Saturday, December 15, 2012

These lame arguments about homosexuality have tired me ...

Most homophobes I know are men. They frown at lesbianism and absolutely loath male homosexuality. My theory is that men frown at lesbianism because it threatens what they perceive as their universal access to women’s sexuality. But that is not a very big fear, they can see there are enough women to go around. So they just frown at that. However, male homosexuality is another story altogether. All the homophobic men I know are far more opposed to men having sex with men than women having sex with women. For example, the Red Pepper has often featured women kissing women or even doing more. That didn’t raise much steam but God Almighty, have you seen what the Chris Mubiru pictures stormed up?
My own theory is that men are mostly opposed to gay men because their homosexuality mainstreams sexual vulnerabilities. The possibility of rape, molestation and defilement is often seen by men as a women’s problem. When it comes to enacting (and making enforceable) laws to curb such vices, men are at best lax. At worst they banter about the issue joking that women sometimes bring it upon themselves. Then, they see an image that slaps that bunter across their faces. The cows have come home and the cavemen in them strike out blindly and violently.
I empathize with the terror and anger men feel about these images. Heterosexual pornography which almost exclusively features women as dominated and usable gives me the very same creeps. What I don’t have any kind words for are the lame arguments they put forward instead of admitting their fears. Dear homophobes, the following were never very good covers for your fear and now they are tired. Find new ones.
1.       Homosexuals recruit others and that is how come they exist at all
The propaganda goes that gay people are recruiting young boys into the practice through secondary schools, basketball clubs etc. They say that gay people give these young boys money, promise their trips abroad etc. Well, well … First, this recruitment talk is like school ghost stories. Everyone knows someone who saw the ghost but no one can say they personally saw the ghost. In gay recruitment testimonies, people say that a certain boy in their school was receiving money and literature from a certain organization in a certain western country and he tried to have sex with certain other boys in this certain school. So many certains that do not bring with them any certainty!
Nonetheless, let us look at the evidence people cite for this recruitment. That is; there is literature about gay sex. There are young men who being in possession of such literature try to entice others into performing the acts they see in the literature. There are gay people who proposition others with the promise of money and the good life. All these are also true of heterosexuality. Indeed it is exactly how our heterosexual culture is structured.
From Mills and Boons novels through back issues of the Cosmopolitan magazine to shockingly explicit Luganda pamphlets written by one notorious Hajji, my teenage was littered with literature on heterosexuality and how to have sex with a member of the opposite sex. Oh there was also the culturally sanctioned Senga who gave me a live demo on how to move my body and make appropriate noises. Teenage boys in my neighbourhood were exposed to similar literature and they indeed tried to get lucky with me even at the age of 12. Later on, older men tried too and they didn’t just promise me the good life. They delivered it in terms of gifts and outings. Eventually, someone got lucky. I was a reluctant participant the first few times but now I am a well competent and eager heterosexual. So, was I recruited into heterosexuality? I don’t think so but if we were to logically follow the homosexual recruitment rhetoric, we would conclude I was.  We would then conclude that without these recruitment tactics, heterosexuality would not exist at all.
2.       Homosexuals have no children and therefore threaten the continued existence of the human race
Does the fact that 8% of us are unlikely to have children threaten the continued existence of the human race? Hardly. What threatens our existence is in fact the capacity and tendency of the other 92% to have children. As we agree elsewhere, there is need for population control because the current population growth rates threaten to deplete the earth’s resources. As we deplete the resources but continue to grow in numbers, we will start fighting for the little left. Some would say we already doing that. It is in these resource wars that we are most likely to annihilate our race with weapons of mass destruction. That is the extreme outcome of course. Even if it doesn’t get to that, a lot of suffering is going to happen as we continue to grow while the resources shrink. So if the fact that homosexuals don’t have children such a bad thing? Not for the human race at least. Indeed the human race needs more people to have sex that is as unreproductive as theirs. Heterosexuals; grab a condom, pill or IUD and emulate homosexuals in non-reproductive copulation. The continued existence of the human race depends on that and only a few slip-ups per person.  
Someone just this morning asked me. “Where are the children from homosexual unions? Where do they get their legitimacy from if they don’t bring forth their own?” Answer to first question, the number of children from homosexual unions is increasing actually. I am ambivalent about that. I am all for less reproduction as already stated.  But does choosing or being unable to have children take away a person’s legitimacy? Of course not. Barren people are pretty legit. All of us having sex but using contraception to prevent pregnancy are pretty legit too. No one tries to take away the right to have sex from either group. Do we want homosexuals to give birth to fellow homosexuals before they become legitimate? I am guessing this is the same mentality that made men feel less of men when they didn’t father sons.  Homosexuals are legitimate because they exist in nature. Unless we can find a way to undo that inconvenient fact, we are kinda stuck with their legitimacy. Stop thinking of homosexuals as some other type of specie. They are our children and friends.
3.       Homosexuality is an offence to our African values
