Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Wedding Meeting Humor

Recently one of my closest friends from my university days was getting married and held wedding meetings. In spite of my busy schedule, I was fortunate enough to be a part of his second last meeting and much to my surprise, I did not feel coerced to give all the money in my wallet and walk home as is the norm. The general ambiance at the meeting was of warmth and humor with many of his friends cracking us up for most of the time we there. I expected nothing less as the groom is quite the comedian himself. However in this case he was a lot quieter than usual, I wondered whether the pre - wedding jitters had gotten a hold of him but the humor was too intoxicating for me to pay him much attention while at the meeting.

There was this fellow seated at the back and you would expect a back bencher (as they are commonly called) to typically be quiet and steer clear of attracting any attention to themselves. Much to the contrary, this lad was rambunctious and suave and you could tell he enjoyed being the life of the party. Mid way the meeting as we were collecting money to reduce the balance owed on the church fees for the service on the wedding, we were left with raising 250,000 when this fellow asked.

Ruckus Lad: “Let's ask the pastors son to mediate on our behalf so that we get a discount.”
He said this because of the young gentleman seated in front of him; who I quickly found out was the pastor’s son – the pastor who was going to wed the bride and groom.

We all burst out laughing but in my case it was because I found it refreshing that church folk were so lively and un - uptight as is the usual rhetoric when it comes to them. If you are wondering why I classed the wedding meeting members as church folk, it is because ¾ of them were the groom and bride’s church friends and they are a tight knit bunch.

Before we could fully recover, words shot out of the fellow’s mouth again and I thought to myself, how can anyone be this funny for free (after all comedy is a respectable profession in this day and age).

Ruckus Lad: “Can we get a discount if we ask them to switch off the lights in church?”
“Switch off the lights? How will we see the bride in her beautiful gown?” a lady promptly responded to which he had a rebuttal.

Ruckus Lad: “Bride, (he paused briefly before continuing) …and what about William, we may only be able to see his teeth.”

We were amused but for many of you reading this who have not met William, you would not really understand this joke. William is a 6 foot, dark chocolate brown Ateso (Eastern Uganda tribe) man with exceptionally white teeth so the ruckus fellow may have also meant this as a compliment.

After this 15 minutes unsolicited comedy break, the chairman finally took the reins back and continued with the next item on the budget.  We made good progress for 30 minutes or so only that it was now dark and a frog hoping in between the chairs where we sat almost brought the meeting to a halt. The ladies began to squirm in their seats and the chairman trying to get back our attention said,

Chairman: “If I see anyone jump out if their seat as a result of the frog hoping around you will be fined.” To which the audience giggled but only for a second when one lady could not contain it anymore and screamed as she jumped out of her seat and the ruckus lad responded,

“Yesu!” as he mimicked her. We laughed so hard that the chairman took 5 minutes to get us all settled down before he could continue.

As we drew to the end of the budget, the in house comedian realized that we had become too serious and moved closer to the font and offered to assist in auctioning the gift for the day. In the middle of giving a description of the articles contained in the wrapped gift, he caught sight of a late comer. She was hiding behind a shrub attempting to creep in without being noticed so she would not be fined. The fellow did a complete 360 turn and kept quiet drawing all out attention after which he briskly yelled.

Ruckus Lad: “2,000 Ugx for the audience member to remove her scarf from her hair.”
Someone responded, “There is no one wearing a scarf.”

Ruckus Lad: “Are you sure, you have not yet seen her hiding like a chameleon in the shrub behind?”

The scarf was deemed an article of witchcraft and she was fined for wearing it, not to worry though as someone else took matters into their own hands, took him on and offered to pay her fine.

That evening I had come from work very tired and exhausted but left this wedding meeting very rested and rejuvenated and extremely sad that I had to go home before it had come to a close. As I walked out, I left the chairman in trouble as the audience purchased his tie and then followed on to solicit for his belt which he declined to release.

Let’s just say that this will be one of my fondest memories of his wedding.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Music Industry Consortium Conference 2015 at Hotel Africana

Last month on 19th May, I was privileged to attend the MIC 2015 at Hotel Africana which was organized by Bankable society in proud association with Yamaha, Ministry of Gender, Labor and social development, URA and NSSF. 

