Monitor @30: Thirty-year-olds shave moustache, not Candida’s pubes

Daily Monitor newspaper is 30 years old. PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION 

What you need to know:

  • It’s deeply ironic, if you asked me. Just days ago, the man was seething and calling Monitor all sorts of names over Pinetti. And that is why it makes sense.

That virus visited upon me again. I battled to write this column and the first one I wrote took more than eight hours in between an hour of power cut.

Then, after having my first proper meal in a week due to a dead appetite, my head finally clicked back to life. As I doodled on the kids’ blackboard, I found myself compelled to sketch the head of the spotted one.

Back in primary and later secondary school, to sketch the spotted one, one had to focus on three features: a pyramidal head, a slightly sharp nose, and moustache. 

I tried this same old trick and found myself laughing. The man no longer has moustache. I could hear Priscah, my jolly good friend, ask what happened to the spotted animal’s moustache? And I could hear myself answer: Monitor shaved it.

It’s deeply ironic, if you asked me. Just days ago the man was seething and calling Monitor all sorts of names over Pinetti. And that is why it makes sense.

Years ago when the racy-lacy idea of a tabloid had still yet to move from the loins to the heads of some media entrepreneurs who founded the Red Pepper, Monitor did something remarkable.

The picture on the cover page had a woman spread eagle by men in military uniform. Some held her arms over her head, others held the legs and there was a man holding what looked like a military knife with which he shaved the pubic hair of the specimen before him with gynaecological effect.

The date was May 11, 1999. The woman was not identified but a 24-year-old Candida Lakony came forward, claiming to be the woman in the picture. She said the shaving had taken place in Gulu barracks, masterminded by her ex-boyfriend, Warrant Officer II Nelson Kisale, of the UPDF 4th Division in Gulu.

Candida was later arrested and charged with giving false information to police. Monitor editors Wafula Oguttu, Charles Onyango-Obbo and David Ouma Balikowa were also charged with publishing false news.

While the garrison chief, Capt Charles Opio, would testify that Candida had indeed been shaved once but on the head rather than on her pubis, and witness testimonies affirmed that there had been shaving of a woman’s pubic hair, magistrate Andrew Bashaija premised his ruling on whether the woman in the picture was Candida and the shaver was Kisale. 

None of the defence witnesses had provided any concrete proof that the woman in the picture was Candida and that the man was Kisale.

Candida’s lawyer Jacob Oulanyah prayed court for leniency but the magistrate refused and gave her some proper time behind bars. She would die not long after her release. Oulanyah lived to be the Speaker of the nation before his death earlier this year.

Who knows where the other players in this scandalous trial such as the soldiers and the magistrate are? As for Obbo, Balikowa and Oguttu, they remain living legends in the story of Monitor as the paper celebrates 30 years on the newsstands.

That May 11, 1999, edition was one of the epitomes of Monitor’s boldness under its well-cherished “truth every day” slogan. While Red Pepper would turn up two years after the Candida splash to do sleaze, Monitor turned to shaving mustachioed men on its front page.

It might be a big difference but it remains the same. That May 1999, the spotted one reacted furiously to the Monitor story, invited Candida for chai before turning against her. He still reacts furiously whenever corrupt chaps are shaven on the front pages of Monitor.

While the public does not react with indignation at the shaving of moustaches, the impact journalism continues. Long Live Monitor.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.