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Odonga Otto and Akol’s fights reflect our national character

Back in the day when we were in the early years of primary school, there seemed to be a connection between physical strength and knowledge. Consequently, one’s ability to win an argument depended on the ability to win a fight.

Therefore, whenever you publicly embarrassed a physically strong person by showing that they lacked knowledge, you would get an instant beating.

If the two parties seemed to possess the same physique, an arrangement would be made for the two people to have an after-school fight in the dormitory (for those in the boarding section) or in a lonely bush (for those who were in day school).

The session would be attended by several well-wishers and a referee. When you lost in that fight, it followed that you owed a certain degree of respect to the winner, or else, you would be calling for a re-match.

In several communities, there are still crude, yet socially-conventional mechanisms for cutting arguments short. While others use money to bet, others agree to co-operate in being caned a certain number of strokes if they are proved to be wrong. I must add a caveat that all the social conventions of argumentation described above apply to mostly males.

However, one would hope that the conventions of debating described above apply to children and some less-educated people who have had less exposure to any form of debating or argumentation skills, conventions and etiquette.

At the level of a legislator, one would hope that the rule of clarity, the goal of truth and the principle of clarity should prevail over raising one’s voice over others, standing up when one should be sitting, physically expanding oneself, like a peacock, to look physically bigger and threatening fellow legislators with an “extended debate” (physical aggression) in the corridors of parliament.

What is even nauseating about the recent, ugly and unfortunate physical encounter between legislators Odonga Otto and Anthony Akol is that in a parliament comprised of mostly silent legislators, Otto and Akol happen to be arguably some of the most vocal and experienced debaters.

Additionally, considering that they come from the same nation and supposedly belong to the same political party, one would hope that if pursuit of the truth and the interest of their people are shared interests, the two legislators have several platforms and avenues through which they can always meet and amicably resolve any misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Incidentally, Otto and Akol’s incident is not an isolated one as there have been several others, such as Gen Kahinda Otafiire, General Elly Tumwine and Francis Zaake, among others who have exhibited verbal or physical violence in and around parliament

Apparently, at all leadership levels, the adversarial and aggressive type of proving a point seems to be the preferred approach, whenever money and other benefits are expected, such that the winner of the argument takes it all. In such situations, the motive of debating changes from the pursuit of truth, to pursuit of personal interests.

Unfortunately, the kind of adversarial argumentation - where the opponent is treated as though they are responsible for the deaths of all the ancestors of the other - deprives the nation of several good ideas from the more-calm legislators, especially women, who would prefer a relatively calmer and a relational approach. The result is that those who are represented end up losing since violence rarely leads to any binding and fruitful resolutions.

If the debating culture doesn’t change, it will soon become a partial requirement, for all legislators to have a background in martial arts, especially taekwondo, and other forms of specialized self-defense skills to aid in the extended and off-camera debates that take place in the corridors of parliament.

Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. We have politicians like Prof Ogenga Latigo, General Mugisha Muntu, Norbert Mao, Ofwono Opondo, Ssemujju Nganda and Joel Ssenyonyi who have demonstrated that it is possible to debate while seated next to your opponent, without the opponent fearing the possibility of regaining consciousness while in an intensive care facility.

It is still possible to re-think and change the way we debate. The shift in debate will also need to be taught to schoolchildren in order to change their perceptions about what constitutes ‘opposers’ and ‘proposers.’ Considering that children tend to imitate what adults do, there is need for argumentation modeling and the house of parliament is a great place to start. 

ssellwanga@gmail.com 

The author is a social worker in Alberta-Canada

Comments

0 #1 Lakwena 2020-02-12 10:11
In other words Sselwanga, as far as the lack of the culture of debate in schools, which would tame temper (physical violence); blame it on Amin's era of terror and murder. That was when all school debates were abolished.

I remember some of the topics of our primary school debates were e.g. "Fire is better than water"; Mother is better than Father" etc.

But suppose the physical brawl between Otto and Akol must have been provoked by Odonga otto. because. The guy is a verbal and physical bully who knows no limit.

You may remember during the Age-limit brawl in the Parliamentarian Chamber: there is a video clip how, like in a boxing ring, Odonga Otto was sizing up for fist fight with one of the SFC who invaded parliament.
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0 #2 WADADA rogers 2020-02-12 11:12
No, I dont agree with you, these fellows were badly brought up, dont also forget that they were brought up in the Acholi sub region where they were partly trained for any form of insurgency, all they know is fight whenever any small thing comes your way.

