Home is always home

I have been away from my home country, Uganda twice in two different countries (Kenya and India) on a long term basis although I have also been to other countries, though on a short visit. The Pearl of Africa as coined by Sir Winston Churchill who served as British Prime Minister twice (1940-1945 and 1951-1955) and a known orator, army officer during the Second World War II, historian, writer and an artist, is a great country and worth visiting and above all worth writing about.

Briefly about Uganda for those who need to know about it a little bit, it derived its name from the Buganda kingdom, which takes a large portion of the central and south of the country including the capital Kampala. It is believed that the people of Uganda were hunters and gatherers until about 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu speaking migrants trekked in to the southern, eastern and western parts of the country from central Africa and Congo Basin. The Bantu speaking people brought with them a lot of skills, civilisation, development of ironworking skills and new ideas of social, economic and political organisation.

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Adorned in a traditional wear on one the functions in Uganda

Uganda has more than FIFTY different languages spoken and many different tribes making its cultural heritage diverse and great. I am from a tribe with THREE different languages.

Uganda was colonised by the British who contributed both positive and negative to the country beginning in the late 1800s. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9th October 1962. The country has seen EIGHT presidents since independence. Some have been despotic than others. The current president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been at the helm since 26th January 1986 and is the longest serving head of state ever in the history of the country. I will not take on you that side, let me preserve the energy for another time but let me stick and get hold of to my gun for the moment.

Some of the things that reminds of my country when I am away are the birds, flora and fauna,  the people, food, culture and the music. The people are amiable, social, compassionate and hospitable. The politics and wars make it sound terrible. At the moment, it is grimly engrossed in unspeakable graft where senior public servants are shamelessly running away with billions of shillings to enrich themselves on auspices of donor support for the poor people especially those in the war ravaged north where the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony operated. This does not obstruct me to write about Uganda anyway on a good note.

“When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you” an African proverb befits my position for writing this article and why home is always home anyway. But yet again, “He who has not travelled widely thinks that his mother is the best cook” is yet another African Proverb lean on and appreciate my country.

While I was listening to music today especially Badilisha by Jose Chameleone aka Joseph Mayanja on Hipipo website, I became home thirsty once more. I also listened to Mun G’s song Mbwase, I knew there are some words that are coming up and being used in the day-to-day communication that I am missing out. These words later take root and grow up within peoples’ vocabulary. Some people have gone ahead to say that these words are used by goons, but later those same people start using the same words. Therefore, they need to appreciate change and move with change as change changes them. I have come to understand that mbwase means I have moved on or I have changed direction depending on the course of the wind.

The following yet another narrow escape to why I love Uganda: the country is landlocked with copious cultures and languages, beautiful landscapes, stunning wildlife among others as you will find out and have read above.

First of all, airtime is gotten from anywhere you go. It is found in shops, bars or street corners among other places like verandas and hawked and sold in traffic jam. Airtime has different names across cities in Africa. Some call it credit, others talk time depending wherever you are on the continent.

I personally love Posho and Beans which is widely eaten in schools and such institutions. On a quicker note, most of the Ugandan food is steamed giving it the real flavour and a golden aroma. Try it you will never look elsewhere. There are other local dishes like Matoke (banana), Irish potatoes, cassava, sweet potatoes, katogo, kalo (millet bread), malewa, rolex, kikomando among others. The taste you find in Uganda, is incomparable elsewhere worldwide, believe on this.

The country is endowed with fruits like bananas, pineapple, mangoes, jackfruit, passion fruit and other fruits gotten from a tree and eaten as people mind their business. Their taste is only found in Uganda alone. There is no taste of fruits like Ugandan fruits anywhere around the world. Their tastes are incomparable elsewhere in the whole world.

The lakes and rivers found in Uganda will never and can never be found elsewhere. Lake Bunyonyi is Africa’s second deepest lake and the only lake in the whole world without a river leading to it or from it. It is surrounded by a spectacular green and hilly landscape. The lake is worth a visit while in Uganda. It is found in South-Western Uganda. The mountains of the moon are worth a mention because of the white snow on it and the beauty it spreads. It is still in Uganda where you find a lake in the shape of Africa or on which that lake is found anywhere in the whole wide world.

