Terror

Transformers, Dark of the Moon is what we were watching. Again for the umpteenth time. My first encounter with transformers were as fascinating toys, that came as trucks but could be changed into an action figure. Well, here we were in someone’s imagination, on what those toys could do.

When the decepticons invade Chicago to set up the bridge, their first priority is to cause terror so the humans flee and cannot stop their mission. Eventually though Sam comes with the soldiers to rescue Carly and the decepticons up their game! Shockwave brings in his drill that destroys an entire sky scraper! Horror! Where do we go to from here? In Dark of the Moon, the humans are like props on a set but being human, I cannot help but imagine if this happened in my own city, (Scooby and Shaggy teeth chattering)

It dawned on me that all terror starts in this same fashion. A few decepticons are sent to cause a few ruffles to fly. During the 1985 into 1986 war, we developed a running reflex! If you saw a group of people running in a certain direction, you dropped whatever it was you were doing and run in their direction. Why? It was the only signal we had of an attack. You just knew that people were fleeing from danger. Oh my, it was so bad, that way into the 90s, people would hear a tyre burst and run. And cause others to run as well. My children find this story very entertaining, btw.

Then the object of the terror becomes the clear focus and the intent is still to intensify terror in the hearts. As Shock wave’s drill, comes up through a street in Chicago, destroying everything in it’s path. You know, you should not be anywhere near it. However, when it systematically weaves its way through the sky scraper and crushes it like one does ice in a blender. The levels of horror in the heart have gone up. Eh! The sound effects do not make it any easier, neither do the shots of people trying to run as the building is being crushed. Horrifying. Mass graves, rape, mutilation and destruction of key land marks in war are designed for this very purpose. Terror that causes one to stand still like a deer looking at headlights.

Photo credit: Pinterest

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.


Psalm 91:5-6 AMPC

And all this is going on, there is the final battle that the autobots and Optimus Prime must prepare for. The battle of slander. Sentinel Prime and Megatron seem to have outwitted the autobots and Optimus Prime. They slander Optimus, taunt him and try to weigh him down. Slander is such a wicked tool, because it tags at your heart and mind. It causes you to stay still because you are double minded. Is this person for me or against me? A person who was for me would not say such a thing? Or conversely, your enemy will offer a truce as did Megatron? But it’s a Trojan horse. Optimus Prime decapitates Megatron and destroys Sentinel Prime bringing an end to this battle.

What has terrified you? God’s promise is if you remain in His Shelter, you shall not fear. You shall not be terrified. Return to His stronghold and find reprise from the terror, from the pestilence, from destruction and sudden death.

Who has come against you? To win the battle of terror, you must be clothed in physical and mental might. All are found in the Shelter of the Most High God. Are you wearied from too much violence? Return to your shelter, let the Father dress you in His compassion.

Shut up! Do as you’re told, boy

Breonna Taylor. No-knock search warrant. No defense. her own home. Louisville, Kentucky. 26 yrs old.

Ahmaud Arbery. Jogging. Near Brunswick, Georgia.  25 years old.

George Floyd. Alleged counterfeit $20 bill. I can’t breathe. 8.46 mins on Minneapolis tarmac. 46 years old.

Credit: Internet

Young and black. Their deaths have sparked very many protests and conversations across the world on racism and prejudice.

The silencing of their voices is the echo of our very own. I write this to mourn that no matter how loud our voices have been, they have not been loud enough. Centuries after chicken George, we still hear ‘shut up boy and dribble!’

I got to school, late. The parade was in session. I rushed to greet the headmaster, curtsied, and run to join the line. One of my friends created a gap for me and my big, heavy bag. Such a kind girl. We were singing hymns, everyone had their hymn book. The prefects were walking through the line to pull out those without theirs. I thrust my hand into the front pocket of my bag, it wasn’t there! A more frantic check, still not there. Maybe the main bag, nope. I was pulled out of the line.

I was placed in another line, in front of the main gate to await the Deputy. After parade, we trudged off to her office. Heavy bags, heavy hearts. We had to wait outside her office. By this time, the first period of class was midway. She came and we shuffled in one by one. I was the last, she called me in. She asked me to apologize for forgetting the hymn book. She did not want to hear any explanation. The problem was I wanted to explain. I believed that if she heard my explanation, she would understand that it was not my intention to leave it behind but I forgot. To err is human. Not quite. She quickly changed her tone and told me to hold out my hands for a beating. Well…that is it. I put them out and she whacked them with her stick. And whacked them some more. Then she asked me to thank her. I was so angry, I could not even imagine that she would think I should be grateful. Angry tears stung my eyes. I kept blinking them away, she was unrelenting. I kept quiet. My sullen face did not go down well with her, she insisted I stay outside her office as a lesson in gratefulness.

