topical issues,politics and society

FDC Extremism: Why Andrew Mwenda is wrong.

I hate extremism, and radicalism. But I think Andrew M. Mwenda has failed to diagnose the disease. If he honestly thinks that the problem is the way certain Ugandans (the so-called radicals) express their feelings/opinion, then he is part of the problem.

There is a big number of Ugandans that feel extremely excluded politically, socially, economically…etc. And they are not few. When the holders of power use it exclusively, to the detriment of others, things like radicalism, extremism happen.

Things like term limits, age limits. And other such controls in our laws were put to maintain a healthy balance of power between the different interest groups. The idea is also to avoid situation where one or a few interest group(s) hold power exclusively for a long time, thereby rendering other groups powerless and hopeless. This balance of power helps in maintain some bit of peace in a society, as all groups, it is expected will feel like they have had a chance at power, economic successes, social benefits, etc.

These controls are even more relevant in young democracies (like in Africa), where state institutions are powerless. They cannot run fair and credible elections, the Police is largely partisan (usually on the side of the ones with political power), the ruling parties are almost fused with the state, the levels of patronage are at the top…etc.

When people are in a state of despair, they usually act irrationally. And that is what we are seeing.

I also think Andrew M. Mwenda is dishonest when he tries to make it look like extremist and radicalism are only exhibited in the Forum for Democratic Change party. We are deal with supporters of various parties on a regular basis. I can tell you that radicalism/extremism are trains common in all parties. There is actually no difference between a typical NRM / FDC supporter. Most supporters of both parties can hardly front an argument and rationally/logically defend it. Both are extremely royal to their heroes (M7 and KB). Their supporters are drawn from the same society. Trying to make the situation look like FDC is the birth of extremism is not honest/true at all.

And for Andrew M. Mwenda to call Kizza Besigye a radical, extremist, etc is the most laughable thing I have ever heard. I have followed the two for a long time, and we both know, who among the two hates divergent views. The public can judge on that.

But most importantly, we need to examine the cause of this unpleasant//dangerous behavior, instead of pointing fingers. Mwenda calls himself a researcher. I guess that would be a good research topic.



Kyadondo: Why Bobi Wine Should Win

I wish Bobi Wine wins this election! For me, this means a lot.

One: It is a big defeat  to the combined force of Museveni and Besigye. Both men have heavily backed their respective candidates. If Bobi Wine beats them, it means that their political invincibility is steadily fading.

Two: The fading invincibility of KB and YKM is good for generational balance. We live in a country dominated (in numbers) by youth, but dominated by men and women of 60+ (politically & economically). A critical look at our cabinet clearly tells you this.

I am tired of the “before 1986” club of political leaders. That story is very irrelevant to many youths. Many young Ugandans were not there before 1986, and that is not our problem. We actually do not care! Whatever happened before 1986 is their business. That was their problem. The chaps that took up arms, Thank You for playing Heros! But we still don’t care. That was your problem, and you took care of it. We too have our own problems. Just like we don’t care about your problems of 1980, you too do not care about our current problems. But that is not fair. While we were not there in 1980, you are actually still here in 2016!  Kindly leave 2016 for us.

It is not an accident that the prices of air time and internet are so high in Uganda. How do you expect a man of 70 years to understand the impact of the internet in Uganda today? How do you expect a man who used the Post Office for communication during his prime, to understand the need to have cheap internet prices? Does such a man understand that many Ugandans use the internet as their trade platform? Many young Ugandans, now rely on the internet for their businesses. Well, even rent for office space is immoral. An online office makes sense. But this “before 1986” generation will never understand that.

For me, Bobi Wine’s win is as important as it is symbolic. His win, will be a clear communication that we, the young, are taking care of our generation. We need to take charge so that we can also tell our children a story. Just like our fathers told us the stories about the “bush-war heros” as we grew up, we too need to write our own story to tell our children, otherwise, they will ask us where we were when our country went to the dogs.

