Friday, 17 January 2020

Flametree Stables – A riding Tale

Recently I took leave from work and as a treat to mark the end of it, a good family friend gifted my husband and I a horse riding session at Flametree stables along Gayaza road. I was both excited and apprehensive the night before our session, pretty much for no reason because I don't like anything unfamiliar and yet I take to things quickly and adapt.

So a friend called to reschedule an earlier appointment and wanted to meet up the same day at the same time as the horse riding and I declined due to the clash of my calendar. These cancellations are pretty standard but what made this interesting was the conversation that ensued as I explained to him why I had to cancel.

Friend: "Hey, so let me set things up and then we can have a brief catch up this Sunday morning."

Me: "This Sunday morning?"

Friend: "Yes."

Me: "No, that won't work for me, I have horse riding that morning."

Friend: “Wow, I want to be you in the next lifetime. Owaye, oba ofuse Omuzungu?" (My goodness, I think you have become a white person?) He asked as he burst out into laughter.

Me: "No, I have not and I don't see why going horse riding means I have become a muzungu?" (White person)

Friend: "The last time you were in Kyaninga, correct?"’

Me: "Yes."

Friend: "...and now you are going horse riding!"

Me: "Yes, so where is the problem?"

Friend: "Regular Ugandans don't do that."

Then it dawned on me, we (Africans) have boxed ourselves in and set stereotypes of the script our lives should follow. So when we have friends who break the mould we are often called odd/ weird and masqueraders.

Let's think about this critically.
1.        A 45 minute horse riding session costs 65,000. Dear Ugandan, this the minimum cost of an outing at Cafe Javas for 2 main meals with no drinks/ dessert. I know some people who partake alcohol and this is not even the cost of 1 night out with the boys.


Flametree stables are located along Gayaza road not somewhere deep in the village. With no traffic it is a 20 minute drive but given Gayaza road's congestion, it will take 45 minutes to 1 hour maximum. So the distance is not the issue as to why we are not experiencing these things. So after this breakdown, I asked my friend whether he still felt I was a muzungu or he simply misjudged the situation because he had limited information. He agreed that it was the latter and my point had been made. So dear Ugandans, let's stop slipping into stereotypes set up by ignorance and misinformation and make decisions for ourselves based on firsthand experience. We are in 2020 you cannot be making the same excuses and judgments without critical thinking like our education was a waste of money.

Everything is possible when you set a goal, plan early and align your priorities. You can imagine some individuals go out a minimum of 3 times a month with the boys/ girls and yet if you save just the cost of 1 outing, the entire crew could experience and explore more that life has to offer.

So please don't be like my friend and let's make creating authentic experiences a Ugandan thing. 

       Flametree stables is a horse riding school that teaches children and adults how to enjoy the sport of riding or improve and get better. So it is great for beginners and also experienced riders. The horses were well taken care of, the customer service is excellent and the trails within the trees of the 20 acre property are relaxing. I would not be doing justice to the establishment if I did not mention what they are about and where they are located. Just Google them and you will get directions they are pretty easy to find.

       Very important Note: Ensure to make a booking before you visit as they are by appointment only especially given  the nature of the sport and you must be matched with a horse that fits your weight class as well. So this is a highly professional establishment and it is not advised to eat before the ride and no food is sold on site. This is to ensure that you fully enjoy your ride with no nausea.

Friday, 10 January 2020

You cannot buy class

My husband and I were fortunate to have our wedding reception and the first leg of our honeymoon at Lake Victoria Serena in Kigo. I say fortunate because it is not something I take lightly, we are truly blessed and also worked our butts off to enjoy this and give our guests a wedding to remember. However, that is not the essence of this post but rather the rumblings of a very intriguing conversation we overheard a day after our wedding which was technically day 1 of our honeymoon.

We got married on a Friday and shared the same date with this couple but they opted for the outdoor Coliseum venue location while we had booked the garden adjacent to the pool side. So there was not much drama the day of the wedding and we did not think much of it as we posed for our photos in the gardens as our guests enjoyed a cocktail before our entrance. We met this couple in the garden as our bridal teams crossed paths with and a voluminous train, veil and wedding gown worn on a very fair skinned bride with a groom who wore a very flashy evening suit.

Now their attire does not qualify as the gist of this post but rather the snippets of dialogue we overheard from the kitchen and wait staff that catered to both our events that day. All this information came out over the course of few days we stayed at Kigo in our honeymoon suite.

The groom threw his bride an over top wedding reception I am guessing to match her over the top wedding dress and entourage. They partied long and hard until the Kigo event cut off time of midnight. Anyone who has had a wedding at Serena Kigo knows how strict management is about ending the weddings by midnight so as not to inconvenience their neighbors but also ensure proper and efficient turnover of one event to another the following day. Every commercial event manager understands what I mean by this but anyway let me not digress.

So we decided to take walks in the gardens that weekend and enjoy critiquing the set ups of the remaining weddings that took place that Saturday and Sunday (Yes, sometimes couples get married on Sunday). So in between the frantic set up and buzz of the waiting staff my husband had made friends with on day 1, they relayed told us this story.

Staff: “So the mugole was there taking photos in the garden nga he is drinking everything mixing mixing them all.”

He meant the groom was drinking all sorts of alcohol (gins, wines) basically a tone of hard stuff the entire afternoon so by reception time he was quite intoxicated and was wobbling around his venue from table to table fist pumping pals with a bottle of wine in his firm grip as he drank from the open bottle. (Yes he was drinking from the bottle not a glass)

To provide you with context, the wedding decor cost 60 million with screens at a separate cost of 40 million however I choose to protect the identity of the service providers for it was not their fault that the client’s means did not match the aesthetic required for the selected venue at Kigo. So at the drawing of the curtain, the bridge and groom continued the celebration to an after party on the grounds after which they intended to retire to their bridal suite. So their luggage was wheeled to their room ahead of them but the groom insisted on holding the key card so it was given to him.

After dropping their luggage the Kigo employee left and started in bee line headed to the reception which is quite a distance away only to get half up the gentle incline when he heard a loud din. The groom skidded and almost fell face down followed by him thudding against the door of his honeymoon suite. Commotion ensued for 15 minutes and there was such a loud noise that the Kigo employee returned to assist them out of genuine concern. He was worried that the groom had hurt himself only to realize that he was so intoxicated and had quickly become a nuisance.

Groom: “What the hell is wrong with you, can’t you do your job.”

Staff: “Excuse Sir, what is the issue.”

Groom: “Your bloody key does not work.”

Staff: “My apologies, let me check sir.”

At that point he nearly fought the employee as he hurled insults and profanity that I do not care to repeat here. At the end of the entire scene, we found out that the racket was because the groom failed to open his door with his access card which he kept shoving at the door in the wrong place because he had never used a key card before.

This meant that he has resorted to kicking/ hitting the door until the employee pleaded (yes pleaded) with him and eventually assisted him to access his room. As he left the door and turned around to leave the groom yelled at him again insulting him at how nothing seemed to be working in the suite.  We also later found out that he was yelling at the very patient employee because the room lights did not come on, he was not aware that he needed to put the access card into the power slot right by the door to access all the lighting for the entire suite as well as other amenities like the television.

The member of staff was initially enraged but very professional, left their door intoxicated with laughter because he did not understand how someone with such means could be so illiterate when it came to the finer side of life and yet he of minimal education was well acquainted with these facilities. All in all it gave him pride and appreciation for his knowledge and experience and he muted away this phrase as he walked away after telling us this story.

Staff: “Oba toyina klass toyina. Sente tezigula klass.”

UMEME “ate” my Yaka units

On 24 th February 2020, my husband paid for my Yaka and I totally forgot to load it on our meter that night since I still had a few units...