There is a crude Baganda saying about old women and their wounds.
The saying goes that by the time a grandma announces to listeners that she has sores on her underbody, surely the hands massaging the wounds are exhausted. The saying uses the womenfolk because secrecy is more natural to women than to the menfolk especially in matters relating to underbodies. So, a grandma would be more inclined to deal with her sores more privately than a grandpa.
Thus, after trying to deal with them as privately as possibly could but realising the danger is too real for secretive care, she makes a clearly painstaking public announcement. I could not miss this saying when, about two weeks ago, we woke up to sombre cries from the speaker of parliament, Anita Among, that she was being trailed by potential assassins. How could she not deal with this only internally— especially that she is so deep inside the belly of the beast?
Of course, she must have. But perhaps the sores have got even bigger and the danger is too real for only internal massaging. Thus, a public announcement - however embarrassing - and thus, the imperative on us compatriots to take our speaker seriously and collectively work for her safety.
I should say from the beginning that I do not like Anita Among. My dislike for her is not personal, nor is she the only one I don’t like among our politicians - from either side of our terribly vague isle. Like many other Ugandans who would want Museveni’s empty autocracy to end, Among is disliked for her association with the man superintending over our miserable lives.
And we do not like this man for his personality either, but also for his politics: empty, brutal and woefully driven by small dreams. (I know this distinction—between the personal and the political in an individual—is a difficult one, but we will allow it stand for the small purpose it serves).
But with all my dislike for these people and their politics, I do not wish them death. And my point is bigger that the small thing—quite important though - the traditional moral stance of not wishing anyone death because you disagree with them or because they have treated you bad.
Mine is both (a) a decolonial position, and (b) a non-metaphysical, practical-life-after- death position.
A vultures and hyenas festival
For every time people who share space/ resource as a public or brotherhood, annihilate each other, there is often an alien beneficiary.
This alienbeneficiary could possibly have planned the fight, or a simple accidental beneficiary of a deserted estate after the kindred killed each other.
The very famous saying that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers” is limited in appreciating this reality: when two elephants fight and actually kill each other—or only one of them dies—besides the grass suffering, the vultures, hyenas, flies, maggots and other marauding insects and reptiles will have a free sumptuous feast. It is never just about the grass.
Brethren fighting and killing each other remains a major crisis of the African continent. Every after we kill each other, the vultures, maggots, flies and hyenas are gifted not only with a free meal, but also an abandoned estate.
This has been my critique of competitive politics, which turns brother and sister into enemies of each other to the point of killing one another, thereby dividing and weakening themselves collectively.
I know, like all of Museveni’s fishermen/ fisherwomen, Anita Among might not be the best for the position she holds. But the winds of fortune blew in her direction. Indeed, our reservations notwithstanding, it should be true that the positions she has occupied and the palace meetings she has attended have turned her into a preservable resource.
Even if she did nothing good for country in this present time, perhaps in her later life—say after her spellbinding master is no more—she would benefit country. Look folks, even Museveni without the delusions of power would benefit Uganda.
The more people we have with experience of power, the better because they are re-usable under a different regime of politics.
You are all going to die
Secondly, this solemn appeal of mine also builds on the often-forgotten fact that we are all going to die. And this is not a metaphysical position about the afterlife—which I believe as a Muslim— but a rather a practical assessment of the meaninglessness of struggles and pursuits after we have died. Perhaps my question is this: and after the other is eliminated, how much are your lives—as successful murderers—guaranteed?
If we could take any lessons from the high-profile deaths of the past three years - the suspicious poison cases and arguable natural deaths - it becomes clear that no human is guaranteed immortality or assured of tomorrow. Can anyone say, Afande Lokech had no schedules the next day? Didn’t Archbishop Lwanga or Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata Batte have things to attend to in the next days?
If the dead would return and watch the things they left behind - their women and concubines being taken over by fools; their beloved rides driven by loafers; and what seemed like permanent offices occupied by arguable dimwits; they would wish they never worked so hard.
If they killed anyone for those things, they would wish they never did. Dear potential assassin, you surely have your reasons, but if you feel so passionate about punishing Among, please let the option not be killing her.
If you are powerful enough—which is more likely true—consider demoting her from position of speaker, or exiling her, or imprisoning her. Please do not kill her!
The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University.