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Ode To A Trusted Friend

Tobin Josh Sahib Ojok

Tobin Josh Sahib Ojok

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi w’Abasambu, I perceive you now should be desperately indulging those wonderful and indefatigable repositories of our people’s knowledge and bearers of their sacrosanct secrets, the elders, seeking their aid in interpreting the curious case of a kinsman’s prolonged silence.

I can imagine you take those royal but slightly impatient strides, traversing the nooks and crooks of our old beloved village Nyangahya, throwing yourself into the homesteads of those to whom Al- Majid, the All-Glorious, Has bestowed the abundant gift of demystifying events, all the while in search for answers.

Trouble your gentle feet no more my kinsman. For the last twelve or so months, I was holed up at the Law Development Centre pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice which, if passed, qualifies me for the practice of law in Uganda. I must say it was both a humbling and fulfilling experience.

Today, however, I write of the passing on to eternity of a wonderful and trusted friend whom in the early years of our knowing each other told me he was Tobin Josh. It was about 3pm on Tuesday the 20th day of August 2013 that I returned a call that had gone unanswered from a friend Tumukunde Benjamin.

Upon picking up, the ever-calm Mr. Tumukunde sounded strangely distraught and broken, and, from the tell of things, I predicted something had gone fatally wrong. Little wonder then that when in a few seconds he spoke of the tragic loss to Sickle-cell Anemia of our mutual friend, my fears were confirmed!

Now, Abwooli, how can one fittingly eulogize a man of such character as Tobin Josh Sahib Ojok—that wonderful bespectacled Itesot from Lira, without appearing to be buckling yet again to that despisable human tendency of speaking benignly of a departed one at his funeral as if that is all there is to speak!

We must have met around 2009 in one symposium which was hosted at Makerere University’s Lumumba Hall. He instantly struck me as man of frugal disposition, refined habits and excellent intellect. What a rich cocktail he was in combining the cheerfulness of the Itesot and finer qualities of the Langi!

We continued to exchange thereafter on a motley of subjects ranging from Pan-Afrikanism, Geo-politics, Colonialism, Law, Art and Economics—at which he excelled by far. But it was always on matters touching upon governance and respect for fundamental human rights that one would see the lion debater in him.

He always argued that much of Uganda’s so-called major problems today mainly stemmed from the arrogant refusal of those seized with power to learn from our harassed history. A way around this thus had to urgently be gotten if the country were to be saved from descending into further political abyss.

He proposed that there needed to be formed proactive think-tanks in Universities and other tertiary institutions which would then act as a launch-pad for the arousal of the greater national consciousness. Ideas generated from these sessions would then be distributed to the populace through publications.

Such was the mind of the man, Abwooli. Not one wont to deriving pleasure from criticizing and personality profiling, but advising. It was always left to those he sought to offer alternative solutions to contemporary problems to take or leave them. For him, he had played his part in building his country.

Unfortunately he dies at a moment when the country hungers for much more men as him. Men of impeccable integrity and unadulterated love for country. Selfless men that sacrifice so much in search for the solutions to their country’s problems and yet are so humble as to expect nothing in return.

In Tobin, the country has lost a man whose smile radiated the hopes of his generation; a ferocious reader, consummate economist, fine gentleman, excellent debater; country- music lover; skilled editor and budding writer. One wonders why death must always come knocking upon the doors of good men!

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Bunyoro Does Not Seek To ‘Go Fast’ On Oil, She Clamours For Equity

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, the new media, its traditional counterpart and some town commentators have for the past few weeks gone lurid with commentary—some of it bordering on the profane and the deprave, about a King’s unforeseen appearance before a Parliamentary committee. His Majesty Solomon Iguru I astounded everyone—even his own subjects, when he took the painful decision of casting away all protocol and paraphernalia of royalty to historically present the case of his people.

Leaders the world and history over are and have been charged with the defense of their peoples’ aspirations. This—in my unintelligent and challengeable opinion, is the essence and end of leadership. In antiquity, it used to be achieved through sparks and brimstone—but thank chivalry and civilization; it indeed can now be achieved at a trifling price. Thus before anyone has attached on his collar the esteemed epaulets of great leadership, he must first excel in this. This was what King Iguru did.

The context within which Bunyoro presents her claims and petitions ought to be understood and not misunderstood. For one to lay claim to that understanding, they must first of all appreciate the complicated architecture of Nyoro history. I fear deficiency in it is guiding the misrepresentation of her claims. I will hazard a summary. The British at the turn of the 19th century visited colonialism upon a peaceful kingdom—or as some say, empire called Bunyoro—Kitara.

Before that, it had—like most African states, seen and enjoyed relative flourish at least by the standards of the time. Industry and trade were booming especially in iron implements, new methods of agriculture and livestock- keeping made the kingdom the food basket of the interlacustrine. So much were the crafts of statehood and soldiering revolutionalized that the kingdom grew in territory and strength as did her priceless tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

When then came the British, such a social- politico- economic structure and organization presented the most potent challenge and could not be allowed to stand. What made matters worse—akin to flying a red rug in the face of an incensed bull, was her insulting refusal to collaborate with the crown. It then became the latter’s absorbing desire to employ his horned talents at manipulation, misinformation and weaponry to waste, sack and pillage her.

This project took a decade to complete—thanks to the supreme adaptability and heroism of Kabaleega. But resistance came at a supreme price. Historians Doyle, Nyakatuura, Mrs. Fisher, Father Crazzolara and K. W belabor to imagine and document the horror in frightful parodies. In an epic show of man’s inhumanity to fellow man—out of the estimated 3 million Banyoro that the British found in early 1890s, only 200,000 survived their devices!

Livestock was lost in the scorched earth operations. Mothers and virgins were raped alike; deliberate policies conveniently put in place to arrest both reproduction and the education of Nyoro children; tracts and counties of culturally sensitive land were parceled away at the mere stroke of a pen; chiefs publicly flogged; a king exiled for 24 years! Their suffering defies writerly depiction. A case for compensation of 4 Trillion Pounds from the crown pends.

It is upon the above that the Banyoro are petitioning government to portion them just 12.5 % of the proceeds. Not at all do they intimate that this is to recompense their historical atrocious experience. No—that is being catered for by both the pending suit and a tendency inherent in them to forgive. They say that given the fact that the oil is mined from their sacred ancestral soils some of which they may ultimately lose or have already lost and also given the fact that gas emissions out of our mining ambitions shall be singly breathed by their children, it is only most equitable that such a potion be given.

Omukama Gafabusa Iguru I of Bunyoro.

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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We Either Urgently Attend to the Cause of Justice and Humanity or Perish

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi w’Abasambu, it seems in­tend­ed by the bless­ed prov­i­dence of the creator Nkya Ruhanga Nyamuhanga that I should always communicate to you whenever I have matters that require some communicating. Which better way to share the dearest thoughts of one’s mind than to cast them into the ear of an attentive kinsman?

As you may recall, so often you do, sometime back in serenity of these very memoirs, I related to you the unbearably painful story of that most defiant of all human rights defenders personally known to me~ Vincent Vessy Nuwagaba. I met Vincent in the most unusual of circumstances which I am extremely hesitant to reproduce here for fear of repeating myself just too much. https://kyomuhendoa.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/for-vincent-nuwagaba-human-rights-defender-brother-friend-and-comrade/

For the same reasons why we lionize him and exalt the truth of his struggles, Vincent is ‘in contact’ with some fanatical elements in the Kampala regime who seem manifestly hell- bent towards killing or destroying him and thus dealing with this problem ‘once and for all’. Here is his latest account.

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AS A UGANDAN CITIZEN, I DEMAND JUSTICE OR DEATH

BY VINCENT NUWAGABA

Vincent Vessy Nuwagaba ©

Vincent Vessy Nuwagaba ©

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/81304

A personal account of human rights abuse in Uganda raises questions about the role of mainstream human rights organizations supported by international donors.

My pen has since the beginning of 2011 been silent. So many people have been wondering as to what could have happened to me but some have insinuated that I joined Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). And just like the French saying goes, ‘La bouche qui manger ne parler pas’, meaning that a mouth that is eating doesn’t speak, some people think I am now eating with the ruling cabal. On the contrary, I am still wondering as to why the ruling NRM wants to exterminate me using state institutions that are mandated to protect our rights and our lives.

THE UGANDA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION NAKEDNESS

On 8 February 2012, I went to Speke Resort, Munyonyo for a workshop organised by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC). The Uganda Prisoners’ Aid Foundation (UPAF) was invited to present a civil society perspective of the state of prisoners’ rights in Uganda. As UPAF’s research coordinator and a person well-conversant with not only prisoners’ rights but also human rights generally, given that I am an ex-prisoner and a human rights defender and scholar, the UPAF chairman Mr. J.K. Zirabamuzale assigned me to write the paper. The agreement was that when he presented it, I would be around. I have in the past attended UHRC workshops whenever our organisation is invited and I have been at the forefront of quite a number of human rights activities together with UHRC and other human rights organisations.

This time when I arrived in the conference room, I found Ms Christine Nading, Assistant Commissioner of Police Legal speaking. The issues she raised demanded that they be responded to by a person who knows the conduct of the police thoroughly – not the one who reads about the police in newspapers and watches them on television sets. I accordingly, wrote a chit for UHRC’s Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa asking to be given time to respond to Christine Nading. I thought I was doing the most diplomatic thing only to be told a short while later that I was not supposed to be in that function. I explained to them that our organisation (UPAF) was invited and that we were presenting a paper.

I was kicked, humiliated, dehumanised and brutalised by the police at the orders of Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa, UHRC’s Director of Monitoring and Inspections, and Gordon Mwesigye, the UHRC Secretary. In a human rights function, organised by the Uganda Human Rights Commission to prepare for the Universal Periodic Report (UPR), a human rights defender who has sacrificed too much, suffered at the hands of the police, been put in jail for advocating the rights of the voiceless is subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the very people who are mandated to protect all Ugandans’ rights. Shame on Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa and shame on Gordon Mwesigye, and if these people were human enough they should have resigned from their offices on that very Wednesday of 8 February 2012.

After roughing me up, I was driven to Kabalagala Police station in the UHRC vehicle. From Kabalagala, I was driven to Butabika Mental Hospital in the Police Patrol vehicle. When I reached the Out Patient Department (OPD) of Butabika, the policemen who had taken me there were embarrassed when the hospital staff told them, ‘the man is sane, why have you brought him here?’ Meanwhile before reaching Butabika I was deprived of my Bata shoes, my shirt, money and many other possessions. They left me there and I walked on my own half-naked as they had deprived me of my shoes and my shirt.

HELL IN BUTABIKA

I was lucky to find a friend who took me to his home and gave me lunch, a shirt and shoes and Sh5,000 for my transport. The following day on 9 February 2012, I went back to Butabika and this time I had gone to talk to the hospital administration to warn them against pandering to the whims of those that are persecuting me on political grounds. What befell me instead was total hell. Dr Julius Muron ordered the hospital guards to arrest me and take me to the police. At the police post, Muron himself said, ‘This man is perfectly sane, he doesn’t have any mental or psychiatric problem but he is causing chaos within the hospital’. He then added, ‘Keep him here and charge him’. I was then locked up at the police post. Later I learnt that when one of the policemen came (he wears civilian attire and therefore he could be the Criminal Investigation Detective), he told Muron that they had no way to charge me because I hadn’t committed any offence.

Thereafter, I was grabbed by the hospital guards at the orders of Dr Julius Muron and taken to Kirinya ward from where Dr Muron subjected me to 18 injections, nine on each side of the buttocks and later dumped me into a side room which is an equivalent of the solitary cells from which they torture some prisoners in Luzira. Later I became unconscious and I regained my consciousness after 12 days on 21 February.

I have been told that if one of the support staff members who happens to be my relative (whose name I will not reveal now for fear of reprisals) wasn’t there to feed me by forcefully opening my lips, get mushrooms for me, wash me and nurse me like his own son, I would definitely have died.

