back up towards the mosque again. Being the good woman, I’m afraid that guy number two could try to unleash his frustration on me, so I jump on a boda boda and tell the driver to drop me off on Kampala road. I go home to my new place feeling like a saint.

This morning I come in and narrate my experience to a colleague, who tells me I should have just kept quiet. I’m thinking, and just split the money? No, stupid, that’s how people get robbed here. Apparently these guys are a team. Guy number two would have asked me to give him something small, anything, in exchange for the envelop with all that money, which, by the way, is full of paper and a few bills on the sides. Another colleague tells me that he’d have asked me to go to a secluded place to share the find, and then they’d have robbed me dry. Anyway, they robbed me of a chance to be good people. Kumbe I’m that stupid? I surprised even myself. Next time, I’m just gonna pull my lips forward suck in lots of air and say ,”Shya!”

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Reading the Big Print

It would appear that some HR pros don't read the HR manual they hand out to you the moment you accept an offer. Someone tells you that you can't take your annual leave until you've worked for a year. To you it implies that you would have 42 days days off the following year.But you refer to the manual which says you can have your days off after the probabtion period-which is 6 months.

Your benefits are taxable, no problem. Someone says it works thus: Total taxes= [30%(gross income + taxable benefits) + UGX 45,000]. Meaning you're worse off with the benefit. Refer to the manual, and there is another way. In fact, Schedule 5 Income Tax Act says you have two options, the lesser of the two being the tax (Thanks, buddy!). At worst, you're at the same level as when the benefit was not there.

Next on my to-read list: the constitution.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


I've realized that I spend a bit of time on the Internet kazini-not sure if it's necessarily all good or all bad.

Kila asubuhi nikifika job naenda FB, halafu blogger (Bankelele is my favourite, especially because the quality of his posts plus he has a lot on his list so I have a quick look on what everyone's saying), halafu twitter. FB ni mara kadhaa kwa siku. Halafu I have several email addresses, mbili za marafiki (with my nick name-short of first name- and middle name at gmail and at yahoo) na mbili za kutafuta job officially (first full name dot last full name kwa yahoo na gmail), na mbili za job (kampuni na project specific). Na bado nasoma gazeti na vinginevyo. Takes quite some time. No wonder I can't tweet (why is the verb different from the,er noun? As in tweeting on twitter) enough.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

'Emergency' Planning and Camel Milk Chocolate

Yenyewe I just have to rant yet again. OD was talking about the water shortage in Nairobi which is of course accompanied by stima rationing, which of course means that some people are not working as much as they should, and that others have had to increase the cost of working/doing business and contributed to pollution by using diesel powered generators. The likelihood of cholera and other dirty water-related diseases breaking out is not unrealistic.

Now most people have turned to God for the rains, which is all cool. I pray, too. But praying is the least we can do. I was telling OD that if the Almighty sends the rains right now, and there's flooding, we'll be back asking him to send a little sun our way. We'll be very surprised, though we had lots of time to build dykes and all. And the roads will be impassable, though we could have worked on them while the sun shone. We could and should invest in alternative sources of energy for when the Ndakaini dam runs dry, but somehow, we beleive it will be there forever, it seems.

Shida kubwa is that we as a country/region rarely plan and love to blame someone else for our shidas. Like I said, praying is great, but the Almighty has in fact given us power to rule our universe, but we've mess it up and it's very unforgiving; it messes us up back. I somehow understand how it is that it's God who makes the rain, but I'm not lost on the fact that we don't do our part. We don't plan for much other than elections. Yaani after '02, folks start scheming for '07, after that '12, but nothing for the other stuff in-between. It's like somehow, the rains will come, and there will be food. It's amazing how drought surprises us when it happens, which is becoming once every two-three years. There was draught in 97, 2000, 2006, and now 2009. Meaning it's predicatable, and we can and should plan for when (not if) it occurs. It's likely to happen again in the next 5 years, but we're likely to be oh so surprised when it does.

