Monday, December 14, 2009

Is Wabudeya writing her political death will?

The fever is slowly catching on. People are setting eyes on several prizes ahead of the 2011 political festival. One huge anticipated race will be that between the Presidency Minister Beatrice Wabudeya (NRM) against Nandala Mafabi, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, for the Budadiri West seat in Sironko District.

What we shall witness, after Wabudeya declared she would no longer go for the Sironko Woman seat and instead move turf to Budadiri West, will be a culmination of two dissimilar journeys of politicians largely known.

Wabudeya jumped into the political fray in 1996, taking the Mbale Woman seat in a grueling battle with then UEB boss Irene Muloni. Coming from a humble veterinary profession, hers was a real coup—but the even bigger surprise was her inclusion on cabinet as a Primary Health Care minister thereafter. Of course this political foundation was mainly attributed to the silent support she got from then powerful NRM Political Commissar and Speaker of Parliament, James Wapakhabulo. Wabudeya and Housing Minister Werikhe Gabafusa were Wapakhabulo’s two projects that he helped not just win seats but find slots for in cabinet.

And yet for Wabudeya—hers was never a clear political path. Largely said to be aloof—it occurred to her that fighting for the Mbale Woman seat was going to be a tall order—she tactfully withdrew to the Sironko Woman seat in 2001—good enough the new-district craze had caught on.

She then took a tour through the education ministry and ended up at the doorstep of the presidency—as the minister in charge. It is a position she’s held ever since she made it through the 2006 elections—where she literally had to shoot her way to victory. With a little-known accountant taking her on the FDC ticket, it took deploying security agencies and literally stuffing ballot boxes—with skirmishes at Sironko Town Council—for her to score victory.

Compare that with Nandala Mafabi. Largely unknown before 2000; he leaves a well-paying job in the World Bank and makes it on the opposition ticket as MP for Budadiri West in 2001. The early days see him named in a few corruption scandals (the Mukwano case) but he later makes a sterling performance as chairman of the House’s National Economy committee.

He then shoots to prominence as chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee; he becomes the face of Parliament’s fight against corruption; grilling district and government officials accused of plunder by the Auditor General. Nandala by no mistake is a great accountant. He has a laser-precision of seeing through documents—especially when they are about accountability.

Such are the CVs of these two big politicians who have finally chosen to lock horns—with different motives. It is obvious that President Museveni wants Nandala out of the House. He’s helped expose the murk in the regime—many times just falling short of implicating the Presidency—like in the CHOGM theft scandal. Like Museveni did with Maj. Kazoora, Hon. Sabiiti and Augustine Ruzindana in 2006; Nandala is a marked man for 2011. That the President has taken time to go to Budadiri West and alert the peasants there about his dislike for Nandala is no surprise.

But whereas Janet Museveni might have found it easy to unseat Ruzindana in Ruhaama, Wabudeya may not just have it smooth in Budadiri. Nandala in Mbale is popularly referred to as “the king of the Bamasaaba”. It is a title won very hard. He fought tooth-and-nail to take over management of Bugisu Cooperative Union—the one-time pride of Mbale. Despite stiff opposition from the government, which at one point tried to change the law to bar Nandala from contesting, he went ahead and swept the poll. Today, barely a year after he assumed that mantle, the union is registering billions in profit, up from the heavily-indebted apparatus it had become.

For this single sole reason, Nandala has become a messiah of sorts. The small-bodied man, who walks with a slight stoop and always has his sleeves rolled up (Obama style), has taken Mbale by the storm. At no previous point in Bugisu’s history (maybe with exception of Masette Kuya and Wapa at some point), have Bagisu rallied so concretely behind a politician—let alone one in the opposition. He sponsors over 200 university students from his constituency, giving them part of their tuition. His numerous petrol stations are a source of employment for many.

That exactly is the difference between Nandala and Wabudeya. As minister—and knowing how politics has come to be defined in this country—many Bagisu though Wabudeya’s positioning would enable them access jobs or related benefits. How mistaken they were! Either out of principle or stinginess, this has not happened much. When Wabudeya was education minister, Bugisu was among the worst-performing regions in national exams. She watched as the only giant school, Nabumali, slid to anarchy. Even when she was in health, the state of hospitals never changed—instead facilities like Bududa Hospital continued to become fossilized. I met a frustrated student who thought by being from Mbale, she had a good shot at a government scholarship to study abroad—because Wabudeya was minister. I later learnt that many young Bagisu had suffered similar fate. Not even the presence of Ms Gabona, another daughter of the soil as head of the scholarships board in the ministry could help. And yet the case was different for people from another region!

