Fare Thee Well, Nev

“Mulungi, you need to start writing, you can do it”
“Blogging isn’t for a special few, even if it were- why shouldn’t you be one of them”, he said while smiling and reminding me that my insecurities don’t count.

Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa, mostly called Nevender or Nev if you may was something!
He always kept to himself but was kind enough to say a “hello, are you okay” to strangers.
Quite fuzzy how we met but it’s been years of friendship, a selfless kind, one who would be unwell chose not wallow to in his weakness…..
Always with a hoodie, a purple scarf and lots of ideas, that was Nev

When it comes to music and events, you could rest assured that he will give you an indepth review.His passion for art, poetry, writing and photography together with music would never go unnoticed.
I remember when he helped me “unconfuse’ the Band Skillet from ColdPlay, our love for CHH and a rebellious side where he never allowed to follow follow anyhow!

Trust Nev to ask the why question, some didn’t like it but hey that was Nev for you.
He was open about his fight with depression but let him catch you struggling with the same, he would put his pain aside and pour out this hope and optimism…Nev was never judgy
He allowed for disagreement…from exchanges on feminism, un-forgiveness and Christian artistes he would have loved to see in Uganda, he was the vocal one where necessary

Waking up from a 4 hour rather unusual nap on 11th February, I didn’t know that I would find news of my friend’s passing, I’d last seen Nev at The Square for one of those events and we talked indepth.
Our last conversation was about having a ka special corner for Lecrae fanatic and how God had finally answered our prayer.

He was such a pillar in my 1st year on radio, he’d listen in, give feedback, cheer me on.
“Go easy on yourself Faith, you’ve got this”
“Don’t let your inadequacies stop you from being the best host you can be”
At 33, you’ve lived such a life of great impact ,just like how our Savior did! May He answer all those deep questions and lengthy convos you’d long to have.

I remember so many things and I believe that he is a better place, Sleep well Nev
I don’t know what to do with this pain
But I am grateful our paths crossed.
Sleep well!

#RIPNevender

27 out of 55

27 out 55 You must be wondering I know but here’s what I mean Born in the 90s , all I remember seeing was tranquil, a happy people.

A people glad that change had come. Nope, I didn’t get to experience the insurgency but trust my elders to relay it out. Apart from SST, which fully tried to explain what Ugandan Independence was really about unto History and Political Education, my forming understanding of why 9th October 1962 was light. Fast forward to my work as a content writer/ journalist/ blogger.

My eyes opened to the not so rosy, not so often spoken about political issues- so often brushed under the carpet to “preserve peace”. Anyone who points out what is not going right politically in this seemingly tranquil nation is suddenly an enemy of this peace, an ingrate who is power hungry and wants to drag us back to those years- the evil ones that the 31+ years aim to undo.

Reality hit that may be, just may be our parents’ tales of bad leadership, terrible killings and stuff may have just toned down and never left as they so often would say. I could go on, but hey I only read about history and maybe it was that bad.

Amidst all the rot, endless scandals (I wonder why we have telenovelas when you could just simply watch the state of affairs in this nation- free entertainment, if you ask me), amidst the corruption, wastage and threats to squash those who don’t agree with how the country is run, the high unemployment rates, pathetic social services, I could go on but Uganda remains home.

Beauty unrivaled, no amount of politicking and gimmicks can dull, home to one of the youngest populations in the world, one of the most diverse countries, whose people still rise amidst the barriers and pains.

Uganda!

27 years of learning how to separate my Motherland from the works of the selfish, of learning how to be patriotic and not blindly agreeable. Let’s face it, I have no other home than this that’s why I will delight in the beauty of a sunrise, the hope that a new day dawns. The assurance that one can rise from the ghetto and defy odds to win a Parliamentary seat. The confidence that there will always be people who stand and put their lives on the lines even when cells become a usual occurrence.

Uganda!

To look aside the unfulfilled promises, the disguised morality smeared with a touch of God’s Word only when it fits and is comfortable and see a people yearning to seek facts and knowledge of who they really are. To see a wave of young people rise to document their tales, the Uganda they’ve experienced.

To know that it’s not all doom and gloom, yes even with the many unanswered questions, there’s hope. So I smile knowing that 27 out of 55 may have been bumpy but preparing me for a future. A better Uganda, may be one day

For now let’s busk in the uniqueness that politics won’t ruin, the deep love we have for Black,Yellow,Red. Be proud that 55 years ago, We became- The Pearl!

