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Friday, December 14, 2007

Perfect Creature

It happened quickly that Monday morning. I met a girl at the seminar whose eyes, marvellously big and somewhat hungry, struck me like a stray arrow. I bet my soul those eyes glow like a light bulb in the dark.

The moment I set my eyes upon her loveliness, something warm swept me and held me prisoner for a fleeting microsecond. My thoughts swerved between stepping forward and confessing my adoration. But once I moved over, all I could do was stare: first at her lips, before my eyes came down to linger at her firm, straight teats.

She must have been disturbed for she concocted her face into something somewhat mysterious. Whereupon I stammered about how unsettling her beauty was, and how I was ready and set to pay any price just to be friends with her.

“What?” she asked.

“Can’t we just be good friends?” I repeated.

At this moment, begin to imagine the despair and desperation of waiting and the response: “Are you born-again?”

Too stunned to answer, I held out my hand instead. A long pause, a sigh –when she finally took it looking me direct in the eyes. Those eyes again: so compelling, so searching as if to see if I had some dirty bone hidden somewhere in the most secret closet of my heart.

The world spiralled round and around but could not just put away the visible sheen of her dark, spotless skin. A distant shiver was eating up inside me, I knew not, from whence. I slowly tilted my head to appraise her one more time. It was like seeing her anew. Before me was a creature whose femininity I cannot so deligently explain. I licked my lips and thought of bacon and cookies.

She was fidgeting. Then, a wry smile slowly broke her lips and revealed a set of milk teeth and a gap at the front of the mouth along the apex of her dental arch, as she leisurely made for the door. At the exit, she hesitated and looked back, “Get lost,” she said and was gone.

Back home that evening, I burrowed my head in my pillow and thought about the girl I had met at the seminar. I was restless because I wanted to forget but could not. Suddenly, came to mind the words I had read in Lawd Today, a Richard Wright novel:

"I think of you with every breath
I takeAnd every breath becomes a sigh
Not a sign of despairBut a sigh that I care for you…"

My mind was by now saturated with the things I could do with her but I didn’t want to take that line. I switched on soft music as I called out to sweet sleep to kiss my eyes and take me away to a beautiful, unknown land.

I arose the next day feeling sunny. Not even the thought that I had been snubbed could shake my faith. After all, hadn’t she looked in my eyes? Smiled? Taken my hand?

The next days rolled by like waves. I ignored the girl that had so bowled me though I couldn’t stifle the stab to enjoy a few stolen glances at my object of interest. And on the fourth day, the urge to talk floored me. It had been a bad start, I reminded her, but surely it wouldn’t be that awful if we tried again, first with her cell phone number. Damn her! She didn’t even look at me; she left me alone and unhappy. It was the longest afternoon in which I contemplated stringing to the countryside where I was a ball among village belles.

But this girl! She was a bundle of surprises. After the seminar, she gave me a hug and shovelled something in the hip pocket of my jeans. It was a crumpled paper with a puzzle in form of ten-figure number i.e. 1286202762. This was her number –wrongly arranged. She gave me five minutes starting 9 p.m., within which to re-arrange it and send her a text message to confirm my success. Hmn!

This was the most interesting puzzle. I called about five people: four men and the wrong woman. But on my seventh attempt, I hit the mark. The object of my interest, when I got to her, laughed hard and long. A feeling of delight consumed me when she congratulated me.

By this time, I wasn’t filling “little boy blue” no more. This girl, whose eyes reminded me of candy, had a brain too. I had solved her puzzle. I never thought it would make me feel this way.

Later in the bathroom as cold water ran down my bony naked body, as I thought about our chitchat, how happy go I was feeling after Peaches (the name I had given her) agreed to go out with me, I smiled. The words I had read, again, in a Richard Wright novel, came back to mind and I sang:

“Got me doing things, things I never thought I’d do-oo-oo
Got me doing things, some are silly, some are new-oo-oo
Got me saying things, things I never said before-o-o
Got me saying things like you’re the one I adore-o-o…”

What a beautiful feeling to be in love! And with Peaches, we sure were going to “enjoy the flowers of the earth.” Together!

Published in Daily Monitor on September 24, 2006.

To marry or not to marry?

God ordains marriage, so the Bible says. A man shall leave his father’s house and join his wife and the two shall become one in body, spirit, soul. And what God has put together, let no man put asunder. In other words, marriage is a padlock!

Growing up as a young man, my fantasies have been predominantly about finding me a wife and lavishing all my virgin love on her, what childish innocence! However, my fantasies have since begun to swim in the river of oblivion. It is all dark: where and who can find a prudent wife?

My environment has done a good work at sowing seeds of skepticism about marriage. Now the question is: “To marry or not to marry?”
On my way to visit a relative, I was sandwiched by a bunch of what seemed like idlers talking about marriage stuff.

Nze nyina abaana bana,” boasted a lanky fellow with a goatee “ate bulyomu ayina mama we” ( I’ve four children and each with a different mother.)

Nga toja kumalako,” quipped another, meaning his colleague will not manage. This seemed to be the long-awaited cue for the others that had been silent for they all participated, giving opinions and suggestions from personal experience.

One thing became clear, insecurity justifies their actions. The man with four children from four mothers acted on insecurity to scoop the four women. It is a mad cycle. This year, you co-habit with one woman, (no guarantee of trust, so marriage is postponed) when she proves untrustworthy, the next year you go shopping for a second one (mind you, the first left you with a suckling baby).

In four years, you have gone through a cycle of four women with four children. The four have probably run to those who are superior to you in money matters. You are left with four children that you decide to dump at their grandmother’s. Oh poor old grandma!

You are left as a love hunter to wreck vengeance on innocent daughters of Eve. The result is broken marriages because you intruded on a once stable marriage, sleeping with your neighbour’s wife that had never seen the walls of Nandos. The poor man has no option but to divorce his wife for betrayal. The next thing you know, he has also joined the club of “single parents' love hunters.”

What is left is a cycle of cheating, cohabiting, single parenting, fornicating, homicidal lunatics who are citizens of this world. For us who have not tested the marriage institution but are anticipating the nuptial night, are led into the darkest darkness, the back stagers are fated for. The plague has caught my own peers.

In today’s Uganda, especially among the educated folks, the password is “No money No love”. Therefore, before you drive a Starlet or a Mark11, you can keep the marriage fantasies to yourself or you will join “the love hunter’s club”. Bachelorhood will soon become a lifestyle but also a sign of poverty.

God who ordained marriage sees a human race that has defied his command, driving posh cars hidden behind the tinted window screens reminiscent of Adam’s leaves (in hiding from God when he covered his nakedness), God calls,” Why are you hiding from me?”

And I will answer that for the human race, “We are ashamed because we are naked. Sin has stripped us off God’s covering. That is why HIV/Aids is killing many in unprecedented numbers. Surely, you need a sign to behave because we are a wicked generation!

To marry or not to marry? I will still marry, though the waves roll, they will not prevail. God still ordains marriage (not money).

Published in Daily Monitor on September 17, 2006

Pretty women; what you see is not what you get

It's one beautiful morning. In the mist looms the face of a woman. She carries a not so winsome face but she possesses such an open, warm smile that given chance, you could trust her.

Suddenly another face looms. This time, it’s brown, with beautiful eyes, and full lips that open into an enigmatic smile. The lustre of her skin and that disarming figure, oh, isn't she lovely!

It's exactly three years since you left school. You got that dream job and the shillings are gushing in but loneliness has had its swipe at your life; you want to bring home some sweet girl to colour up your otherwise dull life. Of the two women, whom would you walk down the aisle with?

Of course, for countless men the 'beautiful' one will take the day even when they know regrets are bound to come in soon or later. This is because men are pompous and like to flash flashy stuff even when the 'ugly' make the best partners.

In life, senior members of society talking from experience have warned men to be wary of very attractive women because they are often the objects fantasies and sexual desires on the part of men who will knock their nails off trying to chase them; even kill for it.

The ugly on the other hand gives a peace of mind, as few males will want to chase them. That plain looking girl will give her all to make things work because the man in her life is all she has. When you are feeling "little boy blue" after losing your job, she'll hold you close like a teddy bear and cuddle your worries away.

Honesty, trust, hope and wholesome love is what she brings in a relationship if you're man enough and don't drive her away. Like Branche in Richard Wright's Lawd Today, she may not be awfully good looking but man, if she really loves her man "she'll give him the kind of love that would make a wildcat squall."

She'll hold a good job; buy you clothes and "swipe home some good eats." Soft and chummy, she'll bury her head in your chest, kiss you, and playfully beg you never to leave her. Then she'll nestle closer for a little dose of love and generally make you feel on top of the world.

As for the pretty women, they are a conniving lot who always want some more. She'll nag about airtime, salon money and even when she earns more, she will not stop to remind you to take her to expensive places as if her life depends on them. You've to string along with her because other sharks will be waiting in line to lie at her feet and worship her.

But in the ugly looking girl, God in his own good fashion had to fill the void as Julius Mutabazi, a born again Christian said, "We are always swayed by the physical attributes but the ugly woman usually possesses the beauty of the heart that endures to posterity. It's the legacy of the beauty of the inmost being that is forever unshakable -from everlasting to everlasting, it always shall glitter."

Ironically, beautiful women are scared of getting fat, forgetting that the "fatter the berry the sweeter the juice," as Richard Wright wrote. They spend their days in beauty parlours and take to indecent dressing: bikinis or hot body-hugging mini-skirts that make men imagine all things. She owns no love in her soul and will always come after your money.

The true definition of beauty, according to the Bible, is fearing the Lord. So the girl whose 'ugliness' you laughed at from way back at school, will wear out her feet on the cold rugged floor in the comfort of her room having divine romance with the Lord while the beautiful one will be shaking her booty in Club Silk.

Besides, since time immemorial, smashing women have been trouble. Look at what Eve did to humankind, how Delilah destroyed the mighty Samson, what would have happened if Juliet had not confused Romeo? How many great men does Ihuoma in Elechi Amadi's The Concubine destroy?

At the end of the road, what is on the outside won't change the inner ugliness of a beautiful woman, which is why the not so good looking woman takes the reward. For all you ugly women out there, be content -your good works will bring you praise at the city gate.

Published in Daily Monitor, on September 21, 2006

We go for lips not lipstick

One beautiful stroll around Wandegeya acquainted us with the gorgeous Diana. The sun had just shrouded itself in setting clouds of the west; Jared, the self-proclaimed poet was still appreciating the majesty of dusk when I spotted Diana coming towards our direction.

With the poise of a crested crane, she strode nearer, closer with a bewitching smile until Jared who could not stand it anymore whispered, "she wears makeup, the weight of a ton!" and we giggled like little girls.

But how terrible her lips looked! Wish I had peeped through the ventilator atop her bedroom window, and then I would have witnessed her go about that 'smear' campaign!

Her true picture came with an overtly exaggerated pattern of eyebrows. Below the eyes, were yucky gray colours and the facial skin was way too much lighter than the rest. The lips were something between pink and red. They had a hideous glow that spoiled their fullness - "too heavy," Jared was to later describe them, as "too devilish," I insisted.

Anyway, like Diana, many girls spoil the deliciousness of their refinement as they try to make appearances. Brenda, a Mass communication student says, "makeup compliments beauty and attractiveness and makes you look better."

She however, forgets that this business is a dirty game that was designed for the stage. And now, the 'liberated' women of Uganda have spoilt it, they over wear makeup.

The bulk of the lot apply all kinds of cosmetics because they want to look 'cosmetic.' They call it 'makeup' but the definition is an attempt to correct the wrong as in 'making-up.' The argument is that girls who wear makeup are not confident enough, know they are ugly and neither can they face suicide, so they try to 'makeup' with makeup in an attempt to look chic, beautiful and smart!

Cathy, a beautician told me of women who put so much importance to makeup that they can hardly leave their homes without it.

"It's like an addiction. These are the girls who always carry small mirrors and jam their handbags with eye liners, lip balms, eye pencils, lip brows, nail polish, lip sticks and all," she says. "They will say, 'what will guys think of my lips if I don't apply makeup?"'

Cathy adds that to some women, not wearing makeup is abominable and can only be compared to appearing naked in public. Sad, huh! The sadness is further lengthened by the observation that different girls have different skin complexions and body types. So this beauty is blessed with a babyish, serene and dry skin. The other is endowed with a very oily, frog-like skin yet another has squints, small lips and rotund head. So if all these breeds applied makeup, would they look the same? Of course not.

Why? Because the unique species will negotiate their outlooks with the practical use of creams, eye shadow pencils, lip balms, mascaras of rare make and other beauty substances with adverse side effects on their skins. And at harvest time, no correct blending is realised. We end up getting clownish, impaired looks. Others get to resemble actresses playing the haggard, and weary vampire come to terrorise the neighborhood!

Could be why Herbert has long given up on such women: "I hate ladies who overuse makeup," he says, "They look ugly and cannot be marketed into marriage because they lack the confidence of beauty and have to seek the help of useless chemicals. They are cheap!"

Well, Herbert has a point. The score is that makeup is a delightful part of the girl's smartness when suitably and appropriately used. Many students think sensuality lies in modelling their youthful faces with powder or through colouring eyelashes and smearing their lips red. You probably have heard of women who cannot cry or sneeze for fear of spoiling their makeup. These are the same that toil to improve the curves of their mouths with garish designs of tacked makeup. But ha-ha, ha ha, their lips end up becoming the centre of interest, though in a twisted, bizarre way!

