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Archive for July, 2010

The peaks of the Rwenzori mountains peer throught the mist

The Rwenzoris are block mountains on the edge of the western rift valley on the border between Uganda and the DRC. They are also often referred to as the mountains of the moon…….I have absolutely no idea why when one sees the glorious vistas that are there to behold. They are permanently snow capped and are one third of the big three mountains of East Africa ( Kilimanjaro and kenya being the other two), rising to a height of 5,109metres. Yet they are also largely unheralded and unknown.

Its made up of mount stanley, mount baker, mount speke, mount emin, mount gessi and mount luigi di savoia. Names that clearly have colonial explorer overtones and honestly have no place in modern africa.

Many people will easily identify a picture of mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Kenya, but i doubt any will identify one of the Rwenzoris. I tried asking workmates if they could tell me what mountain was in the pic above: the answers ranged from the Alps to the himalayas!!! I hope I kindle more interest in this mountin range, one I have promised myself to climb….before global warming wipes out the ice cap.

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When feeling a bit blue, under the nairobi weather or challenged by life, the famous poem by Ernest Henley (1849-1903) really picks me up. It runs thus:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

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The world cup 2010 has finally come to a close and South Africa has indeed pulled it off, much to the chagrin of a couple of ‘wet blankets’ who made it their business to trash South Africa in particular and africa in general. By all accounts it was one swell party and kudos to Mzansi for a great show.

I do have one serious misgiving and that is the vuvuzela, that infernal plastic trumpet that producers more noise than an elephant confronting a lion. it has generated more controversy than anything that the actual football players on the pitches could. Sitting in the comfort of my living room did not spare me from the continous hum of a mega swarm of bees……….thousands of vuvuzelas. Ear plugs were sold out and they needed to be as the decibels produced are enought to cause ear damage.

At the beginning of June the latest edition of the safari Sevens rugby tournament took place. Its an event that brings out the rugby faithful in droves. But this year there was a marked difference: there was no singing, no chanting, no yelling at the referee. There couldn’t be because of the loud din produced by only a handful of vuvuzela’s, it was so loud that we could not hear the ref’s whistle, nor hear the music that those pretty young things were dancing too in the middle of the field during breakss in the play.

Safaris Sevens lost its soul !

The world has been stung by the damn thing and everyone is queing up to ban it from their games: european soccer leagues, test rugby, wimbledon etc. I can say good riddance. The storyline that it is the character and soul of African football is just hogwash. South african foot ball perhaps, but not african football, we have never seen the thing before.

Granted that it is based on some traditional instrument (?), though I cant remember the last time I saw a crowd of African men blowing Kudu horns for 45 minutes straight, thats because they would not be allowed to as it would drown out the singing, the dancing and the drumming. And that would not be African, now wouuld it?

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Until the 9th of October 1962, Uganda was a British Protectorate and thus was administered under Her Majesty’s coat of arms ( the lion and the unicorn). The brand new legislative council building was also appropriately branded ( no pun intended).

Legislative Council Uganda Protectorate

The Lion and the Unicorn adorn the legislative building of the Uganda Protectorate

On the first anniversary of independence, 9th October 1963, a group of Gayaza High School girls visited the parliament buildings, now branded with the Uganda coat of arms (the crane and the Uganda Kob).

Gayaza High School girls visit the parliament buildings in kampala on 9th October 1963

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i was shocked and saddened to hear about the bomb blasts in kampala. That was just after watching the FIFA world cup final on tv. The news first broke on sky television. And my first instinct was to ask where my rugby paying nephew was……fortunately he was not present at the rugby club.

Al shabab is already claiming responsibility, gleefully proclaiming retribution on an ‘infidel’ population. They have been issuing ominous warnings for many months because Uganda is a big contributor to the AU peace keeping forces in Mogadishu. And indications are that they are responsible for the reprehensible acts of terror: bombing cheering crowds at the Kyadondo Rugby Club, Lugogo and a popular Ethiopian restaurant in kabalagala.

It is important to note that a year ago when the threats were first made by Al Shaba the somali community in Uganda organised their own registration excercise and started issuing identity cards to its members!

How is it that a country that spends an insane amount of money an elaborate security apparatus could have missed the boat. Its true that terrorists are hard to stop, especially if they have no fear of dying but lets look at a few cold facts:
1. Uganda has no identity card system, thus we really cannot say who is who. All you have to do is create your own   employment card and you are good to go.
2. With a fist full of dollars one can buy a ugandan passport, even a diplomatic one. Many a crook has been detained at an airport somewhere claiming diplomatic immunity.
3. Uganda’s immigration environment is the most liberal on the planet, to the point of being laissez faire. The borders are porous and watching immigration officers at work makes one wonder…………
4. The security agents all seem to come from one end of the country and thus we can only ask  if blood is thicker than competence.
5. And whats worse is that the whole security apparatus seems more focused on opposition politicians and their activities than anything else.

With a draconian phone tapping law making its way through parliament ( the phones are still being tapped any way), a a security budget bursting at the seems and a joint anti terrorism force harrasing non terror ‘suspects’, we need to ask: has Big Brother lost the plot.

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