Friday, July 17, 2015

You are a slave. And you don't know it.

“We keep you on this boat to row,” said the Roman soldier. “Row and you will live.” He did not have to tell them the repercussions for not rowing. They saw the results in fellow slaves being beaten and thrown overboard to drown in the turbulent seas.

That happened over a century ago. In our modern society we would rise up and riot in anger if we ever heard of anyone being treated as a slave. What we fail to understand is that slavery still lives on, and modern-day slavery is worse than ancient slavery because it is self-inflicted.

But before we go any further, let’s first look at how slavery looked like long ago. A powerful man would get people to work for him just because he was more powerful than them. Most times it was because he had conquered them in battle. Sometimes it would be because they owed him money they couldn’t repay. Other times it was because they were unlucky to be born of slave parents.

To be a slave meant that your master owned you. And because you were his property, you were not entitled to a wage. However, your master was responsible for your livelihood. He provided you with accommodation, food, clothing, medical care and entertainment. You were his asset, so he had to take care of you in order to get the highest level of productivity from you.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. Obama speaks of freedom for all. But the majority of us are still slaves at heart. Our employers are our slave masters. The only difference is that now instead of providing for us, they give us a wage so we could provide for our needs to be able to survive long enough to get to work the next day, and the next day, until the next pay cheque.

We may not want to admit it, but we are slaves by virtue of the fact that our incomes get spent on accommodation, food, clothing, medical care and entertainment. In fact, there is no boss who would like to pay you more than enough for those five necessities.

While being interviewed for my former job, my employer asked me where I stayed when we were negotiating for a salary. You see, she wasn’t looking at my worth, and how much I was going to produce for the company. She was looking at the least amount of money she had to spend on my transport to keep me coming to work every day. She even argued that she would provide me with lunch at work!

This slavery does not know class. It does not know academic qualifications. Whether you earn millions per month or a few hundred thousand shillings, you are, and will always be a slave if all you spend your salary on are accommodation, food, clothing, medical care and entertainment.

Your employer is not interested in making you rich. He wants you comfortable enough to keep coming to work every day. In fact, the day you stop being productive is the day you will be thrown overboard.

So how do you get out of this slavery? It’s very simple.

Stop spending all that you earn!

Not all the money that you earn is yours, my friend. It is only the money that you save that is yours. However much you earn, if all gets spent, then none of that money was yours. To steal some wisdom from ancient Babylon, from the book, The Richest Man in Babylon, “A tenth of all that you earn is yours to keep.”

When you spend money on rent, that money is not yours. It’s your landlord’s. Money you take to the market to buy food is not yours. It’s for the market vendor.

I happen to work in an industry with some of the least paid workers in Uganda. No, it’s not the academia. It is the hotel industry. According to a Kenyan chef who trained me during my internship, Uganda’s hotel workers are paid the least, compared to other hotel workers in all of East Africa. He is an old man who has worked in many hotels in the whole of East Africa, but cannot retire because he is a slave. The day he stops producing food is the day he will be thrown overboard.

I met this old chef at a very beautiful hotel. He is the one who opened my eyes to the fact that there are still slaves even in this twenty-first century. I decided to listen to this guy and learn from him as much as I could because, firstly, he is a seasoned chef, and secondly, I’ve always dreamt of being a chef. But the more I listened to him, the more I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to be like him.

One day I told him so. He was surprised that I wouldn’t want to be like him. He knew how much I loved cooking. He had seen a lot of potential in me, and had spoken to management about the possibility of retaining me in his kitchen after my internship. But he could not understand why I wouldn’t want to join slavery, like him, till I was old.

He was so blinded by his passion for cooking that he didn’t realise that he was a slave.

I didn’t want to be like him, so I turned down the job offer at that place.

I went back to that hotel last weekend to relax and have some beer. I met the old chef. He had hired a friend of mine to work with him. My friend told me of how he was working his back off but hadn’t gotten a salary in over three months.

“Why don’t you quit?” I asked him.

“But then what will I do? I need this job. And if I quit now, I won’t be paid the money they owe me.”

He was getting used to being a slave.

As I sipped my beer, I promised myself never to settle for being a slave. Although my mind is wired with a slave mentality, I purposed to fight it.

I am reminded of the 2012 movie, Django Unchained. Django was a slave who refused to remain a slave. In a society that treated all black people as slaves, where even the black people were comfortable being nothing more than slaves, Django refused to settle.

