Slice and Dice; The "article"

Source:Daily Monitor…and then some

On the evening of July 31, a short woman in blue compact jeans chased a beefy man around a bar table as she mirthfully pleaded to have her phone back.

I was there and I honestly can’t remember seeing a beefy man amongst us. It may have been the drugs I was on, but seriously, do we have a beefy blogger? I need to know coz I need to put on some beef.

Patrons raised their eyes from their drinks and watched on mystified, wondering if this "run-and-catch" was part of the entertainment menu.

Those patrons, you can’t really please them. I mean there was this one time I stood in front of the "projector-thingy" and messed up their soccer viewing, but no one seemed to give a shit. Also, I suspect they had already had a look at the menu printed out and displayed near the projector’s screen…
The players were members of the Ugandan blogging community who had just gathered at the Turkish restaurant, Effendys, with the rest of the inner circle for their monthly meet-ups – what they call the "Happy Hour".

There’s loads of "their" and "they" being thrown about. I’ll assume for argument’s sake that you figure you are not one of "them". NEWSFLASH. Someone has been putting up posts over at what was (?) your blog masquerading as you. The impostor has access to your album and stuff. Be afraid…but not too much, he is a friend of Jesus’.

Before arriving here an hour or thereabouts, a debate had raged between two bloggers and a visiting American:

{Word going around suggests that there was no American at this BHH… there was, however, a Canadian. }

Are all Ugandan bloggers okay with taking their meetings to a bar?

Not all of them, just the one’s that attend BHH. There are others that like to keep a low profile and have more pressing issues… doing proper research for articles not being one of those issues.

And what’s the whole essence of having a Happy Hour? Is it just to celebrate life by drinking expensive coffee and beer, fraternising, raising money for an orphanage or engaging intellectually say on the rising food prices?

Allow me to quote Darlyne, a blogger and a friend that I have known for a decade, "To put a face to the blogs we read and love so much. To have a forum where we can discuss, face to face, some of the controversial posts that we have read in the previous month. To have fun and meet new people and make new friends. To engage intellectually on different things including the rising food prices." I really want to call her a clever blogger, because I truly think she is, but we don’t share the same pastor or bible, so that may not be in line with how you do things… Dee, if you are reading this, me I think you are cool! Even if I don’t read verses from your CD insert…I mean, bible.
With Michael Jackson’s Thriller playing in the background, Thomas Smyth literally shouted his order, for that was the only way the waitress was going to hear.

One- Call him Tom.

Two- That can’t be true, I’m sure there are other ways the waitress was going to hear…like by interpretation through song.

That’s about when the two adults pursued themselves around tables. It was the beginning of a shocking evening for the American.

Are you implying that he wasn’t shocked that the only way the waitress was going to hear was through shouting? Yes? Okay then…and again, who is beefy blogger?
Soon, girls were eyeing him surreptitiously (ugh! Migraine! Oh big word! Why hast thou come and claimed a brain cell?! Curse you massive word!) and whispering (possibly about his towering height)

We have bloggers that whisper…at BHH no less? Say it isn’t so! Wait… we have people that attend BHH and check out people in attendance? This is so unheard of, so bizarre… Thank God we have level headed ones like you who come just for…wait, were you drinking coffee?

and taking pictures with their phones.

Disclaimer: my phone refused to take pictures with me. Mbu I am not cool enough. However, I did manage to use my phone to take a few photographs…

Thomas Smyth gulped his drink and left the Happy Hour prematurely.

But Tom says he had 2 beers…which Tom were you observing? And I left the BHH a little after ten and I left Tom there… Perhaps I have this all wrong, coz you did say the Tom that left prematurely was an American Tourist…the one I left at Effendys was a Canadian and he was a student at the university. Great guy actually, he is supposed to send me a tiger cub or something (honest! We discussed this)

He had come with a hypothesis: That this community of erudite bloggers was going to transform the Ugandan society but a few minutes with them and he began to doubt.
"I did not have a rotten time at the happy hour that night. Quite the contrary. True, I had hoped to find a different kind of atmosphere, but when I realized that the meeting was of a more social nature I went with it. – Tom" (Source; Comment section from Darlyne’s blog)
He didn’t know that a clever Ugandan blogger, S.A.G.E, had in August 2007 summed the Ugandan blogging scenario as "the theatre of the absurd" for which he incurred the wrath of the "blogren."

