Bosses are our friends. Right? Right??

We all love to hate our bosses. He’s a slouch, she’s a dog of the female variety, he steals my ideas, she always stinks up the car! If there’s one subject that tweens don’t get tired of wagging their chins about, it’s their evil bosses.  The success of Google and facebook is oiled by all the young people chatting to each other about the latest abomination that their higher ups have committed.

If the earth gets further contaminated when toxic insults are released into the atmosphere, then I, together with my former boss have a lot to answer for.

What happened:

Being an intern, I was eager to please. I was an enthusiastic little sponge, just gasping to soak and soak and soak up all the tricks of the trade. I had dreams, hopes and a determination to LOVE all the people at my work place; to take as much work off their hands as possible so that I could feel like I’d earned my tiny salary at the end of the month.

This enthusiasm quickly faded under the grating, chaffing personality of my immediate boss- the Creative Director. Now, they say that the names our parents give us have a bit of a hand in how we turn out as adults. If you’re called Komakech, you’ll probably not be a very happy guy. If you’re called Apenyo, it’s likely that you’ll end up a journalist.

If your name is Asif Amin (ha!), its very possible that one day, you’ll leave India, your beloved home, and fly to Uganda to ruin a certain intern’s life.

OR maybe you'll just be a hairy testicle.

This is exactly what happened. After 168 hours of working under this insufferable fellow, I started looking around for cliffs to hurl myself over.

I’m not sure what that company was thinking when they hired such a painful idiot to run such a big show. Maybe they wanted to prove to themselves and their competitors that big is big and not even a creative director straight from mediocre hell could ruin them; I don’t know, but for two whole months, their existence and my life were in this little fellow’s hands.

I’ve heard people swear that they’ll rush into oncoming traffic before willingly working under an Indian boss. This has always confused me. In a country where job hunting is an occupation itself, we can’t afford to be picky, right? Wrong. I know people who would rather sit at the local kafunda all day than get employment in an Indian headed organization. It’s possible that Ugandans are just lazy and don’t like the idea being pressured to deliver quality work. It’s also possible that Indian bosses are less enjoyable to work under. Who knows? Not me. What I will say is that his race had nothing to do with the awfulness of Asif. I’m sure that he’d have been as unpleasant if he’d been a Ugandan/ Somalian/ Mongolian/ whatever.

Our dramatic story died a fast death. I lost it, he lost it, he fired me, he got fired a week later, I died and went to schadenfreude heaven. One, two, three, all together: Muahahahahahaha!

Because I’m oily and glib, I’m going to end with a (pleasant) shout out to my current boss. Hello, good sir. Please give me a promotion soon, yea? Ok! Goodbye!

So apparently, I’m shallow.

I like sundresses, kittens and books. I can’t leave the house without lipstick. I’ll break an appointment with the (hypothetical) love off my life if my earring bag goes missing. I feel very miserable with untidy nails unless I’m dirt broke, in which case I don’t care. I like money, the spending of.  I love eating and I’m certain that good food can change your life, which is why I don’t understand or recognize that theory that food is food and must be gratefully wolfed down regardless of what it tastes like. Beauty is important. Seeing a pretty girl across the road can perk up an otherwise ugly day for me. I have issues dating people shorter than I am. I believe a good book can solve anything.

In admitting the above things to different people, I have met with derision. They’ve all invariably exclaimed, “Eh. The things that matter to you are…you are so shallow!”

When I said that my biggest motivation for finding employment the moment campus closed was so I’d get to play dress up and wear big girl shoes, the boy I was talking to immediately got bored with me.  It was as if I’d thrown a blanket over the fire of our conversation. Whatever potential was there died a cold death. Excuse me? Did I miss something? What reason should I have started work? Charity?

Life is frighteningly unpredictable and really short, which is why little pleasures are so important. In a world choking on its own ugliness, painted black and blue with depression, fear and cruelty, being able to find happiness in small things is a huge comfort; so if you see me smiling like a fusa and ask me why I’m so ecstatic and I squeal, “My earrings! They’re gorgeous, aren’t they?” don’t go away calling me a shallow bimbo under your breath.

Sure, we should all look at the bigger picture. Making a difference is important. In fact, don’t rest until you’ve become so sweet, relevant and helpful to the world that people get toothaches when they see you coming.

Things only become annoying when people become quick to accuse others of being less ‘deep’ because they’re interested in different things than them. For example, if John lives for ballet and Mary lives for politics, Mary will be a total tool to insinuate that she’s more relevant to the world than John is because he wears tutus and she wears shirts with political slogans. Generally, trying to impose your lifestyle on other people because you believe its deep and relevant doesn’t make a difference. It gets you punched in the mouth.