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment with someone who was to become a new friend. It turned out it was Wabudeya’s daughter—fresh from school. She was asking if I could help her get a job—and wondering why—she told me her mum could never peddle influence to get her an appointment. Now, this can either be a plus or minus depending on where one stands. Principle or stinginess?

That said, it is clear Nandala is the more popular—but Wabudeya has the state machinery. The story is that Nandala was actually intending to run for the Mbale Municipality seat after Wilfred Kajeke threw in the towel. When news made the rounds that Wabudeya was eyeing his home turf, he cancelled the idea, instead opting to have the face-off.

But also with the news that Principal Private Secretary to President Museveni Amelia Kyambadde is jumping into elective politics--the done deal is that she will take the Presidency Minister slot--if she goes through. This makes it even more important for Wabudeya to snatch the Budadiri Seat; but if she fails--I see her political career plummeting from then on. With such high stakes, this makes a real dream contest!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Homosexuality is not our biggest problem!

So, our biggest problem is homosexuality. As a country, what plagues us most is the thought of seeing one man kiss another—or some middle-aged woman fondle a colleague’s breasts. That, colleagues, is our biggest problem.

Otherwise what would explain the fact that an MP and our ethics minister (yes, we have that portfolio) are dying to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which will not just criminalise the act of same-sex affairs but also in some cases offer punishment of death.

Our government is so resolute in passing this legislation, that it has told donors to keep their aid if they will tamper with our pet project. “We shall not bend over for aid,” Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo, asserted, as he vowed to make Uganda an unsafe place for people with a homosexual disposition.

I have always insisted that homosexuality is a biological sexual disposition. My only problem is when its crusaders parade it and try to put t in everyone’s faces. To that extent, I believe they are not in order.

But when a whole government spends hours to legislate on a matter that concerns perhaps less than 0.005 of our population, then I am compelled to pick issue with it. Never mind that the philosophy behind this hate campaign is “to protect our children from corrosive external influence”. Yes, our government cares so much about our children to protect them from a measly number of homosexuals but not the thousands of vampires called public administrators and managers—who suck public funds (about Shs500 billion annually) at the expense of social services and utilities.

The Nsaba Buturos of this world and Bahati are so worried about our children becoming gay—but unfazed that those children’s parents are engaged in extra-marital relationships explaining the stagnating HIV/Aids prevalence at 6.5 per cent—and yes, those parents are heterosexuals.

In punishing gays and keeping silent on other behavioural “ills” like fornication, voyeurism, multiple sex partners, etc—what the heck do we think we are doing?

But like I have argued before? Who deserves the death penalty? The homosexual couple kissing in the confines of their bedroom or the thieving minister who dips hands in taxpayers’ money, ensuring we lack drugs in hospitals and clinics? Who should we shoot by firing squad; the two consenting women fondling their breasts or the public servant who steals money meant for roads, ensuring a poor infrastructure, accidents and deaths?

And just asking; if MPs are meant to air their constituents’ concerns; how big a problem is homosexuality in the rural Ndorwa West Constituency?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Make abortion legal

The above picture taken by Stephen Otage on Thursday November 19, 2009 shows residents of Kifumbira Zone in Kamwokya , a Kampala suburb look at an aborted foetus estimated to be about six weeks old.
According to the Police, this was the third such case in the last three weeks.
The impression this revelation gives is that there may be a single abortion a week, but that’s not true. In fact Ministry of Health statistics indicate that annually in Uganda, there are about 600,000 unwanted pregnancies. Of these, probably more than 50 per cent end up being expunged before the nine-month maturation.
But because our Penal Code makes it criminal to abort—unless to save a woman’s life—a lot of the abortions are practiced in hidden, unsafe conditions that many times expose the girls/women to even greater health risks—like uncontrolled hemorrhage.

Opponents of abortion either point to religious dogma or the question of life’s sanctity. They never care about circumstances of conception or its attendant realities.
In Uganda, in districts like Sironko, local research has shown that girls become sexually active by age 12. No amount of sex education is changing this—considering that some of these areas are nearly as traditional in setting as they can be. Tips on sex and sexuality are gotten from the village wells, peers and misinformed talk of adults.

