23rd, Jan. 2014. Location: Limbe, a suburb of Blantyre City (Malawi). For close to 5 Months, I lived in this part of town that doesn’t look remote on face value, though it rather comes off as old-school in almost every aspect. Limbe literally shuts down by 6pm. There are a few taxis still plying their trade, but they hardly stop by. It’s like a transit route to other destinations.
The shops too. They are all closed by 5pm, save for a couple of supermarkets. ‘Peoples’, a popular chain of supermarkets in the country on an approximate 800 meter stretch, is the lone open supermarket beyond 6pm. It opens till 10pm. The other is an Indian-owned supermarket by the roadside whose name failed to register in my memory.
It gets worse on weekends. Especially Sundays. One would imagine residents have been sent on a state-funded vacation, or they are all nursing dreary hangovers. Not even stray animals –Dogs, cats, or owls can be seen roaming on the streets. I guess they dread the lone nights out there as well. Limbe appears serene and peaceful in the evenings. Unless, of-course, if you forgot one of those must-have necessities, and you have to do that chilling trip to ‘Peoples’.
Only then will you hear strange sounds from all angles. Behind you, ahead of you, Or sideways. Whistles, cackles or shrieks. Sounds from all corners. Phantom sounds. Once in a while, you will see a few idle-looking blokes slouched on patios of closed stores. Some look like hired rag-tag Askaris for the store owners, while others could pass for seasoned street burglars.
The food: The menu on all restaurants reads like a presidential decree. Very monotonous. It’s either beef or Chicken. Broiler chicken. If you are lucky to find an alternative, it will be goat, local chicken or fish. Even with all the water bodies around, fish is still treated as a rare delicacy. It’s pricey. I guess it’s the reason it’s not on many eateries’ menu. Very few locals can afford it.
Beef is prepared in all sorts of ways; T-bone steak, Stew, name it. All in the name of making the menu look rich and long, I suppose. It’s still beef. The last time I was in this part of the world, I returned home 15Kgs heavier.
I had to take some precaution. But there was one small problem. There is only one renown gym, I was told. And it closes by 5:30pm. I elected to do a little exercise of my own. My office was about 2Km away from the hotel. I thought it would be a good piece of exercise if I decided to walk the distance to and from office, every day. It was one of the ways I would keep my weight in check.
I was on one of my routine evening strolls from office when a grey speeding Nissan X-Trail suddenly slowed down, before stopping a few meters ahead of me. On the driver’s seat, a grey haired man of apparent Indian extraction donning a golden tunic signaled out to me, as if to inquire something. I pulled over, stopping by the co-driver’s side.
“Hi. My apologies. I guess I mistook you for someone else,” he said.
“OK… And who could that be?” I asked.
“My son. He was in town, so I figured he had decided to walk home,” he replied.
I was puzzled. He, with his skin color, had sired a son so dark that his complexion was comparable to mine? I let it pass. But he would not let me go.
Stranger: “Where are you going?”
Me: “To my hotel.”
Stranger: “What’s the name of the hotel?”
“Oh, OK. So you are new in this place, aren’t you?” I answered in the affirmative. He asked where I came from, to which I told him Uganda. He said his name was Noor. He’d grown up in Tanzania, and he spoke fluent Swahili. We exchanged proper pleasantries in Swahili before switching back to English. What, then, was he doing in Malawi? Noor said he was there for business.
The business had been good, so he decided to move his whole family to Malawi. They stayed in Mpingwi, a few kilometers from Limbe. My hotel was on the way to his home, a few meters off the junction that leads to Mpingwi. He offered to drop me. It was one of those chilly evenings when the heavens threaten to open up unannounced. The offer sounded rather innocuous. A genuine, friendly gesture. Noor unlocked the door and I made myself comfortable in the co-driver’s seat.
We were soon at my hotel, shortly after which we exchanged contacts. I had got myself a new friend, or so I thought. Noor asked if he could check out the hotel rooms. I saw no issue taking him to mine. I had been asked the same question, a few times by friends and peers for potential reference to colleagues on working visits and all. I agreed to have him take a peek at my hotel room.
