I don’t usually do bottoms, but…

Plan B’s bottom 5 on swerncing

5. Swerncing means insulting the environment by speaking in an accent that is nauseatingly fake. Aye larrrve swirrming is swerncing. Aye warnt to bway you’re a draynk is swerncing.
4. Fakers of accents DO know that we’re on to them, right? I mean, how can they not? Our snorts of derision, our eyes dancing with laughter, our open gossiping, surely they know we know they’re faking it.
3. It is possible to tear your tongue, so if you continue straining it by making it dance strokes that it’s not accustomed to, it will rip with a wet kathwak! And you will die of pain.
2. Oba we blame the people in outside countries that interact with these swerncers? It’s as a result of their nonjudgmental, all accepting ways that these people find the boldness/ shamelessness to speak like they have no teeth.

1. It falls to the owners of these accents, these Australians, Britons and Americans who interact with our bros and sisses to call all fakers out on their bullshit. Like, “Stop tripping bro. You don’t sound LIKE ME when you speak like that” OR, “Whatever is the matter with your tongue, Mary? Are you ill?”

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Idiot’s guide to beating that hangover

A hangover is optional, we all know. You don’t have to take that 10th shot. You’re aware, as you drunkenly upend that bottle of mineral water over your head, that you’re dehydrated and it would be wiser to actually drink the water. But you’re at a party and drenched-dancing is the new thing in Jamaican videos. You gyrate wetly until you pass out on the carpet.

When you wake up, you wish you hadn’t. You lie prostrate for a while and then wiggle slowly, oh so slowly to the fridge. With an amount of effort that seems herculean, you inch it open and pull out a jerry can of the finest, most beautiful liquid in the world. Water.

With every sip of you take, your body sings. Water is life, alcohol is war. Somebody comes into the kitchen, drops what they’re holding, screams and exits. You lift your torso slightly off the floor and look at your face mirrored on the tiles. If you’re a weak person, this is the point at which you cry. Your face. It’s terrible. Your swollen tongue is splayed over your lower lip and your eyes have quit.

How do you become normal again? How do you survive the hell that’s your own moral depravation?

Let us consider the wings on which hangovers come into our lives. Overconsumption and dehydration.

When you consistently pour punch or battery acid into your body, without allowing it the relief of water, your system becomes saturated. You forehead becomes shiny with the oils of intoxication that are oozing out of your pores. Drink less and drink more. Less intoxicant, more water. Water is the answer.

So assuming you’re the character described above, drag your body, slowly, carefully into the bathroom and turn on the shower. You don’t have to take your clothes off. Just lie there and feel peace.

If you have to be at work in a few hours, get dressed and lurch into office. Everybody understands your suffering, on account of them suffering your smell which is a combination of dead grapes and a resentful liver. Physical activity improves your circulation so the moment you can manage to lift your body out of your seat, head to the parking lot. Contort your body into positions that would shame yogis worldwide. This might trick the alcohol in your veins into circulating a bit more. If your headache is confounding your efforts, hold a bag of ice to it and proceed.

You look, smell and sound scary. Use that to get an edge, get some respect, y’know.  Address people in short, gravelly barks, like a dog with a dislocated voice box. Be indifferent to their surprise and/ or disapproval.

Drink all of the antioxidants. If you can’t bear to spend money constructively, which is why you’re feeling like a soggy sandwich right now, pluck hibiscus flowers and boil them in your tea. Or chew them.

React with shock and horror when your officemates make loud noises, like clearing their throats. When they laugh, take it personal. Make a perfect fool of yourself by delivering long, cutting lectures about the levels of happiness that are acceptable within a healthy corporate environment.

Thieves in the big city

A thief is a person who feels more entitled to the fruit of your labor than you are. In their opinion, you are a slave, born to toil with power point and fight with photocopiers, all for their benefit and enjoyment. That bag you bought in Wandegeya? Theirs. That car you tricked your employers into buying, theirs!   I’ve met some thieves that I’d like to see again, on more neutral ground of course. Their methods were impressive.

I was three years old when I first encountered thievery. Mother would deliver me to Mango Tree Nursery School Bugoloobi with a container full of fried matooke and boiled eggs. Those were my absolute favorites. I’d enter class dreaming of the wonderful, satisfying pain that would fill my tiny throat a few hours later, when I’d be chewing and swallowing whole eggs in one go. I was very proud of this ability.

