It’s been a while

Today, I resume writing for pleasure after a long while. What has prompted me to resume? The desire to find a social group that shares my writing passion. And as I was at it, I came across a meetup called “shut up and write”. I immediately joined this group, but before this, I had to write a short description of what my writing project is. I do not have any right now, other than the work related proposals and reports. Then I remembered, I have been wanting to journalise my transition from fulltime formal employment to fulltime farming…. and I had wanted, and indeed tried to write about my Covid-19 experience, particularly the stigma that came with it… but somehow, I procrastinated. Procrastination is such a bad thing, it made me forget that I even have a blog. Anyways, I have also just realised the next meeting for “shut up and write” is only is 2 days away. What am I gonna write about? I suppose I will have to start with one of these issues mentioned here… then I will take it from there. Looking forward to my writing meetup.


Understanding multi-generational transmission of poverty through the lives of domestic workers in Uganda

When I wake up every morning, the first thing my brain does is go into reflective mode about all sorts of subjects, usually of a social policy nature.
So this morning when I woke up, i heard my houseboy’s footsteps moving about, getting on with his early morning schedules. And the first thought that struck my mind was, he is only 17 years (read the employment Act before throwing stones at me about this age this), dropped out of school in Primary Six (P.6) many years ago, grew up with is grand parents. Then I thought, two weeks ago, his grandfather contacted me about the boy’s father who is a boda-boda rider in Kampala and would like to talk to his son.
I then thought about all the domestic workers (both boys and girls) that I have had from the same sub county in Masaka over the last 15 years (some for myself, others for my parents, siblings, other relatives, etc.). One thing has been common about all these domestic workers, except one, is that they all dropped out of school in P.6. Until five years ago, they were all orphans who grew up with their grandparents. In the last five years, they are not orphans, but they grew up with their grandparents, and did not complete primary school. Two of the most recent ones were abandoned by their parents (both mum and dad) so the grandparents took over the responsibility of raising them.
Now here is my dilema:
It is quite understandable for the orphans who grew up with grandparents and dropped out of school. Masaka, Rakai, and neighboring districts lost many parents due to HIV&AIDS and the number of orphaned children there is alarming but not unexpected. And so, it is fair to believe that the grandparents were unable to meet the scholastic needs for these children.
But now, these abandoned, non-orphaned children, energetic young boys and girls, who have had the privilege of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and for the last eight or so years, Universal Secondary Education (USE). How is it that they simply drop out of UPE schools in P.6, one year before the Primary Leaving Examinations?
When I have asked these young girls and boys, majority of them, especially the boys have given reasons like: “My guardians said I was stupid and had no brains to continue with school”, or “There was no money to continue with school”. The girls mostly give reasons like, “my parents/ guardians got ill and I had to stay home to take care of them”, or “my relatives felt I was too old to continue with school”, or “I had completed the first holy communion and confirmation classes so my family felt it was ok to stop schooling”.
The saddest response from the girls was from one really young lady who told me that one day when she was in p.5, she returned home for the lunch break, her father had visitors. After she had had her lunch and was getting ready to return to school for the afternoon classes, her father called her to the living room and said to her, “these are your visitors, they will be leaving with you”. She was confused and explained that she would get into trouble if she did not attend the afternoon classes. Her father said, “you will not be returning to that school”. And that was the beginning of her marriage as third wife to a man who looked older than her father.
She narrated that at the man’s home, she found girls her age who would go to school every morning. She sought to know why she would not be going to school with them, and was told by her co-wife (wife number 1) that her status had changed. Wife number one was very good to her, taught her gradually how to be a wife, sometimes allowing her to be a child and play childish games with her step children, and other times telling her that she could not play with the children who now called her mother. Over the next five years, she settled in her new role as a wife and step mother. In that period, she had two children. However, she continually told her husband that she was unhappy in the marriage and needed to complete school. At a time when it was considered too late to return to school, her husband released her to do anything she needed to do for a living, and granted her a separation. At the time I got this young lady, she had not realised that she had conceived. She lived with my mother until her baby was due, returned after maternity leave for a short period of time, to generate money for her local restaurant business. She is probably the best domestic worker my mother has had.
Why have I decided to share these thoughts?
Because in my mind, they speak to the challenges that government has to lift people out of poverty and transform Uganda to a middle income country by 2040. I mean, even if the quality of UPE and USE is not the best, why would anyone pull a child out of this almost free system? How do they expect these uneducated children to send their own children to school if they have not appreciated the value of education? Who do they think will propel their country to the much desired middle income country?
On the other hand, Is there a system of mentoring and encouraging parents from the low income class to value education? Do people appreciate the role of education in propelling them from poverty to some level of improved well-being?
From the perspective of my work, this is one of the primary contributors to multi-generational transmission of poverty. So the children were pulled out of school and the best sort of work they can find, if they are lucky is domestic work or other such work, without a minimum wage, without occupational safety and health provisions, without workers compensation in times of injury, without opportunities for social insurance and/ or saving for retirement …. the list can go on and on.
I am asking myself, what role can social researchers like myself do to address these issues? What can be our contribution to ensuring retention and completion of school among low income and no income cohorts? Beyond creating awareness about the importance of education, what more can we do? I have no answers to these questions. But I am compelled to believe that if we stretch our minds and ideas, we can come up with something new, unique, effective.
Otherwise, the government’s goal of moving Uganda to a middle income country by 2040 will remain a fallacy – for how can this happen with so many not able or refusing to complete school?
I will be happy to hear your thoughts and experiences.

