Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Dear God: 2016 a Year in Review!

Dear God

Thank you for 2016!

Thank you for all the lessons learnt this year.

In 2016 I made it a habit to start my prayers with gratitude because I got tired of  negative talk taking up too much time and energy in our daily chats. I learnt about the power of my words. Thank you for the battles you fought that I didn’t see, the fires you put out that I witnessed, and the gifts you gave that were especially for me. This time you didn’t have to spiritually pinch my ears because I wasn’t being too stubborn to listen. Amen for periods of growth.  Maybe that is one of the greatest things about being human. We can change, we can grow internally. We can become a better self.
Taken from Goodreads
I made a vision board at the beginning of this year! I put a lot of inspirational quotes and lists of things I wanted to do. I didn’t achieve EVERYTHING maybe like 50% but it give me direction. I have achieved quite a lot this year, even though it wasn’t on the vision board. I consider those part of the gifts you gave me this year. I think I might be moving towards organizing myself, my life, my present and my future… I am that women that I always used to read about in books who’s taking charge of her life!  But I don’t want to say it out loud in case I frighten myself right back into chaos and the scary unknown again.

As you know, I prayed a lot this year. Towards the beginning of 2015, my Aunty brought a prayer warrior to the house just for me. At first I was like ‘WHAT!?!’, but you can’t tell Ugandan aunties ‘No, Thank you.’, especially when she thinks your life is spiraling, so I told this soldier of God’s army all my ‘challenges’ and ‘my hopes’ for the future, as my aunty sat behind her and nodded encouragingly at me. The prayer warrior rolled out her mat, positioned her cross and bible, lit some candles and cried out to you on my behalf. I must admit it’s kind of special having someone lament and pray for you. I have to say I felt a little relived afterwards. When she was done the prayer warrior gave me a list of psalms to commit to saying everyday. I have stuck to it as best as can, I would give myself 80% pass rate this year and 100% for effort made to communicate with you. Although, I did talk to you every day, there were just some days I missed out on the serious ritual of prayer. I kept a regular schedule of morning and evening prayers when possible, there were also those random silent prayers at work and in the car on the way home and don’t forget those quiet moments in the garden. those were helpful!
Taken from Goodreads

Through prayer sessions, I practiced forcing myself to let go. First I would pray to you. Then, I’d ask you for help or an answer. Lastly, I would let go and wait. This is something I need to take into all my relationships; to say what I have to say and not feel responsible for someone’s response.  God, you’ve  playfully thrown answers back at me in some strange wonderful ways. From songs on the radio, to people bringing the answer into random conversations, and books coming my way. I think you have also conveniently used google as way to stalk your people and communicate with them. I know I have seen it in action. You are an interesting one God…

In 2016 I  took time to seize fruitful opportunities, by meeting new people, attending events and continue with my writing. I went to Sipi falls by myself here’s the blog post, I attended writing workshops, again here are some of blog posts, I even met Doreen, the author of Tropical Fish here’s the blog post.  I finished my Goodreads book challenge in fact I doubled it from 6 to 12 books. I am back in the reading game! I met Sumayya Lee. Her book ‘The Story of Maya’ is one of my favorite books this year. It was such a welcome surprise of a book, nothing like I had expected. I also met Michelle Wrong and she signed my book!  The Writivism festival was one of my favourite experiences this year. I took my Aunty to  the one woman play starring Maimouna Jallow, inspired by the book ‘Secret Life of Baba Segi’s Wives’; We could not stop laughing. I watched a great play written by Aganza Kisaka  called 'Black'. But the ultimate experience this year was the Writing Retreat.

As much as I can I have tried to blog. Atleast every month I have blogged. In January, I collected stories from women around me. Here they are. They were inspired by me reaching the third decade in my life. I felt I needed to define myself and take full control of the reigns. I am not leaving my life to fate anymore. I shall create the life I want as best as can.

By the way I wore a bikini for the first time ever! YASSSSSSSS…girl. I shall keep buying more for future holidays, baecations and the upcoming honeymoon…
This was the year I almost owned an iphone, but it was stolen…wamp….wamp…
As always I am grateful for friends and family the amount of venting I have done on my life story this year, and the amount of reassuring they have provided. Lord please continue to listen to their prayers and bless them for their patience. Don’t forget to bless me for my patience too! Cause there were days when I needed the strength to listen and wisdom to handle them gently too!

