#55UGBlogs An Awakening Dawn

Sepia.

It’s the filter on the land today. An orange-brownish hue was fallen on the land. The leaves aren’t rustling as they were yesterday, wind will not be interrupting them today. Not today.

There is a rhythm seeping through the land. If you are still enough you can hear it. Well, the African hear it. You can feel the slow pounding in your chest. The pounding the raises goosebumps on your arms and neck. Can you hear it.

The air is crisp. That type crisps that hurts your nose when you breathe in, but you do it anyway, because this what is what fresh smells like. For tonight, we are one. We stand as one. United by this land and our roots that grow deep with every generation.

68 years is a long time, a long time to live without acknowledgment on your own soil. To live in gratitude to our guests, for who allows someone into their home – only to them take charge of every aspect of their existence. Perhaps after tonight, we will have a chance.

Our chance.

A chance to escape a pre-determined destiny that had been awaiting many young adults. These adults had been piling onto buses and pickups headed to the city, many excited – their minds filled with wisps of the aforementioned chance, some of them indifferent and even some worried. Worried about the uncertainty that waited them at the dawn of this seemingly new era. But then again, was it really new, for before the start of the 68 years, we existed even though history might choose not to popularize it much.

The uncertainty that lays ahead can only be described as daunting; the idea of master would eventually have to fade and in it’s place, an awakening to hopes and dreams turned reality.

***

Evening is here and they’ve been dancing for what seems like eternity. Were his hands are sweating, I wonder. Does he know the significance of what he is about to? Does it press it’s weight on his shoulders?

They announce that the Bwola is up next. The Acholi are dancing with an energy that pulsates at that same rhythm. This is important. This night is important. There are kings in the stands… The Omugabe, The Omukamas, The Kabaka and The Kabazinga – The 5 kings are in the stands. They too watch as they wait for the hour. They are dancing the Nankasa now, waists moving to the same rhythm. Even the battalion of the Kings African Rifles can hear the rhythm.

Midnight is here… the rhythm is at it’s peak.

He is at the flag pole. The dreams of a nation on his shoulders. He lowers the Union Jack, as the nation watches in wonder. Could this really be happening? Are we once again our own?

He hoists for the first time, the black yellow red symbol of hope. dreams. freedom.

Our symbol of Independence.

credit: Anonymous Creative

**

This blog is part of the #55UgBlogs campaign by UgBlogging Community and Kafunda Kreative. 7 days where storytellers will come together under the hashtag 55UgBlogs and tell their stories of Uganda, what it means to be Ugandan. 

On 9th October 1962, Uganda attained her Independence from her British colonial masters. This piece is not all fiction, I did a little digging around the interwebs before writing this. I’m ashamed to admit that despite always longing for this holiday to fall on a Weekday, I had little knowledge of what actually transpired on the day. Aside from the usual photo or two, the details were just never of particular interest to me. As usual, the Internet does not disappoint, I found an old 4-hour video of the day, that might be interesting. 

If you are still reading at this point, then I welcome you to take some time and log onto twitter – follow the hashtag and discover who Uganda truly is. Read. Share. Submit your experience. Work that narrative!

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RIP Prof Zain…

I’m scrolling through this section of code, my mind trying hard to focus on my task today – but it keeps repeating the lines that it read the night before. In an email, that has left the veins on my temple pulsating hard at the mere memory:

Prof Zain died today

The clouds are gathering in the ominous way that Kampala weather has resorted to these last few days, and the weather is a reflection of the sombre mood that has shaken the CMU Africa community.

We have lost a passionate mentor, a professor and a friend. 

I bit my tongue and purse my lips to push back the tears that have been threatening to pour all morning.

I want to ask how can he be dead? Why now? The unfairness of this makes it even more heartbreaking. Not that death is ever fair, for it always robs us of life that we were not yet ready to let go of.

The last conversation I remember having with Prof Zain was in 2015, and it was about getting a job. I told him I had an interview lined up with a company in Kampala called Fenix Intl but he had never heard of them – neither had I, actually. He wanted me to apply to a couple of other companies as well but I was pretty insistent about coming to Kampala. He helped review my resume and I left his office with a couple of other companies that I applied to.

He was always passionate about seeing us reach our full potential – a kind and friendly person who was concerned about our wellbeing.

Another incident I remember was in 2014, I lost a lot of weight, I remember him stopping me after one of the seminar classes, concerned about whether everything was alright. Funny thing is that we digressed into a discussion on diet and how he was planning on cutting out some foods.

Most times, as people, we tend to be too busy to stop and notice or even ask.

He took criticism in stride and always worked toward being better – in one class discussion, I challenged him on getting more Ugandan examples and the next class he did.

There is so much I’ve left out, so much that can be said – We, as a community, have truly suffered a big loss. I cannot even begin to imagine what his family is going through. It is my prayer that God would truly comfort them during this time. May He comfort us all.

