2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Back Home To “My America”

Some unfinished business in Little Garden in My America which would call for another term at The New Nation, fortunately at home my term is limited by how well I use my time and resources at my disposal. Rome was not built in a day, so the sages say.

Some unfinished business in Little Garden in My America which would call for another term at The New Nation, fortunately at home my term is limited by how well I use my time and resources at my disposal. Rome was not built in a day, so the sages say.

Here I am back home where I belong after three years of service in South Sudan. I’m trying to get back on track gin in pursuit of my dream of becoming successful farmer but things have already hit snug. I have returned to bit of gloom with something mysterious wiping clean the fish in one of my garden ponds leaving paltry seventy fish out of stock of two thousand five hundred fish. But s reminded by one of those tidbits of wisdom which I pick here and there from books, movies, sermons, conferences etc.; “I have to roll with the blows” if ever I am to get where I want to go to. I had so many blows to roll with in South Sudan and endured them all. Like the prophet Jeremiah said, “If man falls down, does he not get up?” Sure, I have to get up and move on.
Meantime, there are so many challenges to be overcome and short term goals to be met. In my village things like trespass seem to be completely absent in some people’s minds and neither do they practice the “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”, principle. So, my ponds in the wetland have become watering holes for some people’s cattle and my tree plantations grazing grounds. Some others have been tethering their cattle to the elephant grass which I planted in preparation for my own cattle which I have planned to introduce in the near future. When thinking of socioeconomic transformation here, one has to brace up for a real uphill task, with many thorns and slippery ground on the way to the top. The perimeter barbed wire fence round my piece of land has been broken in many places. And young men and women have been all over the place stealing wood for fuel. That reminds me of what some folks used to say here whenever the idea of tree planting was touted by some leaders – “Who is willing to spoil his land with trees” and some others would say, “When will the trees mature?”, as though they were born running or fighting like the Patagonian devil’s babies.
Well, I have to swim and swim against the tide and move against that ever increasing force of entropy with each step I take forth. If you out there have some magical way round these problems, you are welcome to fight along my side. I very often see how our government is going in circles with some folk here with this so called NAADS (National Agriculture Advisory Services) program. Some folks here are just practicing what the Americans call madness – doing the same thing again and again yet expecting a different result. With ever deteriorating soil quality and without fertilizers they go on to plant several maize or bean seeds per hole. Talk of growing pasture, and they will think you are insane. Yet the government keeps giving them seeds, livestock and poultry with very little in the way of deliberate change in attitudes and farming practices. Some, people still have this attitude that they cannot treat chicken when they can be eaten if they fall sick. What point is there in giving a peasant farmer layers without adequate financial support and training, only for the farmer to sell off the hens in the local market when they are about to start laying because he cannot afford to feed or treat them?
2016 general elections are at hand and politicians are at it again in every village funeral, ceremony and Sunday morning church services lying to the people in the name of the people. According to my own observation, very few of them are honest and some of them are not in it for the desire to serve but are outright job-seekers. with very little if anything to offer in terms of development or legislation. Some of them have the audacity of claiming the high moral ground without ever realizing how wrong it is to make every funeral or church service a campaign or propaganda ground. Funerals are for mourning and churches for worshiping God, and weddings for celebrations; NOT for politics. Some folk, though, either out need for financial support or ignorance, or just following the trend (for we’re very good at coping each other), go ahead to invite politicians to speak in this places.
I was t funeral where I heard a politician promise the people fisheries expertise from the Philippines but five years down the road I have not seen any short brown men guiding the villagers on pond construction or fish farming. He also advised the people not to sell their land because it has lots of “minerals.” But he did not show them any possible alternatives to selling their land when they are in desperation to pay university fees for their children. How I wish that the people learn to call politicians to account for their time in office; maybe there will be fewer Africans looking to the shores of Europe and America for hope.
Meantime if you have a garden to design or one in need of a facelift within my reach, you can call me up, for I need some capital to keep moving on. You do not want to see hear that I drowned in the Mediterranean Sea heading to Lampedusa Island or arrested by the French Police while trying to get into the Channel Tunnel to England; would you?

