What The Heck Is Empowerment ?

It was one of those mundane conferences I have become accustomed to attending, the speakers raved on about the importance of empowerment and because I have heard the talking points so many times , I was hoping for something new, a new angle to present to the news audience, otherwise I foresaw my story going along the lines of “……Added their voice to call for more avenues to empower the youth”

As I start to zone out and contemplate which assignment needs my attention while I buy time till Break Tea time, A young lady takes a seat next to me. She smelt like a few hundred thousand shillings and looked like she had come with a purpose.

She pulled out her Mac Book and I start to think, right there is an empowered woman.

About 15 minutes into her sitting, she taps me and asks “But what does empowerment mean?”

I am taken aback by her question, almost with this stare of are you kidding me right now?

She too looks taken aback by my reaction and to downplay my shock, I mumble, “Well, empowerment is…….” And for a whole minute I draw a blank and can’t believe I can’t define a word like empowerment.

To mask my embarrassment, I ask Uncle Google and for a few minutes I think I have saved face.

At the tea break we laugh it off as one of those off days and we are back to more empowerment being thrown around

So I return and as predicted write the story along the same lines, but was reeling from not being able to define a word that has defined policy and governance in this country. If you go by a day and don’t hear the words ‘’ Women Empowerment, or sentences like we need to empower the youth to adequately cater for challenges of the future. You are living in a different country

I took time and Identified 25 people at random, that were youthful and sought to find out if we know or even understand what the heck empowerment is

And it seems was stalling a “Well…empowerment is…..”(draws blank).

The other answer revolved around someone giving the other the power to be better ….

I was ashamed and shocked that we the generation, champions of empowerment can’t even define or understand the essence of empowerment..

How then do we hope the less literate and more in need of support in economic and social areas to dig themselves out of poverty will understand the concept of empowerment?

I will of course not venture into the women, child and social empowerment, too large a conversation for this small blog

But I will venture in a report by Ministry of Gender, to show you the impact of not grasping empowerment or to be more specific  youth empowerment .

In a report released today May 24, 2017, Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development says Government has failed to recover Shillings 54.3 billion that was disbursed to the various youth groups under the Youth Livelihood Program-YLP.

The money is part of the Shillings 64.4 billion disbursed to 8,963 youth groups across the country since the inception of the program.

If you remember the government rave about The Youth Livelihood Fund, its purpose was to …wait for it “Empower” the youth to ensure the poor and unemployed youth in all districts could start-up sustainable income generating projects.

Of course this report makes government’s attempt at empowering laughable to say the least.  More than 80% of money given to the youth to make more money has just gone down the drain! Woe unto us ! Cry the beloved youth of this country!

But I can’t say I am surprised at the utter squander of funds by the youth? Did anyone explain to them, in-depth what these funds were for? Did anyone skill these almost 9000 youths in money generating skills? Was there a financial literacy class, before funds were handed to these groups? As much as I would like to say your guess is as good as mine, the plain truth is no one did.

Empowering as my mother explains in simple terms is teaching people to fish and not catching the fish for them. It’s also making sure that they know they have options like smoking and salting the fish so that it doesn’t go bad and can be kept for longer.

We need to revert to the basics teach people empowerment in the simplest terms. Shred the concept so that even that guy who stopped in P7 understands your messages, instead of throwing the word around in hopes it will miraculously  giving people  skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, will contribute to their competence.

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The Many Faces of Child Labour

On labour day as millions of Ugandans celebrated a no-work day and enjoyed the chilly weather by burying themselves in bed, a good number of people were also on the streets; for them it was business as usual. Many of these were children hawking eggs, fruits and all manner of merchandise to customers who were trying to get away from the cold as fast as they could.

The streets were also not devoid of the usual suspects, the Karamojong children, seated on the verandahs of Kampala’s buildings with their hands out, their teeth rattling as they hope passersby will find them looking pitiful enough to garner a coin or two; Which coin will be grabbed as fast as it got there by the old Karamojong women who sit in the shadows but with enough view to see what their “gold mine” has earned.
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Child Labour has many faces and most of the time it’s staring us right in the face. We live in a time when child rights activism is at an all-time high, but this is closely countered by the blatant disregard for these rights.

