Quotes from E.C Osondu’s Voice of America

E.C Osondu’s debut collection of short stories, including the Caine Prize Winning Waiting is hilarious in all parts, and yet serious. Very serious actually. So, entertaining serious. You do not fail to laugh, but you also do not lose the fact that this is real life. The characters are convincing, they have a sense of humour that they do not realise. At some point, one feels guilty for laughing their lungs dry at the tragedy that befalls the characters, whether in Nigeria or in America. Even the ones living in Nigeria have America on their mind, anyway. The tears will come because the reader is laughing too much, but at the hands of another writer, without the gift of humour that Osondu has, these same stories could make one cry.

So, here we go.

America’s Idiosyncrasies

“There is a tablet for every sickness in America.” Page 3

Nigeria’s own demons

“I heard he shot and killed his native doctor some time ago so that she cannot prepare the same juju she made for him for someone else..” Page 16

Aid? No.

“Why are the Americans sending the eye doctors to us? Do they mean to tell us they have cured all the blind people in America?” – Page 42

Remember Achebe’s use of proverbs and sayings?

“You do not throw your child to a lion to eat because the child has offended you.” – Page 70

Who would want to die?

“I do not want to die, I do not want to die, my mind would be a terrible thing to waste, please help me.” – Page 77

Loyal dogs

“Ebone wished that she had a loyal dog in America that could sniff her husband’s crotch and confirm for her that he had slept with Rhonda.” – Page 86

Big is Big

“Nigerians do not dirty their hands with petty burglary – ‘When Nigerians steal, they steal big.” – Page 100

Buy this book. It is 215 pages of beauty. Here.

Five Ugandan Socially Conscious Songs

Ugandan social media space has been in flames after a group of musicians released a song titled Tubonga Nawe praising the country’s longest serving and only living President, Mr. Yoweri Museveni and pledged to support his 2016 campaign. The song was released at a dinner attended by comedians, musicians, radio personalities and other ‘artists’. Some fans of the participating musicians are angry about the song and dinner and have taken to the pages of these ‘stars’ to express their displeasure. Songstress Juliana Kanyomozi, reggae artist Bebe Cool and comedienne Anne Kansiime are some of the hardest hit by this wave of anger and dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile, soul musician Maurice Kirya explained his turning down of the invitation to the dinner arguing that tokenism will not solve the major problems of the arts industry in Uganda. Musician Bobi Wine has not been seen among those who attended the dinner. Some of his songs have been shared widely by some of the people annoyed by the ‘endorsement’ of Mr. Museveni by some of the country’s artists (normally artists are not paid to endorse a politician, it is rather the artists who contribute money to the campaign of a politician they are endorsing). He has also been described as a socially conscious artist. Below. we present five Ugandan socially conscious songs in recent times. Some have captured the national imagination but others have not enjoyed as much airplay. Enjoy.

Bobi Wine: Time Bomb 

The song has quickly become the most shared after the Tubonga Nawe debacle. The song warns that we are sitting on a time bomb because of high prices of electricity, tribalism and other ills. It follows in the line of his earlier song Ghetto in which he, with Nubian Li, accuses politicians of forsaking the ghetto people.

Mathias Walukaga: Bakoowu 

When the song was newly released, John Abimanyi described it as “a kadongo kamu hit that paints images of what Ugandan society looks like today. The images from the song range from telling the story of what it means to live from day to day in Uganda, to having implications that could go as far as making a statement on the political standing of the day.”

Ronald Mayinja: Tuli Kubunkenke

The song, that soon became a campaign tool for opposition politicians in 2011 built on the idea of everyone being on tension.  Mayinja followed up the song with Africa that hit hard on the corruption of Africa’s leaders who he accused of selling their countries. One of the first comments following the Tubonge Nawe dinner alluded to these two songs as a fan expressed his disappointment with Mayinja’s attendance of the infamous dinner.

Bobi Wine: Tugambire ku Jennifer 

Bobi Wine does not hide that he is dissatisfied with Kampala Executive Director Jennifer Musisi’ actions in this one. He tells of the suffering of the city’s under-privileged who are the biggest victims of the city authority’s heavy handedness. It was later alleged that he was paid off by the authority when they hired him to perform at a city carnival.

