Daily Prompt: Believe

via Daily Prompt: Believe

What Happened To Uganda, The Country We Were All Proud Of?

The early 2000’s to which most of my age-mates and I gain our political knowledge were great times to grow up into.

The economy was stable, the doughnuts and food were cheap and sizable, education was cheap, we attended  public school thanks to a government that loved us, got to pay less than $10 dollars a term for quality education, electricity was cheap and seldom on leave.

We were really the pearl of Africa and there was promise for more glory

There were few cases of nepotism, we trusted our government and didn’t scrutinize government programs even though some sounded dubious, we sat through tiresome census exercises, went willingly for immunization, as far as the people were concerned, the opposition were a bunch of losers.

As kids  we endorsed government programs without actually understanding them-such was the trust we had for our leaders, anyone who critiqued our “Museveni” became an automatic enemy.

Every helicopter that passed in the skies was “Museveni” and we rewarded to the fading airplanes in the airspace’s with the humble yet noble gift of our voices singing “Amba Museveni” a praise and worship song dedicated to our leader that was no where within the acceptable values of entertaining  but we didn’t mind, we sang along out of sheer devotion to our President.

When in mid 2004 word came out that one of those public school we loved so much (Shimoni Demonstration School ) was going to be sold to an investor we rallied behind our president rubbishing the report as false and watched with disinterest as our parents suddenly became increasingly exasperated with the government.

Ours was not a rationale belief in what facts were available but rather a passionate hero worship of a man we had been told brought peace and stability by waging war on dictatorship and even though in the northern part of the country, a deranged general maimed the lips of his own kinsmen while claiming he was fighting to liberate them we held onto hope and believed in our president.

When a young member of parliament from Kampala Central dashed forward amidst criticism and stood by our parents protesting the sell of our beloved Shimoni, I finally came to terms with the fact that the government had sold our school and I had been betrayed as a child.

I grew sympathetic with the Member of parliament and actually liked him, I didn’t think that throughout his entire political existence it would be a fundraising ceremony for sympathy.

More than ten years past, with an ailing economy, a jobless youth that would rather commit crime than work, an abusive police force that that rewards hooliganism and kidnaps children for the crimes of their parents, and a legislature dominated by greedy individuals representing themselves in parliament and the government still celebrates to the victories of the early 2000s, it is then safe to ask what independence are we celebrating?

to be continued

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Murder She Thought

You say you love but I don’t believe you,
you’ve never showed me any affection,
most of your jokes suck, but this one is really funny,
you say you’re proud of me, but you’re an actor,
i ain’t tripping over you’re latest scene.

You reach out to me, with wide open arms,
want to hug, am scared you might stab me,
in the back on my big day
but since there are people here, let’s pretend;
like its always been rosy between us,
like you haven’t spent hours,
hoping I would get knocked up,
attract the attentions of Aids & syphilis,
and bleed out while in labour,
and die with my little bastard.

My friends are home for the first time,
they are shocked, you smile at them,
act nice, they start to think that,
I just didn’t like em enough to invite em home

You’re asked to give a speech,
so you tell them how you groomed me,
a tear escapes your eyes, you stare at the crowd,
so that they can all see it,
my guests marvel at the love you have for me.

I’m crying, I feel disgusted, stabbed in the back,
my memory won’t let me be, it drifts afar;
to those mornings when I had to dig before school,
the beatings i took for late coming,
the great textbooks you never bought me,
your nice hand bags from Dior and Givenchy,
you let me admire with my eyes without care that;
the Coca Cola bag you gave me 6 years ago wore out.

Another memory, am filing my nails,
you’re banging on the door, calling me a thief;
just cause you can’t find your new hair pins,
the neighbors hear you, they are disgusted with me,
mama Lozi swears she will burn my thieving hands,
if ever she sees me talk to her daughter,
who isn’t even my friend, am humiliated.

The year is 2006, you’ve invited the preacher home,
am excited, until i actually meet him then,
he calls me a fornicator and whore,
says hell is mine for the taking,
slaps my forehead looking for demons
asks me to apologize to you for being a sinner,
am humiliated, the man of God just booked me,
a VIP ticket at the front seat of Lucifer’s den.

