Who will stop the killing and looting in Congo?

I am reading yet another new report by UN experts on Congo on the African Confidential website and it looks like every year that passes the situation slips away from the world to the hands of criminals I mean international criminals all over Africa and Europe. China and some Asian countries like Thailand are new entrant to this scramble for Congo’s resources and lives that began hundreds of years ago.

map of mineral-rich eastern DRC. from Africa Confidential

The report has also put Uganda’s continued role in the conflict and also other European networks with links to the Catholic Church. Two Spanish ‘charities’ with church links are implicated but as I read the report, apart from shaking my head like a lizard, I wondered who cares? Not even we Ugandans know the exploitation of our own resources and where the money goes so how can we even put up a little meaningful fight for the Congolese people.

Just like the past UN reports, nothing has changed. The lootocracy continues and so do the killings and rapes. I still can’t hope to find the answers in the current unjust international system just like I can’t stop Ugandan army top shots from fuelling the conflict. It seems for now we stuck in this not-so-effective name and shame game. We can only spell out a few names we know of those whose hands and bank accounts are stained with the blood of innocent Congolese children, women and men.

K’naan and the World Cup

The world cup trophy is still on tour, i saw it in Brazil in April  but it can when to Uganda i wasn’t there. Just last week the papers had a picture of the president holding the cup but thats not my interest. K’naan, a Somali- Canadian singer and poet has the Coca Cola world cup song out

He’s life story is told in some of his songs but i love this gimme freedom part  for the very first World Cup on the African soil.

The song is a remix from his earlier song Waving flag which has got very strong lyrics for most of us in Africa below is part of the lyrics that have a great meaning for me :

Born to a throne, stronger than Rome
but Violent prone, poor people zone,
But it’s my home, all I have known,
Where I got grown, streets we would roam.
But out of the darkness, I came the farthest,
Among the hardest survival.
Learn from these streets, it can be bleak,
Except no defeat, surrender retreat

So many wars, settling scores,
Bringing us promises, leaving us poor,
I heard them say, love is the way,
Love is the answer, that’s what they say,
But look how they treat us, Make us believers,
We fight their battles, then they deceive us,
Try to control us, they couldn’t hold us,
Cause we just move forward like Buffalo Soldiers.

But we struggling, fighting to eat,
And we wondering, when we’ll be free
So we patiently wait, for that faithful day,
It’s not far away, but for now we say,

When I get older, I will be stronger,
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag,
And then it goes back, and then it goes back,
And then it goes back

That’s the power of music and a friend of mine responded after listening:

“I am glad that for the first time the world will listen to someone Somali and that new face we haven’t seen.  All we have been hearing is about the bombs ”

As  K’naan takes that stage around on the world cup tour  I say Coca Cola made the right pick. He will remind us that Somalia is about people like him and that we should “accept no defeat,  surrender, retreat.”

Ugandan girl who killed a man in an attempted rape freed, keep up the good work

Many Ugandans have offered to help a 14-year old girl in Bushenyi who stoned to death a 40-year-old man she accused of trying rape her. The girl has been in police custody for about a week and there were concerns that she wouldn’t get bail because she is an orphan who lives alone with her 9-year-old brother.

This is the current point of discussion on the New Vision page.  There have been efforts from individuals and FIDA who have offered to help her through her education and giving her psychological help. This is the kind of treatment that many Ugandan girls who are sexually offended lack. It’s not because we are not willing to help but many times these stories never see the light of day. The Ugandan media has been great in giving this girl’s story attention. We need to do more, encourage these girls to speak out offer any help you can. Though she will be out on bail it’s important to follow the case and ensure justice is delivered.



Is a Ugandan woman really represented?