The Rush Back to Basics

A few years back,one had to roam around Kampala to find a bar that plays real good Old School music.
(For purposes of this post I will limit Old Skool to music released mainly between 1980-2000. I know some people will disagree with me. But again,this is my wall).
However,it can not be denied that there is an active segment/fan base of this beautiful music(some people I know,like Joggo Adams,Alex Hunt,…etc listen to nothing else!).
Other people,just for the love of music have even sacrificed time and made sure that the music does not fade away. This explains the popular Old Skool party,trading under the franchise Back II Basics. And yet other people have even taken it to a different level! Someone started a bar that plays strictly Old School music. This bar plays music as far as the 1960s,…24/7! Thanks to the brain behind Old Timers-Ntinda (now in Ntinda,again!).
One time,I remember Dj Val Oketcho,with a lot of worry in his tone,saying, “Man,we are getting extinct”.
But that was then. Today,it looks like there is an unwritten rule. A rule that every bar that is worth mentioning,should dedicate a day, or two to Old Skool music. Some,weekly,others at least once or twice a month. The trend has become so unpredictable that you could actually listen to Old School music almost everyday,if you spread your week through different bars. Even bars that have been known to be popular with a very young crowd of 90s born(s) have actually welcomed this.
The beauty about this trend is that the music is being played by people who have been in the game,and actually understand this music. We are talking about people like Selector Jay,Val,Mose,Michos,Dru Nyce, Pita, Gee Em, etc. I have met Alex Ndawula several times at these themed parties. This means that one can be sure of enjoying real good music.

But for me, the question is why this trend? What has changed so much in our entertainment industry, that suddenly there is this sudden desire to go back to basics? Is it the invasion of a lot of music,that more often disappears as soon as it is released? Perhaps its the truth: that there was better music back then…

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A Letter to My Friend: Mr.Justus Amanya.

Dear Justus,

I want us to be honest with each other. Before the Europeans came, Africa had political systems. You know it that most of them were largely decentralized. Too fragmented. Most nations with political systems were largely monarchies-headed by Kings and Chiefs. That to me is dictatorship because there was no fairness in the way the affairs of those nations were run. The King was the King. Period. Buganda was a bit organized. But you know the issues of Obugabe in Nkore. You know it very well that certain people would never be appointed chiefs. They actually could not even own land..at one point.  Africa at large was not different.

Then came in the people from the West. They took advantage of our disorganization to entrench their rule. They did not introduce the unfairness in Africa. They did not create family/clan rules. They simple took advantage of them in order to strengthen their rule.

Then they introduced democracy. Democracy is not  perfect. It is the rule of the majority over the minority. But Africa was in some places worse. We had the rule of the minority over the majority: in Nkore, Mpororo,Rwanda,Burundi,Tooro…etc. Anyway, democracy came. Imperfect as it may be,it is the fairest in the circumstances….if you consider the various forms of government. My friend,if democracy is so so western and bad, tell me the available option(s): Aristocracy,Monarchies,Kraterocracy,Plutocracy,Geniocracy,Technocracy,Oligarchy,Authoritarianism…?? Justus, tell me!

While I agree with you that the West contributed to our problems, lets also agree that it was long time ago. Almost every successful country in this world was colonized: India,China,America……etc. How come they aren’t like us??

Its true. Gadaffi did good things for Libya. But he failed to build a system through with continuity would thrive. He made himself the Alpha & Omega of Libya,just like our own is doing here in Uganda. Its true there was confusion in 1980. In 1986,something good happened. But that good thing was destroyed in 2005. You now know the general feeling of the people on the ground. The anger,the frustration,the divided nation…(Mr.Andrew Mwenda prefers to call this radical activism), but I disagree with him.

The problem we have in Africa is that we believe in strong men/women. Museveni,Besigye, Musisi, Muntu,Nyerere,Gadaffi,Mandela,Mubarak..etc. We forget that humans are only mortal.

What we need are systems. We need systems that supplement the weaknesses of individuals. We want continuity. That is where African leaders have failed us. It is very dangerous to concentrate power in individuals. When you concentrate power in individuals,you destroy systems/institutions and create dictatorships. I guess you now see that the definition of dictatorship is simple. Just like that.

Democracy is not perfect. But it has a balance point. The balance point lies in interests. Common interests bring people together. Depending of individual interests,the majority/minority always shift. That is why “Person A” will vote Museveni in 2016, and vote Mao in 2021. Democracy grows. You give it time and entrench the culture, with honesty and transparency. It is not magic. It does not work overnight. People have to believe in the systems. People have to trust the actors: the electoral bodies,the leaders,the institutions of the state, etc. Then acceptable and believable democracy can thrive. That culture is what lacks in Africa. And do not blame the West. I do not think the Americans told Kigundu to delay voting materials for most of Kampala and Wakiso earlier this year. It was our political dishonesty. And his failure in that aspect dented the credibility of the election.

Democracy is not the best,but African leaders have only made it worse.

Good evening!

Book Review: The Color of Water – James McBride.

“God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.” Over the years, I have read books, good books, but none like James McBride’s The Color of Water. I am one of those people that believe in si…

Source: Book Review: The Color of Water – James McBride.

Book Review: The Color of Water – James McBride.

