Friday, December 23, 2011


ATHOL Fugard could have written his much acclaimed novel “Tsotsi,” 49 years ago and published it in 1980; it resonates with the current crime like robbery, murder and rape, the biting poverty, shuttered dreams and hopes in South Africa – party as a result of the defunct apartheid system.

However, the good news is that the number of murders in South Africa declined by 6.5 per cent in 2010/2011, with 15, 940 cases being recorded, according to annual police crime statistics released in September 2011. The murder rate has come down consistently by nearly 20 percent since 2003/2004.

In the period from April 2010 to March 2011, attempted murders had fallen by 12.2 per cent, whereas assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm had dropped by 4.5 per cent. Robbery with aggravating circumstances was also down by 12 per cent.

The “Tsotsi,” story begins in an illegal drinking dive known as a shebeen on a Friday night with four gangsters plotting to attack mine workers in the rail station returning home with their earnings. Their criminal repertoire included attacking lonely taxi drivers, or a darkened, deserted house in one of the white suburbs.

“The trains,” Tsotsi said. “Let’s take one on the trains.”

The gang’s target was Gumboot Dhlamini, a mine worker who was returning home after a year’s work in the city with all his savings.

The four including Tsotsi and Die Aap surrounded Gumboot in the coach. Butcher worked the bicycle spoke up and into Gumboot’s heart. It was Buston who slipped his hand into the pocket and took out the pay packet. They left him dead in the train.

Tsotsi is an angry young gang leader in the South African township of Sopiatown. He was the youngest of the four. He owned a sheath-knife, the blade four inches long. He carried it in the back pocket of his trousers, and slept with it under his jacket which he rolled up and used as a pillow. The knife was not only his weapon, but also a fetish, a talisman that conjured away bad spirits and established him securely in his life.

Tsotsi hated questions about himself and how no one knew anything about him except that he was the hardest, the quickest, the cleverest that had ever been and once somebody had tried to find out something and he was dead.

Tsotsi hated questions for a profound but simple reason. He didn’t know the answers…neither his name, nor his age, nor any of the other answers that men assemble and shape into the semblance of a life. His memory went back vaguely to a group of young boys scavenging the township for scraps needed to keep alive. Before that a few vague, moody memories, a police chase and finding himself alone.

Tsotsi didn’t know because he had never been told, and if he had known he no longer remembered, and his not knowing himself had a deeper meaning than his name and his age. He allowed himself no thought of himself, he remembered no yesterdays, and tomorrow existed only when it was the present, living moment. He was as old as that moment, and his name was the name, in a way, of all men.

One day when he was scavenging on the streets an Indian chased him away from his shop door, shouting and calling him a tsotsi. So he decided to take on the name of Tsotsi. Tsotsi is an Afrikaans term for a hoodlum or a thug.

In a drunken state one day, Boston, asks Tsotsi for his age and expressed his displeasure of how they had ended Gumboot’s life.

In a sudden and irrational impulse Tsotsi brutally attacked Boston and nearly beat him to death.

One night, in a moonlit grove of the bluegum trees, a woman Tsotsi attempts to rape forces a shoebox into his arms. The box contains a baby, and his life is inexorably changed. He begins to remember his troubled childhood, to rediscover himself and his capacity to love, find mercy and sympathy.

Changing the baby’s cloths and feeding him proved a challenge. He tried to give it water and bread soaked in water, but it had all come driveling out. He was chancing his hand at a game he had never dared play and the baby was the dice, so to speak. He hid the baby away from the other gangsters in the ruins of buildings.

Tsotsi forced Miriam Ngidi, an eighteen year old mother of one to feed and clean his baby. The thought of that greedy, decrepit, foul-smelling bundle in the rags on the bed at her breast filled her with horror. It was a violation of her body that brought to a sharp pitch the possessive, miserly twist in her nature. “He’s too dirty!” Miriam cried.

“Then clean him,” Tsotsi replied savagely. “Clean him and feed him.”

When she still hesitated, he took out his knife and gave her one last chance. She fought down her disgust and went to work.

Tsotsi heard the bulldozers and saw the dust a long way away as they razed the ruins of buildings completely to the ground. He run and got there with seconds to spare. He had enough time to dive for the corner where the baby was hidden, before the first crack snaked along the wall and the topmost bricks came falling down, time enough even then to look, and then finally to remember. Then it was too late for anything; and the wall came down on top of him, flattening him into the dust.

The only novel by prize-winning playwright Fugard, Tsotsi’s raw power and rare humanity show how decency and compassion can survive against all the odds.

Fugard was born in Middelburg in South Africa in 1932, to an Afrikaner mother and English father. The racial discrimination that he observed while growing up under apartheid has greatly influence his writing.

The South African director, Gavin Hood shot the film “Tsotsi” in South Africa in 2004 and 2005. Among the numerous awards it has won include the Best Foreign Film at the 2006 Academy Awards, and the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the 2006 Pan African Film and Arts Festival.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


SHE IS out to portray the hospitality and humorous nature of the Africans in contrast to the Western press that believes that the only news on the continent is when there is a civil war, a natural disaster, a drought and famine, where people look unhappy and devastated.

“I want to show them (people in the West) that African people are amazingly funny, hospitable and humorous under normal conditions and any condition contrary to what I have listed above would make anyone unhappy and unfortunately most of the photos taken in Africa belong to those sad moments,” Yasar Meltem says.

Meltem’s exhibition of her African works titled “Bright Faces from Africa” was held at Aznavur Art Gallery in Istanbul from September 29 to October 9, 2011. She also plans to exhibit her work in Brussels in the first quarter of 2012.

Meltem’s photography obsession is limited to people and especially children where her passion for the ordinary young ones is vivid with messages of innocence, naivety, compassion, love and care. In the picture on the right Meltem poses with Muhammed, a Tuareg boy taken in Timbuktu, Mali in 2010.
The love for children is what drives her concentration on the young people and this was testimony of her pictures she exhibited at the MishMash Gallery in Kampala on June 26, 2011.

“I love playing and talking to children. They are so much fun. They are full of surprises. They are lively, playful and easily excited. And if you are quick enough to capture the moment, they give you the memory of amazing moments of the time you share with them,” Meltem said.

“I am not a professional photographer. Naturally, I want to photograph the moments I enjoy the most. And the moments I enjoy the most during my holidays are the times I spend with children. I also like talking to children. In a foreign country, you get to learn very interesting – be it funny or tragic facts about that county from a child. You learn things that no guidebook or mature person would tell you.”

“I also like physical acts like playing with them. If you tap a child on the head, from nowhere you can start a tag game instantly and many will join. However if you do it to an adult, you are in trouble! They are fun and I love having fun with them. With children I feel free to do whatever I want,” she added.

“Most of the time I am taking photos of children, their parents are with them. Because I don’t want anyone to walk from the bush or from a house and ask me as to what I am doing there. I befriend the parents or relatives of most of these children to make sure they don’t have a problem of me taking photos. But my passion for children is far bigger than adults. I think I am a child myself stuck in an adult`s body.

Meltem cannot stand the accusation of exploiting children. “People accuse other people for many things in life. However my conscience is very clean. First of all, I never make money from children`s photographs. Photography to me is not about making images; it is also about making friends. Secondly, I don’t force them to be in my photos or I don’t change the way they are. I never told a kid to do something that he/she was not doing. I never told a child to wear or undress something so that it would look nice in my photos,” she argues.

“Thirdly, the streets in Africa are full of children. If you are taking photos in Africa, it is impossible not to take children photos. Take Uganda for example: the average age in this country is 17. So the average age of someone I photograph on the streets will be automatically under-age. I love taking photos of old people but where do I find them?”

“I like the bond between a child and a mother. I believe it is a miracle giving birth, a very difficult miracle and yet women especially in this part of the world are not scared at all to do it many times! That is very brave.”

Meltem came to Uganda six years ago, to see the gorillas and has been living here ever since. “In January 2005, I came here on a safari to see the gorillas. I had the most amazing time of my life. I had a chance to see how gentle, kind and happy Ugandan people are. I fell in love with Ugandan people and the beauty of this country. On Uganda’s Independence Day that year, I came back to live here.”

During the week, Meltem works as head of corporate finance with Icemark-Africa Limited in Kampala, but in her free time on weekends and holidays, the only numbers she cares about are the aperture and shutter speed values of her camera. To her photography is a hobby and does it for free. “Photography is not a field I know how to make money,” she says.

As a very patient photographer who can wait for days, interacting with people first before she even takes the camera out of its case, Meltem emphasizes that she is not out there just to take photographs. “I am out there to experience a different life, to observe something that I have never seen before, to enjoy a different person/life other than myself. If I want to talk to them, I have to be patient to understand them. If you have a camera with you, after a while it is them who want me to take their photographs any way. So my pursuit for getting to know people turns into photography.

