What Uganda @51 celebrations tell us about where we are heading
Posted Tuesday, October 15 2013 at 01:00
When former FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye walked out of the 51st Independence Day celebrations in Rukungiri, I posted both on my Facebook wall and twitter handle (@NICHOLASSENGOBA) that his behaviour was ‘unfortunate.’
I was taken aback by the number of angry comments I got from people who wanted to know what was unfortunate about Besigye’s behaviour. Some said people with my kind of ‘elitist’ attitude were the reason why Uganda was in dire straits and had a bleak future.
My humble thinking was that Besigye as a person aspiring to lead this country should have shown restraint, tolerance, patience and resilience. Reading the comments and many others, I now know better.
After 27 years of Museveni in power, most Ugandans have now given up on the notion that this is a normal country with normal processes. As they say, if you act normally in an abnormal situation, then you are abnormal.
Very many people empathise with Besigye because they think it is no longer necessary to be civil. They have seen flawed elections that will never bring about change because they are unfair from the world go. They have seen the courts of law padded with NRM party cadres so they do not expect serious justice coming out of these so-called temples.
Many Ugandans now think you need to be physical and martial to contend with Museveni. They think to remove Museveni from the political scene will not take debates and reason, but the Bismarkian ‘blood and iron.’
Like one market vendor in Kamwokya said, Besigye ya sobola Museveni kubanga amanyi okubogola (Besigye is the only one who can manage Museveni because he also knows how to bark!)
Secondly, as a response to Museveni’s 27 years in power, one of the easiest means to quick success is to accept the reality that Museveni is now the State and the State is Museveni. As such the Uganda of the future will not be a merit-based society. To move up the ladder you need to humiliate yourself and close your eyes to reality. You must accept to be part of a growing species of court jesters and praise singers to serve two purposes.
First to nurse Museveni’s ego and make him appear as the best thing that has happened since sliced bread. Secondly to deride his opponents and make them look irrelevant and no match for Museveni.
To make it into this class, you do not have to be very competent. The Uganda of the future will have many survivors and political-economic-social climbers like those you see turning national events like Independence Day celebration into NRM party matters.
In any country, you put forward that best on important days and events. If it is the World Cup, Germany will put forward Franz Beckenbauer. At our Independence Day celebrations and most national days, we put forward as MC’s good people who are almost average and slightly ridiculous. Their only qualification is their ability to deride the President’s opponents by casting aspersions, making infantile and asinine remarks. They end up looking like apprentice clowns making their debut as comedians trying (but miserably failing) to spice up a tragedy.
This side of things has seen this country degenerating into a farce. Most of our debates are right out the gutter. On the one hand you have Museveni the stoic cotter pin and Besigye the mighty hammer ready to knock him out. Museveni’s group does not seriously offer his opponents a high intellectual platform on which to debate matters that affect the future and wellbeing of this county. His opponents in turn gladly take up this opportunity and delve deep into the gutter to meet the Musevenis and ‘debate’ with them!
The thoughts of violence and the lack of merit will only deliver us a country that is full of cynical bitter people. The ones who feel left out of the system will be on one side. The pretenders who camouflage to fit into the system to have a piece of the pie but do not necessarily have this country at heart will be on the other.
There are no two ways about the system Museveni has bequeathed to Uganda. If it is not changed or done away with then we should prepare ourselves for an uncomfortable future.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues.