Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Tobacco use deprived Ugandans of the' Father' of Arsenal's brand of football

Many Ugandans are ardent fans of Arsenal FC's style of football and Barcelona's attack-minded blend of Soccer.Many analysts agree this has a lot to do with one man. Johan Cruyff. Arsene Wenger, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola have variously acknowledged being influenced by Johan Cruyff's football philosophy. The Dutchman had an illustrious stint with the Dutch national football team famously captaining it to the 1974 World Cup final which they lost to West Germany. He later coached Barcelona to unprecedented success. The Dutchman even has a striker's dribbling manouever named after him. The Cruyff turn is a scenario where a striker makes a swift 180 degrees turn away from a defender. Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal fans recall,executed this move in the twilight of his career there. Johan Cruyff would still be with us today to inspire more Arsenals and Barcelonas if it wasn't for one tragic habit-cigarette smoking. He passed away about two months ago from lung cancer. Tobacco use is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men. Johan Cruyff repeatedly admitted that cigarette smoking had a lot to with the cancer that finally claimed his life and a heart bypass operation he underwent when he was still a football coach. '' Football gave me everything but tobacco almost took it all away'' said Johan Cruyff when it seemed that he would beat the lung cancer. Later in life, he emerged as unlikely poster boy for tobacco control causes. As we commemorate World No Tobacco Day today, it is an opportune moment to go beyond regurgitating the statistics of the victims of tobacco to reflect on the human face of the tobacco epidemic and the one billion lives tobacco use is set to claim this century unless action is taken. WHO has selected plain tobacco plain packaging as this year's World No Tobacco Day theme. Australia led the world in implementing a plain tobacco packaging rule. This simply means that if you buy a packet of cigarettes in Australia you will not find the manufacturer's colours and brand displayed on a cigarette packet as is the case in Uganda today. The United Kingdom implemented the plain tobacco packaging rule this month with France and Ireland set to follow suit this year. Clearly, tobacco packaging is a form of advertising and research has determined that glossy cigarette brand packaging makes smoking seem attractive and induces demand especially among impressionable young people. Last year, the Parliament of Uganda passed a Tobacco Control law which was assented to by President Museveni.The Tobacco Control Act(2015) provides for increasing the size of health warnings on tobacco packaging to provide for messages such as ''Smoking harms your health and those around you'' complete with graphic images illustrating tobacco-associated illnesses such as throat cancer. The Uganda Tobacco control law came into force on 19th May 2016 following a 6-months period since it was gazetted.At this year's World No Tobacco Day in Kampala, a ceremony has been organized to mark the coming into force of the new Tobacco control law. The Ministry of Health and CSO partners are in the process of passing regulations to give full effect to the Tobacco Control law to save the next generation of Ugandans. In Kenya, passage of the tobacco control law was greeted with law suits from the tobacco industry and in Uganda the industry is expected to follow a similar template. Johan Cruyff would not approve of such moves. His story is testimony to kind of lives the law seeks to protect in the first place.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vergiss mein nicht: 'Forget me not' A German film review

An adult son takes a few days from work to visit his parents' home to relieve his caretaker father from the grueling task of looking after his 71 year old mother who has end-stage Alzheimer disease. From this simple plot flows an intimate family portrait of the effects of Alzheimer on a German family.On a more sophisticated level, Vergiss mein nicht, which is German for 'Forget me not' is a introspective tale of mortality and human transition and how we negotiate this journey in the intersection of a family setting. We see first hand how a elderly woman loses her memory to the point of being unable to tell the difference between her own husband of 30 years her adult son. The pain of being forgotten in an instant by a loved out of mental disability brought on from an advanced disease couldn't be more stark. The almost complete memory loss by the filmaker's mother, except for a few flickers of memory such as being able to recognise her father, tell an intimate story of the struggle of a family to come to terms with a mother who can longer identify the closest people in her life or even recall the use of the most basic domestic tools. A painful moment in the film shows the filmaker's mother being told how to use a fork to pick on a tomato in a food bowl. The films provides some rich background of the filmaker's mother when she was a very pretty, young, politically-active wife of a young German mathematics lecturer in Zurich, Switzerland flashbacks from the 1960s and 1970s and cuts to the image of an elderly woman suffering from dementia who is much more at ease in sleep than awake with the inevitable outcome all but clear. The story touches on the interesting subject of monogamy in married unions. We learn from the filmaker's narration that her mother and father agreed on an 'open' relationship where they allowed each other to see other people when they were a young idealistic couple. From the woman's long-kept diary we learn she wasnt as tolerant of this open union as she let on. The unfairness of fates comes into play when we learn that 71-year old woman's mother in law (who is several years older) appears in better command of her physical and (certainly)mental faculties her being in a retirement home notwithstanding. The family debates whether to institutionalize their mother or to look after her at home with some very painful moral choices. Vergiss mein nicht will make you cry and laugh at the same time.