Of sightless ‘visionaries’ and peril of the Pearl

James Onen, a radio presenter, recently asked why there is so much bitterness on Facebook. Some of his friends reasoned that Facebook is the only platform where people can vent frustrations and court sympathies.

And thinking about that argument, one can’t help but notice how persistent frustration has been, in stalking Ugandans.

Take a look at the President. He has mastered the art of pelting his electorate with offhand statements and getting away with it. That is why he can blur his vision to the troubles of Makerere University and instead advice lecturers to go rear goats if they don’t want to teach.  He is tired of the ‘games’ and wants it to stop.

Profitable as some people might consider goat herding to be, the truth is – this government has caged all realistic priorities. Attempting to bring them to the fore is considered a game, blackmail.

Yes. That is why, instead of using his Ministry of Education to tear down the impractical education system, the President takes a swipe at the Arts which according to his diagnosis, is to blame for the country’s sickening unemployment levels.

And for the more than 80 per cent of jobless youths, the music from the President and his cronies is ‘start business, employ yourself, join mechanized agriculture, etc’. But with what, when youth funds for income-generation is delivered only on newspaper headlines and at rallies? How will those enterprises be born when the people who are supposed to start them are considered intellectually immature?

But if you ask those questions, some intellectuals will accuse you of ‘calling upon’ the government too much even when it is not willing and unable to listen and deliver.  When you insist that the universal primary and secondary education systems are breeding soft-headed learners, you’ll be accused of being a saboteur of government programmes and ignoring the ‘rosy’ enrollment figures in UPE and USE.

So to ease their frustrations, the youths turn to social media and rant. Because there, the youth can tell off their MPs who have crammed the trick of condemning abrasive laws before cameras; and receding to their comforts days later. They attack, threaten, walk out of Parliament, and fail to put their words to action – that is the cycle.

On social media, the youth can squeeze some hope out of each other and discuss issues with some fleeting freedom.

But that is just a few percentage of Uganda’s youth. The majority frustrated ones who can’t access or afford the Internet, can lean against broken walls and try to shoulder the shame that people like Benjamin Odoki has brought.  Odoki has tactically remained mute about his reappointment as Chief Justice and closed his ears to voices of reason and decency.  And in his silence, he has forced us to feel ashamed on his behalf and weep for his bleeding child – the Constitution.

To Odoki’s appointee, President Museveni, we’ll be told to leave him alone because he is always misadvised and he is surrounded by bad people. We shouldn’t ask whether he ever decides on his own. No. He has advisers.  And he declared that he not Jesus, so we shouldn’t expect him to be our Savior!

Lest I be accused of negativity, I’ll close my eyes to the filth beneath Uganda’s feet for now, and focus on the shining gold that Stephen Kiprotich delivered. I’ll raise my voice in a little shout for those who pull their heads off the armpits of this government and breathe some fresh air of success. For even if our ‘visionaries’ are sightless, a tiny light can be seen seeping in at the end of the tunnel.



Twitter: @ahpetite