Without any sense of shame, even when I regained my consciousness, I was kept on drugs; the same drugs which almost claimed my life in 2008. On the 23rd I left Butabika without any formal discharge.

The Pan Africanists at Makerere who saw me were shocked and suggested that I must go for a medical examination. At first I hesitated but every passing day, I am losing weight at a rate that has gotten me worried. All the very small sized trousers that I had already shelved cannot even fit me.

Meanwhile as Dr Muron did whatever he did, I was deprived of my property – my laptop computer, my shirt and jacket, my pair of trousers, my wallet containing huge sums of money, my belt, my phone, shoes and a bible. When I went to Butabika, I was initially only given a phone and Sh100 but later, they gave me a pair of shoes and a bible.

I have in the past sued Dr Tom Onen together with the Attorney General under civil suit 92/2009. Sadly, although neither the Attorney General nor Dr Onen filed a defence and therefore I was waiting for ex parte judgement, I was shocked to learn that my case was dismissed on 28 August 2009 at a time when I was on remand in Murchison Bay Prison Luzira on trumped up charges of assault and threatening violence. The ‘crime’ I had committed though, to which I pleaded guilty, was opposing the increment of fees in public universities by up to 126 percent.

After suing Dr Onen, I was declared persona non-grata in Butabika and I was tortured, traumatized and tormented several times by the police and Butabika Hospital guards at the orders of a one Grace Lubale, a former Butabika Hospital Administrator. Grace would tell me, ‘Nuwagaba, you sued us; you are therefore not allowed to step here’. Even when I would go to visit the victims of political persecution and the thieving political establishment such as Gaudence Tushabomwe, who was conned of her money by an organisation that had links with the ruling party, I would be tormented.

The UHRC whose mandate is to ensure the protection and defence of our rights has also fallen victim and it is at the forefront of the perpetration, perpetuation, orchestration and promotion of injustice.

When I reported to the president about my ordeal, some of the young men and women initially seemed interested in giving me a fair hearing. With time, however, Justus Karuhanga, President Museveni’s former legal officer told me, ‘Nuwagaba, you can go to court and sue the government’. I am interested in knowing whether or not the office of the president ever had a hand in the dismissal of my case without even giving me a ruling.

The courts, which are supposed to be temples of justice, cannot dispense justice to the unsung victims such as Nuwagaba. The Ugandan media can only write about a personality whom they feel can sell their papers; the so-called human rights organisations of which I am a member to some cannot inspire hope. They employ people whose interest is not promoting human rights but making money. Many of our human rights organisations, if not all, get money from donors purportedly to help the voiceless citizens. What they do instead is write accountability papers for the donors and they give no accountability to the voiceless citizens on whose behalf they get the funding. In analysis, they con, cheat and dupe the donors who give them money to help the voiceless.

I know I am broaching a hot subject but I must not keep silent. I have taught in the university and have worked with civil society organisations. I have seen only one genuine human rights organisation in Uganda called Uganda Prisoners’ Aid Foundation under the stewardship of J.K. Zirabamuzale. It is the only organisation that does human rights work even when it has no funding from anybody and none of the staff is a salaried employee.

I have seen discrimination, sectarianism, and inequality perpetrated by the so-called human rights defenders. No wonder many of them do not have the wherewithal to challenge the government where it goes wrong.

CONCLUSION

I am a Ugandan citizen, not anybody’s subject. Like I have stated before when I wrote to IGP (Inspector General of Police) Kale Kayihura, I am an ethnic Mukiga and the Bakiga have never had a king. Accordingly, we have never been subjects. I am a firm believer in non-violence and my icons are Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and our very own Norbert Mao. Whoever feels threatened by my words must him/herself be suffering from schizophrenia. I have several times been thrown in jail for no offence committed. In 2008 I escaped death by a whisker as Dr Onen was used to kill me; just recently Dr Muron wanted to kill me and I don’t know whether I am safe yet. As a citizen, I demand justice or death.

~END~

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Politics

 

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Governor Mutebile, his Ilk, and the Yellow Monstrosity

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, the Governor of Uganda’s Central Bank Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime- Mutebile, one of Africa’s most respected and sought- after living economists and 1971 Guild President of Makerere University or be as he may, should not be tempted to think he has a monopoly over arrogance.

In the pursuit of transparent public governance, no one individual’s interests are above public scrutiny- be those of the head of state in all his excellency, those of the chief justice in all his eminence, those of the parliamentary speaker, or even those of the newspaper editor. The only interest(s) whose protection is beyond any logical contest are those of the common citizen.

Thus, where a public officer tends towards arrogance, as has Prof. Mutebile in his most recent media briefing, in response to calls and clamors from a citizenry for accountability in the department he leads, which it is their right to demand, such pompous statements should never be allowed to stand. He should be seen giving accountability and only accountability!

Governor Mutebile is increasingly becoming a reckless, desperate and discredited man. Right about December 2010 in the run to Feb. ’11 elections, he was implicated in signing documents that caused the printing- let’s call it publishing, of billions of legal tender to facilitate the re-election of his boss- Yoweri Museveni. This caused double- digit inflation.

At around the same time, he was accused of extending dubious loan payments to Hassan Basajjabalaba, that notorious city businessman, through his company Basajjabalaba Hides and Skins LTD. It should be noted that, in Uganda, seldom do local businessmen benefit from such rare presidential benevolence and magnanimity. That money will never be paid back!

Governor Mutebile and Yoweri Museveni were implicated as the chief architects of the project that saw the Ugandan taxpayer lose $740 million (about Shs1.7 trillion) in the purchase of Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets and other most sophisticated military hardware. All this was done in unprecedented secrecy without parliamentary approval. That came in the retrospective!

Plus many more such thefts and robbing that the public may never become aware of until probably guards change or revolution breaks in Kampala, the Governor Mutebile is now being implicated in the inflated and dubious compensation to the same Hassan Basajjabalaba over the loss of city markets and other valuable property. Loss is worth Ushs. 142 Billion!

Under pressure from that fantastic group of young aggressive legislators, day by the day becoming more and more influential in an increasingly activist Parliament, two powerful cabinet ministers occupying high places in the N.R.M party cadreship have since fallen. But for his part Governor Mutebile, with whom they are roundly accused, promises to fall hard!

