Friday, 13 January 2012

Here is how we can get Besigye and Museveni to talk

So, as the rest of the country was busy celebrating the passing of 2011, it emerged that the political colossi who have for the past decade filled our every space with their fights were planning to give us the perfect New Year gift. President Museveni will soon meet Dr Kizza Besigye for talks.
After a three-round battle that left both parties visibly bruised, these talks might just after all be the right thing to happen to both principals. But talks between men who have in the past vowed not to meet, let alone wave at each other, is something that must be handled with great care. It is because of this sensitivity that we, residents of Kireka, are offering the following itinerary for successful talks.
Where these talks take place will be very crucial to their success. President Museveni and Dr Besigye first met and struck a chord in the bushes of Luweero. Deep in the thickets, a young doctor fresh from a lucrative position in a Nairobi hospital met seasoned fighter with a great vision for his motherland. Theirs was brotherhood at first sight—with the chief fighter decreeing the young doctor stays by his side as a personal physician.
Psychologists will tell you about the impact of nature on human behaviour and we can therefore not downplay the role those bushes had in cementing this bond. Those planning these talks, therefore, should not even think about the five-star hotels that many could be mooting for this historic meeting. The talks should be held somewhere in a bush in Luweero. Of course the thriving charcoal business there has done injustice to the environment but finding undergrowth somewhere should not be such a headache.
This setting will create a sense of nostalgia between the two fighters turned comrades turned foes. President Museveni will remember the times he was down with malaria and Dr Besigye had to offer him Chloroquine jabs. On the other hand, Dr Besigye will also be overwhelmed with memories of a pencil-thin soldier spotting a moustache telling the fighters about the need to persist despite being poorly fed and dressed. “I will lead you to the land of plenty and liberty,” is a phrase Dr Besigye will recall vividly.
With the atmosphere getting relaxed, we should be mindful about what foods are served during these negotiations. Knowing Ugandans and their ability to smell “deals” from a kilometer away, someone must already be thinking of what catering service provider to contact. But three-course meals should be avoided here. Again, President Museveni and Dr Besigye were first fighters before they became the three-piece suit adorning politicians we see today. Just imagine what impact the smell of roasted cassava or boiling cow hooves will have on these two during these talks.
It would also be best if Mama Janet and Eng. Winnie served these meals. We can see them between placing the steaming hot cassava on the tables for their baami (gentlemen), congratulating each other upon ageing gracefully. Wine will be inappropriate here. A gourd of stale milk (bongo) can be passed around.
“This is tasty,” we see President Museveni say as he nods in approval while passing the gourd to Dr Besigye. A round of bushera (porridge) can also do the magic.
No such meeting can be complete without music. And here ladies and gentlemen, we are not talking about Bobi Wine’s Maazi Mawanvu or Chameleone’s Basima Ogenze. Of course we see an attempt by Mzee to have Mpekoni play but with resistance from the Besigye group. Again, we can return to our roots here. Ahead of this meeting, let’s talk to Gen. Elly Tumwine to put together some bush war songs. “Eh moto nawaka watoto wanalia musituni…” can play in the background as the talks proper take root.

And the winners of the 2011 Kireka Awards are...