What would we do if we were the ones who had long winters and super hot summers, die? What if we are the ones who lived in desserts? As I write this, someone is exporting camel milk chocolate from Dubai. I don't love to hate myself or be too hard on myself, but maybe we are the way we are because we don't have these extremes.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Child Sacrifice in UG - The Narrow Road: Rose's Journey

There were stories when I was growing of strangers kidnapping people and cutting off their tongues to be used as ingredients in concortions used as cures in withcraft. Once in the late 80s, my grandmother and I visited my uncle in boarding school. We were offered a ride back into town by a stranger. My grandmother was quiet all the way till we got out, at what point she thanked the man sana for the ride. When we got home, she told my mum that she was worried because she thought the stranger was after our tongues. That was funny at the moment. So was the other time when she was in a bus and she heard a fellow passenger talk about how someone or other had taken her 'jini'. When she kujad home, she narrated how she had traveled in the same bus with a person who kept genies. My mum explained that the said person was probably referring to jeans-like a jeans jacket, skirt, or pair of trousers. That, too, was funny. I've also heard stuff about people sacrificing others to the devil to get rich. Devil worship in short. Scary, though I doubt the devil could ever make anyone rich.

When I got to Kampala at the end of October last year, stories of human sacrifice were not too uncommon in the papers. Especially child sacrifice. At first I thought it was all tabloid news (to date Bukedde, a paper in the local language has pictures of dead, sometimes mutilated, bodies on the front page karibu kila siku). Halafu I started seeing them in the main newspapers and TV. Scary stuff. Then I went to Church at Namirembe cathedral one Sunday in Februray, and during sermon the priest advised folks not to let their kids go to school early in the morning when it was still dark,and to always escort them to school coz that when the butchers were on the lookout. Meanwhile, the stories coming from TZ were of albinos being sacrificed.
The first people I asked about child sacrifice here, told me that mostly it is kids who are sacrificed, virgins at that. So I felt safe-plus I have some skin pigmentation which to me meant I was even less desirable for the gods. Someone mentioned that if you have a baby boy, it may help to circumcise him, and for a girl, to pierce her ears. Then one day I somad in one of the main papers again that someone had been beaten to death by a mob juu he had taken a boda boda ride at night, only to turn on the boda boda driver guy and mutilate his body for sacrifice. That shtuad me kiasi juu I thought only kids got sacrificed.
I don't exactly like it (sometimes I get amused) when people show up in my country and talk about the issues there like 'experts', so hopefully I'm not coming off as expertish here. Rather, just telling it from my perspective.
Here is a story on child sacrifice in Uganda, and probable causes. And Rose, a person whose refusal to take part in the ritual led her to her Irish parents (few details availed), and is retracing the steps she took back in 89. All 52 km. (Thanks FaceBook friend!)

Friday, 12 June 2009


I burned my fingers with the Safaricom IPO, but I’ve been investing more in the NSE lately. The past couple months have not been that bad, but one downside is that the Kenya Shilling has appreciated quite significantly against the Uganda shilling, so I lose money even before I put in my order-1 UGX was roughly equivalent to Ksh 24 when I came here last October, but now it’s trading in the neighbourhood of Ksh 28.5. Maybe I should start exporting stuff to Kenya. Apparently the dollar has appreciated upwards of 34% since last September.

But here's how I do it:
-Go to ATM, get the money
-Go to FOREX bureau, buy Ksh
-Go to broker’s bank, deposit Ksh
-Go to broker’s office, fill out an order form or several, depending on how many different stocks I’m keen on buying
-Wait (I’m advised to call 36 hours later)
-Sometimes I’ll get an email from broker; sometimes I won’t, so I call the next day, or pass by on my way to work.
-Get the statement at broker’s office or receive an email with it. I’m still waiting for an email on how to get my statements online

I haven’t sold anything but I think the process may be easier, probably just a call, but I imagine I’d have to go and sign a form again.
What makes it hard is that banks don’t open till 8:30 am, and I need to be at work at 8am. At lunch, the queue is usually quite long (it’s Stanbic Bank, I think it has the largest piece of the pie in Kampala), and the service extremely, annoyingly slow. Whereas I could send someone else who is not too busy in the office and pay them a small fee, plus their boda boda fare, it’s not like I naturally trust people with my money that easily. I end up spreading all the errands over a few lunch hours (days), during which time the NSE is not static.
Compare this with trading on the NYSE/NASDAQ- open an account, transfer money online, put in orders and trade online any time you wish; no phone calls, no queuing up in banks, no paper filling up paper forms, and movement only on the computer keyboard.