But even their urban counterparts are in no better position. Internet influence, TV soaps, early exposure to notions of contraceptives—are all stimulating their curiosity for sex. Teenage and young youth sex is something we are going to have amidst us—and resultant pregnancies.
Question is: Should we make it illegal to abort yet we know that thousands of our young girls are going to conceive without really seeking to? That is the reality.
When we make abortion services criminal, we arrive at a situation like that in Kifumbira Zone. A foetus crudely removed and left next to a rubbish skip.
When we push our girls into aborting in the dark, we shall have many more bleed to death in silence—increasing not only infant mortality but maternal mortality too.

Let girls/women be given the free choice to carry or cut. And when they choose to cut, let’s make sure they can do it freely and hygienically to avoid other problems. A lot of pregnancies in our country are by chance—and to ask that people keep them against their will is to subject them to an eternity of misery.
I have not opted to talk about pregnancies from rape, defilement, incest, one-night-stands, orgies, because I suppose these are fairly straight-forward—and yet we know they saturate our societies.
Please—let’s decriminalize abortion!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mistaken identity

I watched life drown out of him. His hand was reaching out to me, begging for that last squeeze, that last embrace. He fell midway the sitting room, as he crawled towards me. I stood there in fright, my stool running freely down my legs, forming a small pool at my feet.

“Hamuka wewe,” the command in Swahili jolted me. It was the taller one. His mask on. He towered towards me. “Where is his passport?” he barked. “I don’tttt know,” I stammered back.

“Go get it,” he commanded.

I stepped into the small pool, splashing some on him—earning me a slap. I dashed upstairs. I knew where Moses kept his passport. It was always in the big case stacked in the upper shelf in the bedroom. As I struggled to stand on a stool and pluck down the case, I felt my body shiver. My hands were trembling—drops of sweat streaming from my head—midway mixing with leftovers of the stool.

As I fumbled, the thickset arms moved fast, pulling down the case—and bringing me along—sending me tumbling downwards, hitting my head on the nearby bed.

I could scarcely see as he opened the case—plucking out the passport that was lying atop of books. The rough fingers then made their way to my hair. Grabbing me and dragging me along downstairs—back to the sitting room, where Moses’ body now lay lifeless.

“Inaonesha nini,” asked the smaller, darker one who had remained down, the pistol still glued to his fingers.

“He last travelled two years ago,” the burly one replied, in perfect English. “To Nairobi.”

“What?” the other replied, surprise written on his face. “Nothing to do with Juba, Kinshasha?”

“No. And look. He is Masaba Moses.”

“Not Mabasa?”


“Holy shit! We got the wrong person,” the burly one spat. He quickly stole a glance at me.

“You,” he pointed at me. “How were you related to this guy?”

“He was my husband.”

“For how long were you married?”

“Three years.”

After what looked like an eternity, the smaller one turned to me.

“Madam, we are sorry. Looks like we got the wrong person. Is this 11th street?”

“No,” I stammered back, my tears gushing. “It is 10th.”

I could see the bigger one look at me with a grin. The magnitude of their error just seemed to dawn on him. He spoke to me.

“You may never really know who we are. But we were looking for someone who has in the past six months been moving out of this country, going to neighbouring states with what we believe are ill motives against our government.” He paused and after ages returned to the narration.

“The people we work for told us he has been going to Juba and visiting Zaire. He was mobilizing guns to uproot this regime. It is unfortunate that we got some of our facts mixed up. But that is how we operate. In our world, it is called collateral damage.”

The smaller one interjected.

“Consider yourself lucky. We could have taken down both of you. At least you can live to get another husband.”

I stood there rooted like a statue. How could these men who had brought my innocent husband’s life to a grinding halt speak to me thus? Who the hell did they think they were? I was now ready to put up a fight. With my fists slowly clenching and in a trance, I moved towards what I thought was the smaller man. I hurled myself at him—only to hit the chair hard. They were nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bukenya, Kazini deaths--why can't the conspiracies go away?

