Opinion: "Mr President, is there a way we can "talk to the pigs?"


Tumusiime Deo

In the wake of occasional political tensions and more recently the city bombings, the president in his speeches, with the exception of the very last one, has repeatedly referred to the persons on the other side as "pigs."

However, while we have all often simply laughed it off, when a section of the population turns from being human to pigs, this should not be taken lightly.

Who produced them? How did we get here? How do we get out of here? These questions ought to be answered, but unless we figure out the language pigs understand as well as make them understand us, we may be simply caressing a dangerous precedent.

For some reason, I think the pig connotation has got to do with the dirtiness associated with pigs. And if I recall my bible lessons right, pigs never had a good profile in biblical times either.

But there's something ironical about pigs-they present with arguably the sweetest meat! In fact, the first time the pig reference was made, some people vented their displeasure on social media.

They claimed that their &thing& deserved a little bit of respect. I suppose this feeling didn't change an inch even after the first bombing in Kampala occurred at a famous pork joint.

I also grew up with a negative perception about pigs overall, until I visited one piggery in recent years and found really clean pigs in a neat environment.

Yes, some people have changed the narrative and nowadays keep tidy pigs that drink water off specially designed teats! Not sure whether the gruesome way they meet their death has been sanitised a bit lately. An axe on the head!

Quite harsh, isn't it? Could be for lack of a better alternative, and maybe that death is death whichever way it comes, but what I know, is that it doesn't hurt to treat animals a little bit 'humanely'-and sometimes they respond to us.

Talking of treating animals humanely, cattle keepers come to mind. I remember some people used to give cows some pretty names like; Kyoozi, Bihogo, Mahembe-names that quite made them treasurable.

Serious cattle keepers even do have their own way of speaking to their cows,-and they respond. Surely once we establish some communication codings, we could speak to the pigs as well.

Now, on a more serious note, away from the animals in real life, I think it is important to make an attempt to speak to disgruntled Ugandans and understand their grievances that could cause one to blow up others or even oneself.

This is not an ordinary occurence, it is deplorable and should never happen again. What message are the persons behind the bombings trying to pass across?

Of course in order to make logical sense of all these happenings, it is important to separate emotions from professional approach. If we don't do this soul searching, we risk fighting back emotionally, and probably hurting innocent suspects in the process of venting anger.

Unless someone is mad, I do not expect that they would wake up in their right senses and start throwing stones at innocent passerby.

Yet even when one runs mad, the solution is not to shoot them and get them out of the way. Mental hospitals do exist for a purpose.

Going by the president's speech, it appears that quite a number of suspects are in custody. Let us have a conversation with them to understand their motivation for dissent, and then give them a second chance as opposed to having them rot in prison, which might only make them more hardened.

Perhaps what would even be more important, is the humility to acknowledge genuine concerns where they exist so that corrective measures can be engaged.

But again, even where there appears no merit, fire for fire never seems to be the best way to resolve conflict especially where innocent citizens continue to pay the price.

You want to wake up and be sure that you will return home alive, but this assurance has a bearing on the peace and harmony planted by those to whom our lives are entrusted.

Painful to say, but we need to start to  talk to the pigs. A good starting point, is in my view not to refer to fellow citizens as pigs.

Otherwise, doing so in effect blocks any chance for dialogue and chance to look at appreciate how we got to this and how to get out of the fix.

The author is an international communications consultant

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