Ray Besiga A Personal Website

In Amsterdam, Art Is Therapy


As I sit here in transit, in the library at Schipol Airport, my mind wanders back to the last time I was in Amsterdam, and not in transit. It was my maiden European adventure and I intended to make great use of it. Since travel is a journey not only for the body, but also for the mind and soul, I meant to use this trip to rekindle connections as well as indulge in culture and the arts. Amsterdam was the last of a tour of two cities.

A truly cosmopolitan city with wonderful people, plenty of bicycles, wonderful beer and a fantastical cycle of unending museum exhibitions. A true arts and culture galore!

Amsterdam has set a new tone for itself as a throwback to that time when art was ambitious enough to change lives, and inspire change in a person. As you walk about, you cannot help but notice the presence of exhibitions, temporary or permanent, just about everywhere. Vondelpark, in a space of an hour offered an open air theatre, random material installations, and unplanned tree climbing!

Open Air Theatre

Alien Brain

African Tree Climbing Lions

This got me rather excited for the museums. Queue the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, and Van Gogh museums.

As luck would have it, the first exhibition I went to was "Art is Therapy" at the Rijksmuseum. A wonderful curation inspired by Visual Healing, by one of my favorite philosophers, Alain de Botton, and John Armstrong. The goal is to raise - and then answer in a distinctive way - the question of what the purpose of art really is. Mostly to propose that art can be looked to, and enjoyed for, its powerful therapeutic effect. In their own words:

Art is Therapy

This exhibitions had plenty of fantastic paintings and pieces but here's a few of those that stood out to me:

The White Swan A Scholar Man wooing lady A modern family. Then. Correctional Facility Officers

The next day, I sauntered on to the Stedelijk museum, which prides as the largest museum of modern and contemporary art and design in the Netherlands. It is huge, and now with world renowned collections, experimental exhibitions and engaging public programs, since moving into the new museum building. Some of the pieces I found intriguing:

Strawberry Fields Forever Magical Stationary Device Outgrowths Linking scales Diabolical Chainsaw Erotica Boat Spark's toy

What was most exciting, but equally draining was how open each and every piece was to one's interpretation. My thoughts were lukewarm at best, and remained unspoken. However, situations like these help one appreciate beauty in the unknown, or un-understood.

I highly recommend that anyone travel to Amsterdam, if not for the canals and coffeeshops, then for the art and culture. Looking forward to the next time.

Pitti Immagine Uomo Florence 2014

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86

It's a beautiful weekend, sun is out and glad to be back in Kampala. Been meaning to write for a while, if only for the catharsis, but there is so much to write about I do not know where to start. However, I decided to write about the reason I ended in Florence in the first place. Pitti Immagine Uomo!

Pitti Immagine Uomo, a key international trade event showcasing men’s fashions and contemporary lifestyle trends is a big deal that I had never heard of until my great friend and rising jaggernaut in the Men's Fashion accessories industry, Adrian Azodi, founder of Monsieur Fox extended an invite. It was an incredible event showcasing excellence of the makers of exclusive products, brands that have redefined men's fashion, special projects presented by leading international designers and new talent.

I am a rookie or otherwise totally clueless person when it comes to fashion. I know nothing about the workings of the fashion industry but decided to head out into the unknown anyway. See what it's about. However, I was not ready for the spectacle that I witnessed.

It was the utimate showcase, not just in fashion, but in personal and professional branding. From men's wear of tomorrow.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Afro-inspired fashion

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Sporty looks

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Men Need More Style

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Kenneth Cole

New talent and special projects. I'm looking at you Edmund Ooi and Orange Culture.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Edmund Ooi

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Orange Culture

Now, the Pitti Uomo, in Florence, is dubbed the most complete, innovative and market-oriented presentation of for men’s fashions but that definitely did not leave the women out. They stole the thunder, IMHO, as always! Donning super chic dresses..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Lady In Pink

Hanging out casually..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Beautiful ladies

Or on duty..with one of my favorite brands this year, Desigual

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Desigual

And my absolute favorite, Hamaki-Ho

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Looking forward to next year's!

10000 and Hennepin

So, I just returned from my second trip to Minneapolis, a thoroughly beautiful cyclist paradise and the largest city in Minnesota. It was such a wonderful cultural experience as this time I had to spend a much longer time on our business engagements than earlier anticipated. Our client, Starkey Hearing Foundation gracefully hosted us for a month as we worked on a highly impactful information system that would improve the efficiency with which they carry out hearing health missions in over 40 countries around the globe.

There is a lot to write about when churning through a myriad of new experiences, culture and surroundings. I have been thinking about how to share the experience without using up 30 paragraphs. One for each day. However, I realize that that is too cumbersome, even for the most avid reader. As such, I took to what I do best; finding a workable technology solution to my problem. And I did! It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I put together a series of photos that sum up my experience that past month, and put them on a map that is easy to navigate.

I used a lean and minimal piece of software that also happens to be open source. Please check out my story map below and leave comments, share thoughts, and let me know if there's typos in here.

Happy day!

Key Takeaways from 2013


Hey folks,

It's been a bit. Happy New Year! So, I thought to share a few lessons I learned from the past year, before the hype dies down and the takeaways evolve beyond the realm of 2013. They are in no specific order, and I warn you, I may rumble at times but here goes!

Emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned.

It is for this reason alone that I am sharing my experiences thus far. It's been a challenging year in which I quit my job to start Sparkplug but I have enjoyed every minute of the learning experience. The positive experiences kept me going forward, while I learned from the negative. I feel like a much better person now, which leads me to the next takeaway.

Do not stall.

Always have the fear of being complacent or stagnant. If you're no better than you were six months ago, something needs to change. Iterate, experiment and seek to make a better you. Invest time and energy in creating an optimal present and future for yourself. Needless to say, a better you translates to a happier you.

Be nice.

Do not go out of your way to displease others, especially as a way of projecting an image of strength. Be kind, and fair but always speak your mind. If there's one thing I have noticed, the most successful people, like Aamito, Beyonce, and Bill Gates to name but a few are humble, respectful but also speak honestly. It's a karma thing.

Do not give up.

I cannot overstate this. It speaks for itself. Go ahead and imagine Morgan Freeman reading this out loud to you. No one who ever gave up achieved anything. Dr. Arsene Wenger did not give up after guiding his club, Arsenal FC, to eight trophyless seasons. Here's to hoping he does not make it nine. Hehehe.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.Winston Churchill


Be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way. Don't get comfortable. Challenge yourself to think outside your box. Be hard on your opinions and perceptions. Polish them so that no matter what, they are mindful of others, but fully owned by you. This is one way I have learned to keep evolving myself without getting in anyone's way.

Spend time with yourself.

As it turns out, you will be surprised at how not boring you are. Its probable that you are not the most boring person you know. That said, I do not recommend a non-stop, one person party, but rather an opportunity to carve out "Heads Down" time. Rest yourself. And yes, you can be happy alone, as with others.

Play the long game.

If anything is worth getting into, you have to invest time, and not expect immediate results. Imagine is as a roller coaster, with all the thrills, highs and lows, in slow motion. And while you do it, celebrate the successes, learn from the failures, and enjoy growth, naturally.

Keep tabs.

Keep a journal, or something like it, and write down your experiences. Be original. Don't lie to yourself. Write about what you know, feel, see, think. It will serve as a reference when you gauge your evolution and growth at a later time. Think of it as a personal history archive, that is not Facebook. Hehehe

The investment in knowledge yields the best resultsBenjamin Franklin

Enhance your knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "The investment in knowledge yields the best results". He was a wise man, take his advice. Find the knowledge to fill the gaps in your skills, or feed your curiosity. In any case, you never know when that tidbit of information will win you a round of drinks at the next Trivia night!

Have a code.

Set rules and follow them consistently. Not that I have anything against unrestricted freedom, I just think its better to have bounds before limitless options become your indecision prison. Specifics bring clarify. Remember this though, the rules you make are yours to follow, not set for those around you.

I tire. That should be it. Happy Friday everyone! :)