When news trickled in the newsroom Sunday morning that the Vice President’s son, Bryan, had died of injuries sustained after a motor accident 19 hours before, we all were heartbroken. It was not much so because he was the VP’s son—but well, it was a young life gone too early.
Twenty six years old, a Law graduate from a reputable UK university, promising cadet, a young woman and child left behind…
But just as we were going about doing the story—people began asking questions. So, how come he’s the only one who died in a car that had four occupants? And how did the driver manage to disappear—only to be traced later—at a brother’s house looking every inch unharmed?
And this was a boy in military academy—what was he doing out at 5am yet the rules are clear on cadet trainees? Was he getting preferential treatment being the VP’s son?
And the mother of them all came from the driver’s statement: Bryan kept telling me to drive fast but when the car crashed, he was fast asleep! Ok, would this guy break his sleep, issue instructions at the driver—and go back to slumberland?
I now understood why the conspiracies could not just fade away despite Police explanations saying the accident was just that—an accident. I understood when people began philosophising on Prof. Gilbert Bukenya’s political ambitions, his courting Baganda Generals etc and the possibility that by sending his son to the army—he was embarking on creating his own turf. Remember majority of PGB boys now were actually Muhoozi’s recruits. I understood why the conspirators could not just let the accident be an accident.
Then, in the same week comes Maj. Gen. James Kazini’s death. It is visible that he was killed by a lover at her house. Draru, the lover, says she did it in self defence as the General moved to strangle her—and was pointing his gun upwards. Again the tongues begin wagging. First, where did the woman derive the confidence to tell all folk and sundry that she was responsible?
Surely, which murderer rushes to admit culpability with no single strain of fright? She was either deeply in a trance—or again at the conspirators argue—was aware of a stronger backing.
But again—did she say the General was holding a gun—and detectives on the crime scene did not see any such gun—not until three hours later when Kazini’s official pistol was discovered wrapped nicely in a brown handbag in his car?
What about the claims of using a handle of a carpet cleaner to hit the General? The pictures from the crime scene show a white metal bar lying next to the soldier—obviously a frame but not of a carpet cleaner. And it is a bland instrument, how it effected a deep cut is strange.
So, in the bars and elsewhere—the theories went into full drive. Kazini was a troubled man. Accused of creating ghost soldiers, charged, convicted and abandoned.
But could it also be true that he was paying for sins where not only him was the sinner? Was there fear that with his appeal rejected he was on the path of full disclosure? What beans was he about to spill? Might Draru actually be an extra in a scene dominated by bigger actors?
What of talk that the General had some good millions on him—and there could have been people trailing him—for whatever reasons?
The Police have again asked people not to speculate. Draru has confessed before a magistrate that she killed Kazini. But citizens, of this increasingly cynical country, will not just keep quiet.
Question is: Has the government lost credibility so much that even when it explains away a straight event people can’t just take it. Reminds me of the tale in primary school. Of the boy who while herding cattle in the forest kept shouting that wolves were attacking and whenever villagers ran to his rescue discovered nothing. They got tired and when he shouted they ignored him. But one day, the real wolves struck. He screamed and screamed—but everyone knew it was a prank. The wolves devoured the cattle and the boy.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Snub not an RDC

“Do you know me? Do you know what I do? I am unbwogable.” I will excuse you for thinking that these are lines from Gidi Gidi Maji Maji’s once-a-hit “Unbwogable”. But no, these are not lyrics—these are comments of an RDC slurred.
You see, in the northern town of Gulu is a man called Milton Odong. The short, stout, suspicious—looking man, known to break into delirious laughter even when circumstances dictate otherwise, serves the war-ravaged but now recovering district as its deputy Resident District Commissioner. Plainly put, he is one of the hundreds of President Museveni’s minions in districts.
This guy, with his bloated ego, believes he should be chief guest at whatever function he attends in Gulu. To invite him—and relegate him to a mere guest—is an act of sacrilege in his world. When the Police, who had organised a workshop on gender-based violence, missed this point, the reality hit them hard.
According to Daily Monitor, November 3, 2009 (page9), after the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) country representative, Ms Forster Jabbel, had given the closing remarks as the chief guest, the burly deputy RDC jumped onto the podium, grabbed the microphone, and wondered how some good-for-nothing diplomat could “close” a function where he was present.
“This is a conspiracy to deny me a chance to tell the Police very crucial messages. This must not be repeated,” he fumed, and I think—with foam forming in his mouth. From the newspaper report, he decreed that UNIFEM and the Police would never hold any other functions in the district, unless invitation cards to Mr Odong were addressed thus: “With pleasure, we would like you to grace this function as the chief guest, where you will dole out your immense knowledge blah blah!”
Ms Teresa Awelo, one of the organisers, looked on terrified and later told journalists: “I don’t know him and he’s not qualified to talk about sensitive topics.”
I could not help—but like Odong—laugh in derision when I read this story. Just how far will these Presidential protégés go in abusing the rest of us nobodys? Why do these characters—who have been offered a lifeline—especially after failing in mainstream politics—think we owe them the air we inhale?
The cliché about absolute power corrupting absolutely comes in mind here—but again is it not said that the cubs get their spot from mother leopard? Who remembers a President Museveni—looking into the camera—and wondering to this nation how the Kabaka for two solid years had refused to meet him. HIM, Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda????

