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Are Ugandans ungrateful or just hurt and fatigued?

had waited for rather too long for positive news about the construction of Kabuusu – Bunamwaya – Lweza road. It had been one false promise after another for years. So, it was not really new that KCCA was making another announcement last week - that road works were to start this July.

Nevertheless, for the hell that this busy road has been for years, the usual ‘news’ with no news still got me excited. So, at a drink, I shared the ‘news’ with a friend that has always mocked me about what he calls ‘a ditch exhibition in a road’. He sarcastically congratulated me, laughing noisily into his glass of Guinness.

Aware of the uncomfortable position it has already driven itself into, this was one of those days when I was not in the mood of wasting emotions on government. And with this friend of mine around, conversation gets boring when I also start criticising government. He is at the extreme of it, where nothing positive can be seen.

So, I chose to play the devil’s advocate, arguing that at least this government has tried on the issue of roads. Little did I know that this made me appear like the ‘devil’ itself. He started getting louder and angry: “what good is left to come from this greedy government? For every penny they spend on the public good, they steal two. And then they come back to spoil what they did with the one”.

Our conversation had caught the attention of the guys on the next table, and they must have been burning for an opportunity to jump in.

They invited themselves in and started contributing before they could even sit. The stranger who had sat on my left said, with a straight face: ‘Just by looking at you and listening to you, I know where you come from. And, because of your comfort, you people will never understand the suffering others are going through’.

Wherever he thought I was coming from, the anger was quite dramatic – even taking licence to point at my face! Now that I had withdrawn into silence, they went on to bash and curse government and everything that looked like it.

I relate this to many other observations I have made in connection to public reception of government ‘achievements’ lately. Much of it is akin to what transpires in a relationship that has gone sour. When love and trust die, they are very difficult to resurrect. And where there is little or no trust, even otherwise good gestures can very easily be misinterpreted in a negative direction.

When I lived in a shanty neighbourhood in Kireka, there was a neighbouring couple that fought at every opportunity. One Valentine’s day evening, the man returned earlier than his wife with a bouquet of flowers and hid behind our common bathroom outside the house, waiting to surprise her. On return, she was going about her business and landed on him squatting with his flowers.

It was a bloody night! One tooth and trousers were lost in the fight as the wife asked him to explain who the flowers were for. She never could believe he could do something romantic for her.

I don’t know if it baffles those in power that now, even when they do apparently good things, the reception is generally that of scorn, cynicism and dismissal.

When Uganda Airlines was brought back from the cemetery, it became a subject of rebuke and accusations. Whereas normally one would have expected this development to be automatically received with patriotic euphoria and pride, I saw some state sympathisers urging people to at least appreciate for once.

Is it that Ugandans are ungrateful people with no patriotic sentiment? Not at all. At least the response to wins by Uganda Cranes and other Ugandan athletes have proved the opposite. Then what explains the fact that when news of reviving Uganda Airlines breaks, the first suspicion is that there must be someone stealing behind the official curtains? Why is the state beaten for and with its flowers?

This is an unusual relationship where government has to beg people to appreciate what it has done for them! It is indicative of something gone terribly wrong. Even if there was a talented liar misleading the spouse, it would take extraordinary talent to make her completely blind to all the supposed good deeds – if there wasn’t some flaw within the relationship to provide easy material for the liar. 

When the new Jinja bridge was launched and photos of its splendid night beauty started circulating, pessimistic comments all over Facebook quickly became more breath-taking than its lights. The wildfire narrative was that it had come at a cost far higher than other more sophisticated bridges elsewhere, and was built on loan. The response has largely been the same on the new roads, dams, Kiira EV, Mulago hospital expansion, etc.

A dented image is not easy to reclaim with random gestures of care, especially where violence is involved. The pervasive scandals of this government and its impaired priorities are ever so loudly alive in the public psyche that they make it hard to see counter gestures. Herein also lies one of the arguments against longevity in power, even by a supposedly good leader.

Together with the natural fatigue and boredom that ensue, there is often a likelihood of a baggage of cumulative wrongs and a feeling of injustice on observing the accumulated wealth of the ruling class (both in reality and speculation) at public expense. With all this pain, even a dimple on the face of government will start looking like a misplaced pit latrine.

Even in the president’s own implied acknowledgement by agreeing with his contested election results, there is reducing support over the years. Why does he think that is the case?

jsssentongo@gmail.com

The author is a teacher of philosophy.

Comments

+1 #11 Lakwena 2019-05-18 12:21
In other words, short live and down with Mr. M7 and his sycophants who are sucking our blood!
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+1 #12 Remase 2019-05-18 14:35
The Afrifo band song, which the two Bishops, Mengo/Mayiga/Mutebi and others truly believe in, starts, "Ai Sabasajja wangala."

Then it goes, "We cant thank our leaders (M7 & his family/relatives) enough for the good that they did for us-we need to love them." "Let's be happy-let's celebrate-the whole Uganda is stable, "Let's be happy-let's celebrate-the King is in a comfort zone."

So, the bishops sing let's be happy-let's celebrate the whole Uganda is stable, then Mayiga "Nakuuta akadingidi" let's be happy-let's celebrate the King is in a comfortable zone, so Awangale ai Sabalwanyi M7."

Felliow Ugandans, Mandala (RIP) was a world icon and is comparable to none. He was imprisoned for 27 years.

When he defeated apartheid, he ruled South Africa for only 1 term of 5 years. Yet, he could have ruled for life, because he was adored by all.