Noor’s visit would turn out to be more than just a brief look at my room. Once I had the door open, he made his way to the middle of the room, somewhere in between the wardrobe and the bed before suddenly stopping in his tracks. “Oh, by the way. You haven’t welcomed me to your room,” he said. I should have sensed something was wrong. Somehow, I didn’t. Noor flung his rickety hands towards me in an attempt to initiate a hug. It all still looked a familiar gesture.
So we hugged.
I could almost count the number of vertebrae(those circular-looking bones that a converge at the spinal code) on his spine in the few seconds he held me. He was that skinny. And wobbly. One strong slap would easily send him sprawling to the floor, I thought to myself. Noor made his way to the bed, before asking me to join him. It now dawned on me. I was in peculiar company. I didn’t react immediately, but rather gave him a blank stare. Like I was staring into an abyss. I stayed glued to my seat for a couple of seconds, before asking him what he was up to.
“You got a really hot body,” he went on. He probably believed he had me cornered. I guess he thought he was at that point where a woman you have been chasing is one smart move away from giving a nod to your overtures. Or one romantic gesture. A morning text or an evening movie date.
Deep inside, I believed there was something else giving him the confidence, and the guts to pitch such silly propositions. He might have had a gun (I have heard of cases where people have been raped on gun-point), or he could have been high on drugs. Could I have looked easy prey for him? He certainly couldn’t have mistaken my broad chest for boobs. I bore a fairly grown stubble on my chin. I certainly didn’t look like a woman.
At this point, I faked a phone call and signaled to him I needed to meet somebody downstairs. As one would imagine, the “call” ended as soon as were out of the room. Noor wasn’t giving up so easily. He asked what my program for the weekend was. I told him I was busy, and wasn’t ever going to do anything with him.
Now, one of the advantages of working in telecoms is that it’s easy to trace a mobile user’s details, as long you have their number. So I decided to dig-out more about Noor. A quick search on my database returned the few details I needed at that point. Noordin Ahremani was his full name, a 42 year old raging gay(the database didn’t have that, of course) that was born in Mumbai in 1973.
Now, I needed to stay out of Noor’s reach. I needed to block his number from calling me, which I did successfully, after a number of rounds on the net and successful installation of a call-blocking application on my phone. I could have done it the harsh way, and have him disconnected from the network. But I decided to be lenient on him. Two failed call attempts the following Saturday had him finally give up, for he never tried calling again.
Uganda Rugby Cranes flagged off ahead of Zambia, Zimbabwe clashes
The rugby cranes today had their last training session at Kyadondo rugby grounds ahead of their return legs with Zambi and Zimbabwe. The rugby cranes were seen off by some of the staff from their main sponsors Nile Special and enjoyed previlage of the company of the American and South African ambassadors.The Uganda rugby team besides going for the wins have also fronted the Nile Special current campaign #NoExcuse which is aimed at reducing sexual harassment in society.
Here is the selected team to fave Zambi and Zimbabwe
1. Ssenteza Santos
2. Kivumbi Saul
3. Kimbowa Collin
4. Asuman Mugerwa
5. Odugo Faragi
6. Kanyanya Ronald
7. Otto Micheal
8. Olet Simon Peter
9. Odong Charles Uhuru
10. Asaba Brian
11. Pius Ogena
12. Ayera Desire
13. Emong Eliphaz
14. Aaron Ofoyrwoth
15. Epilo Paul Emmanuel
16. Ivan Magomu Arthur
17. Masendi Paul
18. Okorach Micheal
19. Munyani Ian Arnold
20. Wokorach Philip
21. Semwami Daudi Ashraf
22. Simwende Kimono Justin
23. Kasito Adrian
24. Oketayot Byron
Tusker Lite confirm participation in first ever Food Street Festival in September
On Monday, the first ever “KCCA Foodie Street” was introduced to the Ugandan social events scene promising an assortment of delicious local delicacies all aligned to take place at the heart of the city’s most esteemed street, Parliamentary Avenue come Saturday, September 7, 2019.
The Foodie Street will host food lovers within the city to a day of merrymaking on the food filled street is organised by KCCA and My Food Network in partnership with Tusker Lite to bring food lovers an unforgettable food fest.
“Kampala is the entertainment capital of East Africa and KCCa has a strategy to make it the premier entertainment and tourist destination in Africa. One of the ways to do this is to showcast our rich culture and hospitality and we know that showcasing our abundant street food, we can achieve this goal, said KCCA Director of Education and Social Services, Mrs Namuddu Juliet Nambi.It has been touted as a fun outdoors lifestyle food event that will showcase Ugandan street food while offering a variety of treats from the different street food exhibitions set to leave food lovers spoilt for choice. Revelers will be given the option of pairing their dishes with either a Tusker Lite or Coca Cola.
