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Which of the Two Sides Represents the Interests of the Foot-soldiers?


Daniel Kakuru

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Let’s start this in 2002.
I am five or six or thereabouts. The FIFA World Cup has come to a grinding halt. Of all the goalkeepers inhabiting this earth, Oliver Khan has the grandest reputation and has only conceded a negligible pair of goals at the tournament – both in the final. His name is on our lips. On everyone’s lips. We’re playing karere in the middle of the village road and I am in goal. By default, that’s where the weakest, the fattest and the least talented kids play. But lately, we have a consolation; a hero who actually wears his cap. We goalkeepers are now disciples of Oliver Khan. I am Oliver Khan himself – except that I do not exactly have the reflexes of a cat.

Birabwa, our house help, has a baby that she nurses in her free time. Its name is Aurea – something like that; I’m in an abusive relationship with names. Birabwa is doing the dishes and Aurea is crying, demanding its mother’s attention. The busy mother responds by delegating me to do the nursing. I hate having to do this. I’ve never played sex, never committed any bad manners, never participated in the creation of a baby. It feels wrong in many ways that I should be the one leaving my place as a soon-to-be professional goalkeeper and attending to a baby whose petulance has nothing to do with me. But an order from above is like one of God’s commandments; once it arrives, your opinion ceases to matter.

Babies are stupid. This Aurea prick is on my lap and I am singing it a song – I think it’s Obangaina – and it is refusing to shut up. Is my lap a prison? Its cries are splitting my ears but as if that’s not evil enough, a certain kind of wet warmth fills my pants and crawls down to my feet. Man, the prick has peed on me! I jump to my feet, startled, and set it free from its prison. Aurea falls. Head first. Screams.

I am trying to pick it up from the ground. Someone is breathing down my neck. I look up and it’s Birabwa, an angry mother. Her face has rage drawn allover it. I hear a crash. I see a flash. I hear a plane in the skies. The world shuts down.

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When I awaken – I don’t know how many hours later – I am on my back in my bed. Faces are staring down at me. I can barely tell which is which; I’m 40% blind in my left eye. My mother is talking. You deserved the slaps, she says. Everybody laughs. Wake up and wash the blood off your nose, Birabwa chimes in. Laughter. Again.

I hate babies and my hatred for them can be traced back to that day. My family was willing to sacrifice me because under my old man’s roof, house helps’ babies actually mattered as much as (if not more than) the rest of us. A baby could pee on me and get away lightly, and then I’d be skinned for my lack of foresight. How could I not see that the baby had a full bladder (that had to be emptied) and take precautionary measures? Why am I very, very stupid?

I hate that a baby can pee or poop on you and life will move on as if nothing serious happened. I hate that a stupid baby will suddenly cry just because it’s craving the attention the rest of us are accused of seeking. Worse still, I hate that we have to learn the language of animals in order for these babies to understand what we’re saying to them and the modern ones will pretend to not understand a thing.

If I were to have any children of my own, (which is highly unlikely) I would not want anything to do with them at that age when they’re learning that they’re too big for their mothers’ breasts; that they’re supposed to sit up and crawl and smile and rid their faces of the dry traces of mucus. I wouldn’t want them at that age when their shitting their pants at church, wetting their beds by night and refusing to dry their beddings by day. I wouldn’t want to associate myself with kids at that age when they’re being beaten because there’s curry powder on their anterior teeth and beans from two days ago in their molars. I abhor that stage of growth and no amount of convincing is likely to ever change my mind. I prefer the finished product. I want them at an age where they are as old as the ones of the late Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin Dada (go and find out more about the litany of his self – awarded titles).

Talking about Amin’s children, those kids are a toothache on social media. Nga they can choose to yap. Ignore this lunatic Maj. Gen. Taban Amin who is as bitter as his illiterate excuse of a father (I just watched a video in which his guards were beating up a local council leader over I don’t know what).

