Thursday, February 26, 2009

The good, the bad and the future

The sensationalization of calamities and mishaps by the press has just got me cracking up like a toddler at its first circus.

Take a look at the Pepper's headline today 'owino in ashes on ash wednesday' and to add to that the Monitor just couldn't resist using the pun 'Harsh wednesday' newspapers and the television can't help but feed off other peoples problems, earthquakes, fires, murders and even genocide offer the papers an opportunity to sell more copies than they would ordinarily sell on a cold wet morning when it's business as usual with nothing going on but the occassional traffic jam.

But before you lean back your pompous ass and frown on the fourth estate just remember that it's not the editors that devour these stories with such frenzied excitement it's you. you are the reason the media makes such a meal of these disasters and prints macabre and grotesque images. they do this to feed your thirst for drama.

I won't pretend that I empathise with these owino lowlifes and I won't write anything in sympathy or pity, heartlessly I went about my business yesterday as if the fire had merely burnt through my garbage can and ruined the remains of yesternights supper. I did shop from that filthy place once but that was a long time ago, call me callous call me the devil but thats just the way I feel.

Also I will go a step further and say that maybe the idiots deserved to have all their means of earning a living go up in flames, before you log off in protest lemme say say that all the police investigations might turn up nothing this was clearly a bolt of fire from heaven that was sent by Michael the archangel to stamp out that crop of vermin that has nothing better to do with their time than pickpocket, gamble, and sell flesh. Lets rejoice, our mini Sodom is no more, now we can put up a mall that will house mobile phone shops and identical clothes from china.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Devil's Bonfire: Chapter 8

The season finale

The girl rolled her eyes provocatively at Simon and beckoned him with one finger.

He looked back at the group he had just left, Russell seemed to be delivering the punch line to some joke because the girls suddenly burst into fits of laughter. He turned back to the girl who was now swaying her hips to the music and he walked over to her.

“Hi!” She said “I’m totally loving your skinhead.”

“I almost ran you over, then you took off” he said accusingly “you were running from them, the savages and Seargeant Kaggwa said they got you, what are you doing here? how did you…” Simon was still going until she stopped him.

“Ran me over?” she was now quizzical “Where?”

“Back in the forest” he labored to explain “this afternoon at around three you rushed onto the road I almost killed you”

“Me, in the forest?” look, you must think I’m somebody else.

“They were after you, these savages, I swear it was you” he insisted.

“I don’t know what you’ve been drinking, but you need to split.” She said exasperatedly and turned to walk away.

“Wait,” he said “Lemme show you something.” He was now absolutely perplexed, but he needed to find out more about her, either she was lying or his mind was playing tricks on him.

He removed a hanky from his jacket pocket and picked a bottle top from the ground, carefully while she watched he placed the top in the middle of the hanky and folded it, after a brief second he flipped the hanky in the air and turned it around sideways. The bottle top had miraculously disappeared.

“Wow” she said exitedly “how did you do that?”

“It’s just a little magic” he smiled.

“So cool, can you teach me?” she pleaded.

“Lemme think about it while we dance,” he replied. “Shall we”

He took her hand and they made their way through a mass of bodies until they found a free space in the middle of the lawn.

They boogied to a number of hits including his favorites, Sean Kingston’s ‘Beautiful girls’ and Chamillionaire’s ‘Ridin’. Simon found her to be a terrific dancer and as the DJ spun a raga tune by some obscure Jamaican artist he put his hands on her hips and pulled her closer while gyrating from left to right.

She didn’t seem to mind and pulled him even closer with her arms around his neck.

“So what’s your name?” She spoke in his ear.

“Simon, what’s yours?”

“Rachel.” She answered while pointing to a golden chain around her neck from which dangled a calligraphically designed letter ‘R’, “Rachel Kalema”

“Do you always give your full name to a total stranger”

“Only when they’re cute,” she smiled mischievously.

“You sure know how to dance for someone so young” he teased.

“Don’t you know that dancers are born?” she retorted.

