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Starting over…and UBHH

In September last year, I stopped writing a weekly humour and satire column for The Sunday Monitor. By The Way had run 4 years at the time. It felt like I was on the wrong side of the submission deadline every week and the regular owe dance wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

The owe dance is this thing that happens when you hope you don’t run into someone you owe something. You somehow inevitably do because the world conspires for you to. Could be that the boda boda rider, stopping to refuel, parks right next to them. Or of all the places they could have gone to hang out at, they seem to have followed you to the same corner of your favourite spot. Or they chose to sit in the same taxi – as if they don’t know about Uber. Or, the worst bit, they chose to call you. For some reason, that’s the only time the phone doesn’t tell them that the number doesn’t exist on the network.

When the owe dance starts, you are confused. You hope they don’t bring up what you owe because then you can testify of God’s goodness because He answered your prayer that they forget it. On the other hand, you hope that they bring it up so that you can finally share that story you’ve been rehearsing.

I was done with the weekly owe dance and I thought I’d still do this regularly without the deadlines and structure that The Sunday Monitor editor imposed provided. If once a year is regular, I’m still on track.

I went for the Uganda Bloggers Happy Hour (UBHH) last Thursday. It’s this thing where bloggers go and be happy for exactly one hour.  There’s a scale used to determine your fate:

Category Happy for           

 

Fate
1 Less than 1 hour Will be the topic of ridicule on every blog for the next month
2 Exactly 1 hour Attain rockstar blogger status. Admiration all round. High fives. People attribute jokes to you like, “Would you believe what YOUR NAME said once? They said… (Joke that leaves everyone in stiches)”
Quotes are also attributed to you. “You know what YOUR NAME always says, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…”
3 Between 1 and 2 hours Okay person. A few laughs to some of your jokes.
4 Over 2 hours Strange fellow. Strange. Slowly draw away from them and don’t leave your handbags or anything valuable near them. Don’t allow them to contribute to conversation.

From the score card, you can already tell that Solomon King fell in category 4. Nevender, the referee, and Josh, his assistant, didn’t publish the results but I can guess that Safyre fell in the same category, based on the fact that Florentina stealthily edged further and further away from him during the course of the evening to the point that he had to leave early.

Dilman, more used to making a killing in the sun, took a while to adjust to the evening. You could tell from how long he’d process something Edna would say before making an unintelligible response. PKahill, seated right next to him, would nod quite vigorously after each statement either because she understood him or she just didn’t want to upset our awesome writer. Moses and Sheila were pretty quiet throughout the evening and we are still trying to ascertain whether they were not from a shady security agency. Given some of the candid remarks made by a one Peter Kagayi, this is a scary thought. It isn’t helped by the fact that the blogs they said they write for don’t exist and that Kagayi’s has not been reachable since the meet. It is remotely possible that it’s because he’s preparing for his show on the 19th June at 7:00PM at the National Theatre.

shady_sheila

Basiks came so late, he didn’t have time to understand the discussion before contributing. Eloquent. But off topic. Everyone let him fall in porridge. Even you Nevender? We expected more from you.

 

WordPress Child theme – Inheriting parent options

When building a WordPress child theme, it’s important for it to, at least initially, pick-up the settings from the parent theme.

Here’s something that works to allow your child theme to, on activation, retrieve the parent’s theme options:

add_action( 'after_switch_theme', 'themeprefix_switch_theme_update_mods' );

function themeprefix_switch_theme_update_mods() {

if ( is_child_theme() && false === get_theme_mods() ) {

$mods = get_option( 'theme_mods_' . get_option( 'template' ) );

if ( false !== $mods ) {

foreach ( $mods as $mod => $value ) {

if ( 'sidebars_widgets' !== $mod )//Leave out the sidebars
set_theme_mod( $mod, $value );
}
}
}
}

Note that there’s still an unresolved WordPress ticket to have this feature added to core: WordPress Ticket #27177
Code credit: @greenshady

Overcoming fear of our dear leader

The State Minister for Agriculture, Vincent Sempijja, reportedly told an audience in Rakai District recently that many ministers fear our dear leader and, as a result, don’t talk to him candidly. He’s reported to have said that very few ministers can call our dear leader and he too only calls a few of them. Surely things aren’t good if our nation’s ministers indeed don’t have open communication lines with our fountain of vision.

To be fair though, on the bit about our dear leader only calling a few ministers, I imagine he has so many phone numbers in his phonebook, he can’t save any more without first deleting some *cough* Tamale. Just wait a while for more numbers to be erased then yours can be added. Also, you know how sometimes you can’t quite remember what you saved someone as? I imagine this problem isn’t unique to you and me – maybe our dear leader faces it too.

Then, let’s not forget that not so long ago, some prominent person wasn’t taking our dear leader’s calls. Something like that can leave you less excited about making calls willy-nilly.