When I was in Gulu two weeks ago, a man in my village strangled his wife to death and consequently was put behind bars. The Four children with the eldest aged 14 and the youngest 8 years, were left to fend for themselves. I spoke to a couple of people in the area who were very casual about what happens to the kids, with one elder telling me “latin omwero omak kweri” literally meaning that the eldest needs to pick a hoe for  survival.

With the slow disintegration of the African values, he argues, no one is willingly going to pick up these children and add them to their burgeoning families that are living on a stressed finance envelope. In defense of his stance, he says, slowly walking away from community parenting and a drastic shift towards a more nuclear approach of family life is responsible for the reluctance of guardians picking up children other than their own these days.

Economic times are bad, he adds. There is no food, no money and the rains seem to be less than willing to wet the grounds sufficiently for food to grow. The little food they have is being ravaged by the army worm and somehow people expect for poor families to take on more children. He is also quick to add that in the days of their fore fathers, children started work early in life, and were grounded and therefore respectful of the hard work as they grew up; meanwhile millennials are just a bunch of kids expecting clean food, clothes, school fees paid for just being a child.

When I press him for what then happens to this family, he says that most likely the eldest walks away from school and starts to work as a bread-winner for his siblings. His fate will most likely be rooted in brick making, which is a lucrative work for youth and young boys in the community. He is a just a case scenario of the entrance into child labor.

According to a Lunds University Report: Child labour; the effect on child, causes and remedies to the revolving menace, Child Labour in Sub-Saharan Africa has 65.1 million children involved. Uganda’s Data from Uganda Bureau of statistics in a  2009/2010 Uganda National Household Surveys Report show that 51 percent of the children aged 5-17 years in Uganda were working and Overall, 25 percent of the children aged 5-17 years were child labourers with males (28%) having slightly higher rates than females (24%). It is further observed that Child labour was highest among children in the age group of 5-11 years (34%).

Imagine your 5-year-old who is supposed to be somewhere in kindergarten learning the alphabet and singing along to Bah Blah Black Sheep, out there frozen in the cold because the adult is not human enough to see beyond a pay-day. We are the people who go out in search of house helps who are still below 14 years.

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As a mother elaborates to me how It’s  better getting a younger house help who can be both a playmate to your child and still do the tasks like washing and cleaning the house, she adds that they are also very trainable and still listen to you. When I ask if she doesn’t see this as child labour, she frowns and says ”how? is the child not getting paid?”

But is the child really getting any pay?

This House help will of course be up at 5am to prepare their “Playmates” for school, running around to see that they have their breakfast on time before the dreaded van hoots.  After the children leave, they are encumbered with the household duties of cooking, cleaning, washing, and before long the children are back and it’s between the children’s playtime, meals and bath time then the house help is off to bed AT 11 pm after utensils are cleaned and so on. At the end of the month, a meagre pay of 100,000 shillings is then sent to her parents, who will use it to pay fees for their most promising child; which most of the time is a boy. So then, year in and out she works for others earning little to nothing and we as society then act shocked and spell-bound when we end up with maids likes Jolly Tumuhaire.

In the 2014 Lunds University Report, Poverty is cited as the biggest driver of child labor. With Uganda’s poverty level at  19.7% (As documented by the World Bank Poverty Assessment 2016), it’s no wonder children as young as 5 years are involved in jobs like brick making, Cattle keeping, Charcoal burning, Coffee growing, Fishing ,Gold mining and so forth. With some of the sectors like fishing, coffee and gold contributing the biggest share to GDP, you would hope more is being done to arrest the growth of child labour in the country.

Government has tried especially in the area of law formation. In 2015, Uganda made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government introduced a bill to prohibit hazardous work for children and establish a minimum age for work of 16 years (United States DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Bureau of International Labor Affairs). But We also know that one of the biggest problems Uganda has is the implementation of the various laws they pass left right and Centre. The issues for the lack of implementation range from lack of personnel. The few personnel they have are not trained enough to handle child labor cases and in general sense a lack of finances to do anything significant in the fight against Child labour. The same reasons will be given for the various rights violations in the country; it’s the same song on any given day.

We are not going to do away with child labour by simply wishing it away, or making remarkable speeches on its ills. We need to dig in on all fronts.

The first step is to empower communities to be able to make a living. The government has over the years had programs like The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS)  ,Operation Wealth Creation (OWC ) which on paper are very good strategies to empower the impoverished, but these have been riddled with corruption scandals, and the programs instead benefiting officials in charge and their kith and kin. A comprehensive review of the projects should be done to ensure the rural communities are part of these projects. This way, they have enough money and their children are then not bound to be part of the work force to feed their families.

