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.