It is exactly two years since I took a sabbatical from writing this column.
I had previously done ten years of an uninterrupted weekly column and had won both admirers and haters alike. I had no premonition that anyone would mind my not writing nor being in anyone’s face every Friday since 2004. I was wrong!
I had not expected the various heckling that came my way. I was called all sorts of names including being a “sellout” or that I had been compromised not to criticize anyone; mostly those who abuse power with innate impunity.
“What happened to you? You no longer write?” several inquiries came from whoever remembers what gibberish I used to spew out every week.
One reader went ahead to request me to refund the money she had used to buy a copy of The Observer. She claimed I had “robbed” her for not having written and she had bought the paper to specifically read my column.
More recently, I bumped into a former presidential candidate, Gen Benon Biraaro.
“What happened to you? You are no longer the firebrand that you used to be? Did they also get to you?” he queried.
I was nimble in my answer. I did not want to detail the good general that writing a column is no easy task. It requires a great deal of paying attention to what is happening around you, noting what is worth keeping, read everything that comes across and remain sure that you are not picking ideas that have already been raised elsewhere.
In this particular age of social media where the mainstream media may necessary not be the ones to lead on tips and stories, writing becomes a strictly nervy and cautious job.
That is why I bow with respect for men and women that write columns for decades. That is why when I was given the green light to begin this column, once again, I did not know where to begin.
Would you capture the things that have long passed? And these are many! My gut is that it would take an equally similar time and energy to comment on all.
But I guess that sometimes taking the backseat and seeing how things evolve politically, socially and economically can, in a way, be gratifying. You chuckle at the inadequacies and unfulfilled promises that have persisted since then. The country seems not to have moved an inch.
I had the illusion that I would find a different Uganda; one that would have sobered from the many years of scandal after scandal. The country seems to have halted in its tracks. I am told, though, that there are some who do not see what the majority see because theirs has been a much easier and less-stressing upward movement.
The only thing I find to have changed is that I can now distinguish between two names that I had hitherto miserably failed to separate. I am happy that I now know that Bobi Wine (Honourable) is not Bebe Cool.
And that the former is an elected member of parliament for Kyadondo East. And that he is the one who is opposition-leaning. And that he is actually called Robert Kyagulanyi.
In the past, yours truly had failed to master who was who between the two singers. While many attempted to educate me, it would take me less than a minute to forget who was who.
But thanks to the vacant seat and the battles that ensued in Kyadondo East, I was schooled that Bobi Wine was the rightful singer/politician. Forget that sometimes I listen to their lyrics on radio.
So, Tuesday was the swearing-in ceremony for Bobi Wine and it was widely visible. I have bumped into Bobi Wine several times in the Kifumbira area of Kamwokya. The manner in which he carries himself amongst the people down there is telling.
Last Sunday, as usual, I visited my friends in Kamwokya and wanted to know whether the euphoria of Bobi Wine’s victory had died out. The relics of his campaign and victory are still visible.
Many were rehearsing for his swearing-in ceremony. To some, nothing was going to stop them from savoring the victory of one of their own. It seemed every inch their personal victory.
For long, Bobi Wine called himself the Ghetto President; well, as they say, he literary is one now!
The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues.