Monday, February 27, 2006

Upgrades. Bloody Upgrades

I have only barely gotten over the inconvenience of the additional “2” that all mobile phone companies told us to add to our usual 071, 077 and 075 numbers (having to edit every number in the phonebook was not the most enjoyable of tasks) and now I have to suffer with another upgrade at Nile Bank.

Nile bank decided to change all the PIN numbers in use by all ATM cardholders recently. All customers were told to go to their various branches and apply for their new PINs because the old Pin numbers were to become ineffective after 25 February. To effect this change all the bank’s branches (ATM machines included) were closed from Wednesday 22-Saturday 25.

Everybody assumed that the Pin code change was to be easy. Present your name account and card number and there would be a new PIN code waiting. The reality has turned begin out to be totally different.

To begin with, all new PINs are being issued at the main branch on Spear House and the they only started issuing them today yet they have been collecting and turning down applications for nearly two weeks.

I had to stand in line for 3 hours to get my new Pin number after which I stood in line at the ATM for close to 30 minutes. Like myself, everybody must have woken up with the nearest ATM on their minds. Anyway when I get to the ATM I find the same measly minimum balance I had left on Tuesday evening. My money hadn’t been posted because the banks were closed. An right now I am checking on the Online machines in the city centre via their website and they are only four of the furthest from my current location.

Everyone else started the Monday in high spirits, because the ATM checks had produced good news, except yours truly who had the bad luck of being a Nile Bank Customer.

Makes me want to kick something.

5 more years of M7

I am settling down to the first week of Musevni’s next five years as president. I can’t say I was surprised by the presidential election results but I am still disappointed by the results of the parliamentary elections. The opposition MPs are less than they were previously.

This means the next parliament will be full of the people ready to accept anything Museveni asks them to. The only difference is that now, under the multiparty system, it will be called the party line.

I only hope the great drop in overall support for the movement will act as a wake-up call to Museveni. There might a certain number of people he can always count on for votes but its getting smaller. 40% of the electorate do not feel Museveni and thats telling.

Thats done and we must all move on. Back to everyday problems and hopefully more meaningful involvement in trying to change the status quo if we find it not to our liking instead of only crying ourselves hoarse in the weeks running up to, and just after, the elections.

Time to seat back and listen to The Best of Seal:1991-2004 (currently listening to Fly like an Eagle).

Later y'all. No more politics for a while.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Waiting for a result

Like I expected elections in Mpigi were very calm and uneventful. I spent the whole of yesterday travelling all over Mawokota and Butambala seeing people vote.One thing I noticed was that this time people were serious about voting and they turned up in large numbers, not even the rain could deter them.

People voted and hang around to watch the counting. Its funny that even when it was raining some people who had voted chose to hang around. They probably didn't want somebody to take advantage of people scampering for shelter to slip in a few ballots.

When I got back to Kampala it was excitement and V signs everywhere (at least in those places which had supported Besigye) as the early results showed that Besigye was sweeping most of Kampala.

I am quite happy that sanity has prevailed and the town is calm. Driving in Kampala has been very easy today considering many people stayed home. I am looking forward to a nice weekend and I don't want anybody to spoilt it.

Some dreamers are talking of a runoff and I feel sorry for them. Somehow I do not see Museveni letting himself be put in a runoff situation. That 51% just has to be realised somehow. In any case no conclusive results have come out of Museveni's strongholds yet.

I am going to have myself a merry old time tonight and wait for the final results at 5pm tomorrow and hopefully later have cause to have a merrier time while toasting to a new President.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gearing up for Elections

I have just received accreditation as a local elections observer. Armed with my letter, Observer ID card and a folder of numerous documents I haven’t gone through yet I am ready top to point out anybody up to no good come Thursday.

My being an observer is also a way of atoning for my not registering to vote (considering the flak I got when I let that fact slip). At least now I am taking on some kind of civic responsibility.

Unfortunately I am going to be in boring Mpigi where it’s unlikely that there will be anything interesting to observe. Silly me. I should be lucky if the elections all over Uganda were as unexciting as they are bound to be in Mpigi. No violence, no stuffing of ballot boxes and other malpractices that have been witnessed in previous elections in Uganda. But since I know having a clean election in Uganda now is just about as likely as Museveni growing an Afro, I’d like to be where the nasty stuff is more likely to go down, like Rukungiri.

I should also check my manual and see what it says about cameras because I’d like to take some pictures to put up here.

On a related topic, I wonder why everybody is engaging panic mode like all hell is about to break loose. Some people I know are filling up their fuel tanks and stocking up on groceries as if an apocalypse is nigh.

If 2001 is anything to go by, these elections will go on with minimal violence. In 2001, there were daily reports of election related beatings, shootings, campaign disruptions etc. The elections came round and there was no widescale violence that had been predicted.

This year's election campaigns have been tame (I am not ignoring the deaths that have occured, I'm just comparing with the last two elections) and I don't see any reason why the post election period should be violent.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Radio Katwe takes to the blogosphere

Radiokatwe.com, a website that has been publishing anti-government gossip, was disabled last week by the government in a move to censor the potentially damaging stories (mostly about Museveni and his family) that could cost the movement government votes in the upcoming elections.