“I want to take photos of what is beyond the faces,” Meltem says. “Most people look `at` the photos. I want to take photos which people will want to look `into.’ I believe a camera can capture thoughts and it is those photos which managed to capture a thought or a feeling are the best! And also as it is a frozen moment in time and it is that moment I preferred to take that photo, my portraits are more about me rather than my objects.”

“I like getting closer to my subjects physically and mentally. And personally I will not take a photograph of someone unless I somehow have a liking for the person and I want to remember him/her for the rest of my life,” she adds.

Meltem’s other interests are African art and fabric, travelling and getting to know as many people as possible. Although she has held exhibitions in Uganda and Turkey her plans are to publish her collection of pictures. “Instead of exhibitions, I want to concentrate on a photography book about mothers and their children in Africa. I respect the mothers in this country and in Africa so much and I truly think mothers are really struggling very hard to take care of their children and it is basically mothers who raise them.”

Meltem, who was born in Adana, Turkey, studied Political Science and Public Administration at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Then she obtained a master’s degree in Banking and Economics from the University of Wales in (U.K.) in 1996.

Her love for photography began in 1995, when her brother bought a very cheap 35mm manual Zenit camera from the Russian Market in Istanbul after the USSR collapsed. Her first pictures were those of three kittens in her balcony playing with their mother. One of the photos came out really nice, but the rest were either dark or out of focus. As they say, the rest is history.

If her tiny camera had not been stolen from her luggage at Nairobi airport in 2005, she would never have upgraded to her fist Nikon and then an interest in photography. “If they did not steal that camera, I would have got very annoyed and got promoted to my Nikon which inspired me to start taking photos again from 2008 onwards,” she says.

Meltem, who has taken pictures in Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Mali – has no favorite picture yet.

“I enjoy taking photos in Uganda the most as this is my home and I know people a lot better than I would know in another country. I can read them, I can have a lot of fun with them as I know how amazingly fun loving and gentle people Ugandans are. I don’t like taking photos of children with swollen bellies and flies in their eyes. However if that is the case, then it is the way to photograph it. But as Ugandan people are fun people, I enjoy being with them and taking their photographs.”

Watching people in action is what she finds most interesting in the art of photography. “I like watching people. I like how people act, what they perceive of themselves, how important they find themselves, what their motive is. I like human psychology. I can watch people for hours. With photography, I am not only watching people and keeping those images in my head, but I am also carrying those images back home,” Meltem said.

“And I enjoy looking at them at home recalling the moments when I took them. Some trying to look serious, some cool, some funny, some dominant, and some subservient, among others. It is so much fun capturing those moments of watching people. I am also very impressed the difference between color and black and white photography. I find black and white images very capturing,” she added.

She observes that, due to lack of financial means, equipment and training, photography in Uganda is not where it is supposed to be. “It is most of the time not Ugandans taking photographs of their country and people. But you need a camera, a computer/laptop and some other equipment to do it. Unfortunately it is not a cheap hobby. By the way, I am not trying to say that a good camera makes a good photographer…”


Friday, December 9, 2011



A NEW book by a Ugandan author that attempts to analyse the challenges of Africa concludes that the Africans have been slow towards solving their problems in all spheres of life because of the overreliance on religion, witchcraft and magic to overcome their predicament.

“The African regime had correctly studied the African mind and seen that despite the suffering the modern African endured, he still found enough capacity to endure more. Africans loved the comforts and joys life had to offer…,” Ismail Ali Dramundru argues in his book, ‘Diary of an African Fanatic.’

“The African regime knew religion was the opium of the masses so they encouraged it unlike the ban that was put in place in Soviet Russia. Africa’s rogue rulers let a lopsided version of religion prevail to make the people more subservient…,” Dramundru adds in his book published by RoseDog Books.

“…African regimes have to be thankful of the opium said to be in religion because Africans are a mightily religious lot and their slow response may directly have something to do with the beliefs passed on to them by religion,” he concludes.

“In Africa when religion failed, there was always the recourse to the witch doctor and magic. It was not that God had abandoned Africans but Africans had abandoned God because they lost belief in a God that wanted total obedience. The African chose to take a shortcut to the spiritual realm by way of the witch doctor.” “…If God’s love is not shinning on Africans, then that of the witch doctor is definitely casting a bad spell on Africa for a very long time too…,” he writes.

What is the solution?

According to Dramundru, “The African God is the only God capable of saving Africa from its wretched place on earth – seeing everybody had a God in their image, it was not too much to ask of Africa to produce its own God. If Africa can go into its illustrious past and draw on the culture of its ancestors, they will know and learn about the God they feel has abandoned them…”

The narration in his first book is partly a personal experience and fiction. “The events in the story either happened to me or to somebody I know,” he told The EastAfrican.

The book tackles issues of colonialism, civilization, the leadership and accountability crisis in Africa, poor polices, the dangers of tribalism, environmental degradation, and the challenges of rural – urban, terrorism and guy rights issues, among others.

Dramundru believes that Africa’s biggest problem is fear in confronting the bad leaders who have let the continent down. “We are so fearful to fight for a larger cause than our next meal. The world over people have fought for their freedom and continue to exhibit very strong tendencies of keeping it that way…”

He suggests that: “…To prosper, Africans will have to discard the fear it has generated over many years. The fear to lose one’s own life for a just cause must inspire Africans to fight injustice wherever they find it on the African continent. If as is the case, millions of Africans wallow in poverty, sickness, and disease. What else do we have to fear? How bad can it get now?”

After university he co-founded a non-profit venture called the African Self Help Initiative (ASHI) with an emphasis on community upliftment. ASHI soon became successful attracting the attention and greed of the ruling party and eventually paid a heavy price for refusing to unite its social work and the political message of the ruling party. “…They arrested our members on dubious charges of treason and terrorism. Our offices were shut down and soldiers placed to guard them. We were accused of corruption and defrauding the public…,” he narrates.

Dramundru fled to the US where he got admitted into a master’s programme at a business school in New York City. He had to work to raise his tuition fees – which turned out to be a hassle. He discovered that bad employers take advantage of students without work permits to offer them low pay, or not to pay their wages, physically abuse, insult, verbal taunting and harass the poor students.

Dramundru laments that tribalism has followed the Africans to America. “…There was nothing improper with prizing your culture and origin. But there is something definitely wrong when the tribe feels its approach to issues is the ultimate reality. The tribe’s enemies attain no salvation – they are permanent foes. These thoughts and ways of survival learnt in a different past cannot be now expected to dictate behaviour in a current age.”

“The tribal conduct and its call for total solidarity among its members reek of the remnants of a bygone era – an era where reason was hijacked and buried in the pit of tribal history and lore. So, like cancer, tribalism is thriving in Africa untreated. It is not objective nor is it critical or progressive in any way shape or form. My tribal biases dictate how I treat other people and societies. …Africa has chosen to lay more emphasis on the need for tribal solidarity – the outcome is there for all to see: war and endless wars,” he argues.

Dramundru resides in Washington, D.C., USA and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies with a minor in Islamic Studies and a master’s degree in human resource development and counselling from the University of Bridgeport Connecticut. He is other book dealing with upliftment on the continent is underway.



RIDDLING should be adopted as a dependable and sustainable mode of communication in the face of HIV/Aids that is devastating most families in Africa, suggests a new collection of essays on the traditional oral heritage in Uganda.

“…Riddles offer an advantageous escape route in that they are witty, provocative, exploratory, playful is yet serious in the way they expose matters to the core for those who understand them.” Cornelius Wambi Gulere observes in his essay, ‘Riddling and Taboos: Exploring Boundaries in Discussing Reproductive Health.’

Riddle discourse knows no taboo and no status, age or sex boundaries. Children and adults alike participate actively or passively in riddling depending on the prevailing context. The riddle is manifested in the forms of embedded metaphor, puzzle, wordplay, insult, pun, tongue-twister, proverb, narrative, material and non-material non-verbal elements within the speech act, Gulere argues.

“Through riddle discourse, a language user is able to communicate on matters of high sensitivity without compromising their dignity or the dignity of the audience. Topics on sex and politics usually encumbered with restrictions are ably presented for discussion through riddle discourse. The Ugandan audiences, particularly in Busoga, would benefit greatly from a communication culture with riddle discourse because it instills confidence while side stepping the many taboos and restrictions,” he notes.

The misleading assumption that riddles are for children to play with should be done away with. All people, young and old and in different professions and lifestyles, should invest time and resources in riddle discourse so that tensions and misconception born in plain language can be overcome. Riddling should be embraced as an important part of language learning, communication skills training and education in all learning centres, Gulere suggests.

