What you need to know:
- It was only last weekend that he tried to distance himself from some of his abusive supporters.
The death and burial of Jacob Oulanyah were but a culmination of a series of dramatic events that started with an article published in the pages of The Observer stating that President Museveni had ordered a probe into the likelihood that Oulanyah had been poisoned! Even the most careful reading of the article, however, does not reveal much as it relies mainly on unnamed sources in security circles.
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Then came the report of the Uganda Airlines flight that took Oulanyah to Seattle’s University of Washington Medical Centre, via Reykjavik, Iceland. With Oulanyah hospitalised, a group of protestors who identified themselves with the National Unity Party (NUP) demonstrated outside the hospital telling Oulanyah to go back to Uganda and get treatment there. They taunted him about a speech he had made comparing President Museveni’s sacrifice to that of Jesus. “What are you doing in America? Go back to your Jesus!” they howled.
Many of us took to whatever media we could find to defend Oulanyah’s rights to medical referral abroad and to be transported by the fastest possible means. I even published the details of parliamentary medical insurance scheme which entitles each MP and five other family members and dependants to medical treatment at government expense. The insurance scheme even covers things like fumigation!
The exchanges became very heated and even the Chief Justice, a man usually measured in his words, described the Kabaka of Buganda in a language he later found fit to withdraw and apologise for.
That gesture culminated into a meeting at the seat of the Buganda Kingdom government where he was received by Buganda’s Katikkiro (prime minister).
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The other things the Chief Justice said were a warning based on the experience of the people of Acholiland. Apart from his apology, which preceded his visit to the Katikkiro, he cautioned fair minded people from Buganda against looking the other way when errant and misguided people from their community do uncouth things such as demonstrating against a man fighting for his life in a foreign hospital.
He referred to the stigma and collective guilt heaped on the Acholi people for looking the other way when our children committed atrocities and returned home with looted property. “One day, you will have a highly qualified, competent and credible presidential candidate and you will fail to sell him or her because people will be remembering the protestors who behaved like witches in Seattle!” he warned.
Not to be outdone, the NUP leader fresh from a trip to Switzerland, attempted to do some damage control. He certainly had some boxes to tick.
Like the Chief Justice, he went to meet the prime minister of the Acholi Traditional Institution. He also called on Archbishop Odama and attended Palm Sunday at Holy Rosary Church in Gulu. He then went to condole with Oulanyah’s father in Lalogi.
The comic drama of his encounter with the bereaved father has been the subject of much commentary.
Cartoonists have fallen over each other about the poor goat that was rejected by the bereaved father. NUP leader’s local handlers, their high profiles notwithstanding, were also at the receiving end of some rough language from the old man.
All the circus would have been avoided if the NUP leader had started with a public apology distancing himself from the night dancers of Seattle. Even when he was challenged to apologise for the ill-timed and ill-advised behaviour of his supporters, he did not rise to the occasion.
It was only last weekend that he tried to distance himself from some of his most intolerant and abusive supporters. Still he did last what he should have done first. A poor attempt at copying the Chief Justice. Many times the order of doing things matter.
Reminds me of a curious simian that saw a man enter a doorless outhouse. The man lowered his trousers and did his thing then proceeded to clean himself with tissues. When the man left, the simian entered the outhouse but, not remembering the order or rationale of things, it grabbed some tissues, wiped its rear end and proceeded to empty its bowels. It then swaggered away priding itself on having achieved something.
Next week I’ll write about the birthday boy who is well known without being known well and the choppy waters he has jumped in.