The Remains of Caltex


Despite being closed, it still stands just at the roadside of a highway in Bukedea district eastern Uganda in teso region. Caltex, known world wide as a fuel station closed operation years back. It has been   here for years. Even when the building close to it has been slightly rehabilitated

DSCF7530_2I chose it because each time i travel on this road, it’s what i see and it’s spotted unchanged

Bee in Motion


When was the last time you encountered with a bee ?  What was your experience like? Coming closer to it is an experience that can be unforgettable most especially if you provoked it.

A bee is an insect that stings and it’s from it that honey is got. There are a number of bee species, but they are common with a striped yellow and black body. A bee buzzes continuously as it flies. I happened to close in to a swarm of them while they were buzzing. Bees are attracted to mainly sweet or sugary foodstuff.

DSC_9349_beeEverybody likes honey. Children and adults too. It has a number of health benefits.

DSCF3010_deadAfter the bees have done their part above and below

DSCF3008_stickyjuiceDSCF3016_dropThe honey that bees produce is sticky and naturally sweet. It comes with very many benefits that you can never think of. Because it has its natural sugars, it is a substitute for sugar. It can be used for beautification, cough syrups and many others.

I Escaped a Nairobi Hotel Inferno


I started an early morning road trip to Nairobi, Kenya for a three-day science communication congress on the invite of Media for Science Health and Agriculture (MESHA). With more than three traffic and several other stops on the way, i almost excused myself each time in spite of having a very light breakfast at 6.30am. Traffic officers lay all over the road and each time they stopped the bus they had nothing serious to say, but asked for Kitukidogo (some money) indirectly, in Kiswahili with the bus conductor.

At one of the Kenyan towns Turbo in the Rift Valley region, we found another gang of these such officers who still demanded 1000 Kenya shillings (about 30,000 Uganda shillings or about 12 dollars) alleging that the driver was over speeding. Failure to heed to their demand, the driver would drive the bus to the police station.

A female bus Inspector had earlier cautioned the driver to slow down and run at a 50km speed. This didn’t amuse me because I had sat in a ‘Modern Coast’ bus for more than 11 hours already and not about to arrive Nairobi before dark. I was worried of getting to Nairobi lately despite the Wesgate Shopping Mall atrocity in the earlier days.

End of Day one of the congress, i and other east african 30 journals were chauffeured to Galexon. My room had not been booked in spite of the earlier email message received earlier. On day two as i strode up to my room on the second floor, i carefully read a fire caution notice before i went to bed; I had just glimpsed and passed it the previous day.

Galexon_firecaution

At 12.30 am I woke up suddenly but lay back after a bath. At about 1am,  in a dreamlike scenario there was noise . I had mistaken it for a fist fight so i ignored. I opened the door to witness the chaos but a huge smoke  welcomed me. This is when i sensed trouble had come. I grabbed my  property close-by forgetting the cellphone and shoes and clothes. On the run, other room occupants had already fled for safety.

Survivors                                                                              Some of the occupants fleeing for their safety

A terror attack had just rocked a shopping mall three days earlier. The  ‘famous’ Al-Shabab terrorists had attacked Westgate Shopping Mall killing several people. While in panic, i remembered a friend online way back  home telling me that going to Nairobi was not the best thing to do at the  time. I also remembered a young woman i had read about and seen over the news who had jumped through a  window of the shopping mall for safety.

It’s then i realised and thought of how people die during fire incidences. The  fire heavily raged on for more than 25 minutes as the Chef and other  attendants  ran to the different rooms for water, when the fire extinguishers  had run out. Thirty minutes later, G4S a private security firm came in handy  with three trucks. I never spotted a police or any  government fire brigade  truck. The manager of the hotel who prefered anonymity said several calls went  un answered. The cause of the fire, he said was probably due to a short-circuit; all mattresses and other belongings in the store got burnt. One Kenyan from the  neighborhood said, “the police is always reluctant when the people are in need”.   Some occupants ran out naked and were given sweaters, blankets.

Galexon building

Fire

Galexon hotel stores on fire (indoors) and the main building above

Extinguisher

These extinguishers were dumped after they run empty. Water was the only option as the fire fighters came in to rescue

We were later booked at Dalton Hotel, within the city centre. I kept asking myself what the stories would be if some of  the occupants including journalists had got injured and or died eventually.

