The right to expose legs.

It’s really hot as I am writing this. It is as hot as a cocktail of lava, the breath of a hundred firesides and Michael Kiwanuka’s voice. This means that while you’re likely to get several shades darker the moment the sun makes contact with your skin, this heat wave is not entirely un-enjoyable. There’s a fantastic breeze every few minutes, chilled bottled water in every shop and maybe 50 decent swimming pools peppering the city. A good pair of sunglasses isn’t hard to find or hard on the wallet of its finder.

This is preferable to the wet season when half the country is producing so much mucus that appearing in public places is like sticking your face into a bag of death. When it’s rainy, life enhancers like ice cream and beach sand are not as effective in manufacturing joy.

Earlier today as I was walking towards my taxi, bobbing my head to Nneka, feeling young and free, I heard shouting behind me. Turning to look, I found myself the focus of much attention. I panicked. What could be the matter? Was I trailing toilet paper? Was the back of my dress tucked into things it had no business being tucked into? A quick inspection assured me that everything was in order.

Meanwhile, the shouting had not abated. If anything, it had adopted a more disturbing note. On taking one earphone out, this is what I heard, “Words in Luganda. More words in Luganda. Oyambade! Toddangamu! Even more words in Luganda” and even though I couldn’t understand half of the ugliness this dirty man was coughing in my direction, I got a strong impression that he was objecting to the length and cut of my dress.

Msw

The only reasons I didn’t beat him into an unrecognizable pulp, didn’t unleash indignation, disgust and rapid slaps upon him were that I looked too cute for such and I was running late. I replaced my earphone and sashayed away as languorously as the Ntinda dust would allow.

I am, however, still confused. How can an adult bray so hysterically, to the extent of foaming at the mouth in protest of the display of such gorgeous legs on such a hot day? If I were a white tourist (who Ugandan men don’t ever bother for wearing even the shortest clothes, as if their thighs are less thigh-y for being white), I wouldn’t have received flak for wearing my sundress. It also annoys me that he wouldn’t have had the guts to even lift his fat top lip from his shriveled bottom one if I had been walking with a man.

I’m sure that I speak for all Ugandan women when I say that we’ve had it. We’re sick of taking deep breaths and bracing ourselves for assault whenever we see idle men standing in a group or when we’re passing by taxi stages. Whose suppurating orifices did these men drop out of? Their mothers should be found and flogged for neglecting to teach their sons manners. If you notice in a few years that taxi conductors and stage lumpens are getting older, it’s because I’ve branded them with a curse which goes, “May you never develop and may your condition be permanent” as a result of their bad manners.

We are not going to bake in bikoyis to accommodate the ridiculous, irrelevant sensibilities of lumpens and we’re never going accept that popular theory that such unwanted attention is really ‘appreciation’.

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Step aside, chocolate. Cuteness is the new solution to everything.

“The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.” That’s right. I just quoted Paris Hilton at you. There are times when she makes lots of sense, or maybe it was just that one time. I don’t google her enough to know.

The essentialness of cuteness cannot be stressed enough, mostly if you want things to fall into place for you as smoothly as petals off a rose that is being roughly shaken.

Those S.V peoples can draw, eh?

It’s just as much a weapon as intimidating eyes and strong teeth and a black belt in judo. If your genes haven’t blessed you with features that make people’s eyes drool, don’t despair, for with the right combination of clothing and face paint, you can catch up.

Babies are born looking adorable to counter the violent feelings that they inspire in adults. Cuteness is their only defense against the likelihood of their caretakers karate kicking them as a direct result of their loud, insatiable, dramatic ways.

Some girls have even made it into a life philosophy. For it to work properly though, the girl has to be as cute as a teacup pig, as a bunny in drag, as a five year old in his mother’s shoes.

When she turns up with five annoying girlfriends to further delay the time that you’ll be partaking of her goodies, you pay that bill with a smile in your heart, because she is cute. When she soaks all your white shirts with all your black jeans in her attempt to appear ‘helplessly spoiled’ and ‘naturally unable to do housework’, you forgive her, because with your big shirt hanging over her sweet frame, she’s the cutest thing in the history of ever.

Take Sarah. Sarah went shopping at a boutique in equatorial mall manned by one of the cutest specimens on the globe. Strong shoulders, tiny waist, nice calves, amazing teeth and an endearing tendency to hug her customers more than once one they’re inside her shop.

It was a good shopping trip, with Sarah finding many gorgeous clothes, paying for them and flying back to office on a boda boda. Two hours later, she received a frantic call. “Oh nooo”, the voice on the other end whined. I’ve looked for the money every where. Could you have taken it? It’s not anywhere in my shop.” To which Sarah said, “Um. I have no idea.”

