Emmese: Why govt can’t kill the rat
Posted Sunday, February 17 2013 at 02:23
One of the most viewed Ugandan music videos on the internet these days is ‘Emmese’. It is easy to dismiss it as just another mischievous song but it also is a very apt representation of the state of our public affairs today.
The song, done by one Captain Dollar, is about a hardworking but naïve young husband who comes home very tired every night and his young wife tells him to wake up and kill the rat that is preventing her from sleeping.
After energetically hunting for the elusive rat, the knackered husband drops down tired, but the wife keeps waking him up to kill the rat. The not-so-smart chap searches under the bed and everywhere and goes back to sleep.
However suggestively the wife presents her request that “Mwami zukuka okube emmese”, the silly fellow does not click and instead also complains about being woken up to fight rats yet he is very tired. Their life just drags on like that with a very frustrated wife and an innocent husband busy neglecting his duties.
Her mistake is obvious – failing to call a spade a spade. By speaking in tongues, she fails to communicate her burning need to her husband. She behaves like the rich shy man from a Masaka village in another story. The man falls hopelessly in love with a hot chick from Kampala and wants to marry her. So he buys her a red sports BMW, assuming she will understand his message that the letters stand for Beera Mukyala Wange (Be My Wife). She doesn’t decipher, and thanks him for the beamer, assuring him that her boyfriend will be very happy to ride in it.
We Ugandans are not very different from the frustrated wife or the shy rich villager. We have this habit of not being explicit when communicating to our government, so it never gets to know what the citizens consider their most urgent requirement. And apparently, the intelligence services are not terribly competent to give this info which the citizens are also failing to articulate, so the poor government never gets the message and remains in the dark.
Uganda’s biggest ‘rat’ is simply theft. But do we tell our government this? No. Instead we talk in tongues when describing criminal actions that have rendered service delivery a farce.
Instead of making explicit demands, we use limp phrases. When a theft occurs, we do not cry “thief!” Instead we say that some “public funds have been misappropriated” and even add the word “allegedly” to discourage action. We are also very kind to government itself. When it engages in criminal cover up for suspects, we do not accuse it of being an accessory to the crime. Instead we come up with wooly phrases like “government lacks the political will to fight corruption”.
So poor government spends a trillion a year of education, another trillion on health, another one on roads and nobody believes the figures, including the government itself.
Even dangerous practices like naked parasitism are not called what they are. Instead they are referred to as ‘privileges’ or ‘entitlements’.
When Members of Parliament, some of them quite sleepy fellows, pocket Shs20 million a month and occasionally milk over a Shs100 million each for cars that most never even buy and another Shs20 million for “consulting constituents”, we don’t call them parasites. We say they are highly paid and shyly pray that they mend their ways!
When some leaders and top civil servants practice primitive tribalism, we do not call it that. We say that they “have sectarian tendencies”. So they carry on entrenching primitivity in the public service at the expense of merit.
We are like a man who suddenly sees a snake inside his house and then he calls a meeting to discuss and ascertain whether the “limbless reptile” falls in the venomous category, and if so whether it should be killed or the wildlife authorities should be called in to capture it and take it to the zoo or return it to the wild. By the time the deliberations about the limbless reptile have been concluded, the snake has bitten some family members, fatally.
It would be interesting to see part two of Emmese. Maybe the wife eventually finds a houseboy or a driver to kill the rat for her. She can’t run away because the hard working husband provides a luxurious life for her.
Similarly, the Masaka man’s heartthrob who takes the BMW to enjoy with her boyfriend possibly asks for a Hummer next. Even our government is not about to feel remorse over grand theft. It doesn’t know the depth of the people’ frustration