Transit is no-man’s land without a passport

Our driver to Entebbe airport was right on time and as it was an early morning flight, the journey was pretty much straight forward as there was hardly any traffic which Kampala roads are famous for, apart from the mad road etiquette. Hoping that my bouts of fever and visits to the toilet were not going to give cause for concern necessitating a delay to our departure, I took another swig of the herbal medicine hoping I’d finish the whole bottle before boarding given all the excitement that surrounded carrying liquids on board..made a mental note to check on it as the cap didn’t close properly, which meant I’d have a mess in my bag…

Checking that my stash of medicine in my clutch bag was still intact after the heavy dosing I was taking, I relaxed in the knowledge that my partner was on hand to take care of all that what was needed. :) These are some of the perks to having a caring partner or traveling with someone that cared… The medication was a herbal mixture my nephew had obtained for me in a small bottle – it must have been good – I couldn’t feel much and soon most of the symptoms I’d had prior to taking it disappeared, replaced by sleep which was so seductive.

Part of the check-in process was somewhat of a blur but somehow, made it through to the boarding area.  Looking forward to spending the remaining cash in duty free at Istanbul in transit, I checked my clutch bag which held my passport and wallet before blissfully falling asleep for the 6hr flight. Whatever was in that herbal mix I was just grateful that it did the job of keeping me “together” as opposed to becoming quite familiar with the toilet or the paper bag.  Made a note to ask partner why it was that luggage tickets always got placed on my passport but sleep must have won…

Given the great discomfort in the outbound journey with Turkish airlines from London coming to Entebbe, I cannot claim to have felt anything on this first leg of the return journey to London other than welcomed sleep that hadn’t been effected from overdosing on in-flight alcohol.  Mind you, it was still a case of little leg room and putting up with families that had to carry babies on their laps…Glad that I was ‘out of it’ for the greater part as the hostesses were not all that happy either. There was this old man who had two girls lapping up everything he did and another one who opted to move seats to where I was to apparently give the couple with the little baby some room to spread out…Yeap. The herbal mix was definitely worth it.  The announcement that we get ready to land was a welcomed reminder.  I needed the bathroom to sort out my frazzled appearance after sleeping through.

Istanbul airport is an intriguing airport…reminds me somewhat in part of Portobello market.  However this romantic vision soon came to a halt when while standing in line to have my documents checked I find I don’t have my passport on me.  That’s when the any drug-induced haze evaporated…because that was the unraveling of a traumatic twelve hours of my life spent at Instanbul in transit before boarding a plane back to Entebbe. It was the time when I learnt that simply being a British citizien held no water for the British consulate in Turkey who were unprepared to come to the transit area. It was the realisation that I had become a person of no nation/land that awoke my senses.  This was no movie! This was a living nightmare and I was an unwilling participant.

It was then that I appreciated my motherland Uganda, that irrespective that I had become adopted by Britain, Uganda would still welcome me back and assist me in sorting all that was needed to carry on my return journey to London. That the immigration officers at Entebbe airport were more humane to the traumatic experience as opposed to the Turkish airlines officials who had left us to make the necessary and expensive communication to the British Consulate officials etc.  It was also the realisation that being honest in accounting of events did not get you any where but instead complicated matters, hence the brown envelopes which thrive so well.

Not being antisocial, they just have differing priorities

Been meaning to write about this for some time now.  I have literally had to put sleep on hold so that I could do this right now as opposed to putting it off yet again.  In case I make any typos, the excuse is already given.  I’m writing this under the influence of sleep.

I am wondering how many persons out there have had to deal with being referred to as being antisocial, sometimes even resulting in to them losing out on being considered for a promotion or even a post deserving of their skills and abilities in relation to their job. This can only be comparable to situations where persons, usually women, complained about being passed over for jobs or promotions simply because those in charge of consideration of such promotions or allocation, often belong to gentlemen’s clubs such as  golf, where females (unless they are of  service or the entertainment variety) do not partake.

