Why anger should not control you

In marriages and relationships, anger is usually a major wave. To some, anger is a worse enemy than lust. But as ALEX TAREMWA writes, anger can be kept at bay before it can do harm.

It is 1:45am on a chilly Saturday night and Ronald Agaba is seated in a secluded corner of Chills bar and restaurant in Mukono town. He is sipping the last pint of his seventh bottle of Guinness beer.

With this last swallow, Agaba is hoping to forget his nightmare – the sight of his girlfriend Cynthia making out with another man. In Mbarara town is Herbert Akampwera, a 27-year-old studio photographer, who recently realised the girl he was about to wed is already a mother of two children from two men.

Due to depression, stress and anger, Akampwera has lost at least 10kg already, according to his close friends. Although he is not resigned to the bottle like Agaba,  Akampwera’s breaking point was even more extreme as he contemplated suicide twice.

“I would be living in denial if I told you that I have not thought about taking my own life. I didn’t see the point of life anymore,” Akampwera intimates to TTM.

Third is death row convict Thomas Nkulungira alias Tonku who was found guilty of killing his girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi for reasons best known to him. Tonku, together with his former houseboy Fred Ssempijja, went ahead and dumped the body of the former NTV Uganda receptionist in a septic tank behind their house in Kampala. Karamuzi was also a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alumna.

Cited above are some of the cases of how men deal with anger in relationships. Anger, according to psychologists, has been the biggest stimulant of domestic violence in most families.

In 2013, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics reported that close to 70 per cent of married women aged 15 to 49 had experienced some form of violence at the hands of their partner.

Statistics also showed that there were 2,461 victims and 1,339 cases of domestic violence reported by April 2013. Joshua Kafuko, a psychotherapist at Ruharo Mission hospital in Mbarara, acknowledges that anger is one of the most difficult and often frightening emotions to manage in any relationship.

“At one end of the anger spectrum, couples are shouting, name calling, frequent bickering, wanting to have the last word, blaming, criticising and eventually physical abuse.”

“These behaviours are the more obvious expressions of anger and can be highly- destructive in a relationship. If prolonged, they can be difficult to recover from,” he says.

HOW SHOULD A REAL MAN EXPRESS ANGER?

Women can be provocative. They don’t let anything slide without a fight or at least a word. If anger is an intrinsic problem that is only a product of an individual’s ability to control his/her emotions, how then should a man react in face of such provocation?

Growing up, Ronald Awany, a radio announcer at the Namanve-based Juice FM, remembers his father returning home one evening with a set of kitchen glasses.
These glasses were never meant for serving water or soft drink as the case normally is. As it turned out, they were for defence mechanism of sorts.

“Whenever Mum raised her voice above what Dad could take in, he would send one glass through to the wall and break it into countless pieces. After that, Mum wouldn’t say another word,” Awany narrates in retrospect.

However animated their marriage may seem, Awany’s parents have been legally married for over 40 years. As he confesses, they have never fought.

According to counselling psychologist Joseph Musaalo, couples ought to avoid physical confrontation and endeavour to listen to one another than interject and raise voices.

Musaalo explains that in relationship, some parties either fear expressing anger or don’t know how to do so constructively. This anger then goes underground and leaks out as sarcasm, undermining comments, sulking, silent standoffs and avoiding each other. All this, Musaalo explains, leads to a highly-tense atmosphere as the issues are not talked through and resolved.

“Men these days live life in a big hurry. They don’t have the patience to listen and resolve problems in their relationships/marriages. When their wives/girlfriends share their problems with a third-party, they [men] go up in arms,” – Musaalo.

Esther Ahurira relates with Musaalo’s argument. The TV West presenter notes that managing anger is a product of effective communication between the two affected parties.

“If my partner is doing things that I don’t like, talking about them together would help a lot,” she says, adding that it is important to express hurt, anger, or sadness in a direct but non-violent manner.

However, Victor Twine, a Makerere University student, sees things differently. He argues that sometimes a man’s reaction depends on the gravity of the situation at hand.

“There are things that I would not lose sleep over,” he says, referring to the ‘Busia man’ who made headlines for sending his wife and six children out of the house after allegedly eating his piece of chicken.

For serious situations, however, Twine says he would rather cut communications with his spouse for some time as he clams himself down.

PLAYING THE SILENT CARD

Silent treatment is a common response to conflict in relationships, but it is also one of the most destructive, according to a 2015 article published in the Communication Monographs journal.

The author, Professor Paul Schrodt of Texas Christian University, argues: “One thing that couples tend to do is blame the other person for the situation, which will in no way help resolve the conflict.”

The person giving the silent treatment, he adds, and the person receiving it should both take some responsibility.

Schrodt’s analysis encompassed studies on over 14,000 participants. He found, women were usually (though not always) the demanders while men were the ones who tended to withdraw from their partner’s demands, or responded with silence.

WHEN AND HOW DOES A WOMAN COME IN?

To bring a house back to order, Comfort Nantongo, a mother of three, advises women to be careful how they approach an angry man. Men, she argues, have to be given time to be angry before they can calm down to amicably discuss the matter at hand.

