Monthly Archives: January 2015

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You made the list, Congrats

It’s graduation season. You made the list. Congratulations! If you breezed through university, this isn’t for you. This one is for you who knows that being on the list didn’t come easy. You spent nights awake, some in bars to keep your friends company (you never liked the places at all) but the nights I’m referring to here are the ones you spent making sense of your hastily written notes. You photocopied notes and hand-outs to the point that you knew the serial number of the photocopier from standing next to it for so long. You learnt to copy, paste, change font, change spacing and edit a few lines so fast, it became second nature. You endured brokenness with strength and resolve, not letting your dress sense or your disposition be put down by the state of your pocket.

graduation_celebration

You put up with absent lecturers, exasperated at how you’d have to make a long trek back to your place of aboard. You walked campus, from one end to another, so much that you had names for some rocks along the way. You benched and were benched, putting up with lame conversation about the weather (for you who was benched) and struggling to keep conversation flowing (for you who benched – deftly switching conversation from the lecturers’ dress sense, to the colour of her carpet, to how fast her percolator made your tea and inevitably, to the weather).

You whose marks got lost and you made innumerable trips to get them fixed. You who, for some reason, the University always claimed you owed them money as exams approached. You who had to toil to get fees for University, employee by day, student by night, struggling to keep sleep at bay. You who always had to fight to get an examination slip. You who had to talk to lecturers so many times, explaining, cajoling.

Graduation is not an end in itself by any measure; it is a huge milestone nonetheless. Those saying that you shouldn’t celebrate, that you should be focussed on getting gainful employment (or on starting your own business) surely don’t know how much you invested to get this far. They are that tour guide that points out the next mountain as soon as you reach the peak of the one you’ve been struggling to climb. Take stock. Celebrate. Enjoy this. And give thanks.

This season is particularly special for me as well; my brother made the list. There’s every reason to celebrate. Congratulations Dan. I’m very proud of you.

The joys of a long leave

It is said that civil servants have it good. Modern folklore has it that they have this job feature that allows you to leave your coat on your chair as you step out to attend to other business. The same folklore says they go for innumerable conferences, have long study leave, have long lunches, arrive late and are closer in line to being President since they, like him, are civil servants. Folklore seems to be trying too hard to paint a picture of job heaven. The same folklore though has fed us a lot of inaccurate information before so it isn’t to be wholly trusted.

Nothing could prepare us though for true job heaven on earth – civil service in India. It was reported last week that an Indian public official was sacked for taking leave 24 years ago and never returning to his desk. Assistant executive engineer A.K Verma went on leave in 1990 and has only just been sacked for “willful absence from duty”. If you thought the people in Sweden, with over 1 year maternity leave, had it made, you are swimming with the small fish. 24 years. When you think about it, a time off that long is good for the country – rather than put all their nation-building energy into one activity, it allows citizens to go do other activities so the country can develop faster. Then, for workers who don’t say good things about their workplace, 24 years is enough to get them energized and excited about work again.

One downside is the few restrictions it imposes on how young employees should be when they join the workforce. It also makes scheduling leave a bit tricky since the company would probably only allow one person off at a go.  If you are that lucky person, what can you do with the 24 years?

You can have a son, A.K Verma Jr., raise him, train him and have him take your job before anyone notices that your leave has gone on too long. If your genes are strong actually, even your workmates won’t notice the difference – they’ll think you ate vegetables.

You can become President of Uganda and still have a number of years left on your current term. You’d need to officially ask for an extension to your leave because the 24 years wouldn’t be enough

This year, be a hero

Happy New Year! This is my first post this year. It was published 2 weeks ago by The Sunday Monitor though I’ve been very slow in publishing it here. I do have 3 other articles I’ve been equally slow to publish. *Hides*.  I’ll publish them this week, one each day starting tomorrow. *scouts promise*

Also, starting next week, I’ll start to expand my writing to cover topics outside my comfort zone. I intend to start writing about manhood, marriage & spirituality. I’ll have a separate mailing list for those just in case that stuff isn’t your cup of porridge. Kale, here’s ‘This year, be a hero‘.

A happy new year to you dear reader. I hope the festive season allowed you to spend some time with your family. Going by the smooth-flowing traffic, the holidays are still going on for some of you. For many of us though, the year has already begun to show its hand. Only a few days in and we’ve seen the resignation of a Presidential Adviser, sadly lost prominent Muslim leaders in a gruesome manner, and  heard of an individual without transport to meet the Head of State only for them to be seen together a few days later. Though it’s shaping out to be a year bent on playing hardball, it’s a great one to be writing humour and satire; our politicians seem to be falling over themselves to give us material.

The year’s hardball notwithstanding, focus on doing a Batambuze. A resident of Kaliro district, Mubarak Batambuze’s pregnant wife was eaten by a one-tonne crocodile last week. I can’t begin to imagine his grief but here’s how he reacted,

“I went to a blacksmith and paid him Shs. 20,000 so that he could make me a very sharp spear.”

It is one thing to see a scripted Jason Statham react to the loss of a loved one by going after their killer and after initially being beaten-up, eventually wiping the make-believe blood off his lip and beating the guy to a pulp. It’s another for a Batambuze in Kaliro to attack a 25-foot crocodile with just a “very sharp spear” and slay it.

Who are Batambuzes?

They see the grim situation but vow to take deliberate steps to address it.

They aren’t bogged down by the size of the beast they are up against. What is your beast? An unhealthy weight? Bad spending habits? Debt? An unhealthy lifestyle?

They don’t play blame games. The village leaders claim that they’d called the authorities several times to capture the crocodile to no avail; Batambuze could have licked his wounds and blamed those authorities till the croc belched.

They pay the price. For Batambuze, it was Shs. 20,000 to get a spear. For you, is it gym membership? School fees to go study? Going for counselling? Letting go of some friends? Moving to a humbler abode? Selling the car?

They need a team but it isn’t an excuse. The crocodile is believed to have eaten five other women and children in the village; Batambuze could have organized a team to attack it with. He, however, went the journey and, here’s the clincher, called five other fishermen to haul the crocodile with him after the kill. Are you waiting for a team before you can slay your crocodile? Are you waiting on running buddies to start your healthy workout?

This year, be a Batambuze. A true hero. Do even better, do a (insert your name here), slay the crocodile before it strikes. Happy New Year