Is that the same Ugandan blogger that you have known for 7 years? And I really can not/ will not go into this.

Blogger Savage had called him "a waste of space on earth and a disgrace to the entire human population" and insulted his parents saying they would have done the "world a huge favour had they decided to have a good night’s sleep instead of engaging in hanky panky the night" S.A.G.E was "conceived."

Ironically, Savage’s attack of S.A.G.E drew a backlash as equally inane. One blogger Keitetsi said Savage sounded like "a menopausal goose" and that if his comments were "on paper, it would be the kind of stuff people in jail use to wipe their butts."

As drama ensued, the personalities of many Ugandan bloggers were exposed to a level where the discerning would no longer find it confounding that a woman would for example upload a picture of her g-string on her blog and ask if the readers like it.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise really, given that when you reported on blogging mania hitting town, you said, bloggers "are not shy to blog (sic) about how tortoises make love to how exciting it is to kiss in the morgue. Introverts turn into instant extroverts -posting anything to see how readers respond. Then there are blogs on ordinary things like the premiership soccer craze, the work experience and getting stuck in a jam." And where is the g-string post where we were asked if we liked it? I feel cheated.

A June 30 ( I love how you can recall the date without going back to check) blog entry boldly titled "Boobs!" by Ugandan blogger Carlo, contained four pictures of women’s cleavage. (In effect, 8 boobs?) Her blog soon jammed with comments from men and women begging with desperation to know to whom the ample busts belonged – Carlo’s or her sisters. Only a few wondered if she was crazy to flash such erotica. (Erotica let me look at her ID once, she looks nothing like the boobs in question)
"My blog is called Carlo’s for a reason; it’s all about me, so I put up what I want," she defended herself. "I put them [cleavage] there to attract attention as a light-hearted beginning of a week so we’re not totally focused on serious issues but can laugh sometimes and be ridiculous, you get?"

While it’s true it’s the blogger’s prerogative to fill their blogs with whatever material, those creating blogs are prompted to restrict their sites to invited readers or to put a disclaimer that the blog contains adult content. (So…seeing as you landed on this blog post…were you invited or just blog-post-crashing?)

From S.A.G.E’s understanding, bloggers are supposed to update their lives and voice their opinions on things they strongly feel about to provoke intellectually stimulating debate.

From YOUR understanding back then in that article, "perhaps they blog because bloggers are a creative lot who paint big pictures with incandescent prose, sheer musicality and urbane vividness by weaving terrific escapades that provide intimate reading for their online fans." Did you share your opinion with him, you know, so you could compare notes with this authority"

"But in Uganda, it’s more of who’s more dirty," he says. "They are not going to be interested if you don’t tickle the bad boy and the bad girl in them; so girls talk about the first time they lost their virginity in the shower room, and boys about how sweet sex in the morgue is and everyone cheers and their egos are massaged. Their superficiality comes to the surface as they smite those that would rather tell them the truth than hype them."

Not really, I was tickled reading about Kirk Franklin asking you to set up a blog for him. And I doubt egos can only be massaged when sexual content is posted on blogs. Otherwise we wouldn’t have people talking about their albums…

Journalist Rodney Muhumuza agrees. "We don’t seem to have a lot of reported blogs in Uganda, which is very disappointing. In America, bloggers investigate and conduct interviews to scoop The New York Times but most Ugandan bloggers that I know care about life at its most basic," said Muhumuza, who writes The Kampala Review blog. "It’s more often about sex, sex and more sex. It’s hardly the stuff that will inspire a sober mind."

In Uganda, some journalists barely investigate, otherwise one (name not mentioned) would have pointed out that there are few blogs that deal with sex, sex and more sex. Come to think of it… Which blogger discusses sex with such frequency? Does The Hyena from the Red Pepper have a blog?

Could it be that they know they write banality that they hide under pseudonyms?

I’m not sure, but a writer with the Sunday Monitor assumes this turns "introverts into instant extroverts" Rather than heroes, you meet unrepentant cynics and provocateurs that spend a bulk of their time venting, fantasising and gibbering about trivialities with unflagging devotion.

Something the writer once described thus, "It’s without doubt a riveting experience reading people’s blogs."

