Acting on the stage is very demanding. A film sequence can be shot several times until the actors get it right. The stage offers no second takes.
Sometimes an actor exploding in quarrelsome anger laughs, if he is excessively conscious that he and his adversary are wonderful friends who are merely acting. Then he has to cleverly hide and tense his face to choke that laughter to save the performance.
A live television performance also provides no opportunity for second takes. Rebroadcasts, of course, can be tinkered with.
I listened to President Museveni’s June 4 State-of-the-Nation Address on radio. So I do not know whether his television audience saw (or didn’t see) Museveni suppressing a burst of laughter as he lambasted the ‘parasites’ who plunder Uganda’s public resources.
Other people call them Mafiosi.
I usually call them vampires. But ‘parasites’ is almost as good. The point is that the President was like kicking cans around State House and his fury was boiling and boiling in a drama that could have sent him squeezing a bomb of laughter in his palm.
Some citizens, endowed with unfathomable charity and humility, buy all sorts of stories; like this one: After 35 years in power, Mr Museveni has become completely exhausted by his war dance with Uganda’s unrepentant parasites. According to his script, the next scene is his creation of hell. There, he will banish them. There, presumably, they will be incinerated.
You can see how Museveni slides from reality by imitating God. Other rulers use prisons, property confiscation, electric chairs, lethal injections and firing squads. Museveni wants to invent hell; a vaguely defined filmy region of horror where human correction and divine grace are no longer relevant.
But the parasites are mostly his Bush War comrades, his broad family members, his political party and business associates, his friends, plus all sorts of high government officials and hangers-on he admitted at the high table.
He is the State; the host onto whose bark and (back) they cling. Does he truly want them – can he even have his beloved enemies – incinerated without charring himself?
Many, many years ago, when graft by ruling circle financial engineers rotated around crudely obvious crookedness like fixing junk military helicopter and privatisation deals; in the days of those brave commissions of inquiry; and when there were still at least half a million Ugandans who believed that the NRM government could redeem itself from corruption, a stressed President Museveni once reportedly shoved the pressure by asking whether he should kill his brother.
Put differently, ought rulers to kill their kin for the sake of ending corruption?
The President was right. That is one reason why societies cleanse and renew themselves by periodically changing their rulers. Unfortunately, it is something Mr Museveni understood better in 1986 than in 2020.
When, therefore, the President speaks of his exhaustion with Uganda’s parasites and condemns them to hell, after we have agreed that he is right not to kill them, I can see only one natural course of action.
From Museveni’s own wailing, the parasites seem able to infiltrate virtually every key activity of his government. So they can shape their hell. Great gangsters sometimes customise their prison space.
Since hell as a concept is a vaguely defined furnace of the distant future, the parasites can design their new environment and issue the tender for its construction! Before the President officially upgrades them to ‘vampires’ in his 2025 address-to-the-nation drama, they could actually turn their punishment into a very lucrative enterprise.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.