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Friday, 17 February 2012 14:55 By Serubiri Moses
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Sebunjo, Ismaël Lo make the case for good African music

There were a number of magical moments at the World Music showcase by Joel Sebunjo and Ismaël Lo in Kampala in late January. One was watching Sebunjo play the opening kora-solo to ‘Nakato’. Many of the Ugandans in the crowd knew the words and sang along while dancing in front of the stage. Another one was hearing Ismaël Lo sing ‘Tajabone’, alone on stage with his guitar. Three minutes of bliss, at times playing both guitar and harmonica together. The message of this music was freedom, peace and love.

Friday, 17 February 2012 14:52 administrator
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The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerJoseph S. Nye, Jr., a former  US Assistant Secretary of Defense, is a professor at Harvard and the author most recently of The Future of Power.

Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge? A challenging new book by the Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker says that the answer is “yes.”

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker presents data showing that human violence, while still very much with us today, has been gradually declining. Moreover, he says, “over the long sweep of history, women have been and will be a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: tribal women never band together to raid neighboring villages.” As mothers, women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation.

Friday, 17 February 2012 14:50 administrator
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Most vehicle mechanics think it’s OK but it isn’t

Over-heating is a very common   motor vehicle problem. It sometimes makes vehicle owners feel they just want to sell off or even dump their vehicle. The more sober ones run for help from their mechanics but even they do not always get the right diagnosis and treatment. Instead their vehicles are sometimes placed in even more danger.

Friday, 10 February 2012 07:16 By Angelo Kakande F.J
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100 messages from the Posters for the Right to Education Exhibition

Between 8 December 2011 and 8 January 2012 the Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration; formerly Makerere Art Gallery, hosted the 100 Posters for the Right to Education Exhibition to celebrate the International Human Rights Day. It was a joint effort between Poster for Tomorrow, a non-profit organisation based in Paris, France, and the institute. Its theme was the right to education. Dr. Mayambala Kakungulu from the Faculty of Law opened it officially and all posters are now part of the institute’s permanent collection.

Friday, 10 February 2012 07:09 administrator
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Making A Difference by Beatrice KirasoOften, one will hear it said that one shouldn’t wash their dirty linen in public.

There would be some sort of consolation if it were that the saying was being copycatted from colonial heritage, in Uganda’s case.

But alas, among the most dominant community, Baganda, a similar warning exists – Eby’Omunju Tebitotolwa. And just as well, a variation of the same can be found in nearly every other community in the country.

The occasion that usually summons this caution always has to do with someone publicly discussing intimate family matters, especially if they are potentially shameful.

So, if, for instance, a woman is constantly battered by her husband, she’s not to talk about it, not even to report it to police, because it happens in the confines of their privacy and only the two of them know sure well the finer details of how it comes about.

The subtext of this thinking is usually that the victim is a participant in some way and so he or she can’t be wholly sinned against.

Whatever the argument, this much is true: there comes a time when someone can’t bottle up abuse anymore and no amount of argument of caution makes sense anymore.

Beatrice Kiraso is the latest such person in a long list of women who muster the courage to put an end to pain and humiliation meted out to them by the men they once loved, or even still do.

Courage, of course, is not easy and the much-needed empathy is usually elusive. Many will recall the brouhaha former VP Specioza Wandira Kazibwe touched off in 2002 when she revealed she was divorcing her husband because he constantly battered her.

The husband denied the allegation, claiming he’d only slapped her twice, and only because of insubordination.

The public was evenly divided about her with as many people in support of her as those against.

The former argued she neither deserved it nor had to die in silence while the latter felt she was washing her dirty linen in public when she could ably handle it with her man. The worst are those who thought she had brought it upon herself.

For anyone who might not know Kiraso, she’s an elegant and a highly successful woman. Some find her attractive.

A graduate of Harvard, she’s held several offices in finance, been a member of parliament and is currently in charge of fast tracking the East African Community’s political federation.

If anyone saw her strolling down the street, or found her sipping a glass of wine, or better yet taking a reading at a church service, it would be incomprehensible to imagine any man raising his hand against her.

What’s even more difficult to understand is how, with her level of accomplishment, she’d tolerate it even once. Yet as they say, looks can be deceptive. In Kiraso, the saying couldn’t be truer.

As she reveals it in Making A Difference, her newly self-published near tell-all autobiography, she, surprisingly, not only let it happen but she also tolerated it for the better part of her four-year marriage.

To be sure, her story will certainly remain incomplete until her husband (it’s not clear from the book if they formally divorced) gives his account. As the Christian faith she professes cautions, someone who present’s one’s case first seems right, until someone else appears only to challenge it.