A recent observation brought this practice to mind.  Most work places hold what they term – social gatherings, mostly on Fridays when salaries have been paid.  This entails employees along with senior persons or employers congregating at some chosen venue – usually a drinking hole/pub.  It is meant to be a social gathering encouraging work persons to socialise.  I have absolutely no qualms about such and if I were to bring up my file from younger years, I’d probably rate as one of those pioneers to such gatherings.  Mind you, in my younger working years, any social gathering was welcomed with open arms.

Thing is, some persons priorities to such gatherings with work colleagues can differ.  There are persons to who their work or job defines all that they are about such that everything they breathe and live is interwoven with their job/work.  This is admirable – especially if it gives the person practicing it, joy.  It does not however translate that everyone feels the same. For most persons, they work at a job simply to pay the bills or keep the bailiffs at bay!

On a serious note however, it does cross boundaries of disrespect when persons who define their lives in accordance to their job or work; expect everyone else in their employ or working environment to mirror their passion or zeal.  Writing off fellow colleagues or workers as being anti-social simply because they will not hang out with you at a social event and to later use this as reason for not hiring or promoting them to reflect their skills, I think is just plain petty and stupid.  Their inability to join you in to these social situations may just be down to their personal priorities outside of work requirements.

Just as you don’t have time to take in to account their personal situation, you don’t have a right to dictating how they should spend the time when not contracted to be working with you or for you.  Perhaps if these social events were clearly defined as being work related and paid for accordingly, then clarity from the onset should be done and observed.

Work colleagues or employees have differing domestic and cultural settings.  These factor in how they priorities their time, when out of working hours.  So keep in mind, just because a fellow colleague cannot join in with everyone every other Friday of the month down at the pub, it does not translate that they are antisocial. They simply have differing priorities for their time in relation to yours.

Not forgetting about you

“I learned… that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic, striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
– Brenda Ueland

Stress, fear, negativity, too much to do and doing things for others at the expense of our own needs — these all stifle our innate creativity. Relaxation, fun, meditation, and going after our dreams all get the creative juices flowing.

The above description fits most persons these days, especially those within the diaspora community I have crossed paths with that have yet to learn to take good care of themselves both physically and mentally.  That’s all they have truly.

On the whole most Africans in the diaspora in stressful situations strive to ensure that they save all they can, working sometimes 24/7 in all conditions, most, hostile simply because of the colour of their skin; just so they can amass set amounts to pay off debts back in their home countries, put kids to school, put in to business or build houses in the hope of having homes for when they return.  Dreams which turn out to be nothing more than pure hell on earth psychologically.

Without repeating the echoes of so many African diaspora before that have lamented on this, the very persons within their families they entrust such funds to are often the ones that betrayal them and will deny it if and when confronted to the point of even murder.  The relatives will blame each other or the government or just about anyone else, but themselves. It is pure and simple. You are forgotten to exist as a real person but are seen as a source of supply, much like the water from streams which not many bother to stop and question it’s source.  You just are. When you raise this issue you will most often be told candidly that you should have been wiser.

So I say to fellow persons: be kind to yourself, do not forget about you. Do not loose yourself in sacrificing all of you to appease or please everyone. This is an infinite task. Others will all be just fine with or without you when all is said and done. It is the way it always has been since time immemorial.

Question is: Can you be comfortable with yourself? Be creative – you will be pleasantly surprised.

 

SEEK UNION OVER SEPARATION

Warrior woman creedA new working week has kicked off.  All is not well with the world but that is okay too.  It gives me all the more reason to strive to strike a balance in all that is to unfold.

The week gone took away some loved ones who at some point of my life’s journey, our paths had crossed albeit briefly.  I feel for my loved ones who remain grieving at the absence this loss is to bring. But hope remains so long as there’s life.  May the universe be kind to those left behind and are still grieving.

“As a holistic being you shatter the illusion of your separateness and reveal your connection to everything. This empowers you in a way that the ego-driven self could never contemplate.”  — Wayne Dye

Our ego focuses on how we are different from the rest of the world. Our soul lives when we experience how we are the same.