I’m not innocent of labeling people shallow either. Many of my male relatives (yes, plural) have suffered teasing because of their obsessive love of television soaps. These otherwise manly men will drop everything, shoo clients out of their offices, become blind to you and focus their entire selves on the TV the moment a soap starts. You and your concerns, however pressing, are irrelevant in the face of Marichuri. If I hadn’t quickly cultivated an interest in said soaps, I’d have died of a rage induced aneurysm a long time ago. So please people; tolerance.  

Here’s a fantastic, totally unrelated quote from Charles Bukowski: We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.’

Idiot’s guide to dealing with ANTS in your PANTS

I don’t like red ants, especially when they find their way into my pants. Is there anything more annoying than a musanafu bite? I don’t think so. This is why I always walk with a small can of DOOM, to kill those invasive musanafus dead!

Because red ants are nearly invincible, being devil spawn that can only be defeated with holy water and copious amounts of insecticide, they are not satisfied with setting just your delicate bits on fire. They have devised ways of entering your mind. Once they’re in, they make all the irritating things that have ever been committed against you bubble to the surface, play them on a loop and flood your system with bitterness. It is almost impossible to exorcise the little bastards without a psychiatrist, but because we know how much you hate spending money, being Ugandan and all, we present a free idiot’s guide on How to survive and kick red ants out of your pants (and mind).

UGH:      Do you feel like you’re producing a lot more saliva than you need? Do you have to keep roughly wiping the side of your mouth to prevent it pooling and crusting there? Are you experiencing Itchy nose, heart burn and a constant need to stretch? Those are not red ants disturbing you. That is bloatedness. The solution here is to rein your appetite in. Lunch hour is NOT the end of the existence of food on the planet. Also, go to owino and get your fat self some running shoes.

BOO:      If you’re as stink-faced as the first shit ever to fall into a latrine in Uganda, those are mind musanafus. Go shopping because new things have a way of making everything better. If you’re lucky, the shop woman will be nice and cheerful; will give you an awesome discount and a free scarf. If you’re not, you’ll find her in low spirits, broken and teary eyed about her son’s kidney failure. This might trigger unkind thoughts like, “Darn you for being preoccupied with your son’s kidney issues instead of making me feel like the queen of Kampala, without whom your business would wilt and crash!” Such meanness will make you feel worse about yourself, obviously, and the mind musanafus will have won. So just hope you’re lucky and keep a cheap shrink on speed dial.

RAAH!: there’s no better song to rage to than The Red by Chevelle . When you feel fit to burst with angst, play this song. Absorb all that razor filled RAGE. Go to youtube, watch its video and be slightly mollified by the good looks of Joe Loeffler. Has a guy holding a fork ever made your ovaries do so many back flips? That boy is fine. Yell Seeeing Red agaiiiin at random strangers in the taxi and then ask yourself if you really want to be the kind of person who gets thrown out of taxis for yelling angry-song lyrics in babies’ faces. Experience a total change of heart and walk into the nearest church/psychiatrist’s office.

What’s this?! : My word count has caught up with me. Sorry. If your mind just won’t shut up, talk to somebody. Embrace the voices. Hate the musanafus. Don’t spray doom into your ear.

Food HATES your guts

Hello, hungry human being. What, you’re not hungry? On a Sunday? That’s a joke. Everybody is insatiable on Sunday, which is one of the reasons why (so many) Ugandan men have such huge hips. Insatiable on Sunday Disorder.

So. Have you had your first five meals of the day? No? Fantastic! Because food hates your guts.

Say whaat?

Food abhors you. Notice how desperate it is to get out of your stomach? When it’s feeling particularly hateful and intolerant, it can push, splash and struggle its way out from both ends of your body.

Its such a hater, it distends your gut to make it look less pretty.  After a heavy meal, it head butts your stomach into strange shapes. Haven’t you heard of food babies? Food even makes you pregnant!

I tried to get my stomach’s opinion on this, but all it did was send up a smelly burp  which I took to mean that it was too busy shooting digestive enzymes at the enemy within to pay attention to my questions. The stomach, which has known of this war ever since you were slimily assembled by your parents, never lets its guard down.   


We eat ghosts. For anything to be edible, it has to be dead (or in the case of oysters, dying). We’re constantly ripping life out of things so that we can eat them. Do you think that they’re impressed? Of course not. Which is why they take revenge by making your digestive system suffer.

Things I have eaten that haven’t killed me (because my stomach is a ninjette!)