In his latest press conference of Thurs 1st March 2012, he has assured his markets not to worry at all about what he leisurely dismisses as ‘the rumblings’ of parliament and that he is here for the long haul. That he is not insane, incompetent or dishonest, constitutional grounds upon which he can be ousted, to warrant fulfillment of the sinister cravings of his detractors.

Abwooli, the governor’s remarks not only pain and annoy in as far as they go a very long way in belittling a people’s democratically elected representatives and, actually, the very arm of government in which they serve – parliament, but they also shine a bright light upon two extremely important issues that are gaining increased prominence in the Ugandan political debate of today.

First, there is a rising clique of abusively arrogant and annoyingly insensitive individuals who commit or aid and abet some power brokers in the commission of numerous crimes against the people of Uganda and are in turn guaranteed material gain or promised comfort and protection from a prying legislature, an alert judiciary and a public increasingly getting agitated. They are truly deadly!

Like detectives torn out of the pages of a best- selling fictional spy – work, they carry on their crimes with a poise and glee that is unparalleled. Since there is only one authority to fear, and it is the same authority that pays them to spread fear, they tend to the ruthless. They work with the devotion, intrepidity, and determination of only a surgeon in a busy heart- theater that they leave the onlooker severely astonished!

Sometime last year, a young man used the butt of his loaded pistol to smash the car- windows of a public figure, in full glare of national and international cameras and doused him in pepper spray just too much for any human consuming. He then went on, dragging him by the collar, and stacked him into the beneath of the blue cold steel of a waiting police cabin!

Prof. Mutebile’s press briefing exposed him as yet another addition to that long list- though not as rugged and crude as the young man. He never cared at all for the flotsam and jetsam that provide for his livelihood, the livelihood that sustains his arrogance, but reserved apologies for only the markets, his boss and God- for ‘He Only can sack him’.

The Embattled Governor of the Bank of Uganda Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime- Mutebile

The Embattled Governor of the Bank of Uganda Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime- Mutebile. Photo Courtesy of the Daily Monitor-

Secondly, Abwooli, there is too, a worryingly increasing trend where the country’s most brilliant children are systematically being wasted away by the yellow machine and cheered on by its operator. I don’t know whether it is calculated but all I know it is happening. I also don’t know whether someone wants to fall with everyone…!

Yoweri Museveni, upon hearing of the career accomplishments of a distinguished Ugandan, gets keenly interested and beckons him by his side- which wouldn’t be bad for national development. He starts courting and flirting with them promising them high luxury and comfort. When he eventually succeeds, the individual’s decaying process begins in earnest!

He first lives true to his word by handing them extremely juicy and influential political positions under which dockets they supervise enterprises worth billions. He then through his frighteningly loyal cronies sets the bait in motion. It could be in by way of a rewarding tender or a kick- back on an influential government contract. Recall, too, that the good fellow is now in charge.

It is inherently the nature of the human to get tempted. So when such a deal comes by the fellow is reminded of a promised family holiday in Barbados or a vacation somewhere in the Emirates, probably the stunningly beautiful and lavish Burj- al- Arab. He briskly jumps at the opportunity not knowing that someone is manipulating the strings from somewhere. When the deal is done, someone has the other by the firm grip of his five fingers.

Someone knows that the other’s reputation is now in tatters and rags- not fashionable anymore, since he has evidence of a side of the individual that the public knows not of. The fellow gets entirely tangled in someone’s web. At this stage, he cannot untangle himself. This is usually employed to such figures as may become threats, in the present or in the foreseeable future, to someone’s grip on power. Or whom, for whichever reasons, he has never forgiven.

Of course the list is endless. Medical Professor Gilbert Balibaseka- Bukenya, Dr. Ezra Suruma, Law Professor Edward Khidu- Makubuya, Professor Tarsis Kabwengyere, Ali Kirunda- Kiveijinja, David Chandi- Jamwa, Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime- Mutebile ………..And *let’s all watch very keenly*, soon, finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Politics

 

The Story of Kajango

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, that thing called money has the peculiar tendency of transforming good men into bad and bad men into good.

Just as it is the business of Money merchants in Metropolitan Forex Bureaus to convert the Peso into the Dirham, the Dirham into the Dollar,  the Dollar into the Pound- Sterling and the Pound- Sterling into the Yen or Yuan, so too is it the business money to transform the deeds of men!

Money on men is like seasons on snakes or victory to commanders.When a snake becomes, it be-comes with a lovely, smooth and radiant skin- as if put together by the combined hands of six coronet artisans. At that point, the snake is more beautiful to look at than the setting sun at its most golden or the finest silks at their most silken.

But as the snake grows, its skin becomes more rugged and wrinkled with each passing day, more and more discouraging to steal a glance at than a dog severely assaulted by the calamitous pangs of old age. It too then bears all the known marks of old age.

But a time comes when the seasons also realize the wasting away of nature’s splendor and magnificence.A time when they realize they must heed to the far- cries of its clarion call. They then hurry to its urgent rescue and bring conditions favorable for its eventual renewal through the process sloughing-the shedding of its old skin.The snake then radiates anew!

Also, when a commander outwits and discomfits the enemy in all the formations that he comes and registers a most killing victory, he radically transforms from being humble, gracious, warm and obedient- as he was known to be on the eve of that feted battle, to being proud, manful and boastful.

The delights and rewards glory- the garlands, the sacred drinks, the drinking horns, the mementoes and the sparkling bead- necklaces-, he wins from his king and superiors in rank make matters even worse. Thus the more victories he brings home, the more honoured is his name and feasts he secures for himself with the lofty in birth and the high in rank.

Such is the intoxicating effect of victory, like money, on men, that when delivered in its full dozens, they tend to slough and transform like the snake of the seasons!

Abwooli, Kajango was the man that lived by the banks of the great Mwitanzige long before you were born. He was a Musaigi by clan and a proud descendant his great- grandfather, the illustrious Batahuule’ebibabagambiire Rwa Makune.