“Give his anger as much respect as you do with your own. His anger is often just as real as yours. It may not always be valid but it is still his feeling. And I believe feelings deserve space and respect,” she says.

In many relationships, Nantongo maintains, the woman’s feelings naturally take precedent because women can be overpowering with emotions. But it is imperative that men’s emotions be treated with the same courtesy and respect for mutual benefit.

“If you are so angry and hurt that you can’t put up with his feelings, you won’t be the first woman,” she says.

As the Bible says, be quick to hear; slow to speak and slow to anger for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, one of the greatest battles in marriage should be to stay away anger and not just to control its expressions.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

Copping with job loss: a first-hand experience

BY ALEX TAREMWA

Losing a job is probably the most heart-rending thing anyone should endure. If it doesn’t break your spirit, it will – like in CHRIS MUGASHA’s case leave you with a tale to tell.

After eight years of ‘hard-work’ as a sales executive of an insurance company, Chris Mugasha, 39, was discharged indefinitely for alleged sexual harassment.

Mugasha remembers being summoned for an urgent meeting on a Wednesday morning of May 25, 2016 only to be lectured about how ‘reckless’ he had been.

He was then sent on forced leave – more like a suspension really – to pave way for further investigations after which he was permanently sacked.

In a wink, the once powerful salesman covering West and South Western Uganda went from employed to jobless.fired-642x336

All he had – after the four hours he was given to clean his desk –  was a laptop bag, a pack of business cards, three books and a golf cap.

Although Mugasha admits to having had a sexual relationship with a co-worker contrary to his terms of employment, he maintains that the manner in which he was dismissed was not only disgraceful but also illegal.

“They organized kangaroo panel to try me. They didn’t even give me time to respond to the allegations. Even after they sent me on leave, they seized paying me and after I was publicly fired, my benefits and allowances were withheld,” he narrates.

What was perhaps the more perturbing is that the lady with whom Mugasha was having [sic] an ‘inappropriate sexual affair’, was one of the committee members trying him.

This, to him, was the most hypocritical thing he had ever witnessed. His letter of dismissal, a copy of which TTM has seen, reads that Mugasha was dismissed for sexual harassment on a fellow staff and inappropriate behaviour.

“You see I don’t deny having had an affair but I didn’t have it with myself. I don’t understand why she was exonerated, later on allowed to even take a stand not to testify but to prosecute me,” he says.

The organisation did not stop there. It went to further to publish his picture in the newspapers warning the public as he (Mugasha) was no longer its employee asserting that he should be dealt with at one’s own risk.

Despite the cited conflict of interest and arguably unfair dismissal, he decided not to sue. Asked why, he says he neither had the strength not the money to fight back.

“I no longer had an income. If I was to sue, I would have to use my life savings to fight a battle that could go both ways so I decided to divert my frustrations elsewhere.”

Luckily or unluckily enough, Mugasha is not married – at least not yet. He however has a cohort of dependents, mostly school going siblings who have suffered effects of his lack of an income.

They did not only have to change to third-class schools that he could afford, they also had to leave the boarding section to the more affordable day-school section, a change that affected their academic performance.

Previously, Mugasha who rented a two-bedroomed self-contained apartment in upscale Ntinda at shs750,000 had to shift to a modest one-bedroom rental in Kisaasi, in the outskirts of Kampala where he pays rent of shs250,000.

This is not the only thing that changed about Mugasha’s lifestyle. He also had to sell off his Toyota Mark II to meet financial demands.

Like the former Apple founder Steve Jobs (RIP) described his dismissal from the tech giant in a commemoration speech to graduates at Stanford University back in 2005, it was “an awfully tasting medicine.”

Although Jobs later returned to Apple, it is unclear whether Mugasha will have a similar opportunity and even if he did, he would most likely turn it down owing to his life’s recent turn-around.

SILVER LINING APPEARS

firedFor a man of his experience, Mugasha has gotten a number of job offers since his dismissal.

He has however been reluctant to take up any opting for more relaxed consultancy work.

Together with his two of partners Joshua Wadada and Sheila Ngabo, Mugasha is finalising plans to register their firm CK Consults in a bid to formalise operations.

“We have been doing some trainings for organisations already but the big companies want to deal with registered, formal and organized people who pay their taxes so we want to move a step ahead,” he says.

Stress, they say, is the fertiliser of creativity and Mugasha is certainly proof of this assertion.

Besides his consultancy work, he opened up a retail shop in which he sells groceries and other household supplies to keep financially afloat.

EXPERTS WEIGH-IN:

According to Connie Musisi, the Career Development and Placement Officer at Uganda Christian University (UCU), an employee goes through five emotional stages following a job loss.

These stages include: denial, inner self-criticism, withdrawal, reflection and acceptance.

“You’ve known for months that it’s over but you cling to the hope that it was a mistake. After all, you have been with the company for many years. You have produced great results. The company can’t survive without you. You’re living in denial,” says Musisi.