“Really?” he laughed “and what class are you in?” he inquired further.

“That’s a really clever way of trying to tell my age young man.” She joked.

“How about if I asked directly then, how old are you?” he shot back.

“Why not find out” she teased.

“Yeah, how?”

She pulled his face close and kissed him on the lips, in a very unexpected move her warm and moist lips enveloped his mouth and he felt his heart thump rapidly, quickly Simon regained his composure and pulled away slowly.

“Wow, you don’t waste time do you” he said “some kiss.”

“Am a girl of many talents” She purred.

“No doubt my dear no doubt, but I would wish for you to at least give me a warning before errr….displaying your numerous talents.”

“Fine my love” she cooed, “what I wouldn’t give for a drink right now.”

“You took the words right out of my mouth,” he concurred, “let’s look for a bar”

They made their way to a bar where he obtained a bottle of tusker for himself and a coke for her. Several tents had been erected all around the compound and plastic chairs were neatly arranged underneath them, he took her hand and led her to one of the tents, they slumped into the chairs with much relief.

“My feet are killing me” he complained, “Haven’t danced this much since first year.”

“What course did you pursue?” She inquired.

“Social Sciences” he answered.

“Have you found a job?” she dug further.

“No, still looking”

“Looking where?”

“What is this, an inquisition?” he joked.

“Just asking” she said defensively, “just imagine you’re on TV and I’m Oprah.”

“Okay Oprah, you can fire away just as long as I get to play Larry King later.”

“No, no, no” she cried, “tonight is about you.” As she said that Simon saw that she shivered a little.

“You’re getting chilly.” He noted as he removed his jacket and placed it around her shoulders.

“I’m actually developing a mild migraine.” She sighed.

“Well, that’s because its way past your bed time,” he teased, a look at his watch told him it was a half past midnight, “my my my time sure does fly.”

“Could you take me home?” she pleaded.

“I’m your night in shining armor,” he replied and stood up, “could you hang on a second? I need to go tell my cousin.”

When he got back to where he had left Russell, neither his cousin nor any of the three chicks were anywhere to be seen, he whipped out his phone and dialed Russell’s number.

“Sup cuz?” Answered Russell.

“Can’t find you” Simon replied, “Are you still at the party?”

“Naw, got lucky man, ama spend the night at this hottie’s motel.”

“Alright cuz, see you in the morning,” Simon said and hung up.

He found Rachel shaking her head to Timbaland’s ‘Apologize’ “love this song” she shouted when she saw him, “did you find your cousin?”

“No, he split, so where do you live?” He asked.

“Near the power transformer, at the bottom of this hill.”

“Yes, I think I saw it, let’s get going then.”

Simon started the truck as Rachel climbed into the co-drivers seat.

“Fasten seatbelts,” he announced.

“Seatbelt on,” she answered “let’s move already”

Simon drove down the mud track till he reached a junction at the bottom of the hill, to his left he could make out the silhouette of the power transformer in the darkness.

“So where’s home,” he inquired.

“Just a few meters past the transformer,” she replied “there” she pointed into the darkness.

As they cruised past the transformer, a few meters ahead Simon spotted a small house lit in the front by a single security bulb attached to the roof, “I can see it” he said, it was a tiny red brick house with a hedge fence that formed an intermittent boundary around it, as he drew closer Simon dimmed his headlamps for he felt a feeling of apprehension come over him, there was a buzz of activity going on around the house and quite a number of people sitting or moving around the house.

“Hey, what’s going on here?” he asked, he turned to Rachel for an answer but she was gone.

Simon felt a chill run down his spine, he slammed on the brakes and looked all around the inside of the vehicle. One minute she’d been there and the next she was gone without a trace.

“Rachel” he shouted her name, “what in heavens……..” he went from being mildly worried to hysterical, how could she just vanish? It was almost as if she had melted into the upholstery.

Simon stepped out of the vehicle and it was only then that he noticed the group of villagers that had started crowding around the pick-up, he was just about to say something when he heard wailing noises from the house, he was quite familiar with the sounds, they were cries of mourning.