Now which ones? The ones about God creating Adam for Eve and so on? That ones we borrow from Christianity and other imported religions? I would be hard pressed to think of a value system less African than these imported religions. Where Africans are accommodating and welcoming to all as evidenced by our accommodation of all the peoples that have come to Africa over the centuries, these religions are exclusive clubs and all those who don’t belong to them are condemned. Where African beliefs embrace many gods at many different levels, these religions worship one jealous deity. Now, this is not to attack those that embrace imported religion over the African belief and value system. I am sure you have your well thought out reasons and everyone reserves all rights to their spirituality. But, for the love of mother earth, please don’t call your religious compulsions African values. They are not. At the very least, we don’t know what African values say about homosexuality. Some say, our ancestors, knew of it, and just let it be. I don’t know how true that is but I know of cliff off which pregnant unmarried girls were thrown to their deaths and none off which homosexuals were thrown.
4.       Homosexuality was brought to Africa by the West
My mother, a professional linguistic, has a linguistic test for determining whether or not a thing existed in a particular culture or place before it started importing from other cultures. She says, such a thing must have an indigenous non derivative name. For example; Ebisiyaga. Related to Okusiyaga. Also related to: Omusiyazi. To the best of my knowledge, the words relating to homosexuality in my language are not derived from any other language. If it is derived from another language, test out the pronunciation and spelling of the above words and tell me the probability that they were derived from a non-African language.
Talk of the importation of homosexuality reminds me of a conversation on the subject I had with my grandmother once. I went to her with the intention of shocking her about this new phenomenon – homosexuality. She listened to my school tales about allegations of it with disappointing calmness and then knocked me over when she returned my storytelling favour by telling me a tale about a prominent chief in Ankore who lived during her childhood. Apparently that chief, (who later donated land to a now very prominent Mbarara school that is also named after him), used to get it on with his male porters. This chief was of course older than my grandmother who was born around 1916. If the he learnt homosexuality from a person of the west, he surely learnt it one of the founding missionaries. I am going to gloss right over the irony that would be in that because I don’t believe for a moment that anyone taught him anything.
We all know the story about Kabaka Mwanga who was homosexual and also unfortunately a pedophile and rapist. But then again, is there a King before Mwanga who would not escape that label today. How might the venerable Muteesa 1 have reacted if a 14 year old girl had rejected his advances? Would this Mutesa 1 have said, “Kiri Okay.”?
5.       Homosexuality is in the same league as bestiality
If a man having sex with another man is equal to a man having sex with a beast, are both sexes finally agreeing with the rant by women that men are beasts? But this comparison which too is most often given by men is personally offensive to me as a heterosexual woman.  Come on guys, we have been sleeping with you for centuries. Are you accusing us of bad taste because we find the repulsive sex (yourselves) attractive?  What is attractive to me can catch the eye of another person, male or female. Get off your sexist horse!
6.       The gay rights issue is being pushed by the West
Well, so is the advancement of democracy…  But this argument is simply escapist - a tactic that is unfortunately all too common in this country.  You are in a discussion where all the pro-gay rights submissions are by the Mukasas, Namubirus and Onens of this country.  The complete season DVD of Chris Mubiru’s sex life that has you so incensed has an all Ugandan cast.  What has the West got to do with any of that?
When I was in secondary school, my classmates found out that one of us was a lesbian. They went on to  persecute her. People would throw cups and plates at her when she walked through the dorm corridors. The savageness of this is what turned me into her friend and raised my attention to the indignities suffered by those against whom the majority choose to be prejudiced. You want to blame the west for me? Well, of course you can. After all, they made the plates and cups that I saw thrown at that girl. We always can blame the West, can’t we?
7.       Anal sex repulses me
Don’t have it then. Duh! You know what repulses me? Uncondomised sex. I think it is gross, messy and full of disease. I try to avoid it except for when the need to reproduce forces me otherwise. That doesn’t mean I am going to take away your right to CNN Live (as one prostitute advertising her business called it).
8.       We are defending family values
I agree with you. If it is going to survive at all, the heterosexual family needs some serious help. We have way too many single mothers and some of them even chose it! Tut! Tut! We have way too many errant men sowing their seed without ever returning to even provide one diaper. But what has this got to do with homosexuals? Want to fix the heterosexual family, then fix it not the homosexuals. Make heterosexual men more interested in caring for their young ones.  Give the young women who are tired of chasing their children’s fathers down a compelling reason to chase again and this time keep them under lock and key. Homosexuals have nothing to do with any of this. In any case, sometimes, they are part of the solution when they adopt and give homes to children the heterosexuals spawned and just dumped at children’s homes. No, you don’t need to thank them for that little part. You can just continue sitting up there on your little high stool.
9.       We have to defend God’s will
You all claim to serve a mighty God. So how about you let him fight his own battles? He’s tried by the way. He reportedly burnt down two whole cities in this same war. I do understand wanting to help him seeing as that effort didn’t exactly wipe out homosexuality but let’s have faith people. I am sure the almighty has another trick up his sleeves. He never fails. He just bides his time, right?