Any time you separate yourself from other people or from situations, you know your personality is in control. At such times, shift your perspective to build connection and you will move into soul.

As our picture of life becomes larger, more things make sense and we have a greater playing field for life to unfold – naturally.

“Beliefs separate. Loving thoughts unite.”  — Paul Ferrini

When all is said and done, as humans, we all seek similar things and a little kindness is preferable.  I wish you all, strength and appreciation of all that is within and around.  May the this starting work week enable us all to sustain what we have or are striving for.

Where value of life is determined by economics

“In school you get the lesson and then take the test… In life you take the test and then get the lesson.”
– Unknown Source

How is a problem in your life really an opportunity?

Problems invite us to go inside to recognize a bigger picture of ourselves and of life. This bigger picture brings meaning to what is unfolding.

When you feel trapped in a problem, see if you can shift your perspective. Ask yourself, “What am I being invited to learn from this situation?” The answer will always revolve around a quality or value, like gratitude, freedom, compassion, love, will, humour or acceptance. The answer will also always promote union rather than separation.

As soon as we find the meaning in our challenge, our resistance to it melts away. Often, awareness of the lesson is all that is needed to resolve the problem. If not, the awareness brings us courage and ways to work through it.

This week has been a great mental challenge to me, with emotions ranging between rage and disgruntled acceptance of the injustices met out to those most vulnerable in the global system.  Not long after witnessing a clip involving an armed protestor outside a factory in which he had been working. He had suffered an industrial accident that had cost him some of his fingers leaving him with infected stumps that still required medical/surgical treatment he couldn’t afford. For his peaceful means of protests, the owners of the factory called some rogue police officers who descended upon him brutally to beat him up before bundling him away to some police post.  It is anyone’s guess as to what else was done to him when they finally got him where cameras couldn’t show.

Mukwano Industries of Uganda by name prides itself in being a friendly company going by the interpretation of the meaning of mukwano in the commonly spoken Luganda language in Uganda.  Mukwano Ind. showed no mercy or friendship to this ex-employee when it stood by allowing dog-like police officers to administer such brutality on this man no doubt as payback for daring protest to bring to light the paltry compensation settled for his injuries sustained on their work premises.  When the spokesperson for Mukwano Industries finally graced the media after almost a week had passed – he not only failed to comment on the conduct of the his company’s actions in relation to the call-out police’s actions but blamed the ex-employee for being the aggressor.  A smear campaign was soon initiated by the unions which are supposed to be defenders of workers. Your guess as to who was bankrolling their stance.  Incidentally the police officers who were called to man-handle this  man (Suuna) for some reason opted to operate out of their jurisdiction.

Thing that bugs me the most is that so many accidents happen and will no doubt continue to happen in such companies similar to Mukwano Industries in Uganda. One is left to question if any safety reports or checks have ever been done in relation to any cited or reported accidents – and the viability of their sincerity if they were done.  But the real reason as to why such companies or persons feel they can do as they please is down to the country’s lack of enforcing it’s legislature of virtually any laws.

The main cancer is that of corruption where officials are paid off in exchange of ‘brown envelopes’ to cover up unsafe practice, intolerable cruelty and abuse of workers  which sometimes even leads to loss of lives.  The lives of people are only valued in respects to their economic viability. If you are an investor or can pass yourself off as one in Uganda, you can do just about anything and get away with it.

No sooner had my spirits gotten used to this harsh cruel reality on hand, than when reports of a gang-rape of a young lady come by me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUfcyNjCvNk

Now don’t get me wrong. Rape is rape – no matter who or where it happens. Lord knows absolute horrors are done by fellow Uganda men on fellow women etc. The anger that this rape elicited was from the excuse the police officers who this helpless young woman ran to for help and justice gave her before accepting a bribe and shelving her report of the account that took place. This raised history of a gang rape case involving a young male not long back in a Kampala suburb again involving Asian perpetrators who in a similar manner were also allowed to get off scot-free leaving the the victim to suffer in agonized silence – to date.  No follow up was made of this young man to date…  So pardon me for not mincing my words when I advocate for Ugandans to boycott investors who rape!  This is the excuse paraded to victims that have suffered at the hands of corrupt officers when their reported cases have been spirited off and justice remains an unattained dream.

