Welcome 2022

Watching a few comical reviews (Trevor Noah and others) of the year 2021 lifted my spirits after a season I wasn’t “feeling”… blame it on adulting hard. The thoughts of the many things I want to do or want God to bless me with sort of dampened my mood as we crossed over into the new year. Just a case of ‘me’ not wanting ‘me’ to live for the moment. Even in a house full of 39 people (I kid you not), I found myself many times lost in this forest of thought, issuing plastic smiles left right and center.

Thank you Lord for not cutting me off: Ugandans are interesting people, making a joke about the many people who would be “cutting off fake friends” since many often cut off fake friends at the end of the year. It’s funny how comical they made it seem, some of us didn’t feature in the many WhatsApp status appreciation posts which meant that we had been cut off (I didn’t view all statuses though). Well cut off or not, regardless we move, and oh, Jesus hasn’t cut you off.

Ushering in the new year got me reviewing last year’s resolutions, and after some conversations with my sister, I decided not to make them this year. Yes, I will plan and all, but maybe part of the reasons I wasn’t feeling the season is the fact that my accomplishments for the year weren’t among the resolutions and this made me focus on what I failed to achieve and made me appreciate God less for the things He had done for me. Thank you Lord for everything, including surviving the delta variant.

In a nutshell, one door (2021) has closed, another (2022) has opened and its time to grab it by the horns and move in the year in Faith. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I always follow up this scripture with James 2. All I’m saying is, living a faithless life will do you no good.

Do enjoy your new year, and may God be with you in all the ups and downs of the year (just being realistic here). May God bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

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December bus ride.

A sudden gust of wind, and the roar of the engine, a good sign that the large four wheeler has set off, the rushing wind gets mightier with every extra mile,

One can never have enough of the hills and valleys, and the greenery only makes it perfect, 

The levelled swamps looking like a perfectly done playing field,

Outside, People going about their business, different people with different needs, wants and cultures, You can never get enough of it!

The four wheeler with it’s rapidly changing playlist, from choir hymns to dancehall, from reggae to oldies, all to keep those within entertained 

Mother with baby, husband, wife, single, dating and child, all minding their businesses, going to the same location, everyone with their own agenda, 

The ticket checks, the marketeers selling a wide range of items, from sweets, to soaps, to medicine which cures diabetes, ulcers and much more.

Listening to “arithmetic” and “the thief” by Brooke Fraser takes you away, you are in this triple cocktail of places, taking in what is happening outside the vehicle, seeing what is happening inside and then the place of deep contemplation because of Brooke Fraser’s sweet voice. All this makes the 3, 4 or 5 hours bearable, 

Also the need to doze off but the fear of waking up without your property makes you sleep with one eye open.

Brief stop for the short calls of nature invite a horde of merchants wielding juicy chicken and beef pieces on sticks, ladies calling for the travelers to buy their gonja (a special type of roasted banana), gents calling for those who buy the gonja to buy drinks that go with them, it’s a struggle for the same customers, and the best man has to win, right there is a life’s lesson if one is keen.

Travelling Uganda is a thrill, don’t get me started on the game park visits, that’s a story for another day, but know this, if you’re a traveler like me, you learn to appreciate God’s power and might, to create such a large universe, and so many people, with different desires, and all happy in their own capacity, this God is amazing.

World AIDS day Heroes

1st December every year takes us to the place of deep contemplation about the lives lost to the HIV scourge and those we know who are infected and affected with HIV. Having worked in the field for a while now, this day is pretty emotional. Someone called it the Philly Bongole Lutaaya month since December in Uganda usually starts with us listening to his music (the famous “alone and frightened”) and ends with his famous Christmas music collection as well. Today I write about the day I spent time with two game changers in the field of HIV, two men who have singlehandedly fought the good fight, I do plan on having more of these interactions with them…

Beating the morning traffic to arrive early at my meeting’s venue, there he is, humble as ever, Clad in his green very neatly done church robes. With a huge smile he greets me, I reply awkwardly wondering what to ask or say next to someone I’ve seen and heard about from a distance, but now have the privilege of sitting next to him, shoulder to shoulder. This was renowned Ugandan HIV Advocate Rev. Gideon Byamugisha… (you must be wondering but we all have our own definitions of people we dub “celebrities” or heroes). This man gracefully articulated matters concerning HIV during the meeting, shared his experiences, taught us about the moral fabric and HIV spread in the church and many other eye-opening sessions. As the first religious leader who publicly disclosed his HIV status over 25 years ago, his experience is one that all should listen to.

