Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kajeke's exit: The cry of a Mbalelite


In 1991, I made the long trip back home. With my mum, the four siblings we were, had in early 1985 taken to economic exile in Kenya. There, we had first lived at the border Malaba town, then moved to Ndalu, near River Nzoia and later central Kitale town as my mother taught in a couple of schools around there.
Then, in 1991, my old man decided that we should return to Uganda. He was running a clinic in the middle of Mbale town and we settled in a colonial relic mansion in Senior Quarters, two blocks away from the famous Mt. Elgon Hotel. There, I enrolled at the modest Fairway Primary School and in no short time; Mbale had become the best place I had ever lived.
It is where I gained my education foundation, made friends, got the warmth of relatives and generally began a journey to maturity. I remember how we would swarm Mbale Stadium during games and the manner we took to streets, either as victors or losers, and sang and made merry. I remember one day, the good old D’Souza, our Asian headmaster, chiding us for singing “ani yabagamba, abaana ba D’Souza mubasobola” (Who told, you could easily take on D’Souza’s children?). He reminded us how he did not want us, black kids, shouting his name on Mbale streets.
Even when it came to joining secondary school, Nabumali, a few minutes’ drive from Mbale town became my first choice. It was the age when you went to any school in any part of the region and still flourished academically. My choice was partly because Mbale to me had become an identity, an abode. It was here, under the Yoga administration, that we cut our teeth as teenagers, with the accompanying escapades. The escapes to Club Oasis in the middle of Mbale town for a night out and et cetera.
When I broke from the yoke of Mbale, I went to Jinja College, but there, I never really amalgamated. No wonder I had to return to Mbale College for A’ Level, did a short stint at the Islamic University in Mbale before finally heading to Makerere.
Mbale, to me, was my launch pad. I remember growing up in a Mbale that had well-paved streets, with the lighting from Municipal Council offices down to Indian Quarters all functional. I remember how we would take to the greenery of Cricket Ground and play games or watch the young couples hang around. Uhuru Park opposite Nkoma SS was another relaxing point for us, especially when with cousins we had just visited Uncle Gideon down at Health Manpower offices.
I was lucky to have seen these last vestiges of planned Mbale because what followed thereafter, in early 2000s was the rape of a town that many thought had given credence to Churchill’s description of Uganda as Africa’s Pearl.
When Mayor Kanindo took over, the town crumbled like a pack of cards. The greenery was no more as the capitalist greed caught up with Mbale. Parks, the golf course, wetlands, were all overrun in the mad dash for property. In extreme cases, as was revealed by the Fiona Egunyu Commission, plots were either double or triple allocated. Ministers and their protégés jumped into the fray; the lights no more, potholes took over and quickly the town gained the notoriety of a sick abode. Quickly, it was competing for honours among the worst of this country’s towns!
Many thought that perhaps the town’s problems stemmed from a leadership that had overstayed its time.
The likes of Eng. Sakwa, Justice Masika, Late Wapakhabulo, Wanjusi Wasieba, Late Muyiiyi, were thought to be the problem. The quest for a young leadership took over. That’s how people barely out of their 20s like Mayor Kanindo and MP Wilfred Kajeke came to the scene. The longing for fresh blood, hope that the unblemished would start a new chapter…
But who knew that these would be the same guys, who would push to death, a staggering Mbale? That brings me to the concern of this blog. Yesterday’s resignation of Mbale Municipality MP Wilfred Kajeke from Parliament on grounds that he has realized he can’t do much to change the corruption in this country and has therefore opted to quit.
Reading his resignation speech, one would see the work of a genius, the words of a democrat, but that’s just where they stopped-words. Because beneath it, Kajeke hid the truth of his buy-out by the NRM government. Beneath his speech, he hid the fact that he had cut a deal to cede the constituency that he gained on the opposition FDC ticket to the NRM government. What Kajeke never mentioned in Parliament was that up to Shs120 million had exchanged hands, some of it in installments to help the NRM take over the constituency and make a political statement. What he never mentioned was the impulsive action borne of a Besigye-Kayihura spat in Rock Hotel sometime last year during the fuel crisis.
He did not make mention of the story about him going abroad to study and leave an orphaned constituency....
What he concealed from his constituents was the fact that an ego and superiority war between him and fellow FDC MP Nandala Mafabi was eating him slowly like a cancer. These and many more are the truths that Mbale people will never get to know.
The outside world, longing for a symbol to demonise this government, will jump and hail him. For me, I weep for a generation given the chance but decided to screw it up. I will weep for the young people that Kajeke and Kanindo represented but let down. Above all, I will weep for my much-cherished Mbale and how deep it has sunk in the murky waters that is corruption.

13 comments:

tumwijuke said...

I 've heard the stories about Kajeke and thought your post would have some hard and fast facts. Until I see evidence of times, dates and buy-outs, Kajeke for President!

Salam Taki said...

Comrade, I could read your sadness. I hate to say it that we are all political animals. Once you declare your Ugandan parliamentary candidature, count on me in! Jinja College! Old habits die hard. My revolt is not in politics but an IT unit in South Sudan!

Okema Leonard said...

Comrade, i think the gods are paving way for you to turn the fortunes of Mbale around. Uganda awaits the declaration of your intentions.

wesonga said...

The Kajeke sell out just proves that the youth are just as corruptible as the ol' men they keep complaining about.

So corruption will not cease when the so-called 'Young Turks' land into positions of leadership.

I know, somebody will argue that we should not generalise basing on one Kajeke who abused his position to 'cut' a deal for himself.

But who tells you that the Emillio Mwais of this world were ol' men when they acquired those properties that even their great grand children will enjoy for generations?

Something should be done to make Parliament less attractive to entrepreneurs. We could start by slashing the pay, and most importantly, say that a neutral body comprised of professionals as well as religious and cultural leaders determine the lousy representatives pay.

And just like the voters can petition to recall a member of parliament (MP), they should be allowed to force the MPs to serve out their terms.

There is a precedent.

Peasants 'spontaneously forced President Museveni' to stand in 2005. They are likely to do it again in 2011 and 2016.

In fact, some have already threatened to sue him should he refuse to continue lending Uganda his visionary leadership skills.

You saw the blokes who painted their bodies in Bukedea to nudge President Museveni to stand for the 'Fourth Term.'

The pictures showed that these were young men, one even barely of voting age.

These are the people who would have helped to stop the Kajekes of this country from taking voters for rides.

With famine ravaging their area, the best those Bukedea men could think of was to show support for Museveni to continue having milk tea with his pinkie up!

They forgot that the man had probably had sausages, mushrooms, baked beans and juice for breakfast. The previous night he had had beef and Basmati rice.

And you blame Kajeke when those boys posed with glee for that picture...

The boys must have also been bribed to substitute their shirts with yellow water paint.

And what problems drove Kajeke to do business with the Devil's representative in Uganda?

Mafabi is just one individual who was neither housing nor feeding Kajeke.

The money Kajeke pocketed is just enough to pay for his graduate studies and accommodation.

And then what after the studies?

Western Europe or The US are not the best places to live for long if back home you were a 'lord' of sorts to those layabouts who sunbathe at the village dukas.

So, when he comes back, what do the NRM bosses have in store for him?

If it is is a more juicy package, then expect more Kajekes in Mbale, which the NRM devils badly want - maybe because it is regional business hub plus plus...

wesonga said...

The Kajeke sell out just proves that the youth are just as corruptible as the ol' men they keep complaining about.

So corruption will not cease when the so-called 'Young Turks' land into positions of leadership.

I know, somebody will argue that we should not generalise basing on one Kajeke who abused his position to 'cut' a deal for himself.

But who tells you that the Emillio Mwais of this world were ol' men when they acquired those properties that even their great grand children will enjoy for generations?

Something should be done to make Parliament less attractive to entrepreneurs. We could start by slashing the pay, and most importantly, say that a neutral body comprised of professionals as well as religious and cultural leaders determine the lousy representatives pay.

And just like the voters can petition to recall a member of parliament (MP), they should be allowed to force the MPs to serve out their terms.

There is a precedent.

Peasants 'spontaneously forced President Museveni' to stand in 2005. They are likely to do it again in 2011 and 2016.

In fact, some have already threatened to sue him should he refuse to continue lending Uganda his visionary leadership skills.

You saw the blokes who painted their bodies in Bukedea to nudge President Museveni to stand for the 'Fourth Term.'

The pictures showed that these were young men, one even barely of voting age.

These are the people who would have helped to stop the Kajekes of this country from taking voters for rides.

With famine ravaging their area, the best those Bukedea men could think of was to show support for Museveni to continue having milk tea with his pinkie up!

They forgot that the man had probably had sausages, mushrooms, baked beans and juice for breakfast. The previous night he had had beef and Basmati rice.

And you blame Kajeke when those boys posed with glee for that picture...

The boys must have also been bribed to substitute their shirts with yellow water paint.

And what problems drove Kajeke to do business with the Devil's representative in Uganda?

Mafabi is just one individual who was neither housing nor feeding Kajeke.

The money Kajeke pocketed is just enough to pay for his graduate studies and accommodation.

And then what after the studies?

Western Europe or The US are not the best places to live for long if back home you were a 'lord' of sorts to those layabouts who sunbathe at the village dukas.

So, when he comes back, what do the NRM bosses have in store for him?

If it is is a more juicy package, then expect more Kajekes in Mbale, which the NRM devils badly want - maybe because it is regional business hub plus plus...

wanyama said...

@Wesonga- I feel ur indepth perspective to these things. Ur right, maybe we should never expect much change even from the over-touted "Young Turks". The question though, could be, so, where can the change come from, if even the young people are turning into poltical snakes?
@ Owera (Taki). Even for success in the IT battle, maybe u need the politics right, uhmmm?
@Okema- Uhmmm, maybe one day I will offer myself for the Mbale seat, but now, blogging is my passion
@Tumwi--I have had face-to-face chats with the guys who helped Kajeke meet the President. I obviously wouldn't name them here. But importantly though, as I said, a nation thirsting for real heroes, like Kajeke faked to be, were bound to worship him. Have u now heard how he's been dragged to court over uncleared car bills, etc. Did u hear how his plan to flee the country was nipped in the bud? That is Kajeke, your hero!

Anonymous said...

I felt nostolgic I was born and lived in mbale for years then we had to leave but to this day I love mbale to my bones..and while reading your updates I remembered my principal OD souza he was such a great guy....

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