Of course you know the historical river Nile and Lake Victoria. River Nile is world’s longest river that travels 6,650 km or 4,130 miles. River Nile and Lake Victoria are shared by ELEVEN countries (Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Southern Sudan, Sudan and Egypt) according to a new finding by Nile Basin Initiative. Lake Victoria by far is Africa’s largest fresh water and largest tropical lake and the world’s second largest freshwater lake after Lake Superior in North America

I have left out a lot but for more information, find me and talk to me or else you will never have a chance to hear that great side from me about Uganda. See you on the other side. Peace and love

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With agriculture you can’t go wrong

RANCHI – For the past eleven days or so, I have been pondering about on how to employ myself, energy, skills and the little savings I have made over the years into one thing or another that can bring me great returns. Just like Ray Charles Robinson sung about Georgia On My Mind, for me, it has been Agriculture On My Mind.

The same issue was rejuvenated three days when I had a skype chat with my former OB (Old Boy) from primary school, Samuel Muyomba. During the chat, he informed me he bought 10 acres of land of which he has utilised 5 acres for agricultural production which has paid him off. The rest of it, he used it for animal husbandry.

I shared the same thoughts with my Ugandan colleague who works in Hazaribag one of the cities of the state of Jharkhand in India, still we rotated on the same thinking platform although he promised to help on something which is still in mind and between us.

Interestingly, I shared the same thoughts with a Kenyan colleague, Stephanie Zighe. We spoke at length and exchanged ideas but still we were snapping to same agricultural lyrics. She gave me a series of ideas that I got rooted into which I am ready to apply.

I am yet to share it with the love of my life and know her take on it. I believe in her mind and sense of direction. She will give me more details and ideas about planting profitable crops together with her mother.

Reading Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya’s interview with Dorothy Nakaweesi of the Daily Monitor on February 21, 2013, his answers reawakened my mind again and that is the reason why I wrote this article for my blog. It left me with one opinion which is, after my contract has expired in India, am to travel back to the “Banana Republic” of Uganda or the Pearl of Africa and start circumnavigating on agriculture.

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Prof. Gilbert Bukenya on one of his farm. Photo courtesy of the Daily Monitor

Prof. Bukenya started by planting Nerica Upland rice in 2003 at one of his farms in Lwantama-Kakiri, Wakiso District for five years before he spread the idea to the rest of the country during his nation-wide campaigns. Upland rice received positive reception because it ensures food security and is a source of income to those who grow it. He says he got the idea while on trip to Cameroon.

Additionally, he says that he is into tropical apples, hibiscus, macadamia, dairy cattle farming, fish and poultry among others.. He elaborated more and said that according to research, each tropical apple tree, on average, bears 400 fruits and that Uganda has two seasons. This can double to 800 fruits in a year from one tree. He said that if an apple was sold at Ug.shs 200, in two seasons a farmer would be earning Ug.shs 160,000 from one tree in a year. How cool is that? He also said that a kilo of macadamia costs about USD 30 equivalent to Ug.shs 80,000. So would a farmer go wrong in agriculture? I guess not.

He cautioned the government he once served as a minister and later as the Vice President, that it should concentrate more and give priority to agriculture because it supports the economy. With the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben, everybody is excited about it. He advised that the people of Uganda should not forget about agriculture. He gave an example of Nigeria as the leading importer of food in Africa because it has over relied on oil and forgotten about agriculture.

I wondered why the learned professor had not eschewed politics for developmental work maybe the timing had not yet arrived!!!

Prof. Bukenya is a Ugandan physician and politician who was once a Vice President of Uganda from 23 May 2003 until 23 May 2011. He also represents Busiro North constituency in the Ugandan 9th Parliament. He has been an MP since 1996.

Uganda is a fertile and landlocked country with a total population of about 35 million people. Majority of these are thought to be around 82% and live in rural areas who mainly rely on substance agriculture and of which, the rural setting contribute more food to the urban dwellers. Agriculture in Uganda has been and still it is the back bone of Uganda. Uganda has mainly been exporting to Southern Sudan and Kenya in the recent past.

Almost half of the rural population live in abject poverty without reliable supply of food despite the good fertile soils and favourable weather. This is because they produce less for consumption as more is sold off to earn a living. Many barriers to this can be traced to be among other, poor farming techniques, land fragmentation and high population pressure a small piece of land.

Many of those who have relatively bigger chunks of land use rudimentary methods leaving them with shorter hands to acquire the mechanisation means. Irrigation is also a problem in that they are a few farmers who apply that agricultural discipline or else they are in places where they are hardly any water source. Above all, most of them cannot access loans from the banks and some who can, the interest rate is high if not very. This means that agriculture still stands out although a lot is needed to be done in Uganda.