A political lesson from a child to a parent on the school run

Sunday April 14 2019

Norbert Mao

Norbert Mao 

By Norbert Mao

Last week I had a meeting with a friend. We seldom talk politics. Well, we talk politics but it rarely goes beyond the question: “How is politics?” My answer is usually standard. “Politics is tough but we are tougher.”

This time when he asked, I told him that the traffic jam caused by Museveni is paralysing any hope for a smooth political transition so we need to create a bypass - to circumvent the jam and make it irrelevant. That answer tickled him. “A bypass? What do you mean?” he asked. I reminded him of the imagery of a queue so deftly deployed by Amama Mbabazi after Kizza Besigye announced that he would challenge Museveni in the 2001 elections. Amama, long considered Museveni’s enforcer and de facto number two, only next in rank to Eriya Kategaya, accused Besigye of jumping the queue.

Anyway, he later came to realise that the highway had become a parking lot. The vehicles were not moving. The queue was static. His attempt in 2016 to disrupt the queue was instead disrupted by the incumbent. Now a bypass is key in decongesting a crowded highway. At the head of the jam is one man who has no intention of leaving office.

We continued to talk about the bypass. We changed to coronary disease. We talked about blood clots. For the human body to function normally, blood circulation must be continuous. A clot makes all that difficult. Vital organs are starved of oxygen and the entire body weak. In such cases, doctors perform a bypass surgery to allow blood flow and nullify the effects of the blood clot.

The political bypass operation is intended to bring together all who want to move forward in order to overcome the negative energy of those who don’t want to move and yet do not want to get out of the way either.

The next friend I met was more political. I asked him how he sees the political happenings around us. He didn’t talk politics but instead shared with me his conversation with his daughter on the way to school.
“Daddy, when are the next elections?”
“The next elections? They will be in 2021. Why are you interested?”
“In 2020 I will be 18 and of voting age.”
“So, who would you vote for?”
“Of course Bobi Wine.”
“He understands us.”
Then the questioning sequence changed. The daughter was now quizzing her father about his electoral choices. “So dad, who would you vote for?” she asked her father “If the choice is between Museveni and Bobi Wine I would vote for Museveni.”
“I can fairly predict what Museveni would do and would not do but I can’t say the same of Bobi Wine.”
“Aren’t there other candidates you would consider voting for besides Museveni?”
“I would consider Mugisha Muntu.”
But the young girl was not convinced that uncertainty alone is enough reason not to vote for Bobi Wine and keep Museveni in power for 40 years. The father told her that Museveni and his ruling group have money, power and guns and will not go down without a fight. This would likely plunge the country into war.
“Is there a possibility of war?” the daughter asked. “Yes.” the father replied.


He laboured to explain to the sceptical daughter that under Museveni’s rule, despite many challenges, at least he can run his farm, get a good income and continue taking care of his family and also give his daughter and her siblings a good education. The girl nodded and appeared to understand.

But the questions kept coming. “Daddy, is it true that Museveni stole the Shimoni school land and chased away the pupils?”
“Daddy, is there tribalism in Uganda?”
“Then why do people say there is no tribalism?”
“Those who say there is no tribalism do so to defend themselves against accusations of tribalism and those who say there is tribalism believe they are not getting opportunities and blame it on tribalism.”
I am sure this kind of debate will rage in many households!