Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today, I endorse Obama

So, you are wondering what an endorsement from a small, inconsequential blog will mean to this gargantuan race. This race that seems a clash of generations, civilizations.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this blog is not as redundant as you suppose. Just the other day (and I swear by my…) a friend called from Canada, saying the moment he asked Google for “serious” African blogs---this one popped up first. So, I know this endorsement means a lot---influencewise.

And let me make this clear. I have a host of buddies, residing in places like California and America in general, who look at me for political guidance. One of them is my good old Solo. To show his appreciation for the guidance offered in months gone past—he sent me an Obama T-shirt. So, you know where I am coming from.

That in the first place explains why I am endorsing Obama. I have his T-shirt. Look, the McCain guys never bothered to send me anything, why should I be nice to them?

Secondly, this endorsement is rooted in the fact that fellow smart editors have backed Obama. Look, Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and even Alaska’s Daily Anchorage have thrown their weight behind this Kenyan. So, how can I betray my own? I mean fellow editors? Above all, I am told the only American TV channel rooting for McCain is Fox. For heaven’s sake, I have nothing personal against wildlife, but to be associated with hounds---

Then as stated earlier, Obama is Kenyan. Forget this white-mother thing. Look, for us Africans, a child belongs to the father’s tribe. Things are very patrilineal here. No debate. So, who would not want his neighbour running the world? At least, when I go to “outside countries”, I can boast, “You see folks, treat us East Africans well. We have the power to manage the credit crunch, besides, calling off the war in Iraq.” That conversation supposedly will occur in places like Amsterdam, when maybe I am in the infamous Red Light district.

But importantly for the Kenyans, a poll done two years ago by BBC showed that they were the “most frustrated” people on earth. This, of course, was after the Kibaki regime had turned round on all promises made as they swept aside Mtukufu Raisi Moi. Now, what a better way to boost their morale? Who knows, a new poll taken next year may show Kenyans as “the happiest” people on earth, considering that their Luo boy is sitting in an awkwardly shaped office—Oval.
Colleagues, it is on this academic and not-so-populist stand that The Other View throws its weight behind Barack Obama. Go vote, where possible, rig.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Els' departure; the true story

Our media has been awash with news of the departure of The New Vision editor-in-chief, Belgian Els de Termmerman, who ascended the position about two years ago. First, I realized that no one was willing to tell the real tale behind her exit. When she was asked, all she could say was the “working environment could not guarantee her the editorial independence she had been assured of when she was handed the job.”
And for the other protagonist, CEO Robert Kabushenga, he kept telling news houses that Els had quit on her volition and he kept reiterating how no individual was bigger than the media house. This morning, he published a statement saying the same, adding though that editorial independence was still assured.
Take it or leave it---Els’ decision to quit was not a result of accumulated incidences that could not guarantee her “editorial independence”. It was a few “minutes of madness” and a disagreement with Kabushenga that led to that decision. This was how the events played out.
On Tuesday last week, The New Vision’s lead story talked of heads of state arriving for the tripartite summit. But the story below the headline had nothing to do with that headline. The story, written by Anne Mugisa, actually was based on an interview she had with the Zimbabwean opposition officials, including MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe, who were in Kampala to state their case against Mugabe, who also was here for the summit.
Confidential reports indicate that President Museveni was not very impressed with the notion of a state paper giving space to a group that was here to “attack” his guest Mugabe. He then got in touch with Kabushenga to make his dissatisfaction known. The loyal CEO promised to make do for that “oversight”.
However, Els was not going to have anything like that. I directly worked under Els for a year, and many of the times, I did the foreign news pages, which she supervised. I can assure all folk and sundry that Els was no admirer of Mugabe. She categorises him among the African despots, who have ruined this continent.
She, therefore, told Kabushenga to his face that nothing like “making up” for Mugabe would have space in the paper. The sly Kabushenga beat her to the game. He got the article written under the “Vision Reporter” cover and took it to the chief sub. So, on Friday morning, Els wakes up to find a second page headline; “Museveni blasts traitors.” The story was basically meant to go even with the first.
That is when all hell broke loose. Els interpreted Kabushenga’s decision to by-pass her as unfair and it is what she called “failure to guarantee editorial independence”.
In the mad dash of fury, she confronted Kabushenga, and with the CEO standing his ground, threatened to quit. Jumping unto the line, Kabushenga told her to make good on her threat. At a “thuperthonic” pace as Kabushenga himself would say, Els sent the resignation mail, Kabushenga assented to it. End of story or was it?
Truth is there was nothing like systematic failure to guarantee editorial independence that could have pushed Els out. It was more of an ego clash and an act of fury. Kabushenga is a self-professed Movementist but he must get some credit---he has given editors in New Vision some space to do their work. That is how the New Vision led the crusade to defend Mabira Forest, one of those incidents that put this government to test.
Of course you can’t downplay the fact that in Els, Kabushenga saw a limitation of his own influence. Els was appointed by the President and some times took instructions from him. A Kabushenga, whom we all know is a politician in-the-waiting, may not have been happy sharing a room with someone who could also get his master’s ear. It would be best if he called all the shots---that is how, he quickly endorsed Els’ resignation. To have one competitor less.
But, and BELIEVE ME ON THIS; Els may have realized her folly. My sources tell me she is negotiating a come back and is willing to issue an apology. Just don’t rule out anything.
And finally, those Namanve bastards (read Red Pepper) on Saturday claimed I and some colleagues were among those fired from The New Vision. Facts are;
I resigned from New Vision to take up a slightly senior position in Monitor. When I tendered my resignation, Els rejected it. My salary was increased but I insisted.
Maria Muzaaki resigned in August to go for further studies in Oslo. She is pursuing a Masters in Journalism there.
Mariam Alowo resigned and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Sweden.
Rita Muzira resigned after getting a job with Uganda Revenue Authority.
Penlope Ankunda has resigned to go into PR, although Kabushenga is still making effort to convince her to stay.
Bernard Opwonya resigned and went to NTV.
It is not true that we were fired. Ignore those gossips.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nasasira is a shameful sham