“God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”

Over the years, I have read books, good books, but none like James McBride’s The Color of Water. I am one of those people that believe in simplicity because there is no better means of self-expression.  James in this book tells his story, and his mother’s story (as told to him by her) in the most genuine and authentic manner, and style ever. That book-color-of-waterway he verily tackles serious historical, and current global issues, like racism, cultural dilemma, poverty, ignorance, drug abuse, crime, religion, etc, in the simplest, yet effective manner. This is a story of true love, resilience, passion, pain, and joy!

“You don’t need money. What’s money if your mind is empty! Educate your mind!”

James tells his story of growing up with his exceptional family. A family of twelve black children, raised by their Jewish (we could also say white) mother in a very difficult time. He tells an impos


James & Ruth


sible story. How a Jewish woman, forgotten by her Jewish family (for marrying a black man) works against odds, founds a Baptist church in a black community, builds a family, and lives to see all her twelve children through college.

Ruth, the daughter of a rabbi and a loving disabled mother, born in Poland and raised in Suffolk, fled the south to Harlem-New York at 17, married a black man in 1941. She is twice widowed; and despite hardship, poverty, suffering, she, together with her children see success at the end of the tunnel.

In the words of The Times, I would say that The Color of Water is a startling, tender-hearted tribute to a woman for whom the expression tough love might have been invented.


NOTE: Unfortunately, this book is not available in any of our Book Stores. I made a special order with Aristoc. It was delivered within 2 weeks.

Why I don’t go to church.

Last evening, I happened to share a ride with someone, a young lady I was meeting for the first time. Well, our journey was purely on business. As we got confortable with each other, she suddenly asked me a question: “where do you go to church?” My answer was brief, and clear: “I don’t go to church.” With her eyes, wide open, she asked, “what?” Noticing that I was unbothered by her facial expression, she then asked, “but you pray. Right?” Feeling rather uncomfortable, I slowly answered, “not particularly.” But this time, she wanted to move out of my car.

Well, this is not the first time I was experiencing such a scenario. I have had to go through this a number of times.

Truth be told, I don’t think the church, as an institution; and religion, as a axis of spirituality, are necessary aspects of human life. While many religious/spiritual people believe that religion/spirituality are the very essence of human life, I don’t buy the idea. I believe that the essence of human life/existence is only defined by one thing: our conscience. It therefore follows that one does not need to be spiritual, or religious to live an upright life.

Let us take an example of Christianity. The belief is that living up to the direction of the Ten Commandments defines human righteousness. That means that for one to be good, he or she must read the Bible and do as directed by the Commandments/Bible. And that’s where I disagree. One does not need religion to tell from wrong to right. Does one need religion to teach him that abusing one’s parents is wrong? No! It is within our conscience. When you are born, even before introduction to any form of religion, you know it. Inside you, it is clear that respecting one’s parents is important. Perhaps, the only thing religion inserts is the sanction: hell, which is largely a threat. Religion is not a child of natural conscience. That is why it requires a threat in order to exist. That is what makes religion irrelevant to me. And of course, you cannot separate religion from church. People have tried, but I doubt that milk and cream can really be clearly distinguished.

The other reason I find religion/church a pure joke is the message. When I read the Bible (which I really do by the way), all I see is the message of salvation. The universe starts from nowhere. God creates Adam and Eve. All is good. Then, Eve and Adam disappoint God. God passes harsh judgment. Ever since, humanity is trying to ask for forgiveness from God. Jesus came and died for the same reason: Salvation! Deliverance! Redemption! That is why we pray, all day, all night, to be forgiven, and given a second chance. That is what I see in the Bible.

But what is the church doing today? The church is not preaching redemption. The church is preaching prosperity. Riches. Making money. Material things. The church’s focus is no longer human conscience. The church is looking at the physical being. But is it not true that man loves material things? Could it therefore be true that the church is simply taking advantage of man’s problems to progress its message?

And, can we separate the head from the body? I say, NO! I mean, look at what our religious leaders have become: extortionists, thieves, political prophets, adulterers, wife-snatchers, and smugglers. Some are even doctors, they cure HIV! Does this inspire any confidence? Why should I share religious/communion space with such a person?

Well, I don’t believe in the conventional religion. I believe in the dogma of humanity. I believe in love. The sense of right and wrong. And the test is simple: if you feel/know that something would, if done to you be hurtful, then it is wrong, if you do it to another person. If we treated others the same way we would like to be treated, then this would be a better place.

