I am not your weekend special


I just finished reading “I Am Not Your Weekend Special: The life and times of Brenda Fassie” and I can stop listening to her music. It seems to make so much sense now. Most people agree that MaBrr was born into the wrong era. That she was way before her time. It is easy to agree now too. The book, written by Bongani Madondo is not really a biography. It is an account of different people who claim to have known MaBrr on a more-than personal level, her lovers, producers, back-up dancers, friends, foster parents and the like. After reading the book I feel like I knew her too.
At the time I was born, Brenda Fassie was the talk of Africa. She seemed to be the most interesting thing since Idi Amin. She was taking Africa and the world by storm. Many girls born around the time I was born were named Brenda. In my family, three women were pregnant with girls. Of course at the time there was no figuring out if you would be blessed with a girl or boy. Or maybe there was but they just couldn’t be bothered. My to-be godmother had her baby first. So she got dibs on the name. My mother was next. She wanted to name me for my godmother, Theresa but roundabout that time, Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute was broadcast from London. It catapulted Tracy Chapman onto the world stage. So my name became a variation of Theresa. Tracy. The next girl was, left to be Yvonne. Brenda’s “nemesis”.
But I digress. I am trying to relay just how besotted with South Africa my family was. I grew up listening to a lot of South African music. In fact, at one point all that played in momma’s car was a cassette of Fassie’s “Memeza”. It played almost throughout primary school. By the time the cassette disappeared (and I suspect it was not by mistake), we could have sung it without MaBrr’s help.
Reading the book and looking at the pictures therein, made me feel like I somehow knew this Brenda. And yet, Brenda was an enigma, even those who knew her confess they never really did. The temper tantrums, the love cravings, attention seeking, the drugs, the multiple lovers…it is an endless list.
Funny how the biggest talents have the most interesting short comings. No. Not funny. Sad.
“Weekend Special”, the song that apparently catapulted her to rock stardom and the title of the book is one of the only ones I had never listened to.
It speaks to many frustrated girls today, the ones loving men that pay them no heed till the weekend…
I have been here before…

You don’t come around, to me see in the week
You don’t have a chance, to call me on the phone
You dont come around, to me see in the week
You dont have a chance, to call me on the phone

But Friday night yes I know, yes I know
I know I must be ready for you, just be waiting for you
Friday night yes I know, yes I know
I know I must be ready for you, just be waiting for you
[Chorus] I’m no weekend, weekend special
I’m no weekend, weekend special
I’m no weekend, weekend special
I’m no weekend, weekend special

I’m no weekend, (daddy’s home) weekend special
I’m no weekend, (daddy’s home) weekend special
[Verse 2] Another lonely night, on my own again
How along for your love
I need your touch, yes I do
You dont come around, to me see in the week
You dont have a chance, to call me on the phone

But Friday night yes I know, yes I know
I know I must be ready for you, just be waiting for you
Friday night yes I know, yes I know
I know I must be ready for you, just be waiting for you
[Bridge] I’m your weekend special…
I’m your weekend special…
I’m no weekend special…
That is all…

I’m no weekend, weekend special (x4)

You dont love me no more… (x3)
You dont love me no more… I know

Every girl hopes the day will come when they are over the person who makes them feel this way. I know for sure the day comes, as soon as you’re ready.


Who dried all the flowers to make tea?

I decided to buy an overpriced pack of herbal tea bags the other day. I did this for a number of reasons. The obvious and first being that I am trying to be more mindful of the things I consume, after all, I am not getting any younger. I do not want to see doctors any more than I absolutely have to. I am not a breakfast person too so I was looking to spice up my cup of tea, you know, make it more exciting for me to have breakfast on those mandane mornings at my desk; a little aroma and what not.

