When Children Abuse Adults.

The hardest thing about Mondays is switching from home mode to work mode. Weekends always feel like leave. I haven’t lived through one weekend that didn’t sneak a mean hope into my subconscious, a hope that I wouldn’t have to attend meetings for at least two weeks.

So when I walk into office, productivity doesn’t just hit me. I need transition time.  In fact, you need transition time too (unless you’re boring or too busy to be anything but). Well-adjusted people start the day by depositing their lunch in the kitchen; proceed to prepare some kind of beverage and then settle in front of their computer for an hour of cassava munching and internet trawling- to get the creative juices flowing.

It was during one such hour that I came across The Dull Coworker, a blog dedicated to making its writer’s hours at work more bearable. It contains tips on how to distract your co-workers, how to start conversation, how to survive that awkward moment when you meet the same person in the hallway for the third time, etcetera. I was about to move when I found an article titled Adults being bullied by children: The untold story.

This title made me jump with recognition and annoyance because something like that happened to me recently. In the article, the victim was taking a walk around her neighborhood when a little girl pointed a plastic gun at her and snarled. She, for some reason, thought this snarling child was saying something sweet, and being a good natured lady, she moved closer to hear. The child made shooting gestures and continued to snarl.  Sure, this can be written off as the actions of a bored child who watches too many violent programs on TV but what about the adult? What was she supposed to do with the irritation and anxiety caused to her?

My incident occurred when I was sitting at an Easy Bus stage outside the DFCU on Jinja road, cursing my fortune (or lack thereof). A teller had just informed me that my account was empty which meant that I wouldn’t be able to go on a date I’d been looking forward to. I knew he’d insist on paying for drinks and such, but I couldn’t go with zero protesting power. A girl needs her protesting power. It was in the middle of this mental lament that I felt a sharp pinch on my bum. The normal response to random, sharp pinches on one’s bottom is to jump and squeal, so that is what I did.

When I whipped back, there were two small children giggling uncontrollably. They were dirty and barefoot so it immediately clicked that they lived on the street. The easy bus sheds have spaces in their frames that are big enough for a skinny hand to dart in and out of. The culprits stood waiting for my reaction and when I smiled, took it as their cue to summon their friends. They had found a new toy. They jostled for pinching space behind me, delivering as many as they could before flitting away. When I eventually stomped behind the shed to twist their ears, they ran away. I was annoyed, but also pleased to have been the cause of so much giggling. Giggling is good. Anyway, I can’t promise to be so kind and accommodating next time. If there is a next time, ears will be twisted and cheeks will be pinched, so help me God.

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KCCA, start with the idle men.

April was sexual assault awareness month and many stories were shared across myriad forums. Shirts were made, protests organized and blog posts written (I got to know about it from Chatter).

I read about unrape; a situation where somebody makes you feel vulnerable and used by negatively altering your psyche, perception of self or your ability to make decisions. One example of unrape is when your significant other threatens you with a ticket to celibacy town for suggesting birth control. Another fairly common one is when your supervisor calls your intercom just to breathe heavily into it.

People of all ages and sexes suffer assault but females, unlike males, do not get less vulnerable with the passing of time. From childhood to maidenhood to motherhood to cronehood, the risk of assault that females face remains the same while for guys, their deepening voices, growing muscles and elongating legs form a shield between them and most lechers. Men in our society are also brought up to believe that they have every right to any woman that they see, regardless of whether or not she encourages their attentions.

For objectivity’s sake, I asked 6 men and 6 women about how their average day moving around Kampala goes. All of the men’s responses can be summed up in, “Meh. Nothing special. I do what I’m there for and go home. The jam sucks though”

The women, “It’s really crowded…normalreally, apart from those random men who disturb you.”

There. An 11 year old boy, by virtue of having testicles, is better equipped to navigate this city than I am. As long as I walk around with a male, I pass by taxi stops, boda stages and walk the streets unmolested but the moment he leaves my side, all kinds of lechers spring to life and commence tongue waggling, hissing and pawing. They start to make kissing sounds and act generally vulgar, in a way that they wouldn’t have dared to behave if I had a man/boy by my side.