Friday, October 23, 2009

Barya victory---did I predict it?

Of course this is no grandstanding. But slightly over a year ago, I wrote in a little known website ( that Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba was the best suited to become Makerere University's vice chancellor. Yesterday, the University Council seemed to agree and gave him the mantle. As a journalist, I realise the precarious position this places me in--since now we must turn to watch him closely. But for now, I think he deserves the benefit of doubt. Below is what I wrote then:

Who is best suited to be Makerere’s next VC?
By Don Wanyama TiP Columnist
Published August 3, 2008

I have read from the print media that the Makerere University vice-chancellor slot will be available in the coming year. Prof. Luboobi, who has been at the helm for five years, may not get a kisanja (another term) because apparently, a committee set up to review the rules guiding the search process has put an age shelf on the position.
A vice-chancellor must be between 40-60 years at the time of appointment and not beyond 65 at retirement. This means my good old Luboobi, who currently has six decades and three years to his plate, is technically cancelled out.
I have also learnt that his second-in-command, Prof. Bakibinga, tried to put up a spirited defence for the current team but the council could not hear any of it. He wanted their terms renewed but the members had other ideas. “Go,” they decided.
And indeed go, Luboobi’s team must. What intrigued me was that when the council asked anyone with interests in the matter to step out before voting was done, a host of fellows left. I want to imagine that the action meant they will be fronting themselves for the ultimate job.
Their names and titles go thus; Assoc. Prof. Lilian Tibatemwa (DVC Academics), Prof. Venasius Baryamureeba (Dean ICT), Mr. Olal Odur (Academic Registrar), Prof Edward Kirumira, (Dean faculty of Social Sciences) and Associate Prof JB Nyakana (lecturer faculty Arts).
Now, these are some of the best brains at that hill and I want to imagine they all have their eyes set on the prize. So, how do we proceed? By elimination method I suggest.

Assoc. Prof. Tibatemwa A focused lady I must admit. I attended a few functions as a student leader where she was chief guest and her presentations were perfect. She seemed to grasp her stuff well. She is also a woman and maybe the only one in this bull race. But look, she has been with Luboobi for all these years. With Bakibinga, she has deputised Luboobi for the five years. True, her academic portfolio may not have been as scandalous as Bakibinga’s administration and finance docket, but she can not pass the buck. There is general consensus that Luboobi has failed but he can’t fail alone. He has failed with his team, Tibatemwa inclusive. I don’t see her being any different. She should go with the current crop of leaders. She was also at the core of the aborted restructured retake fee payment schedule, which plunged the university in a destructive strike in 2005.

Assoc. Prof. JB Nyakana Let me be candid here. We all know that academicians usually border on the paranoia. Nyakana is a true embodiment of this. I remember meeting him near the geography department, which he headed for years, in his white gum boots and speaking in a baritone. Admittedly he is a great academician. His problem is that he borders on unprincipality. He has been the deputy chairperson of MUASA, the academic staff group, and was very vocal when lecturers laid down tools demanding for better pay. I remember watching him and MUASA spokesperson Kiggundu make a case for the teachers on TV.
But reports indicate that when the state infiltrated the association and caused the lecturers to abandon the strike, fingers kept pointing at Nyakana. Some unconfirmed reports claimed he sold out. Now, impeccability is a necessary yardstick, he fails here. Besides, apart from being a head of department and MUASA chief, not much sits on his administrative plate.

Mr. Olal Odur Let me go personal. In my first post on this site, I narrated how Olal Odur blatantly told us a lie about our transcripts. After assuring us that they would be ready a month after graduation, I still have friends (two years after), who are yet to get their transcripts. That is how bad the section he heads is. There are also questions about his academic standing. I am not sure but I think he has no PhD. He might have helped start a successful Institute of Long Distance Studies, but his stint at the orange building (Senate) has been poor. He took over from Ngobi, who had just taken over from the controversial Mukwanason Hyuha, but a lot need to be done, especially the transcripts office. I also recently met a young lady who had paid an official at senate to get her brother admitted irregularly. This place still stinks. To elevate him to vice-chancellor would be a big miscalculation.