So anyway I bought the tea bags. But let us back up a bit. Where I work, tea and coffee are the order of the day. We have flasks all over the place to consolidate this. We drink gallons, some of us to stave off the dehydrating effects of the moody air-conditioning system which is blowing dry cold wind up your nostrils one minute then sputtering wafts of lazy warm air the next. Others drink because they are not in the habit of letting that sh300-mandazi go down on its own. Some others cannot envision a long evening of reading the writers’ work that is mentally castrating without a cup of something…anything. The rest drink tea because it is what they have been doing for the 20 something years they have worked in the newsroom. Their coffee mugs are as attached to their hands as their keyboards are. So of course I thought, I MUST fit in no? Yes. So I drank a lot of tea in the first few months. But then I noticed the steaming liquid in some people’s cups was red, sometimes green, murky brown or right out black.

See those dregs, reminding me of kilishi…sigh

So I went in search of personalised tea bags too. I was inclined to think these things reflected your mood in some way. I wanted to tap into the ever flowing fountain of bliss my supervisor seems to have. She drinks red tea you see. I have looked into the bottom of her cup. The dregs are not like the little spots from the regular mukwano tea that Aunt Felly serves. Her’s are like strips of stir fried beef.

My new tea bags are pyramids…and I can see many colors inside. My tea smells like oranges now. It should bring me happiness and productive juices. I need it. The box says orange blossom hibiscus.

Who makes these things? We are now drinking flowers.

The only thing I know about hibiscus is that it was a very common plant when we were growing up. We sucked the nectar out of them and ripped off petals to get to stigma. That little yellow thing…then we stuck it to our noses. Teachers always used them as examples when we were studying about the reproductive system of flowers (yeah, I know, somehow after studying about other species’ reproductive ways, it just feels wrong to imagine flowers ALSO have REPRODUCTIVE organs.) I even perfected drawing those petals.

I have not seen these flowers in a while. I mean, back then (the 90’s) we did not even KNOW or CARE that they were called HIBISCUS! They were just some reaalllly common-ass flowers. And why oh why do they suddenly look pretty? These flowers were in the same category as bougainvillea but now see…they’re like flower royalty. Chimamanda went and even wrote a book titled Purple Hibiscus. Gee, I remember only red and whitish ones.

No one seems to be using them as perimeter bushes any more. Everyone has a wall fence. Someone has gone and dried them all so we can buy them and drink. Of course if we had known this back then we’d all be very rich and very healthy, but let me drink my tea…but then again there is all this business about hibiscus not being good for fertility and bla bla… for women…so maybe I should not drink my tea.

There were even yellow ones?

I have not seen these flowers in a while. I mean, back then (the 90’s) we did not even KNOW or CARE that they were called HIBISCUS! They were just some reaalllly common-ass flowers that every home had shrubs of. And why oh why do they suddenly look pretty? These flowers were in the same category as bougainvillea but now see…they’re like flower royalty. Chimamanda went and even wrote a book titled Purple Hibiscus. Gee, I remember only red and whitish ones.
No one seems to be using them as perimeter shrubs any more. Everyone has a wall fence.

The perimeters of our homes were kind of like this, without the picket fence…we had no fear of iron bar hit men back then.

Someone has gone and dried them all so we can buy them and drink. Of course if we had known this back then we’d all be very rich and very healthy, but let me drink my tea…but then again there is all this business about hibiscus not being good for fertility and bla bla… for women…so maybe I should not drink my tea.


I want to be young again

I find myself throwing what I believe are childish mental tantrums a lot lately. This is especially when something is not going my way, as with kids. Today, after for hours of trying to lay a page, (6hours to be exact, well to be honest I was laying three others as well, but yeah…anyway) my boss decided my layout would just not work. I would have to shift about a few things here and there. I was visibly upset. I stumped my foot (mentally) and screwed up my face in real life . This was NOT going to be fun.

1. Why does she insist on “house style” all the bloody time!!

2. Why is she so meticulous!?

3. If she had looked at the network thingie like she is supposed to I would have changed this earlier (she’s too busy honestly but I am not on her side right now)

4. Why can’t we just drop the extra bits and live the page with two stories instead of 4?

All these questions harrumphed through my mind. Even louder was the thought that today is a Sunday, could we all just try and get home early? No? We must slave away having arrived at 8am and be expected to arrive at 8am again tomorrow? OKAY!! I KNOW I DO NOT HAVE A LIFE AND DO NOT ACTUALLY WANT TO GO HOME EARLY BUT I DO NOT WANT TO WORK LATE BY FORCE EITHER! AND WHY ARE YOU SAYING I CAN DO IT? HUH? HUH? Why you using that sing song voice saying “yes we can”? AAAARRGGGHHHHH

This is how I feel…this child/painter relays my feelings wonderfully. Thank you Google.

