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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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.

Tracing The Similarities between Anthills of the Savannah and the Current Political Situation in Uganda

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

God at the helm

I would like to start this blog post by mentioning on a rather proud note that, last time I checked (5:20pm) God was being good to me, so maybe if I see a hand up, yes you with the cool blog about fashion ask your question;

“How has he been good to you?”

How about I will begin by saying that for all my flaws am alive, healthy and working my way to building a better version of me, or should I mention that my parents, siblings, friends and relatives are all alive. But let me break it out for you from the beginning of the week;

On Sunday I went to church and prayed after a long time not stepping foot in the house of God, that same day we (with my soccer team) went to Kampala School of Health sciences in Seguku which is a few kilometers from home in Entebbe and played a great game of soccer, hyped with the usual banter, tackles, scuffles, jeers and the smiles of victory.

At the end of a great game, man deserves a sip of water

I was on the team that got to walk away with victory after my Diamond FC ( that has never seen those impressive stones) thrashed the Seguku team 6-0 and even though I never scored I enjoyed a great game so yeah the week began on a high.

Then some course work mark trouble occurred on Monday, and I had a lousy three days there after then yesterday I heard my voice on soundcloud for RFI English for comments I made on the issue of our age limit petition ruling. Like that wasn’t enough this judge called Kenneth Kakuru made me proud of my country when he condemned the lifting of the age limit as a hindrance to democracy, I didn’t see that coming and overnight I had a “Man of the week” to look up to.

Then I solved my course work issue today and got a cool Friday funday so am pretty glad and because of that this won’t be one of those long pieces because I might joke on joy but hey, Thanks be to God the creator, most creative being in the world and enjoy your weekend.

Why you shouldn’t be complacent?

Part one:

Prologue with the Cool Questions:

  • Did you ever hear about that three year old kid who requested his mum to add a little Odii (see peanut butter) in his bread so that he could confuse bullies at school by claiming that the Odi spread was medicine so that his breakfast wouldn’t be taken?
  • Were you ever told about a four year old Acholi boy who was too young for primary school but was admitted only because he was brilliant enough to get a set of six “Nineties” in an interview meant for Primary two pupils and there after went on to triumph being among the top 5 students in his class of more than a hundred an eighty?
  • Or did you ever hear about that that kid who repaid nosy but well meaning passengers in a taxi on his way to school by claiming on his way out of the P.S.V that the passenger would pay for the transport fare, just so he could save an extra five hundred shilling coin for a minced meat sumbusa (see samosa) on the way back home when everyone was hungry?
  • Did you ever hear about a skilled football player, talented in badminton who beat his peers to win a trophy that he pawned off cheaply to get money to buy a tin of “Pringles” crisps for himself and a pack of Éclairs for his sister?
  • Did you ever hear about a ten year old boy who and picked up the Bible every time his mother told him to read for exams knowing very well that his mum wouldn’t castigate him for reading the good book because she was a staunch Christian and at the same time religious education was an examinable subject?
  • Did you ever catch sight of that kid who was granted permission by a teacher who didn’t like him to chop class in order to go to parliament and view the body of a deceased former president; only because he was able to answer correctly at least six questions out of ten that the teacher chose about the personality?
  • Or did you ever hear about that short primary seven pupil who in 2007 while writing on behalf of his buddy, competed in an essay writing competition penning down a one thousand five hundred worded essay about “climate change” that won a trip to South Africa?

Part two:

Epilogue with the revelations and Moral

Am the grown up, taller version of that kid, only with a cool moustache, a heavier voice, a couple of mistakes due to complacency and a great memory to relieve those days of the past.

You see, until three weeks ago when I set out to fix myself I was that guy whose brilliance (I say this in all modesty) would bring together his friends and enemies to consensus, but they would also agree that like Adnan Januzaj (yes am a Manutd fan) before his move to Sociedad am also another “wasted talent”, and maybe I would have agreed with them.

But am lucky that like him (he’s been doing better at Real Sociedad), I get the chance to do better, credit to my friend Mark Kaigwa and my counselor who set me upon this awesome journey of improvement, am grateful that in recognizing my flaws and diagnosing them I can be a “guinea pig” in this tutorial about complacency.

Were you ever told that brilliance alone is not enough?

I hope they did, and I hope you listened with keen interest because I didn’t get that lucky with that knowledge so because I never knew, I didn’t put in the hard work, after all most things came easy.

For instance, because I read alot of stories in the Bible, I found myself writing my first story at the age of ten-easy, I didn’t read no book for that, because I sat every evening waiting for my childhood friend Ambrose to finish his homework so that we could go and goof around, I learnt stuff that was being taught in Primary six even though I was two classes lower, because my dad owned a laptop and my brothers played games on it with the keyboard, I learnt some cute computer tricks.

But my luck ran out some point as I became lazy and never put in the hard work, I became comfy with my brilliance and while labour drew sweat from my peers, I was complacent which caused me a whole lot of problems.

You see, the muses who I believe exist for each one of us need more than just brilliance and intelligence, you need to put in the labour, persistence, consistency and discipline, then they can pull their strings on your behalf and work for you.

Otherwise there are a whole lot of brilliant people; Ricardo Quaresma, Marko Marin, Ravel Morrison and others can relate, all of them are brilliant players, once dubbed the “next big thing” in football but have mostly aged and are yet to live up to that billing.

Ronaldo and Messi are household names in the beautiful game because they are first of all brilliant and then they work hard to become the best. They are not complacent or even comfy with where they are even though the spectators marvel at their achievements, they want more, so they work for it…..

A common sayings in my circles proposes that “hard work beats talent” and in every sense I believe it’s the gospel truth.

Another quote I’ve come to love from author Steven Pressfield reasserts the need to work in this way:

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying

so go on try everyday, in spite of all the talent and skill people say you have, don’t be complacent, work hard to live up to the hype, the people that see the genius in you can’t all be stupid, believe them to the point where you have to justify their faith in you-ofcourse by working hard.

Ivan.