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?

a prophecy hidden in fiction #UGBlogWeek

Today started out pretty well, I completed all my tasks by midday. Including one task that I was dreading with all of me – let’s face it, some bugs are easier than others.

Despite this awesome start, little did I know that my life would come to a grinding halt after a crashing collusion with Paige’s. For the first time, two timelines have crossed and I’m seated here in the aftermath not even sure about where my head’s at.

I’ve always loved the mystery that surrounds itself in the stories that are born in my head. I knew Paige when I started typing, but I didn’t know what was going to happen to her… so as I wrote, the story unfolded. The twists and turns always happened at the point where I’m nervous about the story getting too long, also coupled with the fact that life sometimes poops like a chubby cute newborn.

Paige’s day one literally picked itself up and plopped itself into my existence. Sadly, I did not have the luxury of running to my Dee. No. I had to return to work and try to continue with my existence sans glitter, fairies and butterflies.

Because the chances of my Jared reading this are microscopic, I’ll regale you with the detail of this tale turned reality.

I’ve been smiling for no reason for the last 4 days, despite the insomnia I’ve suffered for the past 2 weeks. No, not the mind drifting, lets-soft-build-castles-in-the-air drifting. Nah bruh! More like lets-create-multiple-universes-with-different-timelines-and-warp-capabilities kind of drifting. When my mind wonders, it takes the brutal force of reality to being me crashing back. Thats the second time I have used the word crashing and it am just 200 words in.

Some universes are worth smiling over, a gaze focused passed the object in front of you, into a reality even your imagination wouldn’t mind but will not admit it. I wore blue today, for the sole reason that my mind was convinced that you liked blue. I wore those black shoes from the other day. Come to think of it, it might be the shoes. The last time I wore these shoes was also a set up for disappointment.

I was early. Ha! These days, I am hardly ever early but look at me walking in 10 minutes early. None of that, restaurant adjacent to another business. I am momentarily distracted by your scent because you smell soo good. You smile good too. Yes, insert the African blush all over this material. Conversation is easy. No forced talk or awkward silences. I’m bidding my time, I am waiting. There is a question coming. A smile on my face as I write this. The kind of question that leaves men weak and women giddy.

it was worse than website.

Paige should be happy she got website.

emotional-abuse

Split second recovery is something that is taught to you in grad school as your hours of hard work are shredded to pieces. Split second recovery is what makes you smile an emotionless smile as the memory of the moment is pulled into your head. Split second recovery is nowhere, as you stand and stare at your reflection in the bathroom mirror.

I stare at her, in the mirror, trying to scrutinise… what exactly is it about her that is not just not desirable but… sigh. I’m hugging my middle before my knees give way, making me slide into a squat. Like the one when you use in a pit latrine for better aim. You know the one…

I just need a minute. I need to process what just happened. I just need my pillow, thats all. No, it’s not a blankie, but it has more experience in these situation than the soothing cold tiles of this toilet. I’m just staring at the floor and letting the cold seep into my back.

I should probably talk to God at this point. It is probably a good idea for me to do that right about now. I should find my completion in him. I should find my centre in him. I should put my hope in him. I should… I should… I should… You know just because you say it does not make it easy.

Just because it’s running through my mind doesn’t mean I have the energy to get off this floor.

Today, should have ended different.

6a23b28e6cbb83767bd0798e986acc4f

***

This Dandelion tale has stolen a verse from my life.

Even Hollywood wouldn’t have been able to script this ish! Only life in it’s purest form! There is aways a possibility that life will attempt to screw you over but hope must remain. Dawn will return. 

The Dandelion series will return after this short break. In the mean time, find part One, Two and Three here.