My point is, while your fear of homosexuality is understandable, it is also curable. Every woman in the world is acutely aware of how sexually vulnerable she is as long as sexually active men roam the world. And yet, we are not calling for the mass castration of heterosexual men just so we can feel safe. Instead, we are asking and working on proper laws and systems that prevent and punish sexual violence. Join us. As you now see, it is your problem too.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

At this rate, I will be a drifter at 32

I quit my job. For no job. Why did I quit my job? To be honest, I am not sure I can articulate that why. Every time I have to answer this question, I give a different reason.

To some, I say, my colleagues were frequently and randomly rude, rejecting, prejudiced, passive aggressive  or dismissive of/to/about me. Which is true but, I have never been one to care that much about who feels me how. Maybe the real offence was that they went and ranted their personal feelings about me all over my HR file in a management exercise called 360˚ feedback. Damned if that wasn’t maddening. 

To others I say that I just don’t fit into the NGO sector. Too many things about it rub me the wrong way. The double-or-triple-the-market-rate salaries we pay ourselves to do half what our peers in the capitalist world are doing. The endless procedures and paperwork. The culture that a supervisor reviews  and feeds back on every thing I am doing, plan to do or have done - sometimes even emails I intend to send to my collegues. The expenses on consultants for every damn thing we were hired to do. The number of highly paid man-hours that we throw away, in re-doing or making inconsequential tweaks to each other’s work. The messianic attributes we assign ourselves – saving lives, transforming communities, lifting the poor out of poverty. I could write a whole book of venom on these.

To others yet, I say, I took the wrong turn three years ago. I am a writer. A journalist. I breathe, think and feel the world through a skin that only journalists and writers have. That is; “it is broken, we are broken, and everything we do is broken. Oh, plus, I have seen the end of the tunnel and there is no light there.” What the hell was I doing going into the business of being messiah? My place is in a nook somewhere, smoking marijuana or drinking whiskey while I write things that make everyone feel horrible about their existence.  Yeah, maybe I should be in hiding somewhere, writing that damning book about all things NGO. 

