Of Tamale Mirundi’s fury, these UPE teachers, and a future of goats
Posted Sunday, September 22 2013 at 01:00
But if, after investing in their PhDs, university dons are mockingly advised to rear goats, why not put the nation on that track much earlier? Eliminate the lower teachers and get the children young. Like it was before the Europeans brought their schools here, teach the kids to herd the professors’ goats.
On Monday evening, September 9, Top Radio’s Stephen Dunstan Busulwa was hosting President Museveni’s spokesman, Mr Tamale Mirundi.
Shortly before 9pm, the host invited questions to Mirundi by phone. The callers are usually the same, saying almost the same things. And Mirundi is always ramming it down everybody’s throat that he is a rich man and an intellectual; probably because he is fighting a deep-seated inferiority complex and is (unconsciously) afraid that his gifts and social status may not be self-evident.
So, after one or two callers, the “intellectual” got a comment or a question from someone he knew and apparently absolutely hated. His response was instant and even by Mirundi’s standards utterly horrifying. As if possessed by the wrath of a thousand demons, Mirundi raged. He ranted. He attacked the man’s person and ripped through everything he had. He tore through the abject poverty of the man and the whole of his cursed family line. He stripped and humiliated him and even his wife, lumping them as pimps.
When he was done, he grunted with the most appalling satisfaction. I bowed my head. In the most depraved of slums, the ferocity and the vulgarity of the attack would have still shocked, and it was totally unacceptable on air.
Proceeding like a withered vegetable, Top Radio’s Stephen Busulwa neither has the resoluteness nor the fire power to handle a monster of this scale. But I thought of the listeners out there, some very young, who were imbibing this exhibition as the way human beings exchange ideas with each other.
Those thoughts returned this week as the President’s spokesman lambasted MP Joseph Sewungu on a different radio station on Tuesday evening. Sewungu’s crime is vocally supporting the teachers’ strike for better pay. With characteristic savagery, Mirundi visualised a heroic moment when a mob would hunt down Sewungu, drag him by his belt and beat him up until his teeth started falling out! For many other opposition politicians, the President’s spokesman has openly called for mob lynchings.
Is this hatred, this violence nothing more than antics in the theatre of the obscene; or can it by its relentless repetition grow into an Intarahamwe-like poison in our social fabric? Mirundi claims there are admirers who have approached him and want their children to be like him. But what if his little disciples turn against the new forms of fascism and its upper classes?
The previous day, Radio Simba reporters had visited various schools. At Kitante Primary School, all the kids whose voices were broadcast sided with their teachers. But one of the children interviewed stood out by vowing: “Bajje tubakube!” – “Let them come; we will beat them up.”
The interviewer was audibly taken aback: “Baani?” – Who was the boy talking of beating up?
“The government people”, the boy sharply replied.
An Intarahamwe or tomorrow’s liberator?
In the intimidation, pedestrian insights are sold as profound intellect. Mirundi castigates Sewungu for supporting the current strike when he (Sewungu) was teaching at Shimoni.
Yes, he didn’t. But society is always in flux. The socio-economic and political conditions are different; the gap between the privileged and have-nots was not so wide; the privileged were not as arrogant as they are now; and perhaps the credibility of President Museveni’s regime had not yet depreciated so much.
There were more people who still hoped that he would make good on his promises. Furthermore, the teachers’ association has different leaders.
Asking Sewungu why he did not go on strike at Shimoni is akin to asking Museveni why he served President Obote up to 1971.
And where is the money? It vanishes by design. Every year comes with its grand thefts, grand wastage, presidential extravagance and the cost of the instruments of repression; the cumulative effect of poor governance. But if, after investing in their PhDs, university dons are mockingly advised to rear goats, why not put the nation on that track much earlier? Eliminate the lower teachers and get the children young.
Like it was before the Europeans brought their schools here, teach the kids to herd the professors’ goats.
Alan Tacca is a novelist and socio-political commentator. firstname.lastname@example.org