Government has done much and yet so little with their Universal Primary Education(UPE). If parents, especially in the rural areas are convinced they are wasting their time sending their children to empty classrooms with no teachers, or to schools were the children barely learn anything, they will feel justified in putting their children to work instead of sending them to school.  Government’s UPE needs to be able to provide a quality education, enough to ensure the child is proficient and knowledgeable beyond the cram work.

I realise as I interviewed people, people have a hard time distinguishing child labour is mostly regarded as a child paying dues or doing commensurate work for their age.  And with poverty thrown in this mix, child labour trades on a very delicate line. More sensitization needs to be done in this area, many a parent are breaking the backs of their children under the pretext of having the child contribute towards the welfare of the family, we have seen this in sugar cane farms, gold mines and the like. The government needs to come out strongly and educate people about child labour. Given that 25% of the children aged 5-17 years were child labourers should be reason enough for government to work on a sensitisation plan.

There is the implementation of laws protecting children that needs to done more aggressively. But if history has taught us anything, this government will drag its feet in this area too. Social humanities are not a priority in government’s budget for FY 2017/2018 , because government wants to invest in more infrastructure. But if you don’t invest in your people, who will use those roads, who will go to those schools you intend to build. Who will come up with solutions to food insecurity?

For those innovative people, government preaches about, they need to start investing heavily in the children who will one day run this country, and they won’t do it by begging on the streets for adults who should know better.

Why We Fear Association With Feminism

For the longest time, I have had a dreadful sense when someone calls me a feminist. It’s like there is an insult lurking or a sneer when someone refers to me as a feminist. And over time I realized a lot of other women harbor the same feeling about being associated with feminism in Uganda.

In my research, I realize that feminism is one of the most misconstrued and misunderstood concepts in the world with more negatives associated to it than positives.

In a little experiment, I set out and asked people what feminism was and these are some of the answers I got:

“That thing for frustrated and bitter women.”

“It’s a theory made by women who think they know it all and want to influence other women.”

“Feminists. Those are women who want to be like men”

With such answers you cannot expect women to want to be associated with Feminism. Akullo Godiva, a feminist and lawyer, says we should not be surprised by these answers. Uganda is yet to fully understand, let alone accept feminism.

In her view, we just have to look at what stereotypes the society has created of people they regard as feminists. If you are failing in your duty to be a woman as prescribed by the African society, you are the definition of what makes a feminist in Africa. If you are either divorced or bitter, too educated, unmarried, childless and the like, you most probably make the cut. And the funny thing is these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.

This means you are dead in the centre of the backlash that comes with being a feminist, where you are judged for what’s not right in your life, rather than the advocacy work you have set out to do.

Such is the mind-set that the movement has to deal with. So, with such background and taint to the movement, Akullo says – how then do you expect people to listen to the facts about Feminism? How do you then tell the masses that feminism is really activism, centred on advocacy of women’s political, social and economic rights?

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Akullo further illustrates, saying that the problem right from time immemorial has always been patriarchy. Men had their cake and ate it; They were the entitled species with the special privileges, while women played second fiddle and played along the lines where their esteem, self-worth and value was all seen through a male’s perspective.

Your worth was dowry, how many cows entered the compound as you exited to go to your husband’s home, how many sons and heirs you would give your husband and clan. A woman was never just a woman; you belonged either to your father or husband.

Then imagine a movement comes along challenging the status quo; A woman has value, you can vote, you have a right to education and get a job that is not just a secretarial job; you can be an engineer. You can work hard and provide for your family.

Of course not everyone will applause and embrace a movement that shakes society at its core and challenges the second class citizenry accorded to woman. No one likes to be dethroned, to be told that the species that was once eating the scraps has to now be seated at the table and share in the banquet.  So then again the feminist is stuck between men who are enraged by their position being challenged and women who feel that changing the status quo upsets the balance in a way that they are not used to.

But the truth is someone has to fight for the rights of the woman, and it’s a dirty job that most women are not comfortable with.

We are happy to enjoy the fruits of the fight of the earlier feminists, who advocated for our rights and were ridiculed for it, but we are too shy to engage in the struggle because of the names we will be called.

Akullo says the feminist circle needs to expand and have new voices added to it. Yes, gains have been made in the movement; we have more political representation, more girls going to school, more avenues for women to seek redress but more still needs to be done.