Sigh ... I worry for myself. I worry because even knowing that I am broken, I am not sure I really know how. I am certainly uncertain of what it would take to unbreak me. I suppose I could write and that would be good for my soul. Forget marijuana catalysed books damning NGOs. Maybe I would just write a meditative, soul searching one, on the same subject. I could do the kind of long form journalism newspapers can’t afford to do. Oh, how I have fantasized about publishing long journalistic essays on our feel good but ineffectual and often harmful laws - the defilement law, our insistence on keeping abortions illegal, our chest thumping intentions on same sex relations etc. On a lighter note, maybe I could start a tech magazine for which my incredibly impressive geek friends would write and dazzle the world, the way they dazzle me in beer conversations at bodaboda. Oh my soul would be living in ecstasy. But where would my stomach be living? Could I bring myself and my child to give up the middle class trappings we have eased into in the past three years, for the uncertain life of a writer/journalist seeking intellectual idealism?  What would I do with all the monitoring and evaluation (FYI: it is a real field of knowledge ) I know? Just throw it away and not pine for the millions a month it could buy us? Completely give up the (I admit even now deeming) dream that you can stand within, separate the chaff from the real thing and ask hard questions that make NGOs either save the lives they purport to save or stopping saying that line?

Am I just a person incapable of being happy? Just a lazy bum that will end up complaining about whatever it is that I happen to be doing? After all, I once walked away from a writing job, going on and on about how what we wrote about didn’t matter. Jeez, I spent 17 years of my life being prepared to decide my work life. Why the hell can’t I figure it out? I figured out the God thing, the men thing, the societal approval thing, the ego and self image thing long before I was even of age. I made firm decisions about all these and I have happily lived by them with only passing and passive doubts. How come the work thing is ever so slippery?

Sigh... Maybe I will just buy a smoking pipe, a stash of the weed and get onto a bus to Juba from where I will drift to Chad and other places as random. After a while, I will be sufficiently broke. Then, my employment decisions won't be a matter of philosophy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

My little karma on offensive language in writing

Just the other week, I started a spate by taking exception to the use of offensive language in literature. I took exception to the use of the word screwing in a passage a friend and fellow writer, Brian Bwesigye posted. To answer my comments, he led me to this video of Doreen Baingana talking about the role of offensive language in novels/literature. 

Fast forward to yesternight and I am having a conversation with a former boss who has been contacted by an interested employer for a reference on me. She is happy to give me a stellar recommendation but has some questions. Something (s) on my blog gave the potential employer pause about me. One; do I hate mzungu bosses? Two; do I hate my jobs in general? Karma! 

I was taken aback. No, I was hit hard in the face especially by the ‘hate mzungu bosses,’ part. Wouldn’t that make me a racist? Now I am sure my blog is littered with loath and general whining. A happy sunny day at the beach is hardly the sort of thing I might write to the world about. Even if I had one, I would probably only tell you about the part where I get back home to find the power off. That being my inclination then, indeed not an uncommon inclination among writers, it follows that I probably only made mention of my jobs when they sucked, only brooded artistically about life at its lows and I didn’t tell you about being appreciated by my bosses. Would you anyway have stuck around as a reader if were writing about perfection and all her sponsors? 

My writing inclinations notwithstanding, had I taken it so far as to express loath for bosses of a particular race? I had to re-read my posts. I did find two suspects; 

 From April 2010, at the end of a post publishing a video of her cuteness , the then 3 year old Hailey singing the Buganda anthem, I found this; “Now I will explain why I have not been blogging for this long. Naye do you need me to?  Anyhow, I got this job where two of my bosses are mzungus. You have no idea. They think even me am an expat without a life outside work. I hope that explanation suffices. More, next time."
I can see why that is offensive. It expresses a stereotype about mzungus being workaholic. Should I have written it? Shouldn’t I have? Would leaving it out have made me a better person? I certainly have thought it. No, I have even said it out loud numerous times. My life partner happens to be a mzungu, it is quite the running joke between us. He may suggest something like, “Let’s plan to get together for dinner not lunch on Sunday. I have a report to polish off.”  I will roll my eyes, make a face and pipe out something like, “why do you mzungu people work so hard. You make me feel like I deserve my poverty. ” Usually, it ends with laughter. But then, that is within the confines of a personal relationship. Am I allowed to say it out loud? Write it on the internet? And if I am not allowed to? Well, then, what do we do about the fact that I think it?  