Batahuule, as the locals intimately knew him, was the first man ever in his kingdom to win the favour of his king and wear the valued coronet solely on the account of a musical accomplishment!

It were the imperial maneuverings and lordly manipulations of his agile dancing legs at that ceremony welcoming the harvest season- the season of Nyabagaba, Goddess of plenty-that caught the sharp eye of the kings scout Magambo out on a mission to bring to his master the kingdom’s finest dancer.

The dancer was to then perform at the important ceremony where the stubbornly beautiful Princess Kabacungwa was to be betrothed to Rugamban’engo, the fearsome son of Chief Muza’huranganda Rwa Mugenyi. Rugamban’engo was the ruthless commander of Ekiporopyo Regiment that had just conquered the lands west of the great Mwitanzige.

The occasion attracted the presence of Princes and Kings, Princesses and Queens from the all the nine neighboring kingdoms! Trusting as he was of both Magambo’s sharp scoutly eye and Batahuule’s swift dancing feet, it was towards the end of the ceremony that the king beckoned Batahuule to do as he was reported to do most.

Batahuule yet again never disappointed.  The subtle and colorful movements of his carefully balanced steps coupled with the unique format of his large body movements perfectly executed in tempered tempos only served but to solicit an unprecedented ecstatic seizure from the expensively robed and head- geared important guests that graced this important occasion hosted by an important king for an importantly favourite daughter!

The Afrikan Queen. Portrait coutersy of Flickr.com

Afrikan Princess. Portrait coutersy of Flickr

And who delights a king and knows anguish? Batahuule was rewarded with the most sought- after ancient honour hitherto exclusively reserved for the brave and esteemed in battle!

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Such was the proud and famous ancestry from which Kajango claimed descent.

But life often throws up some fearsome ironies and ghastly paradoxes whose happenings and ceasings men have not the slightest control. Thus, too, Batahuule’s fortune and fame; power and influence; honour and dignity were not to fall, like inheritance, on the shoulders of Kajango, his grandchild, as had on the shoulders of his son Nyendwoha, Kajango’s father.

Kajango’s father –Nyendwoha, was somewhat an influential man in his entire village. Being as he was the heir of the skilled and famous dancer Batahuule, he had inherited his father’s name, land, plantations, cattle, concubines and, most important of all, the royal connections to King Nyabongo’s household that his father’s dancing accomplishments had helped establish.

Since that ceremony of the giveaway of Princess Kabacungwa to Rugamban’engo, fearsome commander- son of Chief Muza’huranganda Rwa Mugenyi, the two families, of Omukama Nyabongo and of Batahuule, had established between themselves a bond so strong that Batahuule’s twelve children, of which the most  prominent was Nyendwoha, in fact went as far as sharing the beautifully cut and curved milk- gourds with the younger of Omukama Nyabongo’s children.

One of them was Princess Komwiswa. Nyendwoha Rwa Batahuule and Princess Komwiswa had grown up playing together, along with the other children of both families, at the King’s spacious palace at Musaijamukuru and seldom at Batahuule’s humble enclosure just by the stream of Rwebikoohi that was known to light bright during the night.

The king had nine palaces, and in the nine palaces, each a consort. He thus was always on the move for both the execution of his stately duties and the satisfaction of his voyeur tendencies. So it became almost impossible to personally monitor the daily play and growth of his forty- nine children from the nine consorts- and beyond.

It was this precious absence that both Princess Komwiswa and Nyendwoha Rwa Batahuule exploited to fall madly in love.

Nyendwoha was a whole fifteen years older than Princess Komwiswa. Yet it seemed Princess Komwiswa never cared for a moment about this age deficit! All she cared and craved for was to make and dress her lover in  that finest smelling traditional royal perfume that only the royal page Kanyange, whom old age had already claimed its own, knew how to carefully mix, even if it meant stealing her father’s few- left ancient sacred seeds that lay hidden somewhere in between the thatches and poles of his royal enclosure!

Nyendwoha had to carry on him the scent of their love wheresoever he went and wheresoever dined. After all, she would gladly give him as many children as he demanded of her womb. They would then walk and run the whole earth in the happy celebration of their love.

Of her lover, she particularly was most fond of those dimples that, as the poet had neatly observed, ‘were deep enough to mingle millet in’ and, too, the dexterity of his father’s spectacular dancing moves.

Kajango was thus but a fulfillment of Princess Komwiswa’s loving pledge to her lover Nyendwoha.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Literary

 

Fare Thee Well, Gentle Friend, Gentle Woman

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, the most testing moment in the career of many a noted writer comes when he is called upon to, by such occurrences and happenings as are markedly beyond the widths and breadths of his humanly faculties to untangle the reasons for their occurring and happening, write of a loved one intricately tangled in very center of such occurrences and happenings.

Such a writer, As we suckled at the same breast, many a time tends to barter his distinguished craft at the trade with the unsavory promptings and encouragements of his emotions and passions- those that immediately accompany news of such occurrences and happenings. He, or his works, thus become(s) a slave or child of Agony or Ecstasy.

At such moments, he totally loses grip of his objectivity and with it, more unfortunately, that detachment he hitherto had from the emotions that lie hidden in the poundings of his breast- probably which one quality may have endeared him, as is often the case, to that most faithful and loyal reader of his works to such proportions as to crown him noted or distinguished.

Thus when he is called upon to, say, write a eulogy of such a departed loved one at the tragic occasion of the latter’s funeral, or, if not actually dead, a speech at his wedding, the writer tends to glide his pen the wrong way of glaring untruths, which it customarily is not his nature, to either gloriously honour the memory of his fallen friend in the case of the former or delight both the audience and his walking- down- the- aisle- friend in the case of the latter.

It is the reader then that becomes the ultimate loser when this happens. He is cheated. He is cheated because he is forced to consume content that is adulterated by emotion. His faith in the writer is also betrayed. It is betrayed because the writer, and his opinions, become what he is not or what they are not. The musings of the writer declaim what is not. And what is not- is not!