It reminds me of babes who deliberately distort their faces to look like witches. They use moist rouge hoping to look seductive. Then she will expect lover boy to take a bunch of yellow flowers and kneel before her appraisingly, "how attractive you look, o darling!" And if you don't, you are an unfeeling brat, an Iscariot who always ‘jumps out of her’ and never appreciates her beauty. If I were you, I would jump about, do the memorable Michael Jackson slide as I sing his Black or White… "Black or white…or pink…or red…. or white…or blue…" till I fully outline the colours formed out of her 'rich' makeup.

How about the girls who have just turned 18? They make a big deal out of it and in an attempt to look independent, bleach their skins until they look revolting with a horrible tan; which is why we have ladies with leopard faces (black and white spots) because they have messed up their romantic looks with merciless creams.

And once in a while, funny guys will flash her 'genuine' smiles with a touch of lust. Then wait to see the girl 'grow' wings knowing she is still attractive, even beam and blush satisfactorily, kumbe, the comedians were just playing the mocking game.

Benjamin Natumanya a Social Sciences student of Makerere University is one such guy, "Makeup is not that bad but there are girls who go overboard and end up looking like female ghosts. It is like they think makeup is all it takes. This puts me off…better regulated than exaggerated (the makeup)," he says.

There you have it girls, too much of anything is always bad. Get the drift; guys prefer it regulated. Besides, we do not want to contract cancer by licking that lipstick just because we like to kiss your lips!

Published in Daily Monitor, on December 10, 2004

How carbon mugere ended our discussion

Frobisha was well known throughout the neighbouring schools and even beyond! Unlike Chinua Achebe's Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart, his fame rested on the kind of smell his feet would evoke.

His feet were so huge that he had his shoes specially made because his size could not be found on the market. That was many years ago, in secondary school at St Kagwa Bushenyi High School.

I remember how one day in a Literature discussion, a Bweranyangi girl was doing a preview of Alex La Guma's In The Fog Of The Season's End –a moving account about the blacks' struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.

As we shed tears at the horrendous exposition of torture in this gripping novel, Frobisha entered and darkness fell. This tall, dark basketball player confidently ambled in and sat in an empty chair next to where we were perched.

Clad in a navy blue trouser and a dirty white shirt that had not been ironed, he looked like one of the clowns in Mickey House. First, the shirt was too small for his athletic body. It had a huge collar held tight at his huge neck by a red, flowered tiny, and small knotted tie. These went down with flat soled, brown shoes and white dirty socks.

For some time, our discussion made its flow, uninterrupted like a silent river. And then this fellow launched his onslaught. If former Vice President Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe had entered, our protagonist would still be languishing in a jail cell. His crime? Oh boy, you were not there! The piercing stench that popped out after he had removed his shoes was unbearable. Tell you what, no sane man would survive the hellish, inhospitable filth that came with his act.

Time stood still as the stench clipped our noses. Our intelligent villain accompanied by a bevy of papers one of which was a Literature test answer sheet in which he had scooped 30/33 looked on undisturbed. It was on this day that Frobisha also nicknamed Posho Crushing Machine(PCM), consecrated himself as a distinctive carbon mugere (smelly feet and socks) whiz.

This lawyer in prospect thus made himself a name as a mischief-maker who had disenfranchised a whole section of discussants preparing for UNEB exams. The smell of his feet (or is it socks) was like the fart of a starved hag that has taken rotten roots for supper.

His feet had this heavy smell that could conquer the air like hell let loose. It was indeed a shame to see our guests finding some excuse to abandon the discussion because the nausea reverberated encompassing the room with more and more misery. This is how the smelly feet of Frobisha a.k.a PCM (Posho Crushing Machine) wreaked vibrant havoc indirectly dismissing our Literature discussion.

And recently, I was strolling around Makerere University when I met our distracter, armed with thin and thick volumes of unique genres of law books. And believe me, as I passed by him, the damn stench broke my nose. Seeing my discomfort, he fiddled with his phone until I left gloomy like an advancing storm.

Only then, I realised that Kazibwe was rightly riled by male MP's with smelly feet and socks... Puke, puke. Off to my hostel, I pinned down this tale of nauseating feet and smelly socks. It's sick!

Published in Daily Monitor, on February 16, 2004

I hooked a Mzungu with help of mudfish

One evening, I strolled home with my mudfish scoop only to find our uncle had come home with two young white Christian missionaries from the land of George Bush.

The one who was a smashing beauty was called Isabyll. She was clad in a long flowing cashmere dress that matched the colour of her eyes. I could already see that my older brothers were scanning her the way a chameleon does a fly. With my mudfish catch still dangling on my hook, I went to welcome them.

"Where did you fish this?" Isabyll said smiling down at my scoop.

"From Kamabaare," I replied referring to the small roaring river down the valley near our home.

She was overjoyed with my catch making me swear several times that I would take her fishing that very morning.

It was to be a secret. That whole evening, she was in my company. My older brothers, who considered themselves 'the kids on the block' (they were in boarding school, knew so much about anything and everything and village girls fought over them) were jealous to realise that Isabyll preferred my company - I, the small primitive boy of S.4 and in a village school.

Well, early morning the following day, before cock-crow, I tiptoed to Isabyll's room and quietly helped her to dress like a cowboy. We then headed for our fishing mission.

Everyone else was –in Shakespeare speak –still 'enjoying the honey-heavy dew of slumber.' I had my hook ready. I had also set my fishing baskets the previous night. No one at home knew where we were. Else my Uncle would have slashed my neck.

It was joy seeing the blinding smile of Isabyll as I whistled in the act of my fishing hobby to encourage the mudfish: rugubwobwa...rugubwobwa, ekyaana ky'engaara kyakutangaho... my hook shook and bang! the biggest mudfish ever was thrown on the bank! I had never seen someone so excited with my catch.

But soon, the pangs of the dawn cold began affecting her, I offered her my coat. Then referring to the same cold, I manoeuvred into her embrace. We lay there holding each other tightly. I would have been satisfied with the status quo but she had other ideas. She grabbed me by the neck and kissed me for so long a time that I started gasping for breath. By the time we returned home, I was no longer a virgin.

Three days later, they flew back to the US. Isabyll gave me a camera before she left. It is about four years since but I still remember that day like it happened yesterday.

Published in Daily Monitor, on February 13, 2004

How chaplain gave new meaning to wine

Way back in secondary school, our school chaplain was a very interesting character when he expressed himself or displayed his most interesting shenanigans.

His voice for instance would boom during Sunday mass. "Then he took a cup, raised it, gave thanks and said, 'Take this all of you and drink from it'," he would say.

"This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant; it will be shed for you and for all so that your sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."

The way he talked, one would think he was imploring us to drink in memory of him and not the biblical son of our creator. Why we particularly liked our chaplain is that he himself relished sipping a bottle of gin.

It is because of this that we as well exercised our wistful curiosity to be like him. Sundays were glorious days because that was when we enjoyed partaking of the holy Eucharist, which was eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. The procedure was that we would line up.