Today we’re only interested in Hussein Lumumba Amin. This son of Amin has dedicated his life to retelling the story of his father’s reign of terror. He lives and breathes for one thing: a day when Idi Amin will be regarded not as a dictator but as a liberator. In his eyes, his father is just a Ugandan Nelson Mandela who wore a military uniform. Everything he did was for the good of his country. If, while he lived, you had slit his wrist, the drops of blood from his body would have said Uganda! Uganda! Uganda! as they hit the ground. You will watch the blubbering son of Amin flaunting his yellow teeth, shabby beards and big lips telling the same stories we already know albeit that towards the end, he will add an ingredient that changes the entire meaning. If Amin’s political critics vanished into thin air, it was because they were traitors doing everything it would take to dirty Idi Amin’s name. Those worthless humans like Oboth Ofumbi, Benedicto Kiwanuka and countless others saw the light and, in the lieu of confessing their sins, resorted to cowardly tactics of manipulating Ugandans into believing that their deaths were caused by the then patriotic strongman. If the late Arch Bishop Janani Luwum died a political death which is still shrouded in mystery, it is because he had been caught with a whole truck loaded with firearms meant to help rebels overthrow the then incumbent government of the people. Amin’s son has told us things. Carried out online polls in which he wishes to ascertain where we now stand in as far as his late father is concerned. Do we now believe Idi Amin was misunderstood? Do we now admit that we were always wrong? Maybe he is right; we were always very, very wrong.

No matter how wrong something is, there will always be someone laying down their lives to prove a point that it’s not what it looks like. There will be someone launching a whole sequel after a decade or two, explaining crimes away and clothing them as though they were acts of charity. When Idi Amin was here turning the country upside-down and making sure no voice of dissent thrived, there were Muslim youths cheering him on, singing him songs of praise. When the educated Ugandans fled into exile fearing for their lives, these Idi Amin supporters hid their heads in the sand and had their lips stitched. They wondered, where are those paranoid birdbrains running to? When Idi Amin’s soldiers were running around like bats, beating up traders over the prices of their commodities in markets, Amin’s supporters stayed put. They said Amin was right. His soldiers zealously implemented his orders without asking themselves any personal questions. It was only when these catastrophes (abductions and extracurricular deaths) struck close to their own homes that the scales fell from their eyes and they saw some light.

Of course, we deposed Idi Amin, replaced him with worse characters, but that should not mean he was misunderstood. He was way worse than we were ever told. Those who lived in his days will tell you his reign was very, very bad.

It can be a terrible thing to support a politician and lay down your life for them. Politicians are all cut from the same cloth; be it Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye, Nobert Mao, Bobi Wine or his latest nemesis, Matthias Mpuuga. All politicians have their goals and it always ends the same way when we assume on our own that their goals are in line with ours. That’s why I find it plausible that a young Yoweri Museveni ran around the whole world and convinced these highly educated people to fight alongside him, first in FRONASA, and then in the NRA. The FRONASA operations aside, How did he drag these clever humans, most of them university graduates, from wherever they were into his NRA bush war in Luweero? How exactly did he package his message? What did he promise them? They always tell us that they were fighting for their country, but they can go to Hell; we all know the truth. But what sort of man outsmarts all these intellectuals? Maybe some of these events should inform our choices as we go about the politics of today. If a man has scammed a whole generation into fighting for his aspirations in the past, surely another can pull the same trick out of his bag.

As the foot soldiers of the NUP go about their trade, defending either their Principal or his nemesis Hon. Mpuuga, they need to have it on their minds that one day when it’s time for them to wear the crowns of victory, a handful of them will be cast aside. It doesn’t matter how hard they fought in castigating Hon. Mpuuga for his corruption scandals, or in critiquing the Principal for having no intra-party mechanism of conflict resolution.

The foot-soldiers are like monkeys in a forest; they must choose the strongest possible branch and hold onto it or else the future will be a grim reality. We wouldn’t want to see another generation of Ugandans learning from the avoidable mistakes they made along the way.


About the author: Daniel Kakuru is a worthless MugOfPorridge. His articles have appeared sporadically in print and online. He drinks, smokes and hopes to die by suicide.


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