The Biter Bit

Ok, so I bit the dentist – he was removing the last part of my tooth and I felt a pain and I wouldn’t even have been aware that I closed my mouth (it was numb right?), except that he whipped his hand out of my mouth and said “you bit me”. I did apologise and it can’t have been that bad because he was soon back at work.

Thereafter, having put a swab in my mouth and instructed me to bite and hold, there was not much else I was able to say. I had to keep that in until reaching home. The assistant hand me a paper instructing me to remove the swab after 30 minutes and not eat or drink until three hours had elapsed. However she SAID two hours so I took her word for it and was grateful no-one had polished off the couscous I made at the end of last week, which was still lurking in the fridge.

Said dentist again berated me for leaving it so long.
“I couldn’t find a dentist” – the National Health Service in this United Kingdom leaves a lot to be desired where dentistry is concerned, long waiting lists and now I am having to travel an almost 40 mile round trip. So it has taken me 4 years of periodically trying and failing to get one.
“You can always find a private one”, he said.
I must say I resent the assumption that I can afford a private dentist. Grrr.

So far he has only removed the one, after threatening me with three extractions last week. He has agreed to re-cap one – next to today’s extraction, so that was reduced in advance of the extraction. He took an X-ray of the other half-tooth. Let’s see what happens in two weeks time.

© Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Dentist

It must be eight years since I went to the dentist, yeah, bad I know. The last time was in Uganda, a dentist recommended by other expatriates: he had the prices to go with it too – equivalent of £130 for one cap, and I needed 3 – I did not have them done. I was never a rich expatriate, although certainly earning far more than the average Ugandan income. But those prices were too big a proportion of my variable monthly income to even consider. And I never got round to trying another one.

Soon after that I made a decision to take steps towards returning to UK, so in the back of my mind was free-ish dental care on the NHS. Well I think it was free the last time I had more than a check-up,  in 1988 or thereabouts. Then it was Dr Ken Lim in Streatham, South London, who installed the bridge that cracked sometime around 2000 (breaking off altogether later on, in Bangor). That had been occasioned by a double extraction in Nairobi in 1986 by a man who was then an exiled Acholi cultural leader from Uganda. I swear he broke the second one himself as he extracted the one that had been broken by a stone in the rice a few weeks prior, in Uganda.

After settling in Bangor in 2005, I tried a few times over the years to find a dentist for myself and Marjory, my teenage daughter.  This is where you get to exclaim what a bad parent I am.  She had never (successfully) been to a dentist until May this year. She went with me 8 years ago, and  he did not manage to get his hands in her mouth, nuff said. Bangor, Caernarfon, Llandudno, all were full, or I missed the day they were registering. Marjory had been having intermittent pains, and eventually I phoned the emergency dentist number for NHS Wales, and exaggerated slightly. We managed to get an appointment for the same evening, In Llandudno, when they drilled and put a temporary filling.  She was then referred to a dentist in Bangor for ongoing treatment and will be able to continue there.

I, however, was advised by the helpline to register in Colwyn Bay, 22 miles away.  I am actually eligible for free treatment as I am a single parent receiving Child Tax Credits. Three months later I get my initial appointment. I have to say that the dentist seemed casual. Instead of using technical descriptions for his assistant to write down, he was saying things like “no. 5 comes out”, “no. 3 ok”. No X rays, no asking about what happened to cause a particular tooth to be in its condition. Not that he was unpleasant, but he did not seem to think any explanations were necessary as to why three of my remaining teeth should come out.

The next appointment is next Tuesday and the receptionist informed me that he will “start with the extractions”. I am not looking forward either to the extractions, or to trying to negotiate caps instead for one or two of them and no action for the other.

© Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Uganda sadness

Uganda Sadness

Thursday 10th September 2009: sad news of serious riots in Kampala, Masaka, Mukono Thursday, two civilian deaths reported.

Friday 11th September 2009: more of the same, reports suggesting people on a knife-edge, things got worse during the long day and evening. The death toll on Kampala streets for the two days is probably 14, that is 14 too many.

This was triggered by the prime minister (Katikkiro) of Buganda being prevented by security forces from travelling to Kayunga, about 40 miles north-east of Kampala to prepare for a visit there of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi, king of Buganda, one of the four traditional kingdoms of Uganda (from which the country gets its name). This visit was planned for Saturday. The government of President Museveni (M7) restored the kingdoms as cultural institutions some years ago with the proviso that they would not get involved in politics. The ‘parliament’ of Buganda the Lukiiko, based in the town of Mengo (now a Kampala suburb), has significant regional political influence nevertheless.

In Kayunga there are land issues and residence issues between different ethnic groups. The conventional wisdom amongst the Baganda people is that in several places of which Kayunga is but one, land has been bought up by non-Baganda for commercial use and has therefore reduced the agricultural potential. The government’s attempts to prevent the Katikkiro and ultimately the Kabaka from going there appear to be what has triggered the current violence. Apparently the Baganda people feel they have put up with enough, though other ethnic groups feel the Baganda are asking for too much.

On Thursday the licence for the Kingdom-owned broadcasting station was revoked, and three more licences were suspended on Friday. Police blame the media for fanning the rioting; more than 500 “rioters” have been arrested. Videos were posted on-line of unarmed youths being beaten by armed forces and uniform-less unidentified persons, as well as rioters and fires.

Another factor in these long-term disagreements between M7’s goverment and the King of Buganda is that Mengo claims that M7 promised to change the constitution to a federal system, which he denies. Kampala being a multi-ethnic capital on Buganda land, and adjacent to the Buganda Kingdom capital in Mengo also complicates matters for some.

But it goes deeper than that. Many are dissatisfied with the government’s record on corruption, human rights, fair shares of the “national cake”. This has been building up for a long time, which is why it may not die down quickly; the political risks of the Baganda backing down are as big for the people as are the risks to the government of it continuing.

Saturday 12 September 2009. Apparently the Kabaka (king) made a statement cancelling his trip to Kayunga, but this was said to be under duress at the time his compound was surrounded by security forces to prevent him coming out. There were also reports of interference by security operatives in the output of radio stations (the ones that remain on air) and some newspapers. Only approved reports of the situation were allowed on air in at least one station. Although things died down on Friday night, there were reports of gunshots downtown again on Saturday. Sunday appears to have been peaceful.

Presidential and Parliamentary elections are due in 2011 and no doubt M7 has his eye on this. The constitution was changed some years ago to withdraw the limits on the number of times a president can serve.  He will find it extremely difficult to please everyone.

Kalundi Robert Serumaga has been beaten and possibly tortured after arrest by ’security’ operatives. This for speaking his mind, being critical of the government on a radio talk show (such shows have been suspended now). During my last years in Kampala I regarded him as my friend, after having worked in consultation with him on repairs to the National Theatre. We also had some talks over asylum seeker and other issues and I worked with his sister on these. In his efforts to speak up for people’s rights, he has become something of a controversial figure in recent years. At this point in time, I am not aware of him having been released on bond, as has been promised by the police chief.  Their father had to run with his family from Idi Amin, so he is no stranger to suffering.

There are likely to be ongoing ethnic tensions. There have been reports of people being stopped and asked for ID cards (to check their ethnic names), or asked to name their clans and totems if they claim to be Baganda, or being asked to speak the Luganda language: one radio station is reported to have said, “If you don’t speak proper Luganda we will kill you”.  I would not want to suggest that this was said in anything more than the tension of  the moment but, distressingly, it reminds me of the hateful things said about the Tutsis by Radio Milles Collines in Rwanda in the run-up to the 1994 genocide.

I have a personal interest here: my daughter’s mother’s house, outside a Kampala suburb, is built on former mailo land, that is, land owned by the Kabaka and granted to his subjects. Due to complications surrounding the revision of land ownership laws (highly controversial), she has not yet received a land title and, being a non-Muganda, her position may become more difficult.

© Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas Robert Jewitt and nickjewitt.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Maybe now it can be a blog

Learning now how to make the site work. I moved all the China stuff to pages, with the Rwanda ones. Edited some of the China stuff. Not only are there several chapters of that, but I’ve realised that it was my first attempt at writing for the consumption of others and it looks terribly immature and too many exclamation marks!

Shall I become a ‘real’ blogger? Do I have time?

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