Musisi advises that the earlier someone recognises the different stages, the quicker they move through them lest they waste valuable time languishing for weeks yet they still have to face the arduous task of conducting a tough job search with all its inherent frustrations.

After a job loss, Musisi urges victims to open up to family and friends, keep regular work plan and sustain the momentum to necessary for success in the job search.

When one no longer has a job to report to every day, she says, they can easily lose motivation. Therefore, one has to treat their job search like a job with regular times for exercise and networking. This helps one remain more efficient and productive.

“Don’t let your job search consume you. Make time for fun, rest, and relaxation—whatever revitalises you. Your next plan will be more effective if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically at your best,” Musisi adds.

Mugasha acknowledges undergoing the emotional stages but he offers a different remedy to the nightmare of job loss.

For him, it is always about people and one’s relationship with them that makes all the difference. Had he not had a supportive family and a good network to begin his next life charter with, he would still be crying over what he calls ‘split milk.’

“Network like crazy. Whenever you get within three feet of someone, engage them in a conversation and find a way to help each other. You’ll be amazed at how resourceful people are,” he says.

In spite of how hard a knock that losing a job is, it can be overcome with hard work and persistence.

With the combination of the two, Mugasha is confident that anyone will come out of recession saying that losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to them. Mugasha may regret having had a sexual affair with a co-worker but what he doesn’t regret is losing his job. It only validated the Luganda proverb that “akugoba yakulaga ekubo.”

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Would you inherit that widow?

BY ALEX TAREMWA

As I approach her home, dogs bark in unison. A dog keeper myself, I gather that there must be three of them in the compound. She emerges from the garden with muddy feet, offers me a stool and takes her rest on the mat.

Margaret Kiwumulo was happily married to Richard Kaijuka and together they had produced two children until the night of July 4, 2002, when unknown assailants ambushed him as he left his bar for home, beat him to death and took his belongings.

Stuck with two children, Kiwumulo, then 27 – but currently 41 – struggled to fend for them as a single mother until Kaijuka’s brother Peter Ziryabareeta, a veterinary doctor stepped in to help.44_10155_d12s

He gave the family a much needed boost, gave the children a father figure and eventually, to the widow, he gave a husband in spite of the fact that he already had a family of his own.

Besides the children Ziryabareeta ‘inherited’, he has been able to father two more with Kiwumulo and she was vividly pregnant when TTM met her for an interview.

The case of Kiwumulo and Ziryabareeta is not unique, especially in the African context. It is a tradition that has seen days since the 1800s – fueled partly by culture with traces visible in Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Uganda and the rest of Sub-Sahara.

The arrangement, known as widow inheritance, allows for a male relative of the deceased to take over the guardianship of the deceased’s family, including the widow so that the deceased’s inherited property stays in the family.

In some clans, it is not subject to debate while in others, the widow has a say in whether or not she needs the stewardship and chooses the suitor among the kinsmen of the deceased husband.

The practice has however come under heavy criticism from politicians, clerics, civil society movements and “molarity protectors” who argue that widow inheritance has not only taken away widow’s rights to make independent decisions, it has also kept HIV/AIDS prevalence on a high.

With the coming of modernity and civilisation, the practice has lost popularity with most men rubbing it off as uncouth – a practical example of cultural practices that should be condemned by every right thinking members of society.

Given the intricacies of today’s world, Roggers Akanyijuka, a Visual Editor and Producer at Vision Group said he would not, for any reason accept to inherit a widow. This, he added, not only increases the financial burden he has to carry but also shoulders him more family obligations that consume his much needed time.

“It is an ancient mind-set. In today’s life circumstances, it is very inapplicable and not worthy of thought,” he told TTM.

Indeed, men who already have financial obligations of their own may not be open to widening them by inheriting more, unless of course there is something to gain.

As Suleiman Tiguragara Matojo Ssalongo, a veteran journalist and Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Lyantonde district explained, the practice was/is exploited by men, often seeking to “cheat” widows out of land, cattle and other properties left by the deceased.

Widows, he argued, often shackled by poverty, have continued to rely on inheritors to take care of them as a fulfillment of cultural obligations not knowing that their vulnerability is being exploited.

“Our senior citizens (elders) had their issues in the past. When a husband died midway the marriage, the widow, due to fear of losing all the property he left, would accept to marry one of his kinsmen,” he said.

Because some of the widows would have had children with their deceased husbands reducing their odds to compete in a market filled with single, educated, independent women, being inherited becomes better option to consider.

Bad cultural practice or just bad timing?

Although this writer could not accurately quantify the percentage of the prevalence of widow inheritance in Uganda, a survey he conducted portrayed how just unpopular the practice is in 21st century.

Of the 20 respondents he reached out in preparation of this article, all said they would not, whether wilfully or otherwise, inherit a widow although most indicated that they may be willing to help take care of the children, if any.

Does this mean that widow inheritance is a barbaric cultural practice or has it been merely overtaken by events?

When TTM passed this question to 67-year-old Richard Bahaburana, an opinion leader among the Bashambo, one of the largest clans in the defunct Ankole Kingdom, he had this to say: “We would be fools to say that everything practiced by Africans must remain so. But we are totally against abandoning our culture.”

