- Geoffrey T. Muhoozi is a Ugandan trained Public Relations Practitioner and Journalist. He Studied at Makerere University Kampala and read Mass Communication with a bias in Public Relations. In between the course, he studied the Art of Public Speaking. He joined Uganda’s Leading Daily, The New Vision during his second year and practiced journalism till he left for The United Kingdom.In the UK, he persued an NCC International Diploma in Computing at London College of Business Studies and Computing. He went on to do a Masters Degree in Business Administration [MBA]specialsing in Marketing. In spite of being in The United Kingdom, he still contributes for The New Vision and The Sunday Vision newspapers when time allows.
Monday, October 18, 2004
IT has been a two week Independence celebration by the Ugandan Community in London and the final verdict is: They really know how to party, Afrigo Band is as good as ever and PAM awards artist and song of the year winner Jose Chameleon is a real crowd puller, show maker and knows how to do his thing thus deserved the award.
The 42nd anniversary celebrations started in Stratford at East London’s Rex Club on Independence Day after lots of speculations based on a rumour that the Uganda’s favourite band had been denied entry clearance to the UK. Many didn’t believe the group was in London until when the show had started.
The 9th October show was marred by poor sound but never-the-less the stressed nkuba kyeyos could not sit back in their seats when Afrigo’s Joanita Kawalya of the Jim fame took to the stage. It was also a night of reunion with former band member Rachael Magoola of the Obangaina fame. When the intro to Obangaina played, the crowd just went ecstatic and the seats fell vacant.
It was time for the old good times to return and the crowd sang along as the Band played some of their best tracks over years. But like it is always the case, 9the October show had shortfalls as well. Time management and some Ugandans have always been incompatible and so was it that night. The show slated for 9.00pm didn’t kick off till past 11.00pm and when it kicked of the machines were really disappointing and at one stage the show came to a stop so that the machines could be sorted.
Midnight crawled in and the show maker without whom the show would have been a flop, strolled in clad in his trademark white American Marines uniform-complete with a hat. As he limped onto the stage, thanks to new phone camera technology, every one was scrambling to have his photo and surely they did a couple of them.
By 3am, the £20 fee paid to celebrate the day the guys the nkuba kyeyos work for granted Uganda Independence had come to an end but the celebration were just starting with only one week gone and one left.
Having taken lessons about time management and poor sound output in the first show, the organisers, ACP records wanted by all odds to be a little different in the next show at Tooting Bec’s Classic club. Time management had been worked on and the show kicked off shortly after 9pm. Afrigo band were at it again and sent the crowd into a frenzy which seemed like the right prescription for a stressed Ugandan.
As the case has always been, Jim and Obangaina seemed to be the crowd’s favourites and saw scores of both the young and old throng the seemingly tiny dance floor to shake those bones to those memorable tracks. The band played non stop till midnight when Jose Chameleon who had been playing hide and seek finally came onto stage. He wanted to do it like a celebrity by not being near the crowd and kept organiser guessing which side of the tiny hall he would come in from.
When he finally came in from the main entrance, the crowd just went rapturous. He jumped onto the tiny stage and did what he does best for a whooping two hours with out a break. Cameras of all types snooping around for a nice shot of the PAM award winner were visible in the air as the crowd sang along to his famous tracks like Mama mia, Dolotia, Nekolera mali among others though the machines would misbehave as he sang but with his creativity, he could do the hamming himself and continue singing. He couldn’t believe the ecstasy level of the crowd given the £20 entrance fee they had paid and at one stage he said if the crowds in Uganda had been like the crowd at the show and paying that amount of money, he would always be smiling all the way to the bank.
Signing off the stage at some point really became hard for Chameleon because the crowd kept on asking for more and demanding that he plays certain songs from his long list of songs accredited to him. Finally, show maker Chameleon without whom the show would have been a flop and broad day robbery had to leave the stage but before he limped off, he did his Song of the year Jamila to a an already satisfied audience and didn’t forget to thank the Ugandan community in London for supporting Ugandan music, which they surely do given the scores of people who attended.
Finally the two week celebrations wound up and it was time back to serious work. They were a celebration worth £20 each and there were no complaints about having been fleeced.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
By Geoffrey Muhoozi in London
VERY tired on a train home from College to register for the new Semester, I received a text message or call it an SMS from an old family friend in Uganda, with what I would call instructions to call him.
Still wondering how the old man got my number in spite of giving strict instructions to my siblings and parents not to give away my cell number, the first thing that came to my mind was that maybe something had happened to his daughter Chloe, a good old school friend and that the daughter had demanded to talk to me and maybe had lost her phone. Since I was on a train and it would be too expensive to call him using my cell phone, I ‘texted’ him back and promised to call him in about an hour.