There are new challenges cropping up every day in the movement. The challenges of 20 years ago have evolved and it needs young, vibrant voices to pick up the fight that feminists like Dr Sylvia Tamale, FIDA ED Irene Ovungi Odida have been battling.

But these new voices need to move from hiding behind their work desks, and liking posts on social media.  We need to know that for our children to have an easier path, someone has to get out there and fight and that will not happen if we are burying our heads in the sand.

Education Sector’s Lost Children

A huge percentage of those who will read this blog are people who were lucky enough to be selected to go to the schools, they applied to and if they weren’t too keen on going to government schools that required to get selected, they had the financial means to afford a private school.
For some 81,000 pupils who sat Primary Leaving Examinations, the future is unknown, for some that will be the end of the Education route for them. Why? They were ungraded or government’s subtle way of saying they are the lot that constitutes the failure statistics. Four years from now when the over, 500,000 pupils who made it to secondary sit for S.4, we will lose almost 40,000 students to Education oblivion if this year’s Uganda Certificate of Education results is anything to go by.
If you resort to cumulative math to see the picture of how many children just disappear in the Education system, the figures are astounding. But year in, year out, we sing the praises of those who pass and bother not with those who need the national attention more.
In an interview with education expert and Secretary General of Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), James Tweheyo decried the lack of government interventions to track the “lost system children”. According to Tweheyo, it’s really up to the parents to send these children back to school, and since most of these “lost system children” are from rural areas, for most failure is usually end of the road, with these children picking up manual jobs like selling bananas on Kampala streets, working as house helps in our homes, shamba boys, boda-boda cyclists and some fall into the trap of early marriages as one of their next best options.

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At the recent release of the 2016 UCE exams results from Uganda National Examinations Board Executive Secretary Dan Nokrach, observed the high failure rates of 13.2%, saying it was a cause for worry. He outlined a couple of challenges that are contributors to the failure rates, but the biggest issue, he said, was teachers deserting teaching and instead of prepping children to cram for examinations. Some students, he added seemed under prepared and weren’t able to interpret questions adequately. Of course, these problems were more rampant in the Universal Primary and Secondary schools which are mainly in rural areas and cater for the majorly poor Ugandans.
Dr. Muyingo Chrystosom Minister of state for Education, also explained that the problem was teachers were spreading themselves thin, neglecting their government appointed schools and instead focusing most of their time part timing in Private schools. A practice, his counterpart Rose Mary Sseninde warns will get teachers struck off the payroll.
A few teachers I spoke, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity, pointed the finger back at the government. The teachers all unanimously agreed on remuneration in the education is still lacking, and even with the arguments that there have been increments, they argue it’s not enough especially if you have a family of your own to cater for and children to educate. And since gov’t seemingly has it’s ‘hands tied’, the teachers say they then opt to make more time for private schools that will take them. And of course, it’s no guess who suffers as a consequence of this neglect.
The teachers also point out that UPE schools have a student’s ratio that is alarming giving an example of Kotido where the ratio is 1:92, there is no time to dedicate to every and work on their weak areas as is done in private schools. This coupled with government’s policy to let every child be promoted to the next class despite their various inadequacies is what the teachers say is manifested in the high failure rates at PLE and UCE.
But for me, that is not the issue, as government points fingers at the teachers , and frustrated teachers neglect their role to earn a living elsewhere , we are churning out more children on the streets, who hawk bananas that people in their air conditioned cars won’t buy, and soon enough they become pickpockets . For others, they will become house help who get horrible pay and before you know it they are mistreating the children they take care of. There needs to be investment beyond UPE and USE, investment in ensuring that those forced out of the system because the government and responsible stakeholders don’t care enough are tracked, put back in school. In any case, it’s the people’s taxes catering for these children and as such, our taxes in the least need to be put to good use.

Vintage, Lights and Sound

This year has been one of those years where, there have been so many events and if you do a quick scan of twitter it seems people are constantly swinging from one event to next. I am one of those Kampala residents who keep away from these mundane social gatherings and for obvious reasons. The trend of events these days is usually, good looking women taking selfies or engrossed in the unending Whats App conversations, and well sometimes if they run out of data, they dedicate the next 2 or 3 hrs of that event to Candy Crush. The entertainment is usually treated with a seat-warming, even when the performers deserve a standing ovation. And so, on Saturday when a friend suggested we go the Sheraton grounds for the Vintage Car show, I rolled my eyes and gave a long list of reasons why I wouldn’t be another statistic of the Uganda social scene.