Well; out of the ashes, rebirth happens. The genesis of raising awareness to persons over their rights as human beings.  Sexual offenses shouldn’t be blamed on victims any more than rapists should be glorified with excuses. (Yes sadly, there’s still some way to go in Uganda to educate persons that rape is not the fault of the victim!) It is time to raise this awareness and educate persons to differentiate between consensual acts and forced or coerced acts. To raise awareness in how grooming persons occurs in relation to the existing economic factors that are fertile ground. To demystify the laws regarding sexual offenses in Uganda in relation to all walks of life ranging from abuse of trust by care-workers/teachers/guardian/employers, to human trafficking of persons in to sex-related slavery.  Ignorance and economics is what those who exploit, thrive on…

For me, this is the opportunity that has come out of the challenging events on ground in Uganda.

The challenge in staying positive amid such negativity

“When somethings go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many more things that are still going right.”  Anne Gottlier

Well, when I first read Anne Gottlier on one of my positive affirmation mantras, I had difficulty scanning her.  It’s like I have a huge stone blocking me from seeing anything that is still going right.

Earlier this week on Monday, I read something in a Ugandan newspaper, New Vision that truly made my blood curl…literally. However any emotions that came after reading this article were driven by the lack of reaction, the indifference or should I say apathy; from persons on ground in Uganda, both general public or government officials and respective opposition political party members.  Interestingly, political opposition members are often quick on the mark to use all given opportunities to politicize most issues that arise, pending or past.

The article in question that left me dumbfounded was about the state of Uganda’s blood transfusion services.  An audit done in 2012 had found that most of the nation’s blood supply had been unfit for use. In brief it was contaminated/rotten with visible maggots photographed in some of the stored hospital batches.  In actual fact, there had been cited reports that large numbers of persons had died due to lack of blood.  What the authorities failed to say was that the state of storage or even collection services in the country were part of the problem. It wasn’t that there were short on blood donors, but that rather, the equipment for collection and storage was not fit for purpose.  Like most things and equipment within Uganda’s health infrastructure.

This is a country which has a national hospital Mulago, that is a certifiable place for death. This is not because the staff are incapable of carrying out their profession (although some persons might argue this point too!) but rather it is down to the complete lack of maintenance of existing mostly, colonial equipment and lack of government’s health ministry’s  serious investment in this only national hospital. Medicines and some equipment are siphoned and diverted in to privately run businesses – a regular occurrence which is well known and appears to be condoned by all.  I guess this is why nobody in government or otherwise, was moved to comment or even come out publicly to allay the Ugandan public over what should have been a grave discovery from the auditors.

Life goes on, other issues get fed to the news reel and this becomes just another incident that is part and parcel of life in Uganda’s chaotic and seriously fragmented infrastructure.  Where Uganda is concerned, it is really challenging to look for things that are still going right when sitting on the knowledge that if you happen to be in the country and suffer an accident that requires you to get emergency treatment, you are well and truly screwed and nobody gives a damn.

But one thing that seems to bring all out to feel the need to associate to fame is when an athlete goes on to win a gold medal. That is something worth convening over to even call upon for all to donate generously towards.  Do not get me wrong, I am happy for this athlete and do not in any way begrudge him his time on the podium. I am just disappointed that such national sense of pride cannot be directed towards building and maintaining her health infrastructure to serve her populace.  Instead, those that can afford will seek to use national coffers to get medical treatment abroad when needed and this becomes routine.

Where and when did humanity depart?

I am compelled to write this simply out of human empathy towards the injustice done by fellow humans towards each other in our everyday lives without even pausing to spare a thought of consideration for the effects of our actions.