Bana Mutibwa: Walk to Work 

At a Life mu City discussion at the Goethe Zentrum in Kampala moderated by Moses Serubiri, Bana Mutibwa (aka Burney MC) told us that his Walk to Work song was directly inspired by the protests against high prices that followed the 2011 elections. Bana credits Babaluku of the Bavubuka Foundation for his music ideology in Letter to Babaluku. Social consciousness is central to the Lugaflow movement that Babaluku breathed a lot of fresh air into in 2005. Babaluku’s own Tukoye eno Embela is heavily aware of the political power of music.

The Book of Betrayals: Quotes from The Memoirs of John Kazoora

I purposed to look for books that are unofficially banned in Uganda in the last few weeks/days, to try and sip on the forbidden. One of these is Betrayed By My Leader: The Memoirs of John Kazoora. To be unofficially banned means that a book is not banned in the real sense of the word, legally or otherwise, but you can’t find it in bookshops. They pretend that it is out of stock, or things like that. And so the only way to find the book is the same way you would find a banned book. From the underground market.

Kazoora’s book was interesting at many levels. I loved the fact that he does not hide the nature of his grievances against various people in and out of power, be they personal or public. Obviously, Mr. Yoweri Museveni is the leader that has betrayed Mr. John Kazoora, but there are also a number of other people that have betrayed the retired soldier. Let us get into the quotes already.

Correcting the Record about Besigye’s Bush service

Kizza Besigye who was also at the High Command was so dedicated to the cause and you could see from the way he trained and the way he carried himself and whatever he did was done with conviction, determination and perseverance. He was always leading us on the route marches. So while some of us once in a while overslept, Besigye never did. – Page 58

Missing Graduation Because: the bush

I later learnt that my mother was glad that I had graduated but very disappointed that she was not one of the proud parents sitting at Makerere University because I had mysteriously disappeared. She was not even sure if I was still alive. I am told that she became the laughing stock of the village – as other parents were boarding buses to Kampala for the function – she was locked in her room crying. Graduations in those days were such a big issue. – Page 59

NRA Atrocities?

There were also the Alur community who supported the UPC. The NRA referred to them as Bipingamizi (enemy supporters). The late Senior Officer Peter Kerim, a serving NRA Alur officer, would woo them in his language and the NRA would expel them from the war zone and in some cases kill them using a Kafuni. They would dig a shallow grave, tie you kandoya, and lie you facing the ground and crack your skull using an old hoe called Kafuni. This was one way of dismantling the UPC machinery. The CHC would say that they earned their death as a just retribution and deterrent. – Page 83

The Kabaka’s Involvement in the bush

While in Kabale, Prince Ronald Mutebi (now Kabaka) arrived from Rwanda with John Nagenda. I took them to Kasese and handed them over to Amanya Mushega who in turn took them to Fort Portal to meet CHC. I also did the same for Samson Kisekka. He was very impressed to find a smart, eloquent guerilla. – Page 106

Student teaches his Teacher

At Makerere University, Mahmood Mamdani won the RC 4 eat having come through RC 1, RC 2 and RC 3 and he said since he was popularly elected he should be the Vice Chancellor. I tried to explain to him the difference between political roles and administrative duties. This was ironic because he was the one who had taught me Political Science at university and we had become friends. He seemed to have issues with the Vice Chancellor Prof. George Kirya. He kept insisting that he was more popular than Kirya, until I told him to shape up and stop living in cloud cuckoo land. It was both a managerial and administrative challenge to me. – Page 112-3

Disappointment on Retirement

For all my years of contribution and exploited youth, I was given a small plaque made of cheap wood (Kilundu) which I immediately threw away at the very spot in Mpererwe where I had been saved by cigarettes while going to the bush in 1982. But at long last I had received my freedom, and I felt a weight had been lifted.

Amanya Mushega, Tom Butiime and Capt Byaruhanga did not even bother to turn up to receive their discharge certificates.

Capt Guma Gumisiriza was later to make a u-turn and was promoted to Major and Rwamirama to Lt. Col after they voted for Kisanja in their retirement. – Page 185

A Russian anecdote

I am reminded of a wild man who once broke into the Kremlin (Russian Parliament) and ran through the halls shouting “Khrushchev is a fool. Khrushchev is a fool.” Khrushchev was the Russian leader. He was quickly captured, put on trial and convicted. His sentence; twenty two years. Two years for disturbing the peace and twenty years for revealing a state secret. – Page 193

I would ordinarily say, go out and buy the book, and provide a link to an Amazon page, or name a bookshop where you can find the book, but this is an unofficially banned book. The underground market in Kampala may be affected by intelligence boys and girls who come with money and order many copies, such that they buy the unwanted information off the ‘hidden’ market, but you can still find some of these books, if you care enough.