‘I miss those mosquito-no-pass dances; discos are not interesting anymore’

Sunday March 7 2010

By Dennis D. Muhumuza

Oscar Ranzo runs the reading scheme at Lively Minds, a charity that caters for reading needs of children in rural settings. He’s also a published children’s author and owns a clothing store. He told Dennis D. Muhumuza why he would reinvent” squeeze” dance given the opportunity
Ranzo sounds Latino, is that your real name?
Ranzo is actually the mirror image of Oscar, with the image of letter C rotated anticlockwise through ninety degrees to form letter N. I adopted it as my penname because Oscar the writer is a mirror image of the Oscar that most people know.

Was Lively Minds your idea?
Nope. My very good friend, Alison Naftalin, a lawyer for the English Government, while on a visit to Ghana, was shocked to find that children in rural areas were not getting the quality education needed to think creatively. She thus founded Lively Minds with the major goal of helping children achieve their fullest cognitive potential through play and book reading. The charity is now operational in Uganda and Ghana. And one of their programmes is the Story Time Project, a community-run programme designed to nurture the love for reading, imagination and creative thinking.

What inspired your book, Saving Little Viola?
The idea came while watching the movie Saving Private Ryan; at the end, I told myself I was going to write a similar story but featuring African children. At the time, (2005), child sacrifice was not as rampant as today and was only talked about in hushed up conversation. I wanted to create a story which would bring attention to the vice, especially in children.

Do you dress some of the children under Lively Minds in clothes from ‘oscCcar’s?’
Come on! ‘oscCcar’s’ is simply a small men’s clothing store I set up with the major aim of making smartness easy for people who hold down nine to five jobs and hardly have spare time to go shopping, so you can’t find children’s clothing in there.

Which living person do you most admire and why?
Former Chelsea FC coach, Jose Mourinho, for his cocky arrogance, witty intelligence, oratorical skills, dapper sense of style, attention to detail, insatiable hunger for success, charisma, and above all, his capacity to succeed against all odds.

Have you ever said “I love you” and not meant it?
The cardinal rule of writing is Show, Don’t Tell. And it’s this same rule that I’ve always applied in relating with people. Turns out it’s much safer and easier to show people love without telling, especially in situations when you do not want to be eventually held accountable for their unhappiness.

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What traits do you dislike in other people?
The aversion to reading, looking down on those beneath one and the pretentious bid to sound politically correct at the expense of one’s beliefs.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
“Squeeze”. Remember those days when Ange Noir couldn’t close before playing slows?
I miss those intimate, mosquito-no-pass dances; discos are not interesting anymore.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Feeding people on Red Herrings and inwardly laughing as they greedily devour them.

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