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REFLECTIONS IN JUBA – Independence South Sudan

The same sun shines up on and warms us all, and the same God created us all in his image that we might shine with acts of righteousness to his glory but we have created war instead, It started with Abel and Cain but Christ came at Christmas to point us back home to God. And it is possible to make a change; it starts with you.

The same sun shines up on and warms us all, and the same God created us all in his image that we might shine with acts of righteousness to his glory but we have created war instead, It started with Abel and Cain but Christ came at Christmas to point us back home to God. And it is possible to make a change; it starts with you. I hope for a new day of peace will rise over South Sudan.

Today is South Sudan’s fourth independence anniversary and it is my last day of  work here in Juba as far as my current contract with the New Nation newspaper and the Sudan Advocacy for Development (the NGO that runs the newspaper) as such. It is therefore a public holiday and the folks here will be largely celebrating,  but s for me, I will be busy making my final reports and packing my bags ready for the journey home tomorrow.

I went to bed last night with a bit of trepidation, kind of expecting the repeat of the “carol of the guns” of December 15, 2013, for the South Sudan’s former vice president Dr Riek Machar had given President Salvar Kiir an ultimatum earlier in the day to resign by midnight Wednesday or be overthrown. He asserted that the president is solely responsible for the current mess in the country and the only way for a return to peaceful nation would be by the president resigning. But like one analyst in Nairobi said on an International TV, “that ultimatum would come to nothing,” and indeed I woke to a quiet morning except for the sound of jubilation at dawn from some citizens celebrating independence.

Some in South Sudan would say they have no reason to celebrate since the country is in turmoil and deep economic crisis which has brought  much suffering to the people of South Sudan. But I would beg to differ, for despite the current civil war and the untold suffering it has caused many civilians, for those  who can, there is good cause to celebrate, for the yoke of oppression by the Khartoum/Arab masters and forced Islamization is  now a thing of the past since July 09, 2011. I believe that the people of Darfur and Abyei would largely agree with me and arguably envy the people of South Sudan despite the current civil war.

To me  conflict between brother is much simpler to resolve than foreign oppression or exploitation. The Biblical Jacob and his brother Edom (Esau) fought but had to talk again. Joseph’s brothers sold him to Egypt but he forgave them and took them beck into his arms. My son and daughter often fight but soon or later get back to play together.  And if you mess with one of them, you will have to deal with the other in the manner of the brothers and sisters in the movie “Ours, Mine, Yours”. (I hope I remember the title well). Like the author of the book, The Secret of Happy Families said ,” You will always have to deal with the very siblings you disagree with.” (paraphrase mine). This is my hope for South Sudan, that the brothers will come to their senses and come together again for the good of all.

The Europeans fought each other for many years before they made peace with each other and now they have the European Union. That may explain the passion with which they are dealing with the Greek financial crisis. Even the former so-called “Sick man of Europe”, you know whom I m speaking of, wants to Join the EU.

The Americans fought each other after throwing off the British yoke but finally came back together and thus there is the United States despite the fact that some whites still want to keep their African brothers in subjugation who God created in equal.

I still believe there is hope for South Sudan to avoid the path of  failed state despite some disturbing signs. I took  bod-bod ride back to office from the field last week and the rider told me that all that they the youth of South Sudan are growing up for is war, and that they will bring down all the big buildings the ministers are building now while the rest of the people wallow in poverty. He went on to say that they know that President Salvar Kiir whom he also blamed for the current troubles of the nation is still in power because of President Museveni support and time will come when Ugandans will suffer for it. I shuddered at what he said and wondered if he knew he was carrying a Ugandan passenger? I had just watched the movie, “Into the Woods” with my kids the previous week back home in Entebbe before returning to Juba, and I thought that this boda-boda is like Mr Wolf who said to the little girl with the red cape that you are talking to your meal – this guy could kill me if he had the opportunity. That is possibly the reason I went to bed with  bit of trepidation last night should Dr. Riek’s threat come to pass anyway.

