Excitement as Nokia 3310 sets to hit the streets – again -17 years later

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How the new Nokia 3310 is rumoured to look like. Emphasis on rumoured.

Rumours suggest that Nokia are planning to bring back their iconic 3310 phone.

Mobile users of a certain age have been getting very excited on social media about the return of this sturdy, reliable handset.

If you were in the market for a new phone in the year 2000, then the 3310 may have been on your wish-list.

The Amazon listing describes a range of features, including a clock, calculator, the ability to store up to ten reminders and four games: Snake II, Pairs II, Space Impact, and Bantumi.

Snake was so well-loved that it’s currently available for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users to download.

As much as the phone render looks cool with a dash of Android built-in, don’t fall for these tricks just yet. There has been no official teaser from Nokia on just what the new 3310 will look like — no image leaks, no specs or features confirmation. Nothing yet.

Known primarily for its plentiful battery life and nearly indestructible build, the 3310 was released at the turn of the millennium as a replacement to the also-popular 3210.

HMD Global Oy, the Finnish manufacturer with exclusive rights to market phones under the storied Nokia brand, is planning to announce four such handsets at Mobile World Congress later this month.

Give refugees a chance – Liverpool star Dejan Lovren

By  for The Guardian

lovren-455128In a new documentary, the Liverpool defender opens up about being forced out of his childhood home during the Balkans conflict, losing a member of his family and then being asked to leave Germany and settle in Croatia. There is only one moment, recounting the horrors that shaped his childhood and life as a refugee from the Bosnian war, when it all seems like it might be too difficult for Dejan Lovren to continue.

Lovren is telling the story of how he and his family had to flee their home in Kraljeva Sutjeska, the village where he grew up outside Zenica, and what happened to those who were left behind. “Zenica was attacked because it was a bigger city,” the Liverpool player explains, “but it was in these small villages where the most horrific things happened …people being brutally killed. My uncle’s brother was killed in front of other people with a knife. I never talk about my uncle because it’s quite a tough thing to talk about, but he lost his brother, one of my family members. Difficult …”

It is a remarkable piece of television, courtesy of LFC TV, and rare to see a Premier League footballer speak of such jarring memories on a club’s own TV channel. Lovren was only three years old when the civil war broke out that finished with more than 100,000 deaths. “We had everything, to be honest,” he says of their life before that point. “We never had problems. Everything went well with the neighbours – with the Muslims, with the Serbs, everyone was talking very well between each other and enjoying the life, everything was how they wanted. And then it [the war] happened.

“I wish I could explain everything but nobody knows the real truth. It just happened. It just changed through the night – war between everyone, three different cultures. People just changed. I just remember the sirens went on. I was so scared because I was thinking “bombs”. I remember my mum took me and we went to the basement, I don’t know how long we’d been sitting there, I think it was until the sirens went off. Afterwards, I remember mum, my uncle, my uncle’s wife, we took the car and then we were driving to Germany. We left everything – the house, the little shop with the food they had, they left it. They took one bag and ‘let’s go to Germany’.”

dejan-lovren

Lovren in action for Liverpool F.C in the EPL last season

His family have since told him the 500-mile journey to Munich took 17 hours, not least because of all the security stops.

“We had luck. Me and my family, we had luck. Our granddad was working in Germany and because of that he had the papers. If not, I don’t know what we could have done. Maybe I could see my parents and me under the ground. I don’t know what could’ve happened. One of my best friends in my high school – his dad was a soldier – and I remember he was crying every day. I was thinking: ‘Why?’ And he said: ‘My dad died.’ So, you know, it could have been my dad.”

In the documentary, Lovren – My Life as a Refugee, he goes on to recall how after seven years in Germany his family was told they had to leave the country they had come to think of as home. “My mum and dad were asking for permission to stay more but every six months it was declined.

The authorities said: ‘When the war is over, then you can go back.’ So every six months my mum and dad had their bags packed to go back. It was quite tough – you never had a future in Germany.

“Then that day came and they said: ‘You have two months to prepare your bags and go back.’ For me it was difficult because I had all of my friends in Germany, my life had started there. I had everything, I was happy, I was playing in a little club, my father was the coach – it was just beautiful. My mum said: ‘Germany is our second home’ and it’s true. Germany gave us their open hands. I don’t know which country could have done that, at that time, to welcome refugees from Bosnia.”

The Lovren family moved to Croatia where a boy with a German accent was picked on at school and the parents struggled for money. “My mum was working in Walmart for €350 per month, about £280. My father was working as a house painter. We had a difficult situation with money. My mum said: ‘We cannot pay the bills for electricity, for everything,’ and for a week we didn’t have money.

