Highlights From The 5th Annual Hotels and Restaurants Expo!

The past weekend, I was over at the 5th annual Hotels and Restaurants Expo at Hotel Africana. The event is organised every year as a unique platform for awarding all hotels, in different capacities, recognizing their contribution to both the Tourism sector and Food industry.

When I was assigned to cover the event on behalf of the team, I was ecstatic; for many reasons but the most important being “Food”. I love diversity and there is nothing that best describes that like food. We have thousands of foods from each of the regions here in Uganda and display of all these was what I was hoping for.

For the most part, this particular food event did not go as I anticipated. There was a lot left to learn for its organizers. I did speak to a few exhibitors about what they thought about the event and they expressed disappointment.

Miriam, Director of Signature hotel in Jinja said ” I have been to different hotels and restaurants expos across the world but I am very letdown by our own. Where are the people? She asked. We have been here 3 days and the only clientele coming in are the ones who have come to access the restaurant. 

Another exhibitor said that the organization was done abashedly and the public was not given much time to let the expo sink in as such a great idea to attend.

In my view, the event was not given much publicity, you do not hide a social event from the public and expect a turn up. Also there was not a collide of performances to grace the event. They could have had a headlining international chef or performance. This always attracts the crowds.

However despite the loopholes, there were some really graceful experiences that could be a foundation for next year’s edition. Allow me to indulge you with some pictures!!

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Two women, one totally okay with flaunting her body and another not bold enough.. Beyond that, they are both African!!

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Give me a bouquet of rose colored petals and we could make love throughout the night~~Anonymous

Meat on skewers, in aluminium foils roasting away on mesh were one of the sights lined up at the expo. The businesses that made the most money were those that decided to take their chefs out of the Kitchens right into their exhibition grounds. I didn’t really plunge in because my craving was not chicken neither was it meat!!

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As an event sponsor, I received a certificate for it… A guy I am thankful for took the picture!! 

 

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Signature Hotel in Jinja put on quite a lavish display!

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The cook-off judges.. 

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What do chefs talk about when they gather?? That I left for you to imagine!

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Back in my high-school, I pursued the cooking course–Home Economics, there is a beauty in laying out your cooked products than there is in trying to cook them all in a given time!

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Beauty!!

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Cherry decorated beds oozing love were equally present at the expo!!

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Not butterscotch, neither is it velvet.. This is the Black Forest… I can already taste it on my tongue!

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Table Lay out…

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Centre pieces done by Hotel Africana

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Looking for Art and Souvenirs, Uganda is the only place you will get them in Plenty!

Sarah Blick(in black dress)– A chef at Hotel Africana walked away with a brand new  Hisense 42 inch screen. She was more excited than any I have seen. She lost her words, lost her sanity(just for a while haha) and almost cried. She was privileged to have her Mentor, Mariam Bachu who was ecstatic for her win.

Ojara Brian, a chef at Shangri-La hotel emerged the best throughout the competitions. He was awarded 2 million shillings and a fully paid trip to Brussels. He is not the kind to scream or jump but you could see in the way he kept smiling!!

He is very laid back however I managed catch a slight interview with him.. Watch below

 


I would like to hear your opinions, this is my first photo filled blog post and the photos were taken by myself. Same can be said about the edits!!

Thank you!!

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The Refugee crisis In Uganda: Is Uganda missing the point?

Over the past 2 months, we have seen an influx of refugees into the country.  While statistics continuously change as refugee emergencies wax and wane in different parts of the world, UNHCR reports that Uganda is accommodating the largest refugee population in Africa with an escalating entry each day. These are most times fleeing from torture, death and mistreatment from the neighbors.

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An info-graphic from UNHCR shows a rapid increase of refugees and asylum seekers into the country from July last year since fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Silva Kiir and First Vice President Machar. The influx continues to be characterized by a high proportion of women and children (more than 90%). It should however be noted that a refugee is given as much rights to land, resources and access to travel.

Is Uganda capable of handling this crisis?

Right before the borders opened to welcome refugees, the country was finding trouble meeting the needs of its own citizens, especially the people in the Northern region—Several media houses and News publications reported about soaring numbers of people that wasted away and died from hunger because the region was and still is, facing an intolerable wave of drought and famine caused by arid temperatures. And now barely a month from the saddening news, Uganda’s boarders were opened to accommodate over 1 million refugees.

