Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tribute | Fare thee well, Bonney Katatumba

“Katatumba Academy /
Is the School for you and me / “

Thus went a Radio Uganda jingle for Katatumba Academy, back in the day, circa 1997. This was one of the several ventures that fallen businessman Bonney Katatumba tried a hand at.

Katatumba Academy, back in the day, held annual quiz competitions for schools within Nkore region. Pleasurable moments like these usually gave us opportunity to mingle with students from other schools in semi-picnic setting, and (probably) set our hormones on a test drive.

Such galas were, generally, fun. People had fun and drank and ate to their fill. We did trivia and everything else that a good quiz competition should feature. Winners walked away with prizes, courtesy of the school’s management.

Colorful tales from peers who had been there before always beguiled a teenage me, making me look forward to the day I would have my chance.

It wasn’t to be long.

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. A five-man delegation of myself, John Mark Ssebunya, Amos Nuwagaba, Chris Mukwaba and a fifth guy (I forget the name) floored our competitors with a record margin, emerging top of the pack. Among the prize items we took were five crates of Coke (which was a still a big deal, then).

So we made a colorful return to our school with swag, each of us feeling like a young Jesus during that triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

This was one of my earliest memories about Bonney Katatumba. Today, the good old businessman succumbed to a combination of pneumonia and Asthma in what should be a sad day for anyone who knew him, and/or had interacted with him on one way or another.

Since condolences to the bereaved family. We grieve with you. And may the good lord comfort you during this difficult moment.

Rest thee well, Bonney.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Music | The truth behind Mbilia Bel’s legendary hit, Nakei Nairobi

Nakei Nairobi (I am going to Nairobi) actually had two versions. In the original version, Mbilia Bel sang about Duni (Elodie), a childhood friend who had gone to stay in Nairobi, a friend she now missed.

She heard about the issues this friend was facing in a foreign land, so she decided to go and bring her back to Kinshasa.

When Moi executed his madness of banning foreign music, Tabu Ley - who had written the song - decided to twist the original version and come up with a Kiswahili version.

The new lyrics were changed to mean entirely something different from what had been originally sang about. This new version went like: "Tuende Nairobi, tumuimbie baba Moi (Let’s go go to Nairobi, so we may sing for baba Moi").

Listen to the original version and you will see the differences. The song talks about a certain Duni, in the chorus;

"Nakei Nairobi, po na salisa Duni /
Nakei Nairobi; /
Na ko zonga na Duni"


"I'm in Nairobi /
To lend a helping hand Duni /
I'm in Nairobi /
I will bring Duni"

You also realize that she talks about her and Duni having grown up together, like twins and stuff.

"Na yoki Nzambe motindo ya mpasi, ba nyokoli yo /
Yaka pembeni nazali se wayo ya motema /
To vandi bo mwana, to meseni nga nayo, Dunia /
To bandi bo mwana, ki moninga na miso ya mama /
Ezali mabe nayoka okomi na pasi naza te /
Na koya na kenya na ya ko zwa yo tozonga /
na Kinshasa. Ya Elodie, mapasa /
lokumu ya famille o ti wapi? /
Ya Elodie, mapasa /"

Meaning (translation may not bring out the exact picture, but you get the point);

"I have heard of the problems that now bother you /
Come to me, my heart is your home /
From the childhood we’ve been there for each other, Dunya /
A childhood friendship, born under the watchful eye of my mother /
It is terrible to heard that you fall sick and I am not able to help you /
I will go to Kenya to bring you back to Kinshasa /
Please Elodie, my twin /
What have you done to your family’s name?" 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lifestyle | Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem! That’s what is on my mind, this morning.

Taken from Book 1 of the Roman poet Horace's work - Odes (23 BC), Carpe Diem is Latin for "Seize the day" (I love poetry, but I haven’t read this particular book – in case you were about to mistake me for some pedantic poetry aficionado).

It is an abridged form of the phrase: "carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero", meaning "Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow" (Wikipedia).

If you – like me – grew up in the village in the late 90s and early 2000s and happened to have followed Sports shows on Radio Uganda (Green Channel, to be exact), you must have heard about some guy called Kenneth Musisi. Musisi worked alongside the likes of Sam Mpoza (who has since joined NTV).