Well, God willing, I will be going back to my America tomorrow for that is the place where I will always return to like Spirit of the Cimarron.

My village Kwapa, whose name incidentally means my land in my local dialect Ateso from Tororo, Eastern Uganda is what I refer to s my America. I started referring to it as such lately. whenever I could sit with my wife to watch TV and we would be bombarded with images of African immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean Se trying to cross to Europe and may be to the rest of the Western World for  better life, either because they ere fleeing political persecution or extreme poverty from home. The other images on the TV which seemed to have overtaken ISIS beheading were those of police brutality in America on unarmed African-American men, which to me made the feeling of that often quoted American dream very remote from my mind. Thus I would say to my wife, “As long as there is peace and economic opportunities here in Uganda, I will never ever dream of any other place better than home. So, my rural home where I can literally do anything that I can conceivably do is my America. Of course I get depressed by the leaders of the AU who never seem to have the issue of Africans immigrants high on their agenda.  An Italian woman in Lampedusa said that with her small brain she has tried to give help which could to the African immigrants but she believes that the leaders back home in Africa with big brains who can help these people. She wondered why the people with the big brains cannot help their own people? I too, can only wonder? My be it is selfishness.

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Reflections in Juba – Ignorance, Rebellion or Style?

The afternoon rain back home in Tororo that could easily get many a village kid stripping and running around without shame or fear. Not so common these days with the rampant incidences of lightening.

The afternoon rain back home in Tororo that could easily get many a village kid stripping and running around without shame or fear. Not so common these days with the rampant incidences of lightning.

Nearly thirty years ago there was a young baby-sitter where I lived in Entebbe who would often run around the house naked before she would have a bath. There were several attempts to get her to stop the habit but she would always protest, saying that she had no shame doing and it was none of her concern if the onlookers felt embarrassed by her actions. Being a girl from the village, she probably thought that it was okay to run around the house naked like the rural often did back home in the village in the afternoon rains which are characteristic of Eastern Uganda. Having ran in the rain too when I was a primary school kid, I could somehow understand why this little girl did as she did; she was probably missing the village fun – like it said that you can take an African out of the village but you may never take the village out him or her. Anyway, this was town and it was very strange for her to what was normal in the village here. Thus the neighbors always referred to her as that mad girl. She however, stooped the practice as she came of age.
Today, as we were returning to our guest house back from town, we passed by a young boy defecating at a bus-stop with his hands crossed in relaxing fashion. He was in no way perturbed by passersby or the people at the shops on the opposite side of the road.
When I got back home the image of that boy poo-pooing kept flashing through my mind as I sat reading the newspapers and in one of them was a news story about another outbreak of cholera in Juba, just like last year when a number of people lost their lives to cholera. I wondered if anybody on looking bothered whether what that young man was doing was wrong and it is the kind of thing which contributes to outbreaks of cholera in communities. Well, the one riding with me in the car just said, “Who cares?”
I was reminded of a “strange” but very common habit here in Juba that nobody seems to care about which I have to put with nearly every morning when we go out for newspaper distribution – taxi drivers and boda-boda riders driving or riding with toothbrushes in their mouths while carrying passengers.
One early morning last week I saw something that really made me shudder. A young man was riding a motorbike at a very high-speed with a toothbrush in his mouth past traffic lights which he obviously violated. Besides, being at high-speed, he was seated on the bike in the typical Juba boys’ way of bending a little bit of the saddle and not looking fully in-front because he has to listen to the sound of the exhaust pipe which thrills them. I wondered as he sped past us if it ever occurred to this young man, that the toothbrush in his mouth could turn-out to be a very dangerous object to his life in case it went down his throat in the event of an accident? On the other hand I also wondered whether brushing in public is a really hygienically acceptable thing or is it some young men’s style or is it shear rebellion of young hearts like the dangling trousers?