Currently Uganda has 9 refugee settlement camps with Bidi Bidi hosting over 270,000 people at a go, the highest number in any refugee camp across the world.

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Bidi Bidi camp at a distance. It is characterized with homesteads close to each other. Receiving refugees in this camp settlement was closed.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has remarked before “Uganda has continued to maintain open borders, but this unprecedented mass influx is placing enormous strain on our public services and local infrastructure.” Isn’t this a crumble to Uganda’s objectives to achieve the Middle Income Status by 2020?

In Uganda, one qualifies for a refugee status when;

  •  (a) owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, sex, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, that person is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable, or owing to that fear, is unwilling to return to or avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; 7 Act 21 Refugees Act 2006
  • (b) not having a nationality and being outside the country of his or her former habitual residence owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, sex, religion, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, that person is unwilling or unable to return to the country of his or her former habitual residence;
  • (c) owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either a part or the whole of his or her country of origin or nationality, that person is compelled to leave his or her place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his or her country of origin or nationality;
  • (d) owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for failing to conform to gender discriminating practices, that person is compelled to leave his or her place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside the country of origin or nationality;
  • (e) that person is considered a refugee under any treaty obligation to which Uganda is a party, or any law in force at the commencement of this Act; or
  • (f) that person is a member of a class of persons declared to be refugees under section 25 of this Act.

Different countries and officials have offered mixed reactions about Uganda’s lenient refugee policy that requires that instead of refugees being locked in crowded camps surrounded by barbed wire, they are to be given large plots of land in sprawling settlements to build homes or, if they like, small farms.

The pressure from South Sudan is gradually pushing the country’s refugee-friendly policy to its limits. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has said it needs $569 million (Approximately UGX. 3 trillion) to support refugees in Uganda. It has received less than one-quarter of the amount so far.

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The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees is underway at Munyonyo Resort Hotel, hosted by H.E Yoweri K. Museveni(President of the Republic of Uganda) and António Guterres(United Nations Secretary-General)

Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, says the international community is set to support Uganda in raising money for humanitarian aid to the refugees it is hosting. He further continued to say that “Uganda requires urgent and robust support to deal with the refugee crisis in a humane and sustainable manner until durable solutions are found for the 1.2 million women,men and children who currently need its protection.”

Often times, The UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi has endevoured to share the reality that may be taken lightly– “The biggest contributors providing a safe haven to the world’s uprooted people are poorer communities.”

In the same line of thought, here are some of the gaps that I think need filling;

  • How sustainable is asking for funding? How long will it go on? What if much more is needed ?
  • Is the current number of refugees that just crossed into the country the only one the country should expect?
  • Should Ugandans look forward to clashes over land?
  • Will refugees then be sent back to their countries once all is settled? What if they do not want to go back?
  • What is government’s plan for the refugees? (Is there employment set apart for them since they are now receiving education?)
  • Will Uganda be able to achieve “Agenda 2030?DAw1KiZW0AAtqDn

Please note that I have nothing against refugees, they are people that have found themselves in the midst of circumstances that are intolerable. As a host community, we look forward to standing together with them and request all help possible from Government, well-wishers, fellow refugee host countries and Non-Government Organisations!

MTV Shuga: The Fifth Season Premiere In +256

Last week Thursday 11th May 2017, I was privileged to host the premiere of MTV Shuga season 5 in Uganda. The show is an award winning series that made its debut in November 2009. It was first shot in the streets of Kenya with now celebrated Holly-wood star Lupita Nyongo staring therein.(Many say this was the show that catapulted her acting career-but that’s for you to decide)..

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Emmanuel Ikubese who stars as “Femi” in the series since season 2 says the show was then moved to Nigeria and dubbed Shuga-Naija. The current which was premiered last week at Sky Lounge, Kisementi was shot in South Africa-the very reason it is called Shuga Down South.

I am the kind that used to watch too much of television, the difference now is that schedules out weigh the time to actually sit in-front of a telly and enjoy a worthwhile show. But while the days were still young and staying up late to watch television was an achievement, I caught episodes of Shuga—it was(impeccably still is) one gripping show. As I watched the premiere episode, the difference that stuck out for me was how evident the change in video quality, color and verve there was compared to the previous episodes. It had me engaged.