Cognizant therefore of all the risks above, I will write of Nambaziira Doreen Agnes as I knew her. But there is more as to why I should write of her as I knew her: It would be sheer betrayal to the truthful disposition she happily cut while alive if I were to attempt and write of her other than as I knew her. She succumbed to brain hemorrhage on the night of February 14th 2012 at Nsambya Hospital.

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I first met Agnes Doreen Nambaziira sometime in 2008 when she had just successfully been elected a Guild Representative Councilor (G.R.C) of Africa Hall, Makerere University. It was through her inseparable and most intimate friend Hellen Namuyiga, who too, had just clinched the same feat. The two were to each other what wings are to many birds.

I too had also just been elected G.R.C of the Great Lumumba Hall and was in addition to that on a mad pursuit for votes for the coveted position of Editor- in- Chief of the Makererean. The voting college constituted all the G.R.C’s of Makerere University’s eleven halls of residence viz The Great Lumumba, Mary Stuart, Livingstone, Africa, Mitchell, Complex, University, Nkrumah, Nsibirwa, Galloway and Kabanyoro.

So it was this process of soliciting for votes that led me to Africa Hall where I first encountered Doreen. When I knocked at her door, she warmly welcomed me, as though we were old acquaintances, and ushered me into her neat and well- decorated room with that contagious smile that was hers. She had so delightful a way of speaking!

She sat me down –on a bed- like a mother does, listened to what I had to say absorbedly like a General monitoring the movement of his troops from atop a hill and then when I was through, frankly stared into my eyes- unlike some of her contemporaries who promised me their votes as soon as I came visiting, just as they had done to all my opponents, and told me she could not commit herself at that particular moment.

She walked me out of Africa, again as though we were already known to one another, and wished me the very best of luck. But shortly before that, I vividly recall her reprimanding me for leaving her room without eating anything.

She was to later on throw her weight behind my bid in the last stages of the campaign. It actually took me a lot more convincing to win her one vote than it took me to win the whole election.

Such, Abwooli, was the woman Nambaziira Agnes Doreen-gracious, humble, moral, courageous, selfless, candid, freethinking, kind, respectful, beautiful, dutiful, worshipful and rightful. These qualities were too alluring to be snubbed by those that shared in the warmth of her friendship and the virtues of her leadership. Little wonder, yet again, that those gentlest women of Africa accorded to her the highest honour they had to give, that of Chairlady.

Nambaziira Doreen Agnes, R. I. P

Nambaziira Doreen Agnes, R. I. P

She was also a daring champion of social equality and justice. One fine November day when the University administration attempted to outsource to private investors the catering services in the halls of residence, Doreen was one of those student leaders that were front-most in the condemnation of the venal idea. You should have seen how passionate she was!

She scorned, as did most of us, the idea on grounds that such a policy was unfriendly to the students the bulk of whom we represented came from poor families and that the private caterers would charge them exorbitantly and that some would actually go starving. She, as did most of us, further argued that the Ug. Shs 2000 stipend that was to be apparently extended to government sponsored students was too paltry as to feed them a day given the rising food costs.

When we realized that the then Guild President Robert Okware was softening his stance, after allegedly being bribed, I along with other student leaders like Okot Wokoratch Steven, Baluku Ronald Masamba and Tooratch Leo Steven mobilized and summoned all the G.R.C’s to the Great Lumumba Hall to confer upon the issue. All along, Doreen was bravely with us!

The session was not convened as it ordinarily should have been, but the exigencies of the situation so demanded since the Guild Speaker Mr. Massete Kenneth and President Okware, who were constitutionally mandated to summon a guild session, were dragging their feet at the detriment of the students who were fast losing their rights and dignity.

That session came with its attendant consequences among which was the summoning by the then Dean of Students Mr. John Ekudu- Adoku of myself and Mr. Baluku Ronald to the University Disciplinary Committee with the prospect of expulsion from the University for incitement of Students to strike through the convening of an illegal meeting. Though sanity in the end did prevail, it did prevail because of the protestations, petitions and pressures from gallant women like Doreen.

Doreen, we behold you in glory. May God comfort your mother, of whom am reliably informed you were the lone child of her womb, your family, your faithful friends especially Hellen Namuyiga of whom you leave alone in such deep agony and pain, your classmates and lecturers at Medical School and the entire Afro- Stone fraternity. We shall miss your ever reassuring company. We shall all miss your warm affectionate smile.

Farewell gentle friend, gentle woman.

 
 

Nkwanzi of Bunyoro, Ssangalyambogo of Buganda and Women in Classical Afrikan Societies

Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, so much of ink has been falsely spewed and spilled, in such hysterical hateful tones and choruses, by world scholars and noted feminists alike, in attempting to justify the provocative assertion that as regards the treatment of its tenderer half or the societal dais upon which it, by some accidents of history and biology, finds itself standing, the African Humanity as given vent through its known norms, social- political fetters and settled traditions is not only archaic and uncivilized but, too, satanic and barbaric- to say the least.

The fiery eloquence with which they craft, just like the proud and expert hands of an eminent Aztec goldsmith fashioning a royal jewel for Montezuma’s royal appealing and wearing, their kangaroo judgments allow no space for appeal! In fact the energies and sensations they employ in their declaims of condemnation, son of my father, far surpass those of Emperor Shaka’s warrior– Indunas at the enemies of The Great Elephant of Kwa Bulawayo and thus any inch of his vast frontiers!

Rujumba, extremists are terrorists and one who pronounces extremism pronounces terrorism. Therefore, the use and counter use of the two adjectives is just as intertwined as the webs of the other spider in the house of my grandmother. I will thus prefer to use the latter of the two, so let not your fine eyebrows be raised for a moment.

These shameless terrorists in fact go as far as proclaiming and asserting that our ways now, in their most crude, are even worse, in the regard of our mothers, daughters and wives, than those of the Pre- Islamic Arabia Jahilia Period, were women were bartered and battered or newly begotten females slayed at birth- because, apparently, they had no worth.

To substantiate this, they cite Female Genital Mutilation among the Sabiny and Pokot peoples, a customary decree that the crown prince at the passing on of his father, among the Baganda, must first exchange privates with a 12 or so year-old from a certain clan to seal his ascension to the throne of his forefathers and the throwing off the highest cliff of, among the Kiga of Western Uganda, a girl who go pregnant before completion of all marriage rites among others. These imported religions have also no helped matters.

