‘Tuliyambala Engule’ frenzy and how it defines political opposition

Monday January 14 2019


By Nyombi Thembo

Populism and political opportunism currently defines political Opposition world over. The whole of Europe, Latin America and Americas have populism as the major threat to democracy.

With Africa, considering our fragile democracies most of which are in formative stages, our political actors should be put on notice: Populism is slowly trying to redefine the operations of State mechanics for the worse. We have witnessed populism firing up uprisings in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Madagascar.

Liberation theology is being rewritten as we witness crumbling of mainstream liberation movements more so in Tanzania (CCM) and South Africa (ANC). South Africa, for example, is stuck in populism tumult fronted by a former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, president of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party. Malema is promising Animal Farm-like sugar-candy mountains, riding on black empowerment - a travesty that can only destroy South Africa.

Like I have urged before, the political Opposition, especially in Africa, lack ideological anchorage, thence resorting to demonising personalities in leadership. This now is being augmented by blind populism. It can only be dangerous.

Listening to the Tuliyambala Engule song, one clearly understands the real foundation of our Opposition politics. Tuliyambala Engule can literally be interpreted to mean-an era where all will be perfect, happiness, no toil, no stress, but jubilation.

The copycat song outlines the challenges facing Uganda, but directly blaming all these to the current leadership. Laughable, but to a socio-economically challenged educated youth, this can be ignition for blind political activism.


It is easy to convince unemployed youth that the long stay of [President] Museveni is the cause of their suffering. These youth may not ask themselves what happened to Uganda that changed top leadership more frequently than any other independent African country.

Before Museveni, Uganda witnessed more than six government changes - every new government would promise a better Uganda - Okwambala Engule (putting on a crown), but what we saw was Uganda being pushed into even deeper political and economic crisis. Our history is so recent for all to refer to.

How I wish our youth, who are the target of this fantasy, would ask our good Tulyambala Engule crusader these questions: How do you intend to fight corruption in Uganda? I would start with himself as an example and ask: Assuming you are the next president, can you clearly demonstrate how we can trust you to be our messiah and moral compass, given your history, which we know very well.

I would continue: When did you stop to joy in the troubles of people you do not agree with/your enemies, where I will remind the crusader when he composed a song in praise of the errant security guard who shot and injured his arch rival Beebe cool.

How am I supposed to entrust such a person with the responsibility of a Commander-in-Chief. I would continue my bother to the crusader: You have had a very successful musical career - you own a lot of property, including emperor like residences, but can you tell us who among your colleagues, especially those you sing with - backups, instrumental players, dancers - who have equally benefitted from your fat pay cheques so that we may be able to confirm that when you are president, all of us will equally benefit from your crown (engule).

I will continue to inform: Are you aware Mr Crusader that you are not the first successful musicians in Uganda. Why do you think other equally or better musicians in the days before Museveni’s rule died as paupers. Don’t you think your success, as you repeatedly tell us, from the ghetto to one of the richest persons in Uganda, suggest that Uganda is a country where hard work and talent pays irrespective of somebody’s political affiliation.

Of course since he is legislator, I will be polite not to remind him about how his gangsters had made night clubs a nightmare in Uganda via their numerous fights with “rival groups”.

I would continue: Sir, tell us your philosophy of sharing the national resources. We have a known resource envelop and our problems are known. Let us assume you have fought corruption by employing your Angelic team: Kabbaaya, Mutwe, etc. (I mention the two because, I think these are the most known loyal colleagues of our Tuliyambala Engule crusader). Tell us how you will grow this economy to make everybody happy given the resources at our disposal. Can we look at your proposed figures.

At this point, I may remind him that in Africa, examples abound where the likes of him, who thought that the overstay of certain leaders, was the cause of misery. In countries like Malawi (Kamuzu Banda), Zambia (Keneth Kaunda), Egypt (Hosni Mubarak), Libya (Muammar Gaddafi) and Zaire (Mobutu), removal of long-serving leaders (much as most of these were super dictators), only served to push these countries into deeper political and economic crisis .

Possibly our chief crusader can tell us what is happening in these countries after removing the so- called overstayed leaders so that we can confirm the hypothesis that removal of a seemingly overstayed leader leads to a country’s growth and prosperity.

Lacking originality and riding on street emotions, Tuliyambala Engule song is a perfect representation of our Opposition. You will never hear them talk about serious policy alternatives other than riding on the challenges of the time facing government.

When there happen to be some unexplained homicide, our typical Opposition will jump on that with all sorts of conspiracy theories and the next day when there is a school fire, our good friends will make this to sound like its government that has burnt the school.

I have followed our Opposition since the 1996 elections, you rarely hear them talk about policy and how to solve the problems afflicting our people. On this, Museveni and his team are politically lonely - prescribing a host of strategic approaches to solve our problems and the Opposition always at the receiving end to oppose without giving any policy alternatives.

The Opposition has created the wrong impression that “remove Museveni, then everything will correct automatically and Uganda will become a better place for all”.
Some of our young people now believe that if the political party of their choice were to be elected into power, goodies will just flow their way. My sympathies.

Mr Thembo is the chairman, Governance Plus Advisory Services