At the altar table, the cup of His 'blood' would shine down on us as if to say, "What are you waiting for lads?" We would amble our way to the altar, pick the sacred bread, dip it in the cup of wine, and mumble our prayers before traversing the way back to our seats.

The last guy in the queue was usually allowed to pour the remaining wine down his throat and eat all the remaining pieces of bread as well. Oh boy, there was comedy here.

The school clowns would almost clash in an attempt to be at the back. At one time, two drunken funny mates carelessly knocked over the holy cups and that marked the end of the comedy and the chaplain started feeding us instead.

Our chaplain was also obstinate and had somewhat of a cold side to him. Sometimes when preaching, he would note students who were absent minded. When it came to sharing the holy Eucharist, he would discreetly skip them. One time he skipped me and I thought that he had perhaps not seen me.

I jumped, shouting at the same time that he had skipped me. He looked at me with his small, dancing eyes before jumping to the next guy again. The laughter that followed was truly deafening.

Even some of the most ebullient of extroverts at school would pretend to be sober and sombre during mass when they were drunk but our dear chaplain would take note and skip them during Eucharist.

Whatever the case, the joy, fun and clownish drawling of our school chaplain truly gave meaning to our school times.

Published in Daily Monitor on January 26, 2004.

For love, my fees and face had to go

Ann and I began as toddlers. She was the daughter of our next door neighbour and great family friend.

Ann was lean with ebony hair, twinkling skin, dancing bright white eyes and when she grinned, tiny dimples that gilded her cheeks made her extraordinarily pretty.

We went to the same school, braved the ice-cold mornings of Kigezi, the blinding fog, mist and the golden dew together.

At home, we fetched water together and later played in the lawn. Whenever our parents would chide us, we would escape to hide in the sorghum plantation, sit down and hold hands in blissful, profound silence.

We even learned to kiss that early. Tourists had camped near our church and, one Sunday, on our way from service, we found a white couple kissing. We beheld them in amazement and surprise, wondering what they were doing. When we arrived home, we practically tried out their game. It felt good. I was 8 and Ann, 7.

Generally, my childhood recollections paint a picture of a boisterous Ann, in whom the heavens had revealed their exquisite wonder! She was a true personification of the Biblical, yet faithful Bathsheba and a living Ihuoma of Elechi Amadi's time!I visualise us as Romeo and Juliet, all free from our parents' personal vendettas.

One day, Papa was transferred to Rukungiri. We cried and prayed to God to foil the separation. He did not. Ann even asked her mom to let her come with us but received hot slaps instead.

In Col Senyondo's district, life had nothing to offer without Ann. The once cheerful lanky boy lost colour and crept into a world of solitude.
Much later, when my father had been transferred to Bushenyi, my sister joined a secondary school in Kabale, she met Ann. Through her, our love was rekindled via mail.

But I never came to meet her till, later in my A-level, I heard over the radio that one of Ann's sisters had died. The very next day was beginning of term and when my father gave me Shs. 250,000 as school fees and pocket money, I decided to board a taxi for Kabale to look for Ann and console her. I had left Kabale as a boy and now I was 18.

Ann looked as gorgeous as ever. She had matured into a fully virtuous and voluptuous woman. Before we could go to their village house where the mourning was, she led me to her father's shop in town. Soon, we forgot her dead sister and started kissing. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we were mourning her sister in a hilarious and thrilling fashion.

Suddenly, a really heavy knock bombarded the door like a bomb. We flew up like frightened birds. Then, the angry giant, with bloodshot eyes threw the door inside and stood hovering over us looking like the Biblical Goliath. Before I could say anything, the guy descended on me, beating me like he did not care if he broke my bones. I got a beating of my life as Ann cried, pleading for my life.

The guy, I later learnt was Ann's brother, then descended on her calling her a dog which goes to mate when its sisters are lying cold in the sitting room.

I took that chance to mobilise my broken body into an escape. But I holed up in Kabale till I met her again. And that cost me my fees before I returned to school with a welded face, wondering how on earth I was going to raise my school fees.

Published in Daily Monitor on August 15, 2003

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Black Prince

His was a life caught up in the crossfire between good, bad and evil. A poet, an actor and a gangster rapper, Tupac Shakur inspired and angered many, but left behind a legacy that his worldwide bulk of fans will forever live to appreciate, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza.

Many Ugandan musicians sing for money, or to be drawn into the celebrity world. Others do it, just for the sake of it. Perhaps the reason we have music enthusiasts drawing pop or soul singers into the hip hop category for the Pearl of Africa Music (PAM) Awards.

Anyway, we could look around to see what moves the music planet. There is one man who has inspired many. His was a life caught up in the crossfire between good, bad and evil. A poet, an actor and a gangster rapper, Tupac Shakur inspired and angered many, but left behind a legacy that his worldwide bulk of fans will forever live to appreciate.

Even in death, he has made his mark as Guinness World Book of Records most successful gangster rapper. Despite not having graduated from high school, the power of Tupac’s lyrics and his poetry were to serve as the basis for his cult status, making him an icon.

Millions of people, whose lives were and continue to be touched by Tupac have for long been engrossed into digging for the pearls of hip-hop culture. Not that they have to smoke weed (marijuana), swing guns, worship sex, or brave jail cells like their hero; but they buy his music, bounce like him and try to speak like him.

"He sang with a passion," says Mr Jared Ombui, a Kenyan student at Makerere University. "His music came from the heart and his rhythms would penetrate one's soul."

Tupac died from gunshot wounds in Las Vegas in 1996 but even after his death, six CDs of his original material and a poetry book have been released.

In a New York Daily News article last year, Rebecca Louie wrote about how in "Tupac: Resurrection," a documentary that opened last year, "Shakur tells his life story, alternating between rage and joy and proving startlingly prescient about his fate...his narration is like a troubled voice from the grave."

At the time of his death, Tupac was a controversial figure who had been charged in the shooting of two off-duty police officers.

The fascinating thing is that even when he could pour violence in his hits, he still had a hold on his fans. "The true power of Shakur originated, somewhat ironically, in his physicality. His appearance evoked in women a combination of sexual attraction and maternal concern," writes John Mcwhorter, the author of Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.

Tupac Shakur was born in 1971 as Lesane Parish Crooks to Afeni Shakur in Brooklyn. His mother changed his name to Tupac Amaru after an Indian revolutionary; a name that means 'shining serpent.'

As a child, Tupac was pet named 'Black Prince' by his childhood friends. He grew up distressed in a family that was always on the move from cities to homeless shelters.

"I remember crying all the time, I didn't have no buddies that I grew up with," he once said.

He didn't know his father until his jail days when a man claiming to be his dad came to see him. This was no big surprise for Tupac who exclaimed, "The niggah looked just like me!"

As a 12-year-old, Tupac enrolled at the Baltimore School for Performing Arts where he studied ballet and acting. He also started taking parts in drama. He later moved with his family to California where he began to hang with the 'wrong crowd.'

