Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Christmas: The Real Story Behind It

My Grandma, bless her soul, had a gift for storytelling. Every other Christmas, she’d gather us round and tell us what she said was the true story of Christmas, one stripped of all the glam added to the one we see on TV and read in books.

Long time ago, there lived a fairly rotund man, big of bone and big of heart. Everyone referred to him as Taata  Kurisimasi. He had a long beard and was in the habit of giving generously. During the last few days of the year, particularly on the night of what is now referred to as Christmas Eve, he would go from house to house giving gifts to children who had been good all year. Grandma, who was but a little child back then, says she always got a gift. Taata Kurisimasi’s gifts would depend a lot on what the child’s desire was. Some got chocolate, others got Riham biscuits while others got Sim sim balls, Cool cool bar, safi and some even got the ultimate gift; Nyama bites. Much as many would have loved to get ice cream, it was not practical back then to transport it from place to place in the hot and dusty country Uganda was back then.

Because of the numbers, transporting the gifts called for ingenuity. Taata Kurisimasi, decked in red and white, was always a step ahead. He had a sleigh that was drawn by goats. The goats had names but I can only remember one; Goliath the green-nosed goat. In the sleigh, Taata  Kurisimasi  would put all the gifts and call the goats by name and they’d run a few meters and then fly. Grandma says that everyone knew Taata Kurisimasi’s goats could fly.

Sometimes, Taata would carry only one or two gifts because almost all the children had been bad during the year. Some had broken windows while playing kwepena, while others had taken sips of malwa/ajon while the elders weren’t looking.

I always wondered how the big-boned old man would drop the gifts for the children. Grandma says that he, having spent a good part of his formative years in Katwe, would pry open burglar proofing, get inside the house/hut (for huts back then had burglar proofing), drop the gift under the sink and leave.

Anyone who run into the bubbly Taata Kurisimasi testifies that the first words out of his mouth were always ‘Banange Banange Banange, Merry Chirstmasi!’. This story was picked up by a traveler, a bit of glam was added to it and the media took over. Merry Christmas

Published on December 25, 2011

The life of a mast

Many times in life, you’ll wake up and find masts that don’t belong to you in your backyard or at your radio station. I spent many of my formative years studying physics and agriculture, so I recall that masts grow in moist areas and in areas of good loam soil. Loam soil because it has nutrients and masts need them to grow high to be able to broadcast messages as far as Masindi. So, when this happens to you, as it does to each and every one of us at a certain point in time, here is what to do with the germinating masts.

First off, since the masts germinated on their own because of the good loam soil and amazing climatic conditions at your radio station, please make it clear that you had nothing to do with it. In all honesty, no one can blame you for being endowed.

Since the masts chose your backyard, again, no one can blame you for using them. The beautiful thing about germinating masts is that they grow with a manual; this generosity of nature allows you to read about how to operate the mast as it progresses from a baby mast into a teenager and finally into a full-blown mast ready to broadcast messages, yes, as far as Masindi. When such blessings befall you let out screams of delight. Do the ‘Mast-a-mast’, the dance that celebrates mast growth in your backyard or at your radio station. Pour yourself a glass of fine wine and drink it fast. This wine will be held responsible for any incomprehensible things you may utter afterwards.

There will always be naysayers. Haters. Uncultured people who want to see your fall. They will say all kinds of vermin about you. They will say you planted the masts on your own. Pay no attention to them. Any schooled person knows for a fact that masts chose where to grow. They will ask you to say that you had a hand in all this. Refuse vehemently.

Lastly, and very importantly, to put the uncultured people in their place, direct a few insults in their general direction.

Things UMEME Has Added To Our Vocabulary

Things UMEME has added to our vocabulary

Every other day we come up with a new expletive to use when referring to the entity charged with keeping our homes and work-places lit. Be that as it may, the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. In all this, we never stop to thank heavens for the amazing words the current powerless situation has added to our vocabulary.


Pronunciation: /pawa-hp(ə)ing/


Move from house to house in search of power. The act is done by individuals when power leaves their home. Those with power are obliged by an unwritten law to blare from pricy speakers the song ‘I’ve got the power’ by Snap! so that their unlucky powerless friends can seek refuge .

Usage: Hey Nansikombi, I’m not home now. I’m out with friends, power-hopping

Origin: Early 21st century, of a former British colony origin; possibly from the root phrase ‘bar-hopping’ which means ‘to move from bar to bar while drinking every bit of bottled fermented fruit that available money can buy’.



Pronunciation: /pawa-n^p/


Sleep off the dark hours at home. Usually done from 06:00PM when power goes off to the next morning.

Usage: Richard, why are you so vibrant and super-charged?

Hey man, I power-napped last night.