A young boy of around 13 was peering curiously into the pick up. he grabbed the kid by the arm.

“Did somebody die here?” he asked the boy

“Yes,” the kid replied.

“Have you seen a girl around here she’s about this high, white blouse, blue skirt” he pressed further.

“No” the kid replied “can I drive your car” he begged.

“Do you live around here?” he shut the car door to keep the boy from jumping in.

“Yes, this is my home,”

“You…you live here,” he questioned, “see, I’m looking for this girl she just vanished, Rachel, you know her?”

“Rachel was my sister, she was murdered,” the boy was now wearing a grave expression.

“Murdered?” he looked disbelievingly at the lad, “the girl I’m looking for is Rachel Kalema.” I was with her just now.

“That’s her, my sister and you must have been with somebody else because her body was discovered a few hours back, in the forest.”

Simon felt a tight knot form in his stomach and almost immediately the blood rushed from his head making him reel backwards unexpectedly.
Nothing made sense, who was Rachel? Why had she led him here? How had she vanished? And why was this kid telling him she was dead?

“Is she… Is... Rachel ……inside” he asked the boy.

“Yes” said the kid.

“Take me there” his voice was husky with trepidation.

The kid led him towards the house, the wailing and crying got louder as they approached the entrance, in the middle of the small lawn a large group of young men and women were stoking a fire around which they all crowded for warmth.

“Omwana wange omuto mamange” the wailing got shriller as he stepped into the house.

The most heart wrenching grieving came from one corner of the room where an elderly woman whom Simon surmised to be the mother was crying inconsolably, a group of several women dressed in gomesis or kangas filled the tiny room.

It all felt like a bad dream, the kind you fail to wake up from, but much as he tried not to think about it something told him the girl in the forest, Rachel and this house were connected. Beads of perspiration formed on his brow and he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, “this is some crazy,” he said to himself.

Laid out on a mat in the center of the room was the bloodied body of a teenage girl. Simon almost turned and ran when he beheld the horrific sight of the corpse that had been bundled in a white sheet through which the blood had seeped.

He stepped forward warily.

Simon suddenly felt very sick. It was her.

Surprisingly Rachel’s face looked calm and serene it was blemish less with an angelic beauty that made her look like a sleeping cherubim. The golden ‘R’ chain around her neck still managed to glimmer under the dim light from a sooty bulb on the wall.

Simon turned and fled from the house, in his haste to exit the scene he rammed into a person almost knocking them over.

“Hey watch it, bro,” said someone.

“You blind?” screamed another, Simon could barely hear them, their voices sounded distant, he tried to focus on the people confronting him but their faces looked hazy and vague, his sight was foggy and his head felt woozy, he stumbled past the group huddled around the fire and stopped to recollect himself, his legs gave way and he knelt on a patch just by the hedge.

A wave of blinding nausea hit him and forced him to double over and clutch his tummy.

Simon retched and vomited onto the grass.

"The occultist sees in the man of today a being in the full swing of evolution. Man is at the same time a fallen God and a God in the becoming."
Rudolph Steiner

Watch out for the Season II premier next month

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Devil's Bonfire: Chapter 7


Simon stood in the shower and soaped his entire body from head to toe, using a sponge he spread the lather all over his body and as the sweet smelling foam multiplied he heaved a sigh of relief.

The sun had set on Kyalika by the time he had returned from the search in the forest with his grand father and the police, he had quickly retrieved his hilux truck from the village square and followed his grand father to a large and expansive attractive bungalow built atop one of Kyalika’s numerous hills, the house was surrounded by more than 10 acres of a magnificent orchard with trees that flowered mangoes, avocado and jack fruit. This was Dr. Katende’s retirement home and Simon was shocked at the splendour and luxury his grand father waddled in.

The bungalow had been designed by a renowned South African architect, all the furniture was imported from Europe and opulent tiles that made up the walls and floors shimmered from every angle of the plush house.