Rujumba, those are the tests, low as they are, that are unfortunately used by these terrorists to judge and weigh the ways of our people long established over generations of consistent and committed practice by our forefathers, recall always to pour them libation whenever you must drink, and foremothers- recall, too, to offer sacrifices of the choicest meats to them whenever you must visit the shrines. These myopic opinions of the ways of our people and our people at large must be countered with all the contempt they deserve.

This is not to say that the above practices should be preserved by any section of our peoples, I actually strongly think they should not, all in the name of preserving our beautifully unique cultures and the philosophies that underlie them.

All I am saying, as we suckled at the same breast, is that a more objective test should be adopted in the judgment of the ways of my people for history, that these terrorists do not read, is littered with practices that exalt the rank of a woman, both as a mother and princess or as a daughter in the classic African setting. Actually, it can be argued that as regards the treatment of women when viewed from an objective lens, African Societies could be rated as the most progressive and respectful in the world!

Princess Katrina Ssangalyambogo of Buganda greets King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru on his 18th Birthday Celebrations at Kabalole . Photo Courtersy of Presidential Press Unit- Uganda.

Princess Katrina Ssangalyambogo of Buganda greets King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru on his 18th Birthday Celebrations at Kabalole . Photo Courtersy of Presidential Press Unit- Uganda.

Among the Baganda and the Banyoro for instance, mothers occupy such highly privileged positions in these respective societies that their words are respected for a communication from the gods and deities. A mother’s word or counsel is of such supreme importance to the child that deviance therefrom is almost unknown. A mother’s curse, according to the Nyoro Anthropologist and Historian John William Nyakatuura in his book Emirwa y’Ihanga lya Kitara, is most dreaded.

Thus the supreme punishment that could be meted out to any one in old Nyoro society was where a mother angrily raised her apparels, in a cursing posture, exposing in the process her nakedness to the errant child. Such a child was considered doomed and ruined with no prospects of living long. To stress how dreaded this deed was, Nyakatuura further posits that not even God Ruhanga could rescind it, unless the child apologized by special rituals whereupon the mother could unwind the curse and take back the child! There is, too, a long line of proverbs stressing this point. This remains up to now the case in Tooro.

Further among the Baganda, a princess commanded the same respect as a prince from both within royal enclosures and without. Thus what a prince could do, a princess would also do. There are actually some incidents where some princesses, thanks to their charisma and virtues, occupied more lofty positions in society than their male counterparts- like the woman Nannono whom we shall turn to in a moment.

No wonder some of these norms have been transported to this Mutebi generation- Omulembe Omutebi– such as reference to princes and princesses alike as Ssebbo. Thus Omumbejja in Buganda is respectfully and deferentially addressed as Ssebo. In ordinary speak and parlance, Ssebo applies to men as does Nnyabo to women.

Again in battle- times, Nyoro history proudly chronicles the supreme emotional and physical heroism of women like Kanyange Nyamutahingurwa Omunyonzakati just as Europe does of Joan of Arc or Islamic Civilization of Hamid Begum in the court of Nizam- ul- Mulk among other notable Muslim heroines.

Joan of Arc was the brave woman of Europe who, garbed in male battle- attire, so valiantly fought in the siege of Orleans, 1428 C. E. She discomfited the English in the celebrated battle of Pietz and almost singly sat Charles VII on the throne. So brave was Joan that in the year 1431, her heroism caused her premature end.

She was burnt alive for it was put about that her prowess was so supernatural that it could only be the caused by sorcery! But she was afterwards invested with a halo of glory and her great deeds are now cited in history books as examples of supreme heroism. In 1920, she was canonized, that is, acclaimed officially as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church!

The Islamic poet Mirza Hadi cited by Allama Syed Sulaiman Nadwi in the little delicious book Heroic Deeds of Muslim Women, © Africa Muslims Agency, at p. 45- 46 in the battle against ‘Adil Khan recounts Hamid Begum’s heroism in the defense of her master Nizam- ul- Mulk, thus: ‘she stood like an adamantine rock in the battlefield…she put on a veil over her pretty form, and fastened ornamented sword and dagger around her waist. And when the two forces arrayed in opposition, she herself stood manfully like an impenetrable mountain during the fight and discomfited the assailants…taking possession of their elephants and guns returning gloriously.’

Thus too, Abwooli -was Kanyange Nyamutahingurwa Omunyonzakati mother of your illustrious great- great- grandfather conquering Emperor Chwa II Kabaleega of Bunyoro. When the white man touched upon these lands, raping, scorching villages and massacring as he did, Kabaleega constructed perhaps the most celebrated guerilla war- horse in the defense of his Empire’s sovereignty.

He heroically resisted the dreaded Gun Maxim for well over decade. A decade here should be understood in the context of the speed with which the wind spread the white man’s gunpowder, the technological supremacy of his firepower and the sheer inhumanity of his battle stratagems!

However we shall explore the lengths and breadths of his heroic virtues one fine morning, not today. What is crucial here is the support that women, including Kanyange, rendered to the sustenance of the most honorable cause. It is recorded by K. W, of whom Kabaleega is a direct ancestor, that the struggle would probably not have lasted that long if it were not for this support.

Princess Komuntale of Tooro

Princess Komuntale of Tooro

They acted spies thus relaying information from the enemy ranks, provided psychological support to their fighting husbands most notable being the Musongorakati wife of General Rwabudongo. For her part, Kanyange Nyamutahingurwa was one of the last persons to be captured by Colonel Colville’s menacing and rampaging forces.

Abwooli, if I attempted to exhaust this rather limitless list of deeds pointing to the conclusion that a woman was, contrary to the unresearched and boringly monotonous counter- opinions, held in highest esteem and regard, with respect and love, as she still is, by the society in which our forefather’s lived and in which we currently live, the effort would if not prove unsuccessful, outlast eight full moons and four dry seasons, for it winds and winds like the Musizi River!