I’m out of tears, but you’re speech goes on,
you talk of responsible parenting.
Am scared, but for the first time,
am not scared on my behalf, am scared I might stab you in full view everyone.

A semblance of humanity stil exists:

Yesterday i sat in a Najjera bound taxi and experienced one of those joyful moments for society where you just open up your mouth and sing the national anthem in pride ad regard for your country.

I was heading on my way home at around 4;00pm after a fruitful discussion with a potential business partner and then as we stop at a taxi stage in Ntinda for a passenger refill, our taxi conductor notices a young pupil of about seven, clad in a semi-white shirt and faded khaki shorts that his school called uniform.

So he calls the child of and addresses him to the irritation of passengers who are in a rush to get home. He asks the child where he wants to go, then the child informs him that he’s on his way back home to Kiira but he’s lost his money.

Conductor then commands us to squeeze ourselves abit and to the discomfort of his passengers who are paying the fare, sets the boy up in a comfy spot and when a sulky woman tries to complain he rudely replies that she can walk out if she likes but he’s not leaving a coinless seven year old on a street about six kilometres away from his home.

So the woman sat still, the conductor basked in his new found victory while he gained the admiration of me and other passengers, guess a semblance of humanity still exists.

Is the Ugandan Media too Negative in its Portrayal of the Country?

Last year I had the unique privilege of attending the Media and government meeting on security that happened on the 16th May at Office of the president called for by then minister of Security Gen Henry Tumukunde to craft an amicable working relationship with the fourth estate. It didn’t take the then minister of security long to outline the importance of the media in Uganda.

“The press is second in command In security” he said. “we both trade in the same business which is information” .

The meeting was heated as media and state pinpointed out flaws about each other; while the media raised complaints over state brutality, and accused the govt of hiding info in their possession forcing the media to speculate, the narrative of state actors was that the media chaps reported way too much negative news which was not good for the image of the country, since we were trying to attract tourists to our country.

“We are promoting Uganda as a tourism and investment destination. Negative stories damage this effort”. These were the words of Moses Watasa, a commissioner with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)

Lydia Wanyoto the leader of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM )women’s league and also a regular panelist on radio program “Capital gang” has on occasion accused the media of “alarmism” and creating alot of undue panic among the public.

As much as I agree with Watasa that we need to promote Uganda as a tourist destination and negative stories injure that attempt, I don’t buy the point consistently made by Wanyoto and possibly ten other prominent government spokespeople who accuse the media of creating panic by reporting negative stories.

I agree, the influx of negative (toxic) stories has been high on media of late but it’s not the media to blame. In less than two months the following events, (not organized in their chronology) have happened and the media in my biased opinion had nothing to do with them.

– Yasin Kawuma, driver to MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was shot dead,
– Thirty three (33) people arrested in connection with stoning president’s motorcade and detained for days.
– Bobi Wine and Zaake tortured to the extreme.
– Journalists Akena and Mujunga beaten while doing their job. (army caught on video commuting torture)

– President claims veteran photojournalist Akena was beaten because the army thought he was a camera thief.
– Tortured women showed up at court and bled from their private parts while appearing in court.
Rachel Ayebazibwa, finalist student at Kyambogo University dies a week after being shot by a stray bullet.
– Soldier caught on camera shooting wildly in public.
– Unconscious Zaake dumped outside Rubaga hospital and later accused by President Museveni of escaping from lawful custody.
-Eddie Mutwe, a friend to Bobi Wine arrested and detained on allegations of treason
– Maverick cop ASP Mohammad Kirumira gunned down in company of his friend Resty Nalinya.
– Army: We don’t torture like that. Instead of we don’t torture.
– Bank of Uganda (BOU) admits that we lost 627bn after implementing mobile money tax but still goes ahead to uphold tax.
– Mps’ parents to get medical insurance cover.
– Member of Parliament Zaake still fighting for his life.
– AG releases report showing that Bank of Uganda blew 478bn in Crane Bank takeover and Mutebile and CO still has best job security in Africa
– Speaker wants commander of Fisheries Protection Uni, Col James Nuwagaba arrested for torture on island villages.