“I remember my dad took my ice skates. One day I asked my mum: ‘Where are my ice skates?’ because I loved to skate in the winter. And she said through tears: ‘Dad is selling them now … we don’t have money for this week.’ I swear this is the point in my life that I said: ‘I don’t want to hear this any more.’ He sold them for 350 Kuna, it’s about £40. My ice-skates: sold. It was a tough time for my parents.”

Speaking about these years is not easy, especially when Lovren’s own family do not always wish for it to be discussed. “It’s like the war happened yesterday. It’s quite a sensitive thing to talk about, so people still avoid talking about it – it’s sad. Mum said to me [before the documentary]: ‘Don’t tell them,’ and I said: ‘I will tell them.’ And she was crying again. It’s always sensitive to speak about. She remembers everything.

“I hope for the next generation that it’ll be much easier, for my daughter and my son, maybe they’ll forget it and move on. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand my life or my situation, what I’ve been through, because they live in totally different worlds. If my little girl wants a toy, sometimes I say: ‘I don’t have the money.’ It’s quite difficult to understand why I’m saying that but she needs to understand that nothing comes easy. I’m working hard for her so she needs to understand you don’t need 20 toys, sometimes you need just one or two and you’re still happy – it’s about other things.

“When I see what’s happening today [with refugees] I just remember my thing, my family and how people don’t want you in their country. I understand people want to protect themselves, but people don’t have homes. It’s not their fault; they’re fighting for their lives just to save their kids. They want a secure place for their kids and their futures. I went through all this and I know what some families are going through. Give them a chance, give them a chance. You can see who the good people are and who are not.”

Watch the full documentary now, for free, on LFCTV GO

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

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

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 

Exploring the Batwa identity, culture and livelihood in Uganda

BY ALEX TAREMWA

A Batwa legend might explain the lowly status of the people found in Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. A man, Kihanga, had three sons named Katutsi, Kahutu and Katwa. One day he called his three sons and gave each of them a gourd full of milk. On the next day, in the early morning, he asked them to give him back the gourds for him to place inside a shrine.

A sect of the Batwa in a food gathering process in the  Bwindi forests. Photo: Batwa experience

A sect of the Batwa in a food gathering process in the Bwindi forests. Photo: Batwa experience

Katutsi brought back his gourd and it was still full of milk; Kahutu’s receptacle was only half full while Katwa’s container was completely empty. He had drunk all the milk in the night. Their father then blessed each of his three sons based on how responsible they had been with the gourds of milk. Katutsi was blessed with all his father’s cows which would help him and his children to prosper for generations. Kahutu was blessed with a hoe and seeds which would help him to grow food in his lifetime and for generations to come after him. Katwa was given the forest and all that was in it; he was to survive by hunting and gathering.

Many generations passed and their descendants multiplied. The descendants of Katutsi and Kahutu became so many that they could no longer be satisfied with what they had and ended up encroaching on Katwa’s forest. In the end, they chased Katwa’s descendants from the forest and made them live as beggars and landless people. The fate of Katwa’s descendants in the legend mirrors their situation in real life.

In 1991, the Batwa in Uganda were evicted from the forests they had lived on since time immemorial.  As a result, most were left landless and impoverished and, to survive, resorted to begging and life as labourers on other people’s land.

As in the legend, originally the Batwa were forest dwelling hunter-gatherers, living and practising their cultural and economic way of life in the high mountainous forest areas around Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Lake Edward in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; today, the Batwa way of life, their cultural, spiritual, and social traditions, are at risk.

After food gathering, an elderly woman returns home to prepare food. Photo: Batwa Experience

The Batwa History

The Batwa are widely accepted as the first inhabitants of the region, later joined by farmers and pastoralists. The Batwa are still to be found living in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with an estimated total population of 86,000 to 112,000.

As their traditional forested territories were destroyed by agriculturalists and pastoralists or gazetted as nature conservation areas, the Batwa were forced to abandon their traditional lifestyle based on hunting and gathering. The Batwa, sometimes derisively to as Pygmies, became squatters living on the edges of society; some were able to develop new means of survival as potters, dancers and entertainers.

The dominant ethnic groups in the region, the Bakiga and Bafumbira, perceive them as uncivilised because of their former hunter-gatherer lifestyle which has led to their discrimination and marginalisation from the mainstream economy. Notwithstanding the numerous problems faced by the Batwa, they continue to value their forest based social system, culture, and traditional practices as an important part of their identity.

This existence on the margins continues to this day. For instance, their customary rights to land have not been recognised and they have received little or no compensation for their losses. The Ugandan constitution provides for the protection of the rights of minorities, yet the situation that the Batwa are living in clearly indicates that their rights are being systematically violated. For example they not only lack access to the health services offered to other Ugandans by the government but also lack access to clean water, shelter, and food.