After relentless persuasion I decided to go check it out, and boy oh boy am I GLAD I did ( Gundi , come for a ticket refund). The Vintage Car Show was well, one of those events that you deserve to be raved  about.

The cars, the main attraction of the day were not to be out-competed by the fashion forward Ugandans. The cars ranged from very old classic likes The 1925 Ford Model T, Peugeots, Mercedes Benz to very new thrillers like the 2016 KIA Optima.

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It was a show for everyone, the girls who needed to take pictures with cool cars, the guys who needed to impress us with their extensive knowledge of cars, the children also got have lots of fun ogling over “ancient cars”. There was also a range of very cool looking bikes from the budding biking community.

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The rain reared its ugly head a couple of times to ruin the fun, but trust the car and fun loving people to have stuck it out, nothing was going to ruin this day for these people. I actually thought the rain would deter people, but it seems like every time it drizzled, the crowds kept growing.

If you had chance to sit in the Nile Gold tent , you will attest to the hospitality of those very generous people.  The drinks were brought to your table before you even saw the end of your bottle. The very beautiful ushers gave us enviable service. There was a lush sumptuous buffet, a complete 3 course meal and the drinks were constantly replenished, the tables were all grinning green from the amount of beer the Nile Gold company gave their guests, they also catered for the non-alcoholic  revelers , sodas and water was just as much as the beer.  There was also canopy that kept us sheltered from the rain…No running around and messing your hair which took hours to put together.

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The Sundowners shut the house down! If you enjoy a great vocal performance then you really missed Lillian Mbabazi and the Sundowners giving performance a whole new meaning! It was everything and more you expected from the calibre of artist that Lilian is. My favorite thing though was her medley of Ugandan hits past and present.

I am glad though that I attended at least I learnt new things about cars , that I would probably never would have figured out on my own. It was also great to see that there are still events in this country where you can go and chill as a family.

Self Gagging.

I have been struggling to write for the longest time. It’s like the year began and somehow even after I had sworn that come whatever my tool of expression was going to be at the fore front. My excuses have ranged from too much work, a load of series I need to catch up on, I am not reading enough and I need to create time. You get the point, but my biggest excuse has been perfection. I need to write something that makes sense, overflowing with information; the piece should have a solid elevator pitch, as  if I am writing for the coverted Pulitzer Prize.

The other has been, well I am not well informed on the issues and sometimes I feel my passion for the matters is not “strong enough”.  These excuses have seen me write times without number and then give up, because, they are not perfect and people will judge me for not knowing enough. In my head, I see them read the piece and shake their heads in disapproval and disappointment, and I can see them saying this was a complete waste of my time.

There are other times I feel like an OMINI KNOWEST, when I am   putting down my thoughts .  When it gets to hitting the publish button, I shy away, because I feel like in that piece, I am expecting people to know, to get with the program, on those days my annoying ‘mean girl voice’ goes something like this “seriously, everybody knows what’s going on. They watch TV, listen to radio and have social media, so they definitely know these things; there is no need for you telling them what they already know.” Sometimes, I archive the piece but most times I delete because, again I have found an excuse that makes it easier to sleep at night.

My most recent excuse is, “well that is not my field of expertise”. You will agree that we hate to be the blonde in the room. Ok, lets say they uninformed one in the room. So, imagine an issue like the water crisis in Flint, or impeachment process in Brazil. You actually feel you have something to say or add, but because we fear to make a fool of ourselves and probably our kids and grand kids( yes, those chaps that ain’t here yet will one day read your work and be embarrassed for you lack of knowledge). So, you say to yourself, well Flint is in the USA and has no relation to me, and yet the dry season will be here and people from Sembabule will be going through a similar water crisis.

The excuse, I am most ashamed about is , I am not passionate enough about that issue. Sometimes the news week is slow and the stories are not nation attention grabbing. Or it’s not political interesting, it’s just the community dealing with their everyday problems and again, I say to myself, well we see this iissssh everyday, do I need to write and tell the world that another woman was battered by a man, a child was burnt by her mother; Ugandans have been swindled by another politician? Preaching to the choir!