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Reflections in Juba–Time to go back home

Good to leave a green Juba behind.

Good to leave a green Juba behind.

Looking into the distance towards the south-east from the balcony of my room, I can see the way home from the diminutive images of vehicles plying the Juba/Nimule Highway, probably more than ten kilometers from where I am standing. If all goes according to plan, I will probably be bidding South Sudan farewell in less than two months when the project that I have been working for comes to a close.

I returned to this project back in mid 2013 having earlier served one year term. Like now, the grassland and the hills were green since it was the middle of the rainy season and it was much exciting to return to Juba after a few months break back home in Uganda. And it would be lovely to leave Juba for Uganda around this time of the year than say during the dry season, for when I look back I would have memories of a green and fair weather Juba than the usual dust and heat. With all the rounds of peace talks in Addis Ababa between the warring factions of the SPLA, I had hoped that I would leave a peaceful South Sudan behind me, after all peace building has been one of the objectives of our project – The New Nation newspaper. But as things look now, peace in South Sudan, especially in the oil-producing states of Upper Nile and Unity states is a very distant hope. My black brothers are up in arms again blowing each other up and capturing towns and villages and some proudly claim to have doctorates in fighting. Some others are wishing that they would be better left to fight it out all alone without mediation or “interference” by regional governments and international – for in that way a clear winner would emerge and the people of South Sudan will finally have peace, so they think.

Well, time will tell what direction this country, the so-called youngest nation of the world will take. But for now, it is clearly on the path of a failed state if the situation is not arrested.

When we arrived in Juba this Saturday it took several hours to find a shop selling bottled drinking water, something that one could buy in any shop and kiosk in Juba a few months ago. Many water factories here have closed shop because they cannot afford the cost of production or there is no hard currency to purchase the necessary chemicals used in the process of producing clean safe water for human consumption.

The lady who cleans our premises and has a part-time business  serving breakfast to truck drivers at a nearby beverage factory is thinking of closing shop because there are hardly any more customers to serve since there are fewer and fewer trucks picking up supplies or delivering materials to the factory.

The way to our office is anything but a road; there are potholes and stones nearly in every inch of the road. The army officer who lived nearby and often mobilized funds from the community to have the road graded and expanded is no longer available. His corner shop at the end of the road which was a source groceries to the neighborhood and also a national television public viewing joint was ransacked and is now home to soldiers who play cards all day long on the verandah. I can only wonder where that military office went to?

Things are looking quite grim at the immigration office at the border point where we passed the last weekend. Instead of the long queues we were used to have our passports stamped, we hardly took a minute to be processed since there were very few people coming into the country through that port.

Whenever, I am either on my way home or back to Juba, I often wonder when the people of South Sudan will settle down, beat their weapons into cutlasses and plough shares and cultivate these vast tracts of land. Or when will the Juba/Nimule Highway be an avenue of pine forests and farms like it is with the approaches of the capitals of Kenya and Uganda instead of bush and garbage. It would be good to see more tractors and bullion vans instead of military tanks and de-mining machines along the highways.

So much for South Sudan, may God save Africa and its people from self-destruction. I hope I will return with my family which so much wishes to visit, to a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan some day. No need to say lets just kiss and say goodbye.

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Reflections in Juba – Lessons from my elders.