“Although reproductive health is an important concern in African communities, issues of sex and sexuality are considered taboo and better not talked about or discussed in many families. This is exhibited in the way children and adults shy away and feel uncomfortable when words on the subject of sexuality are used…,” Gulere observes.

In most African societies, sex is not to be suggested, discussed or directly spoken about in public, let alone among children. It is treated as pornographic or obscene to explicitly or suggestively use language and imagery with sexual undertones, Gulere adds.

The call by governments for straight talk during sex education, and for parental guidance and counseling to begin as early as pre-primary school, is great challenge, he admits in the essay published in the book, ‘Performing Community’ edited by Dominica Dipio, Lene Johannessen and Stuart Sillars.

The essays in this book are the first fruits of collaboration between the Universities of Makerere and Bergen in Norway. Varied in approach and technique, they offer a insistent and reflective probing into the relations between individual and community, tradition and modernity, and African and western outlooks. There are twelve essays falling in the themes of kinship, authority and resolution, folklore and transmission of wisdom, change and assimilation, parallel formations, children and adults.

“…Efforts by governments and parents to inform and safeguard their children against the scourge of HIV/Aids are plagued by fear, shyness, shock, shame, ignorance, faith restrictions and fallacies, all of which are polite responses to what we define as taboo in this paper. That is, untouchable or no-go no-say, no-speak-about situations,” Gulere argues.

Within the feminist and women’s liberation movement, direct sexual language is seen as sexual harassment. Even though sex and sexuality are at the core of human existence, growth and development, and constitute a core principle upon which human thought and actions are based, it is seen as taboo to think about or discuss its natural influences. It is usually when the liberating power of riddling comes into play that people feel the freedom to express themselves publicly on these matters,” Gulere adds.

Issac Tibasiima’s essay, ‘The Concept of Power in the Praise Poetry of the Batoro,’ discusses the relationship between praise of poetry and the concept of power. Praise poetry is looked at not only as a means of giving and confirming, but also negotiating power between the praise giver and the subject of praise. The essay deals with praise poetry forms that are an essential part of the oral traditions of Tooro Kingdom in western Uganda known as ebihaiso. His main argument is that praise reflects power as a productive force that shows how people perceive their reality and life as a network of relationships that are intrinsically rewarding.

“…People always exploit the rhetoric of power that is contained in the praise poem. Praise poetry therefore has the ability to affect not only the subject of praise but also the praise giver. It thus becomes a means through which both the praise giver and the subject of praise negotiate both their power and position in society,” Tibasiima observes.

“’Engabu’ is poetry recited by men who have established themselves with brave acts and therefore quality to be called ‘Emanzi’ (the heroes). The recitation is normally a public acclamation that shows the degree to which the hero’s acts of bravery are recognized by his society…”

“Praise poetry among the Batoro is thus a show of personal achievement. The recitations take place because the poet wants to be recognized by the king and the community, which is why it is performed in public. …There is no special position in Toro for a royal court poet because the king recognizes whoever is able to show their own bravery and achievements… The poet is in essence trying to establish his own space that must be recognized as an exceptional human being and not just an ordinary one. This poetry is never performed during death and funeral ceremonies.”

“’Enanga’ on the other hand is slower and more composed poetry. Women perform this type of poetry; it is sung with the help of a small harp called an ‘enanga’ from which it derives its name. Sometimes the poetry may be recited without the instrument, with a group of choristers… This poetry deals mainly with historical events for example the start of the kingdom, past war memories, and stories of heroes from the past and the present. It is passed on from one generation to another from mothers to their daughters.”

Today the roles are changing with men reciting the enanga consciously of the fact that it’s a female domain. While on the other hand, women reciting the male genre of the engabu are not willing to be acknowledged. “…Women who have willingly given these recitations have preferred to stay anonymous, however, because they feel it is not their domain and they would prefer to stay in the confines of their traditions. In its subtle presentation, this too is a power shift,” Tibasiima notes.

“Power is a complex concept because each of the participants seeks ways of recognition and identification. It is not vested in the hands of one individual but each must be able to move to the space of the other and then back to their position…,” he adds.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011



THE LEADING stand-up comedians, Theatre Factory Uganda and the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) have launched ‘Laugh with a Chimp’ night at the National Theatre in Kampala to enlighten the masses on the plight of the chimpanzees through art.

In a skit titled, ‘Joseph the Chimpanzee’ performed on August 11, 2011, during Theatre Factory’s weekly comedy nite show at the National Theatre revolves around the predicament of a stranded uncle and his nephew, and a Nigerian tourist interested in seeing chimps.

The school boy gets his holidays. The uncle comes to pick him from school. They decide to pass by the bar and have a drink. They end up spending all the money and they are left with none for their transport from Jinja to Kampala. They come across a tourist who wants to see chimpanzees, and willing to offer any amount of money. The uncle comes up with idea of wearing the chimp costume that saves their situation.

The Nigerian tourist, who is initially glad to see the chimp that walks with a swagger and pulls b-boy (break-boy) stokes is later disappointed to hear the ape talk like a human being and walks away in protest. This results from the attempt by the uncle to walk away with the money the tourist has paid without sharing it with his nephew.

The night had twelve skits that included: ‘Hamisi and the Jinja Shift,’ ‘My elderly chic,’ ‘Soccer mum,’ ‘Annie’s under wear,’ ‘Mama mboga’s house help’ and ‘Urinary track,’ among others.

“Each year, Theatre Factory sets out to get involved in at least one social cause. We dedicated 2009 and 2010 to working with the Uganda Prison Service under the ‘Laugh for Life Project’ that focused on taking laughter and positive encouragement to Luzira Upper Prisons in Kampala,” the Theatre Factory Uganda director, Philip Luswata said.

“This year we felt the need to recognise the enormous strides that CSWCT is taking to conserve the Chimpanzee. We believe that our involvement with them will throw more light on this cause and encourage more Ugandans to make an effort to conserve their environment on one way or the other,” Luswata added.

“We hope to engage the masses in chimpanzee conservation programmes as we promote art at same time,” the CSWCT business development director, Ivan Kakooza said.

“Ugandans have long been known to have performance art through music, dance and drama as part of their livelihoods. You do not need wait for an occasion for our people to enjoy a good performance. This is what we are tapping into again,” Luswata said.

“Comedy is a fun, hip way of communicating some serious issues. I think the problem in the past has been that many advocates focus on delivering urgent messages in an uncool way. We have had a lot of tragedies that it all begins to sound like one swansong. We feel that comedy provides an avenue to not only educate, but also deliver these urgent messages in a uniquely funny way that people can carry in their hearts. It is easier to act upon something that brings you joy, than an item that brings you sadness,” Luswata observes.

Luswata has also been involved with the ‘Makutano Junction’ television series showing on citizen television in Kenya and NTV Uganda.

“For the next one year, we have decided to commit a percentage of our gate collections at our comedy nite performance that happens every Thursday at the National Theatre in Kampala to a chimpanzee we are adopting. These proceeds will go to its welfare and in a little way to basic overheads. So when you buy a ticket at each comedy nite show, you are donating to the Ngamba project,” Theatre Factory’s administrative director, Julius Lugaaya said.

“We are creating a video blog for the chimp we adopt as part of creating more awareness and crafting the message of conservation into our weekly comedy performances. There will also be a donation box set up at the National Theatre were a special donation can be made at any time of the day. None of these funds go to Theatre Factory operations. All donations collected in the donation box will be handed over to CSWCT every end of the month. Conserving our environment can be simple and fun,” Lugaaya added.

Theatre Factory Uganda started in 2003 is an independent theatre company whose principal task is to use arts in development projects there by equipping people with skills which increase their capacity for advocacy and participation in development of their own communities. They produced a DVD titled "Knock Yourself Out (2008),” showcasing their works.” Their television series, “Barbed Wire” currently in the fourth season on UBC Television also showed on NTV Uganda in 2009.

The CSWCT established in October 1998 cares for over forty orphaned rescued chimpanzees, by providing a sanctuary at Ngamba Island, Lake Victoria; promoting conservation education, public awareness, habitat restoration and improving livelihoods of local communities living alongside chimpanzee populations.

In June 2010, the nations of East and Central Africa developed a 10-year plan to save the eastern chimpanzee from hunting, habitat loss, disease, the capture of infants for the pet trade and other threats.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), 96% of known populations of eastern chimpanzees, that’s an estimated 50,000 individuals, could be protected with a new action plan, which puts stamping out illegal hunting and trafficking as key to saving one of man’s closest relatives.

The eastern chimpanzee is currently classified as Endangered on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, and lives in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Eastern chimpanzees share an estimated 98% of genes with Homo sapiens and are among the best studied of the great apes.

“Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: 2010-2020,” calls for the conservation of 16 areas, which if protected would conserve 96% of the known populations of eastern chimpanzees, estimated to be around 50,000. However, the total number could be as high as 200,000, almost double the estimates that have been made previously.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011



ROBERT Muwereza, Uganda’s promising young writer and poet seems to be gaining more literary energy with the release of his latest fictional novel carrying two short stories, “Shelton Island” and “The One I Love.”

“Shelton Island” is about the life of a six-year-old American boy called Kevin who survives a shipwreck and is rescued by Hensen, a Shilton chief. Hensen decides to raise Kevin secretly with the knowledge that once the Shiltons discover this, his life and Kevin’s will come to an end.

Above is the picture of Muwereza taken by MORGAN MBABAZI.

The Island of Shelton is far from modernity. Shiltons live in caves. Some build grass thatched tents; others build houses on trees or sleep wherever they think is safe. During the evening fires elders tell out stories and myths to the juveniles.

Kevin secretly falls in love with a Shilton princess, Keira. She later gets pregnant. When Hensen learns of the pregnancy he warns Kevin that: “There is so much mystery about the Shiltons. They will never accept a non Shilton to live with them. They believe all this island belongs to them. You better leave the mistress alone from today and forever!”

“Keira, you know very well the person you are to marry, don’t you? Hensen asked. “Yes I know, but here is my choice,” she responded.

After a lot of pleading for protection by Kevin and Keira, Hensen promises that: “Well, I will do my best but be prepared for the worst.”

Even after Hensen pleaded with Shiltons to accept Kevin into their society after 17 years of living in secrecy, the people did not show any form of appreciation and acceptance. It was as if Hensen had betrayed them. Hensen gave him a Shilton name – Isyle, which Kevin rejected.

Amidst rejection and fear, Kevin, who lost all members of his family lived on the isles working and leaning new things. His age mates often contended with him. His colour and texture was another disqualification. He was pale-brown skinned while the Shiltons were reddish-brown. His hair was brown compared to their long dark hair.

After an attempt to torture and throw him into the sea by a section of Shiltons, the Island’s father, Bacco rescued Kevin and appointed him to head the security of the kingdom.

Soon life on the isles is disrupted when greedy foreigners took it over and exploit its minerals and timber for export to far away lands. Armed with guns and led by Golo, the invaders force every Shilton, young and old to participate unwillingly in the colonialist exploitation. They work from sunrise to sunset.

Every evening Golo supplies them with toxic drinks to make them drank by night and by day to work – to work without asking for wages – to work without questioning him.

Some Shiltons revise the changes Golo had brought but cared little. To them food and liquors were enough. They thought of no redemption. They thought life was normal.

Prior to the outright plunder, Golo used to exchange the isles natural wealth with cloths, biscuits, chocolates, chewing gum, radios, generators, cassette tapes, bulbs, wires, bags, salt, knickers and liquors. He introduced alcohol abuse on the isles.

“The One I Love,” revolves around two young children: Elton and Elizabeth who fall in love and promise to marry when they grow up. Their dreams are shattered sadly when Elizabeth’s parents perish in car accident. Elizabeth is later taken away from Sacramento by her brother, Carlos, a notorious mafia to Mexico.

Elton is restless and longs for Elizabeth. He keeps getting memories of the missing Elizabeth - a girl who became an orphan at the age of six years. He decides to search the world till he finds her in Mexico. He meets his death while fighting with Carlos to return his childhood love to sacrament. Carlos and Elizabeth are also killed by police as they resist arrest.

Elton’s life is made up of determination, lack and misfortune. He rose within a short time from cleaner to head the cookery department of Hotel Boreen. He was the youngest among all the workers and managers. He executed his new responsibility with diligence and excellence which resulted into a remarkable increment in the profits for the hotel after a long time.

Nico, the owner of the hotel is pleased with Elton’s achievements and he appoints him as the overall manager. But Elton abandons a promising hospitality career following workplace intrigue, hate and malice.

Soon Elton was leading a secret gangster lifestyle. He only abandoned this dangerous life when his fellow gangster, George is killed when they were both attempting top break into a jewelry shop.

Elton leaves for Mexico after getting the address where to find Elizabeth. He is robbed at the hotel and is mugged on the streets. He is exploited in weekend boxing fights by Pablo. He does not understand exactly why he fought and yet he did not get what he was promised. He felt unsettled in his heart. Eventually he sneaks into Carlo’s mansion where his life ends in death.


BESIDES writing short stories ROBERT MUWEREZA also writes drama scripts. His short fictional novels include: The Wounded Soul, After Midnight, The Eye of Sorrow, Cecilia and Maybe Tomorrow. His dream is to work in the film industry and have his stories on the screen. He is a student at Kyambogo University. He talked to BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI. Excerpts:

When did you start writing? And what motivated you?

I was eleven years. I used to write and send out stories to newspapers that had 'children's corner.' When I was in my senior one at City High School, we used to read literature books. The book, 'African Child' by Kamara turned my mind around. The idea of writing a book birthed in my life. One year later I wrote a story about the life of a poor African child titled the 'The Wounded Soul,’ most of which was my life experience growing up in a very poor family.

How do manage to combine writing and poetry and from which do derive the most pleasure?

I can say the art of writing is God given. Poetry is circumstantial. Lines drop in my heart. Sometimes, it's out of emotions that I write what I feel. Sometimes I cry while writing poems. Sometimes I smile. Any poet will tell you that poetry is from the heart. And the best poem is that you write out of emotions, not thinking. Most of my books are fiction. Poetry and writing are linked. Each enhances the other.

Why do you prefer short stories?

I don't prefer short stories. Actually I admire big volume novels. Every time I look at the novels like the Painted House, The Da Vinci Code, Eleventh Estate, I think of writing big volumes. I have begun with small volumes.

Do you plan to venture into writing long stories in future?

Yes, I do. Am currently working on a novel that I hope will have over 300 pages. Writing long stories is a stage I have just reached.

You seem to tackle a number of topics in your works? Do you intend to specialize as you gain experience?

No, at the moment am looking at being Robert Muwereza the author. I want to be the best I can be and am doing a lot from which probably I will find what will make me the best Robert.

What hurdles have you encountered as a young writer?

The biggest one is; people undermining me and not believing a young man like me, a high school student can write a good story. Worse of all, my own family doesn't believe in me. They don't see sense in this business of novels. Actually that is why I am doing Statistics and Economics at Kyambogo University after which, I will pursue my heart that is taking on literature or join a movie academy in California, USA. The second challenge is; being discouraged by people even by my close friends. Publicity and technical support is another challenge.

Ugandans have a poor culture of reading. How should they be encouraged to read more?

Many people in Uganda are poor and troubled, too entangled and stressed that they can’t concentrate to read a story and finish it. People, start by reading one page of anything before you, someday you will read 100 pages. Am working with some people to put up a literature festival majorly to encourage and uplift the reading culture in Uganda.

What is your advice to young aspiring writers?

Writing and publishing is possible. Writing can change your life and future. You can turn those thoughts, ideas and stories into a novel that the world may like.

You have released a number of short novels what is your best?

My favorite book is Anna Banana. With that book, I feel a success managing to surface the life of Anna, an American who falls in love with a young Ugandan man who is a king to be. The world around them turns into a bitter one. Their journey of life is marked by the will to live, the courage to survive and the power to love. One thing, like any artist, we have a saying "The next work is the best one".

How would you gauge the Ugandan book industry and novels in particular?

In Uganda, we have a very poor book Industry where writing is given less attention. My first book wasn’t well received in Uganda. That is why I actually took on foreign literature. In America, Europe and Australia I am respected unlike here at home. We have a lot of talented authors who have died with untold stories because of the poor structure of Ugandan book industry. Few publishing houses will accept a literature manuscript but will welcome majorly academic/textbook manuscripts. I am lucky to have my books are published in America. Writing can shape the world. Even when the author is dead, the message goes on.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


JULY 2011

“…They were too many. I saw them set my home on fire. They forced me into the burning kitchen that is how I burnt my face. Meaning they wanted me dead. This is the only blanket I’m left with, after these people burnet my homestead,” an old man narrates.

Displaying wounds on his fore head, another old man recounts in documentary film, ‘Article VII Voices For Healing’: “I was axed here, then stabbed here with a knife and then they clobbered my back.”

“They tied our hands and legs then assaulted us on the buttocks and under the feet. I had a six weeks old baby. They ordered me to lay the baby down so that they could beat me up,” a woman reveals.

The film produced by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) opens with harrowing accounts of the brutal beatings, rapes and tortures that took place in Zimbabwe during the March 2008 elections. It shows victims with fresh wounds, displaced families and those mimed and humiliated. It is a story of those hurt by political violence crying out for healing for themselves and their land.

