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THE DAILY NATION, BOOK REVIEW

7 January 2011

Uganda: How Museveni Departed From the Correct Line Over the Years

    Tom Odhiambo
    Nairobi

    When Yoweri Kaguta Museveni shot his way to power in Kampala in 1986, many saw him as a saviour.
    Of course Ugandans may have been used to the idea of mkombozi, after the Tanzanians aided Obote to come back to power a second time, but Museveni’s arrival was a bit special: he knew the old system and its ills and promised to correct the sins of the old men and women who had messed up the once so-called ‘pearl of Africa.’
    But many Ugandans should have known that those who proclaim revolutions hardly change anything once they get to power.
    Museveni and the National Resistance Movement/National Resistance Army promised to rule for five years and then hand over power to the citizens. But Museveni is still around 25 years later, and is seeking office in the forthcoming elections on February 28.
    So, what happened to his promises to reset Ugandan politics and retire? This is the subject of a book by Olive Kobusingye, The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni (AuthorHouse, 2010).
    Kobusingye, a medical doctor, is a sister of Museveni’s perennial opponent, Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe, commonly known as Dr Kizza Besigye. This family forms a significant background to the narrative(s) of The Correct Line?
    The book will be read as a family diatribe against Museveni. Whether Kobusingye meant it to be read so we can’t know for sure, but the book is surely a testimony to Besigye’s tenacity in the face of the Ugandan state’s wish to eliminate him from the political landscape. He has been harassed, detained, charged and had to go into exile.
    This book is neither an academic treatise nor a journalistic account of Uganda under Museveni’s rule. Its narrative texture is a mix of a scholar’s writing style and a journalist’s eye for detail. That detail could be expressed in hyperbole with the intent to sensationalise, or repeated with the desire to emphasis.
    It is repetition and juxtaposition that Kobusingye uses so effectively in The Correct Line? In all the 19 chapters, the author carefully picks some statement that Museveni made in the past about democracy, good governance or leadership in Uganda, either before his rise to power or when in power, and contrasts it with events in Uganda under Museveni.
    The result is an embarrassing diagnosis of a leader who assumed power on the promise of democracy but whose reign is increasingly becoming an autocracy. It is a testimony to how a man with good intentions can be corrupted by power.
    Museveni’s supporters will point to the “peace and prosperity” that Uganda has enjoyed under him. But Kobusingye’s view is that this argument is at the root of the problem with Uganda today.
    She suggests, by offering incredible evidence to the contrary, that Uganda is actually a state under military siege. For instance, how can the country be said to be peaceful when on two separate occasions, in November 2005 and March 2007 members of the armed forces attempted to abduct, in daylight, accused individuals who the courts had given bail?
    Is a country with the so-called “safe houses” where those who contest the authority of the state are tortured (remember the Nyayo torture chambers?) really safe?
    Can there be peace in Uganda when, like many post-colonial African countries, slums host the majority of their urban citizens? What of the war in northern Uganda, which the Ugandan state seems uninterested in ending – probably as a means of holding the northerners to state “military mercy”?
    Kobusingye poses the questions above and many others as a way of asking Museveni to account for the discordance between his public pronouncements and the performance of his government since 1986.
    Whither African democracy when the formerly so-called “new African democrats” – Meles Zenawi, Isaias Afewerki, Museveni and Paul Kagame – have become more than just strongmen, they are behaving like monarchs of yore who believed that theirs was anointed leadership? The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni is available at Bookstop, Yaya, at KSh 1,250.
    The reviewer teaches literature at the University of Nairobi.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “THE DAILY NATION, BOOK REVIEW

  1. OPEN LETTER TO H.E PRESIDENT YOWERI MUSEVENI

    Dear President Yoweri Museveni,

    Whatever you are doing in bad faith, creating chiefdoms in Buganda, the bill on Kabaka, demonizing our beloved Kabaka, dividing Buganda, poverty in Buganda, discrediting and abusing our beloved Kabaka, refusal to pay rent from Buganda premises being used by your government, holding Buganda’s property etc, will all end with your collapsing regime!

    It wouldn’t have been you, president Museveni to pay evil to our beloved Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi II who wholeheartedly supported your 1981 NRA/M gorilla war that captured power in 1986. If it wasn’t the Kabaka of Buganda, Mr. Museveni, you wouldn’t have been there with your family, friends and in-laws!

    Over 500,000 skulls are being used as tourist attraction in Luweero! I personally lost my mother, father and the entire family in Wobulenzi, Luweero just because our beloved Kabaka had instructed us to support your NRA/M gorilla war.

    I strongly support the idea of Dr. Olala Otunu of establishing a commission of inquiry on your 1981 – 1986 gorilla war. We think a lot of people were killed including my entire family.

    How dare are you then turn against our beloved Kabaka!! Is that how you should pay him? We know that you are the “Ssaabagabe” of Ankole, Do you also want to become the “Kabaka of Buganda”?

    And then you come up with your funny proverbs “Ensi eggula mirambo” how many of your family members died during that war? You targeted to use our beloved Kabaka for your personal gain and then you dump him???

    President Yoweri Museveni, you should remember that when the late former Uganda president Dr. Apollo Milton Obote attacked our beloved late Kabaka Sir Edward Muteesa II, vandalized Muteesa’s palace, removed Muteesa from presidency, killed hundreds of innocent people in Muteesa’s palace, abrogated the 1962 Constitution, All Dr. Obote’s efforts to unite Uganda by force was futile and Uganda ceased to exist in reality!!

    The September 11th, 2009 attack on our beloved Kabaka, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the Kabaka of Buganda by you, president Yoweri Museveni has no difference from that of 24th May 1966 when Dr. Obote attacked our beloved late Kabaka Sir Edward Muteesa II and killed him in the exile!

    President Yoweri Museveni, you should know that the Baganda are not stupid. We are seriously monitoring all your evil plans against our beloved Kabaka His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi and to finally destroy the Mighty Buganda Kingdom.

    The Baganda have got a very strong attachment to their Kabaka and the Kingship! No matter how and when, We shall do everything possible to liberate our beloved Kabaka His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and to get back our property (Ebyaffe)!

    Finally, I humbly appeal to Baganda, friends of Buganda and all those oppressed by your (Mr.Museveni) regime to vote for change. Let us all support Bugand’s former Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemogerere’s Ssuubi agenda and we all should vote for change.

    Voting you, Mr. Museveni is giving you a passport to further taunt our beloved Kabaka, ousting our beloved Kabaka and erasing the mighty Buganda Kingdom from the face of Uganda! Please Uganda let us all vote for Change!

    Long Live our beloved Kabaka His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, Long Live Buganda, Long Live Uganda, the Pearl of Africa!

    Posted by Dr. Kiyimba George | January 11, 2011, 4:32 pm
  2. Im followin this book to the detail.its a real eye opener

    Posted by amos.o.nen.abigaba | January 12, 2011, 6:41 am

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