He started as a backup dancer for a California- based rap group ‘Digital Underground’ that was renowned for sex inspired songs.

In 1991 his first album, 2Pacalypse Now was released; it brought out talent but also took him into deep thug life. He once commented, "I didn't create thug life, I diagnosed it."

By the age of 20, Tupac had been to prison eight times. He released his second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.A.Z, a great success that brought him out as a violent rapper with his hardcore thug life hits about the troubled lives of gangsters.

In 1994, he was shot five times and later produced his 1995 Platinum album, Me Against the World.

Tupac was also arrested for sexually abusing a woman. After his release, he produced his best ever album, All Eyez on Me that sold six million copies.

His music and poetry raised many salient issues on media, politics, social life and women. For the politicians, he wrote poems, Liberty Needs Glass and Lady Justice; that politicians are blind and should be taken to an optician and be given two pairs of glasses for trampling on Nelson Mandela and other victims of political and racial injustice.

Tupac however didn't really believe in God and the devil. Religion was there to control people, according to him. You get a 'D' off Devil and you have 'Evil' add an 'O' to God and you have 'Good.' Basically, it is about what you do. Every bad thing you do comes back to you," argued Tupac.

"I have done good and I feel like I'm going to heaven," he once said.

Whatever his beliefs, Tupac's gift of expression is hard not to appreciate. Once asked about whether he believed in miracles, he said, "We do not turn water into wine but words into money, dope heads into productive citizens of America. I'm not trynna say I'm Jesus. We don't part the red sea but when we walk through the neighbourhood without getting shot, it's a miracle."

He also criticised one magnificent church building that occupied a whole block in New York saying, "Does God need to sleep in a huge building decorated with gold when black folks are homeless on the streets?"

He had a passionate way of recounting the sorrows of growing in the hood.

Songs like Something 2 Die 4, Last Wordz and Soulz highlight liquor, jealousy, and recklessness yet in Representin' 93, he pays tribute to black pop stars. In The Streetz R Deathrow he justifies thuggish behaviour as an inevitable product of fatherlessness while Papa'z Song is on family issues where he indicts and rejects an absent father who reappears.

But one of his most endearing songs is Dear Mama, where he touchingly shows respect, declares her love and raps on how hard he realised it is for a single woman to raise a son.

Sounds strange but last year, Tupac was named by as the eighth highest-earning dead celebrity. He pulled in $12 million between September 2002 and September 2003. He continues to inspire colleagues and apparently, Eminem will soon release an album titled Loyal to the Game. It is a product of Tupac's previously unreleased verses. We shall hold our breath as modern rappers continue to compete with the dead.

As for his acting career, Tupac had a certain charisma that always made him stand out in his films.

"Just imagine what would have happened if he had lived. Tupac was vilified in life but when he died, God gave him what they call an extra portion," his mother who is also CEO of Amaru Entertainment/Amaru Records that manages Tupac's works once said. "He just got lifted up," she said last year in an interview with New York Daily News.

In his love life, Tupac was engaged to Kadida Jones but also dated Jada Pinkett, now married to actor and rapper Will Smith.

Sadly, Tupac's lyrics upset and fueled his longstanding feud with the rapper Notorious B.I.G. who was killed six months after Tupac's death. Shakur's unsolved murder has also been the source of fascination. He was shot on September 7, 1996 and died six days later. Much of what happened remains a mystery.

It is said his death was related to the East Coast versus West Coast gang- a rival Bad Boy label with main players Sean Puffy Combs aka P-Diddy and rapper Notorious B.I.G. These theories however, remain legendary in the already twisted story of Tupac Shakur.

The rapper, actor, composer and poet who once said he would "spark the brain that will change the world," died and left a major vent in the rap world.

Rapper Jay-Z once said of rap, "You have to be fresh and sell to an audience that's 16 to 25. They demand that you 'keep it hood,' 'keep it real'." It is exactly what only Tupac Shakur could achieve. He produced music that lasts.

It's that controversial; the life and death of Tupac Shakur, a man who many believe still lives somewhere. A hero to some, a martyr to others and a legend to his fans, Tupac had the words, 'Thug Life' tattooed on his abdomen, and in most of his songs, he predicted his own death. He lived the "gangster" life celebrated in his songs until he was murdered.

His words; "All good niggas who change the world, die in violence..." were a prophecy that came true in his death.

Sunday Monitor, December 19, 2004

Roadside Snacks May Be a Bad Idea

While most of these bites are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, according to, there is the risk of getting diseased because most of the snacks are not prepared in a hygienic environment, writes Dennis D.Muhumuza

In the beginning, God made man and gave him a stomach. He said to man to eat fruits from the trees in the garden but not to eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. But when the “woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Thanks to temptation.

This little story as in Genesis 3 best tells the history of man and his belly. Humankind has since creation toiled to meet the eternal demands of the stomach. In fact, nutritionists recommend three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and supper, and a snack in between.

In Uganda, people with an eye for business are minting fine shillings selling roadside snacks. As to how hygienic they are, is but a big debate.

Nyama choma
Anyone who has not heard of mchomo or nyama choma must not be Ugandan. We are talking specifically of roast beef but we could also include pork, mutton, chicken, dry fish or anything fleshy that contains animal protein.

Arguably, the oldest type of snack food, meat snacks are most delicious. In Mbizinya and Lukaya along the Kampala-Masaka highway, buses must stop to allow passengers time to grab skewers of roast meat, chicken thighs, liver, gizzard, name it, which they munch as they journey on.

It has been rumoured that dealers even take advantage of travellers’ abiding love for flesh snacks to roast or fry kaloli (Marabou stork) and some wild animals, which they sell as chicken or beef.

In Kampala, the business of roadside meat snacks gets brisk as dusk sets in. After work as men chill in bufunda to drink beer and talk politics and women, snack peddlers step in with skewers of roast this and that.

“Pork goes well with a cold beer,” said Ian Mugizi, a regular at Kampala bufunda. “You cannot get easily drunk and those boys prepare it very well.”

Meat is sliced into small pieces, washed in salted water, roasted on charcoal stoves, and served hot. Salt, according to science books, is an important factor in the preparation of meat snacks because it adds flavour.

With the Christmas period approaching, the nsenene are about to become the hottest roadside snack around the country. The wings and legs are removed and the insects are fried and sold. The good news is that these delicacies are very rich in protein, fat, and carbohydrates and have a higher energy value than soybeans, maize, beef and fish. Now you know.

While you might be thinking of a fine Swiss watch, this particular rolex is simply a popular fast food prepared and sold along roads during evening hours. In Kampala, the rolex is loved mostly by the youths. Mr Gregory Tweheyo, a postgraduate student at Makerere University, calls it the “quintessential meal for the campuser”.

