Two hours in Mogadishu

When I say I love traveling, my inner self feels convinced. To many traveling may mean boarding a plane to a place a thousand miles away or probably sitting on  a bus to go on a long journey, but for me, it means refusing to sitting in one place for more than 30 minutes.

This is not because of the kind of work I do, but may be because of my nature – I wouldn’t want to call myself restless but for lack of a better word , Yes! Restless!

Enough

Of course I got excited when my editor’s call came through that I should organise all my travel documents I would be covering the Air Uganda maiden Flight to Somalia.

Did you just say Somalia? The question resounded in my excited mind.

Picture the excitement and honour. I knew this was going to be fun but of course it was going to involve enduring a Yellow Fever vaccination injection which for years I had been reluctant to take.

“All programmes cancelled. I must get this vaccination done in the least time possible.” I said to myself.

In a few hours I  gladly surrendered my upper arm to the nurse’s palms.

So with all set, all I waited for was the D-day. I wasn’t excited because I was gonna fly, travel or something, the vigour stemmed from the fact that I was going to Somalia – one of  the countries on my  ‘to – visit list.’

My keen Interest in Somalia is also linked to the recent happenings in there, that I have always just read about in the news. I wanted to know how it feels to be in a place like one that is just recovering from insurgency – The journalistic Ego (Of, yeah I once was in Somalia)

I am simply being honest. I did not care if the trip was just for a few hours , just like it was – All I longed to do was to step feet in SOMALIA.

Well, at the eve of the flight, I retired home at the usual hours, and went to bed at about 11pm. I was meant to wake up at 2 and get ready for the 5.30am flight. I was up at 1.30am.

Quick through the process, at 5.30am, the much anticipated Journey commenced. For 2hr and 10 minutes I was catching sight of God’s beautiful space creation.

It was nothing short of Aaaaaammmmmmaaaaaazzzziiiiiing! Oweeeeesssoooooommmmeeeee!

When the hostess announced that we were landing…

The plane hovered over the waters, and soon we were on ground – Safely.

One word – Ancient

The smell of a semi desert.

An airport/ Military base – 9 of every 10 people you set eyes on, are dressed in military fatigue.

Place is guarded more than I had ever witnessed. The beauty was that the biggest number of the AU troops on ground hail from Uganda – they too were as excited to see an Air Uganda Plane jet in.  I keenly remember on of them telling me

“ Eh!, this has never happened, my heart has skipped seeing air Uganda plane land, ayaaaaaa, this is soooo goood.”

With these words I felt the joy and excitement of a ugandan who has been away from home for the at least eighteen months.

The tight security at the seemingly ancient airport for me revealed how much it may not be safe to travel further into Somalia, although the security operatives on ground kept assuring us that all was well.

The head of the Uganda People’s Defence Force contingency told me “People are happy, people are traveling, construction is going on, business is growing, Guns are silent here in Mogadishu.”

“Guns are Silent” that was the gist of the statement – what any entrant into Somalia would love to listen to. It made me feel at home.

And when these Soldiers walked to me giving greetings in our native Luganda language, I even fell more at peace.

About two hours in Mogadishu’s international airport and all I wanted to do was go even further – Oh I wish I could. I all wishes were horses…

Two hours well – Setting eyes on the Somalian President, interacting with Au troops, getting burnt under the scorching morning sunshine ( as If I even cared) and of course using my hand camera to document my first ever trip to Somalia.

In the few hours, I cannot forget to say my head was veiled. Somalia, wait for my Mega Return!

Yours Truely Uwitware

African Blood.

The Little Ethiopian Angel

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Bright and beautiful,

Wrapped in a long cream dress,

Strapped with gold finishings

Complimenting her little curves

Oh! the Little Ethiopian Angel

Corn rows run through her head

Like little meandering routes through a tropical forest

Her little eyes focusing on her little fingers

Her Little fingers banging her little African Drum

Oh! the little Ethiopian Angel

Every thing about her is little and beautiful

Her little glory shaped eyes,

Her little humble nose

Her little kiss spilling lips

Oh! You little Ethiopian Angel

Looking at her drives my soul crazy

Awakens the African Spirit in me

I want to hug her the African way

I want to add her to the list of my favourites

Oh! the little African Angel

I Love you Mother Africa

I love your fruits

Nothing beats you mama Africa

Long live Mama, Long live Africa.

