Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

A commentary on news and events in Uganda and elsewhere


Just an ordinary bloke.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Of wine that matures after 3 days and saving for a rainy day

KAMPALA - Rachaal M, who I hadn't seen in a bit, reminded me to update my blog. She said it was bad for image, the stale news. I didn't know she read my blog. Then Dennis 'Agony Uncle' Matanda posted a comment. As did Ernest 'Buzz' Bazanye, who enjoys the company of such illustrious literary luminaries like John O'Farrell and Jonathan Safran Foer among my favourite writers. Bannange, I didn't know that celebrities 'whom we read about in the newspapers' read my blog!

Anyway, the last time I blogged (or is it blag?) we was down under, drinking fermented grape juice and enjoying uncharacteristically warm weather in Grahamstown/Jo'burg. Everything went swimmingly until the day before we left when one of the guys from Zimbabwe, having had three too many, imagined that I had said something positive about Mugabe and wanted to 'take it outside'. As the bus was actually in motion, that was not a possibility but I offered to beat him up the next morning if he had the time. It did not matter that I threw him this gauntlet from behind the locked door of my room...

On a more serious note, such is the pain and suffering that the guys from Zimbabwe are going through, that while the rest of us went around shopping for some fine South African wine, the guys were stocking up on soap, toothpaste (Colgate, if you are Ugandan), sugar, salt and other groceries to take back home! This breadbasket-to-basketcase story should end soon.

I did get my hands on a bottle of what looked like a good red and entrusted it with Elias, my travelling companion, seeing as he had chosen to leave his bag at the carousel after the flight from Port Elizabeth. (Mbu he thought they would bring it for him.) I planned to keep the wine for a couple of years, put it away on my 30th. You can imagine my horror, three days later when an ecstatic Elias called me to announce that his bag had finally arrived. Oh, and that he'd put away half of the wine in celebration!

Since he couldn't let my wine mature, I can't see how I can let him grow into a ripe old age. He is still in hiding and should stay there if he wants to propagate his family line.

While those ones are still there (translate), there is the news that the university admin at Makerere has dipped its hands into the staff savings scheme to pay lecturer's salaries. The lecturers are up in arms but should they be? First, the uni says that the money shall be put back into the scheme which, if the uni admin is anything like one or two of my friends, means it will switch off its phone, change numbers or refuse to take calls whenever the lecturers call. But the whole essence of saving is to prepare for a rainy day, right? So what is wrong with dipping into one's savings to pay for daily needs? We do it all the time, plus if you ask anyone from Teso or Karamoja, these are indeed rainy days!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Saving Africa's media one workshop at a time

GRAHAMSTOWN - After a long and ardous flight, in which we were not met, as expected, at Jo'burg or at Port Elizabeth, and in which overzealous cops at PE airport took us in to question why my visa for Mali (Yes, Mali!) did not have a picture attached (what am I supposed to do? Call the Malian embassy and inquire? For Chrissake the SA visa has NO photo!), we eventually got to Rhodes University, Grahamstown for this annual pilgrimage of African ICT journalists.

It is the first one I am attending but it seems like half of Kampala's newsrooms are empty, going by the number of Ugandan hacks I have run into in the three hours I have been here! Robert Kabushenga, the New Vision honcho, is here too, and this morning, I am told, held sway in a discussion on professionalism in the media (Yes!). I tried to dig snippets from 'Robbo' in the bus on the way from lunch (a very insipid affair, that) but we had to part ways just as the discussion turned intellectual (basically, at what point do the interests of media owners, who Robbo represents, diverge from those of the journalists?). It shall certainly be continued, that conversation, over some South African grape juice!

There is a huge sense of deja vu when one attends these things; in the past year alone, I have sat in half a dozen such meetings across the world to discuss the problems in journalism. In some, solutions have been suggested, usually on the last day, but it appears that the zeal to implement is drained away by the flights home. Nothing seems to happen!

Nevertheless, there are some interesting discussions to look forward to; in particular one on Convergence and Print Media at which Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande (SABC), Matthew Buckland (Mail and Guardian), and Arrie Rossouw (Media 24) will speak, tomorrow morning. Quality and professionalism then returns to the table, this time with a gender dimension before we talk about mobile technology and the future of journalism. Considering the growth of mobile phone access and use in Africa, this is one I certainly want to listen in to.

But now, it is off to find a room with a shower and a quick snooze. The night ahead, after all, is ours for the taking.

Sharp! sharp! (as we say down under...)