Have a Good Life

We all wish to live a good life only that seldom we know how! So many things are in our heads that we do not have a break-off session to think through the things we want. In the end, we move about carrying baggage in our heads. It becomes so heavy leading to a lot of things. We become stressed, disillusioned and worn out of things yet we could just do better if we didn’t stress over things we couldn’t change. We get tired thinking and worrying of people who are not worried or even bothered about us. We become so drained by work that will soon move on without us. We complain while sitting in traffic yet there is nothing much that is going to come out of the complaints. We struggle to lose weight, complain of being too heavy yet to work out we won’t. These things wear us out and yet we can choose to do away with them. The will is in us only that we do not know.

Our minds are clouded with a thousand thoughts crisscrossing each other. This is where the problem begins. We miss out on the significant details as we chase what should have been the minor things of life. That power is within us yet we seldom make use of it. You just need to take off time your busy schedule and indulge yourself in this book. You too can Have a Good Life. 

Life is goood

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The author of this book shoulders the burden to expose you to such things and he is kind enough to give working solutions of how you can come out of this self-imposed imprisonment. In only seven days, you could begin walking a journey that will lead  to a better and happier you.

All it takes is your involvement.

Some things take time and others are sudden, they have immediate effect. Change in character comes with a cost, one that includes time. The time to work on yourself and the people around you. These are not things you wake up to changed, they are intentional footsteps that you have to remind yourself of on a daily basis. It is at such a moment that one practices detachment; having to let go of things that make your mind captive. You have to be intentional in making sure you acquire good habits. These you have to practice on a daily.

The 43 pages of this book make it a simplified read. The reader has to dedicate seven days to the text winding each day with a self-help reflection exercise.

As an athlete on the track of life, you have got to weigh your options and make them count. You have one life to live, make it count. You may not be in position to reverse your thoughts or options but at least you can choose what is good for your life. Purpose to look at your life as the best gift you have and one which you cannot afford to lose. Direct your mind to see through your thoughts and be guided by doing right. Doing right entails a number of things.

In this busy life, do not do life alone, talk to someone, share with someone. That’s why people like Al Montana exist; to help you re-direct your life to the path you desired and most importantly deserve.

Have a Good Life is written by Al Montana, a life coach and businessman based in Entebbe, Uganda.

 

 

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ECHOES OF TIRED MEN

Often times poets write of things that affect the community they live in. They are observers who take note of the many things that the ordinary eye may misses out. They are society’s self-appointed mouth piece without whom some things might never come to light.

Ronald Ssekajja takes a U-turn in this collection. He takes an outside-in point  of view into the jungle that is his thoughts. Conversations about sadness, death and anything as dark rarely escape the prison of our minds. They clog in there only to manifest as depression later on in life. In his writing, the poet journeys us through the darkness that troubles his mind all clearly set in his head, told in his own voice. The reader cannot fail but identify with the after effects which one never gets schooled on in the process of LOSING TOUCH WITH HUMANITY. Dealing with loss is one of the hardest circumstances in that many find hard to deal with.

In his attempt to threaten and scare off death, the poet brings out the fears that many of us walk around with carrying in ourselves that we never get to disclose. He is quick to own up to all the upheavals that are raised, he is quick to make reference to himself in the writing. The poems in the collection are not implied, they are the lived testimonies of his life. It is this kind of roller coaster of life that makes men tired.

Tired men still get called home

Only to die, tired! 

Poems like STORM point out the sad reality of writers having to shed their own pain on paper. In the collection, the poet repetitively alludes to ink and its relevancy in soothing and calming the burdens that weigh down his heart. Whereas writing is in itself a remedy of relieving self, it leaves the writer with a lot of uncertainty in regards to the posterity of their work. There is no assurance that one’s work will be read or not.

I wish people would listen to me, or read my poetry

And perhaps in their comments give me their sympathies…

With the resignation in the tone of voice, you are reminded of the renewed purpose of living and the gratitude that comes with it. After all LIFE REVOLVES.

In the writing of his grievances and pain, his cries and yearnings, he finds himself.  He finds a relief and a healing. He finds ACCEPTANCE if not anywhere else, at least within himself.

The ECHOES OF TIRED MEN are on sale at Turn The Page Africa and the African Studies BookStore. Order your copy now.

 

Photo by Jonathan Nsereko

The limbo of hashtags

Beloved,

Here rests yet another

Whose life briefly trended

The short impact reached and touched many at heart

Raised a number of issues

And as well helped bring to life quietened accounts

We are gathered here because of the late

Who brought us together to talk about this topic

Through whom our hearts revealed how affected we are by silence

Our sheltered vast wisdom came out wholly

Out of the cages of unknown caves

The battle might have been long but it came to a stop

The deceased goes to join others

And just as one comes and goes,

So will the next

And soon we shall be back for another vigilhashtag

Hey, yo’ there?

