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Friday, 03 February 2012 10:15 By Independent Team
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A Toyota RaumNothing beats it in flexibility in the small car range

If there is a vehicle that looks set to be hot this year, it is the Toyota Raum. This oddly named mini-MPV has showed very robust performance on most online car dealerships. Although the Toyota Vitz, Rav4, and Ipsum remain hot items in the small car market, the Raum looks set to make an impression, especially its new 2nd generation model.

The Raum’s strength comes from its design, which looks like it was designed by with the Ugandan busy working class mother in mind. This five-seat Mini-MPV is large enough for a family but small enough to swing around as a city run-about, and park easily in most harassed situation like downtown Owino or Nakasero markets.

But the real plus starts with the door arrangement. The Raum’s rear doors slide open rearward like a Kamunye (Toyota Hiace) taxi door and attach to the top and bottom of the door openings and interlock to the front doors. This is very convenient for anyone working very tight situations that demand flexibility, including dropping off children, sick relatives and delivery of items.

Although, its front doors open conventionally, there no door jamb between them and the rear doors that the doors attach to on the passenger side. Again, this is perfect for flexibility.

The seat design follows the same principle. According to the book, the passenger front seat can be folded flat upon itself, and then can be folded forward while still being attached to the floor at the front bottom of the seat. The rear seats can be folded flat with a 60:40 split or can also be folded forward individually. The benefit is obvious; more flat cargo floor at the rear.

Perhaps that explains its name. In German, Raum means a “chamber, berth, room, space, expanse, scope, area, or sphere”. It’s all about spaciousness.

But in mythology, Raum is also the name of a fierce spiritual being who “destroys” cities and dignities of men but can at the same time tell things past, present and future, reconcile friends and foes, and invoke love. The Toyota Raum evokes the same mystery and tricks.

Its automatic transmission gear selector, for example, is mounted on the dashboard making it easy to move around inside the car.

Since the Raum first appeared in May, 1997, it has undergone various modifications. In 2003 it had the first major transformation, which introduced its “multiple-purpose design” to emphasise its focus on comfortable and pleasant design without losing its manufacturer’s earlier commitment to make a “daily car”. The Raum’s interior has a modern high quality but practical finish mostly in dark grey and beige colour.

In this era of high fuel prices, the Raum’s 1.5-litre engine is a gift especially because it does not compromise power in either the front-wheel or all-wheel drive versions. All Raum versions have a 4-speed automatic transmission. The Raum is designed to handle even high speeds with minimal noise and vibration.

Other literature on the internet shows that the first generation car was equipped with EBD brakes on top level G and E packages, with a later addition to the C package. A minor facelift was done August 1999.

A complete body change was released for sale May 12, 2003 and shared the platform with the Toyota Vitz. Side impact protection was further enhanced. The passenger side rear door can be opened electronically and by remote control key fob. The engine used in the second generation model is shared with the Toyota Prius.

On October 20, 2003, the vehicle won the Japan Good Design Award with a special mention for people with physical disabilities. The Raum is also popular with senior citizens. Its compact body has a general height limited at the 1545 mm level on 14 inch tyres designed for ease of entry and exit.

Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:36 administrator
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Fortunately, there are things you can do before wounding your wallet

It’s January and that time of the year when outdoor temperatures hang around the 30 degrees Celsius mark. Inside the car is even hotter. Unfortunately, your AC has been acting up. During the cooler December days, you possibly did not have too much to worry about. You simply lowered the windows and cruised. Now, however, you fear you will be hit by the mother of all heat waves if you try that. Possibly, there is also too much dust swirling all over and you do not want to get involved. If you cannot handle the heat, then get out to a garage, and get your AC fixed.


