By Ronald Bills Agaba
Thanks to President Museveni for living true to one of the central characteristics of old age, which is telling the truth.
Old people, just like children are never afraid of expressing their true feelings no matter the circumstances.
In his recent missive about by-elections now dubbed by social media as “Museveni missive to Bobi Wine” – one point made by the president caught my attention.
Whereas Museveni articulated issues like wanton corruption, youth unemployment, poor service delivery, failure of leaders to connect with the youth and elusiveness of the so called NRM/A ideology, these are secondary to my core concern.
So I was struck by the point of HECKLING and SHOUTING at the president by village folks in Kamuli and semi-urban youth in Kyadondo East.
This is a new development far from “you need another rap?” Anybody who paid the least attention to this president’s missive should note this with the seriousness it deserves.
How did the Hon. Anite heckling and shouting choir at Rt. Hon. Mbabazi during that sole-candidate retreat at Kyankwanzi end up at the door step of the President?
The more you think about it, the more you are tempted to borrow the signature rhetoric of Museveni’s own comedy sensational, a one teacher Mpamire a.k.a Mendo, whose headline rib- cracking skit always asks “What went what? What went wrong?”
I ask what went wrong because personally I’m what commentators have baptized “Museveni children” those of us born in 1986 and thereafter; as children we couldn’t escape the euphoria and the romance between our parents and communities around us with their leader.
I vividly recall the 1996 campaigns (I was in primary four) and the 2001 presidential elections (I was in senior two) where the people in Museveni’s support sang one chorus “Museveni our man”.
How did this same crowd abandon the civilized chorus of “our man” and resort to shouting and heckling the same man?
I’m as riveted by this question as everyone else. Is it the crowd that has gone mad or their man has betrayed them. Was the chorus of our man about the man or the hope that this man espoused on their behalf.
The answer for this paradigm shift is not an opinion to be debated but rather a fact to be dealt with.
The president is a big fan of Ankole proverbs. There’s one that “When you steal while carrying a baby on your back, that is direct internship of the young-star into the enterprise of thieving”.
I say this because not so long ago, in the president’s own backyard, the Ugandan youth and the public were treated to a spectacle during the primaries for EALA MPs.
With humans in yellow, the meeting descended into what I can conveniently term as election pornography characterized by shouting, heckling, fist fights, open bribery and everything other than what is expected of national leaders.
Never mind the morality: It should have been obvious that the political cost of this awful conduct would be very high.
Mr. President, You gave your generation peace and security. We, your children born after 1986 have grown under this peace and for this we are grateful, but it would be asking for too much to cling to this achievement for eternity.
What we want are jobs, institutions, inspirational leaders, a meritocratic system, and most of all SPACE, -yes, space for us to offer our best ideas the same way Uganda offered your generation an opportunity.
Without meaningful engagement, the Ugandan youth increasingly feel alienated in Project Uganda.
My personal reading of this dangerous political culture of heckling lies in the wise counsel of the president’s own friend and former presidential candidate Mbabazi who came up with a phrase “Do you want change or you want more of the same?”
The crowd seems tired of the same. The solution lies in change. Does the President hold this key to change; your guess is as good as mine.
Truly, Anite and company, appear to have been so wrapped up in their own propaganda and personal survival at Kyankwanzi when they heckled and shouted at Mbabazi that they never noticed the dangerous political seeds they were sowing. And it’s finally starting to matter.