In the early hours of Monday morning, around 3am, a pregnant female tourist from Spain sought to find directions to a public toilet within Hammersmith bus station. Now this is a bus station that is in operation 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. I am presuming the staff within this bus station are not on a voluntary basis nor positioned there as prisoners of war. They are paid to offer customer service to users of the bus services which are running through their premises. You could be pardoned for thinking this is not the case.

Yet this pregnant female tourist upon alighting at Hammersmith bus station to connect sought to use the public toilet facilities before continuing on her journey, but instead was rudely escorted to board her connecting bus. To make matters worse, the station supervisor on duty who did this to her was a fellow female. Ironically it was a male bus driver who took pity on her situation after observing her distress while on board and stopped the bus for her to find a suitable place to relieve herself.

Now I know there often is office politics in most work settings, but seriously when persons lose the ability to carry out a service they are in a paid position to do, it really gets my goat! Irrespective of how tired the supervisor may/may not have been, when did her humanity depart from her soul?

I implore Transport for London executives to please look in to the customer care service of your staff on ground because it is really leaving much to be desired for the general public who pay to use your amenities/services and instead are left frustrated on many levels. The lack of access to public toilet facilities is a poor show to visitors who come to London but also it encourages anti-social acts when persons seek to relieve themselves on streets etc… which can result into public health issues.

What happened to this woman at Hammersmith bus station was completely unacceptable and should not be allowed to be the norm.

Are we serious about addressing gender imbalance in accessing male dominated professions such as science?

earth-2 Science-and-Technology-Some-advantages-and-disadvantagesSo if we want to address gender imbalance in science and other professions in society, what supporting infrastructure is being laid?

Situations arise at every turn in our lives which unravel the mind to question or look at things in a different light.

Last week at work brought us new enthusiastic young people whose dream of stepping in to a world of academic science gave them hope to fulfill personal ambitions and dreams.  All these young persons from different walks of life, are female and in their last years in secondary education.  Their goal at this stage is to prepare for their Nuffield education award by undertaking work experience during their summer break from school.

The application process for these sponsorship or awards can be quite arduous on its own.  The next challenge is in obtaining work placements within academic institutions. This can vary and can often be disappointingly frustrating for the students and their would-be host supervisors. images (1)

indexMost academicians are quite willing and happy to take on school age budding scientific minds.  It is the conditions and requirements imposed by institutions in order to avoid any legal issues which may arise, for example such as inappropriate adult versus minor interaction, that prevent would-be supervisors from undertaking this.  The stipulations are often quite stringent: female supervisor to supervise female student(s), any meetings with female students where a male supervisor is leading, to be held in an open office or area. In an academic/laboratory setting, this is simply not as often feasible.  After all, students often are quite keen to work within the laboratories to put to experiment  ideas as opposed to soaking in theories from textbooks or journals.

Now I’m not being funny but anyone who has worked with “serious”/genuine science professors/academicians will back me up on the fact that these guys, (and mostly they are males), are for the greater time, only interested in what goes on in their Petri-dishes.  The highlight of their conversation peaks when discussing discoveries or results of what has been crossed with what and how long it may have been spun in the centrifuge etc…

photo_co_lab_lgI have been working on the academic side as their ‘office person’ for years – I still don’t know what the pretty images are in their submitted academic papers or what they mean by gene expression let alone hybridisation of mRNA!   They give new meaning to the term computer-widow.

Now we forget; a student that seeks work placement/experience at this late stage in their academic pursuits does so out of their keen volition: to cement their academic goals.  They actually want to be there to explore, and learn, as opposed to law requirement that they be.  It is not the same as attending school out of duty/fear, such that you turn up to school and take it out on the teachers or establishment in general, behaving like an absolute jerk at any opportune moment.

The other issue we forget is that not all females actually enjoy working with fellow females as their seniors.  Not everyone is from a culture where segregation of genders is the norm nor is it the case that all male species are just waiting to jump on any available female species they set eyes on. Believe it or not, some men are quite able to control themselves and are respectful to females.  This idea that all men are to be seen as sexual predators is proving to be quite damaging in many areas of society and commonsense really needs to come back to earth.

