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Bobi Wine, Basalirwa and rise of un organised opposition

Henry Barlow’s poem, Building the Nation, narrates an encounter involving two public servants – a driver, and his senior colleague, a permanent secretary. 

While they drove home after a function of attending to ‘matters of state,’ both were yawning. While the yawns of the PS were caused by a sumptuous meal of ‘cold Bell beer’, ‘fried chicken,’ ice-cream and coffee – the menus of all important functions – the yawns of his driver were caused by hunger.

As their conversation focused on the sacrifices both were making, it was clear that – despite their different ways — both had become afflicted by an ugly yawning disease, which was dangerous to their health. Barlow satirises that both men had ulcers – although the PS actually had dyspepsia.

Barlow’s hard-boiled cynicism in this poem succinctly captures the absurd relationship Ugandans share with their, ironically, democratically elected members of parliament.

Whilst the wananchi toil under the weight of taxes to build their nation, the members of Parliament suffer to spend the proceeds for their personal gain. 

Of course, this is one of Mr Museveni’s major crimes – and his collaborators.  But every time we focus on the president, we tend to downgrade the agency of those acting in lower positions of authority – especially those masquerading as the opposition.

At Parliament avenue, behind those high sandy-looking walls, are a bunch of shady smartly dressed wonks cobbling an existence by cutting deals and gambling the country away.

It is a market square of sorts where the forces of demand and supply define their work.  How much? What is in it for me? They ask. And with good advertising and branding, the wananchi cannot see through the horrors of these dullards.

They call their space the “august House”—after Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, and themselves, “honourables.” What nonsense!

During the amendment of the age-limit clause in the constitution, it became explicitly clear that even those who opposed the amendment—specifically through debating and voting against the amendment—actually served the interests of the amendment.

Look, they had the better option of walking out, which would have enabled an ugly 100 percent pro-amendment vote.

This uncontested victory is akin to running and winning an own race, and delegitimizes the entire thing.  But they didn’t choose it. They then insulted our and their integrity further by pursuing a court process, which only underscores Museveni’s democratic credentials.

In truth, while the wananchi mourn the amendment for its ugliness, the (opposition) MPs are also doing the same, but out of dyspepsia.

We are witnessing the limits of the anti-colonialist longing of building nations through electoral and parliamentary democracies.

These models have failed.  Among other weaknesses of the modern state and electoral democracies in agrarian societies is that more organisation (of peasants and illiterates such as parliament) translates into easier manipulation and control.

My sense is that there is need to redefine parliament to realise its true functioning. My proposition is that there is need to take parliament away from Parliament avenue to the streets of Kampala and other major towns. Peasants are stronger and more coherent un-organised.

The genius of Bobi Wine [also Kizza Besigye] and recently-elected MP Asuman Basalirwa has never been their ability to deliberate on matters of state from inside the so-called august House, but on the streets of Kampala, in the courtrooms, radios and television.

Music, street campaigns have been a cause for restraint to the excesses of the merchants in government. Sadly, on the other hand, parliament – often with high drama and fanfare – has often simply endorsed these excesses.

See, this country vividly recalls how single-handedly and unorganisedly Asuman Basalirwa challenged the kingdom of Busoga over a job offer to their king from the president.

Bobi Wine’s rebel music has mobilised the country on matters such as HIV/AIDS, dictatorship, cronyism and several other excesses.

As we continue to appreciate the already-established activists joining parliament, we have to fall in love with their unorganising credentials. 

The opposition might destroy each other but the ongoing unorganisation in the opposition is good for the country as it denies the executive the ability to control and manipulate it. Building the nation in different ways.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.

Comments

+1 #1 juwait kali 2018-08-15 11:45
Those wonks will also pay (reference abiliga murder observer 2017)

But right now people should be coming out to defend and ask the where abouts of bobi and wadiri for example. Why is everyone sleeping?

We should support people who come out to secure our future rather than leaving them to be tossed all over the place now come on.
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+4 #2 Budapest 2018-08-15 12:38
....At Parliament avenue, behind those high sandy-looking walls, are a bunch of shady smartly dressed wonks cobbling an existence by cutting deals and gambling the country away....

That is a hell of a line, Yusuf. 'Bakuwe kyonywa'...
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0 #3 Maate Reagan 2018-08-15 18:28
Woah, the writter of this article surely is rightly right. I love the clear and open description of the article for it is well articulated.
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-1 #4 Rajab Kakyama 2018-08-15 20:58
Well said. Remember "democracy" is rooted in Greek. History has it that Greek "elekstias" had membership of over 60,000 "representatives.

So, by you suggesting that we go to the "streets" your on the money!
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+2 #5 Fuller 2018-08-17 17:32
Yusuf you have written right.

To be heard, one must be prepared for the "egg on the face", not once but for as long as they desire to be heard.

Those who sit on the sidelines waiting for things to happen will have others cause things to happen to them.
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0 #6 Akot 2018-08-21 20:14
Quoting juwait kali:


But right now people should be coming out to defend and ask the where abouts of bobi and wadiri for example. Why is everyone sleeping?

We should support people who come out to secure our future rather than leaving them to be tossed all over the place now come on.


Thanks!

The only way Ugandans can bring an end Musveni & the tribalsitic system keeping him in power is UNITY & coming out to not just defend those still fighting for Ugandans' Freedom, but to BLOCK Museveni & leave him just 1 option: LEAVE!

S.Africans/Zimbabweans/egyptians/Tunisians... get rid of rulers they didn't want by UNITING & coming out to block them!

Why don't Ugandans do the same, especially when they know it's them & them alone who are concerned & no outsider will dare say a ward against Museveni as long as the tribalistic system is held in place by Ugandans themselves?
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0 #7 Akot 2018-08-21 20:21
Budapest, understood, yet,

Once Museveni is owner of Uganda, will he need parliament, tribal leaders?

But of course Ugandans will be there as slaves without tribal lands that belong to them any more!

The losers in keeping Museveni in power are: each & every Ugandan, every tribe, every region, thus the entire Zone, Uganda, formed by tribal lands!

Yet, why lose your tribal land/country to a migrant you gave shelter to & be his slaves for ever?
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0 #8 Akot 2018-08-21 20:30
Fuller, agreed!

As things are, Museveni will finally own Uganda while we watch, comment...as if what he does does not concern us & will not affect us for ever in the end!

Bobi Wine is today the only figure still standing up to Museveni & the dictator is silencing him, while Ugandans watch, comment...without taking UNITED action to stop Museveni owning the country!

Without Ugandans coming out to bolster one of their own by making him National figure to represent them as ONE people, there is no way Museveni wil be got rid of & he will continue silencing them one by one, group by group...telling Ugandans: the country belongs to me & not you!
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