Prof Zain, you inspired and spurred us on to greatness. Your passion to see this region harness innovation will live on through us.

Rest in peace.

image: igihe.com

#UGBlogWeek: Blesser (Part 3)

Kahill wants a vacation and Twonjex wants to go for KoiKoi East, all very nice. All very pleasant. But I want something else… Not a trip to an exotic island with actual sand and clear blue water or a trip to discover my beautiful country amidst beautiful people and fun conversation.

Yes, you may proceed to roll your eyes at the character that is me.

I have seen mention of a Blesser on my timeline, and seen mention of the definition of a Blesser (see Part 2), but I am choosing this definition of blesser: a person with a heart of gold and filled up-pressed down-shaken together-running over bank account.

Yes, the bank account must be overflowing because books are expensive and my mind is thirst! Yes! I need books, more books, more than what I have already… I need to be able to stretch out and pick one when the whim attacks me. I want to be able to read and re-read all of my favourite ones.

Until they are torn and in tatters, pages missing from months and months of loving use. Yes, loving use can lead to a torn book… Or so I have been told. Truth is, I can tear my book but you cannot. If you did, your name and biometrics would be sent to Interpol, and you would be put on the International Book Offenders list.

Next to my library, I want a chair. Not the leather sort that is filled in almost every showroom in the city. No. I want the kind that I can sink into. The cushonie-kind. The kind that can support my reading gymnastics as comfort is of paramount importance.

Oh Blesser… My heart is literally skipping at the notion of it all.
Won’t you hurry and bless my mind before thirst consumes my mind.

books

Chain #1: The Vacation Adventure
http://pkahill.com/blesser-part-1/

Chain #2: The KoiKoiEast Adventure
https://djtwonjex.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/blesser-part-2/

#UGBlogWeek: Pocket full of shy (Verse II)

This was started at DJ Twonjex’s blog – Verse 1. As part of UGBlogWeek Chain Stories week, here goes my continuation of his story!

That was the last time,
the last time I pushed and you pulled.
They say that I shouldn’t give up,
I should keep nudging.
The gentle pushing and prodding,
that in time you will take notice of what is before you.
Rather who is before you.

A me.
A tired me.
A lost me.

My identity sacrificed at the altar of you,
hidden in myriad attempts to capture your attention.
Grasping at our fading memories…
When you smiled and it kissed my eyes.
When you laughed and my ears rejoiced.
Your feather touch that shook my core.
A core now shattered in reality.

My reality.
A sad reality.
Our reality.

A reality surrounded in that fact that,
You don’t even know my name.

aliciayoudont

#Chain 1: Twonjex’s Pocket full of shy
https://djtwonjex.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/pocket-full-of-shy/

[#UGBlogWeek] Your ballad, hidden in my soul…

Let me write about you.
Let me write about who I see.
Let me write about you.

Permit me to paint a picture of your smile.
Permit me to tell of the wrinkles that surround your eyes.
Permit me to remember the way your eyes light up.

Let me dream about your crooked smile.
Let me dream about that shadow of a dimple that draws my eyes.
Let me dream about your yesterday’s stub that tickles enough to make my morning right.

Can I tell them of your heart?
Can I tell them of your heart and the way it bleeds for people?
Can I tell them of your heart and the way it longs for justice?

And your fingers, the firmness of your grip reminds my heart of your presence.
And your arms, in them I’ve found where I belong.
And your lips…

I would write about them.
I could write about them.
But like Billy Ocean said…

You’d first need to get outta my dreams
Then wake me up before you go…
and tell me it’s real.

Happy [early] Valentine to one an all.
You are reason enough to celebrate love.
On this day and all future days to come.

love-autumn-tree_759_thinkstockphotos-177812216

Don’t be too serious… Spread some cheese and corn this month!!

Chain #2: She turned the ballad into vows… https://skyagaba.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/my-diamond-among-simple-stones/ – 

Chain #3: What is the color of heartbreak?? https://cynthiakyofuna.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/ugblogweek-i-painted-my-valentine-red/

Chain #4: The frustrations of the get-to-know each other fairytale… 
https://lakerfiona.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/frustrated-in-love-ugblogweek/

Chain #5: Won’t you stay…
https://djtwonjex.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/a-promise-to-stay-ugblogweek/


Do you have what it takes to keep this story going? Add your chain by continuing where Twonjex has left it…

Book Review: Timeless Truths by Dr. Dennis D. Sempebwa

Kampala 2009.
He sits on the balcony. His worn and withered dark skin soaking up what the sun has to offer. He gaze looks beyond the horizon and into the thoughts that are holding his sight captive.

He is in the city now, there is not much for him to do here. The fences here are larger than the land they surround. He has no car nor does he have employment here. He is here to visit with his son and grandchildren he has not seen them in a number of years. However, they are all out. They are always out. There in the city.

So he sits on the balcony, staring at the skyline that is Kampala wondering when he will return to the hills that he calls home.