We recognize that the government isn’t perfect though we also wonder how the government spokespeople, cheerleaders and spin-masters expected the media to overlook all these events mostly orchestrated by security organs and report the good and positive that that has happened, credit to the mighty NRM government that liberated have from tyranny.

The achievements or rather positive news that has made it to our airwaves and digital platforms is quite sizable too:

* Mulago Neonatal, a specialized women’s hospital was opened up a week ago with the capacity to house 450 beds and top notch services for both VIP and ordinary citizens.
* Kabaka, titular head of the Baganda tribe, a symbol of cultural tourism marks a silver jubilee.
* Four (4) Ugandans that include Humphrey Nabimanya, Brian Mutebi, Kevin Lubega and Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Win named in the list of most influential Africans.
* Musician BebeCool and his President Museveni join hands and voices to send 5 patients in need for surgery abroad for treatment.
* Three thousand (3000) seater netball facility is operational and impressive, it just made its debut in exclusive fashion with Uganda winning the world netball Universities championships.
* Story of Mbabazi,21 year old Ugandan girl who lays bricks to pay her own tuition and support her family goes viral.
* SheCranes went as to the Semi Finals of COSAFA.
* Installation of cameras around Kampala underway.
* 185MW Isimba dam project and Karuma 600KW near completion.
* Joy Doreen, a UGANDAN named as one of most influential business journalists in Africa.
* Atiak sugarcane factory launched.
* Uganda still has more than half of the world’s largest Gorilla population 54%- big opportunity for tourism.
* The guy that called us the Pearl of Africa (Winston Churchill) is still dead so there’s no chance of him retracting his statement, we are SAFE and are still one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations.

But for all these achievements and their magnitude I like to think that philosopher Aristotle’s view that “Man is a political animal” is still relevant, people will choose to ignore the cool stuff the government wants them to see and consume and opt for news on politics.

SOLUTION, stop looking for a scapegoat among the media to blame for your vast flaws, apologize to the country, do better clean up security and politics, resist all attempts at battering people and journalists will have nothing negative to report about.

“Security agencies, when you make a mistake own up, apologize, don’t keep suspects after finding out that you’ve a wrong person” Gen Henry Tumukunde.

Love you my man!!

He made it home a little after two, in the morning
the familiar stench of waragi on his breath,
“I love you my Man” he shouts patting my chest,
And stretching out every syllable of the sentence
he’s too zonked to remember my name,
but I don’t mind, I know he means it,
same way I know he’ll take a cold bath in the morning,
make peace with his hangover,
and be a great father to us all.

I know he’ll wag his finger at me and siblings,
“stay away from the tripple B’s”, he’ll say.
Then he’ll order us all to recite the mantra,
And we’ll all add our names to the oath,
promise to avoid booze, babes & betting.
I know I love him too, but I can say it right now.

He’s in a rather bad mood today,
I reckon his gambling didn’t go well,
I have to choose my words carefully;
lest I’ll get a beating for an inexistent offense,
He heads to the table, uncovers a dish;
fried cow peas stare back at him,
he ignores the food, staggers into his bedroom;
mama is snoring like the “snoring General”,
he likes to call her behind her back.

But she doesn’t sleep for long,
she tries to keep it low but I hear her,
reprimand him for seeing other women,
he barks at her, angry and as disgusted,
he probably slaps her, there’s a struggle,
I hear her weak feeble sobs, she’s not asking for mercy,
I can hear her beg him to keep it low,
“kids are sleeping”, she reminds him
but today he won’t hear her out.

I check on my siblings; Adrian and Pascal,
as always they are sleeping to through it all,
Am waiting for my license to sleep;
but the loud drunken laughter,
that signals that he’s apologized,
and she’s forgiven him doesn’t come on time.
Am crawling out of my bed to check on them,
then I hear the struggles begin again,
I rush to their door and walk in on them.

They are on the dirty floor, he’s on top of her; restraining her with his body,or is it his foul breathe,
raining a fury of slaps down her cheeks and head.
she scratches at his neck, tries to bite his hands,
but they are beyond her reach,
like a vicious eagle, she holds nothing back,
she never allows him an easy fight.