What was to be done? Was this shopper supposed to harden her heart and deafen her ears towards this cute, potentially shady girl? Of course not. Nobody but a total cretin that was brought up in the buttocks of a warthog can be unkind to a cutie. So she said, “Ok. When can I see you to pay you again?” and that was that.

There are theories all over the internet about how cute people are more likeable and how they’re more likely to succeed because everybody wants them to be happy. Well, of course they’re true. Who doesn’t want a cute president?

Even Japanese anime probably wouldn’t have become so popular if the girls in it weren’t svelte, large eyed, watermelon bosomed and tiny voiced.

Alien planets and goldfish brains. Keeping track.

Once upon a time, there lived an ugly little planet.

Not pretty.

Because it was too hideous for any god to consider it as a home for any decent creations, it attached itself to earth when nobody was looking. To keep itself entertained, it would commit small acts of larceny against Earth’s inhabitants. One sock out of a pair, car keys, katorchis and occasionally, cats.

By deploying miniature monkeys, this planet (that we’ll call Bog from this point on) was able to accumulate objects that it knew would be hard for owners to miss, but would make them really frustrated and uncomfortable once they realized that their property had literally disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Because Bog has been pulling this thieving stunt for a very long time, it recently ran out of space. Also, there’s only so much entertainment that socks, keys and earrings can offer anybody, much less Bog, a kleptomaniac planet of fierce ability and infinite evil.

Starting to itch for more power and bigger game, it sent its tiny monkeys on a mission to find a suitable host for possession.

I look cute but I eeeveeeel.

After swinging around for about half a minute, the lazy minions got bored and jumped into the ears of the first person they saw and then secreted a terrible disease into their brain; a disease characterized by forgetfulness and disorientation. That person, Bog’s fateful victim, was and still is Apenyo Mildred.

Whenever I enter a room, sit down and then walk out of said room, I leave something behind. I unintentionally abandon valuable property, the absence of which will fill me with panic, sadness and self-loathing in that order. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’ve entered the room with anything desirable or even detachable. If I didn’t have anything to forget, the world, the very universe would be forced to create one.

I enter a church, I forget my notebook. I enter a hostel room, my hands fly to my ears, remove an ear stud and I leave it behind. I go to my friend’s house, I leave my muffins behind and take her glasses by mistake. I go to a video store and unwittingly make a donation of my music player. I swear, if I leave another beautiful book on the seat of one more boda boda, I’ll have to head butt something young and vulnerable or else risk implosion as a direct result of RAGE.

All this wouldn’t be so intolerable if I wanted to lose peoples’ property in revenge for sins they committed against me or if I actually meant to steal things; but it’s nothing like that. Some people say that objects react to and mirror rifts in relationships. Say Mary and Jane-best friends fall out; the jeans that Jane gave to Mary will get badly ripped in a taxi. The ring that Mary took from Jane will break. Anyway, none of this is applicable in my situation, dear friends. Your property in my possession is not getting lost because I’d like you to get lost. It’s this terrible disease from Bog that is turning my brain into soup.

What can a girl do to heal herself of such a terrible affliction? She can make lists. If I can find the motivation to make a list of everything in my possession before I leave the house and then keep consulting this list every half hour, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to beat this madness.

Idiot’s guide to surviving post holiday fat(terness).

Two weeks after the holiday season and people are still fat. Two whole weeks and faces haven’t stopped widening, guts haven’t stopped trying to out-expand balloons and entumbwes have gone on getting chunkier and wobblier. This makes me feel:  amusement, disdain, kinship, joy and most of all, surprise that Ugandans, including myself, haven’t grown snouts, spouted tails and thick body hair as a result of all the livestock that we’ve consumed ever since we were set free from employment mbu Christmas break.

Gaining more weight in four weeks than you have ever carried is inconveniencing to say the least. You start to avert your eyes and mutter “poser!” under your breath whenever you see people heading for the stairs instead of hopping into the elevator with you. You begin to be paranoid that your new butt is hogging more space in the lift than is decent and then get defensive about it. “So what if my behind looks like a sofa? ‘twas the season to get fatter!”. You discover a deep hatred of joggers and a new tolerance for the phrase ‘phat and fabulous’ and yet that is a really annoying phrase.

What solutions are there to this new state of things? Not new year resolutions which are a waste of note paper. Skipping will take forever to yield results and you don’t have the motivation to make a gym schedule and stick with it or you wouldn’t be reading idiot’s guides. Whatever shall you do? This is what:

Boil your food: The only drawback here is that boiled food sucks. Your enthusiasm for eating in general can be so diminished by the insipid lumps in front of you that really you’re not eating anymore. You’re lost in a game in which your fork is Godzilla, your plate is his cave and he’s throwing a tantrum in which all his property get’s destroyed. Also, the likelihood of food attacking your face is higher when it’s boiled because it’s not weighed down by grease. If you’ve never felt the caress of lukewarm, watery soup on your cornea, know that it feels really disgusting.

