Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reggae Sunday

For a longtime I've always disguised my love for reggae music. This Sunday decided to wake up and shuffle through my collection ranging from roots, lovers rock, dancehall et al. There is this song by Chezidek...Farai war. It reminds me of one of those supremacy sounds non-stop wicked mixes...I think it was Missile 46 or something.

Talking about Farai war...the world just got crazy. Went to bed last nite with the news that 2 Ugandan politicians were languishing in some Mumbai jail allegedly as a result of attempting to extort US$20 million  from some indian investors. Well, without delving into the reality of that case, I  just wish them a speedy return home. The earth just got redder and Babylon got closer than you can imagine.

Let me enjoy my reggae Sunday with my two in-house "revolutionaries"...too young yet to get that title but not to early to impose it upon them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Angee wei Koko (Lamentation of a casanova)

Ceng ki kweri kwee.......
Angee wei koko
Ceng ki kweri kwee........
Angee wei koko
Ceng ki kweri kwee ni pe imit nyako ni
Odoko too ot yo
Angee wei koko
Odoko too ot
Lurema ceng ojuka ni pe amit nyako ni
Odoko ket keny ya
Angee wei koko
Odoko ket keny ba
Ceng ki kwera kwee ni pe adony i ot i
Odoko ket keny ya

As you continue to guess which lingua am using today, wonder no more. This is lep Acholi..the language of the Acholi. These are lyrics to a popular song in which the singer laments "the death of a homestead"accruing to his refusal to heed to advice against falling in love with a certain girl. With the rising HIV/AIDS infection rates in Uganda today, such messages are crucial for behaviour change.

Otole: The Warrior Dance

These pictures were taken in Attiak in 1954.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When Joy finds its height

My fore fathers said there is one particular point in life when a man's joy actually finds its height and I must say I found mine, rightly so, in marriage. The 5th December 2009 saw me walk the walk to my in-laws compound to formally and culturally take her hand. An elaborate traditional ceremony oiled with proverbs, humour and glamour. The inability of the white man's language to appropriately capture the memorable events of the day will be mitigated by the pictures. Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Uganda’s oil is like prostitutes and gamblers

I was quite tickled that Mr Tony Buckingham, the shrewd ex-mercenary and chief of Heritage Oil, is set to make £80million (Shs240 billion) from selling its lucrative oil fields in Uganda.

Buckingham has done a deal to flog his company’s oil fields in western Uganda to Eni of Italy for a cool $1.5 billion.

This story reminded me of what they said about the many Gold Rushes in America; that the people who made the most money from it were not the miners who went to mine, but the people who went to mine the miners.

One way to best understand this is to look at an industry that is very much on display every night near places like Speke Hotel – prostitution. Contrary to popular belief, the people who make the most money from prostitution are not the prostitutes.

First, the policemen they have to bribe so they can leave them alone, make more than the prostitutes. A prostitute might do business with, say, five men in a night. Let us, for purposes of example, say each of the men pay Prostitute X Shs20,000; that is Shs100,000. Maybe she pays the policeman Shs15,000 to turn a blind eye.

However, the difference is that while she has only five customers a night, the policeman has about 20 prostitutes around town bribing him a night. So he goes home with Shs300,000 a night, but Prostitute X, who is the one who sells the primary service, goes home with Shs85,000. But she won’t be so lucky. She has other payments to make; Shs5,000 to the street boy who keeps a lookout for her, and if she has a pimp, she pays him Shs15,000. Therefore she takes home Shs65,000 only.

It is the same with Heritage. It’s making $1.5b not from selling the fields, but from selling its discovery. It is up to Eni (and Uganda) to try and make money from the oil, and they face uncertainties that Heritage no longer does.

Someone will have to sell (and service) the heavy equipment for drilling oil; to put money to finance the drilling; to sell insurance, name it. All these fellows will get paid BEFORE Uganda earns a dollar from selling a barrel of oil. And in the end, they will earn the most money because they will not be paying the heavy environmental price that comes with the oil business.

The real secret in making money in natural resources, therefore, is to play in the transferrable part of the business. An oil well is not movable. However, money earned from lending to oil companies and financing infrastructure is highly movable. Heritage Oil can now take its money to Shanghai, China, and invest in the booming property market there. Our oil wells, meanwhile, will remain in Bunyoro.
Others have been there before us. I like these subversive websites that like bringing awkward facts to lights. One of the more user-friendly ones as far as natural resources, especially gold, is concerned is

It tells us that when gold was found in California in 1848, thousands rushed to look for fortune. As they still do more than 250 years in places like DR Congo and Sierra Leone, the miners of that time searched for flakes of gold, by sifting soil at the bottom of streams with a shallow pan. After a few years, the gold was harder to find, and heavy machines moved in. The miners got their horses and on to the next big find.

Most miners stayed poor (how little things change), because only a few of them found large amounts of gold. “The people who most often made money on the gold fields were the merchants who sold supplies to the miners,” reports. Well after the gold mines of the time have been forgotten, Levi Straus is still very much in business selling what it sold to miners then – jeans.

Far far away in Australia, at about the same time gold was found. The miners flocked in their thousands to the fields hoping to make it big.

It was hell for the miners. They had to pay for a licence before they could dig. It was backbreaking work and they were not becoming rich. They rioted

However, there were groups of people who were making it very big. These were, again, the fellows who came to mine the miners: The merchants who sold food and equipment to the diggers found business profitable, many grew very rich.

If there is anything in this, Heritage has taught us a valuable lesson in the key to making money in oil, and the secret to prosperity. It is a rule that works almost everywhere else: If you want to make money from a casino, don’t be the gambler. Be the casino owner.

If you want to win an election (in places like Uganda), don’t vote. Count the votes.

If you want to be very powerful and make a fortune from the presidency, you don’t have to be president. The only thing you need is to know el Presidente. Teach your children this ancient lesson.

NB. This article was written by Charles Onyango Obbo in the Monitor newspaper of Wednesday 25th November 2009.

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