With the exception of the very few people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths, a majority of successful people attribute their achievements to a wide range of sources, such as extended family members, friends, donors and total strangers in some cases.
One of the worst things that can happen to any former beneficiary of charity is to be reminded of their alleged ungratefulness for the charity received.
Like anyone whose sensibilities have been attacked to the core by a prompt to re-imagine how their life would have been if help wasn’t rendered, the most awkward reaction is to have to ask the benefactor questions such as: exactly how much did you contribute so I can refund it?
Similarly, in 1981, some charismatic soldier - with an unusual spark of brilliance and mastery for mobilizing - convinced 27 people to launch an armed struggle and “save” Uganda.
Several of the 27 had had an enviable up-bringing, better education and promising career paths than their leader but were convinced to abandon whatever they were doing and go to the “bush” to launch an armed struggle that would “save” Ugandans from the then alleged bad governance.
The only other person in history who displayed a comparable mobilization skill was Jesus Christ, but even then, he only managed to convince 12 men. Those who were adults during the aftermath of the struggle gratefully speak of a semblance of economic revitalization, improved infrastructure, political stability (although highly contested), a “free” press and a wide range of capitalist reforms.
First forward to 2019, and a certain section of self-important liberators still gloat over fellow citizens’ problems by constantly reminding them to be grateful for the liberation sacrifices made over three decades ago.
If any liberator ever finds it necessary to remind the benefactors of the need to be grateful, a serious doubt must be cast on the original intentions of the favours. Additionally, it is both an unnecessary insult and incitement to the general public - especially the well-meaning fellow liberators - when a certain section of liberators think they should be above the law courtesy of what they did for this country.
Also, even if it were justifiable to remind Ugandans about the liberation sacrifices, the timing and occasions have usually been wrong.
For instance, what explains the coincidence that the self-important liberators commonly reminisce about their sacrifices only after: public misconduct, physically harassing female traffic officers, insulting and showing contempt for legitimate institutions, shooting at civilian’s vehicles and grabbing land from powerless citizens?
One major factor that is conspicuously ignored by the few ‘liberators’ is the demographic composition of the current Ugandan population. For instance, those who were above the age of 50 years by 1986 are either dead or too frail to care about the liberation sacrifices.
It, therefore, follows that almost three quarters of the current population were either not yet born or were too young to appreciate the exact circumstances from which the pompous heroes liberated Uganda. Telling such a population about the sacrifices made over 30 years ago equates to demanding for royalty from someone for the favours that were received by their ancestors.
Furthermore, the impact of the five-year struggle was felt throughout the country. Arguably, everyone lost something. The losses included human lives, crops, livestock, internal and external displacements.
Therefore, demanding for special privileges by a small section of liberators only opens up a can of worms as several unsung heroes (combatant and non-combatant) are painfully reminded about what Uganda supposedly owes them.
Additionally, the constant reminders about the liberation sacrifices by a few arrogant individuals gives a false impression that the liberators who are complaining have never received any benefits during the 33 years of the post-liberation era. While some liberators may justifiably claim to have gained nothing during the more than three decades of the postliberation era, many, especially those who have recently been in the spotlight have undeniably benefited.
The benefits may not necessarily be the ones expected. However, employment opportunities, promotions, study opportunities and “presidential handshakes,” among others, should not be taken for granted.
At the very least, someone who triples as a UPDF general, member of parliament, and security minister should be the last to cry foul for not getting sufficient appreciation and respect in return for the liberation sacrifices.
If I may borrow some lines from one of the finest country musicians, Lee Ann Womack, Sometimes, people get their fair share to eat but still keep the hunger. May the 1986 liberators stop taking even a single breath for granted and God forbid, if any surviving UPDF general has been left empty-handed after a more than three-decade post-liberation era.
Lastly, if any of the liberators ever craves more respect, may they visit any of the Lake Victoria shores or stand at the foot of Mountain Kilimanjaro so as to be reminded of not only how insignificant they are in relation to the rest of nature, but also how similar they are to the rest of humanity.
The writer is a social critic and a social worker in Alberta-Canada.