From May 2011, I found this: A muzungu friend and I are attempting to have an honest discussion about muzungus in Africa. In past discussions, I have basically told him that, "twakoowa muzungu interventionism". Give me your thoughts on it.

Maybe, that there, is the really offending one. I work in the development world with international organizations that have their headquarters in the West, which makes the majority of my colleagues mzungus. How do I ever hold and publish the thought that their work is unhelpful interventionism? And being the bearer of such thought, why then do I seek to work with them? Merely to advance myself and career? To use them? Why don’t I go start my own thing – an African thing? 

Ahaa… how could I answer that question without writing a book? Maybe I could reference posts I have put up castigating my society and how it conducts its affairs. Yet, I haven’t (and don’t intend to) go out and start a pure clan of my own. Maybe I could give a lecture about why regardless of whether it offends ourselves or others, this particular conversation must be had. But then, I would be headed down the book path already. 

Then a friend reminded me of a piece of advice I have heard many times myself.  “You know, employers now search your online profile. People are these days advised to be careful about what they put up.” Hmmm… 

This is what I advise. Be honest, even brutally so, wherever it is that you have the conversations of your life. It may be in the bar, over your dinner table at home, at the cafeteria at work or online. Be brutally honest. Maybe an opportunity or two will pass you by. Maybe those opportunities should pass you by. What need never happen is that out of self preservation we all shy away from saying what wants to be said. 

And about those opportunities passing by, maybe we will come to a place where employers recognize and respect that possible access to your thoughts as is enabled by online tools, doesn’t actually mean a right to use them. You know, my boss is probably aware that if he got me drunk, he would hear my most honest thoughts. Still, he is not in the habit of following me around to bars.   

And there;  I even managed to say something good about my boss.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Feeling Sullen

It is said that life is a gift.
But what is a gift that never gives but continuously takes?
If I take this gift of life alone and do not add anything to it,
How much of a gift do I have really?
It is not like I could put it up there on a mantel
And smilingly stare at the ornate gift I have.
Instead, I must add to it, relentlessly everyday for it to be anything at all.

So I get another day of life. I don’t necessary want that day.
Indeed, if I don’t get that day, I will never know what I missed.
But now without asking for it, I have it.
I must find food to maintain this gift of a day of life.
I must find occupation to busy me through it.
What a bothersome gift.
What of it if I had never got it?!

Why was I brought to this place anyway?
I don’t necessarily like it here.
If I had never come here, I would never have missed this place.
Indeed, now that I am here, I positively mind having to keep up the gift.
True, there have been a few days when life was a blast.
But on most days, it is either redundant, bothersome or a royal pain.
Life. Such a random and high maintenance gift to give to another.
You get a gift and from that point on,
The most you can ever achieve is to maintain that gift
How then is that a gift?

I would say life is a responsibility
A meaningless and unnecessary responsibility
But it has us trapped because it breeds itself
You get life and 20 years down the road you breed more life
Another 20 or so years and that life breeds more life
And the infinite life continues
We get life so we can give life
There really is nothing in it for you the individual

Life is simply using you to propagate itself
And get this; it will be throwing you onto the skip
As soon as it concludes you will not be propagating it anymore
Maybe it won’t even wait that long
Perhaps on some random day, the so called gift will be withdrawn
No reasons given, the occasion for which it was first given unexplained
To live or not to live? What of that?
They are all just random whims of a random giver of random gifts

This is not a poem. It just seemed fitting to write shorter sentences.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spent and Vaguely Regretful

There is that one person you fall in love with and know you will never climb back out. They are your soul mate, the love of your life. Hers, like yours, remains permanently lodged in a special chamber of the heart even though she never was able to find appropriate place for him in her life. She is not thinking about that guy today.

