Was Museveni blinded by his vision?
What you need to know:
- When you now refer to him and his fighters as ‘liberators’, you offend many people.
Kenyans are usually condemned to choose between a hyena and an oversized wolf, but they have conducted themselves through their protracted presidential election with some dignity.
As Kenya’s Supreme Court was resolving the country’s presidential vote, Britain’s Conservative Party was choosing prime minister Boris Johnson’s successor.
The following day, Johnson delivered his formal resignation to Her Majesty, and shortly after Ms Liz Truss reported to the same monarch to be appointed the new prime minister.
Even if the Queen did not like the elected leader, she would follow the same protocol and bless the transition.
Britain was Kenya and Uganda’s colonial master. So, it is unavoidable to compare the coincidental change of chiefs in Kenya and Britain to the uninspiring stagnation in Uganda.
Britain was not always like it is today. There were times when her monarchs ruled more or less by fiat, and when they could butcher you or lock you up for as long as they wanted; if they wanted.
Today, the monarch cannot even dare the obscenity of hinting politely which party or candidate she would wish the citizens elected.
And so robust is the system, a gritty fighter with Boris Johnson’s mouth power (the poor man could not deploy tanks or a single AK47 against his opponents) was incapable of halting the movement of colleagues abandoning his camp.
Although their recent elections have had bumps and serious disputes, most watchers agree that Kenyans have made significant progress.
Indeed, the bumps have enabled Kenya’s institutions that are responsible for maintaining law and order, the variously armed security agencies and the judiciary, to demonstrate their relative independence and general decency.
That is not a small thing, especially in a sub-region where aging former guerrillas sometimes openly brag that they cannot relinquish power just because the citizens have ticked and cast pieces of paper at funny events called elections, when those citizens have no guns.
Naturally, that brings us to Uganda, which in the 1980-1990s was thought to be guided by a brilliant vision.
Did President Museveni stare too long in his own vision and get blinded?
Is Mr Museveni, who of course is also now called Tibuhaburwa (a person who cannot be corrected, cautioned or instructed), proud of his country? Is he proud of his rule?
Is he a happy man, just because there are guns, goons and crooks deployed everywhere to keep him in power? Those are not questions for us to answer. They are for his conscience.
But, of course, he can be reminded to ponder the tragic grimness mounting around his legacy.
When Ugandans first got concerned about corruption under his rule, they used to add an exemption for him, who they said was ‘not corrupt’.
When you now refer to him and his band of fighters as ‘liberators’, you offend many people. And you have to explain that you are referring strictly to the general perception of him in the distant past.
When you call him a revolutionary, you have to show clearly that you understand two hard truths.
One: that most revolutionaries end up embracing fascism. Two: that President Museveni is also Tibuhaburwa. So he will probably learn nothing from the examples of Kenya or Britain.
On the other hand, if Kenya’s William Ruto chooses to borrow lessons from Kampala rather than from our former colonial masters, he could rapidly evolve into a dinosaur.
Mr Alan Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.