The conference began at 09:00am with a breakfast session where we had the opportunity to mingle with everyone else. I noticed that the musicians, music promoters stuck to their crowd as was the case with the digital media fraternity (bloggers, social media).

The morning session was a great deal of presentation from Richard Kawesa of Bankable society and Isaac Rucci on technical aspects of what why and how the association was to be formed and run. The Music Industry Consortium (MIC) is a private-sector led initiative that works with the Creative fraternity, the global business community and Government as its lead partners. MIC exists to facilitate the profitability of music business.

The chairman of music association in Uganda, highlighted that last year alone, the music industry generated 3billion UGX from electronic revenue but only 1.5 m UGX was collected which is an utter loss to the artists who earn a livelihood from their craft.

Sadly, the majority of the artists did not pay much attention to this session until we arrived at the selection of the executive which would handle the day to day execution of activities on the Music Industry Advisory Board under the MIC. 

The likes of the Eagles production lead songstress started off on her own conversation while Moze Radio finally stormed out with his 4 man entourage 40 minutes into the deliberations only to be found hanging out on the roof top at lunch time. Most of the music heavyweights did not turn up however much to my surprise, Bobi Wine graced the occasion and gave it the utmost attention for the entire morning session while he was there. So much so that he made each member of his entourage of 6 take note and share with him what they had personally learnt from it.

In the first 10-year-phase of MIC operations, M.I.A.B (Music Industry Advisory Board) will focus on finding solutions to the question of music profitability. These solutions will be guided by the resolutions that emerge from the annual Music Industry Conferences.
The theme of the conference was “the social, economic and political impact of music,” and the key note speakers were Doris Akol - Commissioner General URA, Richard Byarugaba – MD NSSF and Adenrele Niyi Project director AFRIMA (All Africa Music Awards).

In the afternoon, Commissioner General Ms. Akol presented a paper on the economic potential of the music industry in Uganda and there was an interactive session which followed as well as the rest of the speakers.

This in my opinion was the most telling session what the musicians’ take away really was, while a few of the attentive music artists asked questions, not everyone in attendance gave constructive input. A female veteran musician attempted to create controversy over who would manage the board and why they could not continue with the old and dormant association.

Isaac Rucci and Richard Kawesa addressed her concerns but this reminded me of why Uganda as a whole is not moving forward as briskly as it should in terms of development. The music fraternity is a wonderful example of where the problem is, much as there is a cross section of promoters and musicians who understand what needs to be done to move forward there is an equal number of the negative complainers who detest anything new whether it adds value to them or not.

A few of the questions asked by the musicians and music promoters can be seen below.
1.        Why do we pay tax for concert venue, promotional banners in the city and then on clearing our goods at customs (C.D’s, Cars)? Isn’t that over taxation?
2.       How are we supposed to make money and yet we are taxed from every side?
3.       How is the government protecting our income and source of livelihood using the copy write?
4.      How is electronic revenue going to be managed?
5.       Why doesn’t URA explain these costs to us in a session?

The questions listed above are just a limited spectrum of what was asked but the most beneficial feedback in my point of view came from Balam of Balam entertainment. 

After he extensively explaining issues to do with VAT monthly remittances, payment of annual tax returns to his fellow music promoters, musicians and bands present, he asked the URA and KCCA to generate a standard fee for concert venues. 

He highlighted the fact that musicians want to pay tax but they clearly need to be explained to about the taxes that directly affect them.
It was an eye opening session for many when NSSF MD followed informing the audience of opportunities for them to save as individuals for better financial management for their retirement. A few individuals had a follow session with him at the close of the event where they discussed the finer details of the saving plans. The moral of the story is we need to stop making excuses and start to sort out the issues to do with our music industry now so that we can reap the benefits of our hard work. Sadly, the heavyweights did not turn up to this event and when legislation is passed on taxation of musicians after this session where views were collected, they will complain they were not informed.

UMEME “ate” my Yaka units

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