Monday, August 11, 2008

change--time to move on

If a week ago someone had told me I would be at this current address, I would have called them jokers. Truth is I had not fathomed that within less than a week, I would be at the Monitor Publications and not The New Vision. But well…
We all have a sense of fear for change. When The Monitor came beckoning, I feared to move. I thought about the many friends (social and professional) I had made in The New Vision, I thought about my bosses (whom I was getting on very well with) and all those many other things.
Even the notion of moving The New Vision’s main competitor kind of sucked. You know, The New Vision gave me a chance to learn. Fresh from school, with no journalistic skills, they took me on and introduced me to the murky waters of sub editing. For this, I am eternally grateful.
But again change is a factor of life. As human beings, I believe it is prudent we should accept we can not be in the same place for ever. Of course I left the New Vision because at some point I felt I had taken on all the challenges there were in my position.
The New Vision also had failed to appreciate that the value of Don two years ago could not be the same value today. I had surely grown. I had become more efficient, I was delivering on time and I just thought to rate me the same way I was two years ago was not fair.
Of course the straw was broken when the HR officer in language not very civil rebuffed me when I made inquiries about my promotion. I felt then, it was time to move on.
My memories of the New Vision are fond. The friends I made there will remain dear and close.
But in Monitor I begin a new trek. A new journey. But I am optimistic. I am hopeful. I will do my best to hit my targets…
The journey has only begun.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

for Rita--so short yet so sweet

What does one do, when someone comes into their lives, brightens it and suddenly disappears? Linger on the memories so sweet? Sulk for the future not met? Or write a verse to celebrate the great moments? I opt for the last

Like a comet you came
Into this whirlwind of a life
Brought a smile where a frown was the norm
Reminded me of youth gone past

Where cold ash lay, you rekindled the fire
What had become grunge, you scrubbed to shine
Like diesel oil, you kicked a lifeless car into life

But time beckons
Nature speaks
Fate dictates
Go you have

And like Desdemona unto Othello,
I beg—for the next, offer life too
Tell the tale the way you told

Patronage begets fear--kills talent

Today, over lunch, I was discussing with friends, who have had the chance of being close to President Museveni on how he has used fear to subdue his subordinates, especially his ministers. One friend joked; how in the middle of a press address, the President summoned his local government minister to explain something to do with markets and the usually loud-mouthed minister stood up in apparent fright, addressed the President as “Sir” before mumbling incoherencies. The President waved him down and proceeded on other matters. This minister is not ignorant, he is knowledgeable. It is just that he was scared of the President!! And many of them are.
We therefore delved into the cause of this. Why do people we think are so powerful like ministers suddenly crumble in the face of their superior? Should respect be the same as fear? It is a common scene to see women ministers kneel to greet the President, including one who is about to hit the 70-year-mark!!
I reasoned and still insist that when people are given positions through patronage and not merit, they feel they owe their everything to the “giver”. It becomes a norm, therefore, to accord the giver a demi-god status. It explains why these 70-year-olds are willing to genuflect and bow before their master—in their place would be more capable, competent persons. But knowing that they survive on patronage, they have to stoop as low as they can---if only it will ensure a steady flow of bread and milk to their tables.
But what happened to talent and merit? In Africa, it is the norm that jobs are dished out on friends, relatives and in-laws basis. This same afternoon, I called a friend of mine who runs her father’s construction firm. I greeted her in Swahili (teasingly) and she told me she didn’t know. The conversation went thus.
Don: But B****, you work in a construction firm. That is the common language spoken by porters. How can you not know it?
B: For us we use Lukiiga on our sites. We don’t employ non-Bakiga.
And she went on to tell me how they had a project in Karamoja and still the porters they took there were Rukiiga-speaking. Imagine porters in Karamoja speaking Rukiiga.
But that is that. Society has become about whom you know, not what you know. It is about technical know-who, no more technical know-how.
But should we let things remain this way?