Further irony to these work-placements in scientific institutions that have such stringent criteria is that of claiming to address the gender imbalance in society in order to encourage females to pursue science or other currently male-dominated professions.  How in the hell is this going to be facilitated if the persons within these professions who are mostly male are not facilitated with supporting personnel to oversee supervision?   Are we to live in a future where segregation is the only mode of interaction for either gender?

Surely these stringent conditions albeit understandable but borne out of fear for legal issues, are more harmful to the ideology of voiced encouragement to address gender imbalance in professions such as science et al.

From experience dealing with young persons, I often find that seeking their take is far more conducive and productive to what we adults assume is correct.  Has anyone asked would-be-students, their take in all these measures  in order to obtain a workable solution that does not leave many young female budding scientists, loose out?

A question of preparation

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”

– Francis Bacon

Often we are faced with situations or opportunities (setting aside exam time scenarios!) when we engage with persons we either admire or disagree with.  Unfortunately, it is when such an opportunity/situation has passed that the ‘light-bulb’ moment shines through and we smack ourselves on the forehead for not having said or asked this or that question.  On the other hand, when we do ask the question, come away still not quite satisfied.  Any of this rings a bell?

No. I am not talking about that date once upon a time which went belly-up…

Take for instance a friend of mine today shared a joke about a couple whose marriage came to a grinding halt following revelations of an indiscretion which took place in the very early years of their marriage.  The long end of it all was that my friend was warning fellow “good men” out there to avoid at all costs revealing any secrets to their better halves. Reason being in that although some of us can say we forgive, we do not forget.  Well, I could see his point of view in as much as how we each define forgiveness…and forgetting! I guess it could be comparable to asking a husband to forgive and forget upon finding out after decades of being married, that the children or one of them was not biologically his.

I tend to be intrigued by this forgive and forget carry-on…What are we forgiving, the act of indiscretion or the person’s fall from grace?  Are we seeking forgiveness for being caught out or for having kept it a secret? I do agree forgiveness is essential for self-healing foremost, I just do not agree about forgetting the reasons or lessons of that which you are forgiving. For in forgetting the causes/reasons, chances of repeating similar occurrences from taking place will most likely be the pattern.

But back to my original quest of why it is important to prepare yourself beforehand for everything and anything.  Preparation is always the key.  Let’s take a moment and consider some questions that are truly empowering for many given situations:

Is there a message for me in this experience?

  • What’s the gift in this situation?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What’s the most loving thing I could do now?
  • What’s the most important thing for me to focus on now?
  • What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
  • What would I do if there were nothing to fear?

Realise. By pausing these questions to yourself, often making a rushed decision or even saying something that could cause you egg on your face, you give yourself a moment’s reflection to finding out the gravity of it.

Burying our heads in the sand with regards to Namungoona Fuel tanker

Saturday 29th June 2013 brought what is possibly the worst fuel tanker to occur on Ugandan soil.

In the relative quiet of the night, residents of Namungoona, a Kampala suburb, familiar with the croaks of frogs in Lubigi marshland and occasional raving from engines of vehicles firing on the Northern Bypass, were audience to a tragic occurence. On Saturday night, it was a macabre unraveling of tragedy.
Fueltanker01

Several fatalities consisting of boda-boda riders. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE

To me this occurrence and the ensuing reactions from all corners (accident, response or lack/limited of emergency services or first aiders etc…) did not come as a surprise. What was perhaps the redeeming fact, was the number of fatalities.  This was an ‘accident’ among so many to unravel, waiting to happen.  It  is only by God’s grace and alertness that the numbers were not much higher.

Police officers check burnt motorcycles at the scene of the accident on the Northern Bypass yesterday. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE

Police officers check burnt motorcycles at the scene of the accident on the Northern Bypass. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE

Cars and vehicles burn in Ecatepec, Mexico

Scene of aftermath shortly after tanker exploded

At around 22.00hrs (GMT) an online status from one of my acquaintance raised the developing tragedy. Yet all the main media channels in Uganda were either preoccupied with foreign news on Obama’s Africa visit, issues in Syria, or entertainment coverage of the BET awards etc. In fact my online social network acquaintance recorded as the president being abroad in Tanzania without any indication of him flying in to check out the developing tragedy.