Kissing his Shadow

Have you ever kissed a shadow

The shadow of the one you love

The one you love but have never met

Never heard, never held, never felt.

 

Head is buried in palms

Mind in deep contemplation

Imagination swaying in the air

I can see him, I can hold him, I can feel him.

 

Caressing his shadow

Feeling the great works of an artist

Fingers appreciating a craftsman’s work

Feeling each bit of his curves.

 

A Feeling I cannot explain

Happens in a world deeper than I know

Only with eyes closed

Not a dream though

 

I tremble yet I smile

I sing yet I drop a tear

What could this be?

Someone tell me…

Have you ever?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its been Nine Months

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When I say nine months, first thing in many of your minds is Pregnancy. Yes and no!

Last May I conceived, I was however not sure if it was a boy or a girl but I was sure it would be Joy at the end of the nine-months long journey.

In fact, my belly has for this time through beamed with joy, notwithstanding a few aches here and there.

Now, with only two days to deliver my long awaited baby I am joyful still, but sad too.

One, I am happy because I have successfully come to the end of my gestation period but also sad because I will miss the goodies that happened to me while the pregnancy lasted.

It was just yesterday, I can still smell the mood when I traveled to Nairobi to meet a delegation of fellow young journalists from around East Africa, to put together brains for career enhancement.

I can still remember how I met beautiful and handsome young wits whose names am compelled to mention because of they have been a significant lot in my journey hence this far.

In no order of preference, Wahida, Beryl, Mercy, Silvia, Goodluck, Robert, Laillah, Sharon, Athuman, Emmanuel, Mbashiru, Ingrid, Wisdom, Warothe, Peter, Daria, Kennedy and of course Olive.

Our people have been the best brothers and sisters I ever met besides my biological ones. I cannot but be grateful to my other Kenyan family members Maurice, Charity, Alex, Joy, Joseph, Prosper, Issa, Tom, Ray, and Sam who have been there for me.

But of course how can I forget my other buddies Kevins, Griffinz, Quest and Watson, you made me feel at home guys.

It’s surprising how time flies it has been fair yet unfair to me. It feels like I am waking up from a dream that has gone on for this entire while.

It is been a long yet short time, a time to bond with people who have been totally supportive and been there for me in all situations, while I smiled and while I frowned.

A great nine months of learning to deal with egos and temperaments from all walks of life,  but above all a time to climb to greater heights.

If there is something to regret in life, it can never be the walk I took nine months ago. I agree it has had its tough times but I have been able to overcome them with patience and persistence.

Besides, the tough times that there was, were always overcome by the Joy that the people around me gave.

At the end of the day now that there has been no abortion, I can attest to the sweetness of the fruits of this period- they are incredibly honeyed.

My pregnancy is now ripe, like a woman in labour I cry with pains of missing people who have become part of my life for this long, but grinning with excitement knowing that this is just the beginning of another level in life.

The programme has been one of the greatest achievements I will forever boast about, a chance to challenge and be challenged, to learn stuff beyond my understanding and to widen the scope of my knowledge.

It has been hard work but fun too.

All ye good people, there is only one thing, Go, Go and Go, fear no evil and road blocks, you have got all that it takes to shake the world and make it a better place.

God be with you till we meet again.

With Love Uwitware.

 

Just Beneath Mulago hill…

Kampala stands on seven hills.

One of them is where Uganda’s referral hospital (Mulago Hospital) stands.

we all believe hills are synonymous with beauty, most times including the surrounding areas (at least as far as I can recall for the ones I have known.)

Yes, but there is something rather unusual about this one.  Between Mulago and another slum Kamwokya lies a very small slum, It is not common, you may be hearing it for the first time, even when you know Mulago, am sure only a few of us can locate it.

It has a very complicated name (Butakabukirwa).

I will tell you why I know it. When I was a child, I frequented the place, because I had an uncle who had a small business there. I was shocked just sometime I was passing by with a friend and decided to branch off, he could not believe what he saw.

He told me “Is there a such a place here in Kampala?”

I told him, “You never dare to find out.”

That said, I took a few pics, which I will let tell the story because I have already written a piece somewhere about it but felt I should share this photography with you.