Our dear leader not calling you isn’t what we’ll address today; we’ll look at the much bigger issue at hand –ministers fearing him. A fear of that sort means a lot won’t get done in the country because you don’t have audience. So, how do you, dear minister, get over that fear? Here are a few techniques my research revealed:

Awareness. This is the first and most important part of this journey. Your admission of the issue is a testament that we are halfway to the Promised Land. It won’t be long now before you and our beloved leader are trading jokes and all your messages to him are getting blue ticks.

WTWTCH? What’s the Worst That Could Happen is the second technique you should use. Using this, when faced with a fear, you overcome it by picturing the worst case scenario. For you who fear approaching our leader, one scenario could be him ignoring you as you talk (or not shaking your hand even when you repeatedly stick it out to him).  Or he could call guards to carry you out. Or he could play Sitya Loss and ask you to do all its dance moves. As you can see in all these scenarios, you are still alive. So don’t be afraid, go for it!

How to meet the Pope

Pope Francis recently told the Uganda government the things he wants and does not want during his visit to the country in November. The list was the kind to make any politician squirm – he won’t sit with any other passenger in his car, he won’t use a big 4×4 SUV vehicle, he won’t meet any political leaders apart from a brief meeting with the president and only to discuss religious matters and he won’t sleep in a hotel. Prior to this, it was reported that government had budgeted at least Shs60 billion for VIP cars.

With rules that strict, it immediately seems impossible to meet the man of God. That notwithstanding there are still a few ways you as a politician can meet him. It is election season so a selfie with the Pope would do wonders for your campaign. Here are a few ways you can approach this mission impossible *play the soundtrack *

Dress up as an ordinary citizen and stand among the crowd on Entebbe Road to welcome him. When the Pope’s being driven past you, make sure you stand out like a rolex in a 5-star restaurant. Wave more than the rest. Say some words in Latin. Carry a placard. Do something. The point here is for him to see and remember your face – that’s all.

Then move onto phase two. When he goes to conduct mass, make sure you spend the night in the chapel. This will ensure that you get a decent seat, close enough to hear every word he says during service. These words are what you’ll use to make conversation when you finally get a chance. For example, you could remark at how well he kept saying, “The Lord be with you”.

Now, you need to make initial contact. Get in line for Holy Communion. Make sure that when you get there, you say a few words to him.

Now to seal the deal, we move to the final phase – a full conversation. Since he won’t allow any passengers in his car, you could pull your political weight and make sure you be one of the four guards running next to the car. This will give you plenty of time to have a long conversation through the sunroof. You could start it simple by talking about the weather then gradually increase the heat by steering skillfully towards your reelection bid and how the Catholics will benefit from you being back in office. This step though requires you to shed some of that political weight in preparation.

All the best, my friend. Omnem medullam. If you are serious about this project, you should know what that means by now.

Before you bare it all…

We live in interesting times, in a very interesting state. This week had a lot of news that read like satire; the only thing reminding us that this was the real deal was who was reporting it (serious guys using that no-nonsense reporter voice). One story that held its ground in all this was one about some things the Minister of State for Lands, Ms Aidah Nantaba, said. She reportedly advised residents of Kayunga District, who are being evicted from their land, to undress before land grabbers as a tactic to scare them away. She didn’t stop at that – she had a strong basis for her sound advice. She said that the residents should do this to emulate residents of Amuru and Soroti districts who undressed to assert their land rights.

I’m not in any way against people standing up for their rights. What I’m against though is that these people are only being given half the advice. Imagine you wanted to run for President and I advised you to release a video and stop at that. In the same vein, our dear Minister of State only gave the people of Kayunga half of what they should do. Here’s the rest:

Consider having some background music. If you are going to do something like that, you might at the very least find ways to make the most of the experience. I don’t have suggestions on how, as a group, you’ll go about selecting the playlist but democracy is generally encouraged.

Have the police in attendance. They’ll form a ring around you to shield you from more people so only the targeted audience receives your message. They’ll also let you know at what point you start to step on the law that made Father Lokodo famous.

Inform the medics beforehand. As serious as this cause is, we need to eliminate the possibility of some people undermining your cause by thinking some screws are loose.

Cover the children’s eyes. Order a 48-hour ban on all media for children. During this time, they should stick to story books and ludo.

Clean-up the internet afterwards. In many areas that have been ravaged by war, stray bombs that remain strewn all over the place usually cause damage several years later. To avoid this, clean up the internet. We don’t want your children (or anyone’s children) to come across those images.

How to go to Mbale

I am late to the party this time; like that guy who shows up when the MC’s inviting the lovely couple to give their speech at the wedding. He even missed the cake! This information though is of such importance to the nation that it still tastes good even as mawolu – kind of like lumonde.

Mbale is a town known for a number of things, such as having the imposing Mount Elgon lurking in its background. About a 4 hours’ drive from Kampala, we’ve never known it to be a difficult place to get to. Hop onto the bus, fall asleep, get off bus. Or jump into car, stop when afande stops you, proceed, stop in Mbale. Nothing too complex. All this changed this week, following some interesting developments in our political environment that have since made the town hard to access. In an effort to help you still be able to get there, here are some practical tips on how to go about it:

First, Mbale isn’t a place you go to without an agenda. Set an agenda. It could be to consult. It could be to stop someone from consulting. It could be to oppose a presidential bid. Whatever the case, have a clear agenda.

Next, announce that agenda. Make it known to everyone with a (digital) TV set or a stable internet connection that you are going to Mbale on a certain day to do (insert your agenda). As a rule, expect objections – Mbale isn’t a place you go to without some resistance.

Next, to put those objecting in their place, get a huge, huge team of lawyers. If possible, get the country’s entire lawyer population on your payroll. If the ones in the country aren’t enough, get some from our neighbors. It is acts like this that foster good regional relationships. Have the lawyers breakdown to the haters why they are wrong for opposing your visit. Since they are so many, make sure their work doesn’t overlap – maybe by apportioning sections in the constitution they should each concentrate on. I joke.

Jokes aside, ensure there’s a welcoming committee in place, ready to you know, welcome you on arrival. They can meet and discuss what food to give you on arrival; (hint hint malewa)

Lastly, they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. In your case, the journey of 760 kilometers begins and ends in a few steps. I’m unhappy to be the one to tell you that you won’t make it there. The welcoming committee will probably have to eat the malewa after all.

When they finally tell you…

Wasap! It’s been 3 weeks since we heard from each other. Long time! Some bats had sent applications for blog tenancy; the nerve of those creatures. My apologies for the absence – the 8to5 and Londa, in that order, had taken their toll. Today and over the next 2 days, I’ll share the weekly articles from those 3 weeks then we’ll resume normal weekly programming next week. Steady? steady. Here’s something from 3 weeks ago – right after the ex-Primier announced his intentions to run for our beloved leader’s job…I know, I know, mawolu, but this is the kind that’s been in the microwave. Happy Monday!

This week ended a long wait; we were finally told what we’d been told we’d be told. “I’ll tell you when I tell you what I’ll tell you and you’ll know that you’ve been told a true tale,” had become a popular tongue twister in schools around the country. Our children were getting migraines trying to say it without biting their tongues. Our teachers were writing the statement on the blackboard, not daring to try and say it themselves. We had nearly reached our wit’s end so the former Prime Minister’s grand reveal was a welcome relief. We can now go back to “Three witches made three wishes….”

In the statement, our former Premier pointed out an ailing system as one of the reasons for his declaration of his intention to run for President. Our beloved leader, it is reported, was quick to throw our former Premier under the (movement) bus, pointing out that he was in many ways behind the system he was now criticizing. If there’s any bus you don’t want to be thrown under, it’s the movement bus (because it is moving, geddit?)

We were very surprised by the announcement. Here are a few other announcements that’ll surprise us just as much:

The grass saying it’ll be green next year, not red. We’d on one hand be struggling to understand how grass suddenly got a voice and on the other, why it chose to stay green. Why not switch things up a bit? You can’t honestly be green that long and still be happy. Something’s got to give.

Boda boda riders, through their association, announcing that for the next six months, they’ll bend traffic rules here and there. They’d tell us that in their current state, the rules aren’t tailored to suit an average motorcycle rider. Things like disregarding traffic lights and policemen, adding fashionable scratches to people’s cars, denting vehicles and speeding off, suddenly entering a road – those things, in the interest of all road users, need to go on.

Ghosts telling us that it won’t be long before another institution is discovered to be harbouring & feeding them.

Potholes informing us that in the next year, we can count on running into them on our roads. They’d tell us that they might move around and change size a little, but they have plans to stay.

All these things, and a lot more, would shock us as much as this week’s huge announcement did. What other announcement would take you by surprise?

Like Museveni, enjoy our roads

In the State of the Nation Address recently, our beloved leader shared what’s been going on around the country. We got to hear about the various developments and also got some sneak peeks into what our future holds. In this invigorating session, our dear leader spoke of how the ruling party has brought about tremendous change in infrastructure, particularly electricity and roads. Not to leave it vague, he went on to intimate, “These days I really enjoy driving around Uganda’s roads”. We couldn’t agree more. For those who seem to disagree (and there’s never a shortage of you haters. We see you), here are a few things to remember to put things in perspective:

The potholes you complain about are actually intentionally left behind during road construction. Those not left behind are left under the road in waiting – in six months at most, they will emerge. Why these potholes? They are for your good actually. See, the goal as a nation is to move towards a good standard of living across the board. Potholes are a part of this plan; the discomfort they bring as you drive is supposed to spur you to work harder to get a bigger, better shock-absorber-having car. This is called Shockbsobs theory. Our beloved leader enjoys the roads partly because he understands this theory (and he’s worked hard and gotten a big car). Also, wouldn’t you want to live in a nation that manufactures cars? How else are we going to get there without you taking regular trips to the mechanic? In so doing, our mechanics’ skill set is growing; it won’t be long before they can make vehicles.

