By Stanley Ndawula
Around this time in 2012, I aimlessly drove along Acacia Avenue. I was deeply hurt and lost in thoughts, ‘why us, why Uganda, why always in the dying minutes? I murmured but with no answers coming forth. I was fully donned in a yellow (as it was then) Uganda Cranes jersey. Shortly at Namboole, we had just lost by a whisker, another chance to participate in Africa Cup of Nations.
I needed some noise around and I found myself seated in Casablanca which I knew for sure, won’t disappoint. The place was fully packed but as usual, a six-seater table was secured for me (They knew I always had big company but this time I wasn’t to have any). Some puffs with intervals of rapid sips on Lambrusco freely ran down my throat but I still felt alone and bitter. “Excuse me…,” I looked up at three young white girls (I later learnt they were Canadians), “It is full in here, do you mind our company,” one asked but I was already beckoning them to sit.
“Welcome back from Namboole,” Kristina, the most talkative started. “We are also from there. It was so sad we (Uganda) lost. So sorry about that,” she continued. “I haven’t been there but I know the results. Yeah, it was quite bad,” I answered, adding that I was actually from office. Her use of the ‘we’ had already caught my attention though. Because she was in Uganda, her association to the National Team at this critical point was crucial for her comfort amongst Ugandans, or so she must have believed.
Synonymous with these young whites is company of Ugandan young Rastafarian-like boys. Indeed, as I pressed the third round order for us, Kristina begged if I would allow their company of two to join us. I nodded in approval as she resumed her conversation on her set. “Please come over at the extreme upper end of the gardens,” she directed the recipient before two young boys, in ‘ragtag’ T-Shirts and torn jeans joined us.
Out of the blue, Kristina resumed the Crane loss talk with them. “But what exactly went wrong? Didn’t they have enough training or rehearsals?” Without mincing words, one of the boys, Tommy replied, “No. It’s the government and our STUPID President. The old man has no love for sports. He’s only fond of stealing our money.” Dead silence followed… Pwaaaa, a glass of wine ran direct to his face. Before he could even clear his face… chwaaaa, ttuuuu, two hot slaps and a huge blow that even left the soft fingers hurting had safely landed on him before security grabbed him for his safety.
“I am sorry Mzee. It won’t happen again,” he said as he struggled to disentangle from the seemingly painful grip of the ‘kanyama’ (body builder guard). “He deserved it but please forgive him. He is otherwise a good lad,” Kristina pleaded. “I am sorry about this Ndugu, let him be,” I addressed the Kanyama. He did as requested and the soaked lad resumed his seat but not without “I’m sorry sir. Thank you again, I will behave.”
OMG! I had just fought, moreover in a public place! Is it because I loved the person of Museveni to that extent? Of course No… Is it because I am NRM? Good Jesus! NO… Patriotism is madness connected to one’s love for their country. One needs not to be strong to fight, or take time thinking or planning to fight for their beloved homeland. It just sets in… automatically. Some guy from the neighbouring table leaned and asked, “What attracted the public discipline?” Kristina said, “It is issues of patriotism.” Pointing at Tommy, she added, “He ridiculed government and abused the person of the President before visitors (Pointing a finger at her and the two friends).” The gentleman and his friends nodded in satisfaction. “That was a good one boss. Young man, you deserved even more.”
I felt a little bit ok now. Since that time, I keenly pay attention to PATRIOTISM. It is sad though that Uganda’s habitants and real Ugandans lost it long before they could notice its worth and importance. And I am not putting the blame to any Ugandan but two people. Uganda’s two problems on patriotism are Resistant President Museveni and Defiant Dr. Kiiza Besigye. They have done whatever in their reach to have Ugandans hate selves, their culture, their leaders, their homes and actually their esteem.
According to Wikipedia; Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one’s own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.
Other researches inform me that love for one’s ancestry, culture or homeland is the root meaning of patriotism. Derived from the Greek kputrios (“of one’s fathers”) or patris (one’s fatherland”) the Oxford English Dictionary defines a patriot as “one who disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly exerts himself to promote the well-being of his country.” A patriot is “one who maintains and defends his country’s freedom or rights.” While we tend to think of a patriot as a person who puts his country first in opposition to another country, originally the term meant one who supported the rights of “country” or “land” against the King and his court.
According to the description above, any Ugandan can claim to be a patriot, depending on their view of the true meaning of the word. In 2003, the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) put America as the country with most patriotic citizens. It was a survey but in fact, anyone in the know of the true meaning of the word will tell you how Americans love their country.
Actually I am told that what African TV’s receive as American news is actually a sieved edition. That is how far they can go to protect the sovereignty their beloved America. I am sure they must be laughing at us whenever they see petitions from Ugandans, asking them to seal money taps to Uganda, a thing they can never maintain because they are the real beneficiaries of such Funds.
Since 1986, President Museveni and his NRA cum NRM cum NRMO have concentrated on ‘trivial’ matters like, constructing roads which unpatriotic Works’ Ministers and staff choose to ‘implement’ sub standardly and pocket the dimes. The same roads are destroyed by unpatriotic Ugandans who, because their leader in Kizza Besigye has been arrested, teargased or mishandled on camera, burn rubber tyres on them.
In the same survey above, NORC examines two factors: how proud respondents said they were to live in their respective countries, and whether they considered their own countries superior or inferior relative to other countries. For one part of the survey, respondents had to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with five statements, for example: “I would rather be a citizen of my country than any other country in the world” and “There are some things about my country today that make me ashamed.”
If you posed such a question to Ugandans today, you will get the latter answer more than the former. If the 30yr old regime had started with considering patriotism classes on the national curriculum/syllabus right from Nursery to University levels, we would, without doubt, be seeing an Al-Gore in Dr. Besigye today, just for the sake of Uganda. But President Museveni’s NRA, with Besigye’s consent of course, chose ‘Mchakamchaka‘ training as the solution. It did not work.
Today, we see more Ugandans resolving to hate than love their country. I hear, or I am told that the widening of Northern Bypass road currently going on is solely funded by Uganda’s taxpayer money. This wouldn’t be the case because what we are fixing now was paid for by a World Bank fund, but the funds went missing in some big shots’ pockets. As a punishment, to deprive them from more dimes, they were instead transferred to other ministries. Such unpatriotic gestures by none but the State cannot have Ugandans love their country.
Now, it is upon these glaring mistakes that Dr. Kiiza Besigye has grabbed a chance to join the disgruntled Ugandans not nearer the dining table, to continue spreading unpatriotic messages and hence, recruiting more Museveni and government haters. People are highly unpatriotic that they can even Photoshop their President’s picture into a corpse, and oh yes, they go away with it, simply because, even the would be detectives to handle them are heavily tired and have never been near to the knowledge of Patriotism.
Most people who post such photos on social media have Dr. Besigye’s photo as their Profile Pictures. But he has never disassociated with such in fear of ‘losing’ support. I don’t know whether he has ever wondered what the outside world, which he loves so much, to pick interest in all his activities, thinks about his silence on such abuse of the person of the president by his people.
It is therefore my wish and belief that it is not too late for President Museveni and his personal nemesis Dr. Kiiza Besigye, irrespective of the depth of their divisions, to ‘join hands’ in the name of patriotism, and have their fanatic funs shaped into good citizens of Uganda and have the same at hearts not on their lips. Uganda is, and will always be above Museveni, Besigye and any human being. Respect her please. I rest my case.