Just Like the Spots of a Hyena – the Swagger of Impunity and Military Dictatorship

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Just Like the Spots of a Hyena – the Swagger of Impunity and Military Dictatorship

Just Like the Spots of a Hyena – the Swagger of Impunity and Military Dictatorship


In my first blog at Mulera’s Fireplace, I alluded to an incident at a pre-Independence election rally where the person who went on to be Independent Uganda’s first Attorney General was asked a question by someone from the opposite party. The future Attorney General responded with an answer that left me, at 10 years old, quite bewildered. He said, "I will not answer you. The Kabaka's people do not like you at all!" Ever since that day, and up to today, I have continuously asked myself two questions: One, was the future Attorney General’s response a sign of intellectual bankruptcy on the part of our “founding leaders”? …. Or, two, was it a sign of the dishonesty and impunity (and hence government by lies, expediency and opportunistic bullying) that has characterized political leadership in Uganda right from Independence up to today?


Unfortunately, like a true member of Northcote Hall, I find myself answering that both of the above are true. In other words, since before, at the time of, and during the issuing era of Independence Uganda has been characterized by two overriding phenomena: one, a lack of intellectual ability to define and create inspiration about itself as a serious member of the community of nations; and two, militaristic one-person type leaderships. With special regard to the latter, it can in fact be stated without any measure of doubt that the single most prominent defining feature of Uganda is that it is arguable the primal example a country whose political history is completely indistinguishable from its military history. To speak it even more plainly, the composition of Uganda’s politics can be summarized in seven words: lots of brawn and little or no brain.


The experiment of Uganda as a nation state has now been going on for close to 60 years. This writer need to confess that at the half-century-plus mark since Independence, many Ugandans are in a state of mind and live in social, economic and political conditions that fall way short of the sense of the optimism and high expectation that prevailed when the new nation of Uganda was declared independent and admitted to the United Nations in 1962.


There is a sense of defeatism in the Ugandan psych and action. A key indicator of this sense of defeatism is the large number of citizens who have simply “checked out” of Uganda, and millions more want to follow them. In 2011, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that remittances from Diaspora Ugandan constituted 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Uganda. Around the same time, it was reported that the current President of Uganda had suggested the Uganda should invest more money in its medical and nursing schools – SO THAT, the President explained, the country may send more doctors and nurses abroad, and those doctors and nurses may send more money back to Uganda. It seems that even Uganda’s political leadership gave up long ago on any real prospect of internally generated socio-economic and technological progress and development.


Not too many years ago, the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem made the following statement in New York:


"If an American ship docked at Lagos port today, with a huge banner reading ‘Slave ship to America', there would a queue of millions of Nigerians wanting to get on that ship."    


The same statement can be made about Uganda today.


Is there then a future for Uganda? The answer is a resounding YES! In spite of the serial appropriation of power and the impositions of military rule by various cliques, in the long run, brain will win over brawn. I pray that Mulera’s Fireplace (Mulera’s Kyooto) will grow and be a key contributing agent to the triumph of ideas and hope over muscular power and despair.

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