There were eight candidates who presented themselves to be nominated to stand for the presidency of the republic of Uganda.
Oh, wait. I forgot Paddy Bitama. Ammend that statement to: there were eight candidates who presented themselves to stand for the presidency of the republic of Uganda. Eight people people and one giant oddly-shaped groundnut in a suit.
It’s a difficult choice to make and it leaves us stymied. I mean, how do you chose from such a diverse array? Well, there is one candidate who stands out, but not in a good way. His political career has been an unbroken stream of consistently grievous errors, bad judgement, misguided decisions and fouled-up policy movements. But then he wasn’t actually nominated and was only there as a stale joke, so there is no reason to even consider Bitama’s career.
Well, if you don’t know who to chose, that is what we have campaigns for. For the presidential plaintiffs to ring our doorbells and plead for our votes.
In some cases they will do it by telling us what they plan to do with the government once they hold its reigns: how we stand to benefit from having them in office.
In other cases they will just give us soap and salt.
The Season of General Election Campaigns is a unique one in that it overturns everything we have spent the past four years getting used to— the world turns upside down. Suddenly power is no longer in the hands of the government and we no longer have to snivel up and slither around people calling them “honourable” even when we know them to be anything but.
During this season political power is in the hands of the people. Radical shift.
It would be as good an idea as it sounds if only those who framed it had taken a bit of extra time to define exactly which people they mean. If they had found a way of ensuring that only people with decency in their hearts and common sense in their heads were qualified, things wouldn’t be so scary. Instead, we have every single hooligan and thug in the nation suddenly wielding the capacity to turn the country into dust.
Like a local butcher from my neighbourhood. He is a deplorable character, a loud and abrasive man who is sure (as such odious sorts too often are) that he is some sort of Che Guevara political prodigy. He stands there with his meat before him and his alcohol inside him and bellows about “them” and what “they” have done and how “they” have stolen “our” things. I guess he is entitled to that opinion, revolting as I may find it, but what worries me most is the way he fingers his matchette while he spews. I am not confident in the size and shape of my nose – I could easily be cornered by this guy and his ilk one hectic night and have them demand I prove whether I am one of “them” or one of “us”. That moment may not be the best time to discourse about how the true dichotomy of modern Ugandan society is not tribal, but is economic and that it is the divide between the rich and the poor that he should be concerned about, not the one between tribes. I fear I will be decapitated before I finish.
I hope that as we go into these campaigns, Ugandas will remember that we are doing this together for the good of all of us. That we will not let opportunists incite us to stupid and destructive acts but that we shall remember our nation and our children and make sure we build during this time and not destroy.
But just to be on the safe side, I’m going to learn a few verses of every kingdom’s anthem.