He added that: “It (widow inheritance) was the tradition here. We are all supposed to do it. Church leaders don’t like it. The president may not like it. But it is our tradition.”

Bahaburana, a polygamist with three wives – one inherited – may be wrong about something – say- the president not liking the practice as he (H.E Yoweri Museveni) is not on record on the subject but he is right about church leaders not having kind words for it.

Speaking to TTM via email from the Vatican, Italy, Fr. David Kampiira, born in Kazo, Kiruhura district, argued that “when they become irrelevant as social changes take place, certain cultural practices must be allowed to die out.”

“This is one of the difficult battles to win. We have tried discouraging it but few seem to understand its effects especially in the era of HIV/AIDS. It seems some people are genetically wired to it,” his email response read in part.

Comparatively, in areas where widow inheritance is still secretly practiced, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is higher.

Since an inheritor already has his own family, he infects his first wife and the widow he has inherited. When he dies and men inherit the women he leaves behind. They, too contract the scourge and die and their widows are inherited, hence the increasing number of new HIV infections.

One, then would wonder, if inheriting a widows poses these economic, social and health threats, why is it still silently practiced and seemingly condoned? Logically, it is a matter of opportunity cost. To make a choice, something has to be foregone.

For Ziryabareeta, it was his way to guarantee that his brother’s children get the property their father left them when they are of age and to have them grow knowing they are part of a family, give them a sense of belonging.

“I felt obligated when he (Kaijuka) passed on to carry on his legacy. I didn’t want to see his property get torn to pieces by people who did nothing for it,” he said.

As the case is in most parts of Africa where customary law is still followed, upon a man’s death, his property is inherited by his adult sons. If they are still minors, it is repossessed by his family.

Luckily enough, all the children – including those fathered by Ziryabareeta – are in school. The eldest, whose name we shall not disclose, is already sitting her O-level examinations. She is 17 years.

For Kiwumulo, being inherited was a bitter pill but one she doesn’t regret swallowing. It may not have been the right thing to do but it has turned out to be a good thing in the end.

Ironically, all the men who denounced widow inheritance in the survey were open to the suggestion of having a wife’s sister as a “caretaker” when one lost a wife. In other words, they would rather be inherited but not to inherit.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

Janani Luwum: a lion in human skin

On February 16, 1977, a man like no other armed not with a gun or a dagger but the Bible and the cross was assassinated at the then Ugandan ruthless president Idi Amin Dada.

According to historical accounts, the Most Rev Janani Jakaliya Luwum, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Rwanda Burundi, and Boga Zaire had become a sharp critic of the gross atrocities including murders orchestrated by Idi Amin.

On the day of his demise, it is said that Luwum met with President Idi Amin who accused him of smuggling arms and other “subversive acts” before being driven away with two government ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi in a Land Rover. On the morning of February 17, 1977, Radio Uganda announced that the archbishop had died in a car accident as he attempted to escape and in his flight was involved in a car accident that resulted in his death.

This theory would be later refuted after his body was found riddled with bullets only planted in a fake car crash allegedly on the orders of the president.

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Rt. Rev. Janan Luwum(L) with the Inspector General of Police, Oryema standing by the car which was presented to the Bishop on February 25, 1969. Credit: The New Vision/Files

A planned funeral service for the following Sunday was forbidden by the government, and the Archbishop’s body was not released. Nevertheless, according to records The Standard has seen, about 4,500 people gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral on Namirembe Hill, and a funeral service was held albeit his body missing.

It is at this exact venue (St Paul’s Cathedral) that activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the commemoration of slain martyr will be launched on February 5, 2017. According to a Church of Uganda statement, the activities will be a precursor for the main event that will be held at Mucwini, Kitgum District, the burial ground for deceased, 22km north of Kitgum in northern Uganda.

The purpose of the Kampala event is to create public awareness about the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum as we plan for the main event but also to enable and allow those who cannot make it to Mucwini to celebrate it in Kampala,” the statement, largely attributed to the Archbishop Stanley Ntagali partly reads.

The activities, which will include a walk from five different centres in and around Kampala, will be followed by a service at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe where the body of Janani Luwum was meant to have been buried.

The guest of honour for the Kampala celebrations is the Rt. Hon Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, while the main celebrations in Kitgum are expected to be graced by the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Road to martyrdom

Archbishop Janani Luwum was the first sitting archbishop in the entire Anglican Communion to be martyred in office since Archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and William Laud who were martyred in AD 1556 and AD 1645, respectively.
Luwum’s death inspired the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral to establish a chapel to commemorate “Modern Martyrs.”

Canterbury Cathedral was hence the first ecclesiastical authority in the whole of the Anglican Communion to proclaim Archbishop Janani Luwum a 20th Century African Martyr.

According to Rev Jasper Tumuhimbise of All Saints Cathedral, Kampala, one of the starting points for this year’s walk to Namirembe, martyrdom gained a bad name for its association with violence and linkage to cruelty, manipulation and death.

