Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The Bad Black show was finally brought to a close with the conviction of Shanita Namuyimbwa on Wednesday for defrauding a company set up by her ex-boyfriend of several billion.

There were many things wrong with this case – How does a young woman with no certifiable skill (marketable skill is another thing), no prior experience as an investor and probably no bank account, extract sh11b from her lover?

What kind of money does David Greenhalgh make to dish out billions of shillings after a night of passion? Maybe he thought he was in Zimbabwe?

And what happened to the famed stinginess of the rich man?

And the question on many people’s lips, Couldn’t she have saved or invested some of those billions, instead of blowing it on fly by night friends, dodgy booze and an atrocious wardrobe? Don’t get us started about her beautician.

It says something about us that she lived the Ugandan dream: Hit the big “deal” (The Luganda corruption Dilu rolls off the tongue better), without much effort so people can call you “shrewd”, then go out and announce your “good fortune” with flashy cars  legendary night outs and above all let everybody know you have arrived by buying some media attention.

To be fair to ourselves this is not a uniquely Ugandan dream – the west’s voyeurism of the rich and famous is a variation of the same theme. Our history of instability, which necessitated a hand-to-mouth existence, is probably to blame for our short term attention span, glorification of crooks and fraudsters and the denigration of hard, diligent work.

In the short time that her star blazed bright Bad Black probably raised hope that overnight success as a model is viable – never mind what you have to sell to get it.

Maybe as Betrand Russell once said “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts,” explains why we gravitate towards such show ponies like Bad Black.

Or maybe we are living such dreary lives with one in five Ugandans living in abject poverty, inflation last year hit nearly 20-year highs and like the Romans in coliseum at the end of their empire, we need more and more bizarre entertainment to distract us from pain of everyday living?

As they say the only place where success comes ahead of work is in the dictionary.

But there is hope for our beloved country.

Life is becoming more regularized so much so that phenomena like Bad Black are an anomaly, an aberration on our landscape. Believe it or not there was a time when there were Bad Blacks at every street corner, admittedly hustling for smaller change, but hustling all the same.

Increased availability of everything from paraffin to TVs to dollars means that margins are thinning, the black market has vanished and a regular income can be stretched to the end of the month – only just.

Bad Black has been trucked off to prison but when we fail to sleep at night and allow for some self-reflection, we should remember her as a symbol of our shallow excesses, do penance for our myopic ways, clammer after substance over style and pray that we earn success through thoughtful and consistent application.

Not to stamp on a lady when she is down but Bad Black won the lottery and like many big time winners before her, she was unprepared for her windfall, squandered it and any goodwill she may have had went with it. It may not be bad thing for her that she is going to have plenty of time to re-examine her life.

Hopefully now that she is under lock and key unlikely to dazzle us with her garish style and rural expression of urban excitement we can all get back to doing a honest day’s work.

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