Slowly by slowly, break time would arrive. I’d bolt to the back of the class, grab my container, twist it open and find only matooke. Other times, I’d find only eggs. Basically, what I ate depended less on what was packed for me and more on what teacher felt like having with her tea. One day, when I found just one egg sitting in a lake of matooke gravy, I decided to involve the authorities. I was going to report this evil thief to God, to the teacher and to my mother.

Because mummy was at home and God was in the sky, I decided to start with teacher. When I approached her table, I saw my egg and matooke on her plate; so I reported her to herself and she beat me.

This was when I learnt that the world isn’t fair and thieves, especially big, tall ones, can respond to exposure with violence. Indignation doesn’t weigh much when you’re a little person.

Thieves with feelings

My most recent encounter was as I was leaving Mateos after a particularly bland Blogger’s Happy Hour. In its haste to get to me, a taxi (with a woman hanging out of its front passenger door) swept past, narrowly missing my toes, and parked a short distance ahead.

The woman began to gesture and coo in a way I suppose she thought was inviting. Note that she wasn’t the conductor. He too was hanging out of his window, making come hither faces. In their eagerness to add me to their creepy matatu populace, they forgot to tell me their destination. I had to ask.

The people in the back looked as if they’d been scooped of their contents and taxidermied so I opened the front door and asked her to scoot over. She gave me a dirty look and tried to force her way past me, at which point I decided to get another taxi. I wasn’t going to trap myself between the driver and that woman. She began to jeer, “You people of Kampala you pose a lot. Do you susu soda? Do you pupu sweets? Shya! You not rich!” she sounded genuinely hurt about my refusal to board, probably because she wouldn’t be going home with a new handbag and wallet.

Probably because of how helpless I was when I was first stolen from, I can’t stand being cheated. I’m a pro at battling conductors for that extra 200 shillings. Victory is always mine because I enter the arena with all the Luganda and Acholi. They always let me win, either out of amusement or fear.

We’ve failed at humanity.

Occasionally, one stereotype (out of the many) will be true about members of a particular community. This can be put down to factors like tradition and the similarity in value systems that they are brought up in. That said, a stereotype is the haziest and shallowest lens through which to view and relate with
the many new people you meet.

It’s impossible for everybody in a group to fit into a particular behavioral box, because people are constantly learning and growing and watching TV and rubbing off on each other and trolling the internet. This means that the amount of new information that a person consumes everyday is immense, and so is their capacity to change and move on from what undesirable traits they may have picked from the people who brought them up.

So when you judge somebody by the stereotype attached to their tribe, you are wiping off the face of the individual and replacing it with a placard written in indelible ink. You’re saying that every person from the east is a thief and everybody from the west a whore and everybody from the north a paragon of aggression and everybody from the central a two faced sneak. Disgusting. When you brand somebody without the backing of experience/ interaction, they’re going to endeavor to prove you right, if only to annoy you. Give people the chance to prove themselves.

Even more terrible, the most popularized stereotypes are never positive. You won’t hear about honesty, energy, generosity, etc. It’s like people are always looking for a reason to build us-them boundaries and such division is what’s going to stagnate us (even more).

Did you know that, in Uganda, hailing from a particular region of the country is a status symbol?

Two years ago, I was sitting outside my grandmother’s house in Kiswa, watching children play. All of a sudden, one of them began to cry, to the amusement of the others. He was saying, “Naawe ndi Muganda! Naawe! Ndi Muganda! and his friends were laughingly assuring him that his mother was a “muteso” so he didn’t qualify. The things we’ve been taught to value are ridiculous.

Tribalism and colorism are two other cancers that are eating our society up. Just how stupid are we going to look in our descendants’ history books? When my family first moved to Komamboga, our neighbors were openly disdainful of the fact that we were Luo speakers. “Mulugwara” was the term that they threw at us at every opportunity and Chandiru! not because they thought we hailed from Arua but because of because of our dark skin.

Another time I experienced colorism was when I took my phone to a highly recommended repair shop at Mutasa Kafeero. The place didn’t live up to my expectations. Service was bad, attendants were sulky and everybody had shifty eyes. When I asked for a receipt indicating the deposit I’d just paid, everybody became indignant. Finally, one guy was like, “This gu black chick, what does she want? Let her take her blackness away if she doesn’t want us to repair her phone” at which point I grabbed my money out of the moneybox and stalked out.