From the aftermath of the Westgate shooting, this kind of situation is unimaginable of how someone leaves their country and gets an accident or even dies in another country at the same period of time when an atrocity of terrorism in nature has just happened.

See this link (40  Journalists escape hotel Fire–daily nationonlinehttp://http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/40-journalists-escape-Nairobi-hotel-fire/-/539546/2009726/-/wdf903/-/index.html

New Kibuli Mosque


I was too used to seeing this mosque Kibuli donned in white and green. And i have always known that the moslem community uses white and green for their religion and nothing else.  For decades, Kibuli moque has been in existence with the two colors. From a distance it could be visibly seen even when in the middle of the city since it’s on a hill. 

Just recently, i get to town one morning and i could not spot the color green anymore. It’s now donned in tan.  

Image

 

Mr. Kampala’s Muscles and Child Grooming


Body building is one of the world’s favorite sports. It involves controlling and develping one’s muscles to become thicker and shapely. It’s done overtime by having workouts mainly lifting heavy metals. Having a body workout is very important for health reasons. Through dehydration, fat loss, body oiling and tanning muscles are some of the ways the muscles are made to appear more muscularly defined and different. BODYB_4copy

BODYB_thigh

BODYB_7 copy

The 13 th edition of Mr. Kampala, a Uganda Body Building and Fitness Association contest is an annual event that was won by  Ben Lukwago. With different categories different bodybuilders cameout as winners as well. These were: Middle weight – Ben Lukwago, Bantam weight – Robert Ssenyonjo, Welter weight - Ali Katamba, Light heavy weight Robert Yiga, Light weight – Samuel Kalema, Heavy weight – Douglas Ssebugwawo.

The crowned Mr. Kampala, Ben Lukwago poses with his plaques
The crowned Mr. Kampala, Ben Lukwago poses with his plaques

One of the prominent and a former winner of the previous edition of Mr. Kampala  and Mr. Uganda, Ivan Byekwaso never contested this time round to create room for other contestants.

Former Mr. Kampala Ivan Byekwaso (in white) is dared by his daughter at the event
Former Mr. Kampala Ivan Byekwaso (in white) is dared by his daughter at the event

BODYB_8 ext

Something that amuses me about this kind of event is the way these “musclemen” show their forceful smiles which are sometimes good enough to scare you off.

Do Martyrs Matter anymore?


For many years, the catholic and generally the christian community has been and still remembers 3rd June as the day for the gruesome murder of  Uganda martyrs, butchered for their faith. The day is celebrated in memory of 22 Christians who were killed in the late 19th Century on Kabaka Mwanga’s (King of Buganda) orders because they chose Christianity as a religion.

On June 6, 1920, they were beatified by Pope Pope Benedict XV, and on October 18, 1964, Pope Paul VI canonised them in the presence of  Bishops gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council. This event is commemorated at Uganda Martyr’s shrine in Namugongo, where pilgrims travel to celebrate the day.

The Namugongo Shrine (basilica) built in 1967
The Namugongo Shrine (basilica) built in 1967

But there are number of questions here, were they really 22? why were really murdered?, were they only Catholics as alleged, were they only men, were they baganda only? Much as records reveal 22 catholic baganda men some disqualify the pilgrimage based on colonial acrimony, rebellion, and tribe. Others people relate this to faith.

Amazingly, only those who flock to this place are ordinary and poor people who trek on foot for hundreds of kilometers and camp for about a week before the D-day, 3rd June. There are many catholic celebrities in Uganda who never go to Namugongo and more of the poor peasants. In fact, the peasants comprise of the biggest number. They do the actual trekking to the shrine and are composed of the lower class that is the women, farmers and the poor. The rich, celebrities and others in the corporate class like the priests who conduct prayers during and before the day are chauffeured in cars on that day. Many trek from as far Arua, Moroto, Kabale, Soroti, Gulu. But there are no groups that walk from Ntinda, Katwe, Namugongo..(kampala surbus).

Some of the pilgrims that flocked to the shrine days before the celebrations
Some of the pilgrims that flocked to the shrine days before the celebrations
Plaiting Hair
Earlier pilgrims utilising their time by plaiting their hair
Nap
Some women taking a rest after trekking several miles
Bible preps
A pilgrim takes notes days prior to the D-day

Sister

Many people throng the shrine in big numbers on this day, but some end up in crime. I look at this as religious hypocrisy. While  others genuinely go to pray,and repent many others turn the pilgrimage for business, robbery and the like. I thought the place was supposed to be holy and not abominable.

This day undermines the event. It’s mostly women who attend and sometimes are turned away when it’s time to talk about domestic matters. It’s the very religious section that oppresses women when it comes to domestic relations issues.

In fact i wonder whether martyrs matter anymore and whether the day is relevant anyway since what the martyrs died for was their own choice. This event should be used to address many more serious national issues and celebrated as a national event.

 

CECAFA In The Stands


In my life i had never dreamt of photographing sports pictures.  Instead, being a freelancer, i sat in the stands as a spectator for a few games of  the recently concluded 36th edition of the CECAFA tourney. CECAFA is the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations, which  Uganda has won a record thirteen times. And this year, it was held in Namboole, Kampala-Uganda.

Fans throng the stadium
                                                               Fans throng the stadium

The Uganda Cranes Uganda’s national team emerged champions  for the thirteenth time and conceded only one goal.

Fan with Uganda Flag

The tourney saw the world’s newest country South Sudan also participate in their first international football encounter though it was eliminated in the group stages.

A South Sudan player (red&black) heading for the ball
                           A South Sudan player (red&black) heading for the ball
Some girls entertaining the public
                      Some girls entertaining the public at the opening
Excited fans singing anthem
                                       Excited fans singing anthem
Young boys watching a helicopter traversing the Namboole skies
             Young boys watching a helicopter traversing the Namboole skies

For a few games, save for the final, i sat as a spectator and fan of the Uganda Cranes at the stadium looking at 22 big men running after a piece of 12 patched pieces of leather and here are some some moments  i got.

Free and Cheap


AIDS is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that is caused by a virus called HIV. The virus is contracted through a number of ways; having multiple sex partners, but also having unprotected sex, use of  used needles, syringes, razor blades and the like. It’s a disease that has no cure but can be prevented. In Uganda, every person has been affected in one way or the other . At least everyone has lost a relative due to contracting the disease.

Free condoms like the above is one of the ways to prevent contraction of the disease. But also using the gadget carefully is another

Ever since this scourge came into being, a number of Non-Governmental Organizations, Government, Aid agencies and other international corporations have been and are still struggling to find solutions.

The introduction of Anti-RetroVirus (ARV’s) has slightly improved the situation, where the infected now live longer and positively but this has increased the number of new infected people.

According to a 2011 United Nations Aids (UNAIDS)  report,  the scourge prevalence rate is now at 7%  with about 1.3 million people living with the virus.  And yearly, there are new infections on the rise, amounting to 130,000.

Despite introducing  free and cheap condoms, ARV’s, there still seems a laxity in taking precautionary measures carefully. Some people still live a luxurious and careless life.

Wedding Day: Nabukwasi


Getting married is one of the things many people crave for in life. It comes with costs- financially, emotionally and also being a life commitment. The other day, I overheard one young woman saying, she does not mind whether her marriage lasts for only three days for as long as a man takes her down the aisle and for as long as she dons the gown.

Below, i captured some pictures of my sister who is just a month in this institution, marriage.

Balawoli: People’s Parliament


Balawoli is a sub-county located in Kamuli district east of Uganda. Of late, it has adopted the Neighborhood Assemblies an idea it borrowed from Kisumu, Kenya. The Neighborhood Assemblies is a people’s parliament, a parliament based at the grass root level which holds its leaders like Members of Parliament, Counselors, Local Council persons accountable.  This  parliament and this district in particular was formulated to seek for proper accountability. In this district is also where the Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda Hon. Rebecca Alitwaala Kadaga hails from.

The Speaker Of Parliament of Uganda (above) and the Balawoli speaker in Robes

The first of it’s kind was first introduced in Rakai  district (about 205miles/303km) from Kamuli and south of Uganda bordering Tanzania. The latter has also been introduced in Kabale, Tororo, and Kayunga. To achieve this, the Development Network of Voluntary Indigenous Associations (DENIVA) has been on the forefront

A cross section of the plenary listening

As poor service delivery hinders the locals, the neighborhood assemblies has been established to force leaders accountable.

Balawoli speaker receiving instruments of power from the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, at the Neighborhood Assemblies’ launch
The education minister of Balawoli parliament (L) consulting his senior

Visualising Moment to Moment

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