Does anyone know of an easier way out there? Let me know, tafadhali.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Honest Scrap

This post is long over-due. Thanks Maua for tagging me on the on-going Honest Scrap Awards.I deserved it.

The Rules:
1.You must brag about the award
2.You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger
3.You must choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
4.Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog.
5.List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on with the instructions!

Honest Crap (or not) About PKW

1. I love my family very much. Especially my mother, sister, brother, and now my niece and nephew, brother-in-law and sister-in-law; in no particular order. My father is a very kind and good person, and I don't dislike him at all.
2. But I have never told anyone in my family that I love them. The one time my mother told me that she loves me, indeed loves all her children very much, was when I told her that she loved my sister more than me. That was the one of those times she couldn't stop praising my sister and saying how much they (my mother and sister) looked alike.
3.I chose my blog identity when I stumbled upon Kumekucha at a time they were doing a lot of Kikuyu-bashing. But I've never blogged about my pride as a Kikuyu
4. However, I think everyone should be free to take pride in whatever they identity with, tribe being one. That's why I'd never join 'I have no Tribe' because I have one, and I mean well.Otherwise, at one point it will be trendy to have no religion, sexual orientation,race, gender,nationality/national origin, language....whatever it is that people have wrongly used to discriminate against others. It'd not be true, and I think a homogeneous world would be pretty boring.I never feel offended when people ask me what my last name is, what part of Kenya I come from, what my mother tongue is, or even more directly, what my tribe is.But I personally know it's not politically correct any more to ask other people, especially Kenyans, any of those questions, so I don't. I'm OK with your Western name if that makes you more Kenyan.
5. I prefer to remain anonymous to the extent that it is possible. I once worried that at work, people were aware that I was PKW.
6. Therefore, I have met only one person in blog world in person-a Kumekucha contributor. I intend to keep it that way.
7. If I ever need my alarm, I set it to go off about 15 minutes before I actually need to get out of bed juu I like to wake up moss moss.
8. I used to read a lot, but not much these days.
9. I don't want to be fat any more and have made peace with the size of my kabina (tanye in Luganda).
10.I work in what some would call the 'international development industry'. Problem is, it's starting to look like, well, just another industry at best, a conspiracy at worst. I promise to blog about my views once I'm not too emotional about it.

Most of these taggees have more important stuff to blog about. But I tag:


Chris of Kumekucha
Vikii of Kumekucha

Tuesday, 21 April 2009



Ngai, this past or so has been crazy. My cuzo M has been HIV+ for some time. I feel close to M because we were in high school at the same time, and would always hang out during the holidays, and he had a sense of humour that I really enjoyed. He’s been + for at least 2 years, but in denial for the most part. In fact, I doubt he has acknowledged his situation, and what I know is from my relatives. M has been getting quite sick and may be going downhill already. I haven’t seen him since getting back in September last year (my bad) but we’ve been talking on the phone quite often. He kinda feels lonely and deserted. So on Saturday 11th April (Easter weekend) I called my mum and told her that M feels lonely, she needs visit him etc etc. At that point she told me that even his sister is really sick. Where, I asked? Same disease. The following day, mum called to say that S, the sister, had passed away. Her body was laid to rest on Saturday the 18th. I wasn’t really close to her since she married a widower (connect the dots) when she was really young so we had no time together. But still—-it made me think how short –and difficult-her life was. She was 28.


Now that M is sick and I’ve been thinking of all the few years we shared growing up, I’ve been finding myself thinking about my late cousin named M as well. Agikuyu (Kikuyus) name all the first sons after the husband’s father, and among all my grandmother’s 12 kids, only the boys (5 of them) lived to be old enough to have kids. So we have a lot of Ms. My brother is the 5th M. The sick M is the third one, and the late M was the fourth one. He was a year ahead of me in high school, and we shared similar ambitions. We were so close that after he had passed away, my mum told me that when we were in high school, she always worried that we may ‘get married’ (read have sex). M didn’t actually pass away- he was brutally murdered by the Mungiki on the night/morning of 6th January 2003 when they terrorized Nakuru. He was 27, married with 2 kids, and lots of aspirations.
I was raised in a village in Nyeri, but we moved to Nyandarua the year I went college. I feel a bigger sense of belonging to my Nyeri village than the Nyandarua one, partly because I’ve never spent more than a month in our Nyandarua one. But that’s where my mum now lives. Mum called me this morning saying she wanted to go Nyeri because “andu ni moragirwo muno” –people have been killed too much. What, I ask? It’s the Mungiki. Mum told me that they killed M the son of G, his brother M, W the son of N, and even T the father of W, and W himself. Even K, a boy whose mother married by neighbour when K was about 4. He finished form four last year. W the son of N was in the same class as my young uncle who is two years older than me, and was married to P, my standard six best friends. Basically, all are family friends. My uncle J is moving to Nairobi to stay with my uncle K for a while.Not sure where my aunt and her young son will sleep tonight. You can read the story here and some a bit here.

