By: Dikembe Disembe
I left Kenya a week ago to visit Uganda alongside fellow student-leaders from Moi University Students Organization (MUSO). On my departure, I still had some little â€˜ICC boneâ€™ to chew with one inauguration invitee Yoweri Museveni, whom, by my interactions in Kampala, Â happened to be the dictatorially elected president of the republic of Uganda.
To the average jubilee supporter (those irrational digital chatterboxes) who occupied the hard cemented trenches at Kasarani on 9th April, and sung unsavory political dirges against Raila Odinga-an enigma in Kenyan politics-Museveniâ€™s gratitude to â€˜jubilee votersâ€™, for the rejection of â€˜ICC blackmailâ€™, was met with huge chants and cheers from a crowd I have always maintained was composed of very tribal, naÃ¯ve, fearful, easily manipulated and bizarrely optimistic people.
In Kampala, if you were born 27 years ago, you share the sad and checkered history of having lived in the Museveni presidency all your life. He came to power through a coup in 1986; two years before Moiâ€™s electoral arrogance made its last KANU bid in the infamous 1988 Mlolongo voting; he was here in 2002 when KANU was ejected, could not make it in 2007 because Kibaki swore himself in at night, but witnessed the signing of the National Accord; he was at hand to see us promulgate a constitution in peaceful time, and finally, weeks ago, he came back to congratulate Uhuru Kenyatta on his election by bashing the ICC.
A man who brooks no opposition at home, a tour guide of the Buganda Kingdom, after wondering how we could tally votes for a whole week remarked â€˜how contradictory it was to her that Kenyans were celebrating the triumph of democracy with despots and bullet politicians occupying the high tableâ€™.
Ugandans are weary of NRMâ€™s Museveni more than they are for LRAâ€™s Kony. Yoweri Museveni is a Uganda problem, Joseph Kony is Northern Uganda problem. Yoweri Museveni is an institutional problem; Joseph Kony is historical-criminal problem. Just last week, Museveniâ€™s statehouse supplementary budget was higher than that of the ministry of health! His party, the NRM suspended four Mps for opposing the party.Â Ministers occupy front spaces of the government owned New Vision newspaper for all the wrong reasons. An Mp was arrested last week for digging up a bridge in search of mercury!
Fiscally, I had the misfortune of owning hundreds of thousands of shillings because the Ugandan legal tender is a study in currency devaluation. I bought a pair of shoes in the upper of sixty thousand shillings; a Kenyan equivalent of less than three notes with three zeros each!
Morally, while the streets in Nairobi is littered with pirated gospel CDs and Nigerian movies; Kampala streets hawks pornography movies more than soft-drinks or novels. While the miniskirt in Kenya was a high school sensation until minister Kilonzo put inches on it; in Uganda, it is a national crisis! In fact, the Ugandan minister in charge of public decency and decorum (the official title dwarfs rational thinking) has drafted a bill to ban the miniskirt altogether.
For the second month, junior civil servants, teachers and nurses have had salary delays. The workersâ€™ union is in bed with the government; the government, unfortunately, is only paranoid of the police and the army. Talking of the police, the Ugandan version of the traffic police makes his Kenyan counterpart appear saint. Corruption in that country is sickening! Even more interesting, the Ugandan police have a unique penchant for taking a TKK from foreigners more than compatriots.
Ugandans donâ€™t speak English language as we in the commonwealth do; apparently, the queenâ€™s language chokes them till they â€˜pukeâ€™ it in paroxysms. Kiswahili is not an East African language. If you get confused when our western neighbors speak English, you will be bewildered when they (the few who can) turn to Kiswahili.
Unlike Kenya, Uganda survives not because its people work hard to sustain it. The tranquility in Uganda and tolerance with political mismanagement stems from the fact that Ugandans have plenty within its borders. It is easier to put food on the table in Uganda than in Kenya. With a strong subsistence economy which thrives on farm produce and little incentives, Ugandans grow enough to feed it. The country has arable soils with no need for fertilizer.
With all the ignorance, the stifling of democracy and activism; and the stagnation of economy, Yoweri Museveniâ€™s Uganda will this Thursday launch vision 2040;dangling precariously on the shoulders ofÂ giant African economies like Kenya (yes, my fatherland) under the dubiously elected president Kenyatta!