Now, for starters and probably colleagues outside this country, there is a man who for many score years has passed under the title of Works Minister of the hallowed republic of Uganda. This ministry has over the years got appendages like “transport”, “telecommunications”, “lands” etc.
But the bottom line is that Eng. John Nasasira has been the custodian of roads and their state in this country. Now, one may be wondering why I would make a whole, respectable minister the topic for this blog. First of all, whereas he passes for a roads minister, there are literally no roads in this country. In few places, there are strips of tarmac guarding potholes, and these, we call roads.
Briefly put, this man has been overseeing a ghost ministry. But I wouldn’t mind the ghost ministry since he is not the first along these lines. We have had ghost soldiers, ghost teachers and in Kampala, most women offer ghost love. So, Ugandans being a very forgiving people, I was willing to extend my olive branch to Nasasira---but the problem is that unlike others—he is quick to pin others, forgetting the log in his eye.
Just the other day, after the NSSF wall collapsed (compelling me to write the dirge in my past blog), he rushed to point out that engineers of Roko, the firm building the Pension Towers, should be held responsible for the calamity. Never mind that realizing his goof days later, he called a second press conference to “clarify” his position on the earlier remarks. (Typical African politician mentality).
Now, where on earth does Nasasira (meaning I forgive) get the balls to ask anyone to take responsibility? Nasasira, whose over 10 years of managing the works ministry has seen him oversee road carnage and accidents that have taken thousands of lives?
Where does Nasasira, whose ministry can not even fix the smallest pothole in Kampala, albeit having one of the biggest budgets, get the guts to take others to task?
Where does this son of Kazo draw the energy to blame others when it is crystal clear that had we had better road supervision the 30 lives we lost in Lugazi last weekend could have been saved?
From the Rome disaster in 1991 when an Air Uganda crashed to the latest Lugazi road accident, I have never seen our pothole minister raise his head a single day and admit that he is to blame. When trains collide in China in the subways and when accidents of great magnitude happen in the developed West—ministers owe up and step aside.
But in Uganda—that would be asking too much. That is why the Nasasiras of this world can rush to blame others but are never men enough to say “I fell short of expectations”.

NB: This bad politics may be a question of the past soon. Last weekend, I held a meeting similar to one Obama held in 2002 to brainstorm about his political future. The people think by 2016, I should be ready to storm the national political scene---and bring the much-awaited change. Prayers and support is what I ask of you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For colleagues dead in duty line

Tuesday shall remain dark
A moment of sorrow to this nation
Sorrow, for on that day, 8 brothers passed on
They were never your newspaper VIPs
Maybe never mentioned even at a village meeting
But crucial to the nation they were

Workers, they were
On a workers fund project they sweated
A Pension Tower they built
Never mind that they never had a pension themselves
A tower built from savings of the nation’s workers.
They laboured to put some kalo on their tables
For others like Julius Otike, it was quest for tuition
Tuition to see him rise to a better calling

He ended up buried
In a debris of soil—a soul taken
Though it could have been saved
Had the “Squealers” apportioned the right measures
Of sand and cement.
The papers screamed---but
A day, a week, after,
They will just be another stastic
Added unto the many faceless—
Who have perished—to no notice.

But trust me brothers
I know the roll will call
Steven Odong ----Absent
Willie Okello ----Absent
Richard Angweno ----Absent
Silver Olowo ----Absent
JB Tushabe----Absent
Nasib Kisembo----Absent

But to the common worker
You will always be present
A symbol of resilience, hardwork, sacrifice