It is made with fried eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, onions and green pepper and rolled in a chapatti. The thing about the rolex is that it is tastier than most snacks and highly satisfying. For Shs500, you will return home highly satisfied. However, some people are troubled about the cleanliness of the rolex maker as well as the ways in which the cholesterol and oil contained in the rolex might affect them.

Are we safe?
There are definitely more types of roadside snacks that include fruit, samosas, chapatti, popcorn, gonja, boiled and roast maize, groundnuts, and others. While most of these bites are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, according to, there is the risk of getting diseased because most of the snacks are not prepared in a hygienic environment.

Mr Gaston Tumuhimbise, a nutritionist, said snacking is good for the body but advises that people should avoid snacks that contain high amounts of fat and sugar -they are dangerous to the human body.

Also, majority snack sellers are dirty children, men and women who join the business for bare survival. Out of ignorance, they place their snacks in open places, sometimes near drainage systems where they are exposed to hazardous particles.

Put in light containers
Roadside snacks must be covered to keep away air and dust, said Dr Archeleo Kaaya of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Makerere University. He said that bushera (porridge) and other fermented products must be put in light containers. Although he appreciates they are cheap, Kaaya is bothered that the fruits and roast groundnuts are often not fresh, contaminated and containing micro-toxins.

“We are not very safe,” said Kaaya, whose speciality is micro-toxins in food. “The recommended methods of preparation and packing of these snacks in safe and hygienic environment should be followed.”

Urban health authorities are required to ensure that the right standards of hygiene are kept. In the meantime, those in the business of roadside snacks toil on - perhaps to fulfil God’s punishment to man for betraying Him by eating the forbidden fruit. The Bible says, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.”

Published by Sunday Monitor on September 10, 2006

Too Old to Stay Home, Too Broke to Live Decently

Many young jobless graduates are living in horrible conditions in slums. They don't have jobs to allow them to live decently yet they don't want to stay home because they want independence. Some have to stay around Kampala because they hail from upcountry and going back to the village means they might never get a decent job, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

Francis Walubi, 22, shares a single bed with a friend. The room is tiny like the inside of a pot. Dirty and faded jeans make a little mound in a corner. Old newspapers and crumpled papers litter the soiled cheap plastic carpet. Some weird smell pervades the room; it’s during the day but starved mosquitoes buzz about with malice and fiercely suck our blood.

In June last year, Walubi completed his first degree at Makerere University. He had big dreams but as he has come to realise, “landing that dream job is as hard as that proverbial camel passing through the eye of the needle.”

When dawn cracks, Walubi prepares to plod the streets determined to find work. With a khaki parcel containing his academic testimonials, he has had to visit countless corporate companies only to be shooed away by an “arrogant receptionist” or a note on the wall that reads: 'No jobs.'

He has grown thin, his face is pale, his once slick trousers are fast wearing out while his shoes are badly out of shape and could do with a cobbler’s awl.
The story of Walubi is the story of tens of thousands of youths roaming the streets for jobs. Every year over 18,000 students graduate but very few find employment.

Many have made themselves friendly to newspaper vendors so they can be allowed to flip through the pages for advertised jobs. Often the frustration is heartrending upon the realisation that they have the qualifications but lack the five year experience prospective employers demand.

“It’s so bad that if someone opened a school to teach experience,” Walubi says sardonically, “he would become an instant millionaire.”

While it’s antagonising, indeed, to apply to several organisations and get no response, it is equally ironical that some of these job-searching people shun opportunities they deem ‘low’.

Emma, for example, landed a job as a supervisor at a construction site, courtesy of his father, but turned it down. “I can’t stand the sound of hammers banging away in my ears,” he said. “I studied Mass Communication for which I deserve a cool job.”

Emma is today holed up in a Shs20,000-month-room in Katanga, a slum, almost more deplorable than what houses Walubi. He spends his days loitering around Makerere University and always is grateful on a few lucky days when a friend tosses him a meal card, upon which he carries his hungry, lanky self to Mitchell Hall Mess to partake of the characteristic campus meal of beans and posho.

And Emma comes from a well off family. It without doubt defies logic to leave behind the comfort and the support of parents to languish on the streets of Kampala searching for a job. They say they are too old to stay at home, yet they are too broke for independence.

“I have siblings who need to reach where I have reached,” explains Irene Adong, with a coy, but somewhat determined smile. “I decided the best option was to leave home and stop being a burden to my parents.”

Many other young graduates come from upcountry districts and returning home means they give up all hope of ever getting a job.

“People in the village say so and so’s son got a degree from Makerere. They expect you to have a good job and only come home during Christmas to share the good fortune not to become an idler in the village,” says James Mafabi whose home area is in Sironko District.

Carry their crosses
The jobless eat little and like Jesus of Nazareth, carry their crosses, praying for the day they’ll wake up to find the unemployment cancer healed. They lunch in cheap food kiosks commonly known around Makerere as kikumi-kikumis, where you can eat to your fill for only Shs200 (enough posho and free soup).

When called for job interviews, the really desperate ones borrow better clothes to cut a ‘presentable’ look.

Luckily, most of them still carry their student identity cards, which permits them to use university facilities like free Internet and reading newspapers in the main library.

Some seek to do voluntary work with private organisations but even then, they are mostly turned down. When the going really gets tough, the more tactful sneak home and feed their stomachs but leave in time before their parents return from work.

President Yoweri Museveni has often called for self-employment and challenged the jobless to be job creators than job seekers. “But how’ll you create a job,” wondered James Mafundo. “Where is the capital, how even will you access credit or even if you did, can you handle the huge interest rates?”

In the past, a money-lending scheme called Entandikwa was created to help the jobless and the impoverished but it was compressed by corruption and the non-payment of the loans. Even then, the Entandikwa was meant for peasants not graduates.

Not even the Shs3.3bn that Micro Finance Minister Gen. Salim Saleh allotted to the Saving and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCO) last year to help exterminate poverty has saved the situation. Observers have over the years stressed that the problem is that the Ugandan education system has neglected home-grown science and practical study that would equip students with the necessary skills that they can use to create their jobs.

The awkward state of affairs is worsened when the unemployed graduates look at Kampala as the only goldmine. Most of them confessed they would rather starve than abandon the ‘stylish’ city for a remote setting, which is why some seek solace in drugs while some girls have turned to prostitution.

“It’s not good to study and not get a job,” said Betty Iyamuremye. “The girls are doing carpet interviews (offering sex in return for job promises) and some get married to the wrong elements for money. This has increased unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and the spread of HIV/Aids.”

American dream
Uganda ranks number 144 in unemployment rate for youths (15-24 years), according to the 2005 Human Development Report, and because the university degree can hardly warrant you a fine job here, many are fleeing to Juba and other countries hoping for ‘better deals.’

In the process, many are losing a lot of money to conniving dealers who promise them US visas. Living the American dream is atop the agenda of most unemployed graduates but the dollar question remains: if somebody can marshal Shs1m to pay a visa dealer, why not Shs2m with which to start business?