My health and fitness journey 

Today, I embark on journalising my health and fitness efforts. I am a fanatic of sorts when it comes to exercising and feeding well. I am now gonna focus quite some on the objectives of this attempt: what do I hope to achieve from deliberate good feeding and regular exercise? I believe that journaling my thoughts, intentions, experiences, and achievements will motivate me not to procrastinate, as I have some

times done in the last few months. So let the journey begin… 


Of born-again churches in swamps

In the last few rainy days, I have wondered about this “Born Again” phenomenon that sins against the environment. Having grown up in the city, I have sadly noted, for a long time now, that majority of the “born again” churches have been built in swamps. Let’s just mention a few: Lubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral (of Pr.Robert Kayanja); Kansanga Miracle Centre (of Pr. Isaac Kyobe Kiwesesi) – I pass by these two churches every day on my way to and from work. This Morning the tent at Kansanga Miracle Centre was half submerged in the flood water. The tent is sitting right where there was a river (not merely a swamp) at the time I graduated from University. Others are Kakande Ministries ku Bbiri (of Prophet Samuel Kakande); Liberty Worship Centre International, Lugala (of Pastor Imelda Namutebi), Christian Focus Centre, Mengo Kisenyi (of Bishop Kiganda – the name Kisenyi speaks for itself); and several others in and around the city.

In 2008, the Vatican added seven new deadly sins including damaging the environment. At that time, many people probably did not take note because matters of the Vatican were not as widely publicised as they are are today with Pope Francis at the holy see. But when Pope Francis declared that degrading the environment is a grave sin, many non-Catholic sisters and brothers sneered. But I believe the Catholic Church in general, and Pope Francis in particular have a point. Destroying/ not preserving nature is a violation of God’s creation and as such shows disrespect to the creator.

Putting this in day-to-day perspective, how do we (pastors and preachers) lead our congregations to implore God to cool down the air or bring rain when we have destroyed the nature that would contribute to cool winds and rain making? How and why should we beg God to spare us from floods, cholera, etc., when we are worshiping in the way of the water? Just like I keep wondering, why do the people of Bwaise blame the government for letting them suffer from floods year in year out when they built in the swamp? Where do they want the water to go?

I know many are reading this with indignation, thinking this writer does not understand. But may be if we just opened out eyes and minds to these things we would begin to appreciate the pain we must subject God to. It is like a parent who gives a child a cup of milk, the child pisses in it, and then asks the parent to please prevent the milk from going sour.