One Tuesday evening, Musisi said he had a "grand announcement" to make. He said he would be introducing someone "we should get used to", on his show, the following week. Someone who would step in whenever he was away. He would also co-present with him, once in a while.

That person was Innocent. Innocent Tegusuulwa. One thing led to another, and Innocent later found his way on Bukedde TV. He’s since turned into a motivational speaker of sorts, among other trades.

He is the guy who coined that now famous Luganda mantra: "Toli Mwavu, omutwegwo gwe mwavu" – which may be translated to: "You are not poor; You just have a poor mindset".

Tegusuulwa seized his moment, and has since never looked back. Today, he is certainly a bigger brand than the man who introduced him onto the scene (does Musisi still do sports, anyone?).

His is one of the several examples anyone could give you off-the-cuff, of different people who have gotten chances and taken them with both hands.

Chance knocks once, they say. But sometimes several of them come your way. Opportunities that have capacity to turn your fortunes for good.

Sometimes the magic bullet to your quest for success could lie in that one opportunity. Take it and your dreams could come true, pretty much sooner. Bungle it and you’ll be left licking your wounds. Forever.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Business | Quality Supermarket Ntinda Closed

So, Quality Supermarket Ntinda has folded. 

It looks like the purchasing power for the folks that shop from, or stay around Ntinda was overestimated. Or maybe the projections were wrong. 

For a business in such a prime location, one would have expected them to stay afloat. After all, a couple of competitor stores remain in business and – seemingly – doing well.

The guys at Tuskys’ seem to have gotten over that rotten chicken scandal and turned their fortunes around – at least going by the shopping traffic. Capital Shoppers does remain solid, too. 

Now, since management deemed it wise not to communicate the reason for this move, we shall be left to speculate on what could have gone wrong; 

1) Variety and pricing. Each of the other competitors had a better variety of products. 

Quality Supermarket had no food section, aside from a small area of the building that featured cakes and – seldom – oily beef Samosas.

Compare this with Tuskys and Capital shoppers that have a wider range of services ranging from food to bits of furniture and other products. 

Unless I had a particular item I wanted from Quality, it was always going to be difficult for me to make Quality Supermarket my first port of call. 

2) Business hours. For the few times I tried accessing the place past 9PM, the staff were always in retirement mood. 

It wasn’t uncommon to find those mean-looking security guards manning a wet entrance with puddles of filthy water. 

If you went to Quality Supermarket wearing some thin-soled footwear, you were almost certain to earn yourself a free muddy footbath. 

Cleaning for the next day would have commenced already. 

3) Parking. Despite the seemingly ample parking at the complex that housed the supermarket, it wasn’t always easy to find parking. 

This could also probably be due to the different businesses in the area. The guys who occupied most of the parking were probably doing different business, for the tills almost always had no queues.

4) Probably the landlord saw it fit to increase rent, and the guys couldn’t cope. This is another theory that has been thrown around. We can only speculate. 

Any positive points? 

It certainly wasn’t always gloom at Quality. Some items were fairly priced. They also had a knack of having that one item that would have eluded you elsewhere in the neighborhood.

They had some decent cake, and their in-house bakery had that 1Kg bread that always felt 1.5 times heavier than the 1Kg inscribed on the sachet.

Oh, and the customer service wasn’t exactly as awful as that at any of those Mega Standard Supermarket branches.

Music | 18 years later, the Lingala Influence on our music still lives on

"Natamboli na mokili yo, oh! /
Nzambe, pesa ngai nguya. Nakobala mwasi kitoko" – Jaribu (Fille ft Samie Rich, 2016)

"Natomoni miso na ngai na likolo namoni te, lokola yo" – Ujuwe (David Lutalo, 2015)

"Mo, motema. Motema na ngai /
E-leli yo, mingi /
Elingi mingi, nakokende/
Linga ngai, Cherie /
Linga ngai, oooh!" – Mutima (Keko ft. Charmant Mushaga, 2014)

"Nalingi mwasi kitoko, kobina na ye tonight" – Pretty (David Lutalo, 2014)

"Ma big big God-o /
Tango nyonso azali Nzambe kitoko /
Tango, tango nakoyemba nakokanga, eeeh /
Afanya na nakembo /
Big big God-o
Maboko likolo, likolo, likolo likolo /
Likolo, likolo, likolo,likolo,likolo / " – Big God-O (G-Way ft. Cooper, 2013)

"Olobi ndenge nini, bana Congo, bapewe fasi" – Beyi Kali (Jose Chameleone, 2004)

These and many others highlight the heavy prevalence of Lingala undertones in most of today's local music.