I have always objected the call to be a parliamentary reporter. I once told a friend that if I were to be one I would be angry all the time and would get grey hair quicker. This objection is rooted in my belief that our parliament doesn’t really represent me and they hardly come up with solutions to problems that people especially of my generation are facing whether as a youth or as a women. In Uganda we adopted a quota system which is hailed around the world as a way to include women in power but  it seems the proponents of this system had no idea of realities on the ground especially in country like Uganda which for the last 23 years has been ruled not only by men but men who never took power through a ‘democratic’ way.

In my past posts I have emphasised that I believe that most of them have a high sense of self –importance that even 23 years after ‘eating’ , as Ugandans would say, they still play the bush-war hero card on us. They literally run Ugandan that unless you were part of their bush struggle then your right to be heard is not big enough today. This sense has been displayed many times and in many forms that during the Global Fund commission that investigated the embezzlement of the money, one former minister under the spotlight, told a quite honourable judge that “when we were fighting you were hiding under tables.” They use their war time stories to keep us subjugated as they use state resources like their personal store. So to try to ‘include’ us, Ugandan women, in decision making process special posts were created for women members of parliament. There are few women who have succesfuly won direct posts to parliament. For  now our deputy speaker of parliament is a woman. We have almost 31 percent women representation but I guess the benefactors of the quota (who are mostly those men ruling us) thought “having women stooges is better than nothing” and so every five years we go back to our villages to vote for stooges who have no idea how the soldier-male dominated government works and few of them even bother to try to catch-up. No doubt we have some incredible women in there but I guess they don’t even make ten percent.

President Museveni’s ruling party has the majority in the house meaning they pass anything he wants with little questioning –as long as it comes from those who fought with him in his rebellion  which means no woman dares to ask him except his wife. So women in this party are mostly bystanders in government used to sway donors and also sway votes from more than 50 percent of the population. The government spends a lot of money in campaigns against independent minded women who dare to stand for elections for they are afraid these women will try to push for their space in the power circle, the kind of pushing for power that is not based on whose wife, girlfriend, mistress or  concubine you’re that is mostly the norm among those women high in the NRM (ruling party power ring.  Any women with capable leadership skills and a good reasoning will of course be failed with the help of inexperienced, sometimes utterly dense ones. This is the situation in our country. The little discussion from these women, lack of challenging the status quo and the visible lack of knowledge is unfathomable. To know what a joke a our women representation can be yesterday I woke up to an email from a friend in kampala with a story on family planning in Uganda. The New Vision sought thoughts of some women MPs and here was the most shameful statement that can come from a woman MP. My friend knew this would make my blood boil because this woman is supposed to represent me as in she represents all women in Bushenyi.

This is it:

“People in the village see children as a source of wealth and where will the middle class get house-girls and house-boys if you promote family planning? Bushenyi Woman MP Mary Karooro Okurut (NRM) asked.”

How can a woman possibily have such a narrow view of issues that affect women in our villages? In actual sense she supports the continued denial of proper education for girls (girls school dropout rates is higher despite free primary education), child labour and all sorts of mistreatment, ranging from sexual to physical , that is put upon these house maids. How can you reduce the concerns of the health of mothers and future of Ugandan girl child to them producing for you house maids?  I don’t know what class Karoro belongs to or whether she has girl child relatives that have not had an education andhy she thinks being a house maid is all she can advocate for most  poor families in Uganda or but she will not speak for many of us who want to see an end to child labour and death of mothers during pregnancy. One story has explained maternal death to the understanding of an ordinary person like this “we lose a whole taxi (matatu) of women everyday due to childbirth complications” and to see a  woman member of parliament blind to the connection between having many children in a country with limited access to hospitals to this high number of deaths is absurd. If only Karooro, the privileged MP could make a visit to Mulago hospital and see how mothers are lying on verandas with no attendants if only her relatives were the ones missing this education and becoming house maids may be she would think twice before she gives us such comments.

I was never raised by a house maid but i have seen many families in Uganda employ or call it exploit poor children as young as 10 whom they bring to take care of their children, sometimes the same age as the maid. I have seen people bring their less priviledged relatives to cities to make them housemaids when they could afford them an education and this makes me call that Ugandans not just Karooro should try to see the bigger picture.