As has been the practice over the years, our last Saturday of the year in the bar was spent recognising the most memorable events and outstanding personalities of the year. A panel of eminent judges, led by Alfredo, scrutinised the nominations and now announce the winners.
Exercise of the Year: Whereas recent research has shown that obesity is a growing problem in the USA, there have been reports that the condition is spreading to Africa, Uganda not spared. It was therefore humbling to see overweight politicians cut excess fat in the name of walking to work. Of course the occasional trot caused by tear gas canisters even helped the cause further. Don’t we all remember Ken Lukyamuzi dashing through backyards and jumping over trenches in the name of avoiding capture? For helping keep our politicians fit and lean, we recognise the walk-to-work demos as exercise of the year.
Minister of the Year: Sometime in the year, sugar became a very scarce commodity. Blame was traded over who could be behind the shortage. At one point, His Excellency the President had to search sugar factories to ensure no one was playing games. But as the puzzle continued, there emerged a genius. Mr Vincent Nyanzi, a State Minister in the Office of the Vice President, went practical. He loaded sacks of sugar on his official vehicle and headed to Mityana. There, under a Mvule tree, he set up shop, vending a kilogramme at Shs3,300 when everyone else was charging over Shs5,000. In a matter of minutes, hundreds had queued at the minister’s stall. Suddenly, all shoppers, unable to stand competition, reduced their prices! If all ministers worked this way, we would see less of the President solving village conflicts and such trivia.
Song of the Year: When the going gets tough, the tough get the adage goes. It was clear that the battle for votes was always going to get stiffer by the day. So, when President Museveni decided to release a hot new single titled Mpe Enkoni, we knew the game had changed. The vocals might have been suspect, seeing it was a monotone but why blame Kaguta’s son when even Ragga Dee sings the same way? That a song became the talking point in the middle of an election instead of rising inflation, joblessness, skyrocketing fuel prices and a shaky UPE, we must give it credit.
Miracle of the Year: Like it has been in the past three years, Mabira again came up for discussion. This time, we learnt that sections of the forest were degraded and they would ultimately be given to sugar investors. To prove this point, Environment Minister Flavia Munaaba led a multitude of journalists to the forest to show them the bare ground. But hours of scouring the forest pointed to no bare ground. Seeing a scandal looming, the minister hit a hasty retreat, leaving the journalists in the thick of trees. Later, she was found sipping a cup of coffee in Mukono town. Like the minister, we are convinced sections of Mabira were bare, but they must have miraculously grown trees overnight. We anoint this feat miracle of the year.
Fall of the year: It was labelled the Arab Spring. In a matter of months, decade-old regimes crumbled like a pack of cards. We shall not dwell on Tunisia and Egypt but focus on our muko (in-law) Muammar al-Gaddafi. How could a King of Kings let cockroaches and rats push him into a drainage channel and pick him from there like a wet rat? This was not just a fall; it was the plummet of the year.
Woman of the Year: Kabakumba Masiko. She decided to chart into waters previously dominated by men. We don’t care what others think but we credit her for breaking virgin ground. We now wait to see how many women will follow the cue and get ‘dirty’. But for standing up to gender imbalance in corruption, she takes our honours.
Man of the Year: Moses Golola. Never before has a man risen from nowhere to become a legend like Golola did. He might have been clobbered by Andres Nagy but for all we care, Golola retained the belt. For being whipped and still retained the ability to talk at the top of his voice, we declare Golola our man of 2011!