But when we consider Christian martyrs like Luwum, we see something else. Instead of violence, there is peace and a seeking of reconciliation.

Instead of cruelty there is dignity and mercy. Instead of manipulation there is integrity. This is the ultimate martyrdom,” he said.  During similar 2015 celebrations, President Museveni declared February 16 an annual public holiday arguing that people should celebrate his life in the same manner as other Uganda Martyrs.

Life and ministry

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Rt. Rev. Janan Luwum installed Bishop on June 16, 1974. Credit: The New Vision/Files

Janani Luwum was born in 1922 in the Acholi district that time and spent his youth as a goat herder. Although he didn’t have a formal early education, he was given a belated opportunity to begin at school and quickly showed his resourcefulness and ability to learn.

His conversion to Christianity happened in 1948 while he was a teacher but would later quit teaching for evangelism. In 1949, he joined Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi, to study theology. After a period as a lay preacher, he was ordained priest in 1956 of the then Upper Nile Diocese in St Phillips Church, Gulu and thereafter served as parish priest and chaplain in a number of parishes and church schools in Northern Uganda.

As Uganda gained independence from Britain, Luwum was noted as a rising indigenous leader in the church. He became bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Northern Uganda in 1969. Following his consecration, Janani was appointed to the Anglican Consultative Council and served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.

In May 1974, Bishop Janani Luwum succeeded his mentor Archbishop Erica Sabiti, who had been the first Bishop of Kampala Diocese between 1972-1973. Thus, Bishop Janani Luwum became the second African Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire and the second Bishop of Kampala Diocese.

After his assassination, his body was taken to the Churchyard at Wii Gweng, Mucwini, on February 19, 1977 where he was later buried. He is survived by his widow, Mary Luwum, seven children, four sisters, two brothers and several grandchildren.

Yahya Jammeh and how not to be a refugee

Source: nbcnews.com

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh boards a private jet before departing Banjul into exile

BY ALEX TAREMWA

Last week, Rev Simon Feta, my philosophical friend, invited me to a four-day excursion in the West Nile region.

The trip was meant to give Uganda Christian University students of Bachelor of Governance and International Relations a real life field experience of how bad governance breeds conflict and how international players come together to handle its off-shoots.

After visiting the Rhino Camp Refugee Camp in Arua and Bidi-Bidi Refugee Camp in Yumbe District, it became increasingly obvious that the only way not to be a refugee is not to be African.

In fact, former Sudanese and later South Sudanese Senator, Rev Canon Clement Janda, put it more bluntly when he told the students that “as long as you are Africans, we are all potential refugees.”

As I was still grinding his statement, former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, proved him right. He went from being president to being a refugee in Equatorial Guinea in a space of just four hours.

If this is your first encounter with the name, let me take a few lines to explain just how powerful Jammeh was. He took over power when he was just 29 years old and ruled the country with an iron fist for another 22 years.

After losing and accepting defeat in a recent election, he made a U-turn, refuted the election results and threatened not to leave power forcing his opponent, a victorious Adam Barrow to take oath in neighbouring Senegal.

Although Jammeh finally bowed to pressure and relinquished power, he left Gambia into exile after emptying state coffers of a whopping $11million (Shs38 billion).

The similarity between Jacob, a 29-year-old refugee from South Sudan and Jammeh, is not that they are both refugees but that they are both victims of poor governance systems in their respective countries.

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Alex Taremwa engaging three-time refugee and former Senator of Sudan and South Sudan Rev Canon Clement Janda. Photo by Ronald Awany

The total number of refugees at the end of 2016 reached 75.3 million that is to say one out of every 85 people on Earth, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Whether in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi or Syria, only war can account for the massive influx of people from their homes to refugee camps.

Not that conflict represents the absence of a more peaceful and long-lasting solution but rather a mechanism through which governments and those against them across the world strive to maintain and conquer power respectively.

And I have it on good authority that most leaders maintain a tight grip on power not because they enjoy their stay but because they are afraid of prosecution from their opponents when they leave.

In that case, if we shifted political rhetoric from prosecuting corrupt, murderous, long-serving dictators, to forgiving their wrongs and offering them a safe passage to retirement, it would in a way motivate them to peacefully step down and avoid bloodbaths.

The bottom line therefore is that peaceful coexistence and good governance go hand-in-hand. The absence of one automatically translates into the absence of the other, and in that regard, a refugee status cannot be ruled out for anyone.

Alex is the Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine

What is legacy to a 25 year-old? 2016 in review

3ab7e7604e795b977a9fc6576c09d3eeVery few people – and those are Donald Trump fans – can confidently say that 2016 was an amazing year for them.

 

For the rest of us, it was a lemon cake with sprinkles of icing sugar to cover up the its bitterness. If it was not hunger here, it was a drought there. If there weren’t floods here, there was an earthquake there.

Even at a place oozing nothing short of divine presence – UCU, 2016 left hallmarks of agony when it sent also 75 percent of staff to Allan Galpin Health Centre courtesy of Staff Day food.

