You must have seen the awesome picture that has been traversing social media lately.
Yes, that of our president playing cards with his grandchildren. It was the kind that every child would envy. There is always something special about grandparents for children – the stories, the jokes, the games, the humility, the wisdom, the selflessness, the tenderness, the spoiling care, etc.
Seated with your grandpa, you don’t hold back on anything. With respect, you feel free to do and say anything: to ask questions, to tease, to challenge, to act without fear, to be stubborn and silly, and all you wouldn’t do with your tough parents.
So, looking at the picture, I got so many imaginations and fantasies. I imagined what these kids could have asked their busy granddad in that moment of fun and freedom. Did they ask him for more such moments?
Did they ask when he would withdraw from presidential duties and become more available to them? Did they ask shwenkuru when the daily travels and political meetings into the wee hours of the night were to come to an end?
Did they talk to him about what they see on TV? Maybe these are my desperate adult musings, of which I would gladly indulge to calm myself down from the suffocated anguish. But some of the children appeared to be of age to at least make sense of the goings-on.
Did they innocently ask if he ever imagined Uganda without him as president and if he cared about the public anger around the perception that the first family is swimming in undue privilege at the expense of several sufferers living under more uncertainty than a drunkard’s cock?
Did the children ask why their ‘popular’ shwenkuru for whom the country has found no replacement, even after his 31 years of transformative leadership, is always surrounded by a thick security network?
They must be knowing why he needs security, but I wonder if they ask why there are so many soldiers around them (like termites) – many of them speaking the same mother tongue?
Did his grandchildren ask why their sweet grandfather is always driven on public roads at breakneck speed as though he is running from something?
If I were them, I would have wished to know who my beloved granddad is always scared of as to chase everyone else off the road like stray dogs. These are questions only a grandchild can ask, not we irritating strangers.
If I were a healthy grandchild, assured of whatever medical treatment a child would desire, I would have asked my smiling grandpa if other less-fortunate children under his care can at least access basic treatment in Uganda’s hospitals.
I assume they are aware that such children exist. They could have met them on TV and in dreams (nightmares). I would have asked shwenkuru to, after playing cards, take us for a tour of upcountry hospitals and UPE schools so that we appreciate his selfless love for ordinary people and to understand why people want him to be their president for life.
I would have loved to take a walk through the Uganda Cancer Institute with him, at least to see the famous radiotherapy machine that started its journey to Uganda in 2016 and arrived like Vasco da Gama in 2017.
That new senile machine, only one of which we can afford after 31 years of ‘modernisation’ and people-centered leadership.
I would have wished that grandpa also takes us for a tour of parliament. There we would certainly enjoy watching him at the center of the puppet show.
As children, of course, we would feel so much at home in the company of adults that think and act like us. I imagine that, apart from the size of the actors, it would feel like being at a day-care center or a circus.
Back to the card game, we would add more fun to the game by reassigning roles to the cards and redefining the game.
The Jocker would become the Police; the Master cards (A)would turn into Parliament; the ‘pick-two’ renamed SFC; the 8 (skipper) becoming the Electoral Commission; and the 7 (game cutter) as the Judiciary. We would then request grandpa to teach us how to juggle them to one’s advantage.
Here we would also pick some skills on how to give all these special cards to ourselves while making sure that our challengers are left with all other less useful ones, yet appearing fair.
In the picture, I noted that they did not have anywhere to note down their scores, which could later lead to arguments over who the overall winner was. Why not just pluck out a few pages from the Constitution to write on? Was it far!
I would have loved to play with my president too, especially looking forward to seeing the look in his eyes when he is about to lose. Would he put something in my pocket to let him win? Something like a ‘losing allowance’? If he blundered, wouldn’t it be me to take the blame?
Nevertheless, I would love to have him laugh hard in the moment. Besides the cards, I would suggest a game of questions – where whoever failed to answer the other’s question lost a mark.
Then I would shoot: ‘List all your advisors by name’. Thereafter, I would laugh as he struggles to recall the paid redundant fellas he last met in 2010.
We would then go into hypothetical questions to compete in the speed of thinking. My first would be: ‘Mr president, if you had a dream where someone was taking power away from you, what would you do?’ For this, I can already guess his answer: “I would immediately wake up and refuse to sleep again”.
The author heads the Centre for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.