Jesus would find it hard fitting in today

Unlike previous Christmas Days, this year, the bar was full. With the soaring prices of basic commodities and everyone crying “poverty”, not many people could afford the annual pilgrimage to the village. Under Alfredo’s guidance, we turned to discussing what Jesus’ fate would be like today.
Alfredo: Colleagues 2011 years ago, a Saviour was born. We need to toast to this birth (raises his Nile Gold). But what would it be like for Jesus if he was born today?
Masaba: First of all his birth would be problematic. I don’t see his parents affording Shs300,000 to bribe a doctor to attend to Mary in labour. He would be lucky to even be born.
Rusaniya (our waitress): Maybe he would be born but most likely still in a manger or a cassava garden. Two millennia later and we still have mothers delivering in gardens and backyards. Looks like we have never made any progress.
Musoga: In fact we have made progress. In Jesus’ time, I am not sure they had tarmacked roads. He kept walking through bushes and dusty feeder roads.
Araali: These roads would put him to test. Forget the miracles of changing water into wine. One miracle that would distinguish Jesus today is declaring Kampala a pot-hole free city. If he did that, there would be no doubt he is the Son of God.
Alfredo: The second most important miracle he would perform is ensuring full-time electricity supply. Just standing there and saying: “In my Father’s name, I order that Uganda has electricity all the time.” That would be some miracle!
Iculi: There is no way he would perform these miracles at a free cost. Even if he wanted to, his handlers, the disciples, would still ensure they squeezed something from us the Christians. Judas Iscariot would ask us to sow in his master’s name.
Musoga: But he would be justified to ask for something. Times are tough. A kilogramme of sugar goes for Shs7,000; meat is at Shs10,000. Man eateth where he worketh.
Rusaniya: I see a young Jesus attending a UPE school. Where would he get the knowledge to speak in parables seeing that our UPE products struggle to even write their own names? His mission on earth would be severely affected.
Alfredo: Indeed that would call for divine intervention for him to speak in parables. But if he did, I see him making a great presidential spokesman. His parables are the type that would put Tamale Mirundi to shame.
Masaba: And with the President in love with parables and proverbs, they would have a smooth working relationship. But that is if he opts for that path. Jesus had a knack for unsettling authority. So, I don’t see him falling in bed with the powers that be. He would most likely be in the opposition.
Araali: Is Jesus not the one who loved walking? I see him getting involved in walk-to-work protests. He would be fodder for Kayihura’s boys. They would whip him to pulp.
Musoga: After the whippings and being the type who loved to call himself king, he would be arraigned at the High Court on treason charges. With recordings from secret meetings with his disciples, the police would make a meal of him in court.
Rusaniya: How will the police access minutes of these meetings?
Iculi: There are many Judas Iscariots today. Ask Kabakumba Masiko. She must be wondering who leaked details of her interactions with the police to the media. But knowing Jesus, he would tell the judge: “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

A drunkards' discussion on the frail economy

Alfredo: Colleagues, I need to draw your attention to this matter that is making many of us lose sleep. What should we do about this economy? Inflation has hit 30 per cent plus (sips a Nile Gold).
Araali: Hey, stop worrying. Just 30 per cent? At least we are not carrying money in wheelbarrows to go buy a loaf of bread like it happened somewhere down south recently.
Masaba: And Araali, what makes you think we won’t get there? Have you not heard that we shall soon have a Shs100,000 note? Imagine flashing a Shs100,000 note after buying a box of matches!
Alfredo: But maybe that will be the only item that money will afford you. So, don’t expect change.
Rusaniya (our waitress):  In fact they should print that note quick. I can see some of you offering me that as a tip.
Musoga: Shyaa, what shall we be thanking you for? Serving us this warm beer?
Rusaniya: Don’t blame me. Don’t you know who is behind the perennial black-outs nowadays? They said 24-hour load-shedding but what is happening looks like eternal load-shedding.
Masaba: The other day, when power accidentally came back, my two-year-old son ducked under the table. He has been so accustomed to darkness that light scares him!
Alfredo: People, talk was on economy. But I am told as we mourn about this poverty, there other people out there sleeping on Cashofoam.
Rusaniya (giggling): What is Cashofoam?
Alfredo: It is a new brand of mattress that hit the market during the February elections. Basically, it is a mattress made of money.
(Everyone gasps in disbelief)
Masaba: What? Where do they sell these Cashofoam mattresses?
Alfredo: Sorry, they are not on the open market. But I am told instead of inches, they come in currency brands. So, some are 20k-filled Cashofoams, others 50k-filled while in some places they are made of dollars.
Musoga: So, someone sleeps on a mattress made of dollars? Could these be the people URA was targeting when they demanded that sources of income should be declared?
Araali: It’s good Mzee blocked that law. Why does URA want to know where people get money? In this country anything is possible. I know of people who have prayed and fasted for one week—and the next thing—their suitcases were full of money. What will such a person tell URA?
Rusaniya: In fact, one day, a patron came to this bar and told us a strange story. He says he was walking near Bank of Uganda at about 3pm, and then suddenly that part of the town was engulfed in darkness. When the sun reappeared after 30 minutes of darkness, a big bag stood at his feet, filled with dollars.
(Bar erupts in prolonged laughter)
Masaba: Don’t kill us Rusaniya. Divine dollars?
Rusaniya: Yes. He even bought us a round of drinks—but strangely paid in local currency. How would such a person declare his money to URA? Mzee was indeed right. Such people only God will judge whether that was honest wealth.
Alfredo: I am sure some of you heard that the Italian and Greek Prime Ministers resigned due to problems in their countries’ economies.
Araali: Bambi, if you are expecting a resignation here, forget it. Those are crazy Bazungu. How do you leave a job because some chaps can’t afford meals? Let them go hunt squirrels or eat mango leaves...
(Conversation comes to abrupt end as power goes off in bar)

