and now, a break from our regularly schedule programming

to give a shoutout to my friend Chris, who's playing in the biggest Roller Rugby tournament in the world today. Wish him luck — it looks like things can get pretty crazy:


more bloglove

welcome to the fold

I got an e-mail today that I wanted to share with you all:

Hello there

I was searching for Aga Khan online and came across your website.

Forget Google Page Rank and Technorati — this is the true measure of blogebrity.

Let me introduce myself, my name is [redacted: I'm going to call him JoeBob] and I will be marrying an Ismaili woman come May 2007. I have courted her for over 7 years now.

JoeBob, I'm impressed. That right there is what we AgaKhanoholics call determination.

In that time, I have been witness (not personally, but heard) to many of the rituals that her family participate in their "jamat khana."

I have had so many of my questions unanswered when I display a passing interest in the religion and Aga Khan in particular.

My questions mainly pertain to the money that is collected from all these "activities." They have donation drives, and something called a partnership walk and many other "festivities" that I am undoubtedly unaware of.

The Ismailis get goosebumps whenever the Aga Khan's name is mentioned.

So do I, my friend, so do I.

I just don't get it. How can a "white" guy living in palaces in France be considered a Saviour of these predominantly Indian, Pakistani and African Ismaillis??

Islam forbids gambling on one hand and this Aga Khan has one of the worlds best collection of race horses. Isn't that strange??

This and many other things, my inquisitive little darling.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your blog. I have bookmarked it and will read all your articles (specially ones on "Aggie" as you call him ... funny as heck) with great interest.


You see, Internet?? This is what the "Aga Khan" does to "people" like me and JoeBob. We're put in such a "state" of consternation that we start throwing punctuation around like it's undoubtably "candy." Why, Aggie, why?? When are you going to stop stroking your studs, move out of your French palaces and answer some of our many, many questions??

JoeBob, good luck with your upcoming marriage. If you ever want to guestblog about attempts to sneak into the jamat khana, let me know.


he's not really, i promise

A while ago I took a boda-boda from work back to my house. The driver recognized me and asked about my friend:

Me: Oh, he's back in the States.

Driver: What?

Me: He went back home. To the U.S.

Driver: What?

Me: He left. He's gone. In America.

Driver: What?

Me: His time here is finished.

Driver: Oh, sorry. My sister, she is also finished. In May.

Me: Finished? No, no, not like that. He's not dead. He just went back home.

Driver: [Nodding head and clucking his tongue sympathetically] Yes, yes. Dead.

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In college I was what you might call "mildly obsessive" about campus politics. I ran for student government with a group called Delta Force, one of two student coalitions. We called ourselves activists, movers and creative thinkers. The other group, made up largely of fraternity and sorority members, called us hippies and losers.

Being a part of Delta Force involved wearing the same DF t-shirt for weeks on end, pulling three all-nighters in a row during the campaign, skipping class to convince strangers to vote for you, and, at the end, throwing a huge victory party that, despite the fact that only 15% of your candidates won, still rocked like mad.

Even though I'm a year removed from our last campaign, I still get all riled up when I talk about DF. I get sappy about little things, wax overly poetic about our victories and defeats, and find myself wanting to break my heart into little pieces so I can pass it around to the other members.

That's kind of how I feel about you guys right now. Cheri wrote last week about the "journalists, graphics designers, software programmers, humanitarians, internet wizards or just loungers" who are all part of the Ugandan blogosphere, and Pernille talked recently about the various traits of Ugandan bloggers — caring, schizophrenic, spiced up, courageous and honest, to name a few.

I am thrilled and inspired (I told you I get all sappy...if I were giving a speech, this is when I'd start to cry) by this community, and I think you all deserve to be the blog equivalent of Student Body President.

Since that's not really how we're organized, though, you should check out the invitation to be part of a blogging documentary that Pernille posted on Sunday. A group of Danish students is coming here next month to learn about "Ugandans who blog, their reasons to do so, and what opportunities blogging can create for that person and/or Uganda." They hope the film will help create a blog bridge between Denmark and Uganda.

If you want to be a part of the project, check out Learning by Blogging.

I'm going to go put on my Delta Force t-shirt and cry happy tears about the lovely, thoughtful, hilarious, raw, titilating things you all write.



jackfruit of the week: march 22

A hanging Jackfruit
from TravelBlog
Lots of fun things to talk about, post-Gulu/Lira/Apac. Links while I'm getting all of my stories ready:

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March UBHH: Awards & More

Last week's Uganda Bloggers Happy Hour was, on my part, a bit of a failure. I forgot to print out a sign, I advertised too little and too late, and when I left early (had crack-of-dawn bus ride the next day), I neglected to collect the sign-in sheet with everyone's blog address on it.


Luckily, the geeky-chic members of the Ugandan blogosphere were all on their game. Carlo showed up with a full-color laminated poster, Colin and Dennis spread the word to Makerere, and some kindly as-yet-to-be-named blogger undoubtedly will have the 27th Comrade snagged the guest list and be is holding it in his or her possession, waiting for me to retrieve it (feel free to let me know who you are...).

Aside from all that, though, this was our best UBHH yet. More than 20 people came, including the heretofore elusive Baz.