But despite the challenges, the hiccups, the lives lost and the targets unmet, we still made it to the end and now, yet again, we are celebrating the beginning of another year – 2017. Ebenezer!

Physically though, there’s nothing different about a new year save for the calendar shift.

Then sun still rises and sets as in the previous year, lunch time is still 1pm and every human being still has 24 hours a day to live.

What the new year offers however is another opportunity to do things right. The prospect to reminisce that time moves progressively and not retrospectively and that every year that passes moves you and me an inch closer to the one we will live last.

The above feeling excites and terrifies me simultaneously. I have to remind myself every day that I can’t afford to make unnecessary yet costly mistakes anymore. That I have work to do in preparing how I want to be remembered.

Legacy is important –  even to a 25-year-old because this world we live in now is an anything can happen environment and we all strive to leave something behind.

It doesn’t matter what I do as long as I changes something from the way it was before I touched it into something that is like me after I take their hands away.

That way when people see this child, book, tree, garden – anything, I am there.

Hence, the significance in celebrating a New Year is not in the fact that we have another 365 to just pass through and thump our chests once gain on December 31 that we made it.

It is in the realisation that we have a fresh page on which to write the stories of our lives.

Before you write anything on that page, stop and ask yourself; is this the story you want stained with blood of an innocent soul, a trip to shrine perhaps to appease the gods, a back-stab of workmate because you anticipate a promotion, a copied coursework?

I told a friend recently that I don’t set New Year’s resolutions but if you are the kind that does, on your list just before visiting Hawaii, getting that first-class degree, buying that dream car, moving into that dream house and learning French, please add doing all the good that you can.

As Ray Bradbury explains in Fahrenheit 451: “the difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn cutter might as well not have been there at all but the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

So, before you ask what 2017 has in store for you, ask yourself what do you have in store for it?

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

 

Make someone’s Christmas merry this year

a-little-smile-a-word-of-cheer-a-bit-of-love-from-someone-near-a-little-gift-from-one-held-dear-best-wishes-for-the-coming-year-these-make-a-merry-christmas

Quote: John Greenleaf Whitter

I went by Allan Galpin Health Centre at Uganda Christian University the other day. A brief conversation with my doc revealed that the good doctor – with whom I share a confidentiality  clause – was unhappy.

He  is part of the ‘essential personnel’ who  will  not be breaking off for Christmas this year, unlike the rest of the staff.

And  it is not just Christmas – staff in the security, health and catering departments at the Mukono-based university do not break off for Easter holidays either.

Although this is a policy issue that human resources explained, it is evident that most of the affected staff find it understandably unfair.

Christmas is celebrated worldwide in symbolism of  the birth of  Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His life is God’s manifestation  of  selflessness, love, and care. On this day families get together, pray, play, drink and make merry.

How, therefore, do we ensure that this day  carries the same significance to other  people    as it  does    for us – even those  to whom it had no meaning before?

And this is not  just about the departments I have mentioned. There are a lot of people who live dangerously every day, year   after year.

Folks have no families to go back to, no good meal to furnish their enzymes, no warm bed to lie in, and no parent to take them shopping.

Despite urban areas being largely deserted in the festive season, beggars and malnourished street children still dot the roadsides.

One of the street children in  my home town Mbarara stopped me last Christmas as I  walked down the street with a crate of soda. He told me  he was hungry and considering how deserted towns   were  during   the   festive season, it wasn’t a good day at ‘work’ for him.

The last  time he had celebrated Christmas was  six years earlier, after which both his parents had  passed away. Wycliffe, now 12 years, knew no home but Mbaguta Street where he had lived ever since.

He narrated that his relatives, some of whom he saw hopping around town ignored him when they saw him, when approached, they publicly denied knowing him or having  seen him before.

Wycliffe had been left out so many  times already and I was not going to be the next person to do the same to him. I convinced him to come home and together with my family, we shared a meal.

He continued to  live  with us until he was reconciled with his relatives.

It took humility, love  and compassion to help a total  stranger realise that there was  more to life than the  way he lived. And I pray that this Christmas, you can go out of your way to make someone else’s day memorable.

Asked what the most important commandment  was: Jesus singled out love. He preached love for God above all, and for others just as oneself.

Jesus Christ would surely appreciate if this day were devoted not only to our respective families but also to those that do not have the chance or reason  to celebrate.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

My sole, slow journey to salvation

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Alex Taremwa

Until the Sunday of October 2, 2016, I had  last stepped foot in church – by choice – on Boxing Day of 2007. Often  I went to church either by compulsion or obligation.

My absence from church for close to a decade should in no way be confused with my agnostic approach to religion. I am convinced that my relationship with Christ is a personal  matter.

However, over the years I have been judged, unfairly or not, as a pagan, an unworthy creature  who shunned Church fellowship and should be condemned to hell fire.

Although I acknowledge being a sinner, I used to believe  that by  doing all the good I could, I was still  worthy in the eyes of God.

In fact, I always  told my “judges” that they will be shocked on Judgement Day when they  see me walking through the VIP entrance (if such a thing exists) into Heaven.

