Caption for the landscape image:

Maid who drinks baby’s milk; and black cow that eats green grass and gives white milk

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Author: Gawaya Tegulle. PHOTO/NMG

Hey, hold your horses! This columnist…he ain’t no good at matters scientific. At O-Level, he was all topsy-turvy at the simple mathematics exam he sat. Boy failed to work out basic sums. Besides, at 53, he really is an old timer, (whose pals in Texas would call an “Ol’ Timer” or a “Good Ole Timer”) with imperfect eyesight. 

King Solomon said, “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity and the rich sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth”. 

This Ol’ Timer has seen a maid who drinks the baby’s milk with a clear conscience. While the baby is forever crying and growing thinner, and struggling with every little flu that hits the village, the maid is bustling with good health, is a happy camper and thankful to God for life, friends and family. 

This Good Ole Timer has seen the State grow poorer as leaders grow richer. People who came to power with nothing, suddenly own just about everything, even with no trace of business acumen.

These aging eyes have witnessed the State steadily, systematically and shamelessly stripped of its assets; with certificates of title to known State properties turning up in the names of leaders, or their children, wives and girlfriends.

And to rub salt into the wound, the citizen who wakes up early every morning to work hard, is required to pay billions in “compensation” to the grabbers, before they can give back the properties. 

Leaders have houses large and luxurious while State institutions – take schools, health centres and offices – look like abandoned maize mills. 

Folly is set in great dignity: chicken thieves are carted off to jail while those who loot State properties sip fortified wines in luxury hotels. Those who work hard go to bed hungry, while lazy-do-nothings walk about on full belly all day. Many of the most capable are jobless while the mediocre but most connected change jobs more regularly than they service their cars.

This Ol’ Timer has seen known looters of State properties take to the podium to lecture our young people on being revolutionary and patriotic… to love nation above self. Dictators are giving lectures on democracy. Tyrants address large audiences on respect for human rights. Beneficiaries of illegal and unconscionable State patronage give motivational speeches on entrepreneurship. 

But there’s a chance this here Ol’ Timer is seeing wrong and needs new specs; so forget it!

This Ol’ Timer has seen Tanzania use just $60 million to build a state-of-the art hospital to offer advanced treatment to its citizens; while Uganda has spent nearly seven times that on a similar project, which, years later, remains a phantom. But then again, these are complex sums and this Ol’ Timer failed mathematics; so, let’s forget it.

This Good Ole Timer has seen Kenya and Tanzania, in a matter of years, with leaders who lead for just five or 10 years and step aside, build train stations that are far better than Uganda’s airports, and unleash ultra-modern trains. On its part, Uganda’s leaders who have been here nearly 40 years, are still gambling comically, to get things right. Uganda still relies on the railway built by the British in 1896. At least 80 percent of it has since been stolen and smelted away in steel mills. The locomotives in use are older than this Old Timer. When government bought new ones, they couldn’t fit on the railway. 

This Good Ole Timer has seen a black cow eat green grass and somehow give white milk! Leaders lose elections and still get sworn into office.

Some leaders perform so well that at many polling stations, the number of votes they get exceeds the total number of voters. There have been polling stations where a popular leader scores 100 percent: all registered voters in that locale, even those long dead, and others frozen in coma, in hospital, turned up to vote. 

Nothing adds up around these parts anymore. Folly is set in great dignity; slaves are on horseback, while noble men walk. A black cow is eating green grass and giving white milk. But hey, hold your horses; this Ol’ Timer ain’t no scientist.

Mr Gawaya Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda, [email protected]