Taken from Goodreads
More symbolic of the journey I have taken this year is the new dress I had made this month. One of my Aunties gave me some fabric years ago and my unorganised self kept it stashed away. This year I finally decided it must be turned into something! My Cousin sewed it together but before she did, she took time to ask me what I wanted. I told her right down to the last detail and she produced exactly what I asked for.  I came home and found the delivery on my bed. I feel like I was entering 2017 complete. I chose something for myself which was good. This is big for me because it means I can trust myself again. I can chose well for myself.

I think I am more confident in who I am. I know what I would like do or achieve in this life, and I am comfortable with what I am not and probably won’t achieve. This means that my prayers will not be wayward and confused, and as I have written so many times on this blog in my letters to you, I shall go down the path  you are revealing. I have a post-it note by my desk with my personal development training goals for 2017. All of them are connected to being creative or atleast exploring creativity.
Also let’s discuss this whole dating thing. Now there’s an area that surely needs the revisit of the prayer warrior. You are the God who moves mountains… you parted the red sea!!! Explain the possible minuscule hiccup with my dating life then please !?! Surely you can ensure 2017 is full of good dates with possible husband material? I guess we will continue this conversation in the new year...

 So here’s to 2017!

Cause the Maria that is showing up is really COOL! I like her. She’s not perfect but she’ll definitely do for now. Where have you been hiding her? She shall be making more appearances in the coming years that’s for sure!

And finally…..Lord,

I ask for wisdom, guidance, protection, love, attention, presence and all that you think is necessary for me, my family and my friends in 2017

My prayer is that you continue to work in people’s lives, most especially when they call. I pray that you work in ways that they can see and understand your presence, and that  they can also enjoy growing in their relationship with you as I have this year.

Lot’sa love
Maria XOXO
Here I come 2017!


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Are We Taking Phone Theft in Uganda Seriously?

I don’t know about you, but shs50.3million is a lot of money to me! Christmas is looming. Tis’ the season of  landlords/landladies tormenting their tenants, debts and bills needing to be paid, children needing to be fed, wives needing a reason to stop nagging, relatives starting to demand, and mistresses needing to be kept quiet. With that in mind, it becomes quite discernible to see why financially-vulnerable individuals are turning into professional phone thieves given the levels of unemployment. It’s an easy side job to maintain that doesn’t require an ‘education’. One need only google phone theft to see that it is growing into a lucrative ‘illegal’ industry all over the world.  If a phone can’t work in the country it was stolen in, it’s simply shipped across the borders and sold to a willing customer. In January 2016 the numbers increased, 104 cases of phone theft were recorded in Kampala. Luckily shs7.5 million worth of phones were recovered and 34 cases actually made it to court. Wouldn't it be useful to enforce legislation that makes it extremely troublesome for stolen phones to enter the market? I think high end brands like Apple are moving towards that….
Holiday Season makes us vulnerable to theft..
According to Uganda Communications Commission, Twenty three million people in Uganda are mobile phone users, six million of those users have smart phones. Our phones enable us to virtually coordinate our personal and professional lives effortlessly. It’s totally changed the way we work because now our employers know we are available 24/7. I know I am not the only person, who’s developed a peculiar attachment to my phone. We record moments in our day on our phones through pictures, audio recordings and videos. Cleverly designed apps connect us to more gadgets, a tablet, a laptop even security cameras in our homes. Whether we like to admit it or not some of us have become brand snobs, because the type of phone we have defines our status in society.  We’d all prefer an iPhone, Samsung or HTC if we can afford it. Some of us haven’t even purchased a car or a small piece of land, but we would never be caught dead with specific brands, our dead body would miraculously chuck the phone out of the coffin if they buried us with it. I won’t name names though; the point I am trying to make is we invest in our phones, on some level they are valuable to us. Our lives are stored on our smart phones. Heck, Mark Zuckerburg has been developing personal assistant with Morgan Freeman’s voice, which coincidently can be run from a phone!?

And yes some would argue that smart phones are becoming more accessible to people of different purchasing power, it’s no longer reserved for the elite few.  Select brands are making affordable smart phones sold at shs300,000 or more. However not everyone can afford one….. so people steal. I guess it’s important to note that some thieves are not stealing because they want a smart phone, but more to acquire the money they get from selling the phone to a dealer, which is probably pennies compared to the original price of the phone.