Not surprisingly, the Batwa have a high HIV prevalence but access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for the Batwa is very hard. Not only do they have to walk for five kilometres (a long distance if you are terminally ill) and more to access them, but even when they reach the health centres, they are often segregated against by everyone, including the health care providers.

Accurate figures are difficult to determine and estimates vary, but the 2015 housing and population census showed that approximately 6,700 Batwa lived within the state of Uganda. They are mainly found in the south-west region in the districts of Kisoro, Kanungu, Kabale, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Lwengo (Katovu township).

An elderly Mutwa climbing a tree to harvest honey. Photo: Batwa Experience.

Not only is the discrimination institutional, it also extends to the social and quotidian. The Batwa are seen as backward and childish, incapable of speaking or representing themselves (the only minority group not represented in parliament). They are presumed to be thieves and are considered dirty, ignorant and immoral. Often they are not allowed to draw water from a communal well, and intermarriage with other ethnic groups is frowned upon.

Faced with all these prejudices, the formation of a Batwa advocacy group was long overdue. So In 2000,the Batwa formed United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU), an organisation which has mainly fought the dispossession of the Batwa from their ancestral land.

After the park creation in 1991, 82 percent of Batwa were left entirely landless, living either as squatters on private, government or church land. In 2004, 44 percent of Batwa had no land on which to build a hut. Data collected in 2007 by UOBDU show that the landless in Kisoro represent 50.4 percent, in Kabale 61.4 percent, in Kanungu 20.9 percent, while all of the households in Mbarara, Katovu and Ntungamo are landless.

The organisation has argued in the courts that the land for the national parks was unlawfully seized from the indigenous people, but the case is yet to be resolved.

Through UOBDU, the Batwa are fighting to secure land rights, the right to education and literacy, sustainable livelihoods, improved healthcare, and institutional development, says Elias Habyar’imana, the Chairperson of the Kisoro based NGO. To supplement all these efforts, their plight received international attention in 2014, when the Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga came out, exposing the existential threat they face.

The Batwa case before the Constitutional Court

On February 8, 2013, the Batwa of Uganda submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda seeking recognition of their status as indigenous peoples under international law and redress for the historic marginalisation, dispossession and the human rights violations perpetrated against them. As I write this, the petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda involving the Attorney General, the National Forest Authority and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is yet to be heard in court.

The central issue for the Batwa is their land. To date, the revenues and employment opportunities arising from governmental exploitation of protected areas have not benefited the Batwa. Revenues generated from activities now taking place on the Batwa’s ancestral lands should go into a public purse. However, the Batwa have not seen any of these revenues.

Hunting was the primary source of food for the Batwa. Photo: Batwa Experience

While the courts drag their feet, the Batwa communities continue to suffer violence and discrimination from neighbouring ethnic groups. On Sunday June 7, 2014, Batwa communities in Ryabitukuru, Kisoro District, had their homes burned.

Out of the 14 households in the community, 13 were targeted, leaving many families destitute and homeless. The Batwa households are scattered over a large area of land, yet it took the violent mob only two hours to move from house to house.

Fearing for their lives, the Batwa fled to the Rubuguri Police Post for security. Because the post was small, the Batwa were shifted from there to an NGO building. It is from there that well wishers, including NGOs like UOBDU and Red Cross, have provided them with food, water, utensils, blankets and other amenities.

The Batwa Culture, Language and Livelihood

The Batwa are seen as shy, loyal to the traditional practices which define them as a forest people. Their Practices include hunting and gathering forest resources, eating uncooked food, worshipping gods in the forest, sleeping in caves, guiding forest researchers and tourists, dressing in leaves and animal skins, making fire using dry sticks. Caves, hot springs, rivers, hills, plants and animals are of special significance in their worldview.

The forests are a source of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and before they were gazetted as national parks, the Batwa depended on forest resources for food, medicine, basketry, firewood, marketable items, house construction, tools, rituals, hunting and recreation.

During our interactions, the Batwa spoke fondly about their culture. Jovanisi Nyinakayanje, 42, who was born and raised in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, spoke about knowing nothing else except these conditions: “I was born in the forest of Bwindi and spent about ten years there. My father used to go hunting and leave us with our mother who would go with us to collect fire wood (udukwi) and food (ibyokurya). Outside our home, we had a small hut for worshipping (uguterekerera) which was mainly done by our father who would sacrifice to the gods before and after hunting.”

After food gathering, an elderly woman returns home to prepare food. Photo: Batwa Experience

“When they chased us from the forest, we started living here in Rushaga. We would go back to the forest to look for meat, honey, wild yams, firewood, weaving materials and medicinal plants. But later, we were told to stop going back to the forest. Many of our people died. We tried hard to survive in the challenging village conditions by begging for food from Bakiga,” she spoke in her mother tongue as George Wilson Mpakasihe translated.

