Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

A commentary on news and events in Uganda and elsewhere


Just an ordinary bloke.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Surviving the budget on two wheels and tick spray

Dr Ezra Suruma presented his budget on June 15; in summary, he scrapped taxes on condoms and tick sprays, introduced tax on bottled water, increased tax on non-malt beer, and road licenses and traffic fines.

What does it all mean? For starters, it is going to hurt if you own a car or were planning to buy one. With a 10 percent environment fee on all non-commercial cars made before 1998, probably eight out of every 10 people buying a used car in the next 12 months will pay more.

If you have a tough skin (and an even tougher skull), you might consider buying a bicyle and riding to work. On the plus side, there is no traffic jam to worry about, it is good exercise and cheap too. Plus you don't have to pay Multiplex for parking (although you might have to invest in a chain).

On the negative side, your workmates might have a problem with you walking in all sweaty and your dating diary might suddenly become blank -- especially if you buy a 'Hero' or 'Raleigh' bicycle. I do not see many chicks taking up your offer to give them a 'ride' from Just Kicking to Rhino Pub, especially if they have to get off the bicycle and walk up Ternarn Avenue...

The levy on the bottled water might make it a bit more expensive but I wonder if you would still have to pay if you poured the water in a kaveera instead? It would still be cheaper than Eagle and Senator beer (who drinks this stuff? does it taste like bottled malwa?).

But you can take some bits of the budget to heart; slashing tax on condoms means protected sex just became a bit cheaper and if you do a 'Jacob Zuma' and forget one, don't just take a warm bath; use a tick spray; it just became cheaper too!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Don't hate the player; hate the game, grave diggers!

My posting on my late friend and colleague Kevin Aliro has generated several interesting comments, not on the man who inspired many journalists of his and my generation, but on my own career and my relationship with him.

In a nutshell, the claims are that I got to the top(?) by sucking up to Kevin, that I claim to be the best in the business(??), that I am not that good anyway, etc. It was also claimed that a few of the comments being written in my defence were by me!

Kevin must have turned in his grave!

Frankly, shit don't faze me.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, however inaccurate or malicious. And with the anonymity granted by the Internet, even moral and intellectual cowards can vent. Still, African culture teaches us that we should have some respect for the dead and not speak ill of those who cannot answer back.

I have been absolutely humbled by the unsolicited defences that have been written to try and detoxicate the poison, hate and malice. A few weeks ago, Timothy Kalyegira asked me what, from my travels around the continent, amazes me most about Africans. I told him it was our inability to plan long-term.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think it is our zero-sum attitute to life. We seem to think that people who succeed in one thing or the other do so at our cost; that if one makes a million shillings, that person reduces, by that amount, the maximum amount of money that others can make!

Other people, unshackled by spite and envy, learn, emulate, do things better, become better people. When the Americans started making cars, the Japanese did not call them names or pray for earthquakes to level the States (although my friends in San Francisco might have a thing or two to say about this earthquake thing...). They took the concept back to Japan and simply produced better and cheaper cars.

Just for the record, I do not think journalism is a (zero-sum) profession of rank, where one is better than the other; different people bring different gifts to the party. I think younger journalists (and I fall in this category although I no longer qualify for student fares. Damn!)and those who feel that the sun is setting on careers that promised a lot and delivered little are best advised to be humble enough to learn from those that know what they, themselves, do not.

If I know anything in the trade, it is because I have been lucky to work with, and learn from truly brilliant journalists. There are the veterans like Wafula Oguttu, David Ouma Balikowa (a father-figure, if I ever had one in the trade), Charles Onyango-Obbo (a man I think is smarter than even he realises), Onapito Ekomoloit (who might have nipped my career in the bud if he'd gone on to throw out the gangly teen he found sitting behind his computer at The Crusader in '98) as well as the rest of the Crus crew; George Lugalambi, Laura Mulenga, Sara Mirembe, Martin Mpuuga and Richard Tusiime who gave me my first break -- not to take anything away from Opio Sam Caleb, Oscar, a poor English teacher who introduced me to journalism while only 8!

People like Joseph Were, Sara Ssegane, Sara Namulondo, Robert Kasozi, Charlotte Kaweesa, Odoobo Bichachi, Loy Nabeta, Jim Mugunga, Simwogerere Kyazze (a great guy, truly), Mark Ssali and others too numerous to name helped make Monitor my second home; Andru Mwenda made it a very noisy home (boy, is he loud!) but he helped set the bar and still does; I have shared lots of beers with Gerry Loughran and Peter G. Mwesige (Doc!) but those two, plus Kevin, taught me more on the job than I learnt at J-school (the times I did turn up).

I do not think of myself as brilliant (but don't let that fool you!). I do not look back at how far I have come. I look at how far I can go. What I can do. What I can learn. I started low. Covered trash no one wanted. Beauty paegents. Product launches. Did sports. Did radio. Produced programmes. Hosted shows. Did foreign news. Did TV. Did local news. Now I do business. And political economy (The Chinese are coming!). I read books. I went back to school and got my MA (with merit). I have not ruled out a PhD!. I am learning French. And Spanish. Then Chinese. Maybe even Arabic, Insh Allah. I taught myself photography. Documentary making. Web design. I've been on the Gang. And in Bush House. I am working on projects. To get out of the projects.

I have not arrived. I am not even on my way yet. I am just getting started. So don't hate on me. Don't hate the player. Hate the game. And let Kevin rest in peace.