Clearly, we’ve failed at humanity. We score zero out of infinity. The aliens should do us a favor and wipe us out. On to you, Nibiru.

So, what exactly are interns?

What:

An intern is a person who doesn’t know anything. They don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what they’re supposed to do but they want desperately to learn. They are hungry for knowledge and willing to work at acquiring this knowledge, which is why they’re so annoying.

Why:

That kind of motivation and bright eyed enthusiasm comes only once. The people the intern is bothering for help and lessons were likely interns a long time ago. They don’t remember why the hell they wanted to join the field and they sincerely hate what they are doing. If they don’t hate their jobs, they simply tolerate them. It is a most annoying thing for somebody to express so much interest in something you can no longer be bothered with, something you only stick to because man, fees have to be paid.

If the intern chances on somebody who enjoys their work, this person is usually too busy working and enjoying to willingly teach.

So often, they just hover with a piece of paper and a pen hoping to catch and jot down THE MAGIC SENTENCE that will make them useful.

Where:

Interns can be found everywhere. Banks, telecoms, schools, name it. Look behind you. They don’t usually know how to dress. If they’re working a cool advertising job, they come dressed like a morgue attendant. If they’re working in banks, they come with their chests and thighs hanging out. They’re usually students, so they don’t have money to shop for new clothes and so wear whatever it is their universities tolerate.

You can also find them in the toilet weeping or in the kitchen, finishing all the milk. Sometimes, they are to be found parked at your work station, facebooking the hell out of your computer. I don’t know what it is about office computers that make you feel so proprietary, but it feels like violation when somebody just logs you out and checks their facebook, doesn’t it?

When:

When are they most annoying? When a new intern comes into office and the old one starts to boss the new one around. That’s not fair. You’re both flies. You can’t feel superior to another fly around when you both have so many compound…eyes. This kind of behavior makes you feel sorry for the new intern, which makes you nicer to him or her, which is going against principle! You’re supposed to be rotten at worst; indifferent at best; because that’s how they’ll become ambitious and competitive. And then they’ll escape maggotism and become rich. Like you.

How:

You can become a compound fly by walking into an office, any office, and telling them how cool their establishment is, and how you’re willing to do anything that will help you become a better, more professional fly. If you’re convincing, they’ll hire you and then, welcome to hateville, yo.

I have been an intern before. Twice. I often wonder, now that I have a real job, I wonder how the people I worked with were able to tolerate my earnest, gasping-for-knowledge self. An intern is not a human being and it should not be treated as one. It needs to earn its humanity by gaining experience quickly and making a decent salary.

Idiot’s guide to consuming nsenene (without shame)

In the beginning, you eat everything. You don’t yet have the imaginative power that it takes to be disgusted by the squishy innards of insects. In fact, your babysitter has to keep you in a cage made of pillows and plush toys to stop you from crawling out to the yard at the behest of mind controlling parasites that are just dying to get into your little soft babybody.

This continues until you’re fairly old and might even go on forever if you don’t encounter those ‘cool’ people with Disney accents, the ones who were born watching M-net and Hannah Montana. Because one day, in the company of your pompous friends, you’ll wistfully voice your craving for fried nsenene or roasted white ants or pounded white ants, or sundried nsenene and they’ll fold their faces into sumbusas of disgust.

High pitched coos of, “ugh! Gross” and, “OMG, so barbaric!” will abound. If you’re strong of character and if your love of insect based foods is unshakable, you may continue to prepare and consume them, but your enjoyment will never be the same. Something will have popped. Much like the abdomens of tiny grasshoppers when you overheat the grill.

All is not lost though. Here are some tricks you can use to continue quaffing your favorite bugs with a straight face and an unashamed heart:

All of the yum

Work: This is a great place to practice before you progress to eating nsenene in front of your friends. So during board meetings, shun the Danish cookies that have been strategically arranged around the room as motivation (ideas arrive fastest when your mouth is full of biscuit paste, not so?) Enter the room with your red container, preferably plastic with a screw-on lid.

Be confident and unapologetic in the way you twist open your container and let out the smell of your now sweaty insects. Proceed to consume with relish. You see, the only way to deal with feelings of shame that shouldn’t exist in the first place is by forcing people to accept and even embrace your localness.