We have a big child labour issue in Uganda which will not be easy to end but seeing a justification from a member of parliament is unfortunate. I am not against anyone having lots of children but for those dying mothers with no health care if they want to have few children they should be given this option. We have 56 percent of unwanted (I prefer to use unexpected) pregnancies and if leaders like Karoro are more worried of the middle class’ needs for house maids than the lives of mothers then we will continue losing that one taxi of women. It’s even more worrying to know that people like Karooro are the women close to the ‘fountain of honour’ where most decisions about our lives as Ugandans are made.

Costa Rica V Uruguay

We went out in big numbers to watch the Ticos on this last leg of the journey to South Africa or to neverland. We did our part i guess but like they say history knows no loser but i guess it offers the loser great deal of things to reflect on. I was with about 30 students from Upeace and we rocked San Jose. I bring you a few pictures from yesterday’s match where Costa Rica lost 1-0 to Uruguay.


The only viable chance of the the night for the Ticos came from this corner kick





















Court sets date for oil sharing agreements case in Uganda

It’s been months since Ugandan journalists began pushing for access to the information on oil sharing agreements between the Ugandan government and Tullow which not even top officials in government have a clue about.  There’s even talk that even the minister for energy knows little about the agreements for yet to be produced oil in the albertine region. Now two  Ugandan journalists, Charles Mwanguhya and Angelo Izama have taken on government in the first case in which journalists are using the Access to Information A ct to bring the much needed information on oil to the  Ugandan public.

oil exploration work site in the albertine regionThe secrecy around the oil is too much, we have a new oil and gas policy but it doesnt give us detailed answers on how the revenues will be handled.

The court case has been set for November 27 at 3:00pm Uganda time, before the Chief Magistrate’s court.

The access to information law is quite new and this case should be closely watched not  only because of the subject (oil) but also it is important to test these laws to make sure they are not just there to impress donors.

Coverage of VP Bukenya’s son’s death: Can you force a country to mourn?

For the last 20 or so hours I have been involved in a discussion on my facebook page. it  was my reaction to the newspaper coverage of Vice President’s son’s death. First of all I do not in any way intend to say that there shouldn’t have been coverage, my focus and the focus of the debate is on the presentation of the news and the vocabulary used to sort of show like this was a national mourning instead of the media utilising a chance to highlight causes of road carnages that take thousands of lives in Uganda. And the recipient of my rant -if you want to call it that-was Daily Monitor for obvious reasons- ownership and a better level of editorial independence.

If you follow the discussion you will realise that the newspaper reinforced hat the portrayal of Prof. Gilbert Bukenya’s loss as national in their first report about the death of former army commander Maj.Gen. James Kazini.

Below is the text from the Kazini story.

“The girlfriend has been arrested and taken for questioning at Kampala Central Police Station. Mourners, among them military officers and relatives, trickled in to the Namuwongo residence as the shocking news spreads.
The country was preparing for the burial later Tuesday of vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya’s son, Bryan, who died at the weekend after suffering serious head injuries in a motor crash.”

Read through the discussion which I have copied from my facebook page and give your thoughts because I believe the best way for the media to improve is to be self –analysts  and critics.

Rosebell Kagumire

everyday many ugandans die in an accident we have lost MPs and leader opposition in parliament was just out of hospital instead of the damn editors and newmen using these times to bring out the real cause of these accidents and highlightin the needed changes they r busy writting without shame how a vp lost an heir. please dont mean to be mean but this doesnt need to be a leading story for both dailies.

21 hours ago · Delete

Bbc Karol Mama-Lover

I noticed too but assumed they did not have news.

20 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

BBC, i like ur alertness there’s a hell lot of news ugandans need to know about and it makes me sick that people settle to easy way out of wat to make headlines.

20 hours ago · Delete

Bbc Karol Mama-Lover

Tomorrow’s headlines will be Kazini (R.I.P) & then the next day will be the woman who’s done him in…I think to these guys news is ‘ekyipya’, not actual news.

