You can call it my eulogy for a once adored Political Party and its’ Leader
As a child, the name Museveni was voiced with such pride, he was the pan Africanist that had come to power in a popularly supported coup, my mother never missed the opportunity to remind us of the great leader.
One memory that stands like a pimple is the 1996 election; mother, dressed in a screaming yellow dress and a scarf printed with the face of Museveni wrapped her neck standing on the dusty road.
At the time, we were living on the one main street in the almost modern dusty town of Iganga –one of Uganda’s oldest districts. (The town still doesn’t have a single building with an elevator as I write.)
The Presidential guard deployed days earlier prior to Museveni’s visit to this town. They camped on our house verandah and surveyed the place.
The town, transfixed with a mixture of tension and excitement; tension because of the army presence, excitement because, oh well, the President of the Republic of Uganda was visiting to campaign for a re-election.
Mother spent the night telling us about the president –his kindness and his role in the Rwanda Genocide and how he had helped train the soldiers, welcomed many Rwandese refugees to Uganda. Her tales testified that this man, was only a hero and nothing more.
A framed picture of president Museveni hang loosely in the living room, but I needed to memorize his face. I couldn’t wait to put face to the revolutionary leader.
Finally, the day came. The streets were packed with people drawing to him like little black insects to sugar. Men, womyn, children and the elderly all lined up with the hope to have a glimpse at their hero.
I was among the gathering, dressed in a yellow, t-shit and khaki shorts i tagged on the trousers of a PGB soldier, overwhelmed; he took pity on me, and carried me to the front line.
There, I had a chance to see Mr. Museveni. He stepped out of his car and I was standing there, directly staring at the star. I vividly remember, he reached out and shook my hand – I was a little scared. An old womyn thrust me forward, so the president could hold my hand in a firm grip.
For me, this was it! ‘I had made it’. The older people stared at me with envy.
Overwhelmed by excitement, I followed the entourage, walked through the crowd, running to keep pace because my small footsteps were no match even for the energetic kadodi dancers.
By the time I stopped, the president and all the lead black vehicles were headed to Kampala, I was lost, and I couldn’t find my way back home, I wailed.
A kind man driving a white pickup asked me where I was going and why I was so upset.
“Why are you crying?” he asked.
Chocking on my words, my voice cracked with tears, I mumbled, “I am going to town and I don’t know where I am.”
The pickup driver lifted me to the back of the vehicle that was crowded with overly excited men and womyn, draped in yellow.
By 9pm, we were in town, and I was trapped in fear of knocking on mother’s door. I knew that only screaming and canes waited for me on the other side.
The door bust open, Mother sat in the corner of the living room. In her hand, she held a cane. And there I knew my life was over. (I do not have to explain what happened next)
Later that night, I slept with a sore bum, but I had a happy smile, I had touched the hand of the revolutionary leader! I had arrived!
He won that election.
Throughout secondary school, the only leader that still possessed my naïve heart was Museveni; the opposition to me, were a bunch grieved chaps and deserved no attention.
It was until university, fresh with revolutionary ideas, on what society should be, I was consuming all forms of writings from African intellectuals, the likes Steve Biko, Sankara, Lumumba, I was a true believer in the revolution and die-hard pan-Africanist.
Fortunate for me, a friend with a brilliant idea, called Parliament Watch needed some help, the work involved covering Parliament, this was the home for politics, the countries heart for they made decisions, passed resolutions, laws, the budget all these directed affected the Ugandan.
It was my work with Parliament that lit the match in me, the naïve little girl was no more; I was at the heart of selfishness whose ringleader was Museveni.
There were ridiculous laws like Public order management act that were politically motivated aimed at the opposition, suddenly the revolutionary leader was just a sad old man who used all tricks in the book to cling to power.
And MPs’ were his little dogs eager to disown their masters at the thought of fleshy meat.
Bills like Anti pornographic Act excited the politicians were issues like unemployment were swept under the carpet.
The President’s solution to the cries of the unemployed youth was sacks of money, he ridiculed the opposition, and for all his speeches he successfully, single-handedly managed to take the joy and inspiration of listening to stories of the war and the heroes.
(As he always starts with since 1986; I throw up a little in my mouth each I hear the phrase.)
The “since 1986” is a remainder of what the country was, it should stay just that!
For most young people, more than 50% were born under Museveni, (Myself included) we can only look at the present, (M7) compare it with what others have, and it is okay to want more, we do not want to be trapped in history full of excuses.
When I look and listen to conversations about the depreciating shilling, state of hospitals, police, corruption scandals, or the fact that oil prices go down everywhere but Uganda. If I had all this information as a 4-year-old, I would have stayed in the house and avoided all the canes.
The President we have now was not worthy my sore bum.