Saturday, April 13, 2013

Amanda Peet: What happened?

I first noticed Amanda Peet in 'Changing Lanes'. Her brief restaurant scene with Ben Affleck-after disclosing that she long knew about the Ben Affleck character's infidelities was touted as Oscar-worthy. And I agreed. I still recall the screen play or.. some of it ''... at my father's level of the game. I could have married a professor of middle english if he had tenure at Princeton. But I married you. A wallstreet lawyer...'' That alone would have made history for the shortest skit to be judged as worthy of an Oscar. I immediately liked Amanda Peet and thought she was headed for critically-acclaimed success. She was a promising actress. Then last week, I went to Cineplex-Oasis Mall Kampala after a long-day to catch some escape to catch 'Identity Thief'. It turns out, Amanda Peet was playing house wife in some nondescript role. And I began to ask myself, what happened to Amanda Peet. The Amanda Peet of 'Changing Lanes'? The one who chewed up a scene in a short skit tipped for an unprecedented Oscar? I began to notice it may not go too well for her, in career terms, when the movie she did with Jack Nicholson followed. It turns out career choices are every bit as important as grinding out a truly fine performance. Now I am not writing this to belittle Amanda Peet. In fact, she had me at hullo in 'Changing Lanes'. She is clearly made for some truly authentically deep stuff and she can still redeem her career. I am not naive about studio politics and all the intricacies of who is cast in which role to satisfy which demographic and the like. Even in this complex, muddled, 'man eat man' world, Amanda Peet can still curve out a role worth of her exceptional talents.

Why heart diseases and cancers are the new AIDS for the Ugandan middle class.

You wake up in the morning to a full English breakfast-or something akin to it. An early morning pot of milk tea ,a pair of beef sausages,fried eggs,white bread toast with butter and passion fruit juice with a generous taking of white sugar. You then walk the two metres to the garage and switch on the ignition key to your saloon car and connect to the pollution-infested streets brought on by a grid-lock jam- your ritual one-hour jam from Ntinda to your sixth floor office at Crested Towers. You then sit at your desk for three hours and slave away at a your desktop computer. Then it is break time. You hop over to the office canteen and help yourslef to two tea cups of 'African tea' with two chappatis and a pair of beef samosas. You walk back to your desk and type away at that report that your boss needs for the 3pm staff meeting. Two and a half hours later it is lunch time. Dennis from Accounts comes over, ''There is this great place in town with absolutely the best buffet in town'. Thirty minutes later you, Dennis and Pamela from IT are driving in your saloon to Dennis's 'best buffet' place in Kampala. The buffet is everything it was billed to be. A serving of tasty beef stew, fried chicken, white rice, fried fillet and some matooke. Then there is the best part.Chocolate iced cakes. Hmm yummy. The lunch hour is soon over. You pile into your Premio and drive back to the office. You sit at your computer and finish the report. At 3pm it is meeting time. You walk the three yards to your Boss's office for the staff meeting. A text arrives mid way 'Pork in Najjera at 7pm. My treat'. You drink with your buddies till eleven pm as you dread drive back home. Okay, you get the point. Sedentary life styles and foods high in saturated fat. Sedentary activities have been defined as sitting, reading,watching television and computer use for much of the day without vigorous physical activity. Uganda is in the throes of a non-communicable diseases epidemic of cancers and diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Many middle-class Ugandans have adopted western lifestyle and comforts but this has come with a heavy, at times fatal price. The cases of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease have dramatically shot up according to statistics from Mulago Hospital. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardio-vascular diseases) are often refered to as 'silent killers' because often there are no symptoms or warning signs and these only come pronounced when it is already late. According to Dr Omagino, these diseases are often detected at routine tests if one bothers to do regular medical check ups. Many Ugandans pay more faithful attention to the regular service of their cars than their own health. The number of Ugandan elite succumbing to non-communicable diseases in their 50s and 60s is staggering. More than three cabinet ministers have died recently from 'lifestyle' diseases pointing to a national crisis.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Political stallement amidst Kenyatta poll and court wins

I was in Busia, Kenya about two weeks to attend an in-law's burial. The mass poverty and dejection in this part of Kenya rivaled the wretched of the earth I have seen in Uganda's most desperate parts. No wonder these Kenyans have consistently voted against the ethnic alliances of the day which have most often than not had the Kikuyu-backed coalition win the day. The idea that the Kikuyu (and another large ethnic group will always win national elections is one that doesn't bode well for Kenya. Parts of Kenya will always feel marginalized and the violence we witnessed in 2007 will always be a possibility because of the simmering ethnic tensions that are almost always benign but alive nonetheless. Ironically electoral democracy may not solve's Kenya's political questions because the Kikuyu will always win as long as they ally with another major ethnic group. Governing coalitions are what Kenyans need. Coalitions that are ethnically broad based not winner takes all electoral contests. The fact that Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto will always win votes because they are assured of a numeric advantage is a defeat of the spirit of electoral democracy.