Reminiscing about growing up, Steven Serutoke, a guide on the Garama Batwa trail in Mgahinga, said, “When I was a little child, I used to see my parents going to the forest. They used to tell us nice stories about the forest. They told us how they used to eat honey and meat from the forest. They also told us that they used to shift to many places including Rwanda, Burundi and Congo especially when they had conflicts and when food became scarce.”

Housing and Burial arrangements

Traditionally, the Batwa had three main types of houses: caves, omuririmbo and ichuro. The caves and omuririmbo were the main houses where Batwa lived. Ichuro was used for resting and storing food including meat, honey, beans and sorghum, all of which in makeshift grass thatched round huts that can accommodate about five people at a time.

The Batwa also had a special way of burying the dead. When a Mutwa died, he or she would be buried in a hut after digging a small hole and wrapping the corpse in grass. The burial ceremony involved cleansing the corpse with herbs such as omuhanga (Maesa lanceolata), enkyerere (Rubus sp.), and omufumba (Rhumex sp).

The Batwa elders would lead the burial ceremony and encourage all the family members to drink herbal extracts as a way of preventing death from claiming more people from that family. After burial, they would migrate to a far off place and never return.

One of the Batwa huts set on fire in Kisoro. The Batwa are among the most marginalised and discrminated against minority groups in Africa. Photo: UOBDU

Marriage customs

According to Batwa customs, a Mutwa can not marry a non-Mutwa and getting pregnant before marriage was forbidden. Marriage was arranged by the parents. The parents of a Mutwa boy would admire qualities in a certain Mutwa girl and decide that she was the right partner for their son. They would then visit the girl’s family carrying gifts which included pots of honey from stingless bees, beer brewed with honey and roast meat.

During the visit, they would negotiate the dowry to be paid to the girl’s family and the date for the ‘give-away’ ceremony. On the day of ‘giving away’ the girl, the groom would bring many gifts for the bride and her family. Such gifts included beads, new and well-oiled animal skins, roast meat, elephant tusks, honey from stingless bees, beer brewed with honey and sometimes hunting dogs.

The groom would take the bride to his home and then live together while receiving advice from the groom’s parents. After some time, the young family would later migrate to a distant place to establish their new and independent home. When the woman became pregnant, she would be fed on meat, honey and vegetables and would drink many kinds of herbs for boosting her health and that of the unborn baby.

At the time of giving birth, she would be helped by other women who would use pieces of bamboo to cut the umbilical cord. The baby would be wrapped in clean animal skins and brought near a fire place for warmth.

This way of living is under threat or has already vanished. The Uganda Wildlife Authority continues to make millions from tourism annually on their land. For three decades, the Batwa have been struggling to have their rights recognised. The legal case is unlikely to succeed, so the Batwa remain stuck in a legal limbo with unpromising prospects.

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.

A walk down the memory lane

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Daphine Vicky Ekinamushabire, Author.

Walk down the memory lane

I bloomed like a flower in spring though more bashful than before

On lookers knew I would be a beautiful young girl.

Mother longed for the days her two tiny dolls would turn to full grown women

Last night as I looked at my elder sister with her palmed hair a contrast to the clean shaven of our childhood, I would not help but take a walk down our memory lane.

Me, who once was tall and ‘boyish’ now all prim and proper like an English maiden and her all fair and light as an English rose.

I, who once staggered without rhythm, now sway gracefully and carefully like a ballerina,

Smooth and elegant, the stagger has turned balletic.

I have acquired some of the elegance and politeness of a lady over time no longer hasty and banal.

Watched my flowers bloom into lovely and attractive features. Time flies, I have thought many a time however, it has not withered the maiden’s playful nature.

The memories run on like leaves being chased by the wind however lavish.

 I won’t because too many walks down the memory lane make one miss more of the here and there.

Poem: He has made me glad

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Daphine Vicky Ekinamushabire, a part-time poet.

Today I would have loved:
To smell the the flowers
To dance under the stars
To smile as bright as the sun.

However, I said all the words I should have said
Smiled wildly because I slightly hurt
But I was reminded that I have only today to call my own
That all tomorrow’s cares are for The Lord.

So as the sun sets,
I will smell the flowers and sniff all the scents that the wind blows to me
I will dance under the dark night to the sweet melodies of the of the birds as they bid farewell to day light
I will watch the moon and stars in their glory as they beautifully adorn the dark skies
I will reflect the joy on every little child’s face
I will live because He has made me glad.

BY DAPHINE VICKY EKINAMUSHABIRE

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