20 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

true. proper kiwani. we need some stylinup. how u be?

20 hours ago · Delete

Bbc Karol Mama-Lover

I’m muzuri, discussing this new ‘news’ in office. You should hola when u r back (if ever lol)…oba u are around?

20 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

still in centro america. will be bek just like the governator

19 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

this part of a Daily Monitor story about Kazin’s death made me mutter Jesus christ son of God with a sign of cross at 1 am: “The girlfriend has been arrested and taken for questioning at Kampala Central Police Station… The country was preparing for the burial later Tuesday of vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya’s son, Bryan, who died at the weekend after suffering serious head injuries in a motor crash.”

Really the country was preparin really really?????????????????

19 hours ago · Delete

Bbc Karol Mama-Lover

No wonder pple out there think we are…I can’t find the right word. Anyone would think everything is at a standstill till then.

19 hours ago · Delete

Doreen Ahumuza

Question is ” Who is the country here????”

19 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

i think the monitor editor owes some answers atleast for referin to our country besides all the sloppiness

19 hours ago · Delete

Henry Mukasa

Rosebell, get real… Bukenya is VP and as such anything that affects his life like bereavement, attack on him by mafia… could by extension affect the performance of his duties and hence national news! Did you know that Sebbanga made front news for Bukedde? The rationale is that this boy who was saved from starvation has not survived death, afterall. Seems Costa Rica beaches have put you in confort zone yet I know you as an aggressive person…

19 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

henry i must sya am disappointed that u can defend a heardline like this. bukenya loses heir. realllly is this the journalism we studied. if the mafia as we know he imagines it when it best suits him and only to take back him words was 4 rio then we wd have reason to make a death of a son of vp a national story. so u think the country is preparing. hmmmm i am soooooo amazed.

19 hours ago · Delete

Daniel Kalinaki

Rosie, what would you have led with if you were the editor?

19 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

Daniel, there are mllion stories ugandans are experiencing. i am wondering if bukenya losin an heir is of national importance. it wd be if we are in mornachy and he’s in line to rule us. i know there r such days as bad days in the newsroom but to try to make a nation believe that bukenya’s loss is national as if no other ugandan is dying -right now… Read more probably in road accidents doesn’t seem reasonable to me. and to add that line in 2day’s story about the death of kazini as if to equate both deaths (in terms of impact on the nation) is even worse. his loss is not heavier than the ones we see everyday on ugandan roads may be we shd make everyday headlines for every ugandan life lost in an accident. unless u want to tell me the cause of death wasnt an accident which i hven’t seen in the report.

18 hours ago · Delete

Mike Imondoyapapa Shimoli

i agree

18 hours ago · Delete

Gaaki Kigambo

Daniel, part of the larger (and worrying) issues the DM and NV headlines reveal is what someone on here has captured so well, and that is newspapers are looking for what’s new (Kibyaki), and now what’s the news.

And for as long as we run after our so-called news makers I don’t see how we’re going to avoid such bland headlines, or news. Because what that essentially means is that we must pick whatever they drop and sometimes it can be really something ‘juicy’ and at most times it’s likely going to be something stale.

So in asking what DM could have led with, I think the answer is not directly in the alternative stories the paper carried behind Bukenya mourning a dead heir. It is much more in the stories that perhaps never got covered because the paper was preoccupied with running after its usual news makers, or savers of the day if you will. … Read more

The challenge is to go back and figure what really are the issues that Ugandans care about or you can interest them in and then get on those and ‘force’ our news makers to explain themselves on those issues.

Of course, there will always be occasional events breaking that need to be covered, but if the newspapers’ primary focus is on those events, we’re not setting the agenda (as we like to puff ourselves) and nobody really cares about us. We’ll always be running after our ‘news makers’ and they’ll dictate, directly or otherwise, what gets into the paper.

