Plan for a Machiavelli Christmas holiday

What you need to know:

You will be judged by your company

Machiavelli was a Spanish official who served in the government under the Medici in Florence. He lost his job when colonialists were deposed by the French

Niccolo Machiavelli’s ordinariness and small offerings to the literary world  reveals the staying power of his work in a book so small that if books were judged by their size it would not be read at all. But the book The Prince still holds its place since the sixteenth century. It is loved and also hated, perhaps because it speaks the truth and truth tends to hurt.

Machiavelli was a Spanish official who served in the government under the Medici in Florence. He lost his job when colonialists were deposed by the French. He authored The Prince with the aim of currying favour with the new regime and probably get his position back but, he died before realising his plan.

The book  which was intended to guide  the new ruler about how he could subjugate his subjects ruffled so many feathers and was banned. It also shocked as well as amazed because a citizen was giving advice to the ruler on how to subdue his fellow citizens. But it survived and over the centuries became a favourite for statesmen and pseudo intellectuals. However, its invaluable insights can be of service to people from all walks of life.

For instance, it is a very handy resource to help us survive the holidays.


As is the custom in Uganda, this is the time of the year when urbanites go back home to spend time with family and clansmen. Either in the spirit of compensating for their absence through the year or to show that they are doing well, many tend to be overly generous to the extent of having to borrow money for transportation back to Kampala. If you are the sort that always kuddugaza emameeza thinking that people will love for your big heart, Machiavelli advises otherwise. He says “It is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings you reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for being generous to fall into debt and poverty and cause people to despise and hate you.”


The new trend in parenting, which I believe has been erroneously copied from the west is to make your children your friends and because most children are wise, when they are given an inch they take a metre. So in the end these hapless parents now must pander to their children because they do not want to be hated.

Unfortunately, their poor parenting ultimately affects society, so the countryside this feastive season will be besieged by toddlers disrupting our worship services by their tantrums, scantily dressed teenager girls will cause consternation in village centres and the boys’ braids will be the main event at parties.

If you are a parent failing to reign in your brood, remember it is safer to be feared than loved.There are some of us who by luck or hard work have done something for ourselves (tuyina kyetwekoledde) and therefore, find it necessary to build walls and fortresses around ourselves.

This feastive season Machiavelli reminds you that; “Fotresses,therefore are useful or not according to circumstances. If you do good in one way, they injure in another. The best fortress is not to be hated by the people because although you may hold the fortress they may not save you. Build fortresses and walls but do not be foolish enough to trust in them.”

Mind your company

Mind the company you keep during the festive season because you will be judged by it. If you are the type who finds joy in your own company, do not feel embarrassed by it. Because this is the right time to read histories of other people to learn how and why they failed or succeeded.

Use your time during the festive season wisely.