Kampala 2016.
Wisdom should be passed down through generations. Should be bring the operative phrase. I’ll apologise in advance because this review might be considered highly subjective.

Dr. Sempebwa’s book reminded me so much of my grandfather’s visits to the city. Reading this book created such a yearning in me for the missed opportunities and squandered time with my grandparents.

The book contains 300 proverbs that are split out into categories such as Adversity, Purpose, Change, Diligence, Authenticity, Cheerleaders, Antagonists, Coaches, and Faith. Each chapter opens with an Africa proverb written in a local dialect and translated to English. Yes, some are funny to read…

Lepotla-potla le ja poli, Lesisithelo le ja khomo
~ Lesotho Proverb

Translated: A hurry hurry person eats goat. The one who takes his time eats beef. 

Each category is it’s own chapter, and at the start of each, is a short introduction about the category. There is no clutter or tediously long backstory to each proverb. They, while being simple and straightforward, are also quite powerful.

A good place to look for your destiny is inside your wound

As I read through some of them, I thought about how apt he was in reflecting a lot of the seasons that we go through in life. I have heard that back in the day, fireplaces were a time for gleaning wisdom from elders on how to do life. How not to let life suffocate you or erode those old time fundamental principles on what it means to live and to live well.

In a time where busyness has become the order of the day, and yesterday’s failure quickly overshadowed by today’s sudden fame dubbed trending — perhaps Dr. Sempebwa’s book can prove to be a modern day fireplace.

If you ever find yourself in need of some time tested wisdom, then get yourself a copy of this book. Better yet, if your grandparents are still alive, share some of the proverbs with them and see if they agree.

the birth control of product development

The start-up generation has infused the world with the can do attitude. Have an idea? Well… Go ahead and do it. What are you waiting for?

The glamorisation of app creation has fuelled this even further. The process has now been edited to, Have an idea you think is freaking awesome, make the app, upload it to the app store, sit back and wait on the InsTwiSnapBook success phenomenon to pursue you, complete with the glory of waiting on that acquisition proposal eMail.

An eMail that you will turn down because no one can put a price on your dream, but still the fact that someone was even willing to offer is enough to fuel your ambition into the birth of another idea.

For some this actually works, we can even speculate on why/how it works; some will claim that it is the network effect (literally walking the thin line between technical know-who and just plain professional contacts) that boosted their success; and others it will just be the timing factor, their idea was born at a time when people just needed it.

For others, that sort of idealism will leave them with the bitter taste of defeat. The idea was great, a business was started out of it, a product in the form of an app was created but the intended audience is simply not interested one bit in what you are attempting to sell to them. In fact, they would rather you kept quiet and just moved on altogether.

This is the harsh reality when you consider that a lot of startups are designed around a single app.

When you have ZERO customer engagement, what do you honestly think will happen? When you have no idea what the agile movement is about (yes, I am a biased member of team agile) and simply look at us techies as tools that you can use in your current get-rich scheme. Okay, perhaps that was a little harsh, but quite honestly it comes across as exactly that. When Human-Centered Design processes to you are akin to the red tape bureaucracy that is characteristic of African government.

Tell me, when you are sick, do you march into the doctor’s office with a plan of how to get better? Are you shaking your head? You think this is a far-fetched analogy?

The vast majority will look for and even court successful people in business to the extent that they are willing to ‘invest’ in getting their opinion. But let your resident developer attempt to explain to you why you need to iteratively involve your target audience in the development process – suddenly, there is no budget for that.

You see that is what the Agile Movement is about (Yes, I am avoiding the word methodology). Scrum is one of the more common ways that agility is implemented within teams. It allows for incremental product development across cross-functional teams. The development process is usually broken up into sprints which are 1-2 weeks. After the 1 or 2 weeks, the team will present a ‘shippable product increment‘. There are three main roles in Scrum: Scrum Development team: As said earlier, this is cross functional: the test, business analyst, domain expert (For example, if your product has something to do with the medical field: paediatrics – you need to find a paed who is willing to take part in the project. ); the Scrum Master and the Product Owner.

Scrum is only one way of implementing of the using agility in your process. Other methods include using Feature-Driven Development, Dynamic Systems Development, Lean Development, Extreme Programming, etc. There is a whole menu to chose from, together with your team, figure out what works for you.

The assumption is of course that you have already gone to a sample of your intended audience with a prototype of your product and tested it on them. Prototype includes the ever inexpensive paper prototype as well. And yes, this is before any form of software development has even happened.

Watch how your user interacts with your prototype, note the questions that they are asking, where do they get stuck, what is easy for the them. Understand what feature needs to be taken out. Do they look excited about it? Do they even think it solves the problem they have?

We are often guilty of giving our users less credit than they deserve.

My point (incase it got lost in this mini-rant of a post), is there is a lot more that goes into creating a successful product, and not just the business/profitability of it but in the actual technical development of it.

How much are you willing to invest?