I heard the voice of Jesus

So on Sunday of October 2, 2016, I freely made my way to Nkoyoyo Hall. That morning the choir outdid itself. Their voices were soaring far beyond the clouds, and as they sang the hymn “I  heard the voice of Jesus,” I was deeply touched. It was my first time to hear the hymn  but  it made a lot of sense.

Rewind  to the evening before and  how  I  got to Nkoyoyo. I felt like  I had  heard the voice of Jesus. I vividly  remember how I hurriedly  left  The Standard  offices that Saturday at 6.45 pm, to catch the Liverpool game screening.

Riding  on the boda boda, I heard  the voice of God. It  was not as  loud as portrayed     in the Bible where people fell off their feet.   Rather it   was in my heart – a request of sorts – for me to make  it to church the following morning.

In disbelief I purposed to sleep late that night so I could wake up past   church time, but surprisingly, I was up by 6:30 am the following morning. What excuse did I have now?

In Nkoyoyo Hall I sat in the front row and closely followed Rev Samson Maliisa’s sermon drawn from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 2.

“There  is no such a thing as super Christianity,” Maliisa   said,  adding that, “We all need divine help on a daily basis. We are all potential  candidates of God’s wrath and our judgment shall depend on what we have done – not know or believe!”

I could not agree more. I felt a strong  magnet pull  me  to  the front when the altar call  was made. As I rose from my chair I said to myself, “Well, it’s about time!”

The  special moment I always heard people describe was now mine to savour, as everyone stretched their hands out to pray for me, and every part of me felt free. That is undoubtedly the happiest day of my 25 years’ existence.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk 

Uganda’s sick health sector problem bigger than mere chemistry passes

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Patients at Apac hospital awaiting medical treatment. Credit: World Policy Journal

BY ALEX TAREMWA

In December 2014, my nephew Sheldon was admitted at Holy Innocents’ Hospital, one of the best children hospitals in Mbarara. He was anemic, dehydrated, and he had malaria that forced him to stare death in the eye.

When I arrived, I was ushered into the ward by a nurse who I later learnt was a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Nursing Science student doing her internship. As an alumnus, I left that day feeling safe; I knew my title of uncle would last a lot longer.

When I returned in the morning, I found the nurse babysitting and feeding the baby. Her conduct, discipline, competence and knowledge portrayed nothing short of professionalism.

It is possible that this young lady did not do or pass chemistry at A-level and even armed with her four-year hard-earned degree, the Uganda Nursing and Midwives Council (UNMC) will not register her for practice.

In principle that is the right thing to do, but does it solve Uganda’s health sector problem?

The Ugandan health sector has experienced challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified staff, mainly due to low remuneration as well as insufficient career opportunities.

According to the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) in the Ministry of Health report, in 2010 there was a very low doctor to patient ratio of 1:24,725 and a nurse to patient ratio of 1:11,000, way below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation  of 1:439 as the health worker to population ratio.

Worse still, maternal and infant mortality are still going through the roof, traditional midwives are still delivering babies with their rudimentary tools, clinics and pharmacies across the country are manned by nurses with three months’ training or even less – some reusing syringes for injections and getting away with it.

For Uganda to meet the minimum health standards, the number of health workers must triple.

Attention, therefore, needs to shift from cheap politicking to the core of the problem, which is poor composition of health professionals. According to the 2011 Human Resources for Health Audit Report, with respect to the national level staffing, the proportion of the filled approved positions was found to be only 58 per cent.

Out of the 55,063 approved positions, only 31,797 are filled, leaving 23,321 vacant positions. The situation is worse at the level of health centre IIs. Out of 4,905 posts in 1,321 health centre IIs in the country, only 2,197 (45 per cent) are filled.

I admit that there could be life threatening consequences arising from a health worker’s lack of chemistry knowledge or background, but I submit there are greater consequences from having none at all. Enough of the games, if UNMC lacks the guts to do the right thing; that is waive chemistry only for the degree holding nurses without it so far, for the sake of Ugandans, someone else should.

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Alex Taremwa is the  Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine

How Western media and donor aid have connived to dim the flame of Africa’s development candle

Evidence of ineffective foreign assistance is widespread in Africa. The debate on how aid can be effective and contribute to Africa’s development is ongoing, without any clear way forward. This suggests that there is more to the African problem and that aid is not likely to turn things around, writes  Alex Taremwa.

Can Africa take care of itself? Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

Can Africa take care of itself?  Photo: Department of foreign affairs and trade, Australia

On the day of the African Child (16 June), This is Africa, using the giant search engine Google, conducted a survey to capture the portrayal of African children on the Internet. The result, as always, was that of malnourished, hungry, poverty-stricken and disease-laden children.

This portrayal of Africa directly correlates with how Western media has covered Africa over the years. Often the picture presented is of despair and hopelessness; one that mostly appeals to pity, sympathy and charity.

The response from the developed nations has been a massive transfer of financial and other forms of aid to African governments. In 2013, Africa received about US$135 billion in loans, foreign and development aid, according to the BBC.