The days events had left him feeling exhausted and filthy, he bent down to pick up the bucket of cold water between his legs and tipped it over his head, the water gushed down with such force he stopped breathing and felt a fleeting sense of helplessness not unlike being swept by a flood, he refilled the bucket from a tap in the wall and repeated the action twice until he was gasping for breath.

Simon reached for a towel, wrapped it his round his waist and stepped out of the shower into his room, he walked over to his rucksack and fished out a fresh pair of jeans and a clean shirt, after quickly dressing he looked at himself in the full length mirror atop the dressing table, his clean shaven head shone under the light bulb and a stubble has formed on his chin, he wasn’t in a hurry to shave though, Simon liked the bad boy looks a beard accorded him. He took a glance at his watch which told him it was a half past eight, he threw on a black denim jacket and went to look for his grand father.

Simon found his grand father on the patio perusing through the New Vision paper. Dr. Katende was dressed in white slacks and a white T-shirt and was reclined on a beach chair, he failed to look up when Simon stepped onto the patio.

Seated next to his grand father was a young man dressed in only beach shorts and a baseball cap, Simon knew him as Russell a first cousin of his whom he only got to see on weddings and funerals, if he remembered correctly Russell was only a year older than him and spent his life bumming around the country from party to party.

“Well Russell,fancy seeing you here.” he announced his presence.

Dr. Katende looked up from his newspaper and smiled, “he’s just here to refill his wallet Simon and I don’t mind helping”

“Dearest Grandpa my only wish is for your good health and prosperity” objected Russell.

“Thank you grandson, could you pour Simon some wine.”

Between the old man and Russell on a coffee table was a bottle of red wine that was nearly empty, two used wine glasses indicated that the duo had been at it for some time, Russell picked up a third glass and filled it, while handing it over to Simon he raised his own in a toast.

“To grandpa” he said.

“To grandpa” Simon echoed. He slumped down on the only remaining beach chair and took a sip from his glass, he let the tingling liquid rest in his mouth for a lingering moment and then swallowed, he grimaced as a burning sensation filled his stomach.

“Not a wine person I gather” his grand father noted.

“Is it that obvious grandpa? He joked, “I’d choose my beer any day thank you.”

“You young people” Dr. Katende sighed, “No appreciation whatsoever for the good things in life, you’ll find a few beers cooling in the freezer by the kitchen door.”

“I’ve got a better idea Simon ol’sport” Russell joined in, “there’s this kasiki at Col. Muwenda’s place a few miles back the way, lets go check it out.”

“He’s in no shape right now Russell, Simon needs to relax” The old man started in Simon’s defence.

“Oh! Don’t be a spoil sport grandpa we’ll be back in a couple of hours, besides it’ll help Simon get all this stuff off his mind.”

“Alright kids but drive safely okay!” the old man gave in.

As Russell entered the house to look for a shirt Simon started up the hilux and revved the engine, his mouth was already beginning to water as he pictured an ice cold Club Pilsner in his hand, unable to contain his desire he skipped out of the hilux, rushed over to the freezer and retrieved a Club, unwilling to look around for an opener he popped it open using his teeth and took a huge gulp.

As the ice cold brew flowed down his throat his tense muscles relaxed and he closed his eyes as tiny shivers traversed his entire body.

“Snap out of it homie” Russell’s voice brought him back from his trance.

“All set Russell?”

“All systems go” Russell replied.

Russell jumped into the co driver’s seat while Simon placed the Club bottle in the cup holder next to the gear lever and cruised off into the darkness with the beam from his headlamps leading the way.

A mile further down the hill lay a colonial style mansion with an expansive plush lawn surrounded by a brick fence. This was the residence of Col. Muwenda the commander of the 4th mechanized brigade stationed in Masaka. Col. Muwenda’s daughter was getting married the next day at All saints in Kampala, circulating rumors revealed he had thrown his daughter a farewell party that would be spoken about for years to come.