“They beat me up with knobkerries and metal rods. They struck my lip with a knobkerrie as I turned over because of its unbearable pain on my buttocks, so that when I jerked and turned over that’s when it hit my lip. Two of my lower and two of my upper teeth are shaking,” a young man with deformed lips recounts.

“They went on to burn down my home. Everything was reduced to ashes. My wife and children were not home when I returned. As I survived this ordeal I don’t know where my family went to and if they are alive. Also if they know that I’m alive,” he adds.

"Those were painful times! Children were forced into evil acts. Murder, assault and burning properties, all evil acts that anger God happened. Nothing inhuman in behaviour was left out in 2008," Chief Mutekedza laments.

With this documentary, ZimRights examines the question of national healing in Zimbabwe after the March 2008 elections. What results is an engaging film that seeks to explore the origin and redress of political violence in this country. Since the 1990s, Zimbabwe’s elections have increasingly been characterised by violence.

Jestina Mukoko, the director of Zimbabwe Peace Project comments: “We recognise that whenever elections or referendums approach, we have gross human rights violations, which are politically motivated. Where we even see people being murdered, people being maimed, women being raped and people fleeing.”

“Elections cannot be a disease like Aids, No! We come to know that every five years that disease is back, and people are going to die? No, we cannot carry on like that,” Mutekedza notes.

The film reveals that the history of Zimbabwe is characterised by transfers of power, which manifest themselves through violent conflicts. Political, and in particular electoral violence, in Zimbabwe is rooted in colonialism, suggests, Pathisa Nyathi, a historian and cultural leader.

“The kind of violence that we have has its genesis in the colonial period. This is the period when repressive laws were promulgated, where people just disappeared, they disappeared because they were intransigent. People resorted to an armed liberation struggle. Let’s be clear about an armed struggle, it is by nature violent,” says Nyathi.

"Unfortunately, that culture did not abate, neither did it stop nor was it transformed even after we got our independence. People have been dying and that is the modus operandi within Zimbabwe. Therefore in my opinion, this has become a culture within Zimbabwe," says Pastor Ray Motsi.

Nyathis further asserts that election violence is used chiefly to maintain economic interests. The Catholic Parliamentary Liason Officer, Father Edward Ndete takes this point further by adding: “As long as people want to protect their power, and the illegal way they have acquired wealth, this violence will continue.”

The production is the culmination of consultations in rural communities around Zimbabwe on the course the national healing process, provided for in Article VII of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) should take.

The film gives people in grassroots communities a chance to speak out on the direction the national healing process should take, on who should lead the process and what should be done to bring about true healing in the country. It emerged that most communities would like the process to be decentralised so that they can dictate the pace of healing and reconciliation for themselves. People have indicated that the national healing organ must not prescribe solutions, but should carry out consultations on how communities want the process to be done.

The documentary scooped the Best Zimbabwean Production Award at the 2010 Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF), the biggest film festival in the country. The festival was held from August 27 - September 5, 2010.

It has been screened in Uganda (on NTV), South Africa and Namibia, where it has also earned a lot of publicity as it evokes discussions on the state of affairs in Zimbabwe and whether or not the country is ready for elections, seeing that most people have not healed.

“So it’s commercial politics now. They campaign, people die; they win and are given cars, twin cabs. Next time new candidates win, they get cars… it’s a vicious cycle,” Chief Mutekedza observes.

“The ones who did should be arrested. Also those who were beating up people should be arrested and tried in court. Then we will know that the government has power and there is rule of Law. They must go to prison. We will talk forgiveness with them when they are coming from prison,” a man says.

A significant impediment to national healing is that the architects of the violence are in government, and national healing is a government led process.

In the film, Father Ndete suggests that retributive justice will not work because: “There are some who are viewed as having perpetrated more violence than others. So the moment you start talking about retributive justice, you anger a certain group of people, and this healing will not move.”

For the people, national healing cannot proceed without dealing with the perpetrator. However, there is a widely held fear that because these are powerful and wealthy people, it is easy for them to manipulate or bribe unemployed youths to perpetrate further acts of violence, reversing any progress made.

In bitter voice a woman asks: “Does the law go on vacation? The law does not go on holiday. But how come perpetrators of political violence are not arrested and tried? Why it is the law applies only to us and not to them? Why?”

Another issue the film examines is that of compensation. Is it enough to apologise and ask for forgiveness? Or should the victims be given compensation for their suffering? The documentary even asks at what point in Zimbabwe’s history should national healing start?

The film shows how the current process of national healing has failed those it is supposed to help, as one admits: “We don’t understand the national healing process. In fact we don’t want it. They must consult us first. Not just for them to wake up and say - we are sending people to you. Instructing us to forgive each other. Forgive who?”

A woman adds: “I was beaten up, my three month baby was taken away over night, when they beat me up I messed in my pants. Then they forced me to eat my excretion. How do I forgive someone like that? They later forced me to drink beer so I could swallow my excretion. So how do I forgive such a person?

The documentary shows that any lasting solution has to come from Zimbabweans themselves.

“About the national healing process, the solution should be prescribed by the grassroots. By grassroots, I mean the people on the ground. Not for people from Harare or Head Office to come and tell us how to do the process. We are the ones who hurt each other; we are the ones who are hurt. We should be telling them how to do the process. So I may be able to forgive my neighbor,” a man suggests.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011



ALTHOUGH Essence Kasozi, Uganda’s Afro-pop princess has been accepted in the United Kingdom where she is based - she is a disappointed that her music is virtually unknown back home. She is seen in a photo at a recent performance.

“I have been accepted because there’s already a tradition of World Music in London and people appreciate it. London is somewhat of a centre for this music. Audiences here are more open-minded and there tends to be an enthusiasm for something different,” she says.

“I feel disappointed my music is not appreciated in Uganda but also I still have hope that people will begin to open their ears to other styles of music; this is always a slow process. The media has also a role to play to do something about this to make people aware just as this interview is seeking to reveal artists like us to the general public,” Kasozi said.

Although Essence commends the recording industry in Uganda for sustaining the music sector she observes that there is room for improvement. “The producers have to start getting musicians to play live instruments and also to get musicians who are experts on their instruments because when you get different musicians each one brings their own feeling to the music and this creates a much more solid work with more originality rather than everything from one studio sounding the same.”

She recognizes that live music is still dominated by men in Uganda but adds that this is changing. “I think women are mostly interested in singing/dancing but also there’s no tradition of teaching music. So, most women don’t get the chance to get involved in the other aspects. They have been mostly dancers apart from a few. Recently this has begun to change though and it’s encouraging.”

Regarding the impact of latest technologies like computers on the development of playing musical instruments in Uganda she notes, “It has killed the ambition of learning to play live instruments, which is a shame but they will snap out of it with time hopefully because technologies change and with that fashions fade.”

Neither is she pleased with the CD generation of musicians, observing that: “I guess singers becoming celebrities for just one or two songs and going on tours for that. They even go abroad to perform that one song using CDs - amazing. However, the CD track and miming performers’ days are numbered because as is notable, there are many live bands cropping up because audiences are tired of being hoodwinked.”

Essence‘s advice to young musicians who would wish to take up music as a career is, “Love the art first before thinking of money, learn the trade and get training in music theory and practice. Play one or a few instruments then you will be better set for a music career.”

Essence who sings mainly in Luganda fuses Afro-beat with Reggae and Afro-pop. With her soulful vocals she tackles issues related to love, advice to fellow women and social evils.

Essence first got into the entertainment business as an actress on the Ugandan scene. She performed with the Kayaayu Film Players, which was one of the leading theatre groups in Uganda in the 80s. She has appeared in several Ugandan TV soaps by the Ebonies group including "That's Life Mwattu" in which she played the character of ‘Anita.’

She later ventured into music with the release of her debut album 'Obukoddo' (Selfishness) in 1998. The 'Obukoddo' album is still awaiting reissuance by the Madhead Kitchen Records.

In 2001 she followed it up with the album Ekiseera mu Biseera (Time within time) under the Hans Records label. The album has ten tracks that include the title track Ekiseera mu biseera, Kuuma line, Nakamatte, Mwanyinaze. It was a top seller in the East African section of CD baby for over 6 months and number 3 in the Afro-pop top 10.

Ansudde Ddalu (He has made me go crazy) released in September 2007, under the Madhead Kitchen Records label is mainly blended in Afro-pop crossing from the Kalimba/Akogo rhythms and melodies to funky dance grooves and slices of Latin. The ten-track album that was inspired by love has songs including the title track Ansudde ddalu, Nkwagala nyo, Wotoli, Nsaliddewo ddala and Gwe weka. The album was number 8 in top selling Afro-pop albums at CD Baby.

