Cartoon by Cathy Thorne
Have you seen the fuel prices in Kampala lately? Can you believe how high they have risen? Ushs.2,620 – 2,640 for a litre of petrol is about $ 6.50 for a gallon! Owning a car has never made financial sense to me, given my very average salary, the handful of kilometers I drive every week and the convinient public transport between my home and my workplace. It is a luxury more than anything and right now my bank balance is laughing at me for being a fool. So, I have parked old vanny and will not touch her until fuel prices come down, I get a rich Sugar Daddy or I hit the jackpot.
Yes, yes I’m over my crush on him, but until I visit Bhutan I’ll keep hankering after news from the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
A report in the Bhutan Times, one of the two private (but not necessarily independent) newspapers in the World’s Newest Democracy, made me laugh aloud and weep in anguish in the same minute. I suppose the insular nature of Bhutan and the insistence of both its leaders and citizens to deny the existence of a world outside their home in the Himalayas means that a paper as reputable as the Bhutan Times can publish a story so uninformed and insensitive, but unintentionally funny.
Here are excerpts:
In African oral history, men were the tellers of tales. In patriarchal societies they held the keys to colloquial knowledge and retold, with much detail, stories of movement and migration, of conquest and the convergence of families, peoples and nations. They spoke of geography and history and time.
Women were the custodians of memory. Women did not give the facts, but the meaning. They answered the why and how, going past the what, where and when of the men. Women were not given the open platform around large bonfires or in clan gatherings to tell their stories. Theirs were intimate anecdotes whispered to a sleepy child, proverbs shared over the cooking pot, the songs sung in the fields.
In my own family, my father is the great story teller and can sit and listen to him speak for hours on end. However on the days my spirit is dry and my soul is downcast, what I need is to hear my mother reach into the past and speak to my heart.
Sometimes When It Rains: Writings by South African Women
Paperback: 178 pages
Publisher: Pandora Press, 1987
To the man who brought us the absolutely brilliant Absence of Malice (1981), Tootsie (1982), the unforgettable (but slightly offensive) Out of Africa (1985), the unforgettable The Firm (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), the amazing Iris (2001), Cold Mountain (2003) and more recently, Michael Clayton (2007); RIP.
Load shedding, land grabbing, corruption, regress, progress, political intrigue, joy and sadness; these are the issues highlighted today in the headlines of newspapers across the East African Community. Of course the region is not unique in regard to these matters, but still I wonder if life doesn’t get any better on the Third Rock from the Sun.
The prosecution team in the trial of famous Rwandan musician has asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to imprison him for life, the highest punishment that the court can pass. Simon Bikindi, a former civil servant in the Ministry of Youth and Culture and the director of Irindiro ballet, is accused of using his songs to incite genocide. (more…)
THE Government has said that no Tanzanian was killed in South Africa following assaults and killings that erupted in that country over the past fortnight. According to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mr. Bernard Membe, the official number of those who claim to be Tanzanians and have reported to Central Johannesburg Police Station has now reached 98. (more…)
Zanzibaris should brace for at least three weeks of total blackout, as efforts to immediately restore a sub-marine cable supplying power from Tanzania Mainland that blew up last week have stopped, authorities confirmed yesterday. A team of experts from the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (Zeco) and Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) carrying out the maintenance said yesterday Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume had advised the team to suspend the exercise until experts from Norway, who would be coming after weeks, arrived. (more…)
EAST AFRICAN STANDARD
The five-hour power blackout that plunged the country into darkness on Sunday night may have caused more panic across the country than the Government is willing to admit. Last evening, a parliamentary committee summoned Energy minister, Mr. Kiraitu Murungi, to explain the matter, even as information indicated that all security forces had been put on high alert to deal with any eventuality. (more…)
Jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga is now demanding direct talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He dismisses as “a waste of time” the secret consultations he had previously been holding with alleged emissaries from the Office of the President and Mr. Odinga. And to make sure the demands of Mungiki get the legal backing even as he serves his five-year jail term, Njenga has asked former Kabete MP Paul Muite to act for him. (more…)
Since the 14th May 2008, 85 university students from the public institutions such as the University of Burundi, the Superior training School and the Public National Health Institute have been jailed in different police custodies of the Bujumbura mayorship. Most of those students were arrested by the police during the demonstration on the 14th May 2008 which called on all students of the three public institutions to enter a three-week strike. (more…)
Kampala City Council may lose its multi-billion official mayoral residence in Kololo, following a directive from Local Government Minister Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire urging the town clerk to hand over the house on Plot 2, Mabua Road to national intelligence coordinator, Gen David Tinyefuza. Minister Otafiire, in a March 26, 2008 letter to Town Clerk Ruth Kijjambu said the house is required for “security reasons” and gave no further details about its intended use. (more…)
THE NEW VISION
The Education Service Commission has appointed 1,148 teachers for secondary schools in hard-to-reach areas and under the double-shift programme. The list was released yesterday, as the new school term opened. Teachers jammed the ministry’s corridors to check for their names. Interviews for candidates had been held between January and April this year.
Never for me the joyous ‘Thank God it’s …’ Never for me the relief at the end of a long hard week. Never for me dancing shoes, the party hat and the little black dress.
Fridays are for me the days to stare my humanity in the face and to deal with my latest, greatest addiction: roulette. Friday Night Roulette.
“Spin the wheel Cupid. Spin it fast and give me a Straight Four.”
Straight Four brings me The Toothpick. He’s a fairly tall, chocolate brown man with a twinkle in his eyes. He speaks with a smile and laughter is never far from his lips. He’s a sports jock, but doesn’t burden me with who won the latest football championship and who the world’s greatest rugger is. When he speaks games, points and players it’s with a lightness that makes it seem like he cares, but he doesn’t care at all. He’s very attentive and remembers everything I say, but not in a spooky KGBesque way.
I like him. I like him a lot. Now if only he would take that toothpick out of his mouth!
Of course I have something to say about the repugnant institutionalization of the suppression of the media by Uganda’s cabinet ministers led by the benevolent leader YKM.
Of course I have something to say about the shameless posturing of National Guidance and Information Minister, Kirunda Kivejinja, at a news conference in Kampala today who dared to compare the media in Uganda to the pre-genocide media in Rwanda. According to him, things have spiraled out of control and tougher regulations are not only necessary, they are mandatory.
I am trying to wrap my mind around the complex and bizarre xenophobic attacks in South Africa perpetrated by a small, but scary section of the population . The why, the why, the why … it just doesn’t add up.
I know we Africans are as different as the languages we speak and the cultures we represent, but I assumed that we were united by the brotherhood of a continent in upheaval and the spirit of ubuntu.
Now, I just don’t know.
When I first visited Johannesburg in 1999 as a young reporter covering the All Africa Games, the general dislike of Africans from outside South Africa was evident in some sections of the society. I was told by several black South Africans about how Nigerians were the cause of the rising drug abuse in the country, how gangs of Zimbabweans – even before the economic crisis there – were behind gun crime, how Mozambicans were pests. However I did not witness any blatant acts of xenophobia.
Or maybe I did. Maybe the seeds of the past 10 days of violence were sown more than a decade ago.
I don’t know.