Earlier on in the day, someone opened my page and started working on it when it was clear the line-up said I was doing that page. One of the supervisors came and asked if I could do her page instead since I had not started the work already. I said no. I had mentally prepared to do that page since last night…no way was I letting it go to start one completely different. Of course, you will think I was being totally unreasonable. Trust me, I was telling myself exactly that but I stood my ground. Expecting myself to say, oh…its alright…I will do her page. Nope. With every passing minute I just decided they’d sort it out on their own. I wasn’t shifting posts. Eventually I did get my way. Not so much with the layout thingie…
The longer I sat sulking, the longer I would be at work. I decided to get on with it. Thirty or so minutes later, the page was done. It actually looked decent. I had had to reword the headline and throw out a few stylistic devices here and there but overall, it wasn’t too bad. I told myself that, see Tracy, it worked out okay didn’t it? And I shrugged at myself, unwilling to accept defeat.
I suppose sometimes the tantrums are justified but it is really amusing to sit down and think, now what all the fuss about? I ended up having to do the page. I knew I would have to but I still sulked.
This is where I say I really need to stop this whining and get on with what need to be done but gosh, growing up isn’t much fun is it?

TAKE AWAY: I want to re-learn how throw a tantrum and NOT know I am going to have to do what I am whining about anyway.

Sigh…and to think that one day, some young little something is going to do much worse to me than I was doing to my boss (she probably did not even notice, too tired poor thing).


Rest in Peace Papa


I am a little numb these days. A few years ago the thought of the death of someone I was merely of acquaintance with constricted my heart. It was a pain almost physical. I could not and to be honest still do not understand death. I imagined the gap they had left just by not being present anymore and I had trouble understanding why death was necessary at all.
My mother on the other hand seems to be a maestro at handling death.She immediately goes about the technical bits. What will the person wear?, Should we place a sheet in the coffin? That sort of thing.
My grandpa became terminally ill a few years ago. He was 79 so it was not unexpected. Her response was classic. She immediately began to prepare for his funeral. On one occasion there was a false alarm. She was called from Pallisa with the news that the old man had passed. She had immediately revved her engine and set off back home to make the necessary arrangements only to be told as she entered Namanve that the old man was still alive. She made a U-turn. Two years later, the doctors were convinced the old man would not complete the year. Momma set about building a house in the family homestead. Her husband and she would need somewhere to sleep during Papa’s sendoff. Her house was half way done when her perfectly healthy sister slipped in the bathroom and died. It was the only time I ever saw my mother weep. She curled herself into a ball in her bed and cried like a little girl.
A week ago, Papa went; for real this time. I teared up just a bit. The little girl I was loved that man dearly. She knew him. I did not, so there was no real remorse. I was glad he got to rest though. He was tired. A few days prior to his death, an old lady I had come to recognize as my grandmother passed. We’d barely spoken during her lifetime because of language barrier. I’d felt little remorse at her death as well for the simple reason that I had seen her suffer at the end.
Maybe their sickness prepared me. Maybe it is because we were not close. Or maybe I am becoming like my mother.
This is not a horrid thing. I am older now. I get to attend more weddings, christenings, and impromptu funerals. I will not be protected from it all the way I was when I was little. I may not always be prepared. I will weep. A lot. But I am glad for the simple relief of the moments when I will be prepared.
Rest in Peace Papa…


