For more than two decades, we Ugandans have had to come to terms with the reality of living with rampant corruption and a festering public services. We watched whenever the well to do, those who rule over us and their fat-cat cronies, fell sick and were flown abroad where they had sent their kids to study when our own state schools became debilitated, our dilapidated hospitals ran out of medicine.
Now we seem to have reached the tipping point. Systematic chaos and insecurity has everyone feeling vulnerable, including high profile figures who are being tortured and assassinated by an unapologetic regime led by a president busy writing in defence of the abuse by his army and police. His minister of (in)security is mocking the victims by singing about the abuse oftentimes when the blood hasn’t even been cleaned off the streets yet and the wounds remain raw.
With those who are meant to protect us being the main cause of our insecurity, after which they mock us, there is little hope any solution can be expected from these same people who think most Ugandans’ lives are a laughing matter. Even those who thought the madness was only a temporary over-reaction from a president whose unpopularity has caught him by surprise, now realise events have taken a turn; that any future with Museveni can only deepen the problem rather than bring a lasting solution.
But who will tell him that? Not his advisors. They too are cut from the same cloth as their boss and his security people. They are reading from the same script, convinced the abuse of people through torture and the humiliation of canning them on the streets is something that should be defended, justified, and mocked.
Andrew Mwenda is convinced that Hon. Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) is “misinformed and uninformed,” and belittles him as “someone who needs to be led rather than lead.” Mwenda also reduces Bobi Wine’s supporters to a bunch of people who lack sophistication and don’t know what is good for them.
But Mwenda is not alone in his condescension. John Nagenda also piles on Bobi Wine, dismissing him as someone who “still needs enough time and coaching as far as the political arena is concerned… This young man Kyagulanyi, if he goes another 15 years and was being seriously coached by somebody, I think he could probably do it; but I laugh when people say he’s ready to take over a country.”
Any doubt that these gentlemen are speaking from the same script has been removed by the veteran journalist turned ruling party cheerleader Tony Owana, who claims to believe Bobi Wine is “just a child.”
Obsession with eloquence
The three “wise men” of Ugandan commentariat are obsessed with Bobi Wine’s age and purported lack of eloquence. However, if age and eloquence conferred wisdom then these people would not be defending torture and abuse. On the contrary, they would be standing up in defence of our constitution; they would support the aspirations of our people for better leadership that offers basic security, ends rampant corruption, restores public services, and puts an end to their suffering. If age and eloquence were a factor for wisdom, it would not be a 74-year old holding our country hostage.
If age and eloquence were essential qualities, then Museveni’s advisors, who are all very far older than the average Ugandan (Nagenda is 80), would join Bobi Wine in his struggle to rid our country of the man whose actions are responsible for the myriad problems we find ourselves in. Instead of mocking a courageous man who has put his life on the line and survived an assassination as a result, Andrew Mwenda and Tony Owana would put their journalistic skills and eloquence to good use appealing to the moral calling of their profession to denounce such abuse.
Similarly, John Nagenda the veteran novelist and poet would take his literary talent to Makerere University to help produce a generation of Ugandans with the eloquence that repudiates abuse and articulates freedom as well as other aspirations of our people.
Instead of emulating Bobi’s sacrifice, they are collecting checks from a man who doesn’t see value in their work, having recently said that he doesn’t believe in public relations (PR). Here’s a man, Nagenda, 80 years of age and as eloquent as they come, who still refers to himself as a “senior media and public relations advisor” for Museveni, a man he concedes he “hardly meets.” Yet, he is not embarrassed that he has been drawing a salary for more than two decades for what appears tantamount to theft of public resources. And so, one wonders where he and Mwenda, a man without principle and unable to pursue a cause beyond himself, get the courage to ridicule a young man who is committing himself to the aspirations of Ugandans amidst a committed brutality that they are only eager to justify.
Where do these old – even if eloquent – men get the audacity to mock Bobi Wine and his supporters, whose hard work and sweat ensures that these so-called advisors enjoy a comfortable lifestyle that includes the ungracious privilege to hurl insults at those they believe are beneath them. Is there any Ugandan who is in fact beneath this scum?
Has Museveni’s eloquence in inflicting his self-serving version of history shielded Ugandans from the suffering he has inflicted on them that every day that goes by reminds them of the Amin days? Empty intellectualism will not provide employment to us ordinary, suffering, people; it won’t give our children a proper education; it will not stock our severely dilapidated hospitals with life-sustaining medicines; and it will not end the torture we are increasingly subjected to by Museveni’s forces of insecurity. It’s nothing more than reactionary politics, as Hon. Mathias Mpuga recently said. “I’m most concerned about people who are informed but choose to misinform the public, they use propaganda to try and keep the community at bay,” he said. “This country is likely to suffer because we have leaders who have lost touch with reality, they are reactionary.”
History, Museveni’s favourite subject, is rather ironic. This reactionary politics is exactly what Museveni used to condemn during his history speeches when he was mocking his predecessors. History will show that self-proclaimed revolutionaries eventually reveal themselves for the reactionaries they always were. This is what Ugandans have come to discover, a nightmare they are determined to wake up from. ASAP.
This article was originally published by “The watchman” blog