How have you been? Been a while without checking on each other.
And it does not seem like it’s been a smooth sail. There seems to have been a lot of tumbling there and here. But through it all, we emerge stronger. We sink but don’t drown. We fall and rise again. It darkens before it can brighten.
What matters most is keeping hope alive. Knowing and believing that tomorrow will be better. Trusting the process. That’s what it takes. That’s all that is involved.
I know, maybe like me, at times you go through stuff and you don’t have someone to talk to. When everything looks like a threat. When your actions are not matching up to those of the people around you. When you are tailing in everything that you do. When nothing seems to yield fruit. There within that moment, you hold your breath and breathe.  They say good days lay ahead of us. Our work is to believe. Our work is to hold it together, to ask God for better health but most importantly to heal from within, looking at ourselves and finding comfort that in us, the answer is. Hope is. Life is. For whatever that saddens your heart, remember, you are not alone but most importantly, soon, the clouds will be clear. Stay Strong. We are Alive in Grace.

Review: ON WRITING BY Paul KISAKYE

When I first read of the book online, I thought it was another of the typical how to guide books. The kind that goes straight to the point. One question that always finds its way in a writing related conversation is the how to question. How do I write? I Know what I want to say but I do not know how to write it.

My mind rushed off to the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr, a book that the author references in his work as a guide of going about the writing business and all its details. William’s book comes off as a general book that does not address a beginner’s writing interests directly. Here, Paul labours to paint a picture of the entire writing process. This is key especially in a market where people want to see immediate returns on their book investments.

People write books for different reasons. Some want to tell a certain story while others want another stream of income. In either way, it is important to pay maximum attention to what you are putting on the market. Some books stay long in the reader’s mind while others, they have to be reminded that they read them that is, if indeed they did. When one writes a book for the monetary bit of it, it is such a heartbreak when they do not get the returns as they quickly expected. Why? It is simply because books create their own demand. A good book paves its own path.

Publishing being a free world for all, some authors and publishers underscore the importance of given stages that ought to be followed. As a result, you have a number of half-baked books hitting the market. It is such books that have validated the argument that Ugandan books are not well written. That is what the author of this book is advocating for; better writing.

The writing process should not be influenced by the fact that one has the will to pay for their work to be published or that they have good story. There should be a substance, an identity, value for which the reader should get in exchange of reading a given text. Good books do not have to be shoved down people’s throats to have them bought.

The author should be willing to pay handsomely for handsome work to be produced. Paying peanuts to the editors and expecting a good book in return does not hold up. Invest the money and time not one of the two and you will be grateful for the outcome.

In trying to talk about the entire writing process, the author misses (or intentionally leaves out) key details that could be of significant help to both the writer and the editor. How I wish the author could come up with an advanced style guide for editors and proof readers in particular.

The middle part of the book could, in itself, make a book of its own. It handles the primary tenets of writing not only for a book but writing in general. Subjects like language, theme and characterization bring out the details of any writing assignment better.

By the time one is done reading the 122 pages of this guide, one realizes how biased opinionated facts on writing are. Every book should be treated as an independent entity with a distinction that makes it stand out.

This book is so timely. It comes when there are so many people with writing ambitions but without a guide on where to begin. Now, here is one. Get a copy from Turn The Page

 

Enough of the Broken Hearts

Today is the World No Tobacco Day.

snipped smoke

Time Up!

Celebrations should be taking place somewhere where a government official will speak accompanied by a number of other officials. Since I will not be there and I am sure yourself won’t, let’s have a go at it here.

A few days ago, a troubled musician allegedly caught in the act of theft was accused of using drugs that had since taken a toll on his life. One thing that stood out, for me, was a comment on social media where he was accused of being heavy on substance abuse to the point that his face had been disfigured. How true that is, I cannot tell. Two days later, a picture of another, once acclaimed Uganda musician, also made rounds, this time with a hashtag to help him. His case was not any different. Only that, it was worse than the former. It was hurting.

Growing up, tobacco consumption was not every man’s achievement, those who could be able to consume it presented it as a selective act of pomp for the bold and distinguished. Dr. William Nyakojo tells a story of how, in their school, tobacco use was such an enviable act that it qualified one to belong to a certain group within school.

One time during the long third term holidays, I was at my uncle’s. My cousin, Joze, then in his early twenties had started tobacco consumption mainly smoking cigarettes. One particular evening, we sat chatting in the compound, it was quite a big number of young men. The elder ones told the stories as we listened with abandoned thought of anything happening. Out of nowhere, our uncle’s voice called out. It was coming towards our side. Joze was smoking along with two other elder brothers. For them, they were known to be smokers. He had not yet had the confidence to be seen by his father smoking. He immediately hid the half-smoked-burning-cigarette stick in his back pocket. Unknown to him, it had not burnt out when he fixed it. Unfortunately for him, his father was not in a rush to leave. He stuck around. A few moments later, Joze was not stable as he kept twisting and turning. The cigarette was burning him. Uncle, standing behind him, saw the burning cigarette stick peep. That’s when he reached out for him. The night was not any good for Joze.

Tobacco consumption is not new in our land. It is one of those habits that have tagged along with the masses for some time. Joze took to smoking after his brothers who had taken after their father.

