On the small village I come from, insulting is pretty much forbidden. We are often mocked, in comedy skits and public jokes as being too polite – far beyond measure. If by now, you haven’t known, I am a Mutooro. The batooro are comedy fodder for their politeness.
Despite the social code not permitting insulting, the language of the Batooro bears words of insult. In their hundreds.
The more loaded ones are the insults directed at a mother [Or about them]. There’s a tacit assumption that mothers are sacred and evoking their names in any heated argument or passing them over in insult is the pinnacle of ‘bad manners’.
It arises in cases of extreme belittlement or unattended-to anger.
In fact, the key principle bearer of this fact is the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the country and a bestowed custodian in the Tooro Kingdom.
In 2014 whilst signing into law the now defunct Anti Homosexuality act, he responded to a question on foreign interference stating that ‘some people cannot know you’re angry until you tell them you go and eat your mothers something, something…’
Evoking an insult to a person’s mother is a powerful tool to both catch the eye of the public and cause self-introspection.
I have been struggling to understand why, Museveni and the people who act for him, who know this fact all too well, still treat Stella Nyanzi’s case as an insult on the president and rather not the source of her anger.
It wasn’t possible, for example, in 1986 – 2001, to say these things of Museveni without attracting a public lynching. And yet, since Stella wrote them, not a single bottle, coin or stone has been pelted her way.
I’d struggle to believe that people wish the things she wrote in her Facebook post on Museveni, I think though, that a lot of the public understands, relates and deeply introspects on the circumstances that led Stella to write as she did.
The substance in Stella’s facebook post, despite the vulgarity in the form was that the country isn’t being rightly governed. Many people say it differently. Religious leaders, in many church and mosque gatherings ask the Lord to ‘intercede’, the hard built boys in the ghetto say ‘Otufuga bubi’, the elite hyper analyse and ask politely for ‘policy changes’, Stella, in her own way, chooses to say it in the way she did.
Wishing Stella away and carting her off to prison doesn’t fundamentally alter the contents of her message – which is, that we need better governance. And it is not a personal attack on Museveni, unless, ofcourse, he falls guilty of treating the country as a private asset for which only he deserves a say.
Let’s not waste the good English on morality debates. Or better still, lets not a good crisis – the kind Stella has put us in – go to waste.