Bantariza’s guns, Elwelu’s god and me for Salim Uhuru’s pilau

Saturday December 7 2019


By Asuman Bisiika

For his celebrity status as specialist pilau chef, Mr Salim Uhuru’s face is familiar with Kampalans (even former Kampalans like me). Mr Salim Uhuru is also the NRM chairperson (or some such title) for Kampala District. Mr Uhuru is a big man.
In 2010, I bumped into Mr Uhuru on Namirembe Road. Even in that short time of an accidental encounter of strangers, I told him my mother would make better pilau than him. Typical of an easy city guy, he shot back: I would take a cooking challenge with you. Not your mother. The joke was on me. My mother had died in January 2008.
On Friday, November 29, 2019, I bumped into Mr Uhuru at Hotel Africana. We greeted as if we had known each other for a long time. And I ribbed him: If you want to meet [Catherine] Kusasira, you go through me. He burst into laughter. ‘But I don’t need to meet Kusasaira,’ he said after recovering from his laughter seizure.

On the evening of Thursday, April 14, 2016, I found myself in the company of Mr Mike Mukula and Brig Peter Elwelu (yes, that one. He is now a Lieutenant General). We were on the terrace of Mountains of The Moon in Fort Portal talking in the Rwenzori Region.
In December 2016, a Mukonzo tribesman like me not to even mention that such a meeting ever happened. Now, I recently heard that Lt Gen Elwelu ‘launched’ a church in his home area (do we need a lifestyle audit?). Mr Museveni bore witness of the church launch as the chief guest. Amina Enene.

Col Shaban Bantariza’s recent remarks on political power have attracted public outrage. An old friend described the remarks thus: ‘An explicit act of an unwarranted manifest of arrogance’.
Even as I rule Col Bantariza out of order, I invite you dear readers to view Bantariza’s three guns, Lt Gen Elwelu’s god and Salim Uhuru’s pilau cooking challenge with Kusasira (sorry with Asuman Bisiika) in the prism of the NRM’s (and Mr Museveni’s) political attitude.
Kusasira’s interests lie exclusively with Mr Museveni; Not government, not NRM. One wouldn’t mind that. But Kusasira’s lack of appreciation that NRM is the political vehicle Mr Museveni uses to lead the government is unsettling to say the least.
Even more unsettling is Col Bantariza’s fall into the ‘Kusasaira Folly’ by speaking as if his three guns don’t fall under a trusteeship mandate of the citizens. What contradiction do we educe from the manifest of a UPDF service general seeking refuge in God (as a community service to his people) and an off-roll (actually off-role) UPDF colonel hiding behind the façade of gun power?
Is the contradiction resident in the audiences? Lt Gen Elwelu was with his people in Teso and had to use soft power while Col Bantariza was with people to whom he was compelled to posture as a powerful gun-power holder? Where does that leave the UPDF as the principal proprietary title holder of gun-power?
Naturally, I have problems with guns. I hate guns. Ditto: For people whose only sense of power resides in gun-power. I deprecate people who feel big or clever because they are in the intelligence community or carry guns. I know that 90 per cent of classified information is about protection and obfuscation of actions (some of which border on crime). #Byakiyaye.
I am a simple man. While Col Bantariza condescends to the citizens and Lt Gen Elwelu seeks refuge in the divine, my only need is a peaceful environment where I can challenge Mr Uhuru to a pilau cooking match. Peace!

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.