“Tusker Lite remains at the heart of the best food experiences in the country. We are looking forward to bringing foodies the party flavour in the first edition of this fun outdoors food experience come September,” said Balaba Brian, Key Accounts Manager, UBL.The event shall have over 30 street food vendors catering to the public from 10:00am to midnight. The event is a mirror of other street food festivals held in numerous cities around the world like Paris, Berlin, London, Manila and Brussels, just to mention but a few.
From sunrise to sunset the streets will be buzzing with activity with every other stall premise creatively set up as either a café or restaurant with Kampala City Council Authority giving the greenlight on the fun food event. There will also be music, dance and drinks all perfectly placed under one historic venue, Parliamentary Avenue located between the IPS building and Jumbo Plaza. Entry to the event is free.
Nile Special ‘No Excuse’ Campaign to highlight Sexual Harassment
Nile Breweries under its flagship brand Nile Special has launched a behavioral change campaign dubbed “No Excuse” with the aim of addressing the predicament of sexual harassment in the country. The brand will address the subject by calling for smart drinking measures among its consumers,since alcohol abuse has been identified as one of the primary catalysts for sexual harassment.The aim of the ‘No Excuse’ campaign is to:
• shine a spotlight on the sexual harassment problem.
• to bring about a change in long established societal behaviours and attitudes
• to activate bystanders with the aim of decreasing and preventing this act
• challenge the public to take appropriate action against perpetrators of sexual harassment
• encourage stakeholders to support the victims to access appropriate support services.
Attention is increasingly being paid to the prevalence of this vice in Uganda. Whether this is down to more cases being reported or the abuse is on the rise, is a matter worth investigating. What is certain, is that the public space in which women can freely express themselves must be guarded. This calls for collective reflection by all stakeholders on the measures to be undertaken to ensure that every individuals rights and freedom are protected as enshrined in the constitution under Article 20.Utilizing the brand’s online platforms, the campaign will implore the public have its say on what constitutes sexual harassment. The information will be curated and the data presented into a communication campaign to both raise awareness and also educate the public about sexual harassment while changing people’s attitudes and beliefs.
Francis Nyende, the Nile Special Brand Manager said, “It is a good thing that the plight of women regarding sexual harassment is edging to the fore of the national discourse. But it’s also rather disturbing that almost daily there’s a story about a woman that has been sexually harassed. As one of the leading Ugandan brands we have decided to champion the cause. ”Our ultimate goal is to reduce and prevent the incidences of sexual harassment, which affects the lives of too many women, both directly and indirectly, and thereby make a much safer society.
“Some of the places where women are more susceptible to sexual harassment is during the nightlife (bars, discos etc). At certain hours of the night, after consuming a couple of bottles, some men throw caution to the wind at the expense of the women. So we are here to educate revelers that they should drink smart, there’s no excuse for sexual harassment,” says Nyende.
Ms. Gloria Nakafeero, the Commissioner Gender and Women Affairs, Ministry of Gender,
Labour and Social Development said, “We are using the ‘No Excuse’ campaign as a catalyst to
get people to question themselves and their behaviors. We are aware that by identifying the problem we shall need to do more to try and create meaningful change. So by raising awareness about the issue, the existing laws and policies as well as the existing support services, we will contribute towards positive change in attitudes to make sexual harassment “inexcusable” and unacceptable and demand positive actions towards the elimination of sexual harassment.
I am happy to be associated with the Nile Special ‘No Excuse’ campaign. It always starts with a simple insight. What rings true for me was the idea that in Uganda, whenever we observe or encounter of sexual harassment, we’re inclined to absent ourselves of any responsibility – or worse still, excuse behaviour that’s totally inexcusable.” Article 24 of the constitution protects the dignity of every one in Uganda. No person shall be subjected to any form of inhuman or degrading treatment. This includes respect of a person to their psychological or mental wellbeing.
Enough is enough. Let’s stop excusing sexual harassment. Learn more at the Nile Special ‘No Excuse’ campaign websitewww.noexcuse.ug
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