The Observer (Kampala)

1 January 2013

Uganda: Heineken Flies Patrons Into 2013

It was meant to be that special flight whose destination was New Year. Gates were meant to close at 8pm for the four-hour flight - with my ticket warning me to 'be at the boarding gate well ahead of departure time.'

About 300 guests had been booked for the flight. This plane was taking off right in the middle of the city at The Seventeen Apartment hotel in Kololo. By 8:30pm, I was still trying to beat the jam. It was surprising how the city, lifeless just last week, had become crazy overnight.

Anyway, at 9pm, I was finally in Kololo. By this time, parking near the apartments that overlook the American ambassador's residence was impossible; so, I parked several blocks away. So, imagine my consternation when at the gate, I realized I had forgotten my invitation in the car!

"Stand there," a mean usher pointed to a corner when she got tired of my excuses. I paved way for other guests that included fashion designer Santa Anzo, Gaetano Kaggwa, Silk Events' Elvis Sekyanzi and Sylvia Owori who walked in with boyfriend Malik Kaliisa, whom she fought hard to protect from cameramen. Now, who's the man here?

"These tags are not meant for journalists. They are meant for Heineken workers," the mean usher returned to me, confiscating the tag I had managed to recover. Surprisingly, the tag had been marked "Captain Simon" and given to me by the people that do PR for Heineken.

It took the intervention of another usher who checked for my name on the guest list, put a ribbon on me and let me be. Inside, the party had already started, and the only baggage allowed on board was Heineken. The exclusive party had an aeroplane setting with the ushers dressed like cabin crew and each guest with a tag allowing them to be a pilot of their own lives.

There were several captains all over the place, but lead pilot for night was DJ Apeman who was on the roof top doing the mixing. At 11pm, rapper The Mith did a couple of songs before he was joined by Lillian Mbabazi.

As we got to our destination at midnight, the fireworks were let off - a boring display, I'm afraid, with no consistency. ?With the scenic view from the apartments, many guests were better off watching the stunning fireworks coming off Namboole stadium and Bukoto.

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