Soil samosa: If you have a kiosk next to your office, you know the ones I’m talking about. Tiny triangles with about four peas each. They take me straight back to P.1, which is why I buy them for breakfast everyday. Not because I’m broke. These plan B people pay me too well for me to be too broke to afford a decent breakfast. Anyway, for every 6 that you buy, two of them have soil instead of peas. Inflation has made their maker have to deprive some of the samosas of their four peas and put soil in them instead. This is a nasty shock for a first time buyer and an assured laxative for a regular. How does one become a regular eater of soil samosas? Ask my boss.

Cosmetically enhanced fruit: Fruit salad is healthy. It makes you glow like a pregnant woman (with an actual baby, not a food or a Beyonce baby) which is why we lovingly reward the women and men who come with their fruit salads to our offices with 1000 shillings. The problem comes in when your fruit provider is obsessed with their skin, because this means that your salad is going to be cosmetically enhanced.  The last time I bought one, every fruit tasted of a different cosmetic. Samona fenne, Clere sugarcane, Movit mango, etc.  The woman must have used a different one for every centimeter of her body that day. This is the conclusion my stomach came to in a language called dios-indigestion-ohshit.

GIGGLE THERAPY (It works. For realz).

A few weeks ago, I was lying awake in bed at 3 in the morning, giggling. I had a good book, (On becoming a fairy God Mother by Sara Maitland) open in my lap, but I couldn’t concentrate. Why? Every single molecule that was Apenyo was focused on a certain guy. Yes, he looks nice, can spell and his behind could maybe win an award for shapeliness. Nothing too special.

I was feeling rotten, ecstatic and nervous at the same time, like somebody who’d been forced to drink several cups of cupid’s urine. Questions like: Oh my God is he thinking about me? Did he look at my fb page today? Shouldn’t I find a clever link to put on his wall? were fighting for space in my head.

Because I like it when people swerve off the path of disaster by taking my advice, here are three things you SHOULD NOT (under any circumstances) do under the influence of droopy-eye-jelly-knees syndrome:

Read their blog (s). Jesus Christ. You will stuff yourself with too much information about your sweet mutimzy and then sound like a creepy stalker the next time you speak to them.

Steal their phone. Whatever your mind tells you, sneaking his/her phone into your purse is a bad idea. I know the plan is to look like a big hero when you inform your crush three days later (after reading all text messages and sending rude messages to your competitors) that you have miraculously! Found! The missing! Phone! This is a horrible idea because you will be found out.

 Take the crush too seriously. If you start to have daydreams that feature you bravely giving birth to your crush’s twins in the living room of the beautiful mansion that the two of you live in, and then phoning him breathless but happy to tell him to rush home with an ambulance, you might want to cut down on the time you spend ogling his profile pictures.

So, how do you jump from feeling crush-whipped to feeling fantastic? You want to know? Really? Really? really really? OK.

How giggling kicks despair’s butt.

By hee hee-ing and tee hee hooing, you poke misery repeatedly on the forehead until it stomps away, muttering bitterly like Squidward. You also trick your brain into manufacturing synthetic endorphins. As you giggle, your throat spasms in a way that your brain associates with laughter. Your teeth are in the air. Under all this peer pressure, your brain has no choice but to suck it up and reward you with happy-hormones. WIN. Also, if you can tickle yourself, go ahead.

Giggling saves you from the ugliness which comes as a result of frowning because of your crush induced misery. Come on. You can’t lose twice. OK, so your object of affection doesn’t feel the same way or you’re being tortured by the gorgeousness of their face. That’s no reason to get ugly about it.

Lastly, it can be turned into shoes. How? Right now, as of this warm and fart-y (or cold and drippy) Sunday, I’m spending your eyes on an article about giggling/crushes. At the end of the month, I shall cha ching my way into a new pair of shoes. You feel me?

Do you know any despair busting methods that don’t involve giggling?

Sheila, books ARE everything.

I believe, no, I am certain that stories, books come to you when you most need them. They gravitate towards the people whose lives are desperate to be filled up with their knowledge.

When I turned 20 and was being dramatic, feeling like time was shoving me from behind into an ‘adulthood’ that I was both glaringly unready for and excited about coming into, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath came and immersed me in the absurd life and mind of the protagonist. She too had just turned 20. It was my coming of age book.

When I needed help accepting a new addition to my family, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka came and wagged its finger in my face. It sat me down and lectured in an extremely entertaining way about time, generations, aging, fickleness, love and the way babies change everything.

The time I was going crazy about identity, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga showed up. At the time, I was asking myself questions like: Which of my many personalities is the real ME? What kind of Acholi girl can’t speak her language?  Etc. Tsi Tsi gave the issue of identity a vicious hit on the head for me and I have never stopped being grateful.

