Mbabazi trail: In his camp, nothing dampens the mood

Independent presidential candiadet Amama Mbabazi campaigning in Arua district recently
Independent presidential candiadet Amama Mbabazi campaigning in Arua district recently

Political campaigns really bring out adrenaline and excitement in many a people.
Picture a young man pacing, for 31km, from Nelson Mandela National stadium to Nakivubo stadium under the cover of a heavy downpour- I saw it happen on Mr Amama Mbabazi’s nomination day.
Picture another young man, a boda boda cyclist, riding 404km from Kampala to Kanungu, just to be part of his favoured candidate’s rally. Ssalongo Swalik Mawajje did. Sadly, he was knocked by a speeding car in Masaka on his way back. It was a fatal accident, and he died.

That did not dampen the mood. In the following procession, boda boda riders did tricks and stunts on their machines—riding while standing on one leg, riding on their bellies, riding while facing the opposite direction— as if one of their own had not been knocked dead the previous night.
The things on the Mbabazi campaign trail!
One day, the car we were travelling in, had its left side back lights smashed by a Super Custom van as the drivers fought to keep pace in the convoy. The Amama team promised to buy the lights and pay for replacement. But as is the practice in the car lights business, they come in pairs so whoever was to buy had to buy a pair.

We joked that they would knock the remaining lights so that they can justifiably buy the pair. It happened the following day, by the same car that had smashed the first lights.
That too, didn’t dampen the mood—at least following the goings-on.
The job of following Mr Mbabazi starts at 8am with a search for breakfast. Depending on the district, the search could end sumptuously well or annoyingly lousy that one just takes one sip from their tea cup and storms out.
Then comes the waiting for the candidate— as Mr Mbabazi is referred to by his staff. His programmes indicate 10am as the starting time but he always gets on the road at noon. So yes, a daily four-hour wait.

But that too doesn’t dampen the mood.
Like in Kabale after the four-hour wait, everyone excitedly hit the road to Kisoro. They stopped mid-way the trip to behold the wonder that is the Muhabura Mountain, that extinct Volcano on the border with Rwanda.
The road maze was also another wonder. How else would you explain the engineering work that contorts and turns as if to take you back to where you are coming from? Smooth and pothole-less, one easily gets around the Kisoro hills; well, maybe not for the driver of the Super custom van carrying journalists.

He miscalculated a sharp turn and to avoid rolling down the valley, he chose to ram the car into a ditch. A couple of journalists got bruises. One suffered a foot dislocation.  The mood-o-metre started running south. Everyone in the van was quiet; many thanked their gods.
On hearing what had befallen the journalists, candidate commiserated and ordered that they all sleep, on his tab, at White Horse, the luxury hotel where he was staying. The mood-o-metre rushed northwards.

The happy moments are spread from supporters to those on the team and to the candidate himself.
He dances, okay, shakes his upper body, each time he takes the stage. Then he stands for a second, smiles at the crowd, shakes a little again and then starts to speak.
After the rally, he charges the crowd with screams and cheers of Go Forward and then the procession sets off for another round of tricks and stunts by boda boda riders, wild dances by excited supporters and endless hooting by vehicles in the convoy.
Political campaigns really bring out adrenaline and excitement in many a people.

Isaac Imaka
Reporter

Isaac Imaka is a Political Writer at Monitor, and has been assigned to cover Candidate Amama Mbabazi for the 2016 Presidential Elections.