I am devastated, my tribal pride hurt. Death, your sting hurts bad.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Mob Justice

Yesterday I forgot my phone in the office, so I had to come get it just in case. Took a matatu to Wandegeya and was walking towards the office when I saw a crowd gathered around a shop on the road that goes to Mulago Hospital. On drawing closer, I could hear a lady screaming, so I went all the way to the front. Inside the shop was one mama with a thick stick hitting another mama who was screaming and begging, occasionally getting onto her knees. My Luganda is still a work in progress so I couldn’t tell what she was saying. At first I thought they were fighting over a man. The mama with the stick was undressing her so that one of her boobs was hanging out as she (the stick-holder) struggled to get the other mama’s skirt off. From what I could tel, some people were saying ‘don’t undress her’, while others were shouting ‘undress here!’ There was also a man standing guard at the entrance so no one could actually go in and help. From what I could gather, the lady-in-beating had stolen lots of money; in fact the stick-holding one was waving several wallets in the air, opening some and asking if she was the one in the pictures inside? Anyway, I felt sorry for the poor mama who had allegedly stolen and was now being publicly humiliated. So I requested them ‘muyitire polisi bambi’ (call the police for her, please), as were some two other men beside me. They responded that she has stolen too much and the police will do nothing, really. So ask, ‘sente meka-how much money? I can pay and you let her go with me?’ while attempting to go in and grab her arm. The dude standing by the entrance pushed me out, asking me if I know here and informing me that she has stolen far too many times. When the mama-in-beating saw I was kinda trying to help, she was like ‘nyambako bambi’-help me please. Then one dude behind me asked me ’how much do you have? She has stolen about 500,000’. Like we could bargain. Not that I walk around Ksh 20K in my wallet, but even I doubted the guy was the one she stole from. Anyway, I got out of the crowd, asked a boda boda guy how far the police station is, and he offered to take me there for UGX 1,000. It was like 2 minutes away. I get to the police station, tell the story, and after a bit of arguing among the officers on who should go (“I’m not in uniform”. “It doesn’t matter you can just take a gun” etc etc) the uniformed officer I was talking to asked me to get boda bodas to take us to the scene. So I go out and call 2 boda boda drivers, but then officer changes his mind and decides we are better off walking. We get there, they take the mama, and the wallets, and me, I proceed to the office, log onto face-book, only to find a Nairobi magistrate has lost his life to mob justice in a case of mistaken car identity.

Thursday, 09 April 2009

Scared Kidogo: I was Rude to a 'Big Person'

I'm not sure why the phones keep getting directed to my desk instead of the reception. So I've been having to run other errands like transferring the calls, giving messages etc, which has been a little annoying. I've stalked to the relevant people for some time now but it hasn't been fixed. So this morning the phone rings:
PKW: Yes?
Other: Eish, is that XYZ (the project manager)
PKW: No, it's PKW. Not sure why but the calls are coming here instead of other people's offices. Has been happening for some time
Other: Anti you people fix your phone
PKW: I don't work on phones
Other: But since it's your office...
PKW: I just don't like how I get distracted from my job all the time.
Other: Are you a staff of...? (It's a project with several partners, and at this point I figure out she is from the main partner)
Other: What's your name?
Other: And you work with which partner?
PKW: Let me tell XYZ to call you back, OK?
{I hang up}
Then tell XYZ to call his main office, realizing that I didn't even get the caller's name.
I'm now a little worried because I think it's the second highest office holder on XYZ's partner organization in UG. And knowing just how much 'Big People' are feared around here, hope I've not just made a big mess. I feel like not answering the phone for some time today.

Tuesday, 07 April 2009

MTN MobileMoney, Nakumatt Oasis na Kadhalika

Mobile Money
MTN, the mobile network with the largest market share in Uganda started offering mobile money transfers modelled exactly like Safaricom's M-pesa a month or so ago.Called MTN MobileMoney-Go send Money Now Now-I like they used that Luganda-ish phrase-people often say now now, directly translated from kati kati-right away.
Just like M-Pesa may have made it difficult for some people to instantly switch to Zain despite the Vuka tarriff in Kenya, I think MTN MobileMoney will make people stick to MTN.
I'm an MTN Mteja, for the mere fact that it looked more popular than Zain, Warid, UTL, and Orange when I came in.Additionally, most of my contacts at home are on Safaricom and I'd only get local rates -UGX 2000/day (about one USD) when I'm calling Zain-Zain only. I only know 2 people on the orange network in Kenya, so didn't even check them out. Plus I can call Safaricom in Kenya from my Safaricom line for 10/= flat...Only thing I don't uderstand is how MTN discounts their MTN-MTN calls; it could be 0% discount one moment and jump to 60% once you're done talking.

Oh well, too bad multi-currency, cross-border mobile money transfer is still a dream. If Zain introduced Zap regionally, forget number importability, I think I'd move ASAP. Or if Yu in Kenya sold to MTN, as per one Kahenya, and the mobile money thing went cross-border.

Nakumatt Oasis
It's set to open on April 9th at (or is it next to?) Garden City, if all goes according to plan.Some major competition to Uchumi next door, no doubt. Garden city is where the life-style shopper goes.

Moving out, and on
I moved into a nicer apartment the last weekend of March. Not the one I'd talked about in some earlier post. I'll have to do a whole post on it. Bad thing is that my commute is longer. Matatus go to the New Taxi park, which gets real muddy when it rains. Was not planning on getting a car this year, we'll see how that goes as it gets wetter.

Easter Plans, Scenic Uganda, Triathlon
Had talked with Tumwijuke about a possible Murchinson Falls Park visit, but due to some 'complications', may end up at Bujagali Falls. Uganda is v. beautiful, and the people nicer than the Kenyans, I feel. I went rafting on the Nile on Valentines Day weekend, and participated at the Entebbe Triathlon a couple weeks ago by cheering on a couple colleagues that are more athletic than I. Gorilla viewing at Bwindi is too expensive-close to $500. Not willing to part with that much. But paycheck allowing, and God-willing I wish to see more of this beautiful country.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

On Giving-to God and to People

I’m worried I’ll become like ColdTusker whose blog is about Rants, Raves and Reviews but where I mostly find rants, or Andy who 'talks' a lot about the energy crisis.No offense meant guys, just that I find little uplifting, over there. But great debate there.

Today’s post is a rant. I’ve been thinking about giving a lot lately. Not thinking about giving a lot, but thinking a lot about giving. Today’s post was inspired by an incident I had. I’d promised a relative some Ksh. 50K to start a bizna as they look for a job. I’d come in to work today, a Saturday, coz I have kinda a lot on my desk, rushed to the bank like 3 minutes before the door was closed, got the money, but was stranded on how to send it as 1) M-Pesa failed me the last time I tried it, 2) Equity Bank is not yet accepting deposits bound for the Kenya side 3) I couldn’t find any Western Union/Money Gram that was open and 4) there’s no way I’m risking sending that amount of money disguised as a package on the bus. So I told the person to wait till Monday, which was likely to be very hectic anyway, but they were mad, told me to send the money whenever I can, and call them then, and then hang up on me. I tried to call them back but they wouldn’t pick up. So I sent them a text message saying it was a huge sacrifice on my part, really, and they don’t seem to understand or even appreciate that, so let’s just forget about the whole thing. I feel really sad that I’d to do that especially because they said they’d promised someone a deposit tomorrow. I really hate being taken for granted.
Back to giving: the 10% aka tithe that is advised by most churches. For the longest time, I followed that ‘law’ to the letter. When I chanced on some little money, I’d duly give 10% to my church. But over the past couple years I’ve become more critical. I recently revised the rule to 5% ‘God’ i.e. church, and 5% family and relatives. As we speak I haven’t given the 5% to the Church all of this year. Partly b/c I haven’t found one yet....lame excuse, I know.

On Giving to ‘God’: I’m putting ‘God’ in quotes juu I believe that I give to Him/Her even when I don’t give through church. I’ve become rather critical when giving to him through church. For instance, I have issues with pastors who exhibit nothing but lavish lifestyles, and whose main message is ‘give and it shall come back to you’, i.e. the prosperity gospel. By the way, that verse they love to quote has nothing to do with giving material goods, but rather judging others. As in, the measure you use to judge others is the same measure that will be used to judge you. I will never forget the day my cousin gave everything she had at a televangelist’s rally in at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru because she’d been told a miracle would take place, and had nothing for the kids that night. Also, I don’t like the way my church, the P.C.E.A., is run financially. At the highest level is the General Assembly, then the Presbyteries, the Parishes, and then the individual churches. There is no such thing as an independent church under the P.C.E.A., so most of the rules come from above. I feel rather uneasy about the fact that the General Assembly kinda decides how much each individual church has to give each year, so that there are the many ‘special Sundays’ for the different age-groups at Church; Sunday School in Dec, Youth in May, the Brigade sometime I don’t know when, the Women’s Guild in August, and then in the last few years, the Presbyterian Men’s Fellowship. Basically these are harambee days. My main beef with that is that most of the money raised goes to the General Assembly which decides what to do with it. But then again, the P.C.E.A. has some great projects like well-run schools and hospitals. I’m proud of that.

Giving to family, relatives and friends: This is complicated and ends up taking more than the 5%, because there are many, many needs and only so much to give. OK, so God blesses us so we can bless others. This is much easier to say and do when you’re on the receiving end. When I was away in the U.S., I’d send my family- I mean the extended one here- money quite often, but I didn’t feel they appreciated the amount of work that went into it. And I was often pissed by the fact that every person who chanced on my number almost always only wanted money. Like my primary school friend’s sister who I’d not seen for five years. And there’s that time I sent a lot of money only to call home just before going into my 4pm shift on a Saturday afternoon, and was told that people at home were having a huge reunion involving the kids of relatives some 3 generations ahead of me. I was jealous. That clearly wasn’t a need.

Anyway, it is neither easy nor right to say no when someone tells you that they have this or that major need. If anything, for the Christians, the Bible says that whoever does not provide for their family - and by family I mean the extended one, again-is worse than an unbeliever. Only that it’s not fair for them to not even tell you that they got the money, and only call you when they needs some more.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


It’s been more than two weeks since I signed on to my dream job, exactly as I described it on this day.

How feel I?

Extremely happy. In fact, my faith has been revived!

Lessons learned

-Network, network, network! Except for my first internship in the summer of 2006, every jig that I have thorough enjoyed and/or learned a lot from has been through a referral. Everything else has built on from there. The job that led to this opportunity was through a referral by a neighbor whose girls I’d babysit back in D.C. (do dishes, laundry,sweep floors, too-yeah, been there, done that), to whom I mentioned my search for a summer internship, who talked to her husband, who introduced me to a lady with whom he’d done a study in W. Africa before,who ended up employing me in the winter (found something else for the summer), whose colleague invited me to his room-mates going away party, where I met the Africa head of the organization where I’m now working with, who sent my C.V. across East Africa….
-Unpaid internships pay off, eventually. Hence babysitting, scrubbing floors, waiting tables while working that un-paid professional job
-Prayers work! Funny how one minute you can be so anxious, saying all sorts of things to God. Looking back He has answered most of the ones I prayed when I was as young as 10-like God help me go to University someday, get a great job etc. Note to self; start praying again, it’ll be interesting to give thanks 40 years from now.

Going back in time

I recently went to my undergraduate institution to get my certificate. I never attended the graduation ceremony and haven’t been there in years. Nothing much has changed, save for a few previously stalled buildings now complete. We had hoped to occupy them over the years we studied there. You still have to move from office to office to get papers rubber-stamped. I’d lost the clearance form I’d used back in the day and had to go look for a copy over at Finance. They gave me a box to sort through. Faculty of Education (it was ..and Human Resources but now it is…and Community Services, or something of the sort) showed me a room where to search for my file. I want to go to my old primary and secondary schools, and at the secondary school where I taught before changing cause.

