By Faruk Kirunda
A man of many firsts—a record-breaking statesman and enigmatic revolutionary whose mind, body and soul are always searching for what’s best for humanity with himself as an ideal embodiment of his own struggles: That is President Yoweri Museveni.
When President Museveni told ministers during a special cabinet meeting held at Kololo on Monday that: “I don’t need anyone to lean on because no one helped me to be what I am today”, he was saying the obvious, albeit uncomfortable to some ears. He added that when he was fighting (an underlying and determinant phase of his life story), he did it out of personal efforts. The president then said that he needs time to choose the right person who is capable of taking up the country as he is doing.
The session of cabinet was heavy on anti-corruption talk and I learnt that the president threatened to expose any minister who engages in acts of corruption by reading out their name in public.
As usual, the president’s pronouncement has been misconstrued by the opposition due to their habitual failure to contextualize issues whenever Museveni speaks. To them, the “Fountain-Of-Honour” was bragging and claiming to be super human, a human island of sorts. How wrong could anyone be? The Museveni I know is a man of humility and gratitude, though a blunt straight talker.
There are two contexts within which Museveni made pronouncements. One is that Museveni is a typically self-made Ugandan. His story should inspire generations of Ugandans, being one of the very few, if not the lone example of someone who rose from a peasant background to statesmanship in our times. Clearly, he set out to cut for himself a path through the shrubs that lined his rise to the top. Everybody he met on his way was simply charting his or her own route in life. Some fell off, others stayed the course; everybody succeeded differently. Museveni’s life story is unique. He is entitled to feel proud of it and tell it to inspire others.
Is there anybody who does not believe in the self to aspire to be great and productive within their circumstances? That person would be a statistic and a parasite on other human beings, with a likelihood of being one who fights to shoot the dreams of those with ambitions down. Such people are a danger to themselves and society. Faced with opportunity, they look the other side and fold their hands; faced with a challenge, they crumble like a pack of cards. Museveni is not such a person. From a young age, he realised that he was created for a purpose. He knew that he was not here by accident but to make a difference. He has achieved that, yet still aspires to remain relevant and to exhaust his God-given resources in the service of mankind.
While pursuing that grand mission, he is motivated by the higher cause; is self-driven and quite impossible to distract when intent on achieving something. Imagine somebody who, as a fresh university graduate, forsakes a job in the President’s office to run to exile before being chased. He sacrificed the joy of a job in a powerful office for the trials of exile where he was to “grass” for many years, but well knowing that he would not let his flight be in vain. That was 1971 when Amin took power.
Ten years later, Museveni was at it again. This time, he had been the equivalent of a vice president, but resolved against the idea of serving a government he knew was doomed. Instead, he headed for the bush, while others were opting for fulltime “holidays” in Europe and America. His time in the bush was not in vain as seen from where he is now, where Uganda is.
A question may be raised around the fact that those who joined or were with him in his struggles and those who have served in government with him helped him to be what he is today. I say they were/are only playing complementary roles and working to get themselves where they are or ended up. They were/are not doing what they did/are doing for Museveni but for themselves and Uganda.
A man like Museveni, anywhere he could have found himself he would have set roots and still found allies willing to work with or join him because he was very self-assured in his missions.
For that matter, when he made the comments before cabinet, he was telling the ministers that they have a chance to serve knowing that they are not working for Museveni but for Uganda. It’s an opportunity to write their own life stories by doing what is correct in the context of the duties they are charged with in their various dockets that would see them reach a point where they can look back with pride relative to the day’s concerns.
If they fail, in the short term they can easily get substituted and replacements found among the other Ugandans who appreciate and are inspired by Museveni’s revolutionary spirit in the interest of Uganda, East Africa and Africa; in the long term, they would be judged harshly by history since they are close to the best idol who they should emulate.
All Bazzukulu, regardless of their beliefs and pursuits, should interest themselves in Museveni’s life story and learn how best to become self-motivated actors who can stand on their feet and be counted. Read Sowing The Mustard Seed!
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary. Contact: [email protected]