And so it was, that towards break time, my class teacher finds me standing there. Having cried my heart out, tear soaked hankie and red swollen eyes. He asked me what I was doing out there. She answered. He managed to convince her to release me. I was free to go to class. But never free to be. She hunted me down. When I was late to school, I was sent back home. It didn’t matter that I had to walk back. One PTA, she made me the topic of the meeting to the angst of my mother. Calling me out. Yelling at me. For the rest of my life in school, she made my life a living hell.

At eleven years, minuscule. I live. I got life. For Breonna, Philando, George and Ahmaud, a lifetime. quickly snuffed out. Only a memory.

Cry, my beloved Africa. Weep for the lost sons and daughters who thought it not freedom till the motherland was free. Whose voices grow fainter while ours grow stronger.

Don’t forget that we are your beloved ones. Wrap us back into your heart again, for you chose us. You brought us out of our slavery and bondage and made us your favored ones, your Zion-people, your home on earth.

A Psalm of Asaph. Psalm 74: 1-2 TPT

“I am prepared to die in the army of Jesus.” Janani Luwum

Photo Credit: The Monitor Publications

Today is Janani Luwum day. We set aside days so we never forget what is important. Janani Luwum was the Archbishop of Anglican Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga (Zaire) from 1971-1977.

In 1971, Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada became President of the Republic of Ugands through a coup de tat. The deposed President, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote was being hosted as an exile in Tanzania. There was trouble everywhere in Uganda including the borders with Tanzania. The army purges to cleanse the army of troops deemed hostile to the President were ongoing. The purges later spread to all Luo speakers and later to all professionals. Israelis were expelled. Indians were expelled.

Janani, together with Festo Kivengere, and other bishops stood up to Idi Amin. I thought this post would be about Janani alone but it is not possible for me to separate the two. Like Paul and Luke, their voices blended into one voice that challenged illegal detentions and extra judicial killings because they believed in a God who is just and good. They believed that their leaders should be good and just. They did this in sermons, in meetings with the President, in books, in their living rooms, in their prayers.

Janani is quoted as saying, we need to be Jesus to these people. Which people? The ones looking for their loved ones. The ones on the run. The ones facing injustice. The ones being hunted down. The ones no one cared about. They needed to be a voice of the distressed nation to a leader whose ears had dulled to his people.

Janani was ‘implicated in a coup’ arrested and murdered. Even in death, his memory was slandered- The government of the day said he was an escaped convict, killed in the act of escape. Festo left his cherished Uganda and became a refugee in exile. He later wrote a book, ‘I love Idi Amin.’

Church, I would like us to take a moment to consider the cost of our faith. On this day, what are you willing to stand for?

Who will be Christ to the hungry? Orphaned by corruption and greed. Who will be Christ to the thirsty? Watching the filth from our industries roll past their homes.

Who will be Christ to the naked? The victims of violence clothed in shame and ridicule.

Who will be Christ to the homeless? Carrying their boxes from street to street searching for a spot on the street to call home.

Who will be Christ to the sick? Searching for a doctor, a teacher,who is working three jobs to make ends meet? The leaders with more questions than answers. With solutions that come up short of the mark, every single time.

The despairing, crushed and lifeless youth stuck in the wheel of life rolling on. Filling up the mental wards. Trudging aimlessly from town to town.

Who will be Christ to the prisoner? Chained by impossible dreams. Crushed by unfulfilled hopes.

What is the price of your faith?

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24‭-‬26 NKJV

Moses is a witnesses of our faith, he left the passing comforts of Pharaoh’s household to suffer with God’s people. Have Pharaoh’s comforts veiled your eyes, Bride of Christ?

Will you accept the status quo or will you rise as the Son of God creation is anticipating?

Xenophobia

It means the fear of foreign or strange.

I found myself wondering how the attacks in South Africa are being categorized as xenophobic and yet there was nothing strange or foreign. The attackers and those attacked were all African.

A further search on the meaning in South Africa yielded this definition.

Xenophobia is generally defined as ‘the deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals of a recipient state.’ This definition is also used by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Xenophobia is also a manifestation of racism. Racism and xenophobia support each other and they share prejudiced discourses. They both operate on the same basis of profiling people and making negative assumptions. The profiling in the case of racism is on the basis of race, in the case of xenophobia on the basis of nationality.

This description was similar to the News images and video clips on social media.

A deeper look at this definition reveals that this is not only a South African phenomenon. The entire world has xenophobia- from building a wall along the Mexican border to Italy refusing to grant migrant ships docking privileges.

It is in Idi Amin evicting Asians from Uganda. It is in Hitler pursuing and annihilating Jews. It is in Japan’s war crimes against China in World War II.

It is Darfur, Myanmar, Rwanda, Syria.

