Uganda is one of those countries where people strangely measure success by how many friends and acquaintances one has in the political circles. It does not matter how wealthy you are or how much you actually transform people’s lives, if by a certain age you have not garnered enough political friends to attend your daughter’s wedding, son’s graduation or your own funeral, then it is safe to say that you are truly gone too soon.
It goes without saying therefore that almost everyone aspires to join the political ranks at whatever cost. You will hear a lot of utter nonsense and real gibberish coming from many people in political circles but that will not stop the society from branding them as successful. And this is why people will go as far as sleeping with the devil to ensure that they get into political circles.
I have personally been involved in several positions of authority and leadership right from my early childhood when I was usually the ‘Daddy’ in that other legendary game ‘Mummy and Daddy’. All through Nursery, Primary, Secondary and finally University, I wielded fairly substantial power. I am therefore not short on leadership skills or ambition for that matter. However, it has increasingly become clear that the political field in Uganda is one messed up place for a soul as pure as mine. For this, and other reasons, I have chosen to not engage in politics – for now. 2016 is not far away so between now and then, a lot can change. For now though, I shall explain why exactly I am not keen on politics in Uganda.
Living half the life
The life of a politician is often ruled by routine and predictability. It is very rare for a politician to get a random call from his buddy Fred at 10 pm, telling him about a house party somewhere in Nankulabye or Kiwatule. All his friends are fully aware that this politician friend can no longer be seen in certain circles. They are only supposed to attend parties and cocktails at Serena, Sheraton, Kabira or Grand Imperial. You can not just randomly get into the mood for the Legends Dancefloor, The Junction Quiz Night, Club Silk Campus Night or Iguana Happy Hour. That is beneath your status. However, most times, that is where the real fun is. I am not about to forego my free tickets to bufundas just because of politics. That is out!
There is no way you can join Emma and his friends for Malos
Too much Spotlight
Before Madam Alengot joined politics, not many people bothered too much about her personal life. She could sleep with anyone she wanted to sleep with and it would probably not make headline news. Look what is happening to the madam MP now, just look! She can barely blink without the press assuming she is winking at another MP or that she wants to steal another woman’s man. The poor woman might not even have engaged in any of those ridiculous sexual allegations being thwarted at her but because she is in the spotlight, the newsfolks are keen to help her wash her linen in public. If Ofwono Opondo was not the politician he is, no one would ever have known about that underpants incident. There are many underpants shoplifters out there. Why is it that Ofwono was the one who made news? Oh Yes; because he is a politician. Unfair!
Have you ever traveled upcountry and attended prayers at the local church in your village? Do you notice how you are given the best seats near the alter with an awesome view of the preacher …and the offertory basket? Well, when you are a politician it gets worse. You are not only given the best seats but also given the fattest pledge cards whenever there is need for pledges. This state of affairs can be life threatening especially if you are not earning too much money. Somehow you must find a way to appease the people without seeming like it is costing you too much. It is no wonder that politicians do not mix and mingle with their people that much. The demands are just too many. Ministers and MPs usually send representatives to the various functions not because they can not physically attend but because sometimes, the demands weigh very heavily on them.
Many Politicians take way more heat than they ought to. Often times, mistakes made by the Government are blamed on politicians even though half the time, these politicians are as clueless as the rest of us. If you are a Member of Parliament from a little county somewhere in Serere, you probably have very little say in several Government matters.You only get to see the President when he visits the Parliament to give his State of the Nation Address. Even then,you are seated at the back and when it is time for the group photo, you are furthest from the Big Man. Most of the time you are dosing in Parliament and your presence (or absence) is really not noticed. The only people who know you are a few clerks of parliament, the MPs within your district, the money lender you owe substantial amounts and the Speaker of Parliament who will occasionally forget your name too. However, when the roads in Serere are terrible, your name will be dragged in mud even though technically as an MP your hands are tied. You only make policies, you do not allocate funds. Just sad!
Joining politics is considered a major upgrade to one’s social status therefore certain things are expected of them. They are expected to start playing golf, drive certain cars, dress in a certain manner and basically live a certain life. However, research has shown that a good number of politicians end up stretching way more than they should, just so they can fit in. For instance, if someone’s true passion is not playing golf but rather playing video games, once you join politics, you have to abandon FIFA 2013, The PS3 and the XBox and you must head off to the golf course because apparently, that is where ‘big people’ chill. Also, you have to graduate from anticipating happy hour at your local bar to drinking at exclusive bars where beer is sold at four times the usual price. Madness!
Lies, Lies and more Lies
Everyone in this world is surrounded by lies. Lawyers lie to keep us out of jail, doctors lie to give us hope for life, accountants lie to save us from paying heavy taxes, soldiers lie to avoid panic, teachers lie to keep children’s faith in the education system, parents lie to protect their children. It would appear that everyone lies – for the right reason. Well, politicians lie for the wrong reasons. They lie to get into power and then they lie some more to stay in power. Politicians also lie to stay in line with their political parties. If your party’s stance is against a certain policy, you can not suddenly wake up and say you do not agree with them otherwise you will be a dissident. Your arms are tied and your tongue is tamed. You can not express personal views without those views being linked to the political party of your affiliation no matter how ridiculous the idea may be.
Like I said, 2016 is still far off and between now and then a lot can change. If by 2016 I have changed my mind and I am keen on joining politics, I will deny that I ever put out this blog because after all, that is what Politicians do – they deny the very things they said at some point.
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” ― Groucho Marx
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