Go well, Mzee Chango Macho Boloki w’Obanda
Posted Thursday, October 24 2013 at 01:00
Chango Macho rejected a Christian burial. In this, he reminded me of Dr Garang who once told me he was not sure he wanted to go to heaven because he might just be lonely there!
A few weeks ago, I addressed the Uganda Law Society on the question of Uganda achieving middle income status by 2017. In the feedback, some in the audience took exception to my “lecturing them” on world popular history and political economy (which they said they knew very well), and to my call for a more revolutionary approach to jurisprudence.
What made my day, however, was the basic agreement of keynote speaker Paul Muite (Senior Counsel) with my thesis to the meeting that there is a defining and causal nexus between economics and politics - in favour of the former, and the many young lawyers who quietly told me after the meeting that they had found my presentation “liberating”, and we exchanged contacts for follow-up.
But, I also spoke to the lawyers about our political class, elite and the intelligentsia, who have fallen short of the contribution demanded of them by history, in the struggle for socio-economic transformation. Our political class, elite and intelligentsia do not remind us of giants: Dani Wadada Nabudere (RIP), Omwony Ojwok (RIP), Joshua Mugenyi (RIP), Amilcar Cabral (RIP), Joe Slovo (RIP), Chris Hani (RIP), John Garang de Mabior (RIP), Meles Zenawi (RIP), Mahmood Mamdani, Yash Tandon, Edward Rugumayo, Yoweri Museveni, etc.
For, however much one faulted or disagreed with the giants, one could not but respect their revolutionary practice in the fundamental liberation processes of the African people. The giants have all been formidable revolutionary intellectuals and organic parts of the liberation efforts of the African people.
Chango Macho Boloki w’Obanda has been one such giant. In the absence of liberating ideology and philosophy such as I was discussing with the Law Society, the critical importance and vital role of the giants becomes crystal clear. I concentrate on this liberating legacy of Chango Macho.
It is instructive that his last book (2007) was titled The Second Liberation of Africa, and sub-titled “Those Who Think, Resist. Those Who Don’t, Surrender”. The late Chango Macho, together with Gen Kahinda Otafiire, Abdul-Rahman Babu (RIP), Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (RIP) and others, worked on convening the 7th pan-African Congress, which was hosted by President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala in 1994 - under the central theme “the second liberation of Africa”.
The point was: settler colonialism in Zimbabwe and Portuguese colonialism in Mozambique, Angola, and Namibia had been defeated; one person, one vote was fast becoming reality in South Africa; earth-shaking revolts were underway in South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Chango Macho and the others considered that it was historically opportune to question old assumptions and taboo areas. Unlike the time of the 6th Congress hosted by Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere in Dar es Salaam in 1974 where the focus was ‘liberation’, it was now time for introspection, for a “second liberation of Africa” - it was time to take on Africa’s debilitating neo-colonial reality head on, there were no more excuses.
Chango Machyo’s individual and passionate responsibility in all this was helping build an ideological cadreship for the African revolution, capable of executing the extremely complex tasks of the current phase of the African revolution. All members of our elite who mourn the passing of Chango Macho should reflect deeply on this, his lifelong mission.
Three personal notes. First. While still in primary school, I grew up with an enduring influence of Chango Macho in our home. For, my late father Nicholas Mafabi had stocked several booklets by Chango Macho in the book shelves at home - these were on land and backwardness in agriculture. My reading culture developed in part, on this unlikely menu!
Second. After returning home in 1997 after my 12 year “sabbatical” with Dr John Garang de Mabior in the war zone in South Sudan, a few people used to check regularly on my wife and I in our very humble home. They included Dr Katebalirwe Amooti Wa Irumba, Fatoumata Toure, Noble Mayombo and Chango Macho.
Third. Chango Macho rejected a Christian burial. In this, he reminded me of Dr Garang who once told me he was not sure he wanted to go to heaven because he might just be lonely there! Garang explained that his people were followers of “Atem” (Dinka for snake, or “Intemu” in Lumasaaba) and might not make it to heaven!
Cha bulayi, Baba! May the African people bless the late Chango Macho Boloki w’Obanda in his eternal rest.
Mr Mafabi is the Private Secretary/Political Affairs - State House. firstname.lastname@example.org