Chat time? Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi and Janet Museveni

Sunday November 29 2020
By Alan Tacca

In the wake of the horrendous violence perpetrated against unarmed citizens on November 18 and 19, we heard voices of powerful military generals applauding the grim handiwork. But mere proximity with power emboldens; for we also heard an underwear thief refer to the massacre of well over 50 innocent people as a “strong lesson”. The reckless slaughter of human beings a lesson?

Against this ugly backdrop, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) put on air an interview with Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi, wife of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, or Bobi Wine.

I was struck by Ms Itungo’s grasp of the size of the struggle against President Museveni’s rule, and by her consciousness of the victims.
Asked about the agony she and her children endured when Bobi Wine was being held incommunicado at the notorious Nalufenya police facility, she fiercely refused to position herself as an object of pity. 

She told the BBC that this struggle was not about her or her family; that there were so many people who had suffered more than her; people who had been beaten or arrested; people who had died; people who were bereaved; other Opposition presidential candidates who had not been allowed (by the security forces) to complete their campaign programmes for a single day.

In spite of her relative youth, Ms Itungo boldly talked about these issues with such clarity; it occurred to me that if she became a tenant at State House, she would be Uganda’s most articulate First Lady since Independence. Still playing with ideas, women often have a beneficial influence on men. 

So, what if the sitting First Lady, Janet Museveni, and the possible successor had a chat over tea at some location that neither exudes the menace of State House nor the ordinariness of a Kyagulanyi home.
During this conversation, Janet Museveni could reveal why Yoweri Museveni appears to believe that the presidency is his birth and lifelong right.


In turn, Itungo could throw some light on why Robert Kyagulanyi totally believes the time for change had come. The idea that Museveni had pet tasks he had to complete was delusional. There would always be pet tasks one cannot complete. 

If Museveni lacked the humility to accept this, the dictatorship of biology would force him as it methodically fashions the indignities for his old age.
Janet Museveni could then talk gently about the wisdom of old age.
Then Itungo might respond: Can people only learn from that wisdom after extra judicial street executions? 
As a woman, Janet Museveni might remember the dead and remain respectfully silent. When back at State House, she just might remark that strength without a human touch leaves leaders hated and despised.

Finally, as straight women, with straight husbands, Itungo might complain to Janet about the propaganda linking the Opposition to foreign financiers with gay interests. 
Even if there were such financiers, such is our world that the type of Western liberals who help Africans hungry for democracy are often the same that address women, children, indigenous people and Black people’s rights, climate change, the environment, (and) gay rights. 
Organisations and governments with these concerns have been benefactors to Museveni and filled huge gaps in his National Budget.

In his Bush War days, Museveni did not only get help from the eccentric sex haven, Sweden; his family actually lived there. But he did not return to Uganda with a clan of lesbians and homosexuals. 
Another cup of tea. Can the two women pledge to nudge their men into a bloodless rivalry?

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.