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The Ramaphosas marrying from the Mbabazis is business love affair

Marriage has always been a political and class affair.  Not just love. Not chance encounters. We marry those we are “conditioned” to meet, but also who fit into our preconceived notions of beauty and tastes. 

Interestingly, our sensibilities towards beauty and taste are not born, but cultivated over time. Since it is men who often make the first move, we grow up to love a skinny damsel or a sumptuous girl not because of any genetic inclination, but socio-economic conditioning.

There is an appreciable degree of fluidity as our tingles swing from one corner to the other, but for the same reasons: class. Indeed, love is only a secondary but avoidable development.

Places where we meet those we end up marrying are either of educational, work, religious or relaxation nature. Kampala Club. Café Javas. Hajji Sebankyaye, Wandegeya. King’s College Budo. Namagabi SS, Kayunga. These places are the living embodiments of power and class relations.

Even within a single religious denomination, there is class, power and politics. Those who pray at Lubaga cathedral may find it difficult praying at Kalerwe parish church. Not because the message delivered in these two places is necessarily different, or God is nearer in one than in the other, but the props and packaging of the message are certainly diametrically apart.

Look, Kalerwe may not have enough parking spaces for our driving brethren, and the priest borrows his figures of speech from the register of work in the nearby sprawling market. Our fashionable Catholic faithful employed in the NGO industry (it is an industry) with offices in Kololo or along Kanjokya street will definitely find Kalerwe parish church painstaking.

And the reverse is true. Thus, if they were to find a potential wife, their choices are predefined by the churches they attend.

By that route, I come to the love affair between the son of one of South Africa’s richest persons, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and a niece of Uganda’s former prime minister, former minister of Defence, and 2016 presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi. That they met at a university in China is a story of the economic and social levels of their guardians.

For obvious reasons, no one knows how rich Uganda’s former prime minister is, but we know that his in-law on the other side is the 42nd richest man in South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy, with a net worth of US$ 450 million.

We are, therefore, made to believe Amama Mbabazi’s distant relations have been going to the same schools as the children of South Africa’s wealthiest. That is quite something.

Since the Mbabazis, as public servants, cannot afford to patronise the same spaces as the Ramaphosas on that meagre salary, this tells us about the public resources misused while the Mbabazis had access.

However, Mbabazi’s apparent misuse of our resources is a small matter. There is a bigger one concerning South African capital moving northwards into East Africa.

More South Africans are buying land and getting involved in extractive industries northwards. Uganda is a soft and easy target. Our country has showed great potential for mineral exploitation, and one way of making permanent presence for a non-Ugandan is adding a real human affair to business.

You could not miss this business angle during the May 19 function in Kampala. The spokesperson of the Ramaphosa family was businessman Charles Mbire, a broader South African businesspeople agent in Kampala.

He is also one of the big names behind South Africa-connected Umeme, which is making a kill in Uganda. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda spoke for the Mbabazis. With him came power and authority to a dull function that took the form of a trade agreement signing ceremony. (Our introduction ceremonies take a distinctive tempo and atmosphere, which was completely lacking in Kololo).

In truth, this was a business meeting requiring government presence as Ramaphosa junior seeks to win the hearts of Ugandans as an in-law.

Like many before her, it is possible that for her talents, the belle from Kigezi mesmerised the lad from South Africa.

And whatever I have said above could be a misreading. But beware; Obote convinced Buganda he loved Miria. Idi Amin, Adoko Nekyon, and many others have married their way to power and wealth.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.


+1 #1 Wooden K. 2018-06-06 13:34
Ni gahi Yusuf !

For me , the only thing that captured my attention ( cynicism) about this one was that the colourful "Bakiga Traditional " kwanjula took place in Kampala/ Buganda and NOT in Kabale/ Rukungiri.

The Bakiga men and the South African men were all dressed in silk suits from Italy ; they spoke English from Buckinghamshire.

Amazing !!!!
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+1 #2 Lakwena 2018-06-07 08:21
In other words Yusuf, it is something akin to opportunism, social climbing, Vanity Fair and the becoming of Cinderella.
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+1 #3 Stewart 2018-06-07 09:46
Forget it, this was a showbiz, we are moving on.Thanks
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+1 #4 Jama 2018-06-07 14:59
What has drawn my attention is how our dignitaries spend thousands of dollars, to send their children in the best schools abroad.

While destroying our schools and educational system.

As a prime minister why couldn't he improve the infrastructure and academic standard of makerere to rival with the luxurious institute he sent his in law?

These are the kind of people who are yearning to lead us.
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0 #5 nkuutu kibedi 2018-06-09 14:27
It may have not actually started off as a business marriage but right now the chimes of business deals are starting to ring!

Any sane Ugandan would make a killing if such an opportunity availed itself. Listen to what our parents tell their children as to who to bring to okwanjula: the man MUST have this and that..etc.

Listen to what girls what in their men!! The Mbabazis and that SouthAfrican chap are no different. Rest assured that the moment Amama learnt about this affair, was the moment he praised the good Lord!!!

Funny world...remember what the Bible says: Those who have will.......and those who don't have will......!!
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0 #6 juwait kali 2018-06-12 21:34
If you didn't possess good writting skills would the observer ever given you space to write in their paper?? Remember maddona song it's a material world.

You would be happy your daughter to marry a boda boda rider? Let's stick to Uganda lebaration issues. The country is bleeding am disappointed you wrote about this topic.
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