Monthly Archives: March 2015

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Beating up the hero

This year started on a high for ‘By The Way’; the first article of the year was a call for every reader to be a ‘Batambuze’ this year. Mubarak Batambuze is a resident of Kaliro district who became a hero after killing a crocodile that had allegedly killed his wife and several other villagers. Batambuze’s story, in another place, would make for silver screen gold. Jason Statham, with his kicks and mean look, has nothing on a villager who bravely took on a crocodile that weighed almost a tonne with a spear and an axe.

This week is extra special – Batambuze did it again! A friend of his went fishing and got attacked by a crocodile. The friend promptly made a phone call to Batambuze who showed up a few minutes later, captured and locked up the crocodile for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to pick up. This felt like that moment you listen to a new song from an artist whose first song you loved so much, you were worried they’d never release anything as good-and then they did! Such exciting stuff. Batambuze is the wonder who went beyond his one hit (because he actually used multiple hits to subdue the crocodiles).

The story isn’t without some evil villain trying to steal our hero’s shine; in our case, it’s Oswald Tumanya, a senior UWA officer. He is quoted to have said, “We have over and again warned him (our hero, Batambuze) but he is adamant but he should be ready for the repercussions…The Police should trail and arrest him red-handed capturing a crocodile and be charged in court, otherwise, his being a celebrity may cost him his life.”

Our nefarious villain argues that he’s concerned that Batambuze is endangering his own life and he should be arrested. If you followed the story from the beginning, residents and their leaders are reported to have made several attempts to contact UWA to capture the crocodiles. UWA allegedly, didn’t intervene, citing a lack of fuel. Interestingly, in the second case, Batambuze didn’t kill the crocodile – he captured it and handed it over to UWA, the guys whose job he’s doing (while they plot his arrest).

Wouldn’t it be easier, Mr. Tumanya, to train Batambuze in better ways of capturing the reptiles? He’s already doing it anyway and the community now calls him, not UWA (since it wasn’t there when they needed it). Capture the crocs, not Batambuze. It brings to mind several other instances where we arrest people we should be nurturing.

One thing that changes all

This week, something magical happened. If you ignored how hot it was, closed your eyes and listened –really listened – you’d hear an unmistakable sound of joy slowly rising to the sky. This sound, still discernible right now if you are reading this less than a week from when it was first published, is actually Ugandans making merry.

Initially, it was hard to make out the source of all that joy but I decided to employ the investigative skills I’ve picked-up from observing our policemen. In a few hours, I was able to establish, with certainty that the happiness was because finally, we as Ugandans could reach our beloved leader directly! For you hearing this for the first time, I apologize for not asking you to sit down first so that the news doesn’t knock you off your feet.

So, a group of young, visionary developers came up with a mobile application that allows you, dear citizen, to reach our benevolent leader directly. All you do is download the app (called “Reach the President”) and right there and then, you can start sending messages to the president. What’s more amazing than that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Think of all the things you could say to our leader.


The ‘Reach the President’ app

To put this in perspective for you who’s still failing to see how ground-breaking this is (it’s up there on the list, next to the moon landing), think back on all the things that distinguish our leader.

First, he gives out money in sacks. With this brilliant app, you can request for a sack of your own! Here’s a sample message to get you closer to your sack.

“Dear Mr. President, I adore/like/admire you. I’m currently going through {insert financial woes, summarized. Two sentences at the most}. Could you please help me? {OPTIONAL: You could specify how many sacks you need. Don’t be greedy and ask for too many since the cake needs to be spread to many other people}


Your loving fan and guaranteed vote next year

{Your name}”

Do you have a function you need him to grace? Do you need recommendations on what to read? Do you have a great joke you want to share with someone who’ll understand it? Do you want business advice? Most importantly, do you need advice on where to put your vote?

Let’s export more medics

Our beloved leader has many times spoken of how on close examination, we are the donors. In the eloquence we’ve grown to expect, even demand, from him, he’s many times said that in exporting raw, unprocessed goods and eventually buying them back at a higher price, we are, and have been, funding several nations for a while now. I think in an effort to step up this benevolence of ours (because how can we be anything but benevolent yet we have a strong, visionary, generous leader), we exported a few medics to the Caribbean. We are sending 263 health professionals for work in Trinidad and Tobago.

If you aren’t informed, you’ll immediately think that, like Dr. Hilderman, these medics are going into the music industry (because who makes greater music than people from the Caribbean? A day there and you’ll have a hit album out. Jah man!). They’ll trade the stethoscope for a microphone, grow some dreadlocks and then find some vegetables to get them energized enough to perform before the thronging crowds that they’ll undoubtedly draw on their return. They’ll still cure people, but the healing they’ll bring will now be through music. Jah!

If you are in the dark, you’ll also think that Uganda has too many medical professionals. You’ll think that we had so many, some had taken to riding boda bodas from lack of work as medics. You’ll believe that chances are very high that that person serving you drinks at the bar is a doctor.

If you are uninformed, you’ll grumble about their destination. Trinidad and Tobago? Really? They could offer our medics better conditions? Really?

The truth is even in our time of dire need, when hospitals lack not just medicine but personnel, when mothers give birth, unattended, on hospital floors, when people die from being ‘operated’ on by askaris stepping in to fill a gap, when the few doctors we have must do 20-hour work days juggling their private and government work to keep gnawing poverty at bay, when sick people have to walk for miles to the nearest health center, that even in all this, we chose, as benevolent people, to give. Precious lives in the Caribbean need to be saved, how come the uninformed can’t see that?

It gets even more interesting – after completing their two-year service in the Caribbean, we’ll send another contingent of medics to replace them – a cycle the ministry of foreign affairs promises will continue for as long as there is demand in Trinidad and Tobago. Our generosity knows no bounds.

When the Police get high

In the Daily Monitor, it was reported last week that police in Gulu district had arrested a police officer for smoking and being in possession of marijuana. The high officer (that should have been high-ranking) was arrested after his colleagues tipped-off their bosses of his strange behavior during working hours. In the story though, we didn’t tell you what that strange behavior was; that bit was intentionally left out for By The Way to fill in. So, how did these men of the law detect that their colleague was serving other forces, and not just the police force? What gave afande away? It was very hard to get in touch with all the officers in this story so I did due diligence and made a few (intelligent?) guesses on what might have transpired.

Afande was flagging down animals instead of cars. His colleagues first became suspicious when he motioned for a stray dog to stop. He then asked for its driving license. Naturally, the dog didn’t stop (or have a driving permit for that matter); if anything, it seemed to move away from what it probably perceived as an attacker. Afande saw this as dissent; how could a driver refuse to stop when commanded by the outstretched arm of the law? A heated pursuit ensued (much like the ones in movies where cars hurtle down streets, knocking over food stalls and surprisingly not killing anyone in the process) but this chase involved a lanky figure running in zig zag and a yelping dog running for its life.


Afande’s colleagues murmured a few things but eventually brushed it off – maybe he was just happy. The next thing though was that at parade, afande would suddenly break out in dance. He’d energetically motion for his friends to join in, asking whether they couldn’t hear that great Lingala song playing.

It seems though what eventually pushed his colleagues over was when he started to walk away from them to take calls from Obama. He’d talk for a number of minutes, laughing heartily, punctuating the call with “Yes President Obama”, before finally hanging up. It didn’t help that many times during these ‘calls’, his phone was off, from not being charged.

Not wanting to find out how high this road would go, afande’s colleagues finally turned him in.