Asked as to which of her two released albums is her best, she says, “My second one “Ansudde Ddalu” although I must say a lot of people appreciate “Ekiseera mu biseera” I guess it’s a little raw and that quality can also have its own appeal.”

Essence’s fans should expect her next album next year because at present she is working on a musical film project.

She says her best moments of her musical career when she played live at the BBC World Service in 2004 and the first time she performed at the National Theatre in London, “it was a thrill and an honour. The audience was very vibrant and they received my performance very well; I loved it.”

In September 2003, Essence was one of the Ugandan artists who were recognized for their contribution to the Ugandan community in the U.K. at the inaugural Ugandan Music Awards. The South Bank Arts Centre in England has described her as an Afro-pop princess from Uganda.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caine Prize Shortlisted Story Inspired By LRA Rebellion

A SHORT story by a Ugandan poet and short story writer that was shortlisted for 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing was inspired by the brutal effects of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in the north of the country.

Beatrice Lamwaka says that the idea of her short story “Butterfly Dreams” emerged after she heard the sad tales of child captives at a rehabilitation centre in Gulu district. She is seen in the above picture taken by MORGAN MBABAZI reading the same anthology.

Lamwaka was shortlisted for short story, “Butterfly Dreams” from ‘Butterfly Dreams and Other New Short Stories From Uganda,’ published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham (UK), 2010.

Butterfly Dreams’ is about a family that has been waiting for five years for their daughter, Lamunu to return home from the hands of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The family has even buried her tipu (spirit), when word went around that she would not return home. Bongomin, one of the abductees who had returned home from four years of abduction, claimed to have seen her dead body bursting in the burning sun.

The family never believed Lamunu was dead. They also did not want her tipu to roam northern Uganda. They did not want her to come back and haunt them. The family had become part of the string of parents whom listened to Mega FM every day for names of their loved ones. The mother never believed for one moment that her child was gone. It was the mother’s strength that kept the family hoping that one day Lamunu would return.

The mother said she dreamt that butterflies were telling her to keep strong. The night after the dream there were so many butterflies in the house. The other family members thought their mother was running made. They thought Lamunu had taken their mother’s mind with her.

Their father was brutally murdered by the rebels after finding him in the garden and yet everybody was supposed to be in an internally people’s displaced camp. “…They later cut his body into pieces. Lamunu, we did not eat meat after we buried your father and we have not eaten meat since then… We could never understand why another human being could humiliate another, even in their death.”

When Lamunu is finally rescued by the soldiers in Sudan and returned home she is a traumatized and changed girl.

“You were at world vision, a rehabilitation centre for formerly abducted children. You were being counseled there. You were taught how to live with us again. Ma (mother) cried and laughed at the same time. Yes, you were alive. We couldn’t believe at long last out anxiety would come to rest. That night, Ma prayed. We prayed till cockcrow. We were happy. We were happy you were alive. Pa (father) might have turned in his grave…,” the story reads in part.

“You returned home. You were skinny as a cassava stem. Bullet scars on your left arm and right leg. Your feet were cracked and swollen as if you had walked the entire planet. Long scars mapped your once beautiful face. Your eyes had turned the colour of pilipili pepper. You caressed your scars as if to tell us what you went through. We did not ask questions. We heard the stories before from Anena, Aya Bongomin… We are sure your story is not any different,” the story goes on.

“When you returned home, Lamunu, we were afraid. We were afraid of you. Afraid of what you had become. Ma borrowed a neighbour’s layibi. Uncle Ocen bought an egg from the market. You needed to be cleansed. The egg would wash away whatever you did in the bush. Whatever the rebels made you do. We know that you were abducted. You didn’t join them and you would never be part of them. You quickly jumped the layibi. You stepped on the egg, slashing its egg yolk. You were clean…”

“Ma never spoke of the butterflies again. We never heard of the butterfly dreams anymore. We wanted the butterflies to come and say something to Ma,” goes the narration.

“You spoke in your dreams. You turned and tossed in your mud bed. We held your hands. You were like a woman in labour. You spoke of ghosts. You spoke of rebels chasing you in Adilang because you tried to escape. You spoke of Akello, your friend, who they made you and your team beat to death because she tried to escape. You said you didn’t want to kill her. …You said you saw Akello covered with sticks. You saw the blood in her mouth. You watched as the older rebels checked to confirm that she was dead. You nauseated. You tried to vomit but there was nothing to let out…”

“…we listened to you curse under your breath. We watched you tremble when you heard the government fighting planes flying over Katikati. We knew that you were worried about the people you left behind. We knew that you knew what would go on when the planes went after the rebels. We didn’t ask you for stories…”

The story ends with Lamunu back at a primary school of formerly abducted children to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor.

A US based Zimbabwean author, NoViolet Bulawayo won the 2011 Caine Prize beating over 120 writers to the converted continental award with her short story ‘Hitting Budapest’ from ‘The Boston Review’ Vol. 35, no. 6 - Nov/Dec 2010.

The Caine Prize, widely known as the ‘African Booker’ and regarded as Africa’s leading literary award, is now in its twelfth year. It is awarded to a work (a short story) by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere.

Lamwaka was the third Ugandan to be shortlisted after Doreen Baingana and Monica Arach de Nyeko, who won the prize in 2007 for a story, “Jambula Tree” from ‘African Love Stories,’ published by Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2006.

Lamwaka has published a number of poems and short stories in different Uganda Women’s Writers Association (FEMRITE) anthologies including her latest story “The Hair Cut” in the anthology Never Too Late. She is currently is working on her first novel whose title keeps changing. Her short memoir, “The Market Vendor,” was published by PMS 9, University of Alabama, USA, 2010. Her poems have also been published in various anthologies.


A New Collection of Wisdom Published in Uganda

PAGES: 480

A NEW collection of maxims, proverbs, anecdotes and quotes titled, “The Minds of Achievers,” from some of the greatest men and women of all time in the world has been published in Uganda.

They include Nobel Prize winners, scientists, novelists, civil rights activists, great military strategists, great corporate leaders, leaders of great nations, among others.

From the ancient great thinkers to the contemporary world movers and shakers, The Minds of Achievers authored by Mr. Grace Mugyenzi Musiime offers a complete, comprehensive selection of the world’s most inspirational and profound witticisms.

This special selection of over 3,000 enduring quotations is a treasure house of penetrating wisdom, and most brilliant thoughts; gleaned from the writings and teachings of the world’s greatest minds. It also has quotations by unknown sources.

It is recommended for those aspiring for achievement, leadership, career excellence, personal development, management and sports, among others.

Compared to a dictionary of quotations this book is arranged alphabetically theme by theme to give the reader a quotation that he/she needs. The 72 themes include; ambition, change, character, courage, determination, enthusiasm, failure, faith, generosity, happiness, hope, humility, inspiration, integrity, leadership, truth, wisdom and vision, among others.

Besides lacking an index the shortcoming of this book is that it does not carry ancient African wisdom that forms part of the African philosophy and experience.

The former British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli rightly said, “The wisdom of the wise and the experience of ages may be preserved by quotation.”

“Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something,” Plato said.

Jamie Paolinetti said, “Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imagination, our possibilities become limitless.”

“When you believe and think “I can,” you activate your motivation, commitment, confidence, concentration and excitement – all of which relate directly to achievement,” said, Dr. Jerry Lynch.

Nido Qubein said, “Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people.”

“A journey of 1,000 miles must begin with one step,” goes the ancient Chinese proverb.

The former prime minister of Great Britain, William E. Gladstone said, “No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes.”

Carl Icahn said, “In life and business, there are two cardinal sins; the first is to act precipitously without thought and the second is to not act at all.”

According to the Burmese saying, “Who aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; who aims at mediocrity will be far short of it.”

“Fame is a vapor, popularity; an ancient, riches take wings. Only one thing endures, and that is character,” Horace Greeley said.

Aristotle said, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor (honour).”

The American poet, lecturer and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu noted that, “Perhaps oppression dehumanizes the oppressor as much as, if not more than, the oppressed.”

“The measure of a man is what he does with power,” goes the Greek proverb. For Cornelius Nepos, “The power is detested, and miserable the life, of him who wishes to be feared rather than to be loved.”

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served,” Mahatma Gandhi noted.

According to Buddha, “Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”

Mother Teresa said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

According to Dr. Dowling of the University of South Africa, “Most of what we say or write is forgotten. But occasionally, someone – a writer, a politician, an actor – says something that is remembered and quoted over and over again. These quotations enter the common body of wisdom and we are expected to know who said them or what the original context was. Also, in our writing, we may need to refer to these pithily expressed words.”

Over the years, Musiime has dedicated time to study biographies, speeches, articles and the best that has been said and written by great personalities and has since assembled a collection of powerful motivational and inspirational quotations that can change one’s life.