Simon and Russell wasted no time in getting comfortable, they walked straight to the free drinks bar and Simon ordered a Tusker with Russell settling for three shots of Uganda Waragi. The entire compound was swarming with hundreds of guests who were either busy stuffing their mouths with free food or making sure the free booze wasn’t wasted, everyone seemed to be swaying to the music that was blaring from the more than ten Disco speakers supplied by Silk mobile and one had to shout above the sound of the music to make themselves heard.

“Do you know any of those cuties?” Simon pointed to a group of three hot looking girls dressed in skimpy party dresses, they were holding wine glasses and skimming through their mobile phones as if oblivious to the festivities around them.

“Nope, but if you’d like, we could get to know them” without waiting for an answer Russell took one swig from his glass and marched over to where the girls were standing.

A baffled Simon stared at his departing cousin, shrugged his shoulders and followed suit.

“Hi I’m Russell you guys sure look out of place in this village, not from around here I reckon”

“No” said one of the girls, she was wearing a short blue dress that left nothing to the imagination. “We’re from Mbarara actually, MUST”

“Oh! So you’re friends of Claire’s I guess, I gather she has a degree from there” Russell observed.

“Claire?” a confused Simon inquired.

“The bride to be” the rest of the group said in unison.

“Oh! I see, I’m Simon” he shook hands with the girls, he took particular interest in one that was wearing a black dress that fell to the knees and opened up at the front to expose a cleavage that almost sent Simon into a paroxysm.

“So are you a med student?” he asked her.

“I wish” she answered “I’m doing a paramedics course”

“Oh! I see so I guess you can help me, my heart just stopped when I saw you, you are absolutely stunning.”

“You are so dead,” she laughed “but I’ll buy you a coffin.”

Simon closed his eyes playfully and groaned. “Let me fetch you a drink before I die.”

He took her glass and made his way back to the counter.

He was halfway to the bar when he saw her, his entire body froze and his mouth opened in shock, the glass slipped from his fingers and fell to the ground.

It was her the girl from the forest, she was wearing the same skirt and blouse he had seen her in, only this time she was clean and wearing white trainers. He eyes sparkled in the disco lights, they were the same pretty eyes that had stared back at him in terror just a few hours back in the forest.

She smiled and waved at him playfully.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Devil's Bonfire: Chapter 6

Futile efforts

Simon jumped into his truck and proceeded to follow the old man into the village.

A few meters after the Billboard a dirt road branched off to the right, the Yamaha bike left the tarmac road and proceeded up the dirt road.

The road was lined on either side with crop fields of Maize and cassava, occasionally Simon noticed a sugarcane plantation. Every few hundred meters a homestead appeared, a circle of small huts surrounding one big hut was the standard homestead arrangement. Villagers were hard at work in the fields, bareback in the stifling heat. He watched as they raised their hoes in the air and brought them down tirelessly.

Ten minutes and a dusty drive later they arrived at the village square. Numerous stalls had been erected all around the square and as Simon drove in he was hit by a cacophony of voices as traders loudly advertised their wares and announced bargain prices to whoever cared to listen.

The police station was sandwiched between a vegetables stall and a charcoal shack, the structure that housed the station was an untidy cabin built from mud bricks that had been painted white, the white paint had long since turned to a dirty shade of brown and the word POLICE had been untidily painted in black paint above the entrance.

His grandfather dismounted and strode into the station, Simon climbed out of the Hilux and followed the old man into the cabin.

The smell of raw tobacco hit Simon as soon as he stepped into the station which was just as untidy inside as it was on the outside, the paint had peeled from the walls exposing mud bricks that were beginning to crumble, in a far corner of the room was placed a table and a chair.

Perched on the chair was a policeman who squinted at the pair as they walked in, he was dressed in full police uniform and a roll of tobacco was trapped between his nicotine stained teeth. A couple of seconds later his face lit up and he rose to meet his visitors.

“Dr. Katende, it’s been a couple of weeks, how are you today?” the cop bellowed.

“Well Kaggwa, it’s not always I run into trouble.” replied the old man.

“Never hurts to check in on an old friend old man.”
With those words his eyes wandered to Simon who was still standing in the doorway.