Thursday, 26 January 2012 07:04 administrator
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Uganda’s Revolution 1979 -1986: How I saw it by Pecos KutesaMaj. Gen. Pecos Kutesa, in his book; Uganda’s Revolution 1979 -1986: How I saw it tells the story of how Kampala fell to then-National Resistance Army rebels commanded by Yoweri Museveni on January 26, 1986. Below is his chapter entitled: The Fall of Kampala, pp237-249. It has been slightly edited due to space but we encourage you to buy Kutesa’s hilarious book for its full enjoyment.

Friday, 20 January 2012 13:11 By Achola Rosario
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Paa JoeFunerals in Ghana are known as celebration of life because the deceased is been escorted with the coffin of his occupation to the next world.

Ghaneans give new definition to the phrase `Going out in Style’ with their funeral practices.  I was recently in Accra at beginning of last month to film a documentary on the African Courts of Human Rights. As we spent close to eight hours every day commuting in the most dense and debilitating traffic I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing in an otherwise pleasantly organised country, gazing out the window became a life-line of sanity.

On a particular day, we drove past a funeral procession in a compound on the outskirts of Accra Central. The cortege included an incredible coffin; a colourful and bright wooden sculpture that housed the lifeless body of the dead person.


Friday, 20 January 2012 13:01 administrator
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Against ThriftThe U.S. unemployment rate sits obstinately above 9 percent. The housing market is still underwater. Consumer confidence stinks, the stock market is schizophrenic, and the big banks have been humbled. To cure this listlessness, the following treatments have been applied: bailouts, stimulus packages, programs that aren’t called stimuli but really are in intent, blue ribbon panels, verbose op-eds, foreclosure assistance, short sale assistance, even interest rates that are essentially zero. And still, America is in an ever-deepening rut, with elected officials bickering about the next steps.



Friday, 20 January 2012 13:00 administrator
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2012 Toyota Land Cruiser PradoThe petrol version

Diesel has always been a more popular power source than petrol in the Prado but now Toyota has launched a petrol powered version.

Toyota introduced the fourth generation Land Cruiser Prado last year, but only in 3.0 litre diesel engine form. Now, it has decided to launch a petrol version, with a 206kW 4.0 litre V6 engine.

As expected from something that would likely be a niche seller in the Prado range the petrol engine version is available only in top spec VX Limited grade, which essentially means it has everything except perhaps a kitchen sink.

Saturday, 14 January 2012 17:13 By Dominic Muwanguzi
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The building of the Weaver Bird Arts Community in Ndegeya, Masaka.  INDEPENDENT/ Thomas BjørnskauCreativity, innovation and experimentation sets a new pace for neighbourhood artists

With a host of art spaces and projects springing up,  all designed to foster creativity, innovation and experimentation of the arts, and extending art to the local people,  art in Uganda is evolving in a new direction.

About 6 kms from Masaka town is a small village called Ndegeya. Here you will find Weaver Bird, an artists’ community in the making which hosts an artist residency, a camping site with a sculptural park, handicrafts centre and more.

Saturday, 14 January 2012 17:09 administrator
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Screw business as usual, by Richard BransonTitle: Screw Business as Usual

Author: Richard Branson

Publisher: Penguin Portfolio; 384 pages

Richard Branson has an enormous head, both anatomically—his dome is sizable—and figuratively: His ego arguably has no rival in contemporary capitalism. Shameless name-dropper though he is, stories he tells about other people often end with a story about Richard Branson. One gets the sense that his professional life has been an extended circus act designed to generate publicity for his Virgin (VMED) empire and to keep from getting bored. To list only a few of Branson’s stunts, he has jumped off a hotel wearing a tuxedo, driven a tank through Times Square, kite-surfed with a nude woman on his back (in front of cameras, of course), and dressed as a bride. He might be the richest clown on earth.

Saturday, 14 January 2012 17:03 By Stephen Bwire
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Miraj BarotHe was born with a silver spoon that he has turned into gold

Rarely does a father entrust his life’s fortune to the stewardship of a toddler. But Miraj Barot, 23, began running his father’s business empire when he was only 14-years old.