But as she tells her side, it’s a heart wrenching account of a progressive, loving, understanding and tolerant woman, who had the misfortune of marrying a man beholden to his mother (or mama’s boy in modern speak) and increasingly grew insecure with her woman’s career growth. The only way he found to deal with it was to assert his masculinity, albeit in an abusive way.

Kiraso’s account, as it stands, will return debate to two otherwise old queries about which varied responses have been offered: firstly, why accomplished women, in every sense imaginable, find it so difficult to easily extricate themselves from abusive relationships; and, why some men feel insecure when their women grow in stature and influence.

To the former, shame and embarrassment that accompany such revelations is seen as simply being not easy to deal with. Only at the risk of death does a woman find the requisite courage to break free.

The downside of maintaining silence is mainly two-fold: firstly, it perpetuates the vice and threatens the life of the victim. Consequently, some people caught up in abusive relationships have been gravely harmed, irreversibly affected emotionally and psychologically, and the extremely unlucky have lost their lives. Kiraso hasn’t died, of course, but every other effect on an abusive relationship is true with her.

Secondly, unreported violence among the elite and middleclass erroneously reinforces the view that such behaviour is a characteristic of the poor who supposedly have nothing to lose.

But even if only poor people report domestic violence, it’s a problem whose prevalence is ten times more than HIV/Aids. Available stats show over 68 per cent of the population have experienced domestic violence, against 6-7 per cent of those who report HIV/Aids. Yet the latter attracts more money, effort and sympathy than the former.

In Kiraso, campaigners against domestic violence have a newfound, albeit unofficial, ambassador to tout. Their work, however, remains as arduous as ever.

Friday, 10 February 2012 06:51 administrator
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It is very shocking to find a city bus stuck in a shortcut because it was trying to beat the city traffic congestion

Cities like London, Berlin, Stockholm, and Hong Kong which have some of the best bus service in the world also have the best infrastructure. Unlike taxi operations that are largely flexible, bus services require elaborate and extensive infrastructure. Usually, they require bus only lanes and parking spots. One of the most frustrating things in the world is to be stuck in a jam on a city link bus.

Kampala city has very poor transport infrastructure with very few and narrow roads. The 500 buses that Pioneer Easy Bus claims it is importing might sound like many but they are ferrying millions and operation in a crowded place with very poor infrastructure.

Friday, 03 February 2012 12:48 administrator
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Now you can play `Angry Brides’

A new Facebook app created by popular matrimonial website lets players fight ‘greedy grooms’ who demand dowry – a practice that stubbornly persists in India despite being outlawed more than 50 years ago. The game shows a woman with eight arms, each hand holding a ‘weapon’ such as a kitchen utensil or shoe.

Angry Brides is a take-off of the hugely popular mobile app Angry Birds, a game in which cartoon birds with attitude try to rescue their eggs from greedy green pigs.

In the matrimonial version, the pigs have morphed into dowry-hungry grooms, and the birds are brides battling to hang on to their cash.


Friday, 03 February 2012 12:28 By Doreen Baingana
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Renowned Ugandan author answers those who question the relevance of the arts

A woman, or was it a man, dressed in a white suit, slowly got up from her front-row seat at the National Theatre in Kampala, moved up the stairs and onto the dim dusty stage, and proceeded to gyrate slowly, achingly, as though creeping up-right, from one side of the stage to the other and then off it with a deep bow. What were we, the audience, to make of this? Was this another example of the “irrelevance of the arts” as espoused by our political leaders?

Anyone with an open mind would disagree. The difficulty of a subject is not proof of its lack of meaning. It’s a pity that the very people who need to be persuaded about the value of the arts do not attend these artistic events such as the one described above, by a Japanese dancer, on the last day of the contemporary dance festival, Dance Transmissions, last October. She shared the stage that same evening with the Ugandan troupe Keiga Dance Company, whose director, Jonas Byaruhunga, an expressive and dynamic dancer himself, organised the three-day event.


Friday, 03 February 2012 12:27 administrator
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Untangling the return to the compact car

After decades of getting short shrift, compact cars are now poised to outsell their larger rivals in America. What’s driving this change? According to industry analysts, it’s mostly fear: of an inevitable escalation in fuel prices, or of being saddled with unaffordable monthly payments. It’s also generational: Twentysomethings, who grew up riding in their parents’ SUVs, view large vehicles as unsustainable. Today’s compacts also require far fewer tradeoffs than their predecessors. While a 1980s Chevrolet Cavalier was cramped, tinny, and featureless, the new Chevy Cruze Eco is attractive, solid, tech-laden, and gets 42 miles per gallon. Then again, it’s also wider, taller, and heavier than a mid-’90s Mercedes E-Class midsize sedan. All of which is to say that small cars don’t suck anymore. Nor are they small—a far cry from the original compact calamity, the Volkswagen Beetle.


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