Then, there are all the unremarkable ones scattered in your history and perhaps somewhere in your future. They were okay, really. They may have heard trouble pronouncing certain words. Been a little taller than you like. Perhaps tactless. Maybe certifiably dumb. But those little things didn’t really matter much. The thing you really held and still hold against them, is how unremarkable they were. She has a whole universe of those. She is not thinking about anyone of them either. After all they were unremarkable.

Today, she thinks of a guy that never fits any of those boxes. He was not THE ONE. He was not unremarkable either. He was with her back in the day when romance was standing in the dark by your parent’s fence. Together they lived through minor heart attacks whenever adult-like shadows approached. Together they must have killed a colony of mosquitoes. Together they forged through the erratic messages sent by teenage hormones and together came out pure.

He didn’t fall in love with her. He chose her because he held her family in high regard. From him she got her first kiss. Every now and then, he copped a feel but understood the limits of teenage love and respected them. He decided he would marry her one day and then went back to school to read hard so he would provide well for her when that future came. He knew the church they would be married in – St. Paul’s Cathedral. He sang in the diocesan choir. Indeed, he talked to the Archbishop of the time and booked a slot for sometime in the future.

He would have made a good dad. He would have taught his children the right values and treated his wife with respect. Life with him would have been normal. No drama, no overflowing passions. No fiery spates of anger. No sweeping moments of romance. No coldness over unexplained offences. Just a guy who knows what is right and does it. He was remarkable in that so ordinary way! That ordinary way that allows a relationship to be just that – a relationship.

She saw all these things and registered their significance. She knew that one day, with natural easy, her parents would approve of the gentleman he would become. He was right but not the one. She just didn’t feel THE spark.

So she went out into the world to find the spark. She found quite a few. The thrill of backseat car love. The knife-sharp regret that follows drunken choices. The daze of infatuation. The belly-down deliciousness of adult love. The bewilderment of heartbreak. The sting of rejection. She found many sparks.

Now she wakes, to catch an intermission in the movie about her life. Spent before her time, exhausted by the sparks and adventures, she thinks of that guy who chose her way back then. What happened to him and that slot with the Archbishop?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh, all the pain you gotta take as a tourist

It is a hot humid afternoon in Mumbai and I just ticked off the last item on my sites-to-see list. India is a great place to visit but only for those with sufficient stamina. It can be overwhelming. Am just fresh out of all stamina. Gotta go home. Taxi!

In the taxi, I give the driver my address. He glances at it, smiles and says, “I take you see very good silk. Then I take you see good jewellery. Pure gold. Just three places. I take you to see souvenir shop and then I take you home.” “No thanks. Just take me home,” I politely respond. “No ma’am. No worry. All shop is very near. I take you,” he insists as he swings out of the packing slot onto the street. “No. Don’t take me silk or whatever. Just take me home,” I now say more firmly. He smiles, nods and I consider the matter settled. Guess what? Ten minutes later, he pulls onto the pavement and says to me, “Here, best silk, good price. Go see.”

It is not that he didn’t understand me when I protested. Taxi drivers there just don’t care where you tell them to take you. They will always take you first to the shops that pay them a commission for ushering in customers and later on to your destination. You just gotta suck it up because you are a tourist. Your kind was born to be bullied into spending money unnecessarily. And so even on that afternoon with my legs threatening to go into rigor mortis I dragged myself into all three shops he insisted on taking me to and dutifully even if forlornly gazed at their wares. Get this; my eventual taxi fare included the cost of all these detours. They wouldn’t even consider turning the meter off as they take you to places you protest being taken to.