As a nation, our taxable base isn’t that big. The traffic on the roads is to allow us collect taxes from the fuel you are burning. As a nation, we had to move away from running after people for graduated tax. In as much as it was helping us raise a generation of runners (and we were consequently coming close to taking gold medals from Kenya and Ethiopia), it was a tiring process. So now, as you wait for afande to flag you off in traffic, we are collecting taxes.

All these things require is a little perspective. You too can enjoy driving on our roads.

The Taxi Code Continued

Last week, in the Taxi Code, we started on a journey to educate a new taxi driver on what’s expected of him on the road. We shared quite a bit with him but we couldn’t cover everything. Here’s the rest of the taxi driver traffic code.

Your primary goal, as a driver, is to run down that taxi in as short a time as possible. See, new taxis don’t look good. They come off as lazy; any hardworking taxi looks like it is one hoot away from being spare parts in Kisekka market. Those are the taxis we real Ugandans love and are accustomed to – work towards getting yours there as fast as possible.

Pavements are part of the road. They may have some pedestrians using them, oblivious to the fact that you have right of way, but don’t mind them. Drive, hoot, drive, hoot. Also, ask them, as they curse while getting out of the way, “Ogenda?”

taxi_uganda

Humps and potholes are only seen by dimwits. Only people without purpose have time to try and dodge or slow down as they go over them. You have purpose and drive. Drive straight always. Don’t mind the people bickering in the taxi – they’ll thank you later when they get to their destination quickly. They might be in pain but that’s part of the price they have to pay.

Occasionally shout at other drivers as you go past them. It is important that you hurl insults every so often at other drivers for anything that comes to mind – driving slowly, not giving turn signals, taking forever to overtake the car ahead of them. If they want to do these things, they should drive taxis.

The next taxi is your enemy – overtake them at all costs. In your free time, watch Furious 7 and pick up some tips on driving like there’s an army of rabid robots after you. Drive fast. Overtake that taxi ahead and keep the competition between you and it going; passengers love the thrill of being part of a real life car chase – it makes them think they are in a movie.

In all this, once in a while, shock everyone by stopping to let children cross the road. Also, stop and allow another vehicle to join your lane. It is acts like these that keep you dear in people’s minds; after all the cursing, they’ll remember these acts of benevolence and think, “Maybe they aren’t that bad after all.”

The Traffic Code

A friend recently shared a picture of a white taxi driver waiting for passengers. The picture didn’t show whether he was shouting “Nyabo ogenda?”, “Sebbo, tugende?” or “Sir, will you use the transport services of this beat-down vehicle?” You know how pictures be – worth far less than a thousand words, they can’t even tell you what the people are saying. I’m not sure whether fellow taxi drivers gave Mr. Smith (the picture didn’t indicate his name so let’s jump to conclusions together) the taxi traffic code. In the event that they didn’t (and for the benefit of anyone who intends to drive a taxi), I’ll go ahead and share the taxi traffic code in a two-part series. Here are the rules:

taxi_uganda

Don’t ever give a turn signal or ‘indicate’. Indicating is for people who don’t have other things to do while driving. That’s not you. You have to keep focussed on getting your passengers to their destination quickly – indicating slows you down.

Stop at will. No matter where you are, you have the right to stop wherever you want – even in the middle of the road. Everyone can wait. You are their pastor today – teaching them a thing or two about patience in affliction. The stray sheep who feel they don’t want the lesson can find space round you and proceed to their non-exciting destination.

Related to stopping the car at will, start the car at will. You have lots of passengers and they, not you, are an impatient lot. Start the car, turn it into the road and go. Everyone ought to see you coming and make adjustments.

The customer is king…only when he’s outside the taxi. Once inside, you own him. He can’t say anything about how you are driving, what you are listening to or what you are saying. The standard response to any complaint is, “Go buy your own car”. You can sugar-coat this in various ways depending on how good you feel that day.

Taxis generally grow up on a diet consisting of fuel that costs less than Shs. 5,000. They can only stomach that much at a go, regardless of how far they are going. Do not attempt to feed yours on anything more than that lest it dies from indigestion or related ailments. Have you seen all those taxis that give-up along the way and you have to stop and take their passengers? Well, they tried to turn their taxis into fuel gluttons. Don’t be like them.