Archive for the ‘social commentary’ Category

An Alternate Approach to Improving the Girl Child Experience in King’s College Budo

There has been a much needed and timely furor of activity in Ugandan social media circles of the terrible experience our sisters in King’s College Budo go through. IMO there is no lasting solutions can be found without treating the root cause, which is that girls are second class citizens within the school despite being a key pillar in the learning and experiential outcomes for those who go through Budo.

The second class citizenship is excerbated by two factors, their population is 20% of the school, and they are physically located ~1.5km away from the main day-to-day school activities, making it a natural exclusion.

I was in Budo for 6 years, class 1990 to 1996, the last year to do UACE in April of the next year, during my most formative years 12 to 18 (you can compute my age now), residing in Ghana house of Lords. I can say that personally I thrived:

  • Academically – sufficient challenge to stay in the 5% percentile
  • Socially – found ways to survive within my sorroundings and made great friends both boys and girls till today,
  • Sports – learnt volleyball, lawn tennis, table tennis (was on the school team), chess the team of 4 Stephens lifted Father Grimes National Chess Tropy in 1994 and 1995 respectively
  • Leadership – supervised communal work from my S2 which meant I could plan for asssignments, break down tasks and get the work done
  • Business – oh yes retailed bread in S3 and S4 which helped me make ends meet

My suggestions, pretty radical are based on my experience working in civil engineering and software delivery domains both of which require working with diverse teams of professionals of varying skillsets, based in-situ and remote at different times during the project lifetimes

  1. Repurpose Girls End from dormitories to another use which is not in the day-to-day activities, could this be the new school science and arts innovation hub with carpentry/welding, computer systems etc – the physical distance provides the necessary disconnection
  2. Move Girls End to Muteesa/Nigeria area – this covers 2 sets of dormitories which is the equivalent of Grace/Gusta and Sabanzi houses
    • This seems the only workable option as South Africa/Australia do not provide sufficient space for girls, Ghana/Canada/England will be a tough sell on the reduction of the boys numbers
    • This reduces the boy population to a 65%-35% ratio
    • Brings the girls into the mainstream activites, reducing the 3km journey to and from their dorms to class and other activities
  3. Refrubish and improve girls supporting school infrastructure across accomodation, sports and welfare
  4. Bring back communal work – recent change which removes the need to clean up after ourselves
  5. Ensure that all dormitories have consistently flowing piped water with backup water harvesting – was not the case when I last interacted with the school in 2000
  6. Educate the leadership and teachers of the school on how to support the growth and development of the girl child
  7. Bring on more senior female leadership who have experience in all girls schools to help run day-to-day operations – bring a balance between the traditional schools and the newer age modern schools (I have just stopped short of calling for a head-mistress but that would be awesome!)

This is not a change of guards but a fundamental change to help move Budo in 2020

Gakyali Mabaga! 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts – do share them

PS: I intend to update this post with a map of Budo to provide distance perspectives for those not familiar with the school layout


Social Expectations Perspective: Jumia – African Company or Not

This is the hottest topic right now with valid arguments on both sides of the equation, so here is my unsolicited opinion.

What we can agree on is Jumia calling itself African is to look exotic, different to be able to raise its valuation hence more money to the shareholders. Arguments that this is a good thing, raises the visibility and opportunity for African based startups (this is like a client giving you a bad deal promising more work – never happens), opens more FDI money (never to happen) are all hope that it works out, with the proponents being the same to say bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

Now that we have gotten that out that out of the way, what makes a company “African”. To answer this question, one needs to look around at the social structure which drives the expectations. Let me use an analogy here, many of us Africans who live in the urban areas have connections to our “villages” or ancestral birthplaces, and there is an expectation to send help back to support what happens there. Infact when many an influential person has died, and the murmur at the burial is what squalor they are buried in for the afterlife forgetting where they came from.

The expectation is that as you grow in the world, you do not forget where you came from and bring the “village community” along so that they too benefit from your success, which benefits others in the “village community”

So back to Jumia, which is an example of a rich person who comes to a community, builds a sprawling mansion, does not live in it, then goes ahead to sell themselves as a pillar of the community, yet all the support they give to the community is low wage menial unproductive labor.

Is the aim of the business to “only” make boatloads of cash or to profitably solve an problem/challenge while having a positive impact on society?

Over to you folks  looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions too

UPDATE: These expectations are also being raised by the EU/USA over the large multinationals like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft etc which incorporate in tax havens, leverage loopholes and pay no “taxes” in countries where they sell services and make revenues.


Boring in Pursuit of Fulfillment

Happy New Year folks, its been a while since I last wrote, but well the year is still young. Its just a week to Valentine’s day and I am contemplating what to do this year for my dear loved one, which got me thinking of how I should approach it… With all the flash and pomp that comes with the day, maybe I should change the game to bring more fulfilment given we met over 19 years ago.