Maureen Andinda, the M & E chief with Reach A Hand Uganda stated that as an organization, their main intent is to influence behavioral change among youths so that the sky-rocketing numbers of HIV/AIDS, Teenage pregnancies, early child-marriage, cross-generational relationships are eliminated and put an end to.

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Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, an HIV/AIDS activist said that when he first came clean about his HIV status, he was abandoned by everyone. He was told that he would pass away in 3 years but he is now a year away to 70 years and has lived a positive life for 31 years. “If I were to die today, it wouldn’t be because of HIV, it would be because of old age”. He said amidst sighs of awe from the audience.

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Pamela Adong, the chief marketing officer at NBS Television said that it is in the station’s interest that their viewers catch on to such shows as Shuga that have an educational aspect coupled with entertainment to them because beyond just programming, the station’s values are to reach out to the audience with bold, accurate and authoritative content.

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Finally, Emmanuel Ikubese(who is awesomely taller in person *winks), who stars as Femi in the series said he first got tested for HIV when he watched Shuga. “I am proud to have been part of the drama series as it is positively impacting lives of the youth across the continent.” He further shared that the reason the series kept changing location is because it is important to appeal to all youths across the continent.

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When the panel made its way down, everyone plugged their headphones onto their ears, glued their eyes onto the projected screen and watched the premiere episode that was silently screened. Episode 1

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The night was crowned with loads of interacting and networking.

P.S–> Just if you are wondering when to watch this new series, tune into NBS Television every Tuesday during the hour of 8:30pm and you will get acquainted.

 

Uganda’s Heritage!!

Since I slept through the late afternoon and early evening, my eyes are currently wide open; explains why I am having an insomniac night… I should be down on my knees, having sweet fellowship with my Father and yet this– this that you will see has kept me geeked onto the computer!! Seems like it is a journey I will enjoy but not before I share my inaugural project… 

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Been a while since I wrote, and a lot of advice has been shared my way on how to break these drought-y days. However one stood out—Do a photo blog.. I did a graphics blog instead, collected a few pictures and added text to them

I would be glad for feedback from you!!

Dreams and Marathons

Break of dawn found me at the Kololo airstrip grounds, as usual the word multitude is an understatement but the entire place is yellow you wonder whether it is an invasion of a yellow visible virus. I am punching the air, stretching to my left and then to my right, i do short jogs— I am the ultimate epitome of fitness let alone runner description. I can see people staring at me and then i see them turn away to whisper.. “Hmm i don’t care; y’all will be wanting to know who i am at the finish line”, i hear my mind speak. i try at push-ups but only do a single because i don’t want to scare people too much!! i am clad in a black jumper, yellow vest, my short shorts, a blue armband and my white shoes. i have a bag with my bottle of water lieing on the ground just close by. I am ready.. I feel ready… So i walk that bossy walk to the starting point.

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If you think you have seen people in numbers, you should have been there yesterday. I can actually see myself in this picture

See the weather is always cold, rainy and irritating (it has been this way every other November mostly the day the city’s biggest marathon is to ensue) but today it is oddly shinning; is this a bad sign because I now have to strip myself of the heavy jumper and add it into my already weighty bag. This however is not about to shroud my focus which is in the biggest fattest cheque this marathon could offer- I think to myself. I would bring fame into my family’s door, praises of “woah, who are you? Where do you come from? Who inspired your sprints?” these were the imagined endless questions from various media houses trying to have my photo and interview headlining their news bulletins and cover pages.

I am not too tall so i made for the front line see I knew the nearer to the front, the closer I was to my dream…. The gun went off and i felt like the skies would tumble down but a shout of determination like the one the people gave on Joshua’s Command to bring the walls of Jericho down rang out for the race had been started.. Off I ran like how I have seen Inzikuru, Kiprotich and Bolt do because I have been told a countless times that when you run ahead of the others( when you start with much speed), you have to win, its inevitable. So I was running to my win with bolt in mind, his signature pose my end goal. Lips pressed together, feet lifting me at 180 KPH… I am soaring, I am winning, I am taking this money home, Mama we made it is all I thinking about..