KoiKoi South-West Escapades

On 14th May, I embarked on a trip with travel enthusiasts to spend a whole 4 days and 3 nights in Lake Bunyonyi, a 7 hours + journey which meant spending the Easter holidays from home Being a travel junkie, the adrenaline was intense.

I’d been to the Western Part of Uganda but never beyond Rukungiri so this was something to look forward to We set off at 10am from Shell Kira with the things that make KoiKoi trips special Catch up with friends, meeting newer faces oh yes this time the trip had more people From feminism, government you name it filled the conversation on the bus.

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When in Gorilla Highlands, don’t miss the boat rides: Photo credit: Aaron Kajumba

We reached later in the night after a stop in Mbarara for lunch I must say I wasn’t ready for the beauty that awaited me in the morning Bushara Island Camp gave us the country side feel, surrounded by water, with nature’s breeze to draw in The daily boat rides to and from the island left always left us in awe, gave the assurance that nature had welcomed us to the home of 29 islands.

Being a crater lake, it’s been said that no one knows how deep this calm looking water body is.Home to no fish, Lake Bunyonyi’s serene surrounding leave you in amazement at how much beauty Uganda possesses One thing I love about the trips is we don’t go to these areas as bourgie Kampala visiting, we get to meet the locals and as is a tradition, we were taken to the mainland, Kyabahinga where we not only met but got to learn how to make crafts like bracelets, baskets, mats made from sisal and local grass Then later on met Jeremiah Mbyaharugayo, an elderly medicine man.

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This hike was memorable, photo credits: Colin Asiimwe

The hiking was memorable, reminded us to keep fit and healthy especially when the locals would walk up and down hill with so much ease Did I mention the local brew that we got to taste? The epitome on this trip for me was meeting the Batwa community, a friendly yet seemingly forgotten people, who may be short in height but very welcoming We managed to visit their former home, Ekyuya Forest reserve, experienced a day in their lives with the herbs, food and lifestyle as forest dwellers now adjusting to new life.

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Yeremiah and Anna took us through their craft 

Thanks to Edirisa Adventure park I got to beat my fear of heights with the rope challenges and zip lining, bon fire in the evenings that awaited us whenever we returned from the day’s trips and hearty conversations often leave me nostalgic Lake

 

Bunyonyi is truly a destination venue, with rich history, each island telling a story from the punishment island where pregnant girls would be abandoned to die to the guitar shaped island whose Japanese owners are yet to return, the mystic upside-down island You’d want to experience each of these for yourself

Dear Young Lady

Dear young lady, yes, you.

You’re beautiful; cliche I know but you are.

No, you’re nothing like the rest, never were you meant to be. I know they will try extremely hard to box you in, make you like them, force you to kill what makes you unlike them and try to talk you into conforming; but honey, God didn’t make you this great for you to “tone down ” ” act like a woman is supposed to”.

As long as He is your anchor, don’t let greatness pass by in the pretext of false humility. Your femininity is not a curse neither should it be your limitation. Soar Daughter of Eve; busk in the freedom of knowing your insecurity, struggles and esteem fluctuations were nailed to the cross. God isn’t ashamed of you, He’s drawing you close to Himself. No you’re not secondary, you’re His priority. No, you don’t have to compare yourself to others for your strength to be derived. You’re specially chiseled with love and desire by a Father like no other.

So go on, beat the tide, mount on eagle’s wings, fly as high as His grace sustains you. With hope & approval in one hand purpose and direction in other, go influence the nations for you’re the Father’s delight!

The KoiKoi Experience

Travelling, I’m told has always been a personal favorite as a child. My Dad recalls how even as a months old baby, I’d get so excited at the sound of moving car.Last September, I dared to leave the comfort of my at times very busy life and headed out to Kalangala Islands.

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The Island children never miss any camera moment, formation time. Photo credits: Kreativ Adkit

First forward, As the team warms up for another adventure full of fun, engaging and mind blowing conversations, stories waiting to be told through photography and interaction with the locals on this excursion, I would be lying if I said I don’t feel a hot rush of jealousy whenever I’m reminded that I won’t make it this time round.

You see, here’s a bit about this group of people.

Initially, you would board that bus expecting high rollers, self centered and arrogant company but by the end of these short trips, you will be longing for the days to be longer so you get to spend time with them.

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One of the fishermen I interacted with, checking out his early morning catch, Photo by me

KoiKoi is not just a group of enthusiastic and patriotic youth, it’s a collection of young people who dream big and are purposed to be the change.

