Gaaki Kigambo’s Review
Written by Gaaki Kigambo
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 19:15
Dr Olive Kobusingye’s book – The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni – makes no pretences at objectivity in its dissection of what the author presents as the ironies and contradictions between President Museveni’s style of governance today and what, 29 years ago, compelled him into armed rebellion against Apollo Milton Obote’s government.

The book’s consignment remains held at Customs at Entebbe International Airport since last Friday, October 8, when DHL shipped it in because, according to its author, it was deemed anti-government.

But Sarah Birungi Banage, the Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs Management at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), says the book is pending a thorough review of its contents by the revenue agency, which is mandated to review all such material for any inappropriateness.

She, however, couldn’t commit herself on how long it would take URA to review the 213-page book. In any case, she added, they would have to wait for the other agencies they’re working with to complete their reviews as well.

The Police and the airport’s Joint Security Operations (JSO) unit have taken keen interest in the book. However, information from Police indicates it’s JSO that’s right at the centre of it. JSO brings under one command all security organs based at the airport.

The book is causing great discomfort within government circles. Its scheduled launch today, October 13, at Kampala Serena Hotel was cancelled because, according to Kobusingye, the management didn’t want to take any chances were the Police to insist on stopping the launch midway.

But Kobusingye says she hadn’t received any indication the Police had any such plans. The hotel’s management declined to speak to The Observer about the matter. There are unconfirmed reports that the hotel had received calls from within government circles advising them against having the book launch on its premises.

The book likens Museveni and his government to George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm. Published in 1945, this allegorical novel tells the story of pigs who led a rebellion of animals against their oppressive master, Mr. Jones, off Manor Farm only for them to turn around and do exactly, if not worse, what they had rebelled against.

The book weaves the personal story of the author with that of Uganda under Museveni. Its point of departure is a Kizza Besigye rally in Rukungiri in March 2001 which, while it had been well-attended and peaceful, quickly disintegrated into wild commotion following a spate of rapid gunfire allegedly from state agents. Some people died and others were seriously injured. Kobusingye is a younger sister to Besigye.

“This incident of premeditated state terror on unarmed and non-violent civilians was not the first that had taken place during that campaign,” writes Kobusingye. Yet for her, “it was nevertheless the first close encounter.”

From here the book’s mostly short chapters afford it a fast pace like a thriller as the author winds and turns, with surgical accuracy, through Museveni’s proclamations and promises and the substance of his, and his government’s, actions. This accuracy is most powerful in emotive chapters detailing human rights abuses.

Every chapter but the first is preceded by a quotation from either Museveni’s autobiography Sowing the Mustard Seed, or two collections of his writings: Selected Articles on the Uganda Resistance War, and What is Africa’s Problem?

Then relying on familiar incidents, used largely for their microcosmic value, a wide range of interviews and reports, Kobusingye digs in, revealing in many instances where Museveni has stood for one thing and acted completely contrary to it.

In Chapter Six, for instance, Museveni is quoted from his autobiography thus: Our mandate was a limited one: to fight to restore freedom, by which we meant that the people should be given the chance to decide on their own destiny, without manipulation.

Kobusingye then recounts the story of Okwir Rabwoni who, on February 20, 2001, was physically and forcefully denied identifying with Kizza Besigye.

In Chapter Seven, Kobusingye upends one of Museveni’s main reasons for going to war in 1981 – election rigging and depriving people of their right to vote – by suggesting the amount of election rigging and disenfranchisement under Museveni’s regime puts to shame what happened in 1980.

Moreover, she adds, Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman Badru Kiggundu’s pronouncement during the 2006 elections that nobody else could release election results but the EC, smacks of the 1980 situation when Paulo Muwanga told the nation that only his Military Commission could announce election results.

In Chapter Nine, Museveni is quoted from What is Africa’s Problem? thus: The security of the people of Uganda is their right and not a favour bestowed by any regime. No regime has the right to kill any citizen of this country, or beat any citizen at a roadblock.

Then in a heart wrenching account of the horrors of safe houses, in which innocent people have lost their lives or been permanently disabled, Kobusingye lays bare the ultimate parallel between Museveni’s words and his government’s actions.

It’s this juxtaposition, which runs throughout, that is the book’s greatest strength. It makes it by far the finest rebuttal yet on Museveni’s central claim. While swearing in as president in 1986, he emphasised how he and his victorious rebel group had not ushered into Uganda merely a change of guard but rather a fundamental change.

As former Army Commander Mugisha Muntu, who is quoted in the book, notes, “When we got in [power], we were as tempted as those who had been in those positions before. So we had two choices: to succumb, or withstand the temptation on a sustained basis so that we govern the country on the principles of transparency and zero tolerance to corruption…”

Many people, Muntu goes on, were tempted, and they succumbed, including President Museveni.