Prof. Edward Kirumira He is a smart guy, no doubt about that. A smooth talker and open diplomat, Kirumira would be a prefect choice for VCship. But wait a bit. Has he not been in charge of the social sciences faculty for ages? What physical development has he got to show for that time? Nothing. This gives you an insight into his development ambitions—if they exist.
He is also accused of being a member of the “Masaka clique” the group of deans from the central region, who have run down the university. He is too soft to take on Makerere and its gigantic problems.

Prof. Venasius Baryamureeba aka Barya I can’t hide my admiration for this guy. He is just your perfect CEO. He may be an academician but he knows a thing or two on marketing and that is why his faculty seems to be very different from the rest in Makerere. When other faculties like technology are admitting that they have equipment which is three-decades old, ICT is becoming the best information technology hub in the East and Central African region. What is one of Makerere’s most recent faculties is really giving all the others a bloody nose. Maybe it has something to do about Barya’s youth, maybe his acumen, maybe just him, but acknowledge it; none of the other guys above have shown leadership, innovation and focus like this youngest dean in Makerere. His major undoing could be his politics. He is known to be closely connected to Bidandi Ssali’s PPP, and on the Kfm Saturday talk-show hosted by Simon Kasyate, where he is a panelist, Barya is known to criticize the government.
So, will the powers that be sacrifice sycophancy and let merit succeed? We have to keep our fingers crossed.
____________________________________________________________________________________*Don Wanyama is an alumnus of Makerere University. He currently works for The New Vision publication as a news sub editor. His blog is

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Museveni; the coward on criticism

Two weeks ago, I watched a documentary on unemployment aired on NTV. It explored its causes, using case studies of graduates who have 'tarmacked' the roads for ages after university.
But what was disturbing was a clip in which President Museveni placed the blame on subjects students study at university. He singled out Literature in English as one of those “redundant” subjects, wondering what one could do after studying William Shakespeare. “Shakespeare said this in this year, so what?” the sarcastic President asked.
I don’t think Mr Museveni's choice for Literature as a subject to berate was accidental. Literature emphasises critical thinking, using works of fiction, at times reality. Most literary works draw inspiration from real life, with authors either seeking to celebrate or criticise these aspects of life. It trains learners to look beyond the surface, equipping them with investigative and analytical skills.
It is therefore very understandable for President Museveni to berate such a subject. I mean which leader would not be worried about many students studying George Orwell's Animal Farm and discovering how revolutions (read liberations) can be abused? Which leader would not turn in their seats with unease if most subjects know about a certain Napoleon taking on the same behaviour and mannerisms of the Farmer Jones he deposed? Just imagine the strife we would have if half this country understood the concept of "eating eggs and drinking milk" as propagated by Squealer - and was able to name and shame modern-day Squealers? Who would feel comfortable reading Shakespeare's tragedy of Macbeth, cognisant that the betrayal and deadly ambition therein abounds in their neighbourhoods? Is it not Achebe who talked of old women feeling uncomfortable whenever bones were mentioned in a tale?
Leaders who have skidded off the path of the ideals they promised have found safety in muzzling critics who can ably alert societies about the ills. It is why the likes of Alex La Guma were banished by the South African apartheid regime. Does it surprise anyone that during the riotous moments in Europe in the 1830s and 1840s, students and lecturers of Literature were targets of the monarchical repressive regimes, many arrested and incarcerated?
Mr Museveni's argument of promoting science subjects at the expense of arts/humanities is hollow and escapist - mainly because employment in this country has ceased to be a question of merit. I know of several nursing graduates who are unemployed because every time they have applied for a job at a district, the commissions have asked for bribes that they can't raise. Those who have been able to oil the palms have been employed, irrespective of their competencies. The same cancer has eaten most public institutions and is gradually rearing its ugly head in the private sector.
Unemployment therefore, is an indictment on those charged with the duty of planning for this country. The Asian tigers we admire are able to predict human resource needs of their countries - at times decades in advance - and deliberately influence training in that direction. What do we do here? Let majority children get half-baked primary school education, go to facility-less secondary schools and fizzle out thereafter - adding to the statistics of the unemployed. Meanwhile, the few with the means send their children abroad to Ivy League universities and remind us about why we should not study Literature.
Can anyone explain why a President who sees no value in Literature at one point had an adviser on literary affairs? Saw it fit to back a local Literature guru as his party's spokesperson and keeps lacing his speeches with metaphors and similes - all literary qualities?