Rev. Gideon Byamugisha

As we geared up to start the meeting, again I’m awe struck, I see a man who’s articles I often read in the New Vision newspaper as a young lad growing up (I told him before I got to know he was HIV positive his articles often defended this group of people living with HIV and he dispelled many myths that the readers had on HIV), one who even made me want to join the medical world (together with Dr. Musisi our family doctor). Another guru in the world of HIV advocacy, and a voice of hope to all who encounter him, the one and only Dr. Stephen Watiti from NAFOPHANU (National Forum of PLHIV Networks in Uganda). Now a book publisher on the subject, this man helped show that even people living with HIV can still be very relevant in the work force since he was the first medical doctor to come and publicly disclose his status.

Dr. Stephen Watiti

The meeting started and the geniuses in the room made me sink in my chair, throwing a point or two and sinking back again. The room was filled with religious/spiritual leaders (I learnt that some don’t want to be called “religious” leaders), medical people, social workers, UNESCO, SRH promoters and many others. It was the development of the religious leaders’ tool kit for sexuality education (fancy name but we were just developing a guide for religious leaders to incorporate some sexuality education in their engagements with the youth in their congregation).

Later that day, I had a chat with these two great men, and had such a rich conversation about HIV stigma in Uganda, the dealings of the church with discordant couples, the LGBTIQ in Uganda, politics and the church, among others. (Handle me well and I give you the details 😊). Sitting with these two great elders can only humble you enough. Discussions with those who have gone before you are usually real eye openers on a number of issues that leave you yearning for more, and as the deer panteth you seek to draw as much knowledge as you can from them. Your perceptions on many issues become clearer as you’re getting views from different angles.

As a lover of quality conversation, my day was made. Two people who have been ridiculed, pointed at, laughed at, labelled and many other bad things done to them but have stood the test of time all for the purpose of setting a good foundation for the coming generation, the HIV free generation. May God satisfy them with long life. In this Philly Bongole Lutaaya moth, let us walk the talk and see that we make this year’s world AIDS day theme a reality; END STIGMA, END AIDS AND END PANDEMICS. If we believe we can, we are already half way to achieving it.

3 Course meal

There she is, beautiful as ever,

Each color she wears blends perfectly with her countenance,

She invites her lover, he simply can’t resist,

He comes and takes a bite,

Can’t control himself thereafter,

Finally, she thinks to herself, “it’s my time to shine”

Miss salad rejoices, but in a split second,

He suddenly moves on to his next, making her his ex.

His next was big, juicy and curvaceous,

She was steaming hot, the millennials would say,

She’s irresistible,

Her scent leaves him begging,

Her chocolate brown skin leaves all yearning,

They just can’t get enough of her,

He starts his feast and munches on her,

He hums in enjoyment, to a tune of pleasure,

And when he was done with her, he moved on!

Miss chick is confused, what does he really want?

There she was, the fairest of them all,

She was nicknamed black forest,

She had a lot going on but that made her the sweetest,

She always leaves a lasting mark on all,

She stays strong in their memories,

With every bite he closes his eyes,

Taking in her sweetness and flavor, in deep contemplation,

He does it again, he moves on!

She can’t believe it!

Her Knight in shining armor moves on again,

All these ladies sit there jaw dropped,

Suddenly, their adrenaline shoots up,

This time, “we won’t blow it” they tell themselves,

As they set themselves to impress him,

Maybe today he will stay,

He goes on again and again like he previously did,

They sit there downcast, questioning their looks,

Wondering if they’ll ever find their lovers,

PS: Many men do this to the different women they encounter in their lives, a sad reality, this must change!

Holy week tales

Here I was, a young boy starting the week in eager anticipation of the week ahead. This week gave us a mini holiday of sorts, no wonder it was called the ‘HOLY’ week (We called everyday holy, holy Monday-Thursday). True to its name, the week would flash by and leave you wondering why you hadn’t felt as tired as you normally would, as everyone in the Catholic setting would have that unexplainable joy for the festivities ahead.

Thursday was the day it all began, HOLY THURSDAY, a day when Jesus has his last supper with his disciples and washed their feet. I must admit, the Catholic Church’s rendition of this day is spot on. Imagine having a priest physically wash your feet, your spiritual leader, a man you often met and talked to with uttermost humility as he was God’s servant planted in our midst. PS: I was an alter server from a young age but with time, this season grew to be one of the fondest memories I have of the Catholic Church, the rest not so much.

The mass: If you had been attending mass you’d definitely notice the difference, Priests clad in purple cassocks and church attendance was quite high for a week day. The hymns were often sung in a melodious tune and though some would put you in a somber mood one would not fail to appreciate the harmonies. The INCENCE often hit your nostrils, entered your system, and gave you a surreal experience of being in God’s throne room experiencing what Prophet Isaiah experienced. This set the tone for the entire week till Easter when we would rejoice again at Jesus’ Resurrection.