Today I hang my head in shame after watching the news .A man had beheaded his nephew to obtain wealth, and that child will not be the first child but who else is speaking up for that child, whose life has been cut short.

Who will speak against the impunity of the president blatantly allowing that he dished 5million shillings to MPs, and denying with a smile that it was not to get his man Jacob Oulanyah the seat of Deputy Speaker?

Who else is out there looking out for the interests of the 33,000 cancer patients who are left with few to no options because the radio therapy machine broke down?

Who is fighting for the child who has been defiled and told the mother and no one will believe her?

So, perfect or not I am back, embracing the keypad of my laptop and writing away. It might not be Pulitzer worthy, but hey someone out there is listening, right ?

How independent was the Supreme Court ruling ?

 

We can finally go back to our mundane existence and waiting for the next political scandal to provide the occasional entertainment, now that the election season has come to its final stop with the dismissal of the election petition filed by Amama Mbabazi. Most of the populace had already moved on even before the Supreme Court ruling, life was back to normal the day the president was declared winner of the 2016 election. It was like telling a boarding school child but in a more excited tone that they were going to eat posho and beans again, as if for the last 5 days they had had anything different.

Reaction on the Kampala streets was the same Posho-beans effect in regards to the Supreme Court ruling. The views majorly centred on the previous election petitions being thrown out and this was not going to be any different: the political litmus test answer was already known. No one was going to bite the hand that feeds him. Sadly even if it is the citizens that feed the public servants, the offices that are supposed to be serve the public interest seems to have their credibility doubted due to the appointing authority in this country.

Ugandans have lost a large degree trust in state institutions and rightfully so. State parastatals have been riddled in corruption, back door deals and little to no transparency in their activities.

And this rang true in the election petition judgment. Even if the judges went to painstaking lengths to explain the reasons for dismissing the petition and cited acts, laws and clauses, a large section of the country took the ruling with a pinch of salt.

As long as bodies like the electoral commission and judges of the highest courts are appointed by the president, there is always going to be an element of doubt, a legitimization of the opposition’s lack of faith in these bodies.

The African saying no man bites the hand that feeds him comes to mind, in such a situation. And if you check twitter it was thrown around a lot after the petition dismissal. There is a section of people that believe it’s impossible for the Supreme court judges to rule in favor of the petitioners, even if credible evidence was adduced because they fear for their jobs and livelihoods if they spot a problem in these petitions and call for annulments, case in point was Amama Mbabazi, even if he accepted the ruling, he was still convinced that there was an element of foul play.  A former Judge Kanyeihamba in his book also helps this school of thought thrive as he describes what happened during the election petition of 2006 where he alleges a judge was “talked to” and he came back swayed to the other side.

So even if Chief Justice does the right thing over and over again, as long as there are still state issues involving the president brought before him, people will always have the lingering thought of bias.

The same goes for the electoral commission chairperson. Even though Eng. Badru Kiggundu apologized time and time again for the ‘mishap’, he only raised more questions about the Commission’s credibility and transparency.

In the minds of many Ugandans it was an intentional mess to distribute polling materials late in the most populated districts of Kampala and Wakiso intended to give the incumbent, who happens to the president, also the EC chairperson appointing committee a boast in the election.

For a position of neutrality and some degree of trust from all candidates contesting in the presidential election, the Electoral Commission appointing body must have nothing to do with the presidency.

The same goes for the police that was found by almost every Observer team as partisan and NRM leaning. Very many times, you have heard people saying the police got orders from above and this notion is not going away if the police cannot prove it’s independence.

For the next election to have fewer doubts, bodies like the EC, Supreme Court, Police and the army need to be independent as possible and this might require a change in legislature that gives the president and those to come, no power over these bodies. Maybe then, the song at the election petitions in 2021 going forward can have a different tune.