But one could also say that it is the bad spirit impacted in the people of Uganda who are always told that some people fought to liberate this country. May be they are practicing what they are told. It is not a national character. Go and research again before writing.
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+2 #3 Lysol 2020-02-12 21:53
What can one expect? The failed state of Uganda is run by violent and intimidating by those who hold power and guns are .

That is why whenever Museveni is having a bad day/week he dons his outdated military outfit to bully and intimidate Ugandans.

Those from the corrupt ruling party always think that they are above the law and look down and despite the opposition or those who don't agree with them. They have the license for violent or to kill other Ugandans.

Akol is just a big bully and a coward. who has sold his soul to the devil. .
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+3 #4 Lysol 2020-02-12 22:07
"Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. We have politicians like Prof Ogenga Latigo, General Mugisha Muntu, Norbert Mao, Ofwono Opondo, Ssemujju Nganda and Joel Ssenyonyi who have demonstrated that it is possible to debate while seated next to your opponent, without the opponent fearing the possibility of regaining consciousness while in an intensive care facility"

Deo Sserwanga, I disagree with you in regard to the kleptomaniac, big-mouth Ofwono Opondo.

He is a liar, a spinner and the propaganda mouthpiece of the corrupt regime. The so-called "Kampala's' Bob" after that "Baghdad Bob". He acn looks you straight in the eyes and lies, while stilling a pair of boxer shorts How can anyone believe someone like that? Of course if you're naive and gullible.
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-2 #5 Deo 2020-02-14 01:11
@#4 Lysol, thank you for the feedback. Yes, everything that you have said about Mr Ofwono Opondo could be true, but whatever he does and how he does it, you can still expect not to end up at an Intensive care unit just because you sat next to him during a debate with him.
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-2 #6 Deo 2020-02-14 01:28
@Wadada Rogers
Thank you for taking the time to read the article. However, you deviate from the spirit of the article when you start characterizing everyone from Acholi as a violent persom.

You and I know of some really cool people from Northern Uganda, Acholi to be specific who are very friendly and mantain a calm temperament even when faced with extreme provocation.

Arguing by making hasty generalizations about particular people is actually one reason that accounts for most people's intolerance. It is ironic how one deploys the same tactic in response to an article whose major purpose is a will for tolerance.
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+2 #7 Lakwena 2020-02-15 14:37
Quoting Deo:
@#4 Lysol, thank you for the feedback. Yes, everything that you have said about Mr Ofwono Opondo could be true, but whatever he does and how he does it, you can still expect not to end up at an Intensive care unit just because you sat next to him during a debate with him.


But Deo, don't forget, beside shoplifting, OO is not innocent of violence. The guy shot dean a suspected car vandal in the Kampala Parents School Parking lot, But he was never prosecuted fo both cases.

In other words, criminal impunity and or random violence on Ugandans has become a second nature.
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0 #8 Charles Dicken Oruk 2020-02-18 13:49
I have read this article and in it, the writer tried to describe they, as children growing up, us to handle their dispute.

This did not mentioned any name of a tribe or region. Wadada rogers seems to have permanent hatred towards Acholi people for reason best know for him.

He forget that in the same parliament, the police turned army general in the name of Katumba Wamala almost killed his tribes man Hon. Zake. I do not know whether these two guys also were brought up by training them for any insurgency?
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+2 #9 Charles Dicken Oruk 2020-02-18 13:54
What I should also say here is that, sometimes it is better to solve your problem there and then than pretending that you are the non-violent person and opt out from violence yet you clandestinely collude with others to even do worst than boxing but war.

You kill in the name of liberating the country and yet you are now showing how violent you could be. The late Amin was yes, violent, he kill you there and then than poisoning your or using other rudimentary tools (panga etc) to kill you or the whole family they it happened today. People who behave the good guys are the worst. We are seeing it today.
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0 #10 Lysol 2020-02-18 22:49
Deo, you cannot fool all of us. Some of us don't believe in turning the other cheek.

Many of you in the so-called North America, unlike those who live in the USA are cowards and work for the corrupt regime.

Next time write a better article. I.m not a fun of Kleptomaniac big mouth Opondo. He is pathological liar doing the job of his foster dad, Museveni(whom he betrayed and got killed)..
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