The Optimist: Lessons from my president
Posted Sunday, February 3 2013 at 00:00
Recently, my President, Yoweri K. Museveni, marked 27 years in power. He arrived on the scene a gutsy man in a military cap radiating from the inside out. What an inspirational figure he cut! Starting out with 27 guns was like starting out without a budget. But he had an irrevocable belief that it was his mandate as a patriot to deliver this country from the doldrums it had plunged into. Sooner than later, he achieved what he believed, teaching us all that when you find something worth dying for and pursue it with all your heart even if it means sleeping in foxholes and eating roots for six years, you too will succeed phenomenally.
Accomplishing great things also has a connection with acting shrewdly like snakes and humbly like doves. The Museveni of the 1980’s embodied this. He had studied the times, and came at a perfect time when the cup of endurance was running over and masses were no longer willing to be misruled. Thus they supported him unreservedly; fed the guerrillas, hid and spied for them to victory. Without that backing, Museveni would not have made it even with a billion guns.
When I watched that 1986 footage of my president delivering that memorable speech of how this was no mere change of guard but a fundamental change, I thought of how the natives of the time burned with adoration and adulation for him. Then I compared him with the Museveni of today, and a tear dropped from my eyes into my cup of coffee. How deceptive man’s heart is! Who would have thought that the man who articulated with such passion how the problem of Africa are leaders who overstay in power would backtrack to the extent of bribing legislators to knock the two-term presidential limits from the constitution? Now those that worshiped him are groaning in the despair of betrayal and untold corruption that has ruined service delivery in this country.
Surely the president is deeply tormented by many regrets but is simply living in denial. He demands unquestioning allegiance so much that he even has not flinched from harassing his own party members that have the guts to question him on some things. Basically the salt has lost its saltiness and the day of giving account of his stewardship is sooner than he realises. I am even more optimistic because the torch will always be greater than the individual. My only prayer is that the next bearer will shine it better for the good of our country.