Miss Uganda…my take

Leah Kalangunka...milking a cow
Leah Kalangunka…milking a cow

Sometime during this past weekend, after what I suspect were grueling weeks of hard work and stress from exposure to spotlight for the first time, a young lady was announced Miss Uganda. Her name is…wait, there’s an N somewhere. Let me Google it. Ah yes, her name is Leah Kalanguka.
Judging from the way I have to look up her name, it should be clear that I barely follow the trending news in my country even if I work for the newspaper. It is not something I am proud of, it’s just something I can’t help. It is not just my country too; news of the world at large is generally depressing as well. I avoid it as much as I can.
On my way to work today, in the taxi, while watching the steady drizzle outside, I listened subconsciously to news that was being aired in Luganda. Somewhere not very far from me, somewhere in my country, a group of people poured petrol on a young man and set him on fire. The news reader mentioned something about a hammer too. I did not catch the reasons for what had happened but I was very sad. Earlier, I’d woken to whatsapp messages poking fun at the new Miss Uganda. They were not nice jokes too. They were outright mean. On Facebook the jokes continued. I do not want to imagine what Red Pepper and The Sun are saying about her. These two incidents are not especially related but it reminds me how easily we are cruel without cause.
I heard someone say the Miss Ugandans are usually ugly. I turned to look and the person speaking did not look like a greek god. In that moment I wondered how that particular statement had advanced him as a person.
Leah is brave. I’ll give her that. Deciding to run for a pageant when everyone’s idea of beauty is different, warped even at times, has to be bravery. She’s hardworking too I expect. Farming is not for lazy people, you have to exhibit a good amount of resilience and patience dealing with things that cannot explain why they are not well; things that are susceptible distraction at the slightest change in the weather. Oh she’s a software engineer too. The day Ugandans celebrate diversity will be a happy day.
A good number of people on Facebook were had an issue with the color of her skin. Yes, she’s dark skinned. So what? Since when is being light skinned the singular measure of beauty? The same people are trashing Lupita, and Aamito. Newsflash people, these girls are powerful. They are confident and transcending over your abuses makes them even more beautiful…and while they are at it, they are getting paid a good deal. They are making a future for themselves and their loved ones. What are you doing for yourself?
All the “beautiful” people refuse to contest for Miss Uganda. Refuse to even vote then go up in arms when the winner is announced. A good number of these people would crumble if they had to do half the stuff these girls have to do.
What rings in my head right now is a quote from the movie Fighting Tempations, “…when life makes you deal with mean and hateful people think of them as sand paper they may scratch you, they may rub you in the wrong way but eventually you will polished and smooth and the sandpaper will be worn and ugly.”