And now, Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami has shown up when I need it the most. It has touched on absolutely everything: A life numbing death, madness as a result, pain, emptiness, pure unadulterated sorrow and a newly bald girl has just appeared in the plot. J.  (To be accurate, Midori has a crew cut. I’m calling her bald to add a little perspective. My dreadlocks fell a little below my neck. Haruki describes her pre-cut hair as long and pony-tailed, so crew-cut is to her as bald is to me) and many other things.

It annoys me that all of Watanabe’s thoughts on death are so similar to the ones I’ve been having, all of them except for: the only reason I can push on, laugh, giggle, gossip about boys, curse, have crushes, write is because my eyes have been opened to my own mortality. It’s now clear to me that my Ma didn’t go because she’d done something horrible to the world or committed a shameful, damning sin but because it is our lot to die. Death stands hand in hand with inevitability and together, they wait for us to make our way to them.

I read the Life of Pi by Yann Martel when my opinions on religion needed serious broadening. At the time, I was quite ignorant of different beliefs. It also threw in much about sloths, zoos and humanity than I’m still trying to digest.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides? It’s a gem. Pick it up.

People have said to me, “There’s more to life than books, Mildred.” I say sit down and think, really think about the nonsense that has just jerked out of your mouth. And then lie down in despair and kick yourself in the colon.

They have said, “Mildred you are wrong. Books are great but are not better than people”. Sheila, yes they are.

They have said, “I’m not really that big a reader”. I silently marvel at the ability of these ones to blaspheme and acknowledge such a big flaw so bravely. They scare me, because if they have ably filled their lives with other things that are not books, what am I missing?

I want to disappear into a great, enchanting, book with the kind of impeccable writing that numbs your appetite and makes you want to just shudder to death in an ecstasy of enjoyment. I want a story that will enfold me in a strings-fully-attached relationship; one that will convince me that if it weren’t for its author, my mind would be grey. Do you have any recommendations? Please put them in the comment section.


Waste that paypurr. Like a fusa!

Those of you who get paid on the 5th of the month, well done! You got paid yesterday. How wonderful! You are richer than your contemporaries whose purses were sagging with cash monies before yours. How clever of you to have made them buy you drinks at the ULK party on Friday. Also, congratulations on having friends who feel compassion for the poor and the thirsty.

Now that you’re no longer a pathetic piece of empty pocket, here’s a guide on how to WASTE your newly acquired funds into NOTHINGNESS. Like a fusa.

What is a fusa? A fusa is what the ringtails call lions in Madagascar I.

A fusa is the person who used the bathroom and didn’t clean up after themselves.

It is, most importantly, a euphemism for foolish-spendthrift-who-will-return-to-poverty-very-soon.
Here are six things that you’re justified in splurging on:

Toilet paper: If you’re one of us, the elite who take a marked interest in the movement of our bowels, you know how important toilet paper is to the well being of your derriere and the contentment of your soul. Your bottom has tastes and preferences. There are brands that will make it very sad (constipation, which causes wrinkles) and others that will excite it to a fault (dios, which causes tears). So buy many brands of toilet paper and experiment. You are not wasting money. You are finding yourself.

Cute accessories: For your new phone. Oh come on. It’s a phone. A new, gorgeous, gorgeously red phone. It’s so fantastic; it deserves a sex (male) and a name (Thor). Indeed your phone rocks socks. If, like mine, your phone is just sparkling with beauty and awesomeness, don’t feel guilty about buying that baby a beautiful jacket and a pair of earrings. What, you didn’t know that clothes for phones existed?

Something ‘African’: For the past week, certain facebook friends of mine have made much noise about ‘over Africanness’ with status updates like, “What is up with people trying to be so African? Why can’t you just be?”
Because I have failed to imagine the kinds of things that people do to be guilty of this crime and/or the instrument by which Africanness is measured, I encourage you to spend some of that money on African prints! Yes. Bitenge. Let us further irritate these pissed off people until they come and explain their disturbing rant to us.

A self help book (and a host of others!): Persuade yourself that because you’re buying one book that promises to teach you how to manage your finances, you’re justified in spending ridiculous amounts on other more interesting books. Go to Amazon and purchase all those eye-nyomables that make minds tremble with joy and wallets fall open in pained resignation. For example, that Granta Book of the African Short Story by Helon Habila.

A pet: To make you feel fly when you’re feeling blu…You can tell, can’t you? You can tell that I’m trying too hard to think up productive things. I, personally, as an individual wouldn’t spend my money on things that don’t sparkle/ look pretty so I’m trying too hard and in the process, giving myself away as a child of capitalism and a big fan of diamante. Sad face.

So this Sunday, some incompetent FUSA forgot to put my byline at the top of this article. SNARL. A merry expletive to them, and many more to those who I caught doubting my genius abilities. My mentor and editor (Ernest Bazanye) is fantastic, but not even HE likes his job enough to write articles and attribute them to me.