Pronunciation: /fl^ir-ayan/


Hurriedly iron clothes for work or school before power goes off. Much as it can be done several hours in advance, the adrenaline-rush that comes from doing it five minutes before 06:00 AM, all the while looking at one’s watch, is cited as the leading cause of the act.

Usage: Bosco, I’m going to have to call you back. I’m flair-ironing right now






Pronunciation: /mun-eit/


Eat in the dark when power goes off. Common foods consumed this way include, but aren’t restricted to; sausages, pizza, sim sim balls, roast groundnuts, smoked fish, spaghetti, millet, rice and sometimes chicken.

Usage: Sorry boss, I know I owe you work but I cannot talk right now, I’m moon-eating. I promise I’ll call you back


Pronunciation: /baebuja/

Vulgar slang

  1. Expletive used, away from children, when power goes off


  1. An unfaithful phone battery that doesn’t last more than one-day yet power is on only once in three days.

Usage: I’m sorry Priscilla, it’s not that I don’t love you and can’t call you often enough; it is just that my battery is a babooja

Corporate bureaucracy kills the simple things of office life

If you’ve worked for a company for some time, you know that the true beauty of any company is in its bureaucracy. You simply cannot walk up to the locker and pick pens…no. You need to go to Hadijah because she has the pen that signs the permission slip that grants you access to the locker. After you’ve picked the pen from her, you need to go to Daniel because he keeps the permission slips. You won’t find him at his desk though since he is out for lunch. When Daniel finally comes back from his lunch break, you need to make small talk, all the while trying to judge his mood. If he is in a good mood, make a casual remark about how you’d really be closer to your lifelong goal of happiness if he were to give you a permission slip. In the event that he is feeling generous enough to support your pursuit of happiness and hands over the said slip, take it and make a mad dash for the door lest he attempts to ask you for a tip for giving you the slip.

With the slip and pen firmly in hand, make your way to Fred’s spacious office. Fred signs the permission slips. You’ll find him speaking animatedly on phone, occasionally stopping to re-position the picture from the last management forum he was at in Ghana. When he finally places the phone down, stick the permission slip under his nose and ask for his signature; tell him that you need to pick a pen from the locker. He’ll look at you from head to cheap belt then ask gruffly, “What happened to the last pen you picked?”

This is your defining moment. Everything depends on this. This decides whether you get the pen or not. You could tell him the truth; that the office bully, Abid, made you give it to him. Or you could tell him how it somehow fell out of your pocket during the last stretch of the fifteen kilometer team build run. Insist that you carried it to the run not to get the sweaty pacesetter’s number, but because it is your talisman. And you love the company so much you couldn’t go for a fifteen kilometer team build run without something branded by the company so you took the pen. He’ll ask you to take a seat and then proceed to give you a 25-minute talk on how important it is to value company property. He’ll go to great pains to explain to you just how much the company had invested in that pen all the while making stabbing gestures with his pen. If you are lucky, Fred will sign. If you aren’t, he’ll ask you to come back the next week.

Published on December 04, 2011

Who deserves a raise at work

I’ve never been a boss at a work place. The palm reader I went to said I’d be boss in a few years so it won’t be long now; “Boss Peter, coming to a workplace near you”. I imagine it is very hard being a boss. When do you allow employees to go to pee? When do you tell them to sit down and act their age? When do you pull out the scissors and go around snipping the hair of all those employees with the hairy look going on? When do you decide to ask your employees to buy you birthday presents for the third time in the same month? When do you impose a no-lunch ban? All these questions I’m sure trouble bosses around the world every single day. I don’t have the answers; I’ll do more research when I eventually become a boss. For now, I’ll give tips on what I have managed to squeeze out of my manager friends. How do you choose which one of your employees to give a raise? Here’s what to base on.

In meetings, does any offer you a pen when you search and realize you didn’t carry one?

When they see you yawn at work, does any quickly bring over a cup of tea with a packet of milk biscuits and one cupcake?

When it starts to rain outside, does any come to your office and offer to hug you till it stops? Granted, as the boss you are required by law to turn down the offer and give them the stink eye, but brownie points to them (and a subsequent raise) for making the offer?

When you have very important clients in your office, does your employee walk in and subtly drop praises on your head about how you are the best boss in the world and how they wonder if the sun would shine if you broke a fingernail while signing oil contracts?

Does any of them send you greetings on radio? Do they say your full name? Do they dedicate Celine Dione songs to you on air?

Does any of your employees buy you a soft-haired puppy with soulful eyes to comfort your soul whenever a hot new intern leaves?

Among the people under your employ, does any of them suddenly start to dance and signal “See boss, see me!” when you walk into office?

If any of your employees displays any of the above glorious competencies, that person is fit for an immediate raise, a pat on the back and a year’s supply of branded company pancakes.

Published on November 27, 2011