Hug me, Pastor Sempa.

I’m always afraid that I’m going to miss the bus. The trend-bus. Every few weeks, I type up a list of topics that I feel my readers will enjoy. I don’t deviate from this list, not unless something epic comes up. It’s more convenient to go by a system. Because of this, I never have Easter articles or Eid articles or Christmas articles. There’s not much to say about such days apart from “nga you’re going pray and eat and be happy!” so I always ignore them.

However, when the festive days come and I see how much sparkly benevolence is flowing from other columns, I get jealous. I feel like the Grinch, a pose-y grinch. I even worry that people will refuse to read any article that’s not linked to their happy times. Am I wrong? Do you enjoy it when writers snub these holidays and carry on exploring topics that actually matter?

This time, for my peace of mind, I am conforming. Merry Christmas! Seasons greetings! Feliz Navidad! Happy times! Cham Karama maber!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss more interesting things. Were you watching NBS when Pastor Sempa appeared with vegetables to demonstrate the way lesbians “have sex”? He came on with his signature passion, enthusiasm, fire and proceeded to perform pornography on national television. And not long after, one of the sports presenters said that he was, I quote, “shocked and mesmerized”.

This left me in so much shock that my jaw fell and hit the top of my table. Now I have no chin. Who watches questionable material (a man getting on national television to show the young and the old how adults copulate is so questionable, I scarce can take it in) and then professes how mesmerized he is by it? Eh.

Speaker Kadaga recently spoke about giving Ugandans a ‘Christmas gift’. Speaker, I think I speak for all right thinking members of society when I ask that, for the good of the children, you take Sempa out of the public eye. Let that be the gift.

Alternatively, you could hire a hypnotist to rid him of his ridiculousness so that he can channel his power of speech and relentlessness into useful things like:  starting a drive to take storybooks to children all over Uganda.

Or you can make him take up an initiative to give every street child a sweater to keep them warm during the cold December/January nights.

Or make him go around spitting bile in the faces of the demons involved in the OPM scandal who swallowed money that was supposed to restore hope to a needy and trauma ridden people.

He could also champion KCCA’s Keep Kampala Clean campaign and help this city rise out of the pit of apathy and complacency that Madam Musisi is trying so hard to lift us from.

Pastor Sempa could even go around giving people free hugs! That would surely make somebody’s day. Have you ever taken time to look at the faces of Kampalans on the street? If you have, you know how rare a happy or even contented looking face is.  People are always lost in thoughts that make their brows furrow.

Pastor Sempa, you seem to need a hug yourself. Ask the people who look broken and tired to rest their heads on your strong, fat-padded shoulders. Even simpler, Pastor Sempa, you could go telling everybody you meet that Jesus loves them. You can’t call yourself a pastor when you’re behaving like Satan.

Make my Christmas, Ssebo. Spread love for a change.

Call only when you’re dying (otherwise text).

When short and sweet, a phone call can set you on the path to a great day. It can infuse your soul with wonderful feelings and make you want to hug somebody. But when it’s long and winding, and boring to boot, a phone call can make you wish a catastrophe upon your caller so that they can shut up and attend to something that isn’t you.

I’ve found the above to be true in every situation apart from courtship. Somehow, when you like somebody, your hatred of unnecessarily winding conversations vanishes. It’s no longer irritating to have to keep your hand against your ear for hours, like some kind of moron. You even begin to take advantage of those call packages that our telecoms, against all evidence, advertise as “free”. You jump with delight every time your phone vibrates and donate hours of your life to cloyingly sweet talk and embarrassingly earnest flirting.

Now that I have properly bagged my fellow, my hatred of phone calls has returned and has brought with it a hatred of the phones themselves. No matter how organized you are, your phone will never be in the pocket of your handbag that you remember placing it in. If you keep it in your pocket, it will vibrate and startle you into screaming at inappropriate times.

Phones, it would seem, are clairvoyant and only use their powers for evil and never for good. Your phone can tell that on a given day, you’re going to receive many important (and hopefully short) calls. It then craftily crawls under your pillow, bed or table and remains very quiet until you’ve left the house. And then every time somebody rings and and bounces, it transforms into a miniature robot and does a happy shuffle.

How unfortunate that a person’s reliability is nowadays measured by the regularity with which they can be reached on phone. For God’s sake. What if the phone is one of those bulky, smart types? Are you expected to carry that brick around all the time? First see this tweet by Twino Kwesiga. ‏@MR_TWINO: Does the Samsung SIII feel good on my ass? Will it make me more attractive? Will it fondle? I want fondling. If not fail.


How about if you’re sick and resting? Are you still required to pick up when intrusive workmates call to inquire how you are? I can’t stress how much I hate it when this particular dude from office does it. He always has me wishing I could stab his ear through the mouthpiece using a porridge encrusted spoon.

Ever since my mom passed on last September, my hatred of phone calls has become overwhelmingly intense. Worst are the unexpected ones from family. Whenever I find a missed call or a message that seems cryptic, my mind starts to ache. What if they have bad news? What if somebody is sick and dying? My mind runs around in circles and eventually collapses in a pool of it’s own frustration.

Phones irritate and alarm me and I hate them, but I’m going to spend a fat quarter of my salary on a smart one. Why? Jogging apps. I want to download an app that will coax, challenge and heckle me into running faster for a longer time. Something like Zombie Run. If Charlie Brooker of all people is doing it and getting fit, I want in. Phones otherwise are useless and we need to return to sending telegrams.