At the time I visited, Chinese shops had not caught on the genius of paying taxi drivers to drag customers in. But, that didn’t make the Beijing taxi experience a straight forward take me from here-to-there experience. Not if you look totally foreign as a black woman speaking zero Mandarin might. After four days of depending entirely on my Chinese hosts to take me from place to place, I decided to venture out on my own. Going out was straight forward. A hotel worker flagged down a taxi for me, gave the driver my chosen destination which turned out to cost me a mere 10 yuan on the meter. Deep breath. Not so fast. It took me atleast 30 minutes to find a taxi back to the hotel after the most stressful shopping experience of my life. No taxi would agree to use the metre. Every one of them insisted I pay at least 45 yuan (for a journey that I knew was 10 by the metre) or go to hell. Damned if I allowed myself be so arrogantly bullied. With creative and vigorous sign language, I finally got one to run by the metre. 1:0 for me! Again, not so fast, he ensured he goes by a route so far that in the end by paid 55 yuan. It is a metred drive I wanted, right? There, I had it!

About the preceding the shopping experience, let’s just say shopping in Owino is child play. That so effective sales trick that says, ‘convince the customer to come to your stall by threatening to pull their arm off’ was invented by Chinese market women. Plus, every buy, (and I mean every last buy including airtime) is a hard knocks’ lesson in bargaining. An airtime card that is labeled 25 yuan may actually hold talking time worth only 5 yuan so be sure to bargain for the last imaginable price. How do you bargain in Mandarin? By vigorously shaking your head at every figure the aggressive trader scribbles in your palm. I hope you remembered to carry some hedex.

But surely, the experience in one’s own home country must be so much more pleasant. For one, you have the advantage that you can curse anyone who tries to bully you in a language they understand. Hihihi. Good luck with finding a tourist bully who even bothers to hear your curses.

I went to the Country Lake Resort in Garuga on the strength of a line on their brochure that promised a restful time at a secluded beach front. Turns out I showed up on the evening when the secluded beach resort had scheduled a Grace Nakimera concert. So I had to suck it up and lie in bed awake for half the night while Grace and her fans partied loudly. A tourist never runs out of back luck. The next night started off restful but at 4am, someone started mowing the lawn. First it was a distant rumbling but enough to keep you awake. 20 minutes later, the mower was about two cottages away from mine. The residual headache from the night before was beginning to pick up. Then, he was right outside my door. I jumped out of bed and protested. Give the guy some credit; he did switch the mower off long enough to allow for my tirade. Three minutes later, he switched it back on with this simple explanation, “Madam, here we cut the grass on Thursday morning.” I called the manager to back me up. I had paid quite a sum for the supposed restful time. He said he was off the lodge grounds but would talk to the mowers. No further word from him. The mowing went on until 8am when I stormed his office packed and ready to check out. Credit here again. He did show some regret that I was leaving. That was before he informed me that he did not have any cash to refund me for the other two nights I had paid for in advance. Two painful nights and quite a bit poorer, I had got my full punishment for the foolishness of playing tourist in my own country. Next time, I want some peace and quiet weekend, I am going to my late grandfather’s farm in Mubende!

It is not always bad service that you have to put up with. Sometimes it is service that is a tad too good. Your plate may get cleared while you pause the meal to gaze into the eyes of your lover across the table. There goes that cluster of olives were saving for last. That’s what you get for going to a resort so good they assign a waiter to stand waiting at every table. But the cookie on annoyingly good service for me was at a lodge in the Murchison Falls National Park area. In the early evening, I got a rap on the door. “Excuse me, I have come to turn up your bed.” As it was, my partner and I were in the process of turning up the bed quite a bit so we giggled, “No thanks. We don’t need that tonight.” A few seconds of silence and we thought we were alone again. Then, another rap. “Can I put down the mosquito nets?” Seriously?! “No, we don’t need that either!” Another, few seconds and “But please you don’t understand. It is a service at the lodge. I have to turn up the bed!” Yes, there is only one way to respond. Stop whatever you are doing and let the guy turn up your bed. You paid for it. Get it.