Recently, I used the local word kupalappalanya; the spirited presentation of unconvincing excuses for failure.
Here is another word: okutetenkanya.
Think of Uganda’s many accident-damaged and very old cars. Mechanics in our makeshift garages are wonderful at improvisation, kutetenkanya, which somehow keeps these cars running.
Just to put together a meal, many Ugandans have to kutetenkanya.
Higher up, our rulers go far more extra miles than Liz Truss just to keep their privileged positions. They are always kutetenkanya.
State House is not exactly a garage, but, like a devoted father, President Museveni sometimes atetenkanya to help his children turn up well.
Over this thing called the ‘Muhoozi Project’, we remember how, with the President’s kutetenkanya, a young man dangling between LDU camps and army barracks materialised as a proper soldier.
After that hurdle, there was the anomaly of a minor officer being introduced as the First Son. But redemption sometimes comes from strange directions.
Perhaps after having laughed, a visiting Muammar Gaddafi (RIP) promptly transformed a something-Lieutenant into a Major.
Again, the President seized the moment. With his kutetenkanya, the young man made the journey and caught up with his rank. And his Twitter skirmishes with different entities have not stopped his rise to a four-star General.
But climbing to the presidency is trickier.
It is possible that, in the ruling NRM, the famous ‘queue’ is standing still, and Gen Muhoozi, on the side, kept moving.
It is even possible that President Museveni does not see a ‘queue’ at all, but shifting sands, in which so many foxes and scorpions come with different challenges, keeping him preoccupied with his own survival game.
From that perspective, Muhoozi may look like a tiger attempting to jump and ride on its own back.
He is not short of flatterers, who, without exception, are opportunists, understandably kutetenkanya for him a ‘vision’.
But parasites can also help. In kutetenkanya his vision and overall image, why doesn’t ‘Team Muhoozi’ try something outside the box?
Clearly, birthday party cycles and other baited crowd-pulling arrangements nauseate many thoughtful Ugandans. Their extravagance evokes words like ‘decadence’, and ‘superficiality’.
Since President Museveni has already kutetenkanya the attribute of ‘pan-Africanist’ for Gen Muhoozi, why not build on that?
Most pan-Africanists do not become presidents, or even government ministers.
My impression is that they are doctrinaire fantasy-pedlars, nomads looking for conferences to appear useful.
Gen Muhoozi can become a truly useful pan-Africanist. Yes, by actually feeding Somalis!
The stories of hunger in Somalia are harrowing. Many of Africa’s traditional Western benefactors have added the cost of fighting Russian barbarism to their post-Corona economic woes. They have very little money to spare.
Look. The extended Museveni/Muhoozi network of kith and kin can donate thousands of cows without feeling much herd depletion. Then Muhoozi can mobilise for more donations; as his father did for the Covid-19 lockdown.
Forget all this stuff about Kenya, Rwanda and East Africa.
William Ruto is still too excited to see properly the waters he is navigating.
And Paul Kagame is too complex a person to be understood by just his smiles. He remembers what we all remember, that a man must know his friend. But he also remembers the Shakespearean line we often forget, that a man must know his enemy. And potential enemy.
Meanwhile, East Africa’s political federation is at least 48 years away. That is why, as kutetenkanya, Gen Muhoozi may be served well if his team reconstructs him as a saviour of hungry Africans, replacing the dreamer of Putinesque military conquests.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.