Walk to work. Every time you hail a boda to haul you up the hill to your office, you give your stomach permission to bulge and sag. Unless you’re pregnant and/ or really comfortable with a huge droopy belly, this isn’t cool. So the next time the taxi drops you at your stage, stretch, walk to the kasoli woman, buy your breakfast gonja and walk to work.

Get comfortable. Because the holiday is over and the black hole that is school/work stress is yawning open to receive you, you’re going to return to normal. Your neck will deflate and your fingers will stop resembling sausages. In the meantime, if you have cool friends, have fun. Turn their disastrous figures into laughs to take attention away from your own shapelessness. Say things like: Hey Albo, your butt looks pregnant. Or Shut up, Martha or I’ll pop you. Or Linda, you look like a condom full of odi. Things like that. By bobbing up and down with laughter, you all get some exercise. Also, your remark might convince them to take on sports or green tea or both.


Ululate, clap your hands, swallow fireworks. Apenyo is GRADUATING :)!

Life is like google circles. That’s a pretty deep, time conscious piece of philosophy I just came up with. You expose different kinds of information to the different groups of people that you fraternize with; for example you wouldn’t upload a post about the appearance of boils in your armpit where your heartless friends would be likely to find it. Information on its size and color would only be shared with a circle full of aunties who would flood the internet with sympathetic g-cooing and much g-love.

Circles put me in mind of phases and relationships. You can grow too large for a circle both intellectually and physically and have to leave it. You can start hating all the people in one circle and go find another one in which you’ll be less likely to turn homicidal. A circle can also outlive its usefulness of you and spit you out like a watermelon seed.

Makerere has officially had its fill of us 08’ babies (the ones who were sensible enough to pick three year courses) and from tomorrow to the 20th, it’s going to be spitting us and spitting hard. We’re going to be shoved into young adulthood dressed in funny looking gowns and a sash that is the most unfortunate shade of baby blue in existence.

I’m sad that I never got to live out my fantasy of participating in a strike dressed in a tiny tulip skirt made out of that red cloak that you’re supposed to get at the beginning of your campus career.

That skirt teamed with a cute vest and good running shoes is perfect gear for violently waving a branch around and yelling things like PUT SOME TP IN THE HALL TOILETS or WHY DON’T YOU USE ONIONS IN OUR MEALS or WHENEVER YOU GIVE A STUDENT 49%, THEY CURSE YOU TO THE FOURTH GENERATION into a megaphone.

What happens when you’re not a campus chick anymore? Do you cease to qualify for free drinks? Because the existence of campus girls is one of the reasons that so much alcohol is consumed in the country. They gulp the stuff down like a desert would consume a bottle of baby oil and people are all too willing to rain the alcohol on them. For free. So after graduation, when we walk into bars, will ‘NOT 22 and naïve’ be stamped on our foreheads?

Perhaps maturity shall possess us the minute we stumble out of that square in our too high shoes and the need to constantly be on facebook will, like our one time obsession with Pringles and gummy bears, fade away.

What else does young adulthood mean? A job, yes? Life is going to arrange itself into neat little packets of 9-5 boringness. Bosses are going to have floods of enthusiastic, if slightly inept young people pouring into their offices, begging for the opportunity to be used and even abused. If they’re nice bosses, they look forward to shaping yet another batch of youngsters into corporate robots. If they’re stupid evil bastards, they’re rubbing their hands in glee, salivating, waiting to gorge themselves on 22year old souls.

If you have a brain on your shoulders and resources, you’re tearing a niche for yourself in the Ugandan economy by starting your own business or company. And if you were so paranoid about becoming a poor, unemployed GeNext statistic after campus that you found yourself a job(s) which didn’t involve hawking your body at some point during the last three years, I salute you.

Have a nice life.

Practices that need to be shoved back into 2011 before the portal disappears.

Because the year is still stiff with the starch of newness, everybody is feeling optimistic about how well they’re going to tackle, karate kick and triumph over the next twelve months. It’s as if the oxygen in the air has been replaced with deodorant, baby farts and Bond 7 fumes.

Because I’m good at predicting things, I know that this year is going whoop everyone’s behind and suck mightily because of certain practices from 2011. These practices are going to try and (maybe even) succeed in sneaking their foul selves into our sparkly new year and because it’s too late for an angel to materialize at the gate of 2012 and wave a flaming sword at them, I’m taking on that responsibility. I hope to discourage their perpetuators using shame and strong language. Sharpen your eyes and wiggle your liver (to make the bile in there slosh around a bit) for the smashing begins.

Dear people who speak/ type like a retarded kindergarteners, please stop. It is not cute when you replace ‘I am’ with ‘is’. It breeds confusion, which turns into resentment:  “is hungry” and “is attending your party” make the person you’re speaking to want to prolong your starvation and cancel their party.

Mwe who express regret, loudly on social networks, we don’t care about your pain. Regret is like incest. In-breeding. Self cannibalism.  It’s horrible. When you write a long status update on how you regret pigging out during the festive season because you’re now the sad owner of a huge muffin top, you’re making the rest of us think about our own greed. You’re making us feel bad, dammit! And that’s not fair. Don’t share your problems. We’ll defriend you.

Reading is fun; you can do it in the sun. Some people like to be seen with books, because (everybody knows that) books add cuteness to your face and interestingness to your character. Whatever. If I’ve let you get away with stealing a book of mine and haven’t tracked you down and scalped you, I want to at least be able to have a fun conversation about it when I meet you. It’s annoying to hear, “Oh. I haven’t gotten round to reading it yet” 6 months after you stole the poor baby from my mini library. What have you been doing with it? Concussing strangers on the street? Using it as a prop to catch mates? Snark. Rage. Snark. Return my book.

Insomniacs: Now nobody is advocating for these unfortunate souls to be thrown into a stagnant, crocodile infested pond, but it would be nice if they were rounded up and placed in one city. Being a former insomniac myself, I understand the need for company in the dark and scary hours. What is unacceptable is the practice some of them have adopted of waking peacefully sleeping people because the demons fornicating in their own corneas have made it impossible for them to manufacture sleep.

Hello! Get up and be awake like meeee.

It is not good form to beep, call, incessantly text or throw stones at sleeping people. Taking embarrassing pictures featuring drool and posting them on facebook can end your relationship with your victim. Try not to engage in such this year.

Lastly, this business of expressing extreme unhappiness on Monday mornings needs to stop. Being a Monday lover, I feel bad about all the nasty things that people say about them every single week of the working year. What did you expect, Monday-hater? To be caught in a special time warp an be trapped in some sort of endless weekend? Ha! Coffee up and be quiet.

Don't hate. Coffeeate.

Growing PAINS.

If you spent your childhood in Uganda, you know that there’s no place for shyness and sensitivity here. We manufacture the evilest, most creative bullies and all the playgrounds have too few functioning slides and swings. In my hood, you could only get away with your sweet, flowery, unassertive ways if you had a violent older sibling who watched you all the time to make sure that nobody stole your lindazi or if you had a deck and many Disney cartoons at your house. Otherwise it was necessary to act like a little gangster.

I didn’t have older siblings and the only tapes at my house were The Ten Commandments and Alice in Wonderland, so I had to work hard at perfecting a tough façade. Being naturally demure, this was terribly hard and confusing. Gangster Apenyo would come out in the most inappropriate places like Sunday school and make me loud and argumentative while sweet; sensitive me would wait for when I most needed to be tough to make an appearance- like on the playground where kids were always trying to cheat each other out of swing time. Occasionally, I’d get things right and yell, “Get off the swing or I’ll spit in your nose!” but most of the time, I was trying hard to wear the right personality at the right time.

Years later, in the world of grownups, things are still confusing. Most people expect you to be demure and accommodating because you’re female and call you aggressive if you so much as have an opinion. For example:

#1: Boy says something; Girl maintains eye contact with the floor and giggles. Boy: I conclude that this chick is cool and not intimidating at all. Will you marry me, chick?

#2: Boy says something; Girl makes an equally witty/withering/clever/retort. Boy: Why do you have opinions? You’ll never find love with all those opinions of yours. You even have penis envy! (This has happened)

Excuse me? When did opinions become male? Anyway, it’s taken me five years to reach a comfortable level of femininity and it doesn’t include being demure, poised or even sensible. Being inappropriate, bubbly and awkward is worlds more fun. If you don’t agree, you need to watch Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, fall in love with her and be influenced by this love to agree with me. Because I don’t have the space to map my seriously entertaining journey to womanhood, which was my intention when I began this article, I’ll give just the first milestone. Step.

For the longest time, my feet were two shades lighter than the rest of my body. Why? Because they always had at least three films of dirt on them. It must have had something to do with the way I walked. This didn’t bother me until the Agataliko nfu fu incident. I was getting out of class one Saturday when I saw the love of my life (of the week) approaching me. I’d spent the whole morning in that class so I’m not sure how they managed to accumulate so much dirt, but as he got closer, his focus shifted from my grinning face to my feet. He didn’t say anything vocally but the look on his face yelled, “Wow. What dirty feet. I have only just realized how bad they always look. I can’t handle taking a girl with such shady feet for a walk around the school. My self esteem isn’t sufficient. The shame will kill me.” and he turned around and went back to hostel.

This is when I discovered wet wipes.