The trips are not of the “touristy kind”. You get to step into the lives of the various Ugandans, listen to their perspective of life, fun and our rich diversity.If I try to go beyond this, you’ll think I am exaggerating so I challenge you not to be like me this time round.

Never miss a Ug trip!

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Upon crossing over to one of the Islands, We were just in time for the sunset. Photo credit : David Ogutu

My heart is so heavy that I won’t experience the Western part of Uganda first hand but I’m overjoyed that an army is heading there with their weapons of war fully loaded, phones, note books, cameras and minds.

Travel safely fam,keep inspiring

Being Faithful With Little

A few days ago, a group of friends planned a birthday surprise for one of us and decided to take it at one of the famous inter-Continental restaurants.

This being a popular place, one would expect, well relative service and customer care but that will be a story for another day.

Being a big group, We were assigned to this very nice waitress, she did all she could to make sure we  had all we needed, kept smiling through and was quite prompt. Until We got to learn that her shift for the day was done.

Her replacement was the exact opposite but won’t go into those details.

All was going fairly well until time for the bill arrived, first our dear waitress claimed she hadn’t written certain items on the receipt, so We offered to help her go through our orders again.

She writes them down together with the total amount, goes with the money We had given her and takes about 15 mins.

We decided to just chat as we waited only to be shocked that upon her return, the waitress claimed our bill had shot up by 50,000 Uganda shillings.

She sternly told us that one of us had ordered for an extra meal that hadn’t been recorded on the receipt so we opted to go through the list again. Just as we were almost getting this ironed out, the receptionist came out of the blue accusing us of not wanting to clear our bill.

I’ll admit, at this point most of us were so flabbergasted by the twist and one of our friends who is an accountant swore not to let these two conniving ladies get away with tainting a reputable restaurant simply because they wanted “njawulo” of 50k.

She asked the waitress why the money kept changing from 35k to 50k and whether she had been harassing the right table. Long story short, these ladies realized that none of us was going to let them have their way and was quick to apologize upon the mention of us wanting to hear from their managers.

With guilt written all over her face, she confessed that it was a ploy crafted by the receptionist since We looked “rich”, this was followed by numerous apologies.

On our way home, we couldn’t believe how selfishness and greed can cost a business without the knowledge of the owner, simply because the workers can not be faithful.

This is just one of the many scenarios that many Ugandans will share about how blinded by quick gain, most of the youth would rather see what’s here and now and not think of the repercussions it may have on the future.

Be faithful in small things because it’s in them, that your strength lies- Mother Theresa

No matter how insignificant your placement/ job may seem, you are to serve with excellence. If you are faithful with the little, God surely will elevate you in due time.

 

Drawing The Line Between A Lover And A Friend

Tempted to say we have all been there, but I will not generalize, most of us have been there –you know how you are there, minding your business keeping a distance from guys, I mean the ‘I am-not-ready-for-relationships’ mode. Or better yet, I am taking a man cleanse phase. Everything in your mode seems to be going as planned until this one guy shows up!

Many times I have found myself in that place where initially all I wanted him to be is a good friend but with time we are end up in not so wise entanglements. It is safer to seek clarity when you see that lines have or are being crossed, no?

“Better safe than sorry”

 

In this world there are loose men but, there are a few good ones –the type who will be good to you, do nice things and genuinely care without ill intentions and not necessarily want to be more than friends.

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Don’t be this helpless,emotions are yours to control,don’t place them in the hands of an undecided man

In this kind of setting, please don’t assume things, until he makes it clear, live your life and enjoy your friendship wisely. Feel free to prayerfully walk out of friendships where lines are getting blurry.

 

Meanwhile, if he has someone but doesn’t respectfully honor his commitment to her, DON’T buy the “I’m not happy with her”, ” I met you Late”, “I want to break it off with her but she has invested so much in this” talk.

 

My Dad told me two things;

One “if he cheats on her with you, don’t be fooled for he’s doing the same to you”

and two,

“Men always know what they want whether a girl to sleep with, one to just toy around with and one to stick with no matter what.”

Ladies, gone are the days when we were helpless, we are now able to stop this cycle and take charge, and stop offering ourselves as sheep to the slaughter. Don’t wait to fall victim when you can make wise decisions.

“Self-preservation is safer than walking in the shadows of doubt”

Work Arrivism: Are you obsessed with your title?

Noun: Work

  1. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

Arrivism: Doesn’t exist if you checked your dictionary but is slang *in my head and a few Ugandans to mean a state of “reaching an enviable or long desired goal”.

It could be meeting a celebrity,being knocked by a Range Rover 2016  model or anything along those prestigious things.