On the 30TH of March (I remember because that was the day Eric Wainaina was performing at Jazzville), I saw a guard at City Oil-Kamwokya violently shovea woman away from where she was standing. He claimed that she had no right to wait for a taxi there and she protested his methods of communicating this to her. All of a sudden, he lifted his gun, cocked it and threatened to shoot her and anybody else who dared to question his actions. He kept shouting, “I don’t care! I’ll kill you! I’ll fuck you. I don’t care!”

There were two policemen at the roundabout just a few meters away but except for a couple of bored glances from them, the scuffle went interrupted.

The disinterest those police exhibited is not surprising. They’ve already shown that all their priorities lie in grabbing and manhandling everything that we consider private and sacred from our bodies to the lives bubbling in them to our wallets; all this with full support of our policy makers.

Kampala City is teeming with lechers and abusive idlers, something that KCCA need s to fix even more urgently than our pothole riddled roads for the sake of our mental health and the safety of these louts (we women are about to get violent). On to you, Ms. Musisi.

On self racism and fantastic comedians.

Recently, I was invited to the office of a company that required my writing skills. Over the phone, the manager sounded amiable and the work he wanted me to do, while boring, wasn’t difficult.  More accurately, this job was a piece of sponge cake and I had no reason to feel intimidated.

But when I walked into his office and noted he was Indian, my heart jumped into my mouth. This was annoying because my mouth only has space for teeth and not an entire heart. My flare of nervousness didn’t blow the job, but it left me puzzled.

5 weeks ago, an article titled Intellectual African scum went viral. Its gist was that we educated Africans are useless drunkards who spend all day chasing tail while people suffer in the villages and the west continues to leech our resources.  It inspired a series of reactions in me; from a mournful acceptance of my uselessness, to quiet indignation to, finally, a raging disgust at the writer’s condescending and un-researched sentiments. I’m still sad about the way so many people unthinkingly accepted the article’s lashing and even became abusive towards those who so much as questioned it crowing, “The white guy (article’s persona) is telling the truth! Don’t try to convince us otherwise!”

That madness is what birthed the term self-racism.

Complex: My generation was weaned on Cerelac and television, so it’s possible that a TV stereotype has been carried on to real life where they assume white= glamorous bringer of wisdom and light and black = porter/gangster/helpless/needy.

This may be the reason why so many Ugandans are openly deferential towards white people. Sure, we all react differently towards newness, but for the love of Nakibuule! It’s possible to celebrate differences without worshipping them.

Conditioning: Last week, I had to sternly stop my 7 year old sister from singing a slave song to soothe Daniella, our resident baby and overlord.  Making hoeing motions, she sang: slave slaveslave, in America! Working day, day and night, planting sugar, sugar and tea, when I goooo to America!

When I asked where she’d learnt it, she said, “Yiii they taught us that song P.1!” I was horrified. An inferiority complex is drummed into us from when we’re P.1 babies. Note that this song isn’t taught to children within the context of say, a history class.

Courtship standards: The average middle class Ugandan man wants a girl with an education, a ‘reasonable’ accent that he can show off to his friends and some financial prospects. Most foreigners will take one look at a girl, be charmed by her dark skin and call her exotic because of her mbogo filled English. By the time African boys stop judging prospective mates using standards gleaned from M-NET, they might find all the girls’ hearts boarding planes.

If you’re one of those who read Stiletto Point in the Discovery Magazine and then come here to like or comment or whatever, you ROCK. Also, you’ll notice that a rant on Mish Mash and it’s rude management has been omitted. This is not because I am all of a sudden OK with the way they treated Lindsey, a colleague of mine. It’s because Jane Bussmann is in town and she’s, for some reason decided to hold her show there. At Mish Mash.

For those of you who haven’t read her book Worst Date Ever (or How It Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War), find it. Find it now because she’s fucking hilarious. She’s going to be being awesome at Mish Mash on the 20th of April.

See? See? Even her pictures ooze funny-ness.

You people, come and we go. Buy a ticket early- 35,000 and come enjoy an evening in the company of this awesome comedy writer (South Park, Brass Eye, Smack the Pony)