BOURGIE UGANDAN

Lately, I have heard  the word bourgie thrown around more often than not . In Uganda it’s the easiest way to say you do not agree with the common norm or in Ugandan terms you refuse to go with the flow.
If you do not like Bebe Cool and see more foolery in his work than your mates , it makes you bourgie , even when you have backed up evidence of useless lyrics and production that  is less than par. Best not add your thoughts about prefering Richie’s take on Neera Neera by Radio and Weasel.
You can’t talk Piano guys, Rapheal Saddiq Or that you like classical by the likes of Beethoven. What are you thinking ? play the cards and talk Hotline bling and you know every common song being blasted on radio and you will be safe.
Do not be the chic, that  knows brands . That will make you bourgie. You are expected to be the chic that  only knows  Channel, Versace , Dolce and Gabbana , Marc Jacobs and basically the known people. You cannot go against the odds and talk about how great Salvatore and Martinez leather  is. That my friend will make your refined taste for quality a ticket that gets you booted to camp  bourgie.
Be the guy that just likes ordinary tea. The guy that throws the tea leaves in a cup and adds hot water to it. You cannot be the guy that knows which tea works when or checks the tea labels to determine from which region and soils the particular tea come from. I mean , in the end it’s all tea, right ? So, when you go for dates and ask for A vanilla, chamomile infused tea and you date rolls her eyes at you….
I am the ka chic that drinks ginger ale . It sounds very bourgie, doesn’t it? I don’t drink much, so ginger ale is my cover up drink, but every time I order for ale, I get the look  or laugh of yeah right…sometimes the guy quickly calls the waiter to the side to find out the price tag of the ale , which is usually cheaper than his drink.
The point here is, to survive , you might have to suppress your refined taste, eyes and ears. Lest you are deemed one of those who just doesn’t want to be a team player.
But before I go. The real definition of bourgie…..

Stemming from the French word bourgeoisie. Pronounced “boo-zhee”

Someone who is class-conscious, with educated and discerning tastes, and interested in enjoying the finer things in life.  “Bourgie” is as much an idea, and a state of mind, as it is an attitude towards enjoying good food, good friends, and good conversation, everyday. It evokes a mood of simple elegance, casual yet sophisticated—modern.

Adolescent Health

Before I tasked myself to write about adolescent health, I thought it only entailed menstrual health and hygiene because in the 90’s when we were in primary that was all we were taught. I asked a few other people about what they knew and I got blank stares, menstrual health topping the list, and some answers were “I guess the same health issues they go through, is the same everyone else deals with.”

Adolescent health covers a lot of ground that cannot be all tackled in one blog post, it covers, their diet, mental, physical, social and even sexual well being of a teenager.

What we mostly deal with is the physical health and changing bodies of the growing children, the classroom will address what to expect, how the boys voices will change, the girl’s breast will grow and new hormones will be added to their body mechanism and what not.. According to UNFPA, onset of adolescence brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing.

What this means is as soon as a child becomes a teenager, their behavior needs to be influenced by the peer, family, school, community, and societal levels by providing them with essential material about their sexual health because many sectors of society contribute to adolescent health, safety, and well-being.

Most of Uganda’s young population is scattered in rural areas, where education facilities are basic, health services are close to non-existent and this has led to Millions of girls being   are coerced into unwanted sex or marriage, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and dangerous childbirth. Adolescent boys are at risk, as well. Young people – both boys and girls – are disproportionately affected by HIV. Many young people, even those outside the rural areas are faced with barriers like lack of access to reproductive health information and care which can help adolescents protect their health.

The call for timely and appropriate information and access to reproductive materials and information for teens should be heeded by society which includes government agencies, community organizations, and schools to have a positive effect on adolescent health.

UNFPA and other partners are advocating  for  Youth-friendly health-care package of services like Universal access to accurate sexual and reproductive health information, A range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods, Sensitive counseling among others to curb t unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections like HIV, which are the biggest threat to a thriving adolescent health.

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Teens and family planning.

Have you ever seen the look on parent’s faces when their children ask about condoms?   My first acquaintance with condoms was late primary and wait for it… It a television advert.  I can bet, I am not the only one whose introduction to family planning was through the telly.

These days the family planning ads are more common than not, and not about condoms, it s the whole range of them. This is the resolve health partners have gone to educate the young population, because as well all know, family planning is not incorporated into the school curriculum. The teen stage in life is when they have the most self discovery going on. Hormones are abit  on a rage, and girls and boys want to try out what they see on the telly ( you know the things they see on telemundo).

According to UBOS and Macro International Inc 2011 14% of girls age 15-19 use a contraceptive method. Meaning the remaining 86% of girls are at a risk of falling pregnant and becoming teenage mothers.

Society has woken up to the fact that the children are growing up really fast. There needs to be a push for teenage family planning programs at health centres, to help address the needs of teenagers who are sexually active.  We cannot live with our heads in the sand and think, abstinence is working for all the teens. Expose, the teens to age appropriate family planning so that they can make wise sexual decisions.