On calling him, he asked the same questions other people usually ask me: Is UK like heaven, is there a lot of money and do you intend to come back after your studies, to which I said; ‘yes, why not?’ causing him to protest asking me why I would return to Uganda with the kisanja project looming as if I had told him that I was to stand for election or about to join the opposition. What followed was a question that I almost failed to answer. The old man asked me, how does Chloe get to the UK?
My answer was concise and precise. She has to get a Visa from the High Commission! The old man ranted and almost used an ‘F’ word saying he knew all one was supposed to do but wanted to know how easy it was. I almost told him that I don’t work for the High Commission but just had the decency to tell him that I have spent some time out of the country and was not able to tell how easy or hard it would be to get entry clearance to the Britain, prompting him to ask what entry clearance was. ‘That is the Visa I am talking about.’ I explained.
Funny thing, the old man didn’t seem to know that Visas were classified as student, visitor, prospective student and many others including one for spouses. I then asked; ‘how do you want her to get to the UK, is it on a student visa or a visitors’ visa?’ He had no answer which prompted me to explain.
‘For a Student Visa, you have to part with at least £1000 which is close to shs3 million as tuition deposit if you are to get an admission letter to enable you process entry clearance to the Queen’s land. Accommodation will cost between £280[shs840,000] and £300[shs900,000] excluding bills and meals unless Chloe is to live with relative or friend until she settles in so well to cater for herself.’ I explained.
For a visitor’s visa, I told him that if Chloe wasn’t coming to visit as she will purport but to seek ‘greener pastures’, that would amount to giving her away to the streets and let her live like stray dog being hunted because after sometime she would be an illegal immigrant. I advised him to instead marry her off if she can not get a decent job in Uganda after several years of study including the three years she spent at University.
I thought I had tried to enlighten the old man and pumped some little sense into his head through his phone ear piece but it wasn’t near to that. He had another idea which I think could have been awoken by my advice to marry Chloe off.
‘You talked about something like a spouse or marriage visa, cant students invite their spouses?’ he inquired. I told him they can but it would take lots of effort, time and money if they are fake spouses prompting him to ask what it would take, how and where it would be done from.
I told him it would require a marriage certificate from a church or the Registrar of Marriages and may be some more evidence but I was quick to ask the old man how all this would work yet we were not spouses or anywhere near intimate.
Here was the old man doing okuhingira or giving away his daughter to me on phone. What was not clear to me was if Chloe was seated next her Dad as she was being given away to me on phone. I protested saying that in this day and age that wasn’t the way things were done only to be told to relax and take it easy. Little did I know that Chloe harboured the same thoughts as her Dad thus raising my suspicions that she may have been there as she was being given away to me.
After about half an hour talking to Chloe’s old man, I decide to call Chloe and with the journalism training I have, I try to find out if she is aware of a conspiracy to give her way to me and to my surprise; she is and very willing to be given way though denies conspiring with the old man. She tells me she has always had a thing for me but being the lady she was, she could not pour her heart out and tell me how she felt.
‘Was it a blessing in disguise that your old man decided to give you away?’ I ask. It is now that she starts telling me about all those times when I visited her in Africa Hall while at University but she could not get to utter a word but waited for me to set the ball rolling but never did. I remind her that we were not only friends but family friends and that nonsense would not be tolerated. She tells me of several people who have made it yet they were family friends.
At the back of my mind, I know how Ugandans can do anything to get what they want and with so many examples of guys who have brought their supposed girl friends or spouses to the UK only to be left in the cold. I decide to highlight the whole thing as crap because I actually just have to start nurturing those would be feelings.
I had got a hustle free babe in the name of helping her get to the UK as if I am the British High Commissioner, but that would leave holes in my pockets and my heart would be so vulnerable for a heart break like many Ugandans in the UK and there would be no one to blame except me, myself and I.
As I prepare to end the call I say, Chloe dear, I am out of that circus. Actually katemba or drama would be a misused word. Gone are the days and that is not how things are done. Besides I know what Ugandans are capable of doing. Have a splendid night!!!
Having hanged up on her with that line, I don’t know what is running through her mind but will find out soon and see what she is up to lately. Neither have I had from the old man too. Ugandans can really be so silly at times. Imagine giving away your daughter to a man just to have her travel to the UK. Total insanity!
NOTE: ALL STORIES HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BY UGANDA'S LEADING DAILY, THE NEW VISION OR THE SUNDAY VISION.