Papa and Toto

Papa and Toto

Some time later this year or early next year, God willing, my family will have a thanksgiving ceremony for our aging parents (they are well into their early eighties). When the idea came up from our eldest brother over the Easter holiday my mind went back to some time last year when my mom said that she is now in extra time as far as her life is concerned and could be gone to be with the Lord at any moment. I think she was referring to the Psalm of Moses as she reflected on her on life, “The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Like it happens very often these days at funerals where I come from, spouses, siblings or children are asked to say something about their departed beloved, I wondered what I would say at my mother’s funeral if went before me – that is if I am asked to say a word.
Well, a thanksgiving ceremony is a better place to say about your parents than a funeral because they will be in attendance. So, I have been wondering what I would have to say about my parents and probably my elder siblings, for who knows what form that ceremony would take – it will probably be some feasting, gift giving, testimonies and general fellowship which might draw in many things from family members in appreciation for our parents.
One thing, I have always cherished about my mom is her resilient spirit besides love and care for other people other than her family. When faced with difficult situations, I often remember this saying from mom, “Run as you cry.” That saying which has a multifaceted interpretation has always been an inspiration to me to press on when all seem hopeless. You can interpret her saying in the modern way, “If you are going through hell, please keeping going for you will eventually get out from the other hand.” But what I know is that saying is got from olden days when attacks by wild animals where common in the community and the elders advice to children was that you run as you cry for help if under attack. Do NOT just sit there, do something or you run the risk of just being swallowed up by the animal or overwhelmed by the difficult situation. It is a cry of faith – you act on what you believe.At least that something I would say about mom and for which I am so thankful to God.
Papa has always been stern disciplinarian and a perfectionist, and sometimes even an idealist. From papa, I have learnt and often desired to be thorough in whatever I do and obviously I have also had the opportunity of learning from his shortfalls, especially his idealistic side which sometimes slid into procrastination while trying to get everything right. There is one other thing which organisations like UNICEF and WHO spends so much money teaching people who I imperceptibly learnt from my father – washing hands. I will not elaborate much but the first thing that dad always did when he got home from his work, meeting, funeral etc, was wash hands and with soap, and with warm water very often.
There are obviously a lot more I have learnt from parents but Papa’s disciplinarian character and Toto’s persevering spirit,and love for education saw us go through school through some of the most challenging times and circumstances. Papa’s disciplinarian and perfection tendencies have not always endeared to him some people, neighbors, relatives and friends. But all in all his intentions have been good even when he has got it wrong.
Thanksgiving, might also be a good opportunity to thank my elder siblings for the good thing I have learnt from them. Starting with the eldest; Doctor Epuwatt has taught me neatness and personal hygiene. I remember a time back in the early nineties when he was hospitalized and I was his attendant, he always got me to help him stay clean in several ways before we moved to a better hospital where the nurses took over. While he was on that hospital bed he also reminded me always to brush and bathe both in the evening and morning just like he did and keep things around us orderly.

Dr Epuwatt

Dr Epuwatt

I remember soon after Epuwatt was out of hospital my young brother was taken ill and when I returned from military school to find him rather filthy in his hospital bed, I gave him a thorough wash, shave and changed his dirty hospital sheets for my new denim sheets my brother David her brought me as a gift from a trip to the US. Since that time in hospital with Epuwatt, my desire has always been to be orderly and neat, not forgetting to pray and read the Bible – something he taught from that hospital bed in the Dr Albert Cook ward in Mengo Hospital.



Talking about David, he always read and told us stories at bed time while we were young primary school kids. I remember the story of , “Work for me to see”, pot that made food for a destitute man on condition that it was never washed but when the wife washed it, it never produced food again. Thus David planted in me a desire to read and probably tell stories in this very manner – writing.
Grace who follows David usually sung songs at bed time and often danced in the day while she sung – especially in her secondary school days. And I have been singing even though I no longer danced like danced myself mad while in Secondary school, even as I dug or herded cattle and pigs.

My sisters

My sisters – Grace right, Olive Center n Cathy left, mom iat the back.

Catherine, whom I follow, has a bit of Papa and Toto – discipline, perseverance, love and care. When I was fresh out of college and looking for a job/afoot on commission basis sales jobs, she cared for me like my mom and I learnt how to have my house in order from her. When I moved out and into my own flat in Kampala, I hit the ground running. There was order, neatness, food and the warmth of love around me and our home.
God bless my parents and long live my siblings. I love you ALL.

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Here is something interesting which I picked up from Hou

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