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10 minutes or even 7 or even 5 minutes into the run and my chest is burning, my thighs are tearing apart, I am panting like a something that was yet to face creation until I ran, my shorts are up my buttocks, thank God they aren’t tight because they would have given way as I bent, my yellow vest is just there-hanging to my body, I start to slow down, slowly slowly, I look behind me and a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, a group of people are running past me—I keep calm because my mind tells me I should rest if I need to win this race—resting now is your only solution because as the ones that have run past you take rest, you will be the cheetah claiming your victory.

I am still resting, pulling at my blue wrist band and there I see them, a father and his two kids—the ultimate description of rich kids of Uganda, the ones that will be posting updates like “dad bought us new shoes from one of the Nike shops in Miami and we are running with them in this marathon—this is when they are taking a picture with all their shoes… I look down at mine, yes I could have bargained for them from some man downtown but they sure could pass for ones bought in Game. I watch the young boy holding an iPhone and I think back at my own Samsung that heats up sometimes. These thoughts are so lethal I turn around and run, run for my cheque and for my face to be all over newspapers.

My next run tells me how some dreams are unrealistic, how this body is a real Judas. Like if I won, it wouldn’t benefit as well, I stop for all reasons possible- to marvel at how we have freedom of the roads with no interference of cars, I stop at all the stalls, I stop to stare at couples, to stare at every living thing. Meanwhile, hundreds maybe thousands of people have run past me. I meet a bunch of friends but share a few hi’s and hey’s there (my run partner stood me up in the morning when I was half-way to Kololo, I think apart of me is angry, even lonely but I don’t need company—so I keep running..

I have now run for like an hour, good lord, when was 10km ever this long? There are posters that state 2km to go and for some reason, the runners are making stop to take not just a few but plenty of selfies and pictures. Its weirdly annoying but also amusing to watch people do all these facial faces, jump in the air and point their index fingers to their yellow vests–i did that too last year but i guess i was just with crazy company and  since i am alone this year, I walk on. I walk away

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#TeamWalking

I have walked the most than I ran but don’t health enthusiasts say, walking is the best work out. I am quite a distance away to the finish line, I am rounding the independence grounds so I start to run, I run, infact I take off—the determined hero was running again.. I am not going to listen to my aching muscles and the cramps in them, I am not going to pay attention to the cruel pain at the side of my stomach, I just run and just as i am 20 runs like how you would say 20 feet, so I am just a 20 runs to the finish line and people standing at the other end are clapping, some laughing, most of them screaming. Is it all for me? I wonder! But then I start to hear names, names that don’t belong to me—go Agnes, you can make it Senva, you are almost here Nanmuntu, yeeyee fat Janzi…. I also continue running and as I am about to cross the finish line, I jump as high as my feet can bounce me off the ground hoping one cameraman’s been waiting to flash me for their tabloid. I walk in with a smile plastered to my face; I even do a subtle queen’s wave, I was not the fast/first but my cover page dreams are valid. I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s newspapers, I have set aside some ka money for them.

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Since this was written last night and today is when i have checked the papers, i must state that my face ain’t in any of them not even among MTN’s pictorials. Like i am here massaging muscles, feeling a certain kind of exhaustion and sleep for nothing– I didn’t get the cheque neither was my picture featured on a cover page like any cover page not even on the Rupiny Cover page. Hmmmm 

What is Africa to you?

What would come to mind if the word “Africa” were pronounced? Would you want to be associated with whatever response?

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My answer is “It depends what exactly has been told about Africa that I may want to be associated with” and before you lynch, let me explain that some of what is told of Africa is based on stereotypes and misconceptions (I wonder if you would want to be associated to a pack of daylight/moonlight lies about a place you have grown, fed, dated and even married)!!

I happened to attend the last day of #writivism2016 and after a few excerpts had been read from Gambit (a book am looking to own one of these jolly days 😉 ), a discussion ensued. The audience wanted to know what it is/should be like to write an African story hence mind boggling questions that could be summarized in one “What is Africa to you?”

Is it the war-tone area filled with aggressive black people? Is just a single country? Is it filled with vegetation and animals? Do its people walk around with bark cloth and spears in hand? Are they so uncertain about revolution that they have no single clue about tech and innovations, tall buildings and chemistry labs………..?

The argument is here; Africa is a continent with variety of countries, people and tribes. Africa has gone through revolution as much as any other country. Africa is authentic and proud of it but it has inevitably faced change over time. The story sold about Africa is only but a rumor unless you make travel within its unfold.

On analysis however, you will realize that our perception of the world is almost flawed. And not that I intend to induce any hard feelings but isn’t it baffling that the movies will show a wishful life of the people outside Africa whereas the same movies will speculate how a certain disease started out in a certain forest in Africa? Its rather nerving that we are letting other people sell our story with a web of lies whereas we sit to laugh at the humor interjected.

Did I deviate up there? Ooops if it feels that way, here is the catch; As Joel Ntwatwa, Shaun Randol and Ayobami chaired the session on Gambit review, one thing I learned was, “as you try to write about Africa, don’t look back five ten decades ago, only look back to reflect on Africa’s journey towards its revolution. Write about the current Africa, The Africa in 2016 where we have trends like the Rolex. Therein is the rawness and authenticity you are looking to engage the reader with.” Personally, I have come to realize that;

words are your magic wand. Weave them appropriately and you might be as lucky as Cinderella

Conclusively, judging a place and its people before deeply engaging is what a certain writer had in mind as they formulated “never judge a book by its cover’. Otherwise the people in Africa have the same heart and possibly even insecurities but then how can you know if you have no courage to travel to discover the diversity of this beautiful continent..huh?!

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  • You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
  • Traveling is learning. ~Kenyan Proverb
  • A day of traveling will bring a basketful of learning. ~ Vietnamese proverb

School Made Me Better

#UGBlogWeek   #Day7

The moon hangs high and bright across the dark clouded sky. The night is young is common say among the youths whose party hormones alight at dusk. I hear the sound of crickets in the bush close by and thousands of toads hoarsely croaking—it must be the mating season for like boda men would to a customer, the noise cannot be differentiated. The bats; oh how they swing across the sky with their webbed wings jollying in their night sight, making twirls, hoops and loops. The night is truly young for a proposal, a wind massage, a sip at wine or ice dipped champagne; with these sunny days—anything can happen and yet at the feet of our elders shall we prefer to bundle. Expectant to hinge our audible and imaginary senses to the words, yes Words that should roll off their long-lived tongues. I shall pass the telenovella or constant beeps of this evolved gadget for this experience: I wonder if you ask my opinion for should you, Verily, I think you should come along.. Yes undivided attention is the only requisite for the elder has a story to tell or is it rather remind us?.

First with the tales; “tell me your best tale child” they ask.. with disbelief you wonder, ppss i do too for this is less of the expectation burning deep in the pits of expectancy. I came to listen to the good old tales and not interrupt at all. They could be mythologies, fables even but none the less, tell me of origin, talk of strength and the hunting, children of age before and ancestors, talk of spears and not the guns, talk about why they have lived longer thus the mystery they carry. Talk about why they are such treasures the museum is but a door with a two inch padlock and yet with a smile they hold onto their shawls, lessos, back cloth and mushana and narrate of goodwill and famine and work that bonded them in the community.

See then under the shadow of the moonlight, is when I met Kintu and his Nambi, such young love, friendship and sacrifice in the face of jealousy and death. Does this make Buganda very lucky to have had a hero?.   I don’t know for probably it is just another legend to have the children not playing in the mud at the neighbors but it is such a worthy tell (tale) for no child is left without mouth agape and mind on trip—you wish to remind yourself of how your Social Studies teacher narrated or is it that in just a twinkle you teleported back to where you first listened to the story from?!! Me too, me too.

To that, while I was asleep, I was woken up by the stamp of large masculine feet for yes one of the brothers between Gipiir and Labong loved to chase down prey for a meal all through the day he fashioned a spear for himself (much like the story about Cain and Abel only that it happened in Northern Uganda. I must want to travel, you must want it too; Don’t you?  For the people before donned backcloth, hides and skins and sang out loud at millet grinders with plenty of kids a different kind of “Sonko”, they dated in forests while shirtless men on the rocks deflowered girls– all this emphasized adventure what we now like to call “old age o is it stone age?” . We jolly in the new developments; yes me too!!.

In all this, each single day I wake up to a painful query of whether “School made me no better” It possibly may have not but one thing for sure is it gave me stories; stories that were an account of school fees, stories that made my country and yours much more vivid, stories that make sense only now, stories that gave a warmth…. stories… On this last day, i will not curse school... I will appreciate school for it made me better—God bless the missionaries that came to Uganda and exchanged education for was it ivory oba??