18 hours ago · Delete

Daniel Kalinaki

There is a tinge of merit in the argument that some days the news coverage is dictated by personalities and what they say or do. It is also true that some days those personalities and what they say or do does not change the price of bread.

Yet it is important not to underestimate the importance of human interest as a news value. One is also … Read more encouraged to measure news outlets over space (beyond the headline) and time, not on the basis of a single edition or so.

This is as important in the velvet-lined couches of academe as it is in the blood-stained trenches of journalistic practice.

18 hours ago · Delete

Gloria Sebikari

Rosebell, remember our first news writing class (Bernard Tabaire sh’d be proud of me!) where one of the characteristics of news is prominence and human interest??? Well the VP is no. 2 in the country so almost anything about and affecting him is news!!!! Disagreeable but true. Prominent people are news in themselves.

12 hours ago · Delete

Rosebell Kagumire

@Daniel & Glo, the main point of this argument is not that you cannot cover the vp’s son’s death but no u have to and i read the news on sunday on your website. but to make this the story worthy of a headline really i dont see how? did his the country know this youngman (may his soul rest in peac)? i still believe we can do better than headline … Read morethe death of the heir. and beyond this being a headline the way the story is written to try to creat a sort of national loss (dont get me wrong every death causes a loss to uganda) moment that doesnt exist is not acceptable. and putting prominently the heir part one would think we are saudi arabi and the young man was in line for power. we can do and we (ugandan journalists) are indeed better than this.

12 hours ago · Delete

Joe Powell

This doesn’t necessarily make it right but don’t you think it would be on the front page on every newspaper in America if something were to happen to Joe Biden’s son?

7 hours ago · Delete

Gaaki Kigambo

Joe, the story about Bukenya’s son dying can make the headlines. Personally I have no problem with that. It has shock effect enough to knock off any other story. But a follow-up lead that Bukenya is mourning his heir is totally off. That assumes an importance about the son that actually doesn’t exist, or better still was used up in the first headline story.

If the follow up was about what type of person Bukenya’s son was, what were his aspirations in relation to his father’s claims, what was he (academically) qualified in, what percentage of other people his age have died in similar circumstances etc, basically stuff that advance the story, then maybe a story about him would have qualified to lead again. But as it is, the story is static, its obvious (what would you expect a man to say of his first born?), its weak, and it demonstrates what you get when u tag at the coattails of those you’ve ringed off as news makers.

And that’s why I feel its unfair for one to make insinuations that some of us who advance these contrary views to such choice of stories that make headlines are doing so because of the comforts academe affords us. Those kinds of insinuations assume we haven’t been (or aren’t) journalists in our lives and we don’t know how the real world of reporting and putting good stories actually is. … Read more

Can we then also make the same assumptions and insinuations about the academe comforts that are currently being made here about someone who a few years ago penned a brilliant series about how Ugandan journalism was bastardised?

I think its important we resist the temptation to inject such insinuations/assumptions into otherwise worthy debates and discussions like this one because we risk being exactly like the people whose feet we like to hold to the fire.

5 hours ago · Delete

William Tayeebwa

Hmmmmmm, great debate. I will assume the status of Judge and listen impartially to all sides. Keep it up.

4 hours ago · Delete

Who’s benefiting from the south Sudan petro-dollar?

Last year I spent a few weeks in Juba, the capital of south Sudan where I was covering the peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA rebels and in the same year I attended the Global investigative journalism conference in Norway where I had an opportunity of meeting south Sudanese journalists. Most of them were based outside the country but I had a lot of discussions with them most of which rotated around media development in their home country.

