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The East African : Oct 20th 2014
20 The EastAfrican OPINION OCTOBER 18-24,2014 LAST WORD Built fo≥ policy comfo≥t, not fo≥ speed: Meet Belgium’s 130-kilo health ministe≥ You are too fat to be a minister! Critics say Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block does not set the right example for people concerned about their fitness. The 130kg politician put in charge of public health has come under fire for being too fat for the job. Among her duties, Maggie De Block is tasked with tackling obesity. And that, say image-obsessed critics, “is a joke.” The 52-year-old politician Joachim Buwembo The money that built a mosque is only good fo≥ ai≥time these days... 52 years of Independence live on air. While the strange aspects of our postIndependence history have been said over and over again, the youth who did not witness them first hand still get amazed when told some detail. My interviewers were a 20-something girl called Malaika, born after Yoweri Museveni took power, and a 30-something called Gaetano, known for his Big Brother Africa appearance some years ago. Somewhere during the 45-minute O gasped. show, we were reviewing a documentary on pre-Independence Kampala when to their shock it was revealed that the grand mosque on Kibuli hill was built with a Ush10,000 donation from an Indian businessman, Jaffer Bandari, on land donated by Prince Badru Kakungulu a few years before Independence. “Were those Uganda shillings?” they ver a week ago, I honoured an early morning appointment with Urban TV in eastern Kampala to discus Uganda’s I explained to these young Ugandans that in my own living memory, one US dollar exchanged for seven Uganda shillings for a long time. So, yes, ten thousand Uganda shillings was once enough to build a great mosque. “But many people who saw the mosque being built for Ush10,000 must still be around today, when ten thousand can hardly buy anything,” Malaika observed. They tried to figure out what Ush10,000 can usefully buy today in Uganda and the most significant purchase they came up with was airtime. Because the time ran out — as it always does on television — I did not tell them that ten thousand shillings today is actually over one million shillings if you want to compare with money values from 27 years ago or earlier. This is because in 1987, the Uganda shilling was devalued and two zeros were struck off all values, along with a 30 per cent conversion tax. For every one million shillings you had in 1987, you were given Ush7,000 on conversion. In other words if instead of donating it to build Kibuli Mosque in the 1950s, Jaffer Bandari had kept his Ush10,000 and had to exchange it for new currency in 1987, he would have received 70 shillings. It is not conceivable for Bandari, if he were alive today, to call Kampala’s Muslim Community and declare a donation of 70 shillings to construct a mosque on land donated by a prince. That is how terrible inflation can be. Of course, the inflation Uganda has suffered since the official destruction of the economy in 1972 is not the worst the world has seen. There was Germany where money’s value was deteriorating faster that you could count it, so that if you agreed on a price for something, by the time you finished counting its price had changed. Then we have seen Zimbabwe, from where a Ugandan referee returned a couple of years back and amused people by announcing the Zim billions he had earned for officiating a match. But it is not wise to compare your situation with those who are worse off. Otherwise, we would never work harder. We wouldn’t even seek treatment on falling sick, since others have been more sick before us. Ugandans need to stop talking and spe start working. What Uganda needs most today are leaders to show people the potential they all have of becoming rich through work. How I wish we stop talking of the glorious past, and instead focus on the possible glorious future! is hugely popular in Belgium, and was once tipped as a future premier. But Maggie is not exactly setting a good example in a country where obesity is a problem, according to her detractors. Still, Maggie, who practised medicine for 25 years, knows more about medicine and health issues than anybody else in the Cabinet. “I know I’m not a model but you have to see what’s inside, not the packaging,” she said. Aggression is someone doing your job for you A man has been arrest- ed after “taking a mop off a hotel employee” and “aggressively mopping” the floor. John Thornton, 30, was in the Double Tree in Bristol, US when he spotted a hotel employee he thought was doing a poor job of cleaning, police claim. So he grabbed the cleaner’s mop and took over her job before “becoming aggressive,” it is alleged. He allegedly mopped over her shoes several times and when she told him to stop, he then turned his back on her and forced her into a corner. When police arrived they claim the cleaner was “shaken and crying” and also wished to press charges. Hitler, he did it with his clothes on, Himmler... Adolf Hitler enjoys more mythology than most, but recently, English novelist Martin Amis added some of the weirdest claims yet to the gossip surrounding the Fuhrer. As well as suggesting the dictator was insane, Amis believes Hitler was so obsessed with hygiene he would only have sex with his clothes on. But there were other myths before. That the dictator only had one testicle. And reports continue to insist it is true. They are based on accounts by a German army medic who apparently saved Hitler’s life during World War One and reveal Hitler may have lost a testicle during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Polly wants a cracker, por favor, senor... The owner of a parrot that spoke English with a British accent says the bird went missing for four years, only to return speaking Spanish and asking for someone named Larry, a Southern California newspaper reported. Darren Chick told the Daily Breeze newspaper that he doesn’t know where African grey parrot Nigel has been for four years but that aside from the language switch, the bird is doing fine back at home. Chick told the paper, “It’s really weird, I knew it was him from the minute I saw him.” Nigel was discovered in the back yard of a Torrance couple who run a dog grooming business. Th≥ough a Google Glass da≥kly: Inte≥net addiction is ≥eal The world’s first Internet addict has been discovered, according to scientists. Boffins have treated a man they believe had a disorder connected to overuse of Google Glass — the smart specs that allow wearers to access the Web via headmounted gear. The unnamed man — reportedly a 31-year-old US Navy serviceman — had been glued to this sought after device for a whopping 18 hours every day, removing it only for naps and washing. The alleged Web junkie complained of feeling angry and argumentative when he was wearing his surfing spectacles. Perhaps most worrying, the man even revealed he had begun experiencing his dreams as though they were viewed through Google Glass.
Oct 13th 2014
Oct 27th 2014