Milestones and that decision they call happiness

Each time something new happens in your life or you enter a different phase in your life, it is important to take records of those first exciting days. You can take pictures or you can write. I should have been doing more of that but a lot of the time; life gets in the way as you get ready to open your computer and type. You shouldn’t let it. That unadulterated joy and enthusiasm for new things does not last. Things become mundane because you start to take things for granted. Even the most beautiful picture, looked at for the longest time, with just the right amount of scrutiny will reveal many imperfections. I know, sometimes that’s a good thing. The Mona Lisa wouldn’t be as famous as it is if someone wasn’t always looking for that infamous imperfection.
Anyway, as usual, I digress. There’s been many major milestones this year, from October 2013 to October 2014 I mean. I have neglected recording some of these milestones for many reasons. The first and probably most obvious is that, sometimes, however much you want to do something, like write in this instance, your body will sometimes just refuse to allow such madness. Other times, you worry, that if you write about everything and publish it, you may actually jinx your happiness. You are so happy you are not sure the world will appreciate your source of happiness. So you get your lamp and hide it under a basket. When you’re feeling particularly generous, you cut a small hole at the bottom of the basket so you can share the light but not reveal to the world that what you have is a lamp and not a candle.
So here I am today, a full year later, seated at my desk at what I believe is one of the best places to be employed in my country (yes, even with all the tongue-lashing we are getting) and I can carefully say that I am the most fulfilled I have felt this year.A lot could change in of course but like I said at the beginning, it is important to celebrate now. I lived away from home, on my own for six months, worked in a country that challenged my patience every single day, so much that I flirted with depression and eventually decided to quit. I left just in time too, because Ebola has gone and made patience the last thing that would be on my mind had I stayed. I came back home with the thought that I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying a myriad of things. I danced zumba almost daily for three months, took tailoring classes, applied to what I feel like was a billion jobs, and with a lot of trepidation, began to fall in love. In short, I kept myself very busy. In so doing I hoped that no one facet of my life would let me think about it so much I became depressed about things that weren’t going my way or coming to me fast enough. It worked, for the most part. There were many times I darn near gave up though. I have been programmed to wonder about where my next buck is going to come from or how I will invest it. The hustle is real. I proper worry about the future now. About every bloody thing! Even my unborn children, like if I will be the sort of mom that raises all these brats I see today. Or if I will be a mom at all. It is weird being grown up, I tell you! It is weirder when a lot of my peers are having children and being married. It feels like we were kids just yesterday, incapable of bearing life or nurturing it. It is interesting to watch.
Grown up is getting to me now. I am going to have a routine to follow and medical insurance (and actually need it) and a card that lets me into the building at work. Of course, I will still stay at mom’s for a bit longer, probably travel less (I need to work around that) and have real trouble sticking to a gym routine (I am going to work real hard at sticking it out). Nothing can be easy when you work late into the night for ten days straight but I like to think I love working with words.
I will be very exhausted most of the time but I am going to be happy. By default, a lot is going to get weeded out of my life, like the people who I will not need in my life. It will likely get boring and safe. I will hopefully learn to worry less and pay attention to the things that really matter; the friends that have always been there and also focus on building the best future I can for myself and those I love. I will find a way to laugh every day and remember why I started this journey in the first place.
It will be quite nice if I feel this visionary tomorrow…or even in the next hour. 


Fit chics…it is a journey!

I have been away for too long. I admit, I am gnashing my teeth in frustration about my inability to sit down and write about the blows and pats that life is dealing me…ah but that is a story for another day.

Recently, my friend and came up with a way to motivate women to work out. She started a fitness group on Facebook called FITCLIQUE256. It is 256 because these are Ugandan women chronicling their fitness journeys, we do not segregate though. Y’all are welocome. The enthusiasm with which Apenyo attacks life is deliriously contagious. She has us posting a fitness picture every week. Because of the time difference and my failure to get a dedicated photographer for Poseious Wednesdays, I have failed to give photos every single Wednesday. My gym regimen however, has never been more religious. Fitclique256 and Apenyo rock.

So anyways, again I have no picture of me for Poseious Wednesdays. I do however have a short story of how my fitness journey begun. The year was 2009. The cousins (summers) visited and impressed me with their tricks on the trampoline. I cursed the schools I went to because I had never been taught to love sport. I started with trying to perfect a split and after 2 weeks I was fabulous on the trampoline. I got my baby cousin’s minder to take the photo you see…no, it’s not Photoshop.Image

​ The Trampoline was 2 feet off the ground and I was six feet off it, probably more. But of course its a trampoline. That was the beginning. I have never stopped yearning for a body I can be confident in naked. It stopped being about losing weight, in fact, I am a little afraid of losing weight now.
Today, I moved into my a new apartment and my boss, a fine lover of art had put paintings all over my wall. In the bedroom she put these two ladies. Needless to say,  I was very amused. She said Mara (the full  color painting,yes, I named her) had curves like mine.Image I laughed. I love Mara…she is in perpetual celebration of her more than voluptuous body. She is beautiful. Since I started working out, my dream has been to have a body like Sapphira’s. Image I like to think I am not too far off. The beauty and confidence these two ladies exude is real so much so, that at first I felt a little upstaged. No more. I will be celebrating my curves and womanhood every single day because these two ladies look like they are in awe of their femininity. It looks like a good feeling to have. I went to the gym today and these two women were on my mind.  My new roommates urging me to celebrate me. I am happy, and terribly but deliciously sore. Won’t you join me… join us…make fitness a lifestyle.
Here’s a toast. To lifting. To Sweating. To strength. To beauty that shines right through. And, to eating whatever we darn well please!… in moderation of course.