His collection began as a hobby way back during his high school days at Ntare School in western Uganda in the 1990s. But more importantly his experience with both young and old people as a lecturer has exposed him to different brilliant people with spectacular ideas but full of negative energy; inhibited by imaginary fears, a gap this book intends to fill.

He has also found out that successful people are ordinary individuals with average talent but who discipline themselves to do simple, small, incremental tasks that other people ignore, and do them extraordinarily well.

Musiime is a strategic management consultant, student and teacher. He holds a B.Com degree and a Master of Arts in Economic Policy Management degree both from Makerere University, where he is currently a lecturer of international finance and business strategy.



IN OLD AFRICAN tradition, the fire place was used as an informal venue for elders to meet young people to pass on wise counsel and also tell stories. It was also a place for family, friends or clan members met for night celebrations. A group of youths has borrowed a leaf from this tradition and they hold the Bonfire Night every Wednesday at National Theatre in Kampala. Bonfire Uganda is a community based organization which uses visual and verbal art forms for the integration of a diverse cultural heritage worldwide. It is a podium for self-expression with no rules or restrictions and everyone is welcome to share his or her talent be it singing, painting, poetry, storytelling or even dancing. The Executive Director of Bonfire Uganda, ABASS HASSAN MUHAMMAD IBRAHIM AMIN alas Ugly Emcee talked to BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI. Picture by Morgan Mbabazi. Excerpts:

Why the ‘name’ Ugly emcee?’

Well I decided to use this name for if meant so much to me. You know so many people see things in a negative way and even when you decide to freely express yourself you’re not considered to be fit thus an Ugly attitude towards you. In simplicity Ugly is basically the true definition of self esteem. It simply stands for you got to love yourself.

What motivated you to start Bonfire Uganda?

We wanted young people to share knowledge, skills and ideas and to interlink social information through arts and culture. Bonfire Uganda would then seek, enhance and maintain the freedom of conscience, expression, association, academic liberty, artistic liberty and all rights and privileges accruing to members by virtue of their humanity, age sex, status, citizenship and other relevant criteria thus promoting enjoyment of their freedom and rights as young people with a diverse cultural heritage, indigenous wisdom, values and skills.

What is the difference between Bonfire and that held in the traditional setting?

Bonfire is all about young people freely expressing themselves regardless of their race, tribe, citizenship and denomination through a platform. – Bonfire Nite with the Art of poetry, music, dance, acrobatics and so much talent for a positive social change. It’s all about peer to peer counseling through art and culture unlike in the traditional setting where the young people were only trained to listen to the elders.

Nevertheless in this urban world today, there are so many young people and due to different cultures coming together then Bonfire is the good way to go for they can now freely shave their ‘fires’ (ideas) with each other. Otherwise Bonfire only makes a new traditional Bonfire into this generation unlike in the traditional Bonfire where cultures and values are passed to the next generation to keep it moving.

What is the future for Bonfire?

Bonfire Uganda will be the sole linkage of adverse culture heritage Worldwide with young people from all continents sharing their ideas and knowledge through Art and culture at the Bonfire International Art Festival.

Have you noticed enthusiasm among Ugandans for Bonfire? Or do you think they prefer live music performances, television and cinema?

Of cause yes because it is so interesting educative and entertaining however some people who are busy and can’t come to the nite, prefer watching if on television, DVD, or listening. We are now working on a TV show for the Bonfire dubbed Bonfire Swagga.

Among the Bonfire presentations what interests Ugandans the most? Why?

The music. Most especially rap music which is poetic and the art of dance for instance break dancing, popping and locking because they can freely express themselves in these forms of art and their fans too like them very much.

What have been your major achievements?

We are improving on the inter-cultural relation locally, regionally and internationally. Bonfire Uganda has built a platform for poets, story tellers, acrobats, hip-hop among others on a weekly basis. It is also bridged the gap between the advantage and disadvantaged. Bonfire has also established a collaborative relationship with various Cultural organizations like the Uganda National Cultural Centre and Alliance Francaise Kampala.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011



THE FASCINATING culture of totemism in Uganda has been immortalized by Taga Nuwagaba, through a collection of paintings of the animals, insects and plants, and history under the title, “Me and My Totem.”

As a study of totems and clans in Uganda the collection employs the realism art form to convey the message.

As to what motivated him in starting the totem project, he told me that: “I was motivated by the fact that most people who have totems have never interfaced with them… Secondly, the fact that totems are a powerful instrument that turns people into voluntary conservationists, it is important to focus on this positive culture that would help the conservation process. We need environmental warriors to help. Local communities therefore have a duty and this is one good channel we can use to engage them participate actively.”

“I have created a website: I am sure this will help people learn more. I will be putting on more data as I collect it,” Nuwagaba, a local artist says.

“The most important benefit of this project is to educate Ugandans on what I think is on the verge of getting lost. The other benefit is conservation of wildlife and preservation of culture,” Nuwagaba says.

“…I can now gladly say that our totems have been immortalized and let us use this opportunity to teach our young generation the things that bound us to our ancestors and how we can use them positively today to make and build a better society and nation,” Prince David Wasajja of Buganda said.

A totem is an animal, plant, or natural object (or representation of an object) that serves as the emblem of a clan or family among a tribal or traditional people, Peter Magelah notes in his article “Environmental anthropology, Animals and society and Wildlife management.”

A totem represents a mystical or ritual bond of unity within the group. In prehistoric societies, totems were key symbols of religion and social cohesion; they were also important tools for cultural and educational transmission, Magelah adds.

“Totems were often the basis for laws and regulations. In some African societies, for example, it was a violation of cultural and spiritual life to hunt, kill or hurt an animal or plant totem. This attitude may have been the basis of environmental laws and regulations that existed in such societies. However, this worldview changed with cultural, economic and technological developments; today, totems are as scarce as the traditional societies that use them,” Magelah writes.

In his book titled, “Luganda Names, Clans and Totems,” Nsimbi Michael Bazzebulala notes that clan names probably form the largest of the six classes into which Buganda traditional personal names can be divided. These classes are as follows: Proverbial; titles and occupational; descriptive and circumstantial; military; religious; and clan.

“When clan names are examined critically, it becomes clear that many of them came from old proverbs which are well known. The key word in a proverb was usually taken out as the personal name without the initial vowel,” Bazzebulala adds.

According to Bazzebulala, other clan names began as nicknames of all kinds. A good many clan names were derived from people’s occupations and from the implements they used. The hills and other natural features found in and around places where heads of clans and heads of clan subdivisions made their permanent settlements turned out to be clan names, for instance, rocks, stones, caves, water-holes, springs, swamps, quagmires, landing places on lakes and rivers, forests, and so forth.

“Protective and defensive weapons also helped to swell the number of clan names, such as sticks, spears, and shields. Names of the main houses in patriarchal establishments could also become clan names of particular lineages,” Bazzebulala writes.

“A large proportion of the old popular clan names present puzzles. They cannot be interpreted to give meaning, and it is possible that such names came from languages that have long been dead. It is interesting that some Baganda clan names are also used as personal names in some other parts of Uganda and possibly outside it. It is unlikely that such resemblance is a mere coincidence. It most probably indicates some ethnic relationship which has been somewhat overlaid by tribal movements…,” Bazzebulala adds.

“From the time clan names cane (came) into vogue the tradition has been for each clan to have a set of names, male and female, for its members. However, there has always been some deviation from usually ask the question, “Why do we sometimes find someone called by a well-known name of a clan to which he does not belong?” The answer is that some clan names are shared by more than two clans. There are several reasons for this: Embodiment of the dead (okubbula), friendly neighborhood, proverbs, massacres, splitting of clans and preference,” Bazzebulala adds.

For a proper understanding of the culture however, it is important to distinguish between the totem and the clan. However, it should be understood that there is a difference between a clan and a totem where by a clan is a matter of genealogy and it is through the clan that the Baganda trace their ancestry well as a totem is just a symbol to represent the clan. Although the two are intimately associated with one another, they are in fact different. Names are given depending on one’s clan and it’s a taboo for a Muganda to eat his or her clan whether its food, fresh meat, vegetables, fish or fruits.

According to Magelah, there is no properly documented evidence concerning the origins of totemism; however, it could have begun when humans started living in organized communities. Many anthropologists believe that totem use was a universal phenomenon among early societies. Pre-industrial communities had some form of totem that was associated with spirits, religion and success of community members. Early documented forms of totems in Europe can be traced to the Roman Empire, where symbols were used as coats of arms, a practice which continues today.

Most African chiefs decorated their stools and other items with their personal totems, or with those of the tribe or of the clans making up the larger community. It was a duty of each community member to protect and defend the totem. This obligation ranged from not harming that animal or plant, to actively feeding, rescuing or caring for it as needed. African tales are told of how men became heroes for rescuing their totems. This has continued in some African societies, where totems are treasured and preserved for the community’s good.

“In Africa, totemism still plays a significant role in community bonding, but few scholars have examined its role in the development of environmental protection,” Magelah notes. “…In most traditional African cultures, it was illegal to kill or hurt a totem. …To hurt a totem was tantamount to hurting the community's ancestors. Severe punishments, such as banishment, fines, hard labor, or death, were applied to anyone who disrespected their totem.”

Totemism can lead to environmental protection due to the fact that many tribes have multiple totems. For example, over 100 plant and animal species are considered totems among the Banyoro and Batooro (omuziro), Baganda (omuzilo) tribes in Uganda; a similar number of species are considered totems among tribes in Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).

“The clan system was quite significant because it united members to help each other and for protection in times of war. Clans were exogamous and restricted incest. A member of one clan had to get a wife of another clan to avoid in-breeding and expand social networks, Nuwagaba says.

Buganda being a patriarch society, when a woman got married, she adopted her husband’s totem and retained hers at the same time. So in each household, there were four principal totems held sacred and four secondary ones. The head of the family’s totem came first followed by his wife’s totem. The totem of the mother to the head of the family too was respected and much as there was no emphasis on the wife’s mother, that totem too was in the picture. These four major totems and their minor ones made a total of eight symbols making a huge impact on conservation, Nuwagaba notes.

According to Buganda kingdom, a clan in Buganda represents a group of people who can trace their lineage to a common ancestor and it is central to the Ganda culture. In the customs of Buganda, lineage is passed down along the same lines and the most important unit in Buganda's culture is the clan. In the beginning, there were five original clans referred to as “Banansangwa” simply meaning “the indigenous clans” and they are: Ffumbe (African Civet), Lugave (Pangolin), Ngonge (Otter), Njaza (Bohor Reedbuck) and Nnyonyi (Egret).

The clan in Buganda forms a large extended family. Members of the same clan regard each other as brothers and sisters regardless of how far they are in terms of actual blood ties. A formal introduction of a Muganda includes his own names, the names of his father and paternal grandfather, as well as a description of the family's lineage within the clan that it belongs to.

The clans are organized in a way that the clan leader is at the top (Ow’akasolya), followed by successive subdivisions called the ssiga, mutuba, lunyiriri and finally at the bottom the individual family unit (Enju). Every Muganda is required to know where he/she falls within each of these subdivisions.

It is a curious fact that the clans are not known by the names of the respective clan founders but instead totems were adopted by the clans. Each clan has a main totem (Omuziro) and a minor totem (akabbiro). The clans are usually known by the main totem and they are listed above by that totem.

The royal clan (Abalangira) is a unique exception in that it has no totems because it follows the maternal lineage. This maternal system helps the Kingship of Buganda to revolve from clan to clan as different women from various clans marry into the royal family. This therefore means that all clans eligible to marry from this Royal clan have a potential to produce a king. In modern terms, it is a system that decentralized power.


Monday, March 21, 2011


PRESIDENT Barrack Obama has performed poorly in his recently-released strategy committing the U.S. to help civilians in Central Africa threatened by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a coalition of prominent civil society organizations conclude in the first report card released last month.

The U.S. President scores 60 per cent in the long-pronged initiative. However, the coalition argues that serious concerns remain about whether he is willing to dedicate the funding, senior leadership and political will to achieve a lasting end to the conflict. This first issue grades the content and initial rollout of Obama’s LRA Strategy Report Card, while future report cards will assess the strategy’s implementation and impact on the ground.

The Grading Rubric for Obama’s LRA Strategy and Implementation stands as follows: “A” for significant progress; “C” for little or inadequate progress; “F” for efforts backsliding; “B” for encouraging progress; “D” for Efforts at a standstill. The card is issued by four groups: Resolve, the Enough Project, Invisible Children and Citizens for Global Solutions. The coalition plans to release three report cards each year.

The expanded U.S. engagement strategy calls for the dedication significant new staff and resources; keep the Very Important Persons involved; and work with regional and international partners. Obama scores a “D.” This outlines in broad terms the need for interagency coordination within the U.S. government and greater collaboration with the UN, regional partners, the African Union and Europe.

However, Obama did not commit the necessary staff and resources for its implementation. “He should swiftly designate a Great Lakes envoy and dedicate more funding and resources to the crisis, and also encourage the African Union, France, and others to step up their commitments,” the groups suggest.

The protection of civilian’s strategy plans for massive expansion radio and mobile phone networks; improve the effectiveness of national militaries and UN peacekeepers; and ensure local voices are heard. Obama scores a “C.” This strategy highlights the expansion of telecommunications and early warning systems in LRA-affected areas as priority actions. It recognizes the need to increase the capacity and effectiveness of national militaries and peacekeepers in protecting civilians, focusing on increasing their mobility as another priority action.

“However, the U.S. has given little indication of what specific steps it will take to concretely improve the track record of military and peacekeeping forces or work with local communities to keep them safer,” the card notes.

The strategy on stopping senior LRA commanders calls for the apprehension of Joseph Kony and top LRA commanders; encourage LRA commanders to defect; and cut off external support to the LRA. Here Obama scores a “C.” The strategy commits to providing operational and intelligence support for efforts to apprehend senior LRA commanders, including Joseph Kony and those indicted by the ICC, and protect civilians from reprisal attacks. It also promises to ensure the LRA “receives no safe haven.”

“However, it relies on the Ugandan military to apprehend LRA commanders, despite strong indications that it is unable to do so and increasingly preoccupied with other priorities at home and in Somalia. There is little mention of how outreach specifically to senior LRA commanders can encourage them to defect,” the report says.

The strategy on facilitating escape is meant to help people escape from the LRA; and ensure those who escape can return home. Obama makes a “B.” The strategy outlines a comprehensive approach – encouraging escape from the LRA, transporting escapees safely home, and providing appropriate assistance to help them reintegrate into their communities. “The challenge is in implementation and the Administration will have to dedicate significant new resources to see progress on all three fronts,” the groups note.

The strategy on helping communities survive and rebuild is meant to find a way to reach people in need of emergency aid; increase aid to disrupted communities; and address the conflict’s root causes. Obama makes a “B.” This strategy outlines a comprehensive approach – providing emergency assistance, improving cross-border coordination and helping people return home if security improves. It also reiterates the U.S. commitment to reconstruction and transitional justice in northern Uganda. “To improve on this “B” grade, President Obama will need to dedicate significant new resources to implementing this approach in the coming months,” they suggest.

Obama released a strategy in November 2010, for the U.S. to engage with regional partners and assist in stopping violence perpetrated by the LRA in Central Africa and help communities affected by the conflict recover. This strategy was mandated by the bipartisan LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, the most widely-supported piece of Africa-specific legislation in recent U.S. history.

Michael Poffenberger, executive director of Resolve, a non-profit organization that supports ending LRA violence says, “This strategy came straight from President Obama’s desk and is a huge step forward for U.S. policy towards the crisis. If this blueprint is put into action, it will have a tremendous influence in improving safety for those living in the midst of LRA violence,” adding: “But President Obama will need assistance from Congress – in the form of continued political support and increased funding – for this strategy to succeed.”

The LRA, led by senior commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court, has plagued Central Africa for more than two decades. Since the September 2008 attacks orchestrated by LRA commanders have killed at least 2,300 people and abducted more than 3,000, including many children who were forced into being soldiers or sexual slaves. Another 400,000 civilians fled the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Southern Sudan, and Central African Republic. In 2010 alone, LRA rebels committed more than 240 deadly attacks.

According to David Sullivan, research director for the Enough Project: "It's time for the Obama administration to show it is serious about ending LRA violence against civilians. By committing senior staff and resources commensurate to the urgency of the crisis, the United States can help galvanize wider international action that has been absent for too long."

“We don’t want the President to lose sight of the promises he made in his LRA strategy,” said Don Kraus, CEO of Citizens for Global Solutions. “The U.S. must do everything in its capacity to help apprehend senior LRA commanders. I look forward to an ‘A’ grade on the next report card when these heinous criminals are standing trial in front of the International Criminal Court.”

“We want President Obama to remember the promises he made to the victims of the LRA and the hundreds of thousands of young activists who have rallied for this cause,” said Ben Keesey from Invisible Children. “We hope this report card will keep him on track.”

In a letter to President Obama, the groups also lay out four priorities for implementation of the strategy in the coming months: taking immediate steps to improve regional efforts to protect civilians, finding viable alternatives to the Ugandan military in apprehending or removing from the battlefield senior LRA commanders, expanding efforts to demobilize LRA commanders, and dedicating significant new staff and financial resources to implementing the strategy.