I stand at the door, tears down my eyes,
am angry at him but scared, mum warned me against taking sides,
I’ve never felt so weak in my entire life,
I want to intervene and mediate,
overpower both of them, force them to make peace,
shake hands and embrace their scuffle away;
just like I do at school when my friends fight,
but the circumstances are different,
And even though I won’t say it out loud,
I’ve already taken sides like I always do when they fight.

He wants to know what am doing in their room,
I want to know why he’s so mean when he drinks,
but mine is a silent question he’ll never hear,
and an answer is something he won’t get from me,
instead I have a wish if he’ll just listen;
“don’t beat her, just chase her away” I say.
He looks at me, thinking about what I just said,
he doesn’t like the idea of it,
instead he’ll beats her up for putting those words into my head,
while I feel guilty for fueling an already hot fire.

She stares at me from her dejected and brutalised position,
she’s lost the fight in her, something to do with me,
I think she freaking hates me. I know I deserve it,
but I hate her too, for being weak and broke,
I want us to leave him, but she can’t take care of us, she depends on him, she loves him,
because of that love;
she’ll apologize for provoking him,
she’ll take a beating until he finally kills her.

Am angry. Not on drugs, but I feel strong,
I don’t just want to make peace anymore,
I’ll want to fight him and save her,
size no longer matters, my love for him,
can’t stop me anymore, I need to end this,
I grab the stool and whisk it towards his head.

He retreats from his position from above his wife,
leans against the bed, writhing with pain,
bleeding from his forehead, he giggles to himself,
” I knew you always wanted to kill me” he says,
but I don’t want to argue with him,
instead I help mama to get on her feet,
She moves out to wake up our neighbor,
she doesn’t say a single word to me,
I leave their room and return with a Panadol,
and wet cloth, am bandaging his wounds,
like he did for me last time I cut my hand,
but I can’t seem to stop the bleeding,
but he’s too weak to even raise his hand,
so I force two Panadol pills into his mouth.

Am not angry anymore, am scared instead.
Dad just continues wailing, he’s in too much pain,
he makes meaningless sounds,
I can’t understand anything, he says,
he’s struggling to stay conscious,
am trying to come to terms with what I’ve done,
tears are rolling down my eyes once again,
dad is crying too, I don’t know what to say,
so I finally reply to his earlier admission,
“I love you too” I say, “am sorry, please don’t die” .

But he’s not listening to me,
he’s never listened, It’s always been about him,
he closes his eyes, I stretch them wide open,
he allows it just for a second or three,
closes them again, speaks with them closed,
“I love you my man,” he says with a feigned grin
He pauses, gathers more strength,
“take care of Mama and the twins” he adds.
Am sobbing, I want to tell him that’s his job,
I want to say am just eight years old,
but he closes his eyes one last time.

Mama returns with our neighbor, Musiramu,
orders me to get away from her room,
I don’t want to, but she’s not given me an option,
she looks disheveled, almost inhuman,
I walk outside in the 4:00am air and empty my bowels,
the sound of sirens draws closer,
I can hear a loud knock on the gate.

A female officer, walks in without saying a word,
behind her three gun welding men in uniform follow,
They enter our two bed roomed house,
when they return a few minutes later,
mama is in handcuffs, I run to her,
I want them to let her go, I did it,
but with the little strength her imprisoned hands can dish,
she pushes me to the ground she doesn’t want me,
I run to the female police woman to explain,
but Musiramu intercepts me before I can get there,
I kick at his shins but he doesn’t loosen his grip.

They take her and our future along with her,
We’ll get evicted from our house,
an eighty two year sentence awaits mum,
but she’s taking none of it,
she will die four years later,
the twins will follow shortly;
first Pascal of malaria then Adrian of Typhoid,
the streets will forever be my hone.

Book Review; Obama:From Promise To Power

Published in 2007, Obama:From Promise To Power tells the story of Barack Hussein Obama who is perhaps one of the greatest politicians of the 21st century while tracing his emergence from the shadows of anonymity to stardom….

Mendell, a journalist for the Chicago Tribune offers a firsthand account of Obama” the politician” accurately drawing from his experiences while covering the 44th president of America from the time he (Obama) first ran for Us Senate.

In his quest to somewhat offer a deep understanding into a man whose rise to power took the world by storm, Mendell describes as “not a coincidence” the rise of Obama to power offering that the former president’s success was the careful planning of an ambitious man whose flaws he’s also quick to point out to offer his reader a book that is neither pro Obama nor against the former world leader.