Prez M7 at scene of accident

President Museveni at the scene of accident at Namungoona on Monday 1st July. PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE

PHOTO BY FAISWAL KASIRYE The President soon put to rights this PR setback.  Shortly not long after the tragic events, not only did he visit the accident scene, but went to the national hospital offering 5million UGX to relatives of the deceased to cover funeral costs… It was tweeted that the fuel tanker collided head on with a Toyota Ipsum before overturning and falling causing people to rush to the scene for free fuel.  Most of these young boda-boda transporters had turned up to make good the flow of “free” fuel from the stricken tanker are believed to be the fatalities because the fuel tanker burst  into flames burning them all. On count, over 30 boda-bodas were burnt during the inferno. Residents say they were carrying people who had stopped to collect the fuel tweeted Sms media Uganda Sunday morning.

aftermath of the explosion

aftermath of the explosion

The fact that the online community is what availed most of us far afield to learn about this tragic event is perhaps an indication of perceived priority of the government media organs on ground. Same goes to factor for the limited if not reserved response by the emergency services in the country…if at all they exist. The ensuing reaction of the public to this tragedy on a background of President Museveni’s 5million pledge to relatives of the deceased is perhaps what has prompted me to make sense of this.  There is way too many questions on my part to be caught up in the emotional reactions to the tragedy that unraveled. First of all, I recall from past experience road safety and regulations in Uganda. This is simply a joke.  Whereas some eye witness accounts have gone to state that the explosion occurred after the tanker went off the road, the way most road users in Uganda behave when driving is perhaps an indicator of such pending tragedies. Fact being that lack of lighting on roads at night, combined by the reckless attitude of most road users, especially those in large vehicles like lorries/trailers is a recipe for disasters such as these.  I know. I almost got run off the road by a huge trailer on Bombo Road at night, the driver who even when we took recording of his driving and registration details, didn’t seem perturbed. People drive recklessly to get to their destination completely oblivious to other road users – if at all, not even give a damn. Most often its persons who consider themselves more important human beings to others, that sets precedence. The response of Uganda’s emergency services to scenes of accidents is questionable…the methodology of ferrying victims to the only national hospital is almost a certifiable death sign-off.  Assuming they make it and survive the limited resources met out at the national hospital.  In this incident especially, persons with burns are most likely to die from secondary infections they will acquire at the hospital. Traffic police in Uganda seem to have differing priorities to their allocated job.  They have bursts of action dependent on time of day or seasonal demands… most often  more concerned with collecting kintu kidogo than enforcing traffic regulations.

scene of namungona post accident

Recovered boda-bodas of fatalities from the explosion

From the emotional reaction to the death toll, one could be excused for blaming poverty as the cause of the young persons who rushed to siphon fuel from the tanker. Truth be said, these persons were hoping to get free fuel that they hadn’t paid for from an unfortunate occurrence to the tanker driver. It is debatable they were willing to listen to the tanker driver warning them to stop… Yet society is excusing these victims’ actions on poverty, yet again reinforcing the conciliatory acceptance of corrupt practice that has become so endemic that most don’t even recognize it anymore when practiced. Issues then become politicized because persons have failed to take personal responsibility and ownership of their collective actions, often opting to apportion blame or scapegoating, and/or exploiting;  whichever suits their perception or political affiliation.  Resulting in shelving/staving off the implementation of any beneficial suggestions that could redress the causes or issues. Bottom line is – the current governance in place is to blame for failure to: empower citizens to make the appropriate choices in fighting the moral decline in society; failure to sensitize citizens  to have faith in the judicial and legislative system which for the greater part functions on selective mode for the elite citizens,  whilst exploiting the ignorance that surrounds most practice that has come to be acceptable. God really loves Uganda and it’s only when He is distracted or blinks that such tragic incidents occur.