Did they say they were doing away with anything Congolese in our music? Looks like the influence just won’t go down without a fight, seeing as our artistes still smuggle in a few Lingala lines in some of their songs (Okay, guys like Charmant aren’t exactly ours. We just "import" them from DRC).

Once in a while. you’ll have artistes go full circle with the instrumentation and all (Ragga Dee’s Muziki and Daxx Kartel’s Lyomboka).

Probably this is the point where we have to give credit to our Naija "brodas" for doing some bit of genre reinvention, albeit the fact that it is, also, almost getting overdone.

Some still manage to sound a bit fresh though – like "Rihanna" (Awilo Longomba's collabo with Yemi Alade) – while others have already become too monotonous.

DJ Coublon – the Nigerian producer responsible for songs like Applaudise (Iyanya), Marry Me (Frankcee), Laye and Woju (Kiss Daniel, both), springs to mind.

You listen to one song and you’ve listened to them all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Culture | Noun Similarities (Continued)

If you’ve followed Ugandan music for some time, you must have listened to a certain song called Maoko na Maoko (Shona for "hands to hands") by Jose Chameleone.

But did you notice the similarity of the wording to a couple of other Bantu languages? "Maoko" sounds similar to its Kinyarwanda equivalent – Amaboko (You may come across alternative names like "Umukono". Both apply).

Coincidentally, this Kinyarwanda version is similar to its Lingala equivalent. Only the first letter is removed in the plural form (Maboko).

The singular versions, however, differ. While the Kinyarwanda version for a single hand is "Ukuboko" (or "Umukono" as earlier explained), the Lingala version is "Liboko".

Once in a while, you'll hear your favorite Congolese musician singing "Maboko likolo" (Hands up in the air). Now you know what they mean by that phrase.

Different languages, similar nomenclature. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lifestyle | Of school, development and other "fees"

As if normal fees were not high enough already, schools came up with what they collectively call development fees. This, I have seen on fees slips for a couple of schools.

The figure for Gayaza High School is "a modest" 290,653 UGX. A modest 290K because it pales in comparison to St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK), whose development is so special that anyone who wishes to have their child admitted at the school will have to fork out all of 500,000 UGX.

So, what exactly does this development fee entail? Any teacher, student or school administrator in the house?

Is it the normal development as understood by a layman like me? Like, does the school have such specialists that they will look into the kid’s eyes and tell that he is not meant for school and he is better off becoming a footballer or a gym instructor?

In the event that they realize the child won’t turn into some bald-haired professor, does this fee ensure that the same child achieves their maximum potential elsewhere?

Is it part of this fee that funds printing costs of the letter that the school will write to the parent telling them that their child will achieve little else even if they did books for the next 50 years?


In the midst of all this, some parent somewhere hasn't garnered the guts to ask all this stuff. They are hustling for the 500K – in addition to the other fees – just so their child will go to school like the rest of his peers.

Somewhere in this city, in an unfortunate corner of one boiling bedroom that has been turned into a temporary war-zone, some guy has been declared "not man enough" because he hasn't raised enough money to cover the required school fees.

On one side of the bed, he sits, rather desolately. Arms folded and head bowed, he takes in barb after another. He secretly hopes that Xavier, his beer buddy eventually cracks that deal he’s been chasing so he can lend him the top-up or else his kid’s friends will also know that he is not man enough.

If the deal doesn’t materialize, he will coil himself on his side of the bed like a frightened schoolboy and stifle tears for the rest of the night.

The prospect of another barren day is so unnerving that little blood will flow to his South over the next couple of days. Which means no recreational action in the house until the financial graph goes up again.

A couple of months later, they'll be back for a two-week holiday and the cycle resumes. This will go on until the child is done with Education.

If you are lucky, this will mean graduation, probably with flying colors. If you are lucky enough, they'll even get a job. But if you are not, you could be having one of an upcoming artiste, a pastor or a vagabond (among others) on your hands.

Or they could turn out to be an entrepreneur – which (most likely) means a future motivational speaker. One who'll be telling school kids to focus and work very hard and persevere and not lose hope, and that things will turn out fine if they work hard.

Happy School fees week!