By Nassur Tab’an El-Tablaz
“A world without lies would be a terrible world. A world without lies would be a world without fiction!” remarked Ricky Gervais at the premiere of his film “The Invention of Lying”.
Ugandan politicians must have followed Ricky’s words to the letter. I’m incredulously distraught that none of our Ugandan politicians is named amongst the world’s most notorious and successful liars throughout history! What? I’m right, right?
Come to think of it, our daily lives are filled with all sorts of lies most of us have ridiculously termed ‘Enangalism’ – poor loyal officer!
Wonder whether even his children believe him. Some readers might rightly be thinking: Come on! Who doesn’t lie? They’re absolved.
We all lie, but ours, most of the time, is that little white lie we sometimes tell to keep our skins out of trouble. We lie to business associates, bosses, co-workers, friends, and even loved ones.
We even lie to ourselves. Not our famous politicians – they bring on board a completely different ball game as though lying is a prerequisite to popularity and getting to the top! Theirs is a web of lies that they most times get tangled up in.
They are so egregiously dishonest that many a Ugandan no longer get shocked by their deception. They ought to be rated highly with the likes of Frida Kahlo, Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Benjamin Franklin, Silvio Berlusconi, Richard Nixon, Lindsay Lohan, Misa Bharti and Benedict Arnold.
Do you know what lies these great men and women told?
Find out and you will realise they are amateurs in comparison to the connoisseurs, the corrupt, sadistic liars our Ugandan politicians are.
It’s no secret that I vehemently disagreed with issue of conducting elections amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
For starters, it’s a shame that we held elections and electioneering amidst more demanding and challenging issues directly affecting the livelihoods of many a Ugandan common citizen – but, of course, does the layman matter?
In a country adversely hit by floating islands and rising water levels of lakes Victoria and Kyoga; floods in Bundibugyo and Kasese, locusts in the Karamoja region and the Covid-19 pandemic, our good politicians spent heavily on an election, the devastating effects of these disasters on our shredded economy notwithstanding.
This rendered us mere rabble (the type that can be bought off with a penny) and busybodies that latch onto anything like a burning spear aimed at an enemy!
They made us believe they couldn’t amend the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Acts to enable the then political office bearers continue their terms of office until the nation stabilised to have the luxury of holding meaningful elections – as if a precedence hadn’t been set with the amendment of the presidential term and age limits.
The common man was made to believe that not holding elections then would lead our nation into annihilation. At the risk of spreading the novel Covid-19, elections were held and politicians are reaping big.
Today, learning institutions are still closed because they were the primary cause of the second wave.
By organising elections to cater for our needs then, we ate our offspring. Where do we now get the justification to saddle posterity with our needs?
Since nature gracefully provides death to nourish life, we ‘killed’ our economy to ‘irrigate’ the welfare and wellbeing of our politicians.
So, who has benefited from the January, 2021 polls?
The 15 million students stuck at home enjoying adult games and bearing fellow children? Parents too preoccupied with the worry of unemployment and accumulated rent arrears among other bills?
Or the newly elected politicians wallowing in billions spent on improving their welfare, which could have been injected into the economy to fight Covid-19 and try bring people’s lives back to normal?
It could have bought sanitisers, temperature guns and hand washing equipment and soap for schools to have our children go back to school.
We have no choice but to publicly declare the re-opening of schools – in public life, what is right must be balanced with what is prudent. We must proceed on a platform of principle not details.
On such sensitive matters, we must not inflame passions but appeal to the firm and dependable good old intellect – reason and scientific facts must prevail.
How many school-going children have contracted or died of Covid-19?
The political leaders of this country raise understandable concerns and emotions on the education of the children of the poor citizenry, but we cannot deal with our current challenges in an emotional manner.
Education is vital to our livelihoods, but our politicians seem to be subverting and destroying it. Ugandan politicians deserve total disrespect and disdain for taking a stand when it is easy and rewarding to simply cruise the middle course.
They are simply do-no-gooders out to make money masquerading as do-gooders using Covid-19 to justify their madness.
Their industry exists for selfish purposes and when it stumbles upon a case that serves its cause, it latches onto it like a dog to a bone, and you can’t separate the two.
The continued closure of schools is, at best, spurious and pharisaic without core values. It doesn’t stem from any inner moral effort or ideo-intellectual conviction. From the comfort of their plum jobs, Ugandan politicians indulge in such fancy talk as having schools reopen when 5 million Ugandans have been vaccinated yet only slightly above 1 million have so far been vaccinated in two years.
The lives of the majority stressed by inability to pay bills because they feed off the education system evoke indifference.
We don’t have to push our people further into the abyss of poverty which is more than just material deprivation… it is also about being excluded from the decision-making process!
Those agitating for continued closure, can you say what you’re saying in another way – in the language of the jobless, hungry and bitter school owners, teachers, parents and students?
The crux of the matter is that we can only guarantee our future by guaranteeing an education to the common man. Let’s encourage dialogue and imaginative thinking; let’s shun sermons and dogmatic solutions to complex problems. A happy and healthy society listens to its self.
In a true democracy, there are no masters. We must have consultations and work hard at consensus building with serious attempts at compromise. Politically and economically, everything possible is a means to an end.
We don’t have to be in power to participate in the due process of government.
Leadership does not have to reside in the political office, it doesn’t have to wield power; true leadership can reside anywhere provided it controls how power is wielded.
I know the executive doesn’t want to hear this but flattery is the key here. As a way of progressing, allow schools to reopen. This will purge the emotions of the common man – a dog with a bone in its mouth cannot bark. That’s what matters.
The education of the common man is their way of buying a ticket onto the gravy train. The ultimate victory is not to demoralise the population but to win them over. By compromising and winning them over, you’re draining the swamp of fear and uncertainty in which their mosquitoes hatch.
I am not talking about pittance. Let’s give back something that will touch everybody personally, and radically change the way things are done in this country for the better. What matters is that history is a long chain – one generation leads to another.
You, our politicians, are the most important link in that chain at the moment. You don’t want to be the weak-link. You must play your part with a brain surgeon’s caution and precision – gloves, anaesthetists and all in place. Ugandans want leaders not politicians – upright, honest and honourable people.
As long as anyone of us is willing to stand up and pay the price, there is hope… and hope is our best ally.
Our education river is getting contaminated at the source and the poison will extend its full length. The English say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions – continued and insistent closure of schools at this time spells disaster.
Why should government abuse authority and power to benefit a few people upstream while simultaneously causing ruin and misery to the majority downstream?
Great nations are founded on the visions of great leaders.
Uganda cannot afford grandstanding, posturing, serving dead words, clouding reality in phraseology, resorting to rhetoric to avoid addressing real problems, talking big, walking big, concealing rot in finery and deaf to every voice except your own! For how long will the education sector remain in the morgue?
Why have we… all of us… each one of us… why have we let this blindness preside over us?
The writer is a Ugandan author of academic books, creative writer, editor and motion picture (film) director. He is an experienced and renowned teacher of English language and Literature in English.