It is Boko Haram, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab.

It is Nigeria retaliating. It is Hong Kong deporting. It is Brexit. It is the WindRush fiasco.

It is Sierra Leone. It is Biafra. It is Caledonia.

We live in a fractured society rather than a collaborative one. We deliberately choose ‘us’ against ‘them.’

James writing to Jews scattered all over the Roman Empire teaches them not to pander to these whims.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:1 NKJV

He shows them the source of all conflict, ‘I’. The rifts, schisms, fractures are crafted by a lens that only allows you to see as you see.

Take this lens off for a moment. Put on the other person’s lens, walk a mile in their shoes. Do you see their colors? Do you see their hopes? Do you see their dashed dreams? Do you see their children?

Take off their lens. Where do we go from here? Will your lens work? Maybe. Will their lens work? Maybe.

If you both see ‘together’, through one lens, what would you see? The challenge of the 21st century.

To be more inclusive. To love more, to give more, to share more, to open up more.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV

My prerogative

To be Ugandan. To be justly rewarded for my labour. To use my gifts for the benefit of my country. To live. To love. To laugh.

My prerogative to be Ugandan.

Everybody’s talking about the speech, to be more precise, the President’s labour day speech. While listening to all the divergent views, I couldn’t help but wonder if the real question, we are grappling with is not, Am I Ugandan?

What does a Ugandan look like? What does a Ugandan talk like? Like me? Like you? Like Who?Should we have certain core attributes that go beyond a document to define Ugandaness? I should think so. And while, we are at it, I know that taking a low paying job is not one of the attributes. I know this because it is not.

Ugandans love the hustle. I learnt how to drive while working in an office in Katwe, this meant that I had to go through Queensway everyday, in the period before traffic lights were working. A time where even traffic police men never treaded in that area. It was a dog eat dog ride! Highway code? The one whose bumper is ahead is the code. The hustle was real. Suffice it to say, I learnt about right of way when I moved to an office on Kampala road. Grid locks. Tight fits. Quick slips. Scratches & T cuts. Bumpers and rivets.

Then the lights were installed. Applause. Applause. Sanity on the Queensway. Lanes. Straight lines. Cramped but organized. Predictability.

Fast forward to last week, same route with working lights. The dogs are still there, eating you up, if you so much as blink! The one whose bumper is ahead is the light. Follow the car in front of you. You will be fine.

So maybe, all learner drivers just exaggerate. Let us try to catch a taxi to Mukono. A tout calls you, ‘sweetie’, ‘honeypie’, carries your bags and settles you in a taxi. He even pauses to reassure you that the taxi will get you to Mukono in the shortest time possible. You relax. Then people start getting out of the taxi, the conductor comes sends a few missives their way and slams the door. A fight ensues. A few more passengers are coaxed to the door, the now calm conductor opens and they enter. It fills up, off on your merry way. You fly off, home gets closer. Then comes Bweyogerere, everyone comes off in Bweyogerere. The conductor says you should come off as well and get onto another waiting taxi. He does this while looking away from you, usually counting change for another conductor. You are right to be confused. He cannot be talking to you. So we are absolutely clear, Bweyogerere is not Mukono. Dumbfounded. You pay him or you decide you shall let him know in no uncertain terms, this is a breach of contract. In fact, he shall hear from your lawyers! Harangue him, crucify him, the message is clear, this taxi will not be taking you to Mukono. To save the readers time, neither will the next taxi. In order to get to Mukono, you hustle.

For us, we don’t know those things, we stay in the city. Where everything is orderly. Rightttt. Nooo, not right. You decide to go shopping in the market for fresh produce, let us go to Nakasero market. Centre of town.Early morning, there is parking. It is jammed. A parking guide kindly directs you to an open space. He offers to carry your shopping as well. You step out of your car and splat! Right into tomato debris! Another shopping assistant arrives, this time waving buvera.

You: ‘Weren’t buvera banned?’

Shopping assistant: ‘Nedda nyabo, but we also have a kicupu for you.’

You select one assistant and proceed to shop. You push through the crowds while careful to jump over the potatoes, herbs, tomatoes on the road, the pineapples, bananas on the pavement. You are pushed aside by porters shouting fasi fasi. The haggling traders. the trucks backing up. The bodas zooming past you. Your assistant calmly packs and carries. No load is too heavy. You weave your way back to the car. You tip your assistant, I don’t know who his employer is. And slowly realize, as you back up that your kind parking tout disappeared and so did your side mirror.

Ugandans love nice things. Is it trendy? Is it fashionable? Is it nice? It is available in Uganda. It is not in the shops, I have a friend who ships goods on a weekly basis, you just order online. I am going to Dubai in two weeks. I have a friend in China even as we speak. My neighbour is in Jo’burg on holiday. You shall have it next week. It is worth the hustle.

