Crutch Me One Time (Say it with Reggaeton).

Crutches hurt your back, stress your arms and give you the gait of a scarecrow on stilts. Even though I was possessed by a strange excitement when I first began to use mine, the novelty wore off chap chap. Life changes when you’re so openly hurt. People you’ve passed by for two years on your way to work all of a sudden stop and with sympathy in their voices, ask you what happened.

First I thought I was being mocked and became angry, but the concern seemed genuine so I mellowed out. That’s one thing that comes with crutches: paranoia.

I was walking up Capital shopper’s parking lot with my sister when I noticed that a trio of young adults had turned to stare. I couldn’t believe their bad manners. I scowled and began to complain loudly about the stupidity of Ugandans nowadays. After listening to me rant for a few seconds, Jero said, “But you realize you have just shaved the back of your head, right? You have a ponytail at the top and shiny kipalata on the bottom half of your scalp. Sure they may be wondering about the crutch, but this attention, you deserve it for wearing that hairstyle.” And she is right. I am used to the doubletakes. Because of the new crutches however, I was convinced that these people were intentionally trying to make me feel awkward.

Crutches provide the perfect response to the kiss-kiss, sister-sister laced overtures that Kampala’s idlers so love to make. Now if I feel a person’s words are offensive, I stop and threaten them with my crutch. So far, both men have run away with real fear in their eyes. I understand that I am a fine specimen of a woman, even with my crooked walk but ssebo, have some respect. I am struggling to get from place to place on this wonky leg and really don’t need your lechery in my life right now.

Breaking my leg has made me unable to abide unkindness, especially from people who are supposed to be making my life easier. Last week I wrote about how traumatized I was by the service at (a certain) hospital in Ntinda. Be fair, people. If you are going to be bad to me, make sure it is when I am full of health and can chase you down.

If you like to look different, the opportunity to accessorize your crutch will fill you up with glee (well, when the thing is not making your armpit yell with pain). I decorated mine with colorful flowers made out of kitenge material and paper beads, making it a bit easier to tolerate.

Lastly, crutches infantilize you. You are not able to blaze out of a room or hop on a boda at will. Because I hate being idle, I decided to continue going to work after my fibula broke

(stupid decision). It is not a very important bone and if it wasn’t for the fear of never wearing wedges/ running again, I wouldn’t even be using this crutch. I cannot leave or arrive at office on my own so my father’s car is very important to me now. His time keeping too. Do you remember when you were five and you realized that you were the last person in class who hadn’t been picked up yet? Do you remember how the tears started forming from the pit of your belly, how they traveled up to your eyes making you cry and cry like you’d never stop? That’s how I, big woman as I am, felt when father picked me up at 7pm last Monday.

Crutches change your life completely. I almost can’t remember walking any other way (lies, I really really can).

Of course I tried to use it as a modeling prop. One day, my moceling career is going to take off. You wait.

Of course I tried to use the thing as a modeling prop. One day, my modeling career is going to take off. You wait.

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.

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.

Idiot’s guide to surviving boobsault

The last week has been a strange one for breasts in Uganda. Aside from the hoisting, strapping and ogling that they’re subjected to on a daily and usual basis; they have been publically assaulted, debated, youtubed, flashed in protest,  and debated some more. People who used to blush like peeled tomatoes at the sight of woman-orbs before all this have dived eagerly into the discussion; contributing blogposts, status updates and in a few cases, sustained ululations.

Today, we’re grabbing an opportunity that is never going to bobble back. We’re going to, for 500 words discuss breasts. I have my editor’s permission to write about chaks. Nungas. Wow.

The women who bared their chests outside CPS in protest of a policeman intentionally, aggressively and repeatedly grabbing the breasts of a female politician have elicited many reactions in Uganda’s boob watching elite, with some guy on twitter insisting that, “Turning the other cheek would have been the best course of action!” What does that even translate to in this situation? Is he advocating that all women approach a policeman near them, present their right and then left boob for rough fondling?

Before we drink from the fountains of the idiot’s guide (to protecting your boobs from assault), let it be known that I see no shame in the way these women chose to protest. As @eryenyu put it in her twitter, “This act of protest is not women bringing shame onto themselves. I did not see them hiding their faces. I think that was even more powerful”

On to the guide.

Lady gaga: This woman clearly has experience with touchers. Why else would she wear such spiky things on so many occasions? Be inspired by her to make yourself a porcupine skin bra. Apart from making your blouse dimple in a fashion-forward manner, these porcu-spines will enter the palms of any and all boob fondlers- crucifixion style- and the fondling cretin will yowl in a way that will amuse you for a long long time.

Your face: In the presence of stupid people who just touch women fwaa, you need to show them how full of disgust you are. Fold your face accordingly.

Your fist: In that heartbreaking breast tearing video, Ingrid boxes the man’s hand away. It returns, yes, but she boxes it again. Don’t stop boxing.

That ugly sweater: do you remember how, when you were a child, your mother would manhandle you into a prickly, yucky feeling sweater? One that would make your skin itch something awful? Keep one like that in your bag and whip it out whenever you spot a potential boob assaulter. When they lunge for your poor boob, throw it over their head and fix some of it into their mouths. Wedge the caterpillar-like material between their teeth.

Lastly, and very sadly, a man. Those louts don’t bother me when I’m with male people. Even my 11 year old brother has more power to stop a man messing with me than I do. A few glares and snaps from your brother will stop the louts at your stage from bothering you. For a while.