This is the face I get when I hear my phone ringing:

Lol. Jk. This is me eating life at Blankets and Wine yesterday. I didn't carry any of my phones.

Lol. Jk. This is me eating life at Blankets and Wine yesterday. I didn’t carry any of my phones.

So I inhaled a bunch of catshit.

There’s nothing more disappointing than when your body fails you. I’m not talking about the times when you fail your body by wantonly eating junk and refusing to exercise and then it protests by contracting incurable “rich man” diseases. I’m talking about your averagely fit, young-enough-to-be-alive pillar of flesh deciding that some germ is stronger than it is, and recording this failure as illness.

I am ill, disgustingly so. I am so germy that I can’t stand to be near myself. When I enter a taxi, I mentally apologize to everyone who has to breathe in my carbon dioxide. When I enter a supermarket, I try to touch as few things as I can to minimize possibility of infecting some innocent. Well, that’s when I’m not feeling malicious. You see, disease attacks your mind too.
One minute I’m feeling sad about all the people I might zombiefy by accident and the next, I’m walking with arms outstretched, trying to brush against as many healthy people as I can. They just seem so smug with their shiny cheeks and clean noses.

I’ve also been having disturbing fantasies, for example: I imagine myself marching around office and punching all the healthy people to a beat of that Tutuuse track by Ruyonga. I Imagine calmly brewing a nice cup of honey-ginger tea, smashing it against my computer and then rubbing my face in the chaos while wailing about how nobody loves me. Mostly, I’ve imagined what my funeral will be like if I die of flu and how hard my enemies will laugh.

Some people are really nice when ill. Even from their sickbeds, they radiate kindness and consideration and do all within their means to appear a-OK because they’d hate for you to worry. I’m not one of those. I want a pity party complete with chocolate muffins and get well soon cards and this time, I kind of deserve one.
This is how I got sick. Last Saturday, I walked into the garage that my little brothers have been sleeping in since it was converted into a bedroom. Nothing could have prepared me for the madness.

Because they have a lot of space, we’ve been slowly filling their bedroom up with junk. A tall, wide bookshelf leaned against one wall and not one, not two but three bicycles were leaning against the opposite wall. The shelf was overflowing with cat poo, old newspapers, old clothes, old school books, clothes bought from the green shop…all kinds of rubbish. My heart wept a tiny bead of blood that pushed it’s way through the layers of my clothes and surveyed the situation. “This just won’t do”, it said, and so I got to work.

It took an entire day of constant arrangement, sweeping, wiping, dusting, burning and gagging to get the place looking as great as it does now. Because I was dealing with things that hadn’t been touched for years, I inhaled a lot of dust and powdered cat poo. I’m now disgustingly, stickily sick.
All is however well with my soul because during this burst of motivation, I discovered many awesome books; the best of all being ‘Conversations with African writers’ by Lee Nichols. It was published in the 1980s and contains an interview with one writer from every English speaking country in Africa! Although my body is sick, my mind is blown and that is good enough for me.

All donations, (pledges of ) chocolates and get well soon messages are welcome in the comment section.

Telling stories can be buladde.

Being invited to give a talk is exciting. It means that people think you know a lot about whatever field you work in and that you’re wise. Wise! I’ve been invited to exactly four gatherings since I started writing Stiletto Point, which makes me suspect that people didn’t think me all that clever before.

The latest event was  Rotaract gathering at SteakOut bar. Not knowing that this venue is well loved by Rotaract clubs, I stumbled from one group to another awkwardly asking if they were the one supposed to have me as speaker. Without fail, people’s eyes would glaze over with indignation, like, “How dare you interrupt our meeting? Why would we have you as speaker? Who are you?” and I would always stifle my instinct to say, “Excuse me. I am Apenyo. Don’t you read? Don’t I look like my caricature?”

I finally reached the group I was supposed to address, ordered my gin and tonic and tried not to scrunch my face at the level of formality with which members of Rotaract address each other.
The subject I addressed was writing; specifically the ugliness I suffer whenever I’m upgrading, growing in the craft. My growth process is hideous and I’m going to share it with you, like I did with them because I have no personal pride.

It starts with me noticing a pattern in my stories, a kind of stagnation. There’s no one particular thing that alerts me to this pattern really but when I notice, my stories start to suck.  I begin to criticize words before they even hit the page and even become unable to hold coherent conversations because I’m too busy editing my words before I say them.  I become irritated with the world, anxious and hateful of any person that stares at me for a fraction of a second longer than I deem necessary- basically, I become a sociopath.

The Knowledge that I will have become a little better at telling stories at the end of it all is little consolation. The pain is too much. Meanwhile, my story generator doesn’t give two shits about my situation. It keeps throwing suggestions and ideas at me full knowing that any attempts to flesh them out beyond the idea stage will result in pain. So frustrating.

When I chose the writing path, I didn’t think things would be hard. Coming to the realization that the actual work involved is just as hard as anything else I could have chosen to do was very disappointing. I thought I was escaping the challenges of growing up by choosing something I already did as a hobby. I was wrong.

Writing requires discipline, a decision to sit in the same place at the same time everyday and create even when you’d rather be stabbing your face with a pencil.

Things are particularly hard right now and to cope, I’ve been reading Angela Kintu and Charlie Brooker online, going at a rate of an article every three hours or so. They’re keeping me alive.

Writing is fulfilling when it’s easy and ugly when it’s not.

I have shared my angst-ridden growth process with you. Tell me. Is this what you all go through in your profession? What are the things that you do to revive your mojo when it collapses and makes you useless?