A Lost Generation: Uganda’s Disillusioned Youth

Almost every day, the traffic along Entebbe road, leading into Kampala, will draw slowly to a stop. Seconds later, a wailing police car will buzz between the halted cars and taxis. A moment of silence, and President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade will shoot past, all sirens and khaki-clad soldiers. If you look closely, you’ll see the President himself through a black limousine’s window (he’s usually reading a newspaper).

As Museveni rushes from his residence into Kampala to address Uganda’s political crises this scene is repeated endlessly – the next renegade former ally, the latest action in the campaign against Al-Shabaab or the next politically motivated arrest. With campaigns winding up and battle lines already being drawn for the 2016 election, it seems the number of army-escorted journeys can only increase.

These trips seem to be working for the president, who is enjoying his 29th year at the head of his NRM-fronted regime. His stranglehold on Ugandan politics is tighter than ever, with Presidential challenger (and former Prime Minister) Amama Mbabazi’s campaign for office recently stopped short with his undramatically simple arrest, and plans for the President’s son’s eventual takeover rumoured to be well underway. Uganda seems anything but the near-dictatorial state that it is – political violence is infrequent and isolated, and anti-government movements are rare. The two armoured police trucks that loom over Kampala’s city square appear to be guarding against nothing.

But this stability reflects not satisfaction, but disillusionment. Would-be voters know that casting their ballot is a pointless gesture in a rigged election that will, like every election since 1996, return the president to power. Citizens reluctantly accept that hopefuls like Mbabazi, will either lack the weight to run a proper campaign or face arrest (and many are as corrupt as the incumbent, anyway). Museveni will win because he always has.

Importantly, disillusionment isn’t limited to cynical adults who have lived under him for decades. Students and young graduates, historically key players in African political resistance, have succumbed to the regime’s obsessive self-protection. Museveni has been around for thirty years, and few see potential for upheaval. As one third year student put it, ‘He’s going to win. He’s been winning elections all my life.’

The gloomy implications for Uganda’s future are clear – if change is to happen, it’s unlikely to come through the gates of Makerere University or one of the country’s other student establishments.
This isn’t an accident. Museveni’s policies have cleverly targeted the educated elite that could go on to be his challengers. Government funded scholarships have been cut, ensuring that the majority of those at university are fortunate enough to have a lot to lose, and legislation currently being pushed through will reduce much-needed flexibility when paying fees. Activists like Kizza Besigye, particularly popular amongst students, have been undermined and humiliated. Voices of resistance like that of “TVO” (Tom Voltaire Okwalinga), a shadowy Facebook profile with remarkably accurate political information and a very open anti-Museveni message, are tracked in expensive online pursuits and forced even deeper into cyberspace. Dozens of police surround sites that could, like the city square, be starting points for protests. Most importantly, Museveni’s police have consistently shut down peaceful student demonstrations as soon as they start, with the ring leaders arrested and often given lengthy prison sentences -it’s relatively uncommon to find a graduate who hasn’t been stung by their liberal use of tear gas.

Young people aren’t seduced by Museveni’s rhetoric – they understand that another five years of his rule means another five years of inefficiency and autocracy. They would have, like most observers, noticed the irony as Museveni nodded slowly in response to President Kenyatta’s assertions about the importance of young people in his recent address to the Ugandan parliament. But Museveni very carefully avoids overstepping the mark -the police action and state-run repression never quite grow serious enough to spark more widespread dissent, and the students accept him with reluctance. This leads to attitudes like those of Ella, a 22 year old student who understands that although ‘he is bad, he could be worse.’ She added ‘I don’t like him, but I don’t mind him that much, either’.

It’s this political climate that means the president is safer than ever. In dealing with the youngest population in the world, the president is ready to absorb at least another generation into his legacy. Like their parents, the youth of today accept the foregone election result as unchangeable – devoid of hope and optimism, they focus instead on trying to get jobs in Uganda’s struggling economy, where some estimates put youth unemployment at almost 85 percent. Behind a bulletproof window, reading the newspaper that he runs, escorted by police he controls, Museveni is untouchable, and everyone knows it.

An article by:

Charles Parkes

Politics student, University of Oxford

Adopted from The Huffington Post.

Why Uganda does not need a Parliament.

Just when I thought that the 2016 elections are getting closer, and our “honourable” parliament was getting busier with panic, I got reminded that I am wrong. The small news item that caught my eye was the intention or plans by our Members of Parliament to put a permanent ban on shisha smoking. For those that may not know, shisha is a mainly flavored and condensed tobacco, smoked through a pipe. I am not a doctor, and neither am I a chemist. I therefore will not get into the extent of effect on its smokers, both active and passive. Besides, that is off the point.

Parliament did not just sit, this was an emergency session-to discuss the ban on shisha!