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Somewhere in East Africa

I love you Mother Uganda

 

Somewhere in East Africa

Sits a small but sweet Nation

Also famously called the ‘Pearl of Africa’

The home of all beauty

The Nation that holds the future of its citizens

 

Somewhere in East Africa

A child was taught to love and respect her motherland.

The land upon which she was sired and reared

With utmost respect, love and compassion

To honour that land that feeds her

 

Somewhere in East Africa

Someone loves Black Yellow and Red

Somewhere in the silent East Africa

A person is in love with a Crested Crane

And another in intimacy with green and a Lion

 

Somewhere in East Africa

A three-bright coloured National flag is raised higher rich to the eyes

A beautifully curved map is at citizen’s fingertips.

The coat of arms is a picture that can be drawn even as they fall asleep

The national anthem melodies are like honey on their lips.

 

Somewhere in East Africa

A Nation is in jubilation

Somewhere in East Africa

A country is 50 years of Independence

Somewhere in East Africa

There is a Nation called UGANDA

 

Congratulations Motherland Uganda

With love greeting as you celebrate 50

May God uphold you

I lay my future in you

Somewhere in East Africa

 

30 minutes at the mortuary

My daring self never ceases to amuse me.

Last Friday, it got stubborn again, this time however for something a nightmare to many.

I set out to go to the Nairobi city mortuary, with two other colleagues, we decided to stroll the distance and finally we were at a place, not deserted, but for lack of a better word, de-congested.

Speak of a mortuary and you will be surprised the changes on people’s faces; mere frowns and sulks.

I know too well that as you read this, you are already wondering what I was up to.

Walk with me; let’s get into the mortuary. Caution: if you have a weak heart, don’t dare get in, ok?

Now pick your hankie and make sure you cover your nose properly, the stench here is horrible. And don’t even worry about the flies, they have a home here and they will welcome you even before you think of stepping inside the gate.

Right, let’s enter, one step in the gate, you do not want to let the other leg in but courage, let’s go, it is only for the adventurous.

Hey, do not throw up, I also have nausea. I also know you want to spit, for that, feel free because I cannot avoid it either.

Now, look to your right, you see those ladies?  They are also covering their noses and mouths, oh, look at the other one, she is even spitting, so you are not alone.

There you go, look under that tree; see that man in a white medical coat with gloves in his hands and gum boots in his feet? He also has a pad on his nose and mouth.

And at the door to the mortuary, that man, plus look at that woman in the same, she is freely eating, she should be used, looks like she works here.

The stench is also terrible for them.

The place is green although the breeze is contaminated.

The ladies sitting in the compound, and the other people you see around either work here or have come to look for bodies of their beloved ones, who they think could have died and brought here by police.

There is no laughing here. You laugh, you inhale, you smile, and your teeth are being contaminated too.

When that warden opens the door wide, a huge filthy smell comes out, in bulk you can literally feel it, you get nausea.

But wait, let me ask him if we can get in, but if we cannot hold our throats for a minute while we are outside, then what will happen when we get in, we might probably just die.

Courage- let us go

Can we get in please?

“No you cannot unless you have permission from the office to search for a body here,” he says

So those who have permission get in, huge pieces of clothes covering their noses-just imagine what they are about to see.

Freezers habouring dead bodies, both rotten and bolted. There are about 600 bodies here; you have to search until you find yours.

Every freezer is designated to carry 4 corpses, but when the numbers are high like the case is, over 10 can be packed in one.

“But bodies stay for a long time, many times people come to look for their relatives after 3 month, they are no longer bodies but maggots and that is the stench,” says the gentleman in a white coat

What about the drugs administered to preserve them?

“You know these drugs can only work for a short while and they do not stop decay,” he replies

Now, according to this gentle man, there is an average of 10 bodies coming in everyday, however on days like when there are accidents, the numbers go to about 25 and above.

These are people that police picks up on the roads, whose relatives are not known.

Ok, now, I really want to throw up, we need to get out of here, I cannot take it anymore, my air is stinking, my clothes too and I feel filthy, I just want shower.

I have to miss lunch because I cannot imagine eating while I smell the stench back there.

Back home, I take a warm soothing bath, I still smell it. Why did I go there?

“You are so daring,” my inner self reminds me.

Welcome back, was the journey worth?