Be like Django. Be like me. Don’t be a slave.

Monday, July 13, 2015

How Wordy Cakes Helps Create Unforgettable Memories

At Wordy Cakes, we believe that an event should be memorable long after the music has stopped and the speeches forgotten. That is why each pair of our cupcakes comes with a sticker with a memorable message that the people at your event will go away with and stick on their desks, cars computers or mirrors. In that way, they will always remember.

When Sylvester Mugabi came to us and told us about the memorial service he was planning in memory of his parents this weekend, we knew that this was an opportunity for us to help him make the occasion memorable indeed. So we went to work and designed stickers with his parents' names and photo that we packed with our special cupcakes. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it for the memorial, but our cakes represented us. And they were not just cakes that you eat and forget, but they carried an unforgettable message of love and nostalgia.

We are very grateful to Sylvester and his family for letting us be part of this memorable event. As always, it wasn't just about cake. It was about helping people express themselves in the best way possible with Wordy Cakes.

You too can contact us to help you create memories on your events. Call us today on +256771675754 or email We won't just provide you with cake. We'll provide you with unforgettable memories.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On Deserving What I Get in Life

I was late for a meeting this afternoon. This is so unlike me. I'm not good at driving. I'm not even good at lying. But I'm good at keeping time. So being 15 minutes late was not excusable.

Then while coming back home, I read a post by my friend, Ian, from his blog. He was talking about whether we deserve getting all the good stuff in life that we desire. For example, do I deserve to be rich? Do my habits show that I deserve to be a good writer?

Now that got me thinking, especially when he talked about how he's good at keeping time. The person that he used in his story about keeping time is the same person I was meeting this afternoon. And this person made it abundantly clear that, though I was forgiven for not keeping time today since it was the first time we were meeting, he wouldn't forgive me another time. If I could, I'd have written out my oath in blood.

So this evening I wondered, do I deserve all the good things that life has given me? Do I deserve all the opportunities that have come my way, the ones I've accepted and the ones I've turned down?

I realise that the answer is no.

Even when I try to think of myself as a smart guy, I wasn't the smartest in my class. The retakes I got are my testimony. The numerous failures I've encountered in life and in business have been jarring reminders that I don't possess any superhuman abilities.

But the amazing opportunities keep showing up, and I keep taking them up.

Like the other day when a client proposed a change in my payment. I'd suggested that I should get paid half of the money before the start of the project so I could use it to fund the work, and then receive the other half after I finished the work.

He said, "This money you've quoted is all yours. I don't want you to use any of it for the project. Contact my office whenever you need money to run the project and we'll provide it."

Now what's that called? Favour?

Well, whatever it is, I'm learning that I don't deserve what I get. And if I ever become a millionaire or a very successful writer, I'd like to remember that I never deserved any of this. There has been too much grace in my life for me to be blind to it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Please Don't Read This

The Writivism Festival, which just ended recently, got me thinking a lot. Thinking about writing. While I didn't attend most sessions because I was either too busy or worn out from being too busy, I got quite challenged. You see, I haven't been writing as consistently as I'd like to. So this is me writing.

During the festival, I hosted a friend from Kenya, who almost didn't want to go attend the festival sessions because he wanted to stay at home and write. He's writing something that I hope to enjoy when he finishes it. And I hope I feature in the acknowledgments. This is because he was very impressed by the peace and quiet I enjoy at home. He said, "Paul, with such an environment, you need to be writing more."

So, I've finally decided to listen to him and start writing more. I still haven't figured out what exactly I want to write about. I have a lot of interests. But from today onwards, I'm going to start writing a little everyday. At first, I'll just be sitting at my desk, and writing everything that comes to my mind.

I really hope that one day something will click in my head and I'll start writing as much as my Kenyan friend writes everyday. Then maybe I'll write another book.

But for now, I just want to rediscover the joy of writing. And please don't feel obligated to read any of my rumblings and musings. Because, if you've read this post, you've most probably flushed a few minutes of your precious time down the drain.

It's not that I really care. But now I have to stop. Till next time when i get something more important to write.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wordy Cakes: The Story So Far

Late last year, I started Wordy Cakes. These are cakes with words. I started Wordy Cakes because I had experienced the power of words, and wanted to share my experience with the world. It has been a great journey so far. I have experienced some incredible moments, like when a love-struck boy sent Wordy Cakes to his girlfriend with a poem he'd written. Like when my aunt said, "These are the words I needed for the situation I'm going through right now."

But you see, Wordy Cakes is a business. In the beginning, when I gave out a lot of free Wordy Cakes, there was a lot of excitement. It felt good to be able to share something that's so much a part of me: Words and Cake. It was only when it got to the tiny little details that run a business that Wordy Cakes failed miserably. For example, there was the dilemma of pricing. The people who appreciated the words that came with the cake thought that they were priced too low, given the value of the words. But the people who only wanted cake for cake's sake, and these were the majority, thought I was cheating them.

Then there was the issue of partnerships. I never knew partnerships were that hard. It looks like passion is a very expensive commodity. Early on, I realised that however good I was at coming up with some great ideas for product development and marketing, I was terrible at selling. So I needed someone to help me sell. Then I realised that I was so bad at selling that I even failed to sell the vision of Wordy Cakes to the two partners I'd gotten. I learnt that partnerships can be like a romantic relationship. If you want to get serious, get the paperwork done and don't date for too long. Otherwise you'll be dumped like a rotten egg because all along, your partner wanted you fresh, and now he can't eat a rotten egg.

I've learnt that people know how to smile and shake your hand and say all the nice cow dung when they are facing you, but when push comes to shove, only your family and close friends will be there. They are the only ones that know that cow dung can be used as manure for new dreams. In the end, you realise that you needed the hardships to show you who your real friends are.

I've learnt that true love doesn't come to everyone. Not every guy gets lucky enough to have a girl love them for who they are, whether they are broke or not. I've experienced that love (Patience, whenever I think of you, my mind freezes and I don't know what to say). And it has given me the strength to wake up in the morning when I'd almost drowned in depression the previous night. And speaking of depression, how come no one told me how ugly it can get? How come no one said it was possible to get so low emotionally that you're immobilised?

Lately, I'm learning to count all the 24 hours in a day. I'm learning to enjoy every single second of them. Sometimes life sucks, but when you look around you, you realise that you've got a lot of good stuff going well for you: like all the job offers that come around, most of which you have to say no to.

When I started Wordy Cakes on 18th October, 2014, I never knew I'd be seated at my desk, on a new laptop that I'm still infatuated with, typing out this blog post that reads like a eulogy. But one thing I'm certain of now, is that Wordy Cakes still lives on. In my heart where it was created, Wordy Cakes doesn't really care what the world thinks or says. I'll still get those orders, and now because it's no longer about the money, or pleasing some partner who doesn't care how cakes are baked, I'll say yes to the ones that pass the Wordy Cakes test, and no to the ones that don't.

What's life after all, if we don't enjoy the little things we do to change the world?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Death Kissed Me Last Night

Death kissed me last night
She came swiftly and softly
While I was walking down the street
And swept me off my feet
Carried me on fluffy clouds
And said
Welcome home, my son

I’ve looked forward to this day, she said
But you looked so good today
I couldn’t let you go
See, I have a soft spot
For young men like you
Who’ve just discovered pleasure
But don’t know what to do with it.

Sometimes I wait till they’re ripe
Old age makes them easy prey
I creep into them slowly
Taking one inch of flesh at a time
By the time I snatch up their soul
They are mad at me
For being too slow

I don’t discriminate, my son
I also love them young
When they are pea-sized
And haven’t taken their first breath
I like to imagine them
Not taking their first step
Removing their first tooth
Or losing their virginity

I love the Acts of God
The kind they accuse God of
The plagues and floods and quakes
The sound when a neck breaks
Like dry twigs in a wild fire
Such music to my ear
When blood flows like a stream
And there's no one to dream

I take pleasure in wet cheeks 
I take pleasure in cracked hearts
When men’s hearts simmer with hate
When they go ahead, do my bidding.
On such days I get so busy
So many souls to welcome home
Yet so little time to prepare a banquet

Death kissed me last night
And through many words, taught
That I should get used to my state
I only die once, just like everyone else
Maybe I should look for some friends here
Because it will take me eternity
To learn how to undie. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015


If I met myself
Walking down a dark street,
I wonder:
Would I tremble in fear,
Or run for dear life?

If I met myself
Eating at the corner cafe,
I wonder:
Would I sit in the farthest corner,
Or skip lunch that day?

If I met myself
Cowering in a dark corner,
I wonder:
Would I suck my thumb,
Or grow bumps on my skin?

Would I ever stop running
from myself, from myself?
Would I ever stop fearing
what I’ve become?
Or will I keep hiding
from myself?

Monday, February 23, 2015


For the longest time, my friends wanted me to get a smart phone so I could join Whatsapp. Last year, around this time I got myself my first smart phone. I love being able to text with one hand, so I got a small phone, the LGE405. It has served me well until last week.

I've decided to spend less time staring at the tiny little screen. This is because I realised that I was looking at life, at least most of life, through a four-inch window.

Instead of seeing the blue of the skies, I was seeing the blue of Facebook and Twitter. And there was more green in my Whatsapp than in the trees outside my window. Human beings were starting to become smaller and smaller. Flesh and blood was turning to avatars and status updates.

My need for human connection led me to social media, but I ended up hugging my phone at night, under the covers, typing away, sending words to some disembodied human who was also most probably somewhere in their bed, under the covers.

I am tired. I am bored. And I am unplugging.

It’s only after going offline for a few days (of course I’ve had a few minutes every now and then of checking out Facebook and replying Whatsapp messages) that I’ve realised how addicted I’d become to my phone. It felt like there was an IV line running from my phone to my arm, supplying vital fluids to my body, without which I’d die.

I know I won’t die. And the world won’t stop spinning if I go offline for a few days. So while I won’t swear by the Almighty God that I’m completely going offline, I am going to try to check my phone less times. I am going to resist the urge to reply all incoming messages immediately.

And I am going to breathe slower, take the world less seriously, take up a new hobby (farming?), write a little more, and see more people.

And it won’t be through the tiny window through which I’d decided to watch the world. I’m going outdoors!

I love concerts. But it’s incredible how some people watch a full concert through the small screen of their smart phone or tab. It’s interesting how people go out to the beach and instead of taking in all the beauty, decide to capture small pieces of it on their phones. I can’t imagine how much life passes us by while we’re looking at tiny, little windows.

Maybe you would also like to put away your tiny windows through which you view the world? You’ll be amazed at the beauty around you.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Learning The Art of Saying No

It’s almost 3 weeks since I started Wordy Cakes and it has been an interesting experience. Seeing happy faces brought to life either by the quote they’ve found in their pair of Wordy Cakes or just the taste of the new Vanilla Wordy Cakes is very priceless.

I have had the opportunity to share in people’s birthdays and celebrations. I’ve helped people tell their friends how much they mean to them by using a pair of Chocolate Wordy Cakes. I’ve just made two deliveries today where the people who ordered bought more pairs of Wordy Cakes to share with their workmates.

A lot of love is going around lately. And I am thrilled to be in the middle of it all.

I am especially thankful to the people who have invited me into their space so I could share in their stories. Wordy Cakes is about sharing incredible stories of love and hope. And that is what we are going to do for a very long time.

As more and more people have joined social media, there has gotten to be a physical disconnect from their friends and family. This has got to change. I want to be a part of that change with Wordy Cakes.

That is why, when you ask me to make for you a wedding cake, I might say no. I don’t say no because I don’t know how to make wedding cakes or because I hate weddings. I say no because right now, wedding cakes may not help Wordy Cakes to spread this love that we want to spread.

While wedding cakes are at the centre of a very beautiful event of love, they do not help tell a story. They do not speak the way Wordy Cakes speak. Wedding cakes just make the wedding more fun. And a year later, you may never remember how that wedding cake made you feel.

And there are lots of people who bake wedding cakes and will be very happy to do a better job than I’d ever do for you. I can even refer you to some of my friends. My friend Khairoon, of Sheba Confectionaries makes incredible cakes for weddings and birthdays. You should check out her Facebook Page.

So what would I do instead of baking for you a wedding cake? I would make for you 200 pairs of Wordy Cakes, each with a special love message to your wedding guests. Now that would be an interesting story to be a part of!

You see, Wordy Cakes is not a bakery. Wordy Cakes is the newest way to say “I love you,” “You’re my best friend,” or “Have a great, productive day at the office today.”

I’d most probably make more money if I baked wedding cakes, given the fact that a lot of my friends are suddenly getting married (I guess I’m at that stage in my life). But Wordy Cakes has never been about the money and will never be.

I’ll most probably say no a few more times before I get comfortable saying no. But I am learning the art of saying no. And I believe that five years from now, I will be glad I said no to the things that didn’t push the vision of Wordy Cakes in order to say yes to the things that push us forward.

And five years from now, all of you will be happy Wordy Cakes came into your lives.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Wordy Cake Story

My name is Paul, and this is my story.

From December last year, I had a very secure job. Then some circumstances pushed me to ask for a one-month leave, for the month of October. That was when I started thinking a lot about what I want for myself and how I would love to shape my career path for the rest of my life.

While I had a discontent for my job, I knew that at the end of the month, I could go back to it and all would be well, I’d keep waking up every morning to go to work and coming back in the evening, worn out and unfulfilled, to sleep and wait for the next day to repeat the process.

Then I went to Gulu.

I can’t really explain why I had to go to Gulu. But I was at a point in my life where I needed to be alone to think and reflect. I realised that this was my life to live, and that all the decisions I made had consequences. At the time I went to Gulu, I was almost broke. I had to choose between eating well and sleeping well. I chose to sleep well.

After paying for my room at a decent hotel in the middle of town, I went and bought bread to make sandwiches from my room.

On my last night in Gulu, I did what I’d been putting off for almost half a month: I wrote my resignation letter. It was quite long. Halfway through it, I started crying.

I don’t know why I cried. Maybe I cried because of the sudden freedom I felt. Maybe it was because I was scared about what I would do afterwards.

But I knew that I had done the right thing. So I hit the Enter key and the letter was sent.

By the time I got back to Kampala on Friday night, all I had to my name was UGX25000 and a light heart. The next day was my birthday.

I spent half the day lying in bed, thinking about the last 23 years of my life and what I would do with the next few years of my life. I thought about love. I thought about money.

And I cried some more.

That evening, on 18th October, the idea of Wordy Cakes started forming in my mind.

One Wordy Cake, sitting on a quote
I have always loved words. And I love cooking. Wordy Cakes would be the intersection between these two passions. But what has always driven these two passions is my love for people. I’ve written on this blog about how I am a human tourist. I really love watching people. And I love listening to people’s stories.

Everyone has a story. Some stories are very passionate love stories. Others are heart-rending tragedies. But I have realised from my own experience that words have a way of shaping people’s stories. Hope knows how to dissolve despair. Love, with the right words, can drive out fear.

There is power in words. A lot of power. That is why I created Wordy Cakes.

There are a lot of stories being written in people’s lives around me. And I want to be a part of them. I choose to do that with a pair of muffins sitting on a few words.

Already, I have seen how these words have warmed the heart of one lover towards another. Someone has already used Wordy Cakes to say happy birthday to a friend. I’m starting to receive orders to create special messages for people’s loved ones. And I get to be a part of these stories.

I’d love Wordy Cakes to be the encouragement to face a long, draining day at office, and the inspiration to create a great innovation that would change the course of history.
This quote made someone's day

I dream of a time when a terminally ill father will smile after receiving a pair of Wordy Cakes from his son. I dream of the day when a pair of Wordy Cakes will carry the words, “Will you marry me?” I can’t wait for the day when two estranged lovers will be reunited by a pair of Wordy Cakes with the words, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

In the first week of operation, I’ve received a lot of support. Many people, both friends and strangers alike, have told me how this is a brilliant idea. They’ve made me feel like I’m an entrepreneur, like I know what I am doing.

But I am just a regular guy. I’m just a guy you’d pass by on the street without a second glance. I just happen to be passionate about words, food and people. And I have this deep desire on the inside of me to make a difference, however small, in my corner of the world.

What makes me happy is when a girl closes her eyes to enjoy all the sensations that come with a bite of my chocolate muffins. What gives me joy is seeing the light coming on in a guy’s eyes when he reads the quote in his pair of Wordy Cakes.

Of course I know that I can’t keep in the clouds. There is a lot of work that goes on in making this dream a reality, like baking the perfect chocolate muffin and looking for relevant quotes to go with each pair and sourcing for financing. I’ve already started getting so very many challenges, ranging from the realisation that I need a smarter phone than the one I have to the realisation that I need a larger oven than the one I have.

I am quite confident that this dream will live on, whatever the cost. I may have to look for a job at some point to keep a roof over my head or this crazy idea might buy me my dream Subaru Legacy.

But what really matters is that I get to be part of people’s stories, one pair of Wordy Cakes at a time.

A pair of Wordy Cakes, begging to be devoured

Photo Credit: Stella Nyanzi