This brings me to the question that we need to answer, as taxpayers. To what extent should our legislature, legislate? Put in another way; what matters-for purposes of making law-should be discussed before our parliament? The answer seems very obvious: all matters of national importance. True.

But does our parliament have all the time to discuss every single matter of national importance? My answer is NO. One will, at this time ask: so what happens to other matters that are not solved by parliament? This question leads me to where we are going.

An effective parliament does not have to talk about every single element of life: roads, bridges, children, drugs, cars, bulbs, grass, forests……… An effective parliament/government draws effective policy. Policy that reflects all aspects of life. Proper planning/policy formulation, without doubt solves most problematic aspects of any state without necessarily going trivial in legislation. That was question one.

My second question: to what extent? Should parliament legislate on just anything? I have always held an opinion that private matters, or matters of an individual should bot be the business of the state. Reason is simple: it is giving the state too much powers/leverage. The structure any society is that the political structure is already empowered, leaving the individual powerless, largely at the mercy of the state. Giving the state the right over the private life of an individual is one of the highest forms of human rights abuse.

Why should the state decide what I eat, what I dress in, my religion, my sexual orientation, what I watch on TV, what I read…..? How is one’s private life of concern to the state?? There is a line that must not be crossed. The individual must jealously guard his/her dignity.

Obviously, if the actions of an individual affect a third-party, the state comes in; not to stop the individual from enjoying his/her right, but to regulate his enjoyment of such a right in such a way that other people are not affected negatively.

We have so many newspapers on IMG-20150727-WA0063-cropthe street. If you do not like looking at the Red Pepper, there is the Observer for you. It is about choice. If you feel like music TV channels are rather too pornographic, there are all sort of channels you may chose from. There should be no reason, whatsoever, to deny a certain class of people their private choices, just because you do not like them. And the state must desist from participating in such discriminatory decisions. Shisha is on the market. It is legally imported. Taxes are paid. It is a legal item. Smoking shisha is not criminal under the laws of Uganda. Most importantly, no one has been forced to smoke shisha. It is a matter of choice by a person of majority age. Bars that serve shisha are well known. If one individual feels like shisha does not work for him/her. He has a right to go to another bar, with unpolluted air. That is the beauty of the world! Choice! But it is very unfair for one to deny other people a chance to smoke, just because he/she does not like it. The same applies to TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, movies, and may others.

Another person will say: our children. They are being affected by all this pornography on TV and in newspapers. The responsibility to raise a child is the parents, until the child is of majority age. You do not deny other people a chance to enjoy what they love, just because you have failed to raise your own children. Spend some good time with your children. A TV set has never been a parent!

My message to our dear MPs is simple: this country has real problems. Gross misuse of public money, unemployment, chronic institutional failure, premature politics, terrible infrastructure. Ugandans are very poor. Those are real problems. Kindly save us that drama of: homosexuals, mini-skirts, shisha….. Solve real problems. Do not humiliate our parliamentary buildings by discussing petty matters. Grow up.

Lest I forget….

The recent events in Rwanda are interesting. Very. Mr. Andrew Mujuni Mwenda has a debt to pay. Let that be a topic for another day.

The Brutal Maid: the parody that Ugandans are.

After watching the video in which that maid is torturing that little baby, many Ugandans went judgmental. Some people called for her summary execution! And they are there…claiming to fight for justice. Very few  though about a proper trial.

Then when city human rights lawyer, Mr. Rwakafuzi declared that he is willing to represent the maid in court during her trial, some funny Ugandans started yapping. They called Mr. Rwakafuzi all sorts of names, which was obviously uncalled for. My question is, doesn’t that maid have a right to a fair trial? Now wait, let court grant her bail, and you will hear noise! That woman is innocent before the law. Calling for her summary execution is the clearest expression of inborn injustice. Human beings are quick to point fingers when they are not victims, just like they are the quickest to make noise/complain when they are victims.

Again, remember that a lawyer, in execution of his/her duties must separate work from unnecessary emotions. His work is to make sure that his client is given a fair trial, as envisaged under the laws of Uganda. He must not succumb to public pressure. The law is not populist by nature. It is just the law.
The brutality Ugandans have poured at the maid is no different from the brutality the maid directed to the baby. And the last time I looked at the dictionary, such behavior was described as “double standards”. You may also call it hypocrisy.

The actions of the maid cannot be justified. But despite what she did, and even if the baby actually died, the maid would still be entitled to her constitutional rights, especially, the right to a fair trial.

As for me, this event has taught me one thing: that Ugandans are the biggest fans of irrational mob (in)justice.