Two incidents that I have not seen related anywhere except in between the old brown- covers of a few dusty and lonely books and the memories of men shall be used to cap up my argument that Classical Nyoro and Ganda societies- call it Afrikan, respected a woman and held her in the highest esteem than what regularly meets the eye.

Nannono of Buganda

During the reign of Ssekabaka Nakibinge, Buganda witnessed events that were to eventually propel a woman –Nannono, to occupy the throne Nnamulondo of Buganda. Because of his noted bravery and courage, Omukama Olimi I Rwitamahanga Omwitabya^ro Owa Kalimbi- scourge of nations, of Bunyoro succeeded his father Winyi I Rubembeka Ntara who also succeeded his father Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru. When Buganda invaded the Nyoro counties of Bweera and Bulemeezi, Olimi I personally led his army to face off with Ganda and Nakibinge.

These events in turn led the two armies to run into one another at Murago- as the Banyoro remember it or Mulago- as was known within the Ganda ranks. The epic battle is well recalled in the military histories of the two peoples for idealy two reasons. First, the astonishing bravery and valor that the two belligerents ,commanded by two Kings, exuded. Secondly, the circumstances that led to the death of the Nyoro Commander Nsembuka ya Kwezi.

Clearly outwitted and discomfited by Nyoro spear- men, as the historian Mrs. Fisher in her book Twilight tales of Black Baganda: The Traditional History of Bunyoro- Kitara, narrates as- rather authoritatively, does K. W, the brave Ganda King appealed to the spirit Kibuuka that answered his call and, fighting from the clouds- ebicu, struck dead the equally brave Nyoro General Nsembuka ya Kwezi.

The battle was so ferocious that Nakibinge was slain by Olimi I Rwitamahanga and the brave Ganda forces defeated. —Kihumuro- Apuuli:  A thousand years of Bunyoro- Kitara Kingdom, Fountain Publishers Kampala 1994 p.40—-John William Nyakatuura: The Anatomy of An African Kingdom, 1994 p.89- 90.

The official Ganda website reports of the incident thus: ‘Nakibinge called Kibuuka Kyobe Omumbaale from the Ssese Island to come and rescue the Kingdom of Buganda during the wars with Bunyoro Kingdom. They fought and won the war but were both killed during the battle. Kibuuka was killed first when they (the Banyoro) discovered his tactics of fighting and then Nakibinge was killed towards the end of the war. http://www.buganda.or.ug/index.php/ssekabaka-nakibinge

Though some Ganda so claim as above viz that Nakibinge’s army won despite dangerously acknowledging, as above, that he was slain as was Kibuuka just like Nsembuka ya Kwezi in the Nyoro ranks, this cannot have been the case for two reasons: First, Nakibinge’s death which they do not deny, and; Secondly, the fact that after the battle Bunyoro retained the two counties which had led the two Kingdoms to War in the first place.

But be that as it may, the crowning effect of this battle, as hinted upon earlier, was Nannono’s keeping guard, by way of occupation, of the throne Nnamulondo for one full year- a fitting tribute to the esteemed positions women held in that society! Could a women really have been honoured more than this in such a feudalistic society?

Omukama Mashamba Ga Winyi Omubiitokati

When Omukama Chwa I Rumomamahanga ascended the throne Nyamyaro succeeding his father Nyarwa Omuzaarakyaaro, his one desire was to expand his Empire by reclaiming the size superintended over by the Bachwezi. He thus consequently took war to Omugabe Ntare Kiitabanyoro of Nkore (the circumstances under which he attained this title can be explained at behest) and defeated him at the battle of Rulembo and thus subsequently established his capital at Kakunyu in Nkore. He thereafter visited the same war to Rwanda with identical motives and intents. He however rested in Rwanda.

When this news reached Bunyoro, the charismatic Princess Mashamba Omubiitokati, Batebe or Omukama Chwa’s Princess Royal was put on the Nyoro throne and reined for four solid years! Once more, we shall ask ourselves: Could a women really have been honoured more than this in such a feudalistic society?

Given that briefly related indisputable historical incidents and facts, Abwooli, it naturally follows that these terrorists have no more arrows left in their quivers, and who can blame them?

Nyoro, Ganda, Tooro, Kiga societies or the classical African society not only respected and loved, but also honoured a women as a whole more -perhaps, than any other society in the world.

Those circumstances that tended to degrade and dehumanize the woman were singular and isolated and should not be used, as these terrorists do, as a standard meter to measure and cast scorn and vile upon our unique and immeasurably rich norms, ways and traditions.

Thus, as we suckled at the same breast, if you asked me that, as does my Facebook friend David Mukasa, why can’t princesses like Katrina Ssangalyambogo of Buganda or Princess Nkwanzi of Bunyoro ascend the thrones of their fathers, I will argue it is a matter of their father’s choice- and choice cannot be forced.

Thus in the case that their brothers Rukidi and Ssemakookiro succeded their the thrones of their fathers, it would be more out of the wise judgments of their fathers than any hard and fast societal norm. This thesis finds authority in the above- related anecdote of the two illustrious women -Nannono and Mashamba Omubiitokati.

Be it also known that these events happened way before the white man touched, with his enlightening civilization and religions, upon these sacred parts of the earth!

Hangiriza Rukirabasaija! Hangiriza Ikingura! Hangiriza Nkyanungi! Hangiriza Ekituule ekinobere abeemi; ntale y’Bunyoro! Muliisa Nfuuzi! Muliira haiguru amagufa nigakunkumuka! Mbogo emu, bahiigi Magana! Hangiriza Kabumba! Hangiriza Agutamba!

Nda^sigara Omunyoro waawe Kyomuhendo Rwa Rwetuma; Rwetuma Rwa Kabyanga; Kabyanga Rwa Kabyanga; Kabyanga Rwa Bahemuka; Bahemuka Rwa Kagoro; Kagoro Rwa Kakyomya- Omusambu. Rwa Kugonza Omubiitokati; Kugonza Rwa Bulemu; Bulemu Rwa Mwirumubi; Mwirumubi Rwa Chwa II Kabaleega!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized