Letter to Nina -The ultimate truth is penultimately always a falsehood.

Posted on May 31, 2011


by Drew Ddembe on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 12:06am

Dear Nina,
You couldnt have chosen a worse day for your outpouring of love, but I will try to rise to the occasion.

“The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes, or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness. The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links. ”  Arthur Keostler

Girl, now we are getting somewhere. Am glad to see that you have stopped playing hard to get!
Many thanks for your long awaited letter. It will be my pleasure to respond to it.
To begin with you have just demonstrated that you agree with me on lots of things. you are just too afraid of stepping out of your confort zone. Having been born into and brought up in the kintu, I can appreciate how scary it has got to be to contemplate life outside in the cold. But hey, out there in the cold is where the rest of us who happen to be the majority have always been. If you wish to be called a leader, you are going to have to step out of your confort zone and walk with real people. This is what all great world leaders have done -the ones that are still followed by millions of people. Here am talking about leaders like Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed. People who had relatively priviledged lives but only came into greatness when they stepped out of their sheltered lives and walked with the masses. The same masses that old man Nagenda that once brilliant writer now refers to denigratingly as the great unwashed -the dregs of society! He forgets that its these dregs that sweat and die so that he and his cronies can live in comfort.
You suggest that I would be pleased to see you cross over to my side -what you call being a renegade. Actually I dont consider myself to be a renegade. I am that enemy who choses to interrupt you while you are making a mistake (actually your best friend). I see you making a mistake and feel the need to save you from yourself. For you see if you continue on the course that the NRM government has embarked upon, you will be destroyed together with your children. At the very best, you will have to return to exile. Trust me exile is not a picnic for upper middle class girls brought up with house servants and mod cons. But worst of all, the course that Museveni and the NRM have set themselves upon leads to war and destruction.
How do we know this, we know this by reading our history. You see those NRM kids you mentioned of which you are one are not all the same. There are those like you who were eating sausages in Nairobi and Stockholm and those like us who were hyperventilating when the bombs and bullets were flying. Those who had access to state house scholarships distributed under the bed and those who had to amke do with mango tree university. Those who are acustomed to walking to work and those who think that its a crime to walk to work. Those who get their uncles to send them to recruiting offices with chits for choice jobs and those whose CV’s grow yellow and mouldy while their shoes develop holes looking for jobs. Those who have access to choice contracts worth hundreds of millions to billions fall their way because they “fought” while the rest just died, and those they refer to as lazy, dregs of society, scum of the earth who are poor because they are lazy! Those who are entitled and those who should be grateful for nothing! Those who have babies on the floor in Mulago and and various other unmentionable places and those who go to Paragon and kololo hospital or even those who are flown to Germany at tax payer expense!We are at a cross roads. Indeed it would be the pleasure of many to see you cross over to stand ith the people who are now accustomed to standing on the outside watching you and your uncles enjoying the feast from the animal that we all helped you kill but you insists on eating alone.
Our sacrifices and those of our parents as well as our lives have been buried in the narrative of 27 men who with no help at all fought and overthrew Obote’s hordes while the rest of us were sleeping or hiding unde the bed. But I do remember a childhood shattered by guns used by bad men. Bad men who had been stirred up by a band of what Obote called bandits but we now call heroes! Oh how narratives do change!
Acknowledging that we are all of course Museveni’s children (NRM?) is a first step. But you make the mistake of assuming that when I say that we are NRM kids, I mean we are/were all NRM supporters of children of NRM supporters. I refer specifically to children and young teenagers who grew up and came of age during Museveni’s wars and his regime.
Many of these are under the age of 40 -45 and they now form the majority in this country. They constitute a mindset that differs from those in the NRMO or those who fought in the NRA. They also differ in mindset from those of their parents and grandparents generations who were adults in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. As children, we knew what war and fear meant. We knew the sound of bullets and saw death at an age when children should not know death. We knew that adults were not fearless having watched them hyperventilate many a time.
In 1986, we listened to the fine words of hope for a better society that Museveni said on the steps of parliament and for the next few years learnt to chant the patriotic songs. In school and at university we went for muchaka muchaka. We marveled at this man who declined the trappings of power and espoused small and accountable government as well as people friendly security forces.  He preached against backwardsness and a lack of development and was enthusiastic about helpng our country develop. He was apalled by the state of the infrastructure such as roads and observed that the potholes in Kampala could make a pregnant woman miscarry. This man who said things that we all agreed with like the problems of Africa is leaders who do not want to step down from power to people like Moi, Nyerere, Kaunda, Mobutu, Mugabe etc. A new breed of leaders had been born and the future appeared rosy and bright.We were the first generation to go out in the night dancing and walk back home from Ange and Silk at 4 am without fear of being molested. Some went for muchaka muchaka and handled guns. Talked back to soldiers and policemen and challenged unfair laws and regulations. Watched as our elders gave their views as the nation discussed a new constitution.
In between some of us had a our first beer. I am yet to have my first one but who knows. Others had their first girl or boy, got married and had children. all the while we cheered the fighters on even though we took very little actual interest in politics. We were too busy compensating for our deprived and bullet ridden childhoods. You see we grew up taking cover from all sorts of deadly missiles, jumping over dead bodies watching our elders hyperventilate. Many of us voted for the first time for we came of age during Museveni’s regime even though most of us simply couldnt be bothered. We left the voting to the elders. Ditto the talk about politics in which we had every little interest.
In between we occasionally heard of a conflict hidden away and often not mentioned for months. I first heard of this conflict in high school when a friend whose home was right next door to Layibi college, could not go home for his hollidays. He stayed in Kampala with his elder brother and we caught up during the school holidays. His elderly retired father had refused to leave his home. Later I saw him off when he went to America where he went on to college and University. He has never returned to Kampala and his home has never had peace since. Many years later, it occured to me that our society had really failed the people of Gulu. That our parliament was really useless for a campaign like W2W with people insisting on sleeping on parliamentary avenue would have ended the IDP camps years earlier.
Doctors are taught never to make the treatment worse than the disease they are treating. In trying to deny Kony a space in which to grow, the NRM government adopted a scotched earth policy of emptying the villages and detaining everyone into camps. My own grandmother who lived in eastern Uganda has never been buried by her family because she refused to move when Lakwena’s hordes came around. While the government argues that it saved lives by incarcerating its people, other sources of evidence incldung a paper written by Dr Olive Kobusingye on excess mortality in IDP’s suggest that the policy of IDP’s was responsible for increasing the mortality of residents significantly in comparison to all other parts of Uganda. There is no doubt that IDP’s caused death to the residents of Gulu and around. We may have had little conflict around Kampala over the last 25 years but conflict has never been far from us. Even when we try to ignore it it refuses to go away. It is becoming more and more obvious that unless something changes we are headed for the dreaded conflict of our childhood. Over 25 years, we have come to know Museveni and his men very well. We have followed their every word, their every contradiction, their every metamorphosis from men of apparent principle to men who are simply men -and now to men who are afraid of change. None better demonstrates this than Eriya Kategaya, about face when life on the outside proved to hard. Men who are greedy for the trappings of material wealth even when they did not earn it.

“Politics can be relatively fair in the breathing spaces of history; at its critical turning points there is no other rule possible than the old one, that the end justifies the means. ” Artur Koestler


You chose to differentaite between Museveni and the NRM. I dont. Museveni is the NRM and the NRM is Museveni. All of the rest including your dear daddy are just along for the ride to give Museveni the semblance of legitimacy. They are choir singers to be trotted out when it suits Museveni to legitimise his disguised life presidency. I see men and women who are weak. People who have grown soft. I no longer see any of the young men who fought for what they believed in even when the odds were clearly against them. Like in the old fable of the emperor and his invisible clothes, the courtiers of Museveni including daddy dear continue to alow him to delude himself that he is indispensable to this country. For allowing one man to hijack the dreams of 33 million people of this country, the members of the NRM are traitors to this country. indeed, the band of young men be it in 1980 or in 1986 who were willing to lay their lives down for what they believed in would have had them lined up and shot trough their fat tummies. But bullets were scarce in that war so the ‘kakumbi” would be even better. This was the penalty for traitors in the bush no? No bullets were wasted on them. Your fabled collective responsibility is only collective responsibility for the failures of the NRM which are many while the King Museveni takes all of the credit for the presumed victories.
People like my parents may vote NRM but they are not really NRM. Like many people, they have lived through all of the disastrous governments of Uganda. Each time change has brought death and more suffering to them and their families. Like many Ugandans, they are afraid of change. They have never been within the eating circles. They just want peace and to be left alone to do their own thing. It took me years to recognise that my mother has got undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffered during Obote II. At the end of the day they vote for the devil they know even though this does not blind them to his weaknesses. Of course they are outnumbered. You see they have seven children all “Museveni children” and none of them would vote for the NRM.
I have no doubt that the 1980 elections were rigged. I also have no doubt that that election was designed purely for window dressing. Stories are told of upcountry opposition MP’s who were detained at road blocks until nomination was over and their opponents returned unopposed. You see the weakness of a man tells one a lot about that man. Power was Obote’s weakness. He exalted in wielding it. Everything about his history suggests that he had to win at all costs and would never have allowed himself to lose. The presence of a client army led by partisan Oyite Ojok and the client caretaker government of Paul Muwanga was never going to allow for a free and fair election.

“The ultimate truth is penultimately always a falsehood. He who will be proved right in the end appears to be wrong and harmful before it. ” Arthur Koestler


I can see you attempt to separate the LC system from the so called NRM grassroot structures. The reality is that the two are one and the same. The LC system came with a stamp on it -NRM. It till exists despite its tenuous legality and controls access to the grassroots. Quite frankly it should have been dissolved in 2006 after the legal dissolution of the NRM and transition to multiparties. Its a system that the NRM built using state resources that no other party can duplicate. During the last election, the NRM paid an ex gratia payment amounting to 6.5 billion just before the campaigns for elections. If this was not a bribe, tell me what else it could be. So essentially money from the public purse was paid to what you admit is an illegal structure important for campaigning at the grassroot level just prior to the presidential election and you do not see a problem with that?

“Space-ships and time machines are no escape from the human condition. Let Othello subject Desdemona to a lie-detector test; his jealousy will still blind him to the evidence. Let Oedipus triumph over gravity; he won’t triumph over his fate. ” Arthur Koestler

Elections can yield democracy. But elections organised in an undemocratic way by an undemocratic government cannot yield anything else but chaos. They certainly cannot yield democracy. The principle of informed consent is a basic tenet of medical ethics. As a matter of fact autonomy is central to the practice of medical ethics. A person is autonomous in their decisions if they understand the pros and cons of their decisions and have the means to carry out or exercise that autonomy independently. A democratic government ensures that the voters are informed and empowered to make informed decisions. The NRM preys on an uninformed population. As such one has to question the so called democracy in Uganda. Just how informed is the average paesant in Uganda who constitutes the majority?Is it any wonder that the enemies of the NRM in the last few years are those who offer information to the general public. Those who offer alternate sources to “President museveni yagambye …”. Those who offer an alternate narrative to that fed to us for over 25 years? People like Nambozo, whose FM radio campaign was one of the most effective before FB took over. Journalists like Mwenda before he became mellow with vested interests. Journalists like Kalyegira who depite his often wild imagination presents alternate opinions to the official narrative. People like Obbo before he was kicked upstairs. People like the Mengo government or Suubi and now the internet and FB. This government went after all of them including going as far as holding Namboozo beyond the courts and closing down CBS on trumped up charges. Unlike all of the first sources, the internet is out of the reach of Museveni and his government which is why they are now squirming. And squirm they will for the winds of change are upon them and they have to adapt or die!
Do I support Besigye? No. Do I support Besigye’s right to protest and exercise his right to oppose this government? Yes. Do I believe that his party the FDC is the best thing since sliced bread? No! Do I have reservations about Besigye? Yes, lots. In many ways his personality and that of Museveni are similar. I would only trust him in the presence of structures to control the power of his presidency. But then there are very few people I would trust with virtually absolute power particularly people who seek power. I am more comfortable with those who do not seek power than with those who seek and believe that the only way to control them and their. But at the end of the day, Besigye has stood up to be counted and that should count for something.

“If conquerors be regarded as the engine-drivers of History, then the conquerors of thought are perhaps the pointsmen who, less conspicuous to the traveller’s eye, determine the direction of the journey. ” Arthur Koestler

At the end of the day, the era of Museveni and your father is over even though they do not seem to know it yet. Like all regimes that have come to their end, they wait until they have to be dragged out from a hole in the ground before they realise the end is here. I have come to accept that power creates a delusional state that makes those in power lose touch with their surroundings.

“God seems to have left the receiver off the hook, and time is running out. ” Arthur Koestler

It is time for an exit plan. If your father and his generation cannot save themselves, then you have to save yourself and your children. If you insist on continuing to stay on in one mans delusion, then you have only yourself to blame. At the end of the day Ugandans will blame all of ou in the NRM for failing to stand up and be counted on the sied of the people of Uganda. For failing to recognise that Museveni has lost his way and his quest for power too personal, too individualistic. Thay you have all become “useful idiots”! If you guys do not find a way of removing him, and handing power back to the people, the people will find ways of removing you all.Change is here. The winds of change that blew away the Pahraoh of egypt Mubarak as well as Ben ali of Tunisia have changed course and blown the Jasmine train into Kampala. And nothing will stop that train forom docking for that multitude of unemployed youth, the impunity that your uncles have enjoyed, the cronism and corruption in this government, and the longevity and obvious dynastic plans are the fuel on which the Jasmine train feeds. You can only delay it but you will not stop it from docking.
The death of the vegetable seller and all of those innocents who were killed in Kampala shall not go unpunished.I leave you with this photocollection documenting this governments brutality. Surely no one who has got a conscience can continue to support the men and women who did this.

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through man’s history is the beating of war drums. ” Arthur Koestler

At the end of the day, Ugandans may have to resort to warfor sometimes avoiding a war that needs to be fought simply delays the inevitable. God knows we do not need any more wars but if war does come, the NRM and Museveni will be to blame for they alone have got the power to stop it from happening.


Posted in: Health, Nina, Uganda