Today, tobacco consumption has gone beyond just the known traditional means of using the pipe or smoking the paper rolled stick to a number of alternatives. The e-cigarette being one of the recent innovations. Tobacco is scented and no longer a big threat to breath save for those who still smoke the traditional stick. Instead, the biggest harm goes on the inside of the body. There is a rise of heart related diseases of which tobacco is a big contributor.

We have a mandate to protect ourselves from tobacco consumption either as active or passive consumers. Often, we do not pay much attention to active smokers as they smoke in our presence but we equally get affected. With the 2015 Tobacco Act, smoking in public spaces is completely outlawed. No one is supposed to be smoking in public at all. It is that much that we take tobacco casually.

Tobacco cases at the Heart Institute (HI) have increasingly grown with 20% of the patient population being smokers. Much as there are mechanisms to help with the treatment of the related diseases, there are fewer specialists. Worse of it all, tobacco contains nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine causes addiction to the user while carbon monoxide sucks out oxygen from the body resulting into blood clotting. With the clotting, the patient’s chances for survival are reduced. Tobacco has been known to kill half of its users.

We need to speak to smokers into giving up on the habit rather than condemnation. There are rehabilitation centres that can be of great help. Today we can choose to start to stop tobacco consumption in whatever form it is.  It is believed that if one has not smoked by the age of 21, chances are they may not be active smokers for the rest of their life. We should open up and tell the young ones about the dangers of this “pompous” habit. It begins with us.

no more

Enough of the broken hearts

In a situation where the HI can only handle three cases a week, in a country where heart related issues are rated at number four after malaria, infectious diseases and diabetes in claiming lives, we have more to do in addressing the challenge. Tobacco breaks hearts. Let us save those still alive.

Let’s Talk Tax

There is a thin line (if any) between a political related discussion and that on taxation. It goes without mention that the two have a parasitic relationship, however distant one may choose to look at it. Wherever there is political discussion, you should be surprised if the conversation goes without opinionated facts defensively presented in raised voices wielded in concrete emphatic tones. Faces twitch with bulging eyes as seasonal wrinkles easily fade and rise on a face where they may not be traceable once the conversation is done. One thing though about political discussions is the way in which, often times, the participants are smartly dressed like they won’t be believed were they not to be. Much as the discussion may rage on for hours without end, usually, you have no winner. Everyone wins and everyone loses. As such are discussions related to tax.

Image from the internet

Tax is a burden we must all endure

Tones are leveled, endless gesture expressions of points that are failing to sink in. Endless scribbling down of figures for emphasis and more. With tax related conversation, there is always that one lead discussant whose role is to explain the details, the difficult terms and how they come about. To a lay person, this person’s role is to confuse you till you can understand no more and consequently lose interest in the conversation.

Thanks to the World Bank Uganda team who knew these difficulties beforehand and decided to address them in our meeting with them. In growing economies like ours, we tend to find it hard to commit to paying taxes. We always have that one other reason as to why this tax is inappropriate and that tax is uncalled for.  Rarely does it come out of will to have the taxes filed. Those who do deserve a pat on the back. Last year, Uganda Revenue Authority released a list of faith based organizations paying tax and you could tell that even among the men of God, paying back what belongs to Caesar was not coming with much ease. But why be judgmental? We are all human struggling to swallow this bitter pill.

As a nation, there is a lot of subsistence living within both the rural and the urban and it is done in such a way that it goes without record keeping. It cannot be traced. Growing a tax paying culture may (and will) take some time.

One thing about a conversation on tax is that it is first individual before it gets to a whole. An individual needs to find out how their paying tax will be of help to them. “I stay in Kira and my road has not been worked on for the last five years I have been there.” Such deeply seated sentiments ought to be addressed before one can talk of how the entire national tax collected only contributes 13% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Common in the news today is the latest update from URA of where next they are going to raise the tax. The tax pool has been growing wider since the year began and many people are not happy about it, partly because not much explanation is made as to why. No one is coming out to say that only one million of the forty plus population actively pays their tax. It goes without mention that a number of professional firms are not paying tax and neither is there a format of how they should be taxed. And yet a number of emerging firms are suffocating because of too much tax, also at times, unexplained. That a lot of tax is on income yet a lot goes untaxed under the consumption bracket.

There is need to have an organized system where tax collection is known, where the pools are defined and clearly labeled. Maybe then and there, there will be fewer numbers of people fidgeting with the tax payment process to survive. Maybe then, we shall all take part in the celebration of a growing tax base that currently stands at only 55%. By closing the leakages in the current instruments of tax collection and improving online platforms like PIN acquisition will enable many to take part in the process.

That if we could have the government deliberately declare what the tax does, where it goes and who is responsible for what, there will be fewer questions and more answers. Until then, the design remains so good on paper and yet poorly implemented.

Like Racheal Sebudde emphasizes, tax is a burden that should be put in place but with ways that make its payment a welcome gesture other than a runaway factor. Until then, we may never know that in countries like Denmark, the government takes away 50% of one’s income and they make sure that public services are duly provided.

Abstaining from having conversations on tax will only distance many from making their contribution towards tax payment. Let’s talk tax, shall we?