Clothes, accessories: Wear shirts that declare the indisputable coolness of these insects and the people who eat them. If you remember, kikomando was terribly local in 2006. Nobody even wanted to acknowledge the saucepans of beans next to the chapatti sikas. But now? People take pictures of the stuff and post on instagram. So wear a shirt that says something like, “Nsenene, better than sex” or “Nsenene, responsible for Nikki Minaj” and watch yourself rise on the scale of cool.

Cameras! Lights! You could make a youtube video, I mean, that’s what people do for validation and publicity. Views are guaranteed. Likes are guaranteed. Comments are guaranteed. Go forth and wax lyrical about how much you like insects in your alimentary canal and all that.

Meanwhile, now I’m reminded of a time when I was determined to make a video for youtube, a rendition of Cookie Jar, a song originally done by The Gym Class Heroes. My version would be called Popsicle jar. I’d be singing about how I’d tried and tried, but I just couldn’t get my hand out of the Popsicle jar. That would have gone viral, man! I’d have no friends right now, but the satisfaction would have been epic.

Until death (or disinterest) do you part.

When I was growing up (that I am now grown is a source of constant amazement), there was a man, a friend of my father’s who didn’t talk down to me in that condescending, over-bright way that most adults speak to children. I don’t know why ‘grown-upness’ was so important to me then, but every time we spoke, I’d leave thinking, happily,“he talks as if I’m a big person!” which teaches me to not treat children like idiots because one day I might feature in their columns, for whatever that is worth.  I also want to be called cool in other people’s articles.

This man’s son got married last Saturday and even though I am acquainted with both bride and groom through work and such, it was the performance that he and my dad were making at the reception that cinched my attendance. You must be aware of the pressure that an ‘artist’ parent can put on his brood when the time comes for him to show his skills off.

The wedding was pretty and the food was good, but that’s not usually enough to make me enjoy myself at a wedding.

Because I dislike weddings.

Very much

They’re so full of speeches and tears and taffeta. Whenever you stand, your high heels maliciously dig their straps into your skin (which, now that I think of it must be a sign that I need new ‘dressy’ shoes) so most of your time is spent dreading the moment when you’ll no longer be able to ignore your body’s cries for independence from the punch that you’ve so liberally poured into it.

There’s so much pressure to be happy, to exude good will and if you look miserable for any reason, the watchers of the video will label you the jealous ex. I know this because at some point, nothing amused me more than identifying bitter looking guests in videos of weddings and kwanjulas.

But this one, from the band to the cake, the bride’s dress to the dancing bridesmaids, filled me with a kind of terrible impatience for my own that I last experienced when I was 5 years old.

This, this is the dress I’m going to wear. Roger, start saving.

Conventional weddings are out of fashion. Nobody wants to do the dance in the way that their parents did it. An obsession with special, with different, with quirky has gripped the world. We’ll soon be seeing couples crawling up the aisle to the beat of some hard rock song by Ramstein.

Fortunately, the quirks at this one were the kind that you tweet about. For example, after being declared man and wife, the couple neither made their relatives squirm with an M-net kiss nor did they embarrass their friends with an awkward hug. They high-fived.

The reception venue was close to the church, so that business of putting the success of your festivities at the mercy of traffic jam was avoided.

As the groom made his speech, he advertised his company, which must have earned him points with his employer. When the bride’s turn came, she bawled. No, she didn’t say, “I’m bawled over”, she sobbed all through and it’s hopefully a sign of much co-operation to come that the groom kept chipping in with “commercial breaks” to distract us. It was all very cute.

One lesson I learnt is that if you’re going to be irreverent, you’d better have enough glamour to justify it.

A happy life to you, Annet and David. May your supply of laughter and good vibrations never dry up.

I want my people back!

I’ve come to hate boarding school. Not because of the funny matrons I endured or bullies. I wasn’t the kind to get bullied, what with my having already grown to full height. I looked too formidable for any such nonsense. My expression perpetually said, “You mess with me. I kill you.”

Not because of the long road trips either or the wallet annihilating shopping lists that today’s school goers write.

Boarding school has stolen my siblings- four of them and my cousins- three of them and now the house is grim and bare and I’m a walking sob machine. Look at me funny and I’m liable to water you with no hesitation.

If like me, if you’re having a hard time adjusting to a childless house, if you talk incessantly of your sadness to anybody who will listen, wave your grief sodden hankie in the air.