Perhaps most importantly, we announced the winners of the 2006 Uganda Best of Blog Awards:

Uganda Blog of the Year: I Have Left Copenhagen for Uganda

Best Writing: Dear Mr. Mccourt (now Once Upon Ish)

Best Design: Living Zack's Utopia

Best Photography: Locus Amoenus: Gulu, Northern Uganda

Best Post: mataachi inc.: Kim +10

The goal of the 2006 Uganda Best of Blog Awards was to recognize the incredible writing and art in this community, and all of our nominees are certainly emblematic of the talent that exists in the Ugandan blogosphere. Congratulations to the winners! I look forward to seeing everyone continue to express themselves through word, art, design and photography over the next year.

NOTE: If anyone has suggestions on categories or method for the 2007 awards, feel free to e-mail me or to leave them in the comments. Thanks!

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jackfruit of the week: march 15

A heavily fruiting jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) on the grounds of the old Hobson estate, Coconut Grove. Miami, Eila.
from Jackfruit (Purdue University)
I'm heading upcountry this weekend to check out a girls' football tournament in Gulu. To keep you entertained while I'm gone:

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in which i say an alternate word for "rooster" 27 times on the radio

Last Tuesday Dennis Muhumuza invited me to guest star on his weekly radio show Writers' Club on Makerere University's student-run station, Campus FM 107. We talked about tonight's Uganda Best of Blogs awards, Uganda Blogger Happy Hour, and the importance of blogging in Uganda. He also convinced me to read a couple of pieces on the air.

I admire Dennis for working to support and publicize the efforts of Ugandan writers, both in and out of the blogosphere. His blog Country Boyi features a series called Blogging a Blogger, and on Writers' Club he conducts interviews with journalists, students, poets, professors and other literarily-minded people. If you're in the Kampala area, get your hands on a radio and check it out, every Tuesday, from 7-9 PM.

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why i oppose sending ugandan troops to somalia

Last month, Josh at In an African Minute wrote about why he thinks those opposed to sending troops to Somalia are misguided. I don't think anyone would contest the fact that a stable Somalia is in the best interests of everyone from Somali citizens to the American government. The question, then, is whether or not a Ugandan presence will actually contribute to stabilization.

Josh argues that Ugandan troops will be met with more support than Ethiopians, but so far they've been met with bombs and mortars that have already killed or injured almost 30 civilians and two soldiers. The peacekeeping mission is miserably underfunded and understaffed, and several human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns that the operation will be a repeat of Uganda's intervention in the Congo, during which the UPDF was found to have tortured and killed civilians. An editorial in Friday's Daily Monitor compared the American anti-terrorism fervor to the Cold War and accused Museveni of "playing this card against terrorism as a tool to help him in his quest for a life presidency."

Perhaps most importantly, there is no real peace to keep. Though the Ethiopians dispelled the Islamic courts last year, making way for the Transitional Federal Government, insurgents have "vowed to kill the incoming peacekeepers" and have been launching almost daily attacks in Mogadishu, and Eritrea has warned that the presence of Ugandan forces could prompt a full-out war.

In the face of so many contra-indicators, I would argue that those who support Ugandan involvement are the misguided ones.

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Check it out: my blogroll (which I always thought sounded more like an Austrian pastry than anything else) had so many links on it that it was getting a little unwieldy. I decided to change things up a bit and use the lovely, fantastic Google Reader to keep tabs on what everyone's saying.

Instead of huge lists, the sidebar now shows the three most recent posts from five different categories — a better way, I think, of paying attention to the blogs I like. You can still see the lists if you click on the links below each category.

You can also read about the enigmatic jackfruit, if you're so inclined.

In other news: voting for the 2006 Uganda Best of Blogs is over. We had 287 votes in five categories, with some pretty hotly contested races. Awards will be presented at this month's Happy Hour: Thursday, March 15, 6:30 PM at Mateo's.

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too lazy to post

On Sunday I promised Josh I would "rake him over the coals" about Somalia. Am clearly a little behind. Here's what's been distracting me:

Scientists discover 'natural barrier' to HIV
(via Communist Socks & Boots)
Will the more medically-minded among you explain to me why no one but Yahoo and Web MD and some newspaper in China is talking about this? It seems like big, big news to me.

Jesus comes to Gulu
Best part of the article: "Reporters attending the scene sadly failed to confirm the sighting." I can't find anything online to verify this, but apparently there's a pastor in Gulu who predicted a series of events for 2007, including the Jesus siting, an earthquake, a lunar eclipse and a plague of butterflies. He's doing pretty good so far, I'd say.

Uganda's courts closed down
Museveni's Black Mambas pissed off the Judiciary when they tried to re-arrest several People's Redemption Army suspects after they'd just been granted bail. The courts are on strike until they receive "an assurance from the government that there won't be a re-occurrence of an armed invasion of courts."

Somalia article coming soon.

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th-th-throw your (...) hands up

Last week Reuters launched a new Africa-focused news site called (what else?) Reuters Africa. The site features pages for each country (check out Uganda's) that, in addition to regular and business-focused news content, include this:

Yep. You know what that means? We just got ourselves an audience. Global Voices Online already gets 300,000 readers each month, but the new partnership will expose GVO content to about 7.6 million more.

A lot of you have already been featured on GVO — in the last month, Degstar, Inktus, Dennis Matanda, Baz, Pernille, Ivan, Mr. Magoo and Zack and Joshi have all been mentioned. The Uganda section, which Josh edits, follows the big stories and conversations coming out of our part of the blogosphere — our stories. And now, those stories are going to be shown to over 200,000 people each day.

I wrote earlier about the importance of blogging in Uganda and why I think UBHH and the awards are a good idea — it's important that we talk and argue, laugh and listen. Not just among ourselves, but to the rest of the world.

Well, the world's listening. What are we going to say?

Other intriguing articles about Reuters Africa:

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