Now that I believe We are on the same page,allow me get straight into this.

Many of us during our childhood had those dream jobs,desired things we’ve set our hearts and minds to achieve,these may vary from one’s tastes and goals but the joy to finally land on them would definitely give a sense of fulfillment and pride.

Unknown to many,I started working at 14 years and took on a number of odd jobs to get through school and life in general.These included cooking and selling food to University students at the Ivory Tower* Makerere University, doing laundry for those who stayed in nearby hostels,at some point I even worked at a salon just to earn that extra paper.

Girls my age then would look down on people like me,I mean wash??? Like who does that?

Food selling wasn’t as fancy because at some point in a bid to make more money, I’d peddle it to nearby garages and trust me local mechanics then were manner-less.

As an adolescent who dreamt bigger than Wandegeya and the toil I had put in, I wanted to finish my secondary school so not even the stares, rumors and nicknames could dampen my spirit though I’d be lying if i said they wouldn’t hurt sometimes.

Going through this for more than 5 years broke me,in a good way… I begun to see work beyond a mere service or way of getting money but as a way of putting a smile and carrying a load off my client’s back.

It became a way for me to exercise excellence and ensuring that I delivery to the expectation of the one who had trusted me to feed them or wash their hair/clothes.

Fast forward,I join the media industry as a content writer and social media manager, this is when my eyes got opened to something; an attitude I hadn’t encountered before.

I am talking about the “Do you know who I am” attitude. While most who would flaunt their tittles seemed to get many fumbling out of fear,it got me thinking- is there more than just that job title you so easily throw around?

Some were/ are honestly considered  successful and the others are normally just wanting those hearing to feel their “weight”.

To skip a bit more *insert 5 years later like in the Nigerian movies* God opens a door that I had given up then I’d given up on after failing a voice test, I successfully trained to become a radio host.

An opportunity that many consider glorious however one thing that God has continually pressed on my heart, the titles are good however will what you do with them stand the test of time?

When someone meets you as an ED of a place, will your work behind the weight of the envied position be as heavy and praiseworthy or do you find just find mere comfort in people knowing how you work for this company but with no depth to offer?

If you’re a leader,are you the type that loves to shove your “authority and power” inherent to your position or do you spur your subordinates with greatness?

When I look at my work journey and where I am now, it really doesn’t matter where I am a janitor or CEO…I always ask myself, is what I am being a blessing? Is it inspiring someone to be even much better?

Have I been able to pass on the acquired skills, am I leaving a legacy behind my numerous held positions? And what kind is it?

Lets be challenged to make impact, real impact as we climb up the ladders of success.

 

Lucy’s Long Walk To The Paaka

“Kampala road,Old Park”

“Sister,Madam,ogenda?,” inquired a sweaty conductor,while signalling at her as she crossed the road and gently nodded her head in agreement.

“Siba atuule,” he urged the driver who managed to park right in the middle of the road,a misplaced gesture of ‘customer care’ many of our taxi operators tend to exhibit before one boards.

 

Usually it should take 10-15 minutes or less if there’s no traffic on Bombo road for one to reach the Old Park (Parka Enkadde as we locally refer to it) or if the taxi by God’s mercy is full and if the tout isn’t the kind to make unnecessary stops.

 

If you live in Kampala,it’s no surprise if the taxi doesn’t stop at the Park for one reason or the other,same happened. Our tout claimed the traffic officers were carrying out an operation,so we had to get off from a distance blah blah blah.

Lucy is the kind that resolved never to argue or entertain verbal exchanges with conductors or any transport operative so quietly resolved to walk away,leaving him trying to put out fires from not so pleased passengers.

As she approached Gaza land, she couldn’t help but wonder whether her hair was that untidy as the ladies around that mall were insisting a sister need salon services from their particular salons to be exact.

“I will just smile and say no”,she thought to herself however the rather aggressive ones felt it proper to grab her hand in a bid to convince her .

Honestly there are those days when all a girl wants,is to reach her destination and needs no trouble so she decided to pull away only to bump into a luggage wielding man.

“Madam,don’t you have eyes?,”angrily,he asked. “Try using them next time” he added before continuing his journey with one of the biggest sacks I’ve seen.

Lucy sighed as she went on,torn between the thought of how rude the man had been and how hard life must be on his side.She made up her mind not to over think it proceed to face another hurdle ahead,the possibility of fighting for taxis with equally as tired people waiting to get home.

If she thought the Gaza Land ladies were strange,then came the cloth and shoe vendors who put out their merchandise on the park’s outskirts.

