Since insensitivity has become the second name for NRM, the millennials are ready to embrace any self-selected alternative!
Ugandans are angry. Ugandans are bakoowu. The anger has slowly been growing since early 2000s. In the past few weeks, the magnitude of the anger in people’s heads has reached boiling points. On the streets it is palpable.
On social media platforms, anger messages have been flooding since chaos broke out in Arua culminating into the cruel arrest and detention in military custody of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi and hospitalization of Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake.
Like I wrote in these pages two years ago, Mr. President you are the expert of what happens when people get angry to the level you were in 1970s and ‘80s.
I have read your books. I have also read books written by others whom you led to the bush with just 27 guns to remove a fully facilitated and protected government. And removing the government you did.
Therefore, I expect you to know better than anyone else in this country what anger, especially if it turns into a full-blown rage fest, can do to a human being. And worse still to a crowd of young people.
Why is the President angrier?
Anger has turned Ugandans into different people from what they used to be. It has made Ugandans braver. Ugandans have uncharacteristically become hyper-focused. It has prepared them to fight, even battles they know they will not win. They no longer care.
Most importantly, anger is slowly making Ugandans paradoxically more optimistic about the future. It has boosted people’s creativity; you know what I am talking about if you are following what is happening on social media.
Because Mr. President, you are not used to being detested — you are mainly used to being revered, admired, acclaimed, and celebrated – Ugandans have also turned you into an angry man.
Every time I listen to you lately, you are abusing someone or some group of people. You are calling other human beings pigs, stupid, fools, traitors, and other dreadful imageries.
Yet you used to be a very happy and charming leader. Your speeches were full of positive energy and humour — praising people you worked with, and charming up young people. So what happened?
It is human nature that no man enjoys being criticised all the time. No one enjoys being told everyday how bad they are or how poorly they do things. Everybody feels good when they are complimented. So the reason you raise your voice lately, make accusations against others, and turned defensive is because the abuses of Ugandans have gotten into your head.
Causes of anger among Ugandans
Mr. President, likewise it is anger that is forcing young people to do unthinkable things such as stoning your convoy, abusing you on social media, heckling you in Parliament and other official functions.
If I were part of government, the question I would ask now would be: why have Ugandans become this angry? Psychologists tell us that there are three major causes of anger:
1) When people’s desires, goals or expectations are not met;
2) When people feel threatened; and
3) When people are trying to hide other emotions such as failure to accomplish what they promised others to do.
Mr. President, you and your colleagues in NRA/NRM know that you succeeded to stage a guerrilla war against a fully established government in just five years because you fought a ‘just’ war and a just cause. What made it just? You listened to what people had to say. You were sensitive to their grievances. You were sensitive to their emotions. Listening to people has always been NRM’s main source of strength.
Lately, insensitivity has become the second name for NRM. Our freedom fighters no longer want to listen to what people say. You say, write and do things that are very conceited and insensitive.
For example, weeks before the Bobi Wine fiasco, I was asking myself the following questions: Who suggested the recent taxes (social media and mobile money taxes) to government? Who sold the idea to the President and his Cabinet?
What do millennials want?
I continued asking myself; who is the chief advisor of government and President Museveni in particular? Is he/she up to something fishy? Why is the President so determined to anger Ugandans? How can he fail to know that the social media tax (over the top – OTT tax) was designed in such a way that it makes Ugandans angry 12 months, 52 weeks, and 365 days a year?
How did the President fail to see that the mobile money tax would mobilise millions of people who receive remittances from their relatives against him and his government? Why did the President write a provocative letter labeling Ugandans gossipers and rumour mongers who should be taxed?
Mr. President, it appears to me that you have failed to realise that the new generation of Ugandans (the bazukulu) is different from the one the NRM started its tenure with. This is a millennial generation – that demands to be treated as special and important, confident in comparison to their parents, and group oriented but civic-minded.
On account of the apparent generational gap between you the leaders (grandparents) and the led (millennial), your government and in particular you are cumulatively doing things that are making Ugandans angrier every passing day.
The current generation has only heard about the bad things that past governments allegedly did. They have heard, and some of us also read from literature, that during specifically Amin’s and Obote’s governments, the state was synonymous with extra-judicial killings, horrendous violence, torture and economic stagnation. They have also heard that during those days there was no security of life and property. And that this is the reason you picked arms to fight those governments.
Nepotism, cronyism, patronage
Today they are witnessing the same things. They see their colleagues gunned down during protests and they wonder: why didn’t the security forces arrest him and present him to courts of law? Why do police and the military use excessive (anger-filled) force to quell riots?
The truth of the matter, Mr. President, is that nowadays Ugandans have given up on their leaders. They think about you only when they are discussing government flaws and the country’s predicaments. People have become more cynical about the true original motive of their liberators.
They look at the level of nepotism, cronyism, and patronage in government that has reached stinking levels and they lose hope. For the younger ones (the bazukulu), these realities hit them harder.
They look at you the leaders as if you fought for self-enrichment. Barely a handful of you went to the bush with any wealth or even income to write home about. Gladly many of you have written your biographies, and in them you narrate the stories of your humble beginnings, and in some cases go further to put pictures portraying the chronic levels of poverty you were living in before you got power.
Today, you are all super-rich; sleeping in villas and mansions built in record time and in the most affluent suburbs of the city and other uptown parts of this world. Estimates show that over 80% of the serious businesses in this country are owned by a handful of people, which they either run directly or by proxy.
The old joke
Leaders in government and their relatives spend more time at construction sites, ranches, sumptuous weddings and birthday parties, and shopping trips to New York, Dubai, and Beijing than they spend in offices.
In the meantime, majority of other Ugandans are languishing in poverty, their children attending the poor quality Universal Primary Education (UPE) and working in the informal economy where they share very little incomes.
Mr President, like I have written in these pages over the years, adversity is forcing Ugandans to divorce from NRM. Former US President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
The truth I want to tell you, Mr President, is that your continued stay and your growing insensitivity to people’s grievances and feelings has forced them to embrace any self-selected alternative. Imagine now you are fighting with and being defeated by Bobi Wine (the singer of bada), and all other interesting rivals to your government.
An old joke has it that, heaven is where the chefs are French, the police are British, the lovers are Italians, the car mechanics are Germans, the fighters are Russians, and it is all organised by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the police are Germans, the lovers are Russians, the car mechanics are French, the fighters are Swiss, and it is all organised by the Italians. Next week I will show you how this joke has since metamorphosed to include Uganda.