Over the past 60 years, Africa has been the recipient of over $1 trillionin development-related aid, mostly from Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark, the most generous nations as of 2014, and of course, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Although this could have boosted the per capita GDP growth of several nations, the livelihoods of most populations in sub-Saharan African haven’t changed much. The million-dollar question then is: What has all this money done?

What has aid done for Africa so far?

Dambisa Moyo, a World Bank economist, former consultant at Goldman Sachs and author of, among other books, Dead Aidargues that money from rich countries has trapped many African countries in a cycle of corruption, slower economic growth and poverty. “The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It’s increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.”

In her book, Moyo highlights the destructive nature of aid in Africa's development. Photo: oneVillage Initiative/ Flickr

The African continent is indeed debt-laden, suffering from massive unemployment figures, poor housing and infrastructure systems, rotten health and education structures, power-hungry dictators, war and conflict, disease, famine and poverty, among other problems. Is aid to blame for this mess? Renowned Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda agrees – to some extent.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative,” Andrew Mwenda.

Mwenda admits that although despair, civil war, hunger and famine are part of the African reality, they are not the only reality. In fact, they are the smallest reality.

“The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. What should we do with it? We should give food to the hungry. We should deliver medicines to those who are ill. We should send peacekeeping troops to serve those who are facing a civil war. And in the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” “The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair. In the process, Africa has been stripped of self-initiative.” Andrew Mwenda 

 

Is all aid destructive?

For decades, Africa has failed to engage the rest of the world in tangible partnerships that promote trade and create markets for its exports. Africa, previously the biggest exporter of coffee and cotton, among other produce, has been overtaken by the Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia.

Under the Cotonou Agreement, formerly known as the Lomé Convention, African countries were given an opportunity by Europe to export goods, duty-free, to the European Union market. Uganda, in particular, had a quota to export 50 000 metric tons of sugar to the European Union market. Not even a kilogram has been exported.

Uganda, like most African countries, now largely imports and consumes more than it produces. Although this trend should have changed, aid, according to Andrew Mwenda, is the wrong instrument to help Africa turn the corner. African countries would benefit if they concentrated on building and strengthening internal institutional policies, through empowering their citizenry and encouraging local investment.

Governments in Africa have been given the opportunity by the international community to avoid building productive arrangements with their own citizens. They accept advice from the IMF and the World Bank on what their citizens need. “In the process, we, the African people, have been sidelined from the policy-making, policy-orientation and policy-implementation process in our own countries,” Mwenda explains.

 

Does Africa need saving?

Akon certainly doesn’t agree. The Senegalese-American musician, songwriter and producer, who recently set his sights on philanthropy, recently told Al Jazeera that the Western world cannot under any circumstances claim to be saving Africa after several years of conning Africa.

Although Akon has participated in celebrity campaigns aimed at mobilising funds for Africa, he argues that Africans must play a central role in promoting and re-branding their continent.

Akon further notes that although Africa would benefit from partnerships with the developed world, it does not need saving by the international cartel of good intentions. He argues that in fact it has always been Africa that was saving those nations.

“Africa to a greater extent has been the anchor to the rest of the world. Every natural resource that is keeping every country running is a resource that has been pulled out of Africa. Everyone benefits but Africa. So Africa doesn’t need to be saved. Africa is the one doing the saving,” the musician said.

A, M-pesa agent in Mwanza, Tanzania. M-pesa, born in Nairobi has become the largest mobile phone based money transfer service in Africa. Photo: Emil Sjoblom/ Flickr

The way out for Africa 

Crispy Kaheru, coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) told This is Africa that the only way out is for the donor countries to take a backseat and let Africans engineer solutions to their problems.

“I am one of those who contend that local challenges can aptly be fixed by local solutions. And local solutions should emerge organically from within the context of the challenge/problem. The context can be historical, political, cultural, social, economic or otherwise,” he said. 

Rather than throwing billions of dollars at African problems, economists believe it would be beneficial for donors to assist in creating opportunities for innovative African entrepreneurs and the youth, thereby creating employment and, eventually, wealth.

The best illustration of this is M-Pesa, arguably the largest mobile phone-based money transfer service in Africa, which was born in Nairobi, Kenya. It was designed through a student software development project and launched by Vodafone with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) based in the United Kingdom.

Currently, M-Pesa has spread throughout Africa to as far afield as Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania and Albania, allowing users to conveniently deposit, withdraw and transfer money and pay for goods and services. If donors could restrict themselves to financing entrepreneurial and innovative projects designed by Africans to provide local solutions to their problems, it would be more beneficial.

With the world’s youngest population – a largely untapped human resource – and a growing, vibrant informal sector, Africa has the potential to take the big leap. Rather than sink billions of dollars into charity, donors can instead look to invest in developing a skilled force among Africans, thereby empowering them to create wealth and employment which will eventually spur sustainable development.

 

This article was originally published in This is Africa (TIA), a leading forum for African opinion, arts and music available through the website thisisafrica.me, mobile phone apps and online radio channels.

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