Ugandan Political Situation playing off Chinua Achebe’s script

For all the huge strides that have been taken by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government as far as inventing democracy in Uganda, I would like to point out that there has never been a peaceful transition of power in the country that has black, yellow and red stripes in its national flag. This in my opinion means that we are a work In progress and we haven’t reached the desired level of political maturity.

In 1971 General Idi Amin took power from Obote and kept it for himself until 1979 when it was stolen again and the most recent one was in the 1980s when Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Ntungamo took to the bush to protest oppression and eventually came into power in 1986, having said that, it’s then difficult to reason it out that we can have a peaceful power transition, for that to happen Natasha and Kainerugaba’s dad would have to make history, be a pioneer in this right.

A portrait photo of Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

In 1987 (hold your fire, this is not one of those “we entered the bush” monologues) Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe published a novel called “Anthills of the Savannah” a novel that in my insignificant opinion would reaffirm his status as the greatest African writer of all time.

Ant hills of the Savannah tells the story of a newly independent fictional nation called Kangan that has just witnessed a coup and in the wake of the transfer of power a charming, likable man is invited to be the the president and as the story progresses he turns out to be an oppressive despot as his grip on power tightens revealing thematic values like greed, misrule, betrayal and abuse of power among others.

While until this week I had always considered it to be a brilliant piece of fiction, the current events in Uganda have somewhat made it seem like the factual story of the current state of affairs of Uganda and I can only admit that unlike Tamale Mirundi who prophecies events after they have happened through his “ka book”, Achebe the Nigerian whose only came to Uganda in 1962 for the African writers conference was able to foretell a few things that sadly are currently happening in this country thirty one year’s later from the time he published Anthills of the Savannah.
So here a few similarities between the novel and the current situation in Uganda:

* The novel begins in the event of a coup de tat that brings Sam (military leader) into power, in a similar case the relationship between General Museveni and Uganda begins in 1986 when he ascends onto the Ugandan throne through the use of force (often justified by him as a necessity for our liberation).

* Achebe portrays His Excellency Sam as an Inteligent, charming and even in some cases humorous man who means no harm when he comes to power. He even has the respect of his friends until he but loses himself as his grip onto power tightens and falls out with his buddies, sounds familiar?

* For all his good will his Excellency Sam is an extravagant fellow, and leads quite the luxurious life full with an expensive house for throwing parties sponsored by tax payers money which If you notice closely with the number of supplementary budgets granted to Statehouse each term then you might as well agree.

To effectively rule without accountability his Excellency Sam in “Anthills of the Savannah” makes attempts to suppress the voice of the media under the National Gazette by limiting what stories they publish and we’ve seen similar situations in Uganda with the current detention and torture of journalists who were covering the Arua by elections in which Bobi Wine’s driver was shot and killed.

* Standing in his Excellency Sam’s way is Ikem Osodi a his childhood friend who is also a journalist for the national newspaper. Ikem through his editorials brings to light the flaws of Sam’s government to light, empowers the masses to save their country and as the novel advances he’s accused of treason and arrested late in the night. In similar fashion currently working against Museveni stands Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, a youthful musician bent towards social change who has struck fatal blows to the NRM government using music and mass media (social media) as his National Gazette and the result is that he has had his driven murdered and been accused of treason.

A photo of Bobi Wine during a recent demonstration against social media tax

* While there are reports that Bobi Wine might have beaten to near death, my hope as a fan of his music that has played a key role in my childhood and also as a fellow Ugandan is that the government does different, for all my admiration for Chinua Achebe’s fortune telling talents, I wouldn’t want to witness a situation where Bobi Wine is murdered in state custody and the government spin masters (notably Ofwono Opondo or Don Wanyama) show up with a similar narrative like that of Sam’s government in Achebe’s book that claimed that a handcuffed Ikem Osodi attempted to take a gun from a soldier and got killed in the scuffle that ensued.

In concluding Achebe’s novel begins with a coup and ends with another to remove the “saviour” who loses his life in the process, with the current wind of change blowing towards change, my hope as a pacifist who is that we have an amicable transition