MPs should desist from pushing President Museveni back to the bush

Dear MPs, we are writing this letter on behalf of law-abiding citizens of Kireka, who are very concerned about the direction you are sending this country.
About a fortnight ago, our beloved President addressed a press conference, where he said because of your intransigence, he was considering going back to the Bush, where things could be done without much concern for red tape and unending debate on nearly each and every aspect of life.
To show how serious this matter is, His Excellency repeated similar sentiments a week ago in Kabale—and has asked voters to help him sort out some of you. The President is dead serious on the possibility of a Second Liberation!
But must we go that far? As the crème de la crème of this country, when the gravity of this matter began taking shape, we quickly congregated at our kafunda in Kireka and decided to deliberate on the way forward.
Some of you MPs might not realise but bush life can be very trying. Why do you want to push our President back into hunting for cassava tubers in peasants’ gardens as he dodges bullets from UNLA (aha, sorry, will it be UPDF?) soldiers?
Do you MPs know what it means to go for days without a shower and wearing the same combat fatigues, at times until they wear and leave one’s buttocks exposed? Is that what you people want our decorated generals to go through again as they engage in the second liberation just because some of you noisy MPs won’t shut up about oil deals and stuff like that?
 Imagine Salim Saleh or Kahinda Otafiire back in the bushes of Nakasongola, AK-47s strapped on their backs with only bottles of swamp water to keep them going as they run rings around enemy forces!
How can you MPs, like Cerinah Nebanda who was not even born as our Ssabalwanyis engaged the enemies or Muhammed Nsereko, who was in primary school as Elly Tumwine and Jim Muhwezi put their lives on line, be the ones pushing back our good generals into the bush?
In fact, we in Kireka, have learnt that some of you were hiding under your beds as the struggle gained momentum and yet are now making noise like you ever slept in the wild and sung songs like:
 “Vibonge vya mungu watoto wanakimbia musituni!  Moto iliwaka Moroto, nawaka, moto nawaka moto nawaka moto!”
So, as deliberations on the way forward got stormier in the bar, Alfredo raised the following matter: “And who will fund this new bush war? Look, Gaddafi is gone, where shall we get guns to start the new struggle?”
Araali, our colleague from Tooro, was also concerned: “I am totally opposed to the idea of sending Mzee back to the bush. Won’t he be committing treason? Is that not like overthrowing the Constitution? And seeing how Kale Kayihura is anxious to follow up and treasonable offences, won’t Mzee be bundled to Luzira?”
Rusaniya, our good waitress, got sucked in: “Won’t Kayihura accompany Mzee back to the bush? Remember he is a trusted cadre. Mzee has previously commended him for revolutionarising the police. Now they vote wisely.”
After hours of heated debate, punctuated with swallowing all tribes of brew, the crème de la crème of Kireka, agreed that we ask our MPs to go slow. We adopted a resolution that reads:
“We, residents of Kireka, cognisant of the fact that this country has a sole visionary, aware of the possibility of us degenerating into nothingness if this vision is tampered with, pray that our noisy MPs stop their blubbering and let our Leader rule unhindered.”