Writing about life in the Internet age, David Kaiza dramatically captured this in the June 30-July 6 issue of The EastAfrican by noting, "The culture (of blogging) puffs out like a hot air balloon; directionless and pointless."

It is this lack of focus that has left Ugandan journalist and blogger Benon Herbert Oluka disappointed: "I would expect people to use their blogs to give more insight into everyday happenings because I tend to get hooked to thought-provoking articles than someone whose blog is about where they hang out last night and blah, blah, blah."

But is not hanging out one of those many everyday happenings? Are you asking us to… to lie?
Plus… there are loads of blogs that do offer thought provocation… see the Node Six aggregator for details. Check out Baz’s blog for links (Yes, Baz, another blogger that I have known for a while and respect like a problem…but because he doesn’t sing or lend me his hymn book, I can not quote him)
One of the most popular and respected Ugandan bloggers, 27th Comrade, thinks many Ugandan bloggers are "simply not interested in serious discourse; it’s not a bad thing; it’s just different."
How dare you? It IS a bad thing! Why else would this journalist be covering it?
Flipping the other side of the coin, there are also purpose-driven bloggers, however few, that command the respect of the intelligent and educated alike. Tumwijuke of the Ugandan Insomniac blog is for example loved for her ability to "poke the social conscience of people".

Writing with zing and flair, she has almost single-handedly cracked into the dominance of traditional media by arousing discussion on issues of national and global importance, for which she was in February this year voted Uganda‘s best blogger by fellow "blogren".

For some however, the uniqueness of blogs is the greatest thing to happen online. Clearly, you are not one of these.

"Bloggers don’t have to follow conventional rules like the newspapers and that’s what I love most," says Jared Ombui an avid reader of blogs. "Writing for them is a heart thing and often you find closet stories; the kind you will never see in our newspapers. I love that they are usually short and funny and also the comments from readers are hilarious."

For blogger Denda, it’s the spirit of comradeship that he loves about blogging. "It’s like neighbours checking on each other," he said. "I knock on your blog anytime and find out what’s going on in your ‘house’. During the Happy Hour we share ideas and swap books and meet some of the bloggers we love to read –that’s the whole beauty about blogging."

Did you read this bit before carrying massive expectations into the whole happy hour thing? Or is it that short term memory thing everyone’s getting into lately?

It’s a positive sign especially in this era where blogs are increasingly being seen as points of reference. Already, there is a heated debate on the Internet that they will soon replace mainstream media which shows the power blogs possess.

Still, if the world’s best comic-strip artist was to invent something that best depicts the Ugandan blogging experience as whole, it would not be the kind patriots would like. It’s only after we have revolutionised the way we think and blog that people like Thomas Smyth will not leave the Happy Hour with inhibitions.

Truth be told, I’d welcome the effort. But that’s only because the world’s best comic strip artist (and I don’t even know who this is) would have an open mind and truly comprehend what blogging is about….

…and call him TOM!

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7 Comments

  • Mr. B2B Reply September 3, 2008

    Ok Aivan
    This is the sum of all fears…

    Wait, that came out wrong

    The sum of all rants/ drama
    i like it!

  • Miss Cheri Reply September 3, 2008

    This blog has been playing hide and seek with me. Finally I get it.

  • spartakuss Reply September 4, 2008

    it feels like the most cunning rant i’ve heard in years. i mean with all the running commentary alongside..hhhmm. i am wondering if that came out right or should i have said running ……whoa!!

    am out Aivan. great post by the way

  • tumwijuke Reply September 4, 2008

    Haaaaaa! Totally enjoyed this.

    Someone invite Tom for the next BHH just so we can give him a hug.

  • petesmama Reply September 5, 2008

    I second that – poor Tom needs a hug.

    Ivan, remind me neyvar to piss you off.

  • Ivan Reply September 5, 2008

    What the? Petesmama How dare you? Its on!! Wait for the next po… oh wait, sorry, misread that…
    @B2B; No more drama…is a nice song
    @Sparta: There was nothing dirty in there…now what i just said sounds dirty…
    @Cheri: As in “get it” by way of comprehension?
    @Tumwi: Hug me! i’m the one that’s ranting

  • chanel Reply September 8, 2008

    How much do I pay for this therapy

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