Dr. Katende waved towards Simon. “ Kaggwa meet my grandson Simon.”

“Simon this happens to be Sergeant Kaggwa the officer in charge of this post.”

Simon shook hands with the cop. “Nice to meet you sir” he greeted.

“Simon here has run into some kind of trouble.”

“What can I help you with Simon? Please, sit down.” He waved to a wooden bench in front of the table.

Simon sat down and while his grand father remained standing Kaggwa reclaimed his seat behind the table. For the second time that day Simon recounted the afternoon’s events in the forest and his close call with the savages.

Kaggwa listened with his fingertips together until Simon’s narration was over.

“Well then, I suppose we shouldn’t waste any more time, let’s go find this girl.” Kaggwa proffered, “do you remember the spot where all this happened?” he asked Simon.

“Sure.” Simon shot back.

Kaggwa whipped out a walkie talkie from some where underneath the table and quickly muttered into the device, there was a burst of static and some gibberish from the person on the other end and then silence.

“We’ll have a patrol car here soon” the words were hardly out of his mouth before a police patrol double cabin pick up pulled up outside the station.

“Let’s go” Kaggwa jumped from his seat and lead the way to the patrol vehicle.

Simon and the old man huddled into the back cabin while Kaggwa hopped into the co-drivers seat, the patrol car sped forward and cruised down the dirt road at break neck speed leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.

“Slow down Mubiru, you trying to kill us?” Kaggwa yelled to the policeman behind the wheel. “Mubiru here drives like a bat out of hell” he shouted over the noise of the car engine.

“Just doing my job, I chase bad guys.” Mubiru shouted back.

Not before long they arrived at the scene of Simon’s misadventure.

Simon noticed the fragments of glass from his shattered window that had fallen on the tarmac. “this is where the bastards smashed my window.” He pointed out. He walked over to the point where he’d almost run her over. “And this is where she lay after I…..” he couldn’t find the words.

“It’s alright” Kaggwa assured him. “Show us where she went.”

“There” Simon pointed to the spot in the forest into which the girl had disappeared.

“Wait here”

Kaggwa beckoned for Mubiru to follow him into the forest. Simon and the old man remained by the roadside while the two policemen entered the dense undergrowth with AK-47s strung across their backs.

“Think we can save her granddad?” Simon asked more as way to break the silence than expect an answer.

“Don’t know grandson, it’s a pretty large forest”

“I wish I could have done something, I just freaked and ran.”

“Wise thing to do Simon, you were outnumbered.”

A few minutes later the policemen emerged from their search in the forest.

“We found her tracks and then we lost them” Kaggwa announced.

“There were other tracks as well, five sets to be precise.” Mubiru joined in.

“She was definitely followed into the forest.” Kaggwa surmised.

“So let’s follow their tracks.” Simon suggested.

“It’s not that simple grandson” the old man interjected. These bastards know how to cover their tracks.

“He’s right Simon” Kaggwa concurred. “the tracks run cold about two hundred meters into the forest.”

“So that’s it, we just give up.” wailed Simon.

“I’m afraid so young man. I’m afraid so.” Kaggwa concluded.

The leader of the savage group watched as the four of them piled into the patrol vehicle and drove off. He lay on his stomach barely 100 feet away camoflagued by the thick bushes.

The remaining four were crowded next to him doing their best to stay hidden as they watched the police vehicle drive away, one of them held the girl in a tight grip with one hand firmly covering her mouth to keep her from screaming, she tried to twist and break free but she was helplessly trapped in his vise like embrace.

As the police truck disappeared down the road the leader stood up and pulled a 'blackberry' from the bark cloth around his loin, he punched in a few numbers and pressed the PDA against his ear.

“Devil’s bonfire” said the voice on the other end.

“Death to the serpent” replied the leader. “We got her.”

“When do you need me?” asked the voice.

“Tonight, 8:00pm don’t be late.” Said the leader and hung up.

The Devil's Bonfire resumes on 7th Feb 2009