Sister,sister,sikati yinno, designers onri “they said as they each pulled her to their side.

“Not today,” she calmly responded.

Waa,wagwamu *you are broke* one vendor exclaimed as another stood in her way trying his marketing skills,in hopes that Lucy would have a change of heart.

Wama,Sekise *hey sexy lady*, mine are affordable,he fumbled with the little English he could utter.

Lucy proceeded to nod her head.This time,he got out of her way politely.

Before she could sigh for relief, to her utter horror and shock,a strange hand rested on her right butt cheek.Disgust can’t begin to describe what she felt and to make it worse,he wouldn’t care whether she wasn’t interested or not.

“Ssebo,let go of me,” She managed to say after a hard fight to refrain herself from acting out of anger.

Or what? huh,what will you do? Shyaa ,” he adamantly said.

His breathe sent her to near throwing up but also cautioned her not to act without thinking as he reeked of mirra with mix of a not so recently cleaned dental.

This lad must have sensed the fear and panic in Lucy’s plea so he smiled with satisfaction while still holding fast on to her,his gloating was cut short by the sudden rush of other traders.

Obusajja buubwo* there comes KCCA officials*” they exclaimed as each rushed to grab a hold of every item they had displayed.

Normally,Lucy would be so moved as the traders grappled and rushed to put away their merchandise,today just wasn’t one of those days.Wisdom called that she held tightly to her handbag lest one of the scrambling traders took ownership of it in the scuffle.

 

As for her tormentor,good riddance is all she had to say,KCCA came just in time to help her put her long walk to the park to an unexpected but sweet end.

It’s like nature just thought of a way to relieve her of those then seemingly unending moments of weird happenings,she managed to walk to the stage only to find it awaiting for a single passenger to set off.

 

“Thank you God,she whispered as she took to her seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the love of likes and retweets

Recently,I stepped out for a gathering with several other internet and social media addicts.

You’d be shocked that loud as I may be to those I’m familiar with,I have a huge fear of people I don’t know.

I literally would rather coil in the corner,scroll through my platforms than risk attitudes and imaginary rejection from strangers.You know the kind of people that put on the “I am-mean-and I know it” facade,uhuh I’m one of them.

Back to my point of this conversation, upon reaching the venue I immediately started tracing familiar faces but of course smile and greet the “strangers” as a defense mechanism so I can run away as fast as I can.

Most of my friends present were busy with the day’s activity which clearly spelt out that yours truly had to wait a few more minutes or an hour before we catch up.

As usual,I managed to land myself a safe place in a corner and got “busy”,It wasn’t long till a group of youngsters-allow me call them that,you will know why very soon.

“Eh,there are many tweeps here,” one said,allow me call him Mike

“Yea,moobbb”, Tracy*again allow be John the Baptist today,cool? hihi

“I wonder what and how they do it to become influencers,see that guy over there,he has over 2000 followers on Twitter,” remarked Jonas ,while pointing a certain lad in the tent adjacent where they were.

“Do you know how hard it is to break into their circles,” pointed out Tracy adding ” I can do anything to get their retweets and likes,eh man anything they tweet just has everyone talking,”

As the conversation went on, it hit me how much importance people,young people seem to attach to their social media followers and how many are willing to go the extremes to amass as many followers,at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong,it is great to have a following and the likes,however where do we draw the line?

Must we push limits in the name of making impressions online,you will agree with me that there are those that go to unspeakable levels to be talked about,spend what they don’t have just to get their IG game on.

Is social media becoming our source of identity and pride? A well from which we draw fulfillment,confidence and happiness? Or am I asking the obvious?

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Many would rather put up facades and hide behind social media in order to avoid facing their struggles with low self esteem,craving for acceptance and lots more.

It’s absolutely fine for one to desire growth for their platforms,I mean for the three years or so I’ve seen mine grow tremendously however I’ve come to realize that when the desire for numbers can get you very selfish and conceited.

You may tend to become so obsessed with pleasing every one,dancing to the tune of their music and losing yourself and uniqueness in the end.

What are your intentions and what would kind of legacy would you want to leave as you post and seek to gain influence? And how sustainable is it?

The message you portray on your platforms is key,coupled with your strategy,go beyond just getting numerous likes,retweets and hearts!

Find out what makes you,you and who defines you,what you stand for and this will determine how efficient your influence is.

As a Christian,I aim at being a blessing and my biggest prayer has always been that someone may find inspiration,encouragement plus the God that I believe in through my activity on social media.

What drives you?