Refrain from melting into the arms of comforters, for their compassion is shallow.

The people around you are willing to tolerate your misery for only so long, two minutes to be exact; and then they start sneering, or tightening their mouths and rolling unsympathetic eyes at you. You’d rather suffer silently; with dignity and poise.

HOW TO SUFFER WITH DIGNITY AND POISE:

Suck it up: End the tears. There’s nothing more embarrassing than clinging to a child when the time comes for her to enter her dormitory for the first time. You will never live the situation down. Her matron will always look at you with a bemused half smirk. Be the adult. Wear your boardroom face.

Story therapy: Encourage them to write. Gabriella got sick of being sent out of our room to give me space to think out and type my stories, so she started penning her own. That way, we were both writers, and both needed the bedroom. Every two weeks, I go to her school and collect one story from her in exchange for something greasy and delicious. Luckily, none of her characters are getting bullied or robbed or beaten or abused. They’re happy and boring. Get your kids to write so that you can have something to show the shrink.

“For the best” Listen to those people who keep saying, “It’s for the best. Mmmmn. It really is” even though they can’t really elaborate on the bestness of putting primary school children in boarding school. For sanity’s sake though, believe them when they say that the children will be fine, that they’ll come home beautiful and un-traumatized.

Back in time: Let your mind fall back to a time when you were the one that had to leave home for a long period of time. Take it back, say, to campus when you were perfectly contented to stay in a single room. It will make the house seem less lonely.

Pray for them: If you’re religious, there’s nothing more reassuring than putting your children in God’s hands now that they are in a space that you don’t control. Bless them obsessively. Pray for favor and good sense to cover them as a shroud. I’m certain that if my own mother hadn’t prayed over me so much, I’d be a very different person and not in a good way.

Get busy. Do stuff. Don’t wallow. Turn your sadness into clean laundry.

Ahaha. I wonder just how much sadness it would take for my towels to look like this.

A (not so) deep analysis of clothes.

The first thing you learn about clothes is that they don’t have much going for them personality wise. They’re very clingy; like that boy you made the mistake of dancing with that kadanke, not enough years ago.

You don’t learn the second thing about clothes because you’re too busy pumping your little legs as hard and as fast as you can in the opposite direction from your mother and the offending piece of fabric that she’s trying to force onto your pudgy two year old frame.

This shit be ugly.

This is why being naked in your room makes you feel so young and free and naughty. Your mind is transported back to a time when the only problem in your life was to choose which bed to hide yourself under, the moment mummy turned her back to pick out clothes for you.

After you’ve arranged them around your person, clothes are not very opinionated. Mostly, they sit on what curves you have and life goes on, unless you’re fashionable and then they do whatever humiliating thing their designer has instructed them to do.  This can involve curling away from your body in an attitude of fear (couture) or highlighting how painfully skinny your leg has become (Jolie’s slit).

Clothes can be made at home but the tragedy of the matter is that most of the women who have sewing talent are contented to sit around in lesu and head-wraps, on shop corners, taka-taking away at seemingly shapeless bolts of cloth. Some of us who are dependent on new, pretty things for our happiness can’t even sew a button straight. This doesn’t stop us from trying however. DIY is the way to go, if only because you can take a picture of your contraption and parade it on pinterest and feel validated as a human being by all the nice comments.

Clothes used to have names, like trouser, skirt, blouse, dress, but things have been going downhill from the time the skirt-mpale came into existence. At some point when we weren’t looking, clothes, aided by that breed of comedians called fashion designers, exploded in an orgy of ginormous proportions and now everything is pregnant with everything’s child and we have no choice but to wear these contraptions. Manya ‘shants’ and ‘skirt-dresses’.

If you want to endear yourself to a girl, gift her with an article of clothing. No, this is not shallow. This is truth. Bring a dress to the Plan B office (size 12, length-short, color-bright), right this very instant and see if I don’t swear loyalty and sisterhood to you (for as long as the dress stays desirable).

Yup! Something like this will do.

If you want to endear yourself to a boy, get him a nice shirt. One that says something amusing about Rolexes. What? It works. Bring a def.in.ition shirt and see if I don’t swear firm friendship to you. No, I’m not a boy, but tell that to the three conductors whom, on days that I’m wearing particularly bright and pretty dresses and flawless make up, have called me Ssebo on account of me having a bald head.