7 thoughts on “Gaaki Kigambo’s Review

  1. I friend wrote this on facebook “I think Dr. Olive Kobusingye does not understand what Uganda is all about and greatly contradicts herself in the so called,”CORRECT LINE”.

    He introduction to the book greatly explains the development the NRM government has brought to this great nation….from the fear of the Army, grippling economy, fear of rape and so on……….I don’t think Col(Rtd)Dr. Warren Smith Kizza Besigye is able to deliver what he she says Uganda should have.

    Col(Rtd)Warren Smith was part of the whole NRM and strayed the country upto 2001.I don’t think It took him that long to realise the rot in NRM”


    1 “That woman is just stupid. She loves the fruits, and yet hates the tree.”

    2″ Sank you………wants the juice but does not want so squeeze”

    3″Again, very stupid woman. I only wish government hadnt banned this waste of a book. Its nothing but rumours and general chit chat the public always engage in, from the taxi park to Makerere university. It has turned this shit into a best seller.”

    4 “Ya that is all it did….guess we should right one and sell, where did museveni go wrong…..and we get mugisha muntu’s wife to import it
    We will; reep big”

    5″Befuula befula,abanyankole befula!!!!!wat about”

    So what should i believe?

    Posted by Gilbert | October 19, 2010, 11:26 am
  2. Gilbert, you ask-So what should i believe?
    I can’t say what you should or should not believe, because that depends on your intellect.
    What I can say is that-Ironically, I am remined of the “Animal Farm” when I read the following:-

    Chapter 4: All Ugandans Are in the Movement
    I had a problem with the idea that everybody was in the Movement, but someone could cross to the Movement. Then where were they before? If you determine that everything that exists – all matter – is in the universe, then how can anybody be outside the Universe? If you have now come into the Universe, where were you before?- by Olive Kobusingye.

    Posted by Sam | October 19, 2010, 7:46 pm
  3. Dear Ugandans, learn to mature and engage in intellectual debates without being petty. The best way to respond to an idea put down in a book is to read the whole book and engage in some critical thinking before you utter a word. Intellectual maturity demands that we respect each other’s views even if we disagree with such views!

    Posted by Sam | October 20, 2010, 8:33 am
  4. Amazing!!!!! Gilbert what was your intention of writing or commenting on this issue or topic. I find it too hard to believe that in this country we still have people who can read and analyse, use such words as stupid and rumour. What is a rumour in this book, quotes from Sowing the mustard seed or Scenes and narrations of gross human abuse during campaigns in Uganda. Yes am not a vivid support of Warren but does that mean Ugandans should be taken for a ride by a group of liers.
    Yes Kizza Beisgye can not deliver all the country needs but does that mean we should leave our country to waste.
    What do we have to show for the last 25 years, apart from lies and people getting rich by putting on the right colurs.
    Wether you use foul language its there for everyone to see how paraniod you are!!!

    Posted by Daudi | October 21, 2010, 1:43 pm
  5. Olive you did a very good job while putting this publication together for us and for the generations to come. I think book is going to be used as the only objective reference material for the political History of Uganda.
    I salute you Olive.

    Posted by Sam | November 6, 2010, 6:20 pm
  6. I got my copy of the Correct Line two days ago. I have completed Chapter 12 as I write this. I lived through the lies and the horror Olive speaks about. I have lost friends and relatives at the hands of M7’s military machinery. My cousin Lt. James Magezi was gunned down in 2003 in his unit in Bunyaruguru. A soldier being killed in a military barracks during peace time and the family never getting to know why?

    Olive’s book brings back the nightmare of all that has happened under this regime. How naive we were to have imagined that 1986 was the end of a bad dream. How stupid we were to imagine that with Amin gone and NASA out of sight the New Vision had finally dawned on Uganda!

    To those not in the know about what Olive is writing about and who have been only visitors to Uganda, the Correct Line may sound like a horror movie set in a beautiful garden. To those who have lived in Uganda and have been keen followers of what has been going on, the Correct Line makes one re-live the horror.

    But only just. What is covered in these 212 pages is only a glimpse at the wound, the real cancer has been the lives of the people in the war zones. Luweero never recovered, Teso’s and Lango’s ghosts never exorcised, cattle lost and descendants of a proud yet simple and most friendly tribes mere shadows of yester years’ generations. Acholi, brought to her knees and the whole nation left to parrot a rap.

    Couldn’t things have been different? Are we to expect anything better? What can we do to wipe the tears off the faces of the people that our silence and complicity with murderous regimes that respect no one have made Uganda a living hell?

    Posted by Joseph Tumushabe | November 12, 2010, 3:00 pm

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