Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Rude Awakening

It looked an evening of great promise. As a fresher, I had always craved for the first time when I would “hang out” with one of our own—the much craved for university girls, whose reputation I had met months before I went to the Ivory Tower.
Having sat for my A-level in a typical village school deep in Bugisu, my impressions about university girls had largely been formed by stories that the few boys from Namabasa, who had been to Makerere, narrated whenever they came back for holidays. One boy in particular, Wandwasi, told us of girls whose skimpy attire had caught the eye of the “big people” in the city that the wealthiest of men came to set camp at the campus just to have a look at these marvels of creation.
“These girls, who usually go by the names of Conny, Vicky or Valeria,” Wandwasi would tell us, “Speak through the teeth and roll words so easily that you lousy folk of Namabasa would have to strain your ears just to get a word.”
So, when I emerged one of the best in my district and made it to campus, as was the common reference, I couldn’t wait to have my own Vicky. The feeling I had when I first set foot in the famed Mitchell Hall was akin to that of Armstrong when he landed on the moon. I knew one of my immediate accomplishments would be to acquire a Vicky and begin compiling tales for my hungry folk back in the village.
Then came Nabbosa; like the first rain after a hot season. Relieving, soothing, refreshing. The first weeks had been tough for me. It looked like all my attempts at winning attention of the girls were hitting a dead end. All the girls would offer was a “hi”, uttered so fast that it seemed like a burden talking to me. But Nabbosa was different. I met her on the last day of the Mitchell Bazaar, a market display that would in the night turn into an alcohol drinking binge event.
She was courteous and never lost interest even when I told her I had just set foot in Kampala. She was studying the revered Law and took no offence at interacting with me; an Arts student. I had heard of the “attitude” Law students carried and never thought I would get too close to one like I did on this evening.
A few days later, Nabbosa and I were a hot item. My feelings saturated by her, I decided it was time to hit the fun trail. Being ignorant of the city, it was her task to name the place. TLC, she said, was the in-thing for campusers. A health club during the day, university students would descend on it in the evening, converting it into a semi-brothel.
We stormed the club, her in a black, tight-fitting dress that exposed her delicate curves and me in my jeans, that although had seen the better of days, remained my favourite. The T-shirt, with a big Makerere logo and “We Build for the Future” slogan, completed the picture for me. Around us was a sea of humanity. We had to rub and shove before “capturing” some space in a corner.
Nabbosa left to pick our drinks as I sent my eyes on a journey of optical nutrition. They darted from here to there and the skimpy dresses, shapely legs, curvaceous bums ensured I was not starved, though a little scandalised. How would people bare flesh so easily and still look angelic? I wondered.
Suddenly, I was jolted from my dreamy world with a thump on my right cheek. Landing heavily, like a crashing helicopter, the stranger’s hand rested on my cheek, immediately implanting a mark. Half-dazed, I looked up, only to meet another thump, this time accompanied with a rude, “Do you know the girl you are playing with?”
Before I could finish my, “Which girl are you…” question, I found myself held by the belt as I was shoved out of the club, half-walking, half-flying. The so-called bouncers declared me persona-non grata and bellowed that I leave the premises faster than I came.
A week later, I found a note at my B11 doorstep. “Don, I am sorry. I didn’t know how to explain it. The guy who accosted you is Solomon; he pays my fees. I never expected to meet him there; he had told me he was upcountry. Truth is, he is my fiancĂ© and hope is that after school, I will be his wife. You are a nice guy, I hope you find a girl to treasure you. Nabbosa.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The millet garden

Nadunga was the perfect girl. The gap in her upper teeth gave her the look of a princess, her not-so-bulging curves would turn even the most impotent of men on. Her catwalk needed no red carpet, it accompanied her to the well, forest and even pit-latrine.
If her looks sent you crazy, her voice would leave you in a trance. Unlike other girls in Namabasa village, whose pre-occupation was gossip and many times discussing the size of the men’s manhood or lack of it, Nadunga only opened her square lips to utter sense.
You can therefore understand the envy among the other boys of Namabasa Secondary School; when Nadunga chose me as her boyfriend. The battle to win Nadunga’s soul had begun four years ago when we joined Senior One. By then, she had all the features of a belle and the four years had only refined them. Looking at her now, one would see copper ore that had gone through the flame to end up into pure metal.
I was in the crowd of boys who did all that they could to at least get her attention---even if it only meant attracting her smile. Unlike my friends who were gifted in height, I was very short—compelling most of my friends to describe me as down-to-earth.
But I was above the surface when it came to the mastery of English Language. Whereas most of my friends had had their primary schooling in the village, I had studied at Fairway Primary School in the middle of Mbale town. I spoke with an accent that mesmerised the village kids. My English received similar attention like Nadunga’s beauty.
But that was not a straight ticket for me. It had taken three years of making passes and offering my packed lunch, usually busima and malewa, to finally get real audience with Nadunga. And when that came, in the first term of S4, I had spoken in a manner that would shame Mark Antony.
“My heart bleeds for your love,” I had started the conversation conducted under the mango tree. “Your looks have sent electric waves down my spine. For the past three years, I have been a silent sufferer of your good looks. Admit me into your heart and I promise to forever make it flourish.”
She replied: “You look good. I love your English even if I don’t understand what you say. You can become my man but let me not see you with other girls.”
It was the best feeling I had since I had been able to withstand the surgeon’s knife two years ago during my rite of passage to manhood.
But the real quest for Nadunga had not been in her company. I would listen in amazement as boys talked of how they had floored girls, how the girls would scream in the millet gardens as they made love.
My craving to make love to Nadunga grew by the day.
one evening I gathered courage as we munched at the roast maize I had carried for lunch. “Sweetest of hearts---my inner soul longs to mate with yours,” I began.
Looking at me with a blank stare, she asked, “What do you mean?”
“I want to make love to you,” I said this with utmost difficulty.
She promised to think about it and give me feedback.
The following Monday, she walked to me and told me to prepare—for the coming Friday would be our big day. Nadunga was finally letting me take her virginity. I quickly made it a point to brag to my friends, we even agreed on a common venue so that they would hang in the neighbourhood and watch me make the conquest.
The venue was a millet garden near school. At exactly 2pm that Friday, I walked to the garden. I dashed to the corner I had agreed to meet Nadunga.
There she was lying with her legs spread. I fidgeted with my shorts, just as I finished removing them; I saw the black object slide slowly near my foot. God! It was a snake. I did not have the time to pull up my shorts. “Help! Help!” I screamed as I dashed off, not giving Nadunga a second look. My friends jumped from their hide-outs and also ran like madmen. We ran towards the school and it is only when I got to the school football pitch did I realise I was naked. By this time, the whole school had come to see the cause of the noise. I never spoke to Nadunga again.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

MPs must be evaluated

What should have been a peaceful consultative meeting between MPs and officials of the African Leadership Instititute, a civil society organisation, on Tuesday turned rowdy as legislators accused the institute of seeking to destroy them.
Apparently, the institute, headed by former spy chief David Pulkol, has previously carried out an assessment of the MPs performance, with the results, mainly unflattering, getting a lot of media coverage.
So, when Mr Pulkol revealed that a similar report would be made public at the end of this month, the legislators in the Tuesday meeting rose up in arms. They say the methodology employed by the African Leadership Institute is not accurate. They fault the researchers of concentrating on their submissions on the floor of the House, committee sessions and district meetings, yet under the multi-party dispensation, MPs make most submissions in the caucuses and are restrained from speaking on the floor of the House.
I agree that the assessors can be more accurate. What the researchers should do is get records of caucus proceedings from the party whips and reflect these in their findings. They also can look at MPs contributions elsewhere, say international fora. But that does not mean the MPs’ contributions on the floor, committees and districts should be disregarded. The parties may have already chosen movers of motions but surely individuals make suggestions, respond to Bills and can mover Private Members Bills. It is not true, therefore, to conclude that MPs are supposed to be mute just because the parties have not asked them to talk.
By law, MPs are ex-officio members of their district local government executive councils. They are expected to attend meetings there and brief their councils on developments in the House. It is also the time they get feedback from the district. It is foolhardy for the MPs to disregard these meetings, claiming they are run by their rivals.
And just because Mr Pulkol is a former spy chief, does not mean he can’t do objective research. Rather than judge him by his past, MPs should critique his work and methods.
MPs are public officials. It is important that the public knows how they are performing. That is why they should heed Mr Kassiano Wadri, the Opposition Chief Whip’s advice: “Let us open ourselves to public surgery. We must be able to absorb all this positive criticism. The moment we close the door to criticism, we shall be judged wrongly.”

I made the same argument for judges some time back. They hated assessment by the Public Service Commission, saying their independence was at stake. But the PSC is mandated by law to do this, like the judiciary, they are independent. It is only fair that people be checked to see if they meet standards for the jobs they were recruited.