The fact that the Ugandan government has started censoring websites is cause for concern and should be the subject for further analysis. However, the thing that has struck me in all this is how quickly the editors of radiokatwe.com have embraced blogging as a countermeasure to the government's moves. This week the Radio Katwe editors moved all their stories to their new blog and they have been posting new stuff since.

Personally I think most of radio katwe’s stories are untrue and some are simply outrageous. However, content and motive aside, the move by Radio Katwe to the blogosphere shows that blogging is becoming a tool of choice for people with views that might not go down well with their governments.

I wonder if the government is going to pursue the gossip-mongers into the blogosphere

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Idle and disorderly?



Sometimes my fellow Kampalans surprise me with their prudish nature. Yesterday 11 young ladies were arrested by the police and detained for 5 hours.

Their crime: Causing public excitement.

How: By looking hot

The poor girls were part of a publicity campaign for a new FM station in Kampala. The campaign has been authorised by the city authorities and it had been running for one day already.

While talking to the press, the man who ordered their arrest, CID Chief Rashid Obbo, said "...their dressing was improper. They were idle and disorderly. They were dressed in an indecent way that could excite the public..."

I mean come on. Of course they wanted to excite the public. To excite them about the new station. Everybody I know who saw them didnt mind the excitement, least of all my self. They were not idle and certainly not disorderly. They were doing something they had been hired for that had already been approved.

Its not like the girls were passing out brochures while wearing thongs.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cette Langue Francaise

Carlo’s comment about the correct way to write my blog's address got me thinking of the whole torturous process of learning to write and speak French.

I started studying French on a whim some years back. I had to attend a wedding meeting at the National Theatre gardens and since I was early I decided to walk around. While I was walking I saw a banner announcing the beginning of a new term at L’Alliance Francaise. I decided to go upstairs and check out this alliance place. I got into a conversation with the cute receptinist and walked out 20 minutes later having signed up for a beginner’s course and a number of headaches.

I soon discovered that English and French were oceans apart. The first headache was learning the gender of everything from a house (female) through to a wall (male) down to a stone (female). I tried to discover a formula to getting these genders and I couldn’t. The whole gender business complicates other issues too. For example, the adjective describing a noun is spelt according to the gender of the noun. Black is either noir or noire depending on the gender of the noun it is describing. None of that one-spelling-fits all for those guys.

There are so many silent letters in French that I believe the french pronounce only a third of what they write. The pronounciation is not helped by having to learn the meaning of all those frilly thingies that are balancing on top of letters or hanging on for dear life below them with names like accent circonflexe, cedille etc

Then there are all those tenses, some of which you will readily be told are not used in real life but you have to learn them anyway (passé simple, being an example). You either speak perfect French or none at all. There is also all that dilemma of when to use vous or tu while addressing somebody (tutoyer ou ne pas tutoyer, c'est la question). They are both the same as “you” in English, but usage differs depending on how you relate to the person you are talking to.

The lessons I really enjoyed were the ones on civilisation (never became comfortable with the word though), which were mostly about French culture. You can’t learn French without having a healthy dollop of culture and history thrown into the lessons. Although I just didn’t see how the heroics of Vercengentorix and his brave Gauls would help me when I wanted to ask for directions.

In all fairness, I must say I was learning French as a hobby and I dedicated only 1 hour a day to classes. I did eventually become OK at reading, but writing and speaking (especially speaking) just seemed to elude me. I hardly ever practiced speech outside class but I tried and gave up on listening to RFI or watching TV5 (those guys spoke to damn fast). The odd thing is that when I would meet frech speaking Rwandese or Congolese guys here in Kampala, I found it easier to understand them.

I hang in there long enough to get my Certificat d’Etudes de Français Pratique. This basically means I can read signposts, order in restaurants and do simple haggling in a flea market, but I can’t blog in French or engage in a discourse on the discontent of the French youth in the banlieues (suburbs).

Having said all that, I developed interest in the language and I do always try to read articles and listen to news in French when I can. I will go back to class soon, I just don't know when.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yap Yap Yap........

Why do some people feel they always have to be talking. Why do some people feel that being in close proximity to somebody calls for engaging them in conversation.

Cases in point

In a waiting room, bus, etc..say hi, comment about the weather or anything, after that you will have fulfilled your friendly duty and if I want to engage in more conversation I will let you know. Do not go on and on because you feel you have to. Do not worry about me I can stay quiet for 3 hours quite comfortably.

At work, do not give me a running commentary on everything that goes through your office (or head). You are in accounts and I am in communications, my job does not require me to know every anomaly you have discovered (I don’t understand most of it anyway). When we entered office in the morning you asked me if I had watched last evening’s African Nations cup match and I said yes, why then take me through the entire match again.

When I am engaged in any of these 2, reading and watching movies, the less verbal interaction I have with other people the better.

I pay money to watch a movie in the cinema because I really want to experience it intensely, otherwise I will wait for the DVD (thanks to our Asian friends, this might be before the movie comes to the cinema) so please let me be; we shall discuss it over drinks later. I don’t know about you, but I can’t read and talk at the same time.

Yes I have seen you on TV and yes your show is off the hook (so i've heard) but I really don’t care if the bad roads are messing up the shocks of your new sports car, or how nobody seems to know how to mix a martini and especially how you just can’t seem to keep all those adoring bimbettes away from you. I came to the club to have a drink, dance a bit and unwind, and you are getting on my nerves.

Enough said. Ranting wears me out.