Many of these hymns still capture me; one I will always remember was singing the hymn “Were you there” covered in a cloud of incense. The questions asked in this hymn often hit me, asking “Were you there when they crucified my Lord, Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree…” hence forcing me to paint a picture of the crucifixion even though I wasn’t there physically.

Revelation 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.

I won’t claim to still be a fervent attendee of these services but will surely make time and do so one day, just to bring back the memories, and enjoy the songs. These experiences were what introduced me to experiencing spirituality.

With that, have a lovely Holy week and A happy Easter to you.

Peace talks

To my sister JustynLove And to those friends who stick closer than brothers, regardless of our flaws

When the sound of silence rocks your life like a hurricane, leaving you lost in thought, your mind a warzone cordoned off for the safety of the humans who might want to get in oblivious of what lies within

Sometimes contemplation needs company

Sometimes we build the great wall of china around our brains, whose security is hightened by watchtowers in the horizon, all intended to shield us from the world without, and holding captive the thoughts within

She penetrated the wall with the bravery of David, wisdom of Solomon, strength of Samson and Boldness of Paul. She chose the hard way and let herself into the warzone, dodging bullets like ‘the matrix’, surviving the hit.

Can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods without first binding the strong man? I wonder
Having bound the string man, the enemy lines are compromised. This opens the floodgates of dialogue which eventually blossoms into something beautiful like a butterfly coming out of chrysalis, geared up to take off

Many times people enter what we call our “safe space”, not knowing it never was safe, and that their entry makes it safer. I’m glad you breached the enemy lines and unknowingly restored my peace within.

By Martin N Kyaroki

Maybe I’m growing too old

So my niece celebrated her birthday on the 8th of this month, and as the norm is these days, her WhatsApp status was piled up with reposts from the numerous birthday wishes from her friends and family.

True to it, since I was born, I haven’t really been a birthday enthusiast. Maybe because I was raised by a single father who always forgot my birthday, well, I always forgot it as well, probably because November is a month I always did or prepared for my exams so I was always caught up in the examination fever.

Cutting cake with a workmate recently

So my niece’s birthday celebration is slated for tomorrow and yes, she invited over 20 girls from her class 😂. Sad thing for most folks, your birthday (and later your funeral), is the one day a bunch of people, even those you least expected say a nice thing or two about you. Sort of congratulating you for edging one year closer to your death.

Generation of enjoyments

So in a house full of girls recording Instagram and Snapchat videos, buried in their phones making endless filters, taking pictures and letting the whole world know how they are enjoying a friends lockdown birthday party, I couldn’t help asking myself if I would enjoy such felicitations in my name. Maybe I’m just one boring introvert who hates attention.

Probably I’m growing too old and failing to blend in with this post millennial generation. I will definitely do my kids birthday parties but i will have them know that every year added is a whole set of things to deal with, new challenges, goals, etc… We’ll enjoy the enjoyments for them but they should never let us forget the underlying significance of the implication of the extra year, why not just celebrate new year’s and forget the birthdays? One may argue that a birthday is a new year added, so what do we call December 31st? Food for thought… I remain yours truly…😎

Brooke, Me and You

Just a few thoughts (Or Poem) on what Brooke Fraser’s (Brooke Ligertwood) songs meant to me in my failed relationship. Every paragraph begins with her song titles and a few lines from the song..

Sailboats
We’re adrift on a sailboat, my love was the sea, with waves swaying back and forth, your love on the other hand was the horizon, constant and steady, regardless of the sea turbulence it was constant and steady

I wouldn’t be the same without you
Indeed i wouldn’t, learnt so much from you, about you and with you, and that’s what ought to happen, learning, unlearning and relearning. With that you’re rest assured of progress

Ice on her lashes ..
The lone man waits on a platform, for his train to come and take him somewhere to start all over again
Didn’t want a day without you but somehow I’ve lived through another one, didn’t want a year without you but somehow I’m living through one, didn’t want a life without you but here i am living one

Who were we fooling
Funny how sad the funny things get, as we grow older, for better for worse we were tethered but the rope was cut, we both agreed on where we should go, but not how to get there, our failures and faults couldn’t hold us together

New Year’s Eve It’s been a loud year and we really need the quiet
For silence cannot be quoted, on new years eve, while the whole world rejoiced, we stopped to listen, we needed the quiet after a loud year, to help come to terms with the fact that we are no more.

Arithmetic
I realized you’re so much more than arithmetic, coz if i add if i subtract if i give it all and try to take some back and realized i couldn’t apologize my way to you even if the heavens stretched that far

Cc: Brooke Fraser