Tuesday, 30 October 2012

LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI, THE FROG CROAKING AT YOUR BACKYARD, GIVE HIM A FAIR HEARING

Dear Bamugunki,
There is an old African proverb which says that when a man dips his fingers to the bottom of a bowl, he is not looking for soup but for something else, That African saying conforms to the fact that the frogs leaping in our backyards don’t come to sing our children bedtime lullabies but escaping from what they may perceive as a dangerous threat to their habitant, the number of amphibians has increased drastically from my freshmen days to today around the dwellings of kikoni and what captivates me is that we don’t give them a fair hearing or perhaps listen attentively to their croaky complaints.
Whereas I might have had an opportunity to grow up around the ‘Kinyarwanda’ swamps in Entebbe and had a beautiful experience as children, we would hunt for lung fish in the swamp mud, then go on an expeditious collection spree of rare and nutritious assortment of fruits growing at the swamp edges, before returning home with full burgeoning stomachs heaping praises on our adventurous nature, this trend is no more among the kids in that area because the ‘Kinyarwanda’ swamp is eaten up by semi-permanent houses cropping up at supersonic speed , It  can be argued that toads and frogs of our childhood days had strong energetic croaks than their relatives of today, I don’t have the scientific facts but for those of you that have lived long enough can bear me witness
In my kikoni abode just off the dirty stream of water that wells from the slums of Nakulabye through the swampy areas just after the new grand global hotel and the kikoni police post through a labyrinth of complicated housing units passing under the refurbished kikoni-kasubi road all the way to the swamps below Lady Nafisa hostel is a revelation of an ecosystem failure where species of all kinds especially the water dwelling are struggling to cope up with the increasing population pressure exerted by humans consequently affecting their natural habitant.
Sometimes when the rains fall, many a village farmer will be exhilarated at the prospect of resuming their usual farming schedules but don’t tell that to a dweller in bwaise, at that time of the year the media is awash with news of flooding and collapse of structures due to water movements around the kawempe bwaise areas, this unfriendliness of the water which lead to humorists coining yet another moniker ‘water is life only if you don’t live in bwaise’ has been attributed to the rampant settlement in swampy areas leading to the distortion of the water flow pattern and thus flooding.
I believe this is time to increase societies moral obligation towards the environment right from elementary schools for instance the context of learning in our educational institutions should change to make the environment an integral part of the normal teaching in all the subjects from secondary all through university rather than as an isolated course unit in a university program for environmental and engineering students. The environment provides the basis for life and is a major determinant of the quality of life and therefore it should be part of all education so that all citizens understand that we are an integral part of nature and that we co-exist with all the other species in the biosphere.
Practices such as trashing in public facilities or damping in streams and wetlands and even construction of structures in wetlands can be avoided in future by educating the younger generation on environment related issues.
The National Environment Management Authority(N.E.M.A) on the bigger part should be capacitated to indiscriminately prevent would be settlers in the swamps from doing so and if the so called investor as many would love to call them refuse to heed NEMA’S guidance should have their structures abolished and the wetlands re-gazzeted, or even prosecute offenders this way the country may increase the quality of life of its citizens, improve on the environment and most importantly energize our ambitions to becoming a first world country by 2050 after all first world countries take good care of the environment, don’t they?
The project to reclaim the lost green cover from greedy patrons of this country needs a deliberate intervention from the government and all stake holders, appointing a serious executive officer at NEMA who will employ a no no-sense attitude towards enforcing policy, who will always be accountable to the appointing authority and will not bow to pressure at all times, otherwise Madam Jenifer Musisi has set precedence and in so doing we will be giving our amphibian neighbor’s a  hope of a bright new era, who knows we will not need to send our grand-children to the Wild Life Education Centre (zoo) to see frogs and toads in just 100 years from now.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI, A UNIVERSITY DEGREE IS SO CHEAP,WHY ARE YOU STILL STUDYING?

Dear Bamugunki,
On Monday after a tip off from one lecturer, the police raided the senate which is the highest academic decision making body of Makerere University and arrested two academic registrar’s employees for fraud, tempering with students marks and alteration of academic documents, word has it that a certain lecturer while going about his business in town bumped into a former student who had  failed some core courses in a comfy office, the lecture knowing that no one would be employed to do that job without a good class of degree smelt a rat, a fat one at that and decided to cross check his records to see if the re-known student had passed the courses they picked retakes in, to his chagrin the student had not passed and was not qualified for graduation and immediately blew the whistle.
The police later on realized that students conspired with the officials in the senate to alter marks on the former’s transcripts before graduation at a fee, according to information I obtained from friends who I would not name, it is most likely that the entire process of reversing your grade could cost one million Uganda shillings or less.
The average cost of educating a university graduate in Uganda stands a staggering seven zero figure, at the college of engineering design art and technology a student pursuing an engineering degree parts with about three million shillings tuition only in a year and for the four years they are studying their course they would have paid close to thirteen million only tuition and functional fees neglecting the cost of feeding, accommodation, academic secretarial work, scholastic materials to mention but a few
The grading system in Makerere is such that any marks obtained below 50 is a failure and necessitates a retake, the time required to prepare for a course and write and pass examinations with a grade of at least 70% is immense and that plainly speaking is no mean feat, and if I chanced on an opportunity to have my grades changed to only A’s and B’s I would have no whims at all, after all everyone in the country does the same, from learnt professors to laymen
I would rather part with about seven million to have a first class university degree in Business Administration and save myself from the stress that comes with writing seemingly trivial tests, the unproductive time while commuting from my kikoni abode to the overcrowded class room at COBAMS, then I would seek for a job and thereafter enroll for a short certificate course if necessary for my job and earn my monthly hefty sums while my colleagues are left sprawling the university in pursuit for their hard earned degrees, I am quite sure companies do not conduct back ground checks on their employees that way I may be able to survive on my job without any trouble after all almost everybody in the country at any one moment has tried to earn a living by dubious and thieving methods, from government officials, bank executives, restaurateurs, students and even taxi conductors
My greatest disappointment comes in at the failure by the university authorities to organize a press conference to do a public image campaign aimed at re furbishing the much tainted image of the Harvard of Africa, sacking the Academic registrar or even the vice chancellor academics taking responsibility of the blame otherwise the world over would have a derailed perspective of the ivory tower as a training ground for dishonest, lazy and uninspired graduates who lack the capacity to create an impact in their respective areas of study
Comrade you know how hard it is to come to study at Makerere university, you spent quite a number of barrels of midnight oil to peddle the ivory tower dream, you shunned quite a lot of those night clubs drink-ups and studied really hard to make it to the epitome of the intellectual pyramid and yet realize that is even easier at times if you can teach yourself how to do things the Makerere way, so why are you still studying hard after knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel, maybe because you are one of the few people left in this our country who appreciate the price of hard work and believe in the thrill of honest achievement.

Monday, 22 October 2012

LETTER TO MY FRIEND IN KIKONI,THE 60% TUITION POLICY IS DISCRIMINATIVE

Dear Bamugunki,
In line with the College of Engineering,Design,Art and Technology's college registrar’s letter dated 24th September 2012 in which he stated that all private sponsored students in the college where to complete payments of 60% of their tuition before the end of this month that is September for them to be eligible to undertake tests and continuous assessment tests,I find the greatest compelling force to write to your my dear friend
With great disappointment i clutch my pen between by sweaty fingers and i pull out my old Budget book that contains Dr.Bennie Mangeni's ICT summaries and search through until i find some empty pages to vent my frustration on,The private students fraternity in the college condemns in unequivocal terms the discrimination exhibited at this award winning college of the great Makerere University considering the fact that students at other colleges namely CoBAMS ,Health sciences etc continue to write their tests and continuous assessment without any whims
The majority of the students in the university are privately sponsored students who rely on their parents and relations for tuition to pursue their studies, this move will be a pain in the neck of the students because this is a time when many parents are struggling to keep up with soaring prices in a pretty doggy economy
The guild president in his earlier communications to the student body stated that the new vice chancellor professor Ddumba Ssentamu had okayed the idea of putting the 60% tuition policy on hold for this semester as it was found out that the policy was enacted in 2005 not last year contrary to popular belief
Makerere University has time immemorial offered its students a great chance to exercise their freedoms and liberties and it is in this regard that we find it necessary to clench our fists in great opposition towards this callous discrimination therefore we do hope the college conducts itself in complete harmony with the rest of the university because it is not an autonomous institution from Makerere University
The news that the Chancellor had appointed an understanding senile Professor to preside over the Makerere populance was like a sigh of relief to me,i hurriedly kept my ears open for as long as i had the news anchor at K-fm read that 'Dumba was the new Baryamureba' but this time around iam beginning to regret why instead of solve physics puzzles i was eargely waiting to hear that news
Friend with the changing tides,I am afraid the university will come out tough next term though and hit us perennial late payers like a hungry villager smash a mosquito feeding on his skinny flesh.