Ugandans love to party, oba that word is too much. Some words have no literal translation into English. Let us work with party. There will always be food and drinks and lots of people, usually uninvited at any event. Even the service providers join in the party, sometimes they make speeches. O Uganda, may God uphold thee!

And how could I forget, they love to pray. Every meeting, any meeting, even lunch, let us pray. Agenda item number one, let us pray. Are you happy? Let us pray. Are you sick? We go for this fellowship. Do you need a visa? Pastor so and so, helped my friend get a visa.

Ugandans are friendly. Everyone is my friend, I just got introduced to you 5 mins ago. Come and meet my friend. Sometimes, you end up related because you have mutual relations. Your cousin’s aunt’s neighbour of that place where they lived when they were young, yes, that one, they live near me! Eh…vigourous handshaking, exchange of phone numbers. BFFs.

Because of the hustle, the numerous friends, events rarely start on time. To start on time, include this in your program. It is important that everyone is friends before the event starts. Everyone has time to recover from the hustle, polish the muddy shoes, realign the tie or scarf. Touch up the makeup. And lastly, but not least, to tell anyone who cares to listen all about your hustle; the one to get to the event, the one to get the right outfit for the event. This has been well received at national level, the guest of honor always arrives when everyone is friends.

Low pay is detrimental to being Ugandan. Then again, it is only my opinion. In the grand scheme of things like freedom, liberty and justice for all, what is low pay.

Chasing Mr. Right, Ending up with what’s Left

I decided to break the silence; there was no one left to speak for me.

In the time since this happened, I have found many comrades in the struggle. It’s in the sigh, the way they hang their heads, the way their fingers caress their cheeks, the way they hug their shoulders, the way tears well up in their eyes but do not pour out onto their cheeks. The shaking of their heads, the limpness in their limbs, the tone of voice, the staccato speech. The absence of adjectives.

It started- I was five years old, they stopped us at a roadblock on the way to Kabale- systematically stripped all the adults of anything they deemed valuable. And my sweets. Who steals candy from a baby? Mr. Right.

We hired him to guard our home when thieves overrun the University’s defences, he didn’t show up that night. We were robbed clean. He didn’t show up again, but we were given a replacement by Mr. Right. Why a replacement? Sshhh, Mr. Right is always right.

Then he was assigned to guard my daddy to keep him from harm’s way. But we found daddy in a hospital, another roadblock, badly injured though not fatally. It could have been worse, is all Mr. Right said.

We came back from burying mummy and again we had been robbed. Mr. Right needs airtime. Mr. Right wants to interview all the staff at home, he ends up intimidating them. Mr. Right needs facilitation. Mr. Right, is it possible for you to do your job quietly and leave us to mourn? Shhhhh, Mr. Right is always right. He has a very important job to do.

Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic. Lewis Caroll

The hassle -Madam, your seat belt is not on; Madam, you are over speeding, here you see the machine says so; Madam, aren’t you too pregnant to drive? Madam, it’s very hot today. Mr. Right please, don’t belabour the point. Is it reasonable for us to use the same time it takes Toyota to manufacture an entire car to “discuss” the use of a mere component?

Yes, the madness got to me.

So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah
Psalms 55:6‭-‬7 NKJV

He raised his arm, as I drove by with my children, I stopped. He systematically begins finding fault with everything about me, he strips me down, shreds my integrity and crumples my dignity like used wrapping paper. I play it down, my children are in the car.

Finally, he latches onto he said-she said like a desperate man falling into a chasm. It’s his word against mine. No one stops to assist, not even the bodaboda man. Girl don’t you know your place, you don’t argue with Mr. Right. He is Right, just do as he says! In sync, and like a well choreographed dance, each one dances to his tune and they move off stage. I cannot dance any more, Mr. Right? I have only two LEFT feet. The music plays on.

I run back to my safe place, my car. He followed me, where are you going? I am Mr. Right, you cannot leave till I say so.

It is time to take back my life, I choose to take it back. I try to start my car, his hand swiftly grabs my hand and my key. I am not allowing you to take my life away again, Ssebo. I fight with all I have. He breaks my key chain, takes the key. Strips my car of its plates.

Mummy, mummy what is happening? The hammering is too loud. Mummy, are you going to prison? Mummy, Mummy, what is Mr. Right doing? Hide, hide, Where can we hide?

Satisfied with his handiwork, he puffs his chest out, gives me back the keys to the car. But it’s not my car, it’s damaged goods. Damaged like my soul by Mr. Right.

Mummy, I heard the car crying.

I can hear the sounds of Jessie Reyez’s Gatekeeper https://youtu.be/_0G2TmuDjL8

I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord

More than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
Psalms 130:5‭-‬6 NKJV