Pablo On Magical Presidential Handshakes

salve erectile sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Their first encounter was on the maiden day of the Nairobi peace talks between the Tito Okello junta and the then National Resistance Army on August 26, cialis 40mg 1985.

President Museveni skipped the junta vice chairman, Col Gad Wilson Toko, Foreign Affairs Minister Olara Otunnu and stretched his arm to only greet the minister of Internal Affairs, Dr Paul Ssemogerere, who was seated next to them.

Both presidents had another encounter during the consecration of Bishop Johnson Gakumba of Northern Uganda diocese at St Phillips cathedral on December 20, 2009.

President Museveni came face-to-face with Otunnu within arm’s-length in a pavilion but again there was no shake of hands.

It was not until 2011 during the celebrations to mark 100 years of the Catholic Church in Acholi that Dr Otunnu and President Museveni faced each other again in a space of 18 months.

And this time they shook hands.

You might wonder why the president is always cautious before shaking people’s hands, but he made it clear that it is a precaution against the deadly Ebola virus.

But Ambassador Olara Otunnu is not alone. It took me almost two decades to shake President Museveni’s hand again.

The first time was in 1992 at Bushenyi state lodge. He had hosted the then Kenya president Daniel Toroitich arap Moi.

I was among the few choir members from Bweranyangi primary school who had been selected to entertain the presidents.

We were at Bushenyi state lodge by 7am for the routine security check. The presidents arrived at 1pm.

We were subjected to five hours of hunger. Nobody was allowed to leave the space that had been allocated to us.

Fortunately, the then Presidential Protection Unit commander, Lt Col Godfrey Akanga Byaruhanga, was an uncle to my best friend, Adam Kamuntu.

He was excited to see him among the infants set to entertain the presidents. He invited Adam Kamuntu and his sister Eva Bashemaire to his car.

I tagged along. I remember Adam giving him a vague introduction of how I was their distant relative on their father’s side.

Their dad, Rev Canon Dr Sam Rubunda, is now a presidential advisor on religious affairs. We were treated to assorted biscuits and soda.

We could read a very sad story written on the faces of our schoolmates who were attentively watching us as we crunched the army biscuits.

While we were still appeasing the stomach devils, a radio call came through that the helicopter carrying the presidents was about to touchdown.

There was commotion among the soldiers and peasants who had come to get a glimpse of the presidents.

There was no time to join our schoolmates. The late Col Jet Mwebaze handed me two packets of biscuits and told me not to make any movement until the presidents pass.

After alighting from the helicopter, the presidents proceeded to greet the locals. I remember staring at President Daniel arap Moi’s attire for a long time.

He was wearing a green-checkered coat, khaki pants and brown shoes.

I don’t know how it happened, but before I knew it President Museveni was standing right in front of me extending his arm to greet me.

“How are you?” he said, giving my hand a firm grip. It was a memorable moment among my peers.

I was even appointed class monitor thereafter because of my new presidential status.

We didn’t take pictures because the only two cameramen in the district at the time were absent.

Famous photographer, Elly Rwakoma, couldn’t be there because he was a staunch UPC supporter and the other cameraman, Bampata, had travelled to Mbarara to buy a Kodak film for his optical camera.

Fast forward to 2011.

President Museveni and his Rwanda counterpart President Paul Kagame were the chief guests at the Young Achievers awards, which I was privileged to host, at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo.

It was the first time for some people to see Rwanda’s strongman, Paul Kagame, having a hearty laugh after listening to some of my strange stories that bring out the lighter side of people.

When the event was done, there was commotion among the guards trying to control the guests who were struggling to greet both presidents.

I was busy staring and marvelling at President Kagame’s height when President Museveni extended his arm to greet me.

Like in 1992, I didn’t see him come.

“How are you?” he said before adding, “Good job” with a firm grip of my hand like the one in 1992.

Hopefully, next time the hand will come with an envelope.


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