The irony is that kyeyo workers in America say it’s a cracked up world out there: “The real thing is that people out there only tell the good things to people in Uganda and conceal the struggles and hard life,” said Peter (not real name) through e-mail. “For the record, just know that getting a visa is only the beginning of one’s struggles. Once you get here, you need a photo ID and work authorisation to get a job. These two are hard to get because a certain kind of visa entitles you to them and if you don’t have it then you won’t get them and if you don’t have them then you can’t get a job.”

Added Peter, "Life here is very stressful -I wouldn’t advise anyone to come and live here. This place is only good to visit for a couple of weeks but living here is not worth it. But of course someone who has never lived here cannot understand it."

By the look of things, not even the New Year seems to have a positive sign. Perhaps the jobless should live by the words of Harold J. Wilkiur: “The world of achievement has always belonged to the optimist.”

Published in Sunday Monitor, January 07, 2007

Blogging Mania Hits Town

The mental curiosity and the willingness to learn and take interest in what goes around has compelled many to read voluminously, carry diaries and engage in debates. Dennis D. Muhumuza writes that to be informed is to be 'cool' so, folks have turned to the Internet in an additive trend called blogging.

Blogging comes from 'blog(s)' and defines a "blog" as " a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies" or "an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog."

Setting one's blog is easy as creating an email address, you just have to pop in an Internet café and visit, the website that started the blogging passion, and follow the easy instructions.

Blogs come with a sidebar on which a blogger can set links to their favourite websites and other blogs.

It's without doubt a riveting experience reading people's blogs. Because most bloggers use pseudo names, they are not shy to blog about how tortoises make love to how exciting it is to kiss in the morgue. Introverts turn into instant extroverts -posting anything to see how readers respond. Then there are blogs on ordinary things like the premiership soccer craze, the work experience and getting stuck in a jam.

In short, you'll find a myriad of blogs on anything from everywhere and in any language. The comments section makes it the more fascinating when readers leave behind snide comments provoking other bloggers to hit back. In the end it becomes a heated interaction in what could perhaps pass as a battle of wits.

It has been said that best writers you'll ever come across don't write for newspapers, perhaps they blog because bloggers are a creative lot who paint big pictures with incandescent prose, sheer musicality and urbane vividness by weaving terrific escapades that provide intimate reading for their online fans.

Ugandan community
As is the case all around the world, Uganda has not been spared by the ardour of blogging. It all began in 2004 when one Jay,
allegedly created the first blog in Uganda. After discovering blogging, Jay decided that his "idle thoughts" were "quite comfortable right here (on his blog)" and more so he wanted "people to know a thing or two about living in sunny Kampala" and thus he named his blog 'Jay's Idle Notes.'

"At first I thought I was a lone Ugandan sailing the vast sea that is the blogosphere until another sail picked up my message in a bottle and responded with urls of other blogs that had been around longer," Jay writes on his blog while celebrating two years of blogging.

"Now I have a whole lot of blog friends and acquaintances….some of the bloggers I've met have been philosophical, poetic, analytic, lyrical, angry, soulful, scandalous, odd, clinically insane…on their blogs is where they pour out their minds and display their weaknesses and fantasies and make the whole human experience worthwhile."

Most Ugandan blogs, he however notes, "are heavily political; they are all about Kony, poverty, democracy…the funny thing is that many of these bloggers are actually foreigners with a keen interest in Ugandan politics. The rest are mostly opposition types and self proclaimed anarchists or tourists going through Uganda."

Jay's "rambling thoughts from Sunny Kampala" have endeared him to lots of fans and his blog has featured on the BBC website because he's very analytical and engaging a writer.

Ivan Musoke, who is credited for wooing many Ugandans (mostly girls) into the blogsphere, notes on his weblog that blogs are about "the twisted wisdom, the witty remarks and the downright dirty eloquence."

Ugandan bloggers choose funky, strange names for their blogs such as 'Building the Nation,' 'Twisted Vision,' 'Mad and Crazy,' 'Exciting Reporter' 'Rolex Maker,' 'X-poser' 'The Rants of a Willie Boy,' 'Goddess of Sorts' 'Communist Socks and Boots' or 'Cookie Crumbs.'

The subtitles of their their blog titles read like: 'I came. I saw. I expressed an opinion,' 'The sun shines on the wicked and on the righteous alike,' 'Are you pondering what I'm pondering?' 'May the bright revolution find you on the winning side -common blessing in prehistoric Uganda.'

Local singer Morris Kirya is favourite among female bloggers while Nsaba Buturo and Straka 'Baby' Mwezi are blogged about mostly by males. Employing a versatile funny style, Ugandan bloggers will write about small legs, archeology, pot bellies, corpses, and how Eve of the garden of Eden is a "bitch" that brought suffering to humanity.

A blogger named Cherie, who claims to have been born a "little monster with pretty face and no teeth" once swiped at a critic that accused bloggers of being computer freaks that wear huge glasses the size of "windows" and lead empty lives and wake up every morning to thank God for the Internet, because its the only place that accepts geeks. Cherie was perturbed that the anonymous critic said bloggers are "poem writing, diary keeping, book reading and puzzle loving geeks" who should be ostracised.

An obsession
Blogging is so obsessive that those who spend days without updating their sites apologise to fellow bloggers: "I ask forgiveness, blog friends for I have sinned…I accuse myself of suffering a mental blockage for a while now and I've been incapable of thinking straight for more than a few seconds at a time. My brain seems to sever the connection it has with my fingers everytime I get close to a keyboard. My batteries are being recharged for a comeback. Now guys you can proceed and do whatever it is the priest does at this point in a real confession booth. Absolve a brother," reads an apology on Ivan's blog.

Blogging is certainly a major part of many Ugandan lives, including seasoned journalists like Daniel Kalinaki, Ernest Bazanye and David Kaiza. Ugandans believe that had William Shakespeare lived long, he would be a blogger.

Last week, they held their inaugural meeting at Mateos. It started as an invite posted on one Jack Fruity's blog: "The first 'Uganda Bloggers Happy Hour' will take place on Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6.30 p.m. at Mateo's (above Nandos on Kampala Road). Bring your wit, your feistiness, your eloquence and your humour and meet up with the myriad of voices, minds and opinions that make up the Ugandan blogsphere.

Friends, readers and the blog-curious are welcome, as is anyone willing to debate the faults and merits of Aga Khan or Jay-Z. We hope this happy hour will serve as a springboard from which the Uganda blogging community can trade ideas, stories and opinions and continue to grow. We look forward to seeing you there," read the communiqué.

Many who had taken it as another joke missed out, so, only a handful attended. After raising the 'Bloggers Happy Hour' card, they settled down to some drinks, and with concrete humour, shared about their blogging addictions before unanimously confessing that one of the female bloggers, Inktus, "is so friggin' hot!"

Jack Fruity, said they had come "together to discuss the issues circulating among our blogs and throughout the country, to put faces with names, and to enjoy a few drinks with our fellow geeks…the goal is to increase the level of debate in this country."

New media
Accordingly, Dave Winer, an American software developer, started the first official blog in 1997, and by 2006 there were over 60 million blogs worldwide. In 2003, Google realised that blogging was the new sensation and bought the company that helped make blogs such a boom. According to a BBC story, Google buying Blogger validates "the importance of weblogs to the Internet ecosystem."

Critics have since branded blogs a "a media of their own…with a power to transform both writers and readers from 'audience' to 'public' and from 'consumer' to 'creator.' Not only do blogs provide an open platform for self-expression and for budding writers to hone their skills, but also there is fear that they will replace newspapers in the future.

Late last year, a selected team of journalism students from Makerere University with their counterparts from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) tele-conferenced at the American Embassy, Kampala, about Blogging and Media in Africa.

Blogs are also swiftly becoming a channel of political activism. When fronted damaging government secrets majorly about Museveni and his family, it was disabled by the authorities but its editors swiftly opened a blog and posted all their inflicting propaganda there as a panacea to the government move.

Through blogs, people have made friends while girls are getting marriage partners.As blogger Inktus, cheekily notes, "you might meet that rich Sultan's son (would he be a prince) and he'd sweep you off your feet on his flying carpet to a world of jewel encrusted cups and plates!" Never underestimate the power of blogs.

Published in Sunday Monitor, January 28, 2007

Friday, December 7, 2007

CD Review

Artiste: Levite Clan (Renee Emcee a.k.a. Richard Tumukunde and No Hell 01 a.k.a. Ivan Beitesi)
Album: Christ in Da Youth Culture
Number of Tracks: Twelve
Reviewer: Dennis D. Muhumuza

This is the group's first album. It's a blend of R n' B and soft hip-hop with a message targeting urban youth.

Searching For Love, the first track, affirms that true love and happiness can only be found in Christ the Son of God.
Time to Worship is a swipe at modern day worship of Baal and cries out to all to worship the one true God.
Ministry versus Industry, perhaps the sweetest song on the album carries the message of the peril of living in the immediate.
Jerusalem is a militaristic hit dressed in soulful caress while I Wanna be like You talks of how Jesus threw moneychangers out of His Fathers temple. It has an alluring chorus and is sung in earnest to enchant the listener.
Worthy is the Lamb, is about how holy, worthy and loving Jesus is.
Trumpet Call convicts the youth to shun wrong influences and seek true destiny in Christ who paid for it with his blood while in What Would I Do, the singers reveal their willingness to go wherever master Jesus wants them.
Is God Really Good, is a catchy examination of the goodness of God.
I Pray is a soulful melody sung with compassion that knows no bounds.
Ma All, is a thanksgiving song.
Hell on Earth is a song that paints a grim picture of sin on earth.

The nimble blending of vocals, the accompanying instruments and the fact that the singers sing in retrospect about their 'bad-boy' days before they embraced salvation through Christ Jesus makes this album unique.

Published in Daily Monitor, May 13, 2007

Ministry with Youth Mission

Since the Biblical days, the Levites have been regarded as priests, perhaps that is why LVC members have remained faithful in “taking the gospel to the streets through holy hip-hop,” writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

"If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the Lord will choose," says the Bible, "he may minister in the name of the Lord his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the Lord." Since the biblical days, the Levites have been regarded as priests, perhaps that is why LVC members have remained faithful in "taking the gospel to the streets through holy hip-hop."

LVC is an acronym for the Levite Clan, a music ministry with a mission to reach out to urban youths. It was founded in 2003 by Richard Tumukunde (Renee Emcee) Jared Ombui (Jehra'da Kobla, a Kenyan), Ivan Wobusobozi (No Hell 01), then Mass Ccommunication students of Makerere University. Jacob Noowe (Storm) joined the group later.

Rapping in English and Kiswahili, the group fuses rhymes in a style reminiscent of the late gangster a rapper Tupac Shakur. Their popular debut single, No Gay, drew inspiration from Leviticus 18:22 (A man shall not sleep with a fellow man as with womankind, it is abomination) against the backdrop of the homosexual saga in the Anglican Church of America. It's a trumpet call to gay people to turn from their sin and embrace salvation through Christ.

The second single, Ni Yesu, stresses the power and sovereignty of Jesus while Thug's Mansion reaffirms the message of salvation through Jesus alone and God's promise of bliss in heaven for those who put their faith in Him.

Other hits such as Amazing Love, Abstain, Jerusalem, Walk In The Light, Revival and Is God Really Good enjoy airplay on Christian FM radio stations. In store also, are 36 tracks yet to be released.

"We are on the verge of concluding a deal with our Foreign Director Terry Berkeley from 12 Strings Records in West Virginia where we hope to fly for a music festival before the end of the year," says No Hell01.

"Our music gives us a chance to enter into the private lives of young people who admire us as role models," says Jahra. "Urban youth are our target audience because hip-hop is the language they speak."

"The hip-hop on our streets is junk and leaves a trail of youth with no attitude or self respect and honour for God. We are offering a perfect alternative to the 50 Cent in their CD Changer," adds Renee Emcee

Wearing oversize t-shirts, baggy jeans, armbands, bandanas, and baseball caps, the Levites look like the bad boys in most American music videos.

"We can rock slang without being vulgar or offensive and can be entertaining without hindering the Holy Ghost," is how they justify their outlook.

They are popular performers during Gospel Night at TLC, and have ministered at Sabrinas pub during hip-hop night. The group has also ministered in schools, universities, churches, and at youth conferences and parties.

"A lot of people have looked to the east or west for revival, may be it's gonna come from our beat for Jesus," says Jahra. "We spend a lot of time praying for revival in this world."

There is a strong fallacy that hip-hop is alien here but according to Renee Mc, "Today's young people grow up feeding on the philosophy of thug mentality after watching lots of Eminem music videos."

"I too was once into drugs after I heard Tupac sing about smoking weed everyday. I formed the Anti Bitch Club (ABC) because Tupac called women bitches," he says. "So I'm taking what the devil tried to use to destroy me and I'm using it to save lives."

"We are not into this for money otherwise we would put in afro-beat and be rich like Kleptomaniax," says No Hell01. "The Lord has set a certain roadmap for us that we must follow to the dot."

With the blessing of their spiritual mentor and country director Mrs Rita Egonda, LVC say they have prevailed against the enemy.

"We are abstaining from sex until marriage and we encourage our fans to do likewise," says Jahra.

"And if nobody wants to major in purity, we are gonna do it with our very teeth, we ain't ashamed to say some of us are still virgins," says Storm.

"Hommie, if you love your youth this much, then it is time to be radical for Christ," says Renee MC.

Reading onto the future, the foursome see themselves establishing a recording studio and building headquarters for the ministry.

Published in Sunday Monitor, 29 Oct. 2006