Based on what I know now, I wish M7 never came. But Mayiga believes that 33 yrs are not enough. In other wards, if it's not broke don't fix it.
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+2 #13 Nsubuga 2019-05-18 17:23
I like this the most, "With all this pain, even a dimple on the face of government will start looking like a misplaced pit latrine."

It reminds me of what Gen. Mugisha Muntu said that, "It's like the flies that congregate and/or sticks on a dead body until they are buried with it."

Those who are supporting Museveni and his govt are making it look like Museveni is the only one who can lead Uganda, yet we have "a feeling of injustice on observing the accumulated wealth of the ruling class (both in reality and speculation) at public expense."

We all see that, "Together with the natural fatigue and boredom that ensue," Museveni is a dead body walking, but likes of our religious and culture leaders are sticking with Museveni "paka last."

And with all our pain, they are telling us that a pit latrine is a dimple on the face of Museveni's government. What did we do to deserve this?
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0 #14 Akot 2019-05-20 14:27
Remase, thanks.

Yet, Museveni too will die 1 day, so what will: Bishops, Mengo/Mayiga/Mutebi & all those who want him to just go on, do when he will be no more?

What will Acholi tribal leader, elites, Kony...do when Museveni will be no more?

Funny, while uneducated poor jobless Ugandans die unnoticed, so called tribal leaders are not concerned they will leave their children in the hands of Museveni's family who has learned so much from the demon & will be worse than him!

What are Ugandans' brains/feelings made of, steel?
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0 #15 Akot 2019-05-20 14:35
Quoting Nsubuga:


It reminds me of what Gen. Mugisha Muntu said that, "It's like the flies that congregate and/or sticks on a dead body until they are buried with it."

Those who are supporting Museveni and his govt are making it look like Museveni is the only one who can lead Uganda,...

Museveni is a dead body walking, but likes of our religious and culture leaders are sticking with Museveni "paka last."

And with all our pain, they are telling us that a pit latrine is a dimple on the face of Museveni's government. What did we do to deserve this?


Thanks!

Just UNITY of the: oppressed, the uneducated, youths without jobs/future, the sick without healthcare...will bring an end to Museveni, cultural leaders, elites...just like in the rest of the world!

Power to bring change lies in the hands of those who need it & not on those who don't!
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+1 #16 Akot 2019-05-20 14:45
Quoting Remase:


Fellow Ugandan, there is nothing, completely nothing M7 is left to do for us to know that he is autocratic, ruthless, practices nepotism/sectarianism, corrupt to the core, he, his family/relative/banyalwanda intends to rule and loot our country for life.

we, Ugandans, need to unite and get rid of M7, his family/relative and cronies now.


Thanks!

What is more sickening is that poor Ugandans who need change don't see power lies in their hands & they can stop Museveni, tribal leaders, elites by just UNITING & coming out to block Museveni to force him out!

Which tribal land will Museveni retreat to & fight back from?

If any triba really had leadership, it would be FREE from Museveni's Uganda, manage land riches & just live!

What will Ugandans do when Museveni will be no more?
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0 #17 Nakabo 2019-05-20 20:23
You cannot see yourself while in the picture. You have to stand out first to reflect on the situation.

That is the sad part of life, that the people who most need the change according to those outside the picture, do not see the need for change or if they do see the need, they dare not explore the options.

These options are costly. The thought of it breeds fear of losing the little "peace" they have. It is a tricky situation for all concerned.
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+1 #18 Remase 2019-05-21 10:31
Nakabo, "These options are costly. The thought of it breeds fear of losing the little "peace" they have. It is a tricky situation for all concerned."

Totally true. We have three options to get rid of M7, 1. through elections (Which is a sure deal that M7 is the winner),

2. through the gun/violence (Which M7 used to capture and maintain/cling on power) 3. Go the Algeria or Sudan way. None of them is easy. However, we must choose one because M7 must go.

Whichever we choose, unity must be realized, that means, all of us who need the true and meaningful fundamental change. We are the majority and determination and the will is all we need.

Yes, chances are that lives and blood will be lost, because M7 is determined to cling on power at all cost. And he is being supported by Mengo/Mayiga/Mutebi and some religious leaders because they are comfortable!
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0 #19 Nakabo 2019-05-21 14:15
Remase, I hear your concern. I wish it were that easy to form the unity that can move us swiftly to the desired end.

However, if individuals themselves are living conflicting lives, how do you expect them to unit with others?! Unity is ideal, but how do we attain it?!

I also think that it is error in thinking when you say that the majority need or see the need for change. You might actually be surprised that the reverse is the case.

But in case I'm wrong, considering the events, I inductively argue that a considerable number want the change. I however would not make a deductive assertion at this moment.
Thank you for your response.
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-1 #20 Remase 2019-05-21 18:24
Nakabo, "I also think that it is error in thinking when you say that the majority need or see the need for change."

My argument and belief that the majority of us, Ugandans, need and see the need for change is grounded on the fact that even those who prefer to maintain the status quo, they do it for selfish reason.

However, deep down in their consciousness they know that life presidency is not sustainable. Therefore, the majority need a true, meaningful and lasting fundamental change. That is an indisputable fact. I cal it selfish reason for the following reasons.

1. Most of those who prefer to maintain the status quo are in govt or benefit directly or indirectly for it. That why they are looting the country naked because they know that they cant loot forever.

2. The others like the triple M, the religious leaders and elites are comfortable and they don't want to disturb their comfort! However, if 50% could unit and demand for a change, it's a done deal. The rest will follow.
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