Housing issue

For the first time ever, since moving here, I’ve stayed entirely by myself. Couldn’t stand my own company at first, T.V. was my best friend before I met a few peeps outside of work, but I’m now enjoying it. I’d always stayed with relatives and friends/room-mates. But for more than a year, one of them worked the night-shift and spent a lot of time with the boyfriend when she was off, so it was like we were living by ourselves in the same house at separate times of the day. I got a nice place here in K’la now, but I’m not staying there beyond April this year. The landlady was the only one who accepted 2 months worth of rent, the rest asking for even upto 6 months of rent in advance. UGX 250K/month, and yes, I’m complaining. Because she won’t give me the key to the main gate, and insists on locking it at 10:30pm, 10:55pm at the latest. Weekends included. Nyabo, I’ve come a long way from teenage years. Have got another place several gates down. Down-side; have to add UGX 50K/month. But bigger and better and can be shared with someone else if none of us gets on the other’s nerves.

Next Steps?

Planning on adding a CFA to my name after the Bsc and MBA in the next couple years. Mrs. before? Help me God.

Friday, 23 January 2009

On a Mission

I have been on a mission to find a Church home where I can belong. I told a work colleague and he recommended the Kampala Pentecostal Church, which is located in downtown K’la. I went there twice and liked the service. I especially liked the second time; for some reason the preacher/sermon really spoke to me that day. But the place is humongous, and I felt like I could easily ‘get lost’, as in I worship there, but may not really get to know anyone, hata kama they have cells (sorta like a church within a church) where they meet occasionally. It seemed like a place where most young professionals in K’la attend church regularly, but the fact that I have always had a serious aversion to mega-churches didn’t help. They have at least 3 services a day, and the place is always packed, at least the services that I attended were. It's also kinda Westernized (the people are mostly Ugandan and the interior design Afrocentric, I've to say) and I felt like it may beat the point of being home?

So I went home for Christmas. At home I am Presbyterian. My mum gave a Presbyterian-‘branded’ diary which listed all the P.C.E.A. churches, and there happened to be a Uganda mission area in K’la, complete with the pastors Safaricom and MTN phone contacts. I gave him a call last Saturday, and he told me where to find them-one of the halls at Nakasero Primary School. Sunday fikad, and nikaenda Church. Very small group, which I liked, but everyone seemed to be from Central Kenya. The service was in English but kila time there was a testimony to be ‘removed’, it went something like, “am so-and-so Kariuki, Wanjiru ..”etc (names changed). That, I didn’t penda. Juu if I choose to be a member there, it’s like I’ve moved with my village church to K’la, and there’s no newness/adventure there. Even while I was away, I refused to join a ‘Kenyan’ Church. But the members at the P.C.E.A Uganda mission seem quite nice, welcoming and advising, too. The most interesting thing happened at the end of the service. There was this ‘Kamau’ jamaa who’d said in his testimony that he is graduating from Makerere University on Thursday. So one jamaa (an elder, I presume) asked him what he was planning to do in celebation, and ‘Kamau’ said that he was making a trip to Nyeri to celebrate with his grandmother. Hi, you’ve never seen a graduation arrangement taken over like that. The ‘elder’ said no, there is need to celebrate properly, and we are going to do it at the Golden Fish restaurant, and offered 3 kukus. Then proceeded to volunteer what others were going to bring (the pastor “wewe unaweza afford half a crate of sodas!”), and even appointed people for the graduation party committee. Others volunteered to buy several things like a goat, chapati, sodas, and within no time, plan ikaiva. Can’t tell how it went coz I was tied up at jobo. Such fun things, the spirit of community, make me want to go to such a Church. I guess I’ve to figure out some other way of connecting with the Kenyan community ‘abroad’.
Next, I am checking out the Presbyterian Church of Uganda as I saw an allusion to something like it in the papers(will have to ask s/one why they are not part of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa?), or the Anglican Church. If anything, I was confirmed at the Anglican Church (back when it was known as the Church of the Province of Kenya) next to our school as we were attending school in the neighbouring district where apparently the English missionaries had outdone their Church of Scotland counterparts. Sio shida if the Anglican Church’s services here are in Luganda . I think I’m learning quite fast-it’s v. similar to Swa, anyway- and that will indeed help. We’ll see.