Letter to brother Norbert Mao

Moses Khisa

What you need to know:

I have written this letter to appeal to your conscience, to urge for a change of course, all for the good of the country.

Dear Ndugu Norbert,

Greetings from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

I would have wished to seek you out for a heart-to-heart, candid conversation. You have always been generous with your time for me when I have reached out for a chat. I’m most grateful for that.

I’m currently away in the mountains of the Western Cape trying to read, think and write, thus I’m writing to you this letter, and in a public space because the issues I would like to underline are for the public good.

In between my secluded work of the mind and ploughing on with books, I do check in on social media, namely Twitter and Facebook where for years I have maintained some modest presence and a bit of consistent engagement.

Social media, needless to say, has made our lives so fast-paced. It has eased the flow of information and democratised conversations, but the flipside is that it has enabled the flouring of misinformation and unfettered spread of toxicity.

In the past week or so, whenever I checked-in on Twitter, where I ‘follow you’, I found a flurry of tweets, some surreal, others simply shocking. I reacted to at least one, to which you replied. The details of the Twitter comments, however, shouldn’t detain me in what’s otherwise a short letter. Rather, I wish to address the larger issues and concerns.

Uganda is at dangerous political cross-roads. It has been for a while. The rule of Mr Museveni has become rusted. We have state decay and mounting social problems, a broken political system and uncertainty over what happens once Museveni is out.

Parliament that used to be a site of rigorous public debate and thoughtful discussions, when you and other able compatriots were patently competent representatives for the other, is now an absurdity, stripped of its honour and meaning. Our public service sector is in shambles.

The Judiciary, which at one point held great promise as an institutional arena for progressive government, has in recent years been fully captured by mafia forces and a ruling clique keen on maintaining a grip on power. I can go on. You know all this far better than me, Brother Norbert. I shouldn’t belabour the point. We are a country in peril.

The only problem that is worse than the incompetence and corruption of the current rulership is the enormous socioeconomic problems our country faces, particularly the hopelessness of our young compatriots.

The armies that follow Bobi Wine do not love Bobi the person but are desperate for hope for a better life. I am fully aware that you do not think highly of brother Bobi as an Opposition leader, let alone a president for the country. You quite clearly have contempt for the NUP.

You believe that NUP, as you have stated it, ‘caused a distraction’. But history is never a straight line. It’s dotted with shocks and surprises. In fact, seldom do societies get the ideal leaders they desire.

Bobi Wine’s ecumenical following cannot be casually dismissed, it has to be properly understood. The young people yearning for leadership, who crave for meaningful change, need concrete answers not merely smart arguments.

This is now a worldwide phenomenon. In Europe and North America, feeling humiliated by market forces and neglected by the mainstream political class, the underprivileged classes revolt, for example, by voting a Donald Trump never mind he does not at all belong to their class or live their lives.

We face severe strains in our national politics and a deep crisis of inspired leadership to carry the country forward. You, Brother Norbert, have a great deal of experience and the requisite wisdom to contribute to reimagining a path out of the current fog. Yet, given all the disarray and discomfiture in opposition ranks, your recent Twitter comments only add gasoline to smouldering fire.

I have written this letter to appeal to your conscience, to urge for a change of course, all for the good of the country and in the service of our people, today and tomorrow. What is acutely needed now is not how to eloquently call out the Kamwokya crew or fire-off salvos chiding the folks at Najja.

What is urgently beckoning is generating consensus, among both the opposition ranks and the rulers, on how to reimagine a new Uganda. Stoking animosity among the opposition, as you have done via Twitter, can only embolden the rulers to press on, to take the country further down the dark alleys, to humiliate, oppress, repress and impoverish Ugandans.

The masses out there are not stupid. In fact they tend to be far more sophisticated than we are willing to grant. They look at opposition duplicity and feel a deep sense of indignation and resignation. You and other opposition leaders owe it to the people.

As always, my very best wishes. Keep well.