ADDRESS ON POSITIVE LIVING FOR FRESHERS AT THE FRESHERS SYMPOSIUM ON 20TH OCTOBER 2012 AT THE SCHOOL OF PHARMACY CONFERENCE HALL


The guest of honour, Members of parliament, District officials, Business community, civil servants and private practioners, MASU members ladies and gentlemen you are most welcome
I congratulate all the fresh men and women who have been admitted in Makerere University this year and all the continuing students for their successes in various fields of study and avenues of life
I would like to start my deliberations with a short story about the very popular proverb ‘reaping what you sow’
Once upon a time, an emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided something different.
He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you."
The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today, one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!"
One boy named Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and planted the seed and watered it carefully.
Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about 3 weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks went by. Still nothing.
6 months went by; Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing.He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection.
Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot but his Mother said he must be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his Mother was right.
He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kinds laughed at him.
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"
All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down.
He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you.
Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant patience, you will reap improvements.
If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.
But:
If you plant dishonesty, you will reap distrust.
If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness.
If you plant bitterness, you will reap isolation.
If you plant gossip, you will reap enemies.
If you plant worries, you will reap wrinkles.
If you ask most people what is their one major objective in life, they would probably give you a vague answer, such as, "I want to be successful, be happy, earn a great university degree," and that is it. They are all wishes, here are some of the ways we would achieve a successful life around campus

Live a focused life
On the best sunny day, the most powerful magnifying glass will not light paper if you keep moving the glass. But if you focus and hold it, the paper will light up. That is the power of concentration.
Have a goal
Suppose you have all the football eleven players, enthusiastically ready to play the game, all charged up, and then someone took the goal post away. What would happen to the game? There is nothing left. How do you keep score? How do you know you have arrived?
Goals must be smart
S--must be specific. For example, "I want to get a first class degree." This is wishful thinking. It becomes a goal when I pin myself down to "I will get a first class degree by earning a course grade of 80 and above always."M--must be measurable. If we cannot measure it, we cannot accomplish it. Measurement is a way of monitoring our progress.
A--must be achievable. Achievable means that it should be out of reach enough to be challenging but it should not be out of sight, otherwise it becomes disheartening.
R—must be realistic. A person who wants to lose 50 pounds in 30 days is being unrealistic.
T—must be time-bound. There should be a starting date and a finishing date
Know where you are going/want to be
A man was traveling and stopped at an intersection. He asked an elderly man, "Where does this road take me?" The elderly person asked, "Where do you want to go?" The man replied, "I don't know." The elderly person said “Then take any road. What difference does it make?" When we don't know where we are going, any road will take us there.
Don’t be pulled down by what others say

So you have tried something and you have failed numerous times. You may have been told you have no talent, aren't cut out for "this business" or are never going to "make it in this line of work"The vice president of Columbia pictures told actor Harrison Fordthat he was never going to make it in the business, John Grisham’s first book was rejected by 12 publishing houses and sixteen agents, The Beatles were turned down by a recording company saying "We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out" , Charles Darwin was told by his father that he would amount to nothing and be a disgrace to himself and his family , Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he "lacked imagination and had no original ideas" , Thomas Edison was told by a teacher he was "too stupid to learn anything" , Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade , Albert Einstein wasn't able to speak until he was almost 4 years old and his teachers said he would "never amount to much" , Isaac Newton did poorly in school and failed at running the family farm, F. W. Woolworth was not allowed to wait on customers in the store he worked in because "he didn't have enough sense"

Stop thinking tiny thoughts
It is not what you are that is holding you back in life,it is what you think you are not,it is what is going on in your inner life that is preventing you from having all that you want
We are afraid to dream bigger dreams and do the things we fear we lose our vision and spend the rest of our days in limited zones of movement
Too many people lead very small lives, most of the limitations that hold you back from your dreams are self-imposed so stop thinking tiny thought and dream big for a change in west nile
Increase your value.
When you graduate and get a job or create your own job,the wages or any form of compensation derived will not depend on how hard you work but on how much value you add to the world around you
As a prospective engineer if I get employed after school and I get paid five million Ugandan shillings, I get this money not because I drove to work 30 days but because I have added five million worth of perceived value in 30 days
Monetary reward you receive is determined not by how long you work but by how much value you add
A Makerere university trained medical doctor may not be better and smarter than a Kisekka market steel welder, but because the doctor has accumulated specialized knowledge than a steel welder and there are only a few people who can do what he does so he is considered more valuable in the market place
Develop your talents
Even the weakest among the humans has a gift that is unique and when used well will be a blessing to human kind
There’s an abundance of potential and ability waiting to be awakened within us if we will only allow it to see the light of day
If you don’t use the best within you to its fullest capacity then you are doing yourself,the world and those within it who would have benefitted from your unique talents a disservice
Love your course
The most successful people in history lived satisfying lives because they loved what they did, I know of some student from westnile that got admitted in Makerere University to study Bachelor of Arts in Arts and while in second year he quit on admission that he didn’t like his course, he wanted something else
Be inspired
Being filled with a deep sense of inspiration and commitment to making a difference in the world is an important attribute of success
When you level of inspiration is below what you know it should be,start spending time with people who are passionate about what they are doing in their lives
I know of some man who scored 40 in ordinary level but after advanced level he had got 24 points and got admitted to Makerere University, he didn’t do that without a dose of inspiration