The media in south Sudan just like most ‘post conflict’ countries is still undeveloped and there’s hardly an independent press. Knowing that it was just in 2005 when the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) was signed to end decades of civil with the north it would be very unreasonable for anyone to expect a vibrant media in just a period of three years. In the absence of such a media, there’s limited ways of tracking progress whether it is political, social or economic especially whether that progress has trickled down among ordinary south Sudanese most of whom have just moved from neighbouring countries like Uganda and Kenya where the war forced them to live as refugees.

map-southsudan-050908After the CPA one thing was very prominent, the oil sharing and the agreement gave the southerners rights to this natural resource. For the last three years, the CPA has been the centre of media coverage both regional and international and it is understandable because of the long overdue need for black south Sudanese to govern themselves.

Save for a few ethnic clashes that the media has covered in the south; the government of semi-autonomous south Sudan has generally stayed out of bad coverage. During my visits to Sudan I saw the hardship that these people go through and among the journalists with whom I covered to the talks the place was called ‘the most expensive place to live south of the Sahara’. Most of the goods come through Kenya and Uganda. It takes many hours for trucks to reach Juba as they carry goods ranging from tomatoes, sugar to building materials.

I appreciate how difficult it is to overcome these infrastructural huddles but I have always wondered what changes the ordinary people in Sudan are seeing after three years. This week the BBC ran a story that partly queried the government. The problem is that we are not having these queries quite often. For instance the article says “South Sudan’s government has received nearly $7bn (£4.2bn) in oil revenue since it took over after a 2005 peace deal, but many question whether it is doing enough for its people.”

Indeed the oil bonanza in south Sudan has benefited few and it is very known in Kampala and Nairobi how lavish anybody with a slight connection with SPLM lives. By looking at their lives it would be hard to capture a real picture of the country they serve that still has no roads in place, no basic needs for most people who have returned from refugee camps in foreign countries that had become home to them.

Many of these people have made this not-so-easy trip back to their homeland and they just want to get a little help to make life in this land that is still littered by landmines. Yet their leaders continue to amass wealth with no major steps to rebuilding the country.  Most of these concerns we discussed with many of my journalist colleagues. Coming from Uganda where the current government (the only government I know) established after a NRA rebellion/struggle just like SPLM, I shared my fears. Fears based on what Uganda has been turned into. A place where those who fought for 5 years to take power have an upper hand in taking in charge of what our future should be.

A government that many in the beginning gave a benefit of the doubt with its flaws either out of fear of returning to the past turmoil or simply out of hope for a better future is still characterised by tribalism. And just like the NRM/NRA, the SPLM faces tribal questions which if not dealt with in a proper way could send this country on another conflict after they secede in the coming years.

South Sudanese should learn from Uganda after where 23 years in power, the obsession of who fought is still with us and the bush war is still used to deny us, either knowingly or not, the right to have decent elections. Not forgetting the army that never really transformed from a personal/ struggle army to a national army capable of not taking sides of who were part of it.

Southerners must be very aware of the Ugandan situation where ministers stay in a post for over 10 years even when the roads deteriorating despite huge budgets given. A place where you must know someone in the power circles to be awarded a contract or to run a good business. This sense of self importance that engulfs all those we call heroes in our countries keeps them blind from our situations. They enforce the very same government ways they went to fight.

These are lessons that will not easily be learnt in the absence of the media but they are worth taking. It will not be an easy road because unlike in Uganda where the media had somewhat a level of independence and professionalism that one paper can bring to the attention of the nation how much a president spent to provide the presidential jet for his adult married daughter to give birth in German because he can’t trust Ugandan doctors, this capacity is absent in Sudan. Some have tried to use the new media like the Sudan tribune to bring out news from the south these forums are just a drop in the ocean.  Well the coverage of events doesnt necessarily stop what happening but the spotlight might help keep check. Much  as the coverage of the north and south divide is important so is the coverage of how the southern government is performing otherwise ordinary people will find it hard to believe that the north eve let off some oil wells to the south.

women in cinema:we could do better than that

A woman is not a dream but reality. i would like to see that reality dealt with.She’s not just a moving picture, not a doll, a goddess, or a fairy. She is a living person with difficulties, limitations and weaknesses. That’s what I want to deal with. – Tunisian film director Neija Ben Mabrouk.