This brings me to the point of this blog post, last week my phones were stolen. My main phone was stolen from right under my pillow!  

The man who stole my phone had been hired to paint our house over the last two months. Unbeknownst to me, he was given the perfect opportunity to paint my room while I was away for work in Karamoja. During that time, I suspect he went through all my things and learnt that the sliding door in my room was broken.

My second night home back from Karamoja, I woke up in the middle of the night to find a dark figure in my bedroom clutching a phone. He took it from under my pillow! Yes from under my pillow while I was lying on it!? I thought I was dreaming; it’s an extremely rare occurrence to find a man in my room with my phone, so it took a while for my mind to process the visual.  I quietly stood up on the opposite end from him, because the stories of thieves hacking people to death in their homes was now flashing through my mind. What if he had a big panga, or a knife? Should I scream? How many men did he bring into my room? Have they penetrated the whole house? From the dim light of the outside security lights peeping through the net curtains covering the windows, I could see the panic on his face. He appeared unsure of what to do next. So I used this odd juncture to scream loudly. He darted out the open sliding door, ran across the balcony and then he jumped. Fortunately, the security light helped me catch enough of a glimpse to identify the painter, I ran to the bedroom door and called out for my father, who was already making his way up the stairs having heard my screams.

“There was a man, a Man, A MAN in my ROOOOOOM!” I shrieked

My Father had his torch, he reached the balcony and called for the policeman. By now a mixture of angst and rage was churning in my stomach because I had recognised the man. I knew for sure it was the painter. I had watched this man sheepishly work around the house and thought nothing of him. He rarely spoke and when he did he really took his time to comprehend what would appear to be a simple question and then respond, so I assumed he had a speech impediment. He’s eyes with natural slits in the corners, didn’t match is dark brown skin or his small statue. He always sat on chair in the garage like a lost little boy swinging his short legs. He looked like he’d had a difficult childhood. He was always fumbling and fidgeting with the paint brush. All warning sides I ignored. I figured my father knew best. I am now kicking myself for not ensuring that door was fixed. All the phones in room were gone including a box of change and an personal security alarm I kept on my desk.  My father and the policeman agreed to call the Officer in Charge(OC) in the morning.

At 9.30pm a policeman arrived on the OC's behalf , I took him through the whole episode I showed him the abnormally small footprints on the balcony covered in cut grass. He took a picture with his smart phone.  And then low and behold the idiot painter turned up at 10.00 am clean shaven and dressed for work.

Idiot of all Idiots.

He’d already gotten away with phones. What the hell was he doing back?

I pointed right at him and told the policeman

“That is the man! That is THE MAN!”

He unexcitedly looked from the piece of paper from which he was writing my statement and told me he would arrest him after taking our statements.

“Madam, he thinks that he has gotten away with it, don’t worry we shall arrest him.” He reassured me.

 My father rushed to secure the house so that the painter could not leave the premises .Eventually after taking our statements the policeman still with the same calm composure made his way outside, told his colleague to get out of the car and collect the painter, then they drove to the police station. They kept him for 48 hours. But before they put him in the cell, they offered him the chance to give back the phones. He refused. His ‘wife’ called my father multiple times begging for him to be released. But it was in the Police’s hands now. (The man is going to enjoy his Christmas based on the money he made off my phones. BahumBUG!!!! I hope karma intervenes on my behalf. )

I wasn’t a fan of registering my sim card when they started the process. Was it two years ago? But I MUST tell you it’s the best thing that has ever happened, because I recovered all my data including the contacts. I also kept my old number. I’d be surprised if my phones are recovered, and my case is most likely not going to make it to court because I don’t have  the receipts, so apparently I can’t prove that the phones were mine and therefore I have been advised that the judge will throw the case out of court.Yap, it will be thrown out court even though I can identify the thief and caught the desperate fool in the act. I have also learned that even if  you lock your phone there is a ton of free technology online that will allow the thief to remove the sim card and unlock it.

It’s three days to Christmas and I am hearing more and more incidents of theft occurring. We need to be careful they say. But can’t we just take this phone theft thing a little bit more seriously? It’s becoming a business….

Thanks for reading.
Have a Safe & Merry Christmas, Thanks for reading the Happily Flawed Blog this year!
Here are some useful articles I read before writing this: