Kamuli and the TV aerials that vote Museveni

Sunday November 10 2019


By Jacobs Seaman Odongo

A sachet of salt and a bar of soap might pass for the most basic of basic necessities, but it has kept some generals who need no polishing in office for longer than they swore they would hang around.
Salt and soap are so endearing to most peasant voters across the country that the recent addition of hoes into the electoral bribery value chain might not do much to turn the tables on the traditional medium of vote exchange.

Yes, hoes. Jembe. Not Patrick Ho and his gift envelopes worth some good billions of shillings. There were efforts to distribute a lot of hoes in 2016, and there should be more come 2021 but salt and soap will surely maintain their place at the table of ballot.
The other days I was in Kamuli and asked a friend what he made of Full Figure and Buchaman visiting the Mecca of Political Defection and he said: “Even goats would eat the meat in State House.”

He was serious. He didn’t blink as he turned his attention to drag a 20-metre eucalyptus stem pole he was to using for erecting a TV antennae or “aerial.”
In Kamuli, like in many countryside townships, the avalanches of aerials sticking high on the rooftop of homes could make for a tourist attraction in its own. And I am talking about Kamuli Town itself, not the deeper ends of the villages.

Those who have fully “arrived” to the middle-income status avoid the trouble of sticking up aerials by installing satellite dishes. And these are equally many. In many ways, it is the 80s and early 90s fad.
Any politician wishing to contest in Kamuli and other areas in the countryside had better not talked about bringing better satellite reception for digital TVs and telecoms if voted into office. The people want to be seen to also belong to a class. No voter sticks salt and soap on their rooftops.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, erecting aerials on rooftops was the ultimate thing. They advertised the class of the homestead, announced to whoever was outside that “here is a home well enough to watch Precious Wilson’s ‘We are on the race track’ on UTV Music Parade and PJ Powers on Music Africa Show.
And turns out that since 1986, there are Ugandans still living in that NRA era of aerials. Where folks in Jinja enjoy the ultimate viewership experience by simply hanging antennae in their living rooms, there are those forced by circumstances to advertise their middle-income status by erecting long poles over the roofs.

“How will passersby know that Mr Kafuuko’s household owns a TV set if there is no aerial or dish sticking on the rooftop?” Kasadha asked me when I suggested the people could just demand for better satellite for digital TV.
Indeed, with streets the size of a bicycle lane in some parts of this world neatly tarmacked instead of expanding them into larger ones for the future, the peasants in this part of the country will ask for more aerials and less soap and salt come 2021.


Those touristic things can best showcase our middle-income status. Let’s always take more visiting foreign MPs to places like Kamuli to see aerials instead of confining them to Kampala where they can run into SSP Rashid Agero exhibiting why we shouldn’t drink and work.
Imagine World Bank officials visit to assess our middle-income status in January and we took them to Kamuli or one of those districts with tarmacked footpaths for roads. They would see those many aerials on the rooftops and sign off our status.