Recently at two events in Kampala and Mityana, President Museveni decried the practice of encroaching on wetlands and decimation of forests for human activity (I shall not ask where he was when they were doing so).  He instructed, rather weakly, that the encroachers in Namanve and another forest in Mityana should vacate in the coming months. Shortly after that he visited Lubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral. I wondered to myself, being an ardent supporter of born again churches, will the President also see to it that the churches in wetlands vacate? These churches are a bad example and influence to their followers!!!

Over to you.



To pull or to cut – Tampering with women’s genitalia.

This is a debate I have been having internally for quite a while now. The practices of elongating the labia minor (herein after referred to as pulling) and Female Genital Mutilation (herein after referred to as cutting) are practiced not only in Africa but many other parts of the world as well. Proponents of both, and indeed many women who have experienced them claim they enhance a woman’s sexual pleasure and therefore satisfaction. But the more honest ones say the women who do not undergo those practices, whichever applies to their culture, will not get married, and if they do they will not keep their husbands. In other words, the practices are not done with the needs and interests of the women in mind, but putting the interest of men at the fore.

My own impression and experience are that this is all cultural rhetoric and rubbish. But before I give my opinion, let me pose a few questions:

For the men reading this:

  1. If you are a happily married or relating man, and your partner (girlfriend, wife) has elongated labia or has been cut – whatever her culture may be, would you confirm that this aspect is a most important factor in maintaining this relationship?
  2. If you have had sex with more than one woman, some of who having elongated labia, others probably cut, and others with neither of this situations (neutral), would you like to suggest that you have found that the pulled and/or cut ones are sweeter?
  3. If you have a problematic or failed relationship or marriage, would you say that, at least to a 50% extent, the problems arose out of your partner’s not having elongated labia or not having been cut (whatever her culture may be)?

And to the women reading this:

  1. Does your partner (boyfriend, husband, etc) even know that women are supposed to pull or be cut?
  2. If yes, how has this knowledge impacted on your relationship?
  3. If it has, is this effect really in your favor/ interest or in the interest of the man?
  4. If you have had a struggling or failed relationship, would you say that, at least to a 50% extent, the problems arose because you did not pull or were not cut (whatever your culture may be)?

I could go on and on interrogating the connection between the quality of our relationships and these cultural impositions on women. But now, let me give my opinion on the matter.

I strongly and genuinely believe that these are impositions not to help women but to keep our feelings enslaved to men. And the men (not all) like it that way: to hold us at ransom, to always have an excuse for treating us like rubbish, to make us their scapegoats for their inadequacies in relationships. Indeed, I have asked one woman who was trying to talk me into promoting pulling among young girls, realizing that my daughter is tending to adolescence: Did she wish to suggest that all the women who have been rejected by their partners did not pull/ were not cut – or to put it the other way, did she want to insinuate that all women who pulled/ were cut are having blissful relationships till-death-do-them-part? Is it true that the women who have not got married are because they did not pull or were not cut?

I have had a one-on-one discussion with a Christian man who comes from the “cutting culture”and whose spouse was cut. He has expressed to me the frustration he feels trying to have sex that would not hurt his spouse. He acknowledged how, to the best of his knowledge, his wife of over 15 years, has never really enjoyed sex, because it is a struggle resultant from the “modified anatomy in her genitalia”. Need I say more?

I have also had intimate discussions with several men who have had multiple female partners – regarding all sorts of things. But for purposes of this blog, I will focus on one particular man whose escapades were mind-boggling. This man, who I chanced upon in a professional club a few years ago, had a mission to have live sex (i.e. without a condom) with at least one woman from every tribe in Uganda. The purpose for the unprotected sex was to get the “real feeling”. He made sure all his potential partners had a negative HIV test result. At the time I first met him, he had achieved about 60% of this mission. I asked him about the differences he experienced regarding the pulled, the cut, and the “neutral”. His response was quite interesting. In his experience, the emotional depth of the relationship was more important than and influenced the “goodness or badness”of all the physical aspects of the genitalia. He said he was not able to tell the difference especially between the pulled and the neutral. However, he complained about those who had ‘over-pulled’ saying that “the things got in the way, causing much frustration to him”. He also said that those who over-pull got too messy with juice everywhere on their bodies. Regarding the cut, this man said he had a bit of challenge, because, according to him, “penetration was a little difficult and they did not seem to be comfortable”.

I leave this here for your reflection.

From the human rights perspective, I believe that both cutting and pulling are violations of women’s rights: they both alter women’s genitalia; they both scandalize women’s privacy; they both touch young girls inappropriately. Now this last point is something to be worried about even more in this day and age of increasing sexual perversion and  both male and female predators on young girls. I look forward to the day when human rights activists would stop the double standards of condemning the cutting and choosing to remain silent on the pulling. Parliament of Uganda, do you read???!!!

You may find the following article by Chanda Buumba Katongo interesting to read: Elongation of the Labia Minora: A Violation of women’s bodily autonomy. It can be found at online.




Madea, Kansiime, or Both?!

victor-2My soon-to-be seven years old son never ceases to amaze me. He is so much like me in many ways. Both in intuitiveness and interpretation of situations; as well as in many personal traits. A most vivid one that has emerged in the last year is his love for “creative singing”. So this young lad puts music to every word that comes to his mind. When we get down to pray in the evenings, and it’s his turn to lead, he comes up with all sorts of songs that you’d never imagine –praising God and musing about Tom and Jerry – all in one stanza. But that’s not the most evident similarity. In the last school year, I noticed that every time he got to the bathroom he began to sing … like the water triggered words into his brain. Thinking he was wasting time, other members of my household try to stop him. The more they try, the louder and passionate his “mumble-jumbled” lyrics become. After a while, I prevailed over my housemates – principally because that is exactly what I do!!! Basically, this habit or trait is a sign of intuitiveness.

So, what’s this got to do with Madea or Kansiime? It relates to the spontaneity that my son shares with me – and it speaks volumes about how this close-to-7 lad perceives my parenting style. One morning at the breakfast table, I went through a series of “comments regarding dining etiquette”. Seemingly unperturbed by my concerns and probably reflecting back on my approach towards “corrective parenting” my son sheepishly says, “Mummy, I need to say something to you, but please do not be upset.” I said, “Alright. Please go ahead.” He then says the most unexpected thing a parent might ever hear. He very sweetly says, “BUT MUMMY, DO YOU KNOW THAT HALF YOUR BRAIN IS MADEA, AND THE OTHER HALF IS KANSIIME?” And he has only watched Madea’s family reunion! I was too perplexed to be angry. For what do say such a reflective young mind! The more I think about it, the more I see the truthfulness in this innocent statement.


My Dreams of the Dead

For a long time I have had dreams about the dead … Last night was no exceptional; and it was quite interesting. Someone I revered, and did not wish to die visited me in my dream. He played with my children and had me sit on his laps then hugged me before he left (was driven away). This morning, I was prompted to read about dreams and what mean. That’s how I chanced upon this article. It is very insightful.

i speak in dreams

Update: March 2016 – During 2016 I am collecting dreams on death, dying, visitations for research on a new  dream book I am writing. For more info to submit your dream visit the following link: https://ispeakindreams.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/collecting-dreams-on-death-dying/

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WFFSMGB

UPDATE 2.02.2012: I have edited and updated this posting for OMTimes. It is featured in OMTimes online Magazine February 2013, visit:Why the Deceased Show Up In Your Sleep

(There are many different terms when speaking of the dead: ghosts, spirits, spirit walkers, souls, entities to name a few. For sake of having no confusion I will refer to the dead as spirits or souls in this posting.)

I dream often of the newly dead, but I also dream of those who have died long ago and are still earthbound. Over many years I have been given knowledge in my dreams from the dead about both the physical realm, the afterlife, and…

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