His father, Hashad Barot, is the chairman and founder of Tirupati Development, a leading real estate company in Uganda.

The family moved to Uganda from a small village in India two decades ago and the young Barot was raised and had his short stint of formal education in Uganda.

The young tycoon considers business to be his calling in life. He revealing that this was the reason he dropped out of school early to nurture his business acumen.

“Business is my life. Right from the start I didn’t want to waste time having realised that I was born to do business and become successful at it. I go about my work passionately,” he says.

The passion for business and the desire to build on what his father had already started took hold in him early. Having successfully run his father’s business empire, Miraj decided to start his own company, Tulip, also dealing in real estate. Tulip has got branches in India. In total, he is a director of eight companies some of which are in India.   He is the Joint Managing Director of Tirupati Development and a shareholder in the same company.

Miraj sees his father as his mentor and business coach, a friend with whom they share ideas from time to time.

“I got all this passion for business from my father. Whenever we would sit down we would talk about business, my father taught me a lot of things, he taught me what some rich fathers wouldn’t teach their children,” he says.

Miraj says he thrives on hard work and taking on new and challenging tasks each day. He says that his life would be incomplete if he did not put in his life’s best in execution of his business tasks.

“Every time I wake up in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and say that I have to do something, even more than what I did the previous day,” he says.

He keeps a busy schedule; waking up as early as 4a.m. By 6a.m he is i n office, and thereafter heads to the field to inspect various projects and meets various people connected to his many businesses. He says his schedule is occupied by signing contracts, sourcing deals, initiating major projects, planning for the company, all of which leave him with little time for himself. However, he finds time for his family.

He says determination and perseverance are his driving force. Unlike others who would succumb in the face of to failure, he says he has since learnt how to master failure and disappointment given that it is part of business.

“If you have started business and it’s not working out don’t give up, at least you start and fail and discover why you have failed. Many people say business is hard even before they ever started. Start and learn how to go about the failures,” he advises.

Miraj, as a few lucky young people have, would have rode on his family’s success and not done much for himself. However, he argues that people should not look at the current status of the so-called rich people, without considering where they have come from or how their parents started.  He reveals that his father began with only US$ 200 and today their business empire is worth over 1 billion US dollars.

“It’s true that my father worked hard to bring the business to a certain level, but it has been my duty to bring it to greater heights. What I can say is that I was born with a silver spoon and turned it into gold. It’s important to consider how people started and get to learn a few things from their struggle than looking at their current status,” he contends.

Miraj has endeared himself to numerous young people around the city who consider him their icon, one who is humble and generous. His ambition is to initiate more development projects and employed the youth.

About Tirupati

Tirupati has operated in Uganda for five years.  The company boasts a number of shopping malls and classy apartments around the city, offices, warehouses, and business parks. Mazima Mall in Nsambya and Ovino Market are some of Tirupati’s outstanding projects.

Tirupati is also venturing into sugar production starting this January. The company has a sugarcane plantation in Nakasongola stretching over 9,500 acres with a sugar factory in Najjera, Wakiso District. The sugar project, which has cost over US$88 million, is expected to employ over 30,000 Ugandans and produce 2,500 tonnes of sugar per day.

The company is constructing a business park along the Northern Bypass which will consist of 253 warehouses, modern offices, and shopping malls. This project, with a total cost of over US$100 million targets 6,000 Small and Medium size enterprises (SMEs).

Tirupati says its investments in the last five years are worth US$500 million, and the company employs 47,500 Ugandans directly and indirectly.


Car: Range Rover EVOQUE

Food: Indian Cuisines/pizza

Drinks: White wines and Coco-cola

Ideal woman: Beautiful, hardworking from Hindu culture

Memorable moment: When he is with his family

Hangouts: Entebbe Lido beach and friends homes

Famous quote: Success depends on how you behave when you have everything and when you have nothing.


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