This morning during my 1 hour commute to town in the quiet of the car, snores of the kids in the background, bright headlights blinding me so I could not see the road, that maybe I should just be boring. Slow down, be boring, do something regular – go back to my younger days. I am buying a writing pad, and will pen words just like Solomon in the bible, tiny acts which have probably been lost in the hustle, bustle and grind of life…

On getting to my desk, I suddenly realized that boring was not for relationships and family only, but also my work in tech should be boring, unseen, invisible but always there. I should be solving boring problems, with boring tech tools that just work!! And I am going to do just that…

To a boring, but ultimately fulfilling year ahead…

Boda boda registration – An approach for KCCA

There are job advertisements going all around social media for enumerators to support an exercise to register boda-boda drivers in Kampala city. These are thoughts on how the implementation can be done in a cost-effective manner, getting a reasonable return for the investment.

  1. Stakeholder engagement and management – outline the benefits of the registration to the different stakeholders, the motorcycle owners, riders, general public, law enforcement
  2. Digitize the process – in the era of cheap $100 – $150 tablets, this can manage the costs by combining both the data collection and data entry steps of process. This can also help provide immediate metrics of survey progress
  3. Leverage the social organization that is boda boda stages – these are the defacto locations where the riders congregate and organize themselves. At the stages is also a social circle and hierarchy with savings schemes, rules of behavior that is enforced.
  4. Leverage other databases – URA TIN and Vehicle Registration, National Identification Regulatory Authority (NIRA) for National ID verification to help verify the accuracy of the collected data
  5. Tag the boda bodas that have been registered – you can use passive RFID tags which can be checked quickly
  6. Use a local company to build the platform – rather than a foreign owned entity
  7. Plan for motorcycles that may be missed in the different verification waves, so that the exercise remains up to date

Additions and feedback are welcome

Versatile Blogger Award

I have been nominated by Jemima Nalumansi who has the full list of how the nomination got to me akin to walking like the Muganda lady of the Ffumbe clan ( she is, so anyway a tough challenge she put up to me but I have to rise up not to disappoint….

The rules of engagement:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog (just did above)
  2. Nominate at least 15 bloggers of your choice. When considering a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, keep in mind the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subject matter and the level of love displayed on the virtual page.
  3. Link your nominees and let them know about their nomination.
  4. Share seven facts about yourself.

Seven facts about me:

  1. I love good food and coffee … but most of all give me a hot cup of spiced, brewed tea then you have me hook line and sinker….
  2. I am driven by my culture that provides me with a moral and social compass, plus a decision making baseline confused a little by the modern world …
  3. I am self taught software developer – only have my street scars to show
  4. I try to be as reliable as I can be – at times bending over backwards to deliver to the tasks assigned to me or promises that I have made hence I am making fewer and fewer.
  5. I am venturing into agriculture as I know it is the next frontier, but it gives me a chance to bond and experience what mother nature has to offer
  6. Proud father of 4, husband to one – and still trying to figure out what all of that means
  7. I love difficult, abstract and challenging problems, they stretch my mind and body to extremes … I enjoy the challenge of following Alice down the rabbit hole to see how far it goes

My blogger list in no particular order

  1. James Wire – entrepreneur, farmer, ICT all round guy but old skool values
  2. David Mpanga – he is a blogger not in one place but his social commentary hits home. My offer to him is to help him setup his blog hoping he reads this
  3.  Maria WhoIsThatChic Nathaniel – hard hitting, bone crushing no holds barred writing
  4. Brian Ssenoga – tech, FOSS, Health in ICT
  5. Stephen Magero – words carefully chosen
  6. Patricia Kahill –  aka Kasozi, my go to social media consultant
  7. Beewol – Mondays will never be the same again
  8. David Okwi – geekprenur
  9. Onyait Odeke – quiet calm photographer, techie
  10. Mushabe Dickson – author, enterprenur… but blogger still
  11. Solomon King – I head the fan club if that exists, the creativity and passion that makes me feel like a droid slogging through the world. Hope he will provide a better link than Google+
  12. Jethro Musoke – he does not like writing but when he does …  but he needs to write a lot more
  13. Emma Cuppycake Asio –  read and judge for yourself
  14. Olive Nakiyemba – traveller, runner
  15. Micheal Niyitegeka – tech, education, Rotary, and running
  16. and one for the road Simon Kaheru – oh yes I read every blog post you write, Colin Assimwe you two… and of course the Master Apprentice Kizzy Katawonga a new addition fueled by insomnia 🙂

Jemima, as per #4 of my failings, I have delivered …

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