Some trigger-happy soldiers punctured the tyres of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine’s car, with a hail of bullets on Tuesday, December 1 near Jinja.
They also shattered the windscreen of the car. This means there was a good chance that the presidential candidate, who was in the car, could have been shot in the head. That is how close we may be getting to a truly macabre turning point in this charade we are supposed to be seeing as political campaigns for 2021 polls.
It may be just a matter of time before the actions of elements in the armed forces and the hardline stance by many of the people in NRM plunge this country to another round of bloodletting of monumental proportions. Does our history mean nothing?
Our Constitution may no longer have intestines, but its preamble is still telling: “We the people of Uganda: Recalling our history which has been characterised by political and constitutional instability; Recognising our struggles against the forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation; Committed to building a better future by establishing a socio-economic and political order …”
Go on, read the damn preamble. You will find that the 1995 Constitution was designed majorly to avoid the kind of madness we seem to be edging closer to. Why has shooting at things and clobbering people or lobbing teargas canisters at them become some kind of spectator sport?
To some people, this may be an affirmation of their invulnerability, if there is any such a thing. To me, I see something else – the ripening conditions that could very well lead to a mass revolt. I have already written in this newspaper about the notion of people power and how its popular usage started in the Philippines in the early 1980s. And on April 11, 2019, I told the Soroti-based Etop Radio that what happened that day in Sudan – the successful uprising against a strongman – could happen here too.
Now I think that the life of Bobi Wine is in real and present danger. I am afraid that a bullet may one day incapacitate this young Ugandan, to put it delicately. Then what?
My memory is taking me back to August 1983. I was a junior reporter for the UPC paper, The People. We were in the newsroom when we heard the news about the assassination of Benigno Aquino, a popular Opposition politician in the Philippines. This event triggered a groundswell of peaceful protests lasting years.
Bowing to pressure, the strongman there, Ferdinand Marcos, called for presidential elections in February 1986. The Aquino murder had galvanised Opposition politicians. They united behind Corazon Aquino, widow of the slain Opposition politician. Easily, she mopped the floor with the dictator.
Let’s get back to Bobi Wine and Barbara Itungo, his beautiful young wife, who appears genuinely supportive of his presidential bid. She has weathered storm after storm with her husband and their young family. But she’s neither a dormant partner nor a quitter. She has her own mind. She has given the world a bit of it.
Nevertheless, there is still a bit of a girl-guide(ish) atmosphere around her. The people at the National Unity Platform should work to toughen her up a little bit more. They should teach her how to firm her jaw a little bit. She should practice punching the air the way the late Winnie Mandela used to do. Maybe a clever makeup artist should draw a subtle hue of worry lines down her cheeks; when she grabs a microphone she should speak with the conviction of a woman deeply worried about how to mother a broken nation. She should show more passion for whatever cause she believes in. This should clearly mark her out as a leader in her own right, not just a follower of her husband. She should pair that skill with the ability to be organised.
Most important, Itungo needs to refine her ability to communicate more effectively. Even her wardrobe should project both toughness and elegance.
Of course, these are just a few of the skills Itungo needs to have to back up her man or to unleash her own stamina should the race turn out to be a relay.