Archive for January, 2012

What a peaceful scene this photo depicts as one looked down Valley Road in the nairobi of the early sixties.


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This picture of a man carrying a baby would hardly be newsworthy if it wasn’t for their identity, lineage, history and the intrigues that they elicit.

The man in none other than Kabaka Ronald Mutebi of Buganda, the largest of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms. The baby is his six month old son. Interesting? Absolutely! This is because the child is six months old and was being presented to the public only now. The queen of Buganda, the Nabagereka, has never been noted to be heavy with child since she had her daughter several years ago. If she had been pregnant recently the media would have been in a feeding frenzy.

The mother of the child is only noted to be from the nsenene (grasshopper) clan and that means the world for the kingdom of Buganda. This is simply because when a man becomes the kabaka of Buganda he is claimed by his mother’s clan and thus every clan can claim to have produced a king. All other blue bloods belong to the balangira (royal) clan.

Until this child was acknowledged in public the was a quiet dilemma that no one talked about, but everyone knew it was the elephant in the room. The kabaka’s first born son, prince Jjunju, has a mother of Rwandese origin and this almost certainly makes it impossible for him to become the next Kabaka because he would not have a clan to belong to.

The prince is never acknowledged in public and neither are two princesses (Joan and Victoria) who were mentioned for the first time. However, princess Sarah Ssangalyambogo the daughter that the kabaka fathered with the current queen, is better known.

Is prince Richard Ssemakokiro the next kabaka……probably. I can hear Buganda collectively sigh in relief.

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Having read Binyavanga Wainaina’s ‘tongue in cheek” essay on how to write about Africa, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I have always yearned for more. So the release of his book ‘I will write about this place”, to much acclaim I might add, was good news to me.

It has been reviewed by the new York times, the economist, the guardian and the times of London. With generally favourable reviews. Something I attribute to the western world coming to grips with stories from ‘middle class’ Africa, a struggle personified by Chimamanda Adichie and her book ‘Purple hibiscus’, a great personal favorite. Everyone should watch her TED Talk on the ‘danger of a single story’ http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

Now Binyavanga got the greatest boost any one can get in America when his latest book was recommended summer reading of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. This almost garauntees block buster sales.

Now here is the tragedy: whereas this book ‘I will write about this place’ is readily available all over the world at the drop of a hat, it is sadly totally unavailable in Kenya! The story has a strong Kenyan and Ugandan theme, but I have only met one person who has actually read it! and doing the rounds of Nairobi’s main books stores and finding that they don’t have it in stock tells the sad tale.

One fed up book store owner went so far as to say that the publishers of the book could not be bothered with distributing it over here. Too small a market? Africans can’t/don’t read? Your guess is as good as mine. But I have to wonder where the author himself stands in all this, does he take himself too seriously or does he take his reading audience for granted?


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The innocence of young lives is personified in the fun these two boys seems to be having, somewhere in Uganda.

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A post on a friend’s Facebook page had me thinking about development on the African continent vis a vis elsewhere in the world. The night time satellite image above says more than a thousand words ever could. May we progress further this new year.

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