By Asuman Odaka
Tororo – 31, May 2020: To date, I consider myself lucky having interacted with one uncle to my grandfather. Few gets that opportunity. The young man was special in many ways.
My age mates who saw or interacted with him have a special story to tell about him.
Being an inquisitive young man, very interested in ancient stories, I sufficiently used every opportune moment I get to be with him.
But one thing that cannot pass without me saying is that he was a legendary environmentalist.
His love to preserve a unique species of trees which in turn provided suitable habitat for diversity of unique animals made his surrounding appear like a beautiful homestead in the middle of Mabira forest.
One tree he had a special love for were the muvule trees. These, he had uncountable numbers across his vast piece of land.
But other than the lessons about life of this great last-born son of Odaka constantly presented to those that cared to ponder, his surroundings too, were much more like an environmental education centre of some unique sort.
From the lessons I learned from his life stories, today, I pick the aspect of a legacy as presented by the muvule tree to illustrate the contemporary political configuration we find ourselves into as a country.
In Kwara Olowo Odaka’s ecosystem, muvule trees were the biggest, tallest and strongest trees. But more to that, the muvule presented lessons in this mix.
The muvule shades provided the coolest shade to both human and non-human creatures of God.
For the humans, it shielded the poor, the rich, the satisfied, the hungry, and thoughtful among others from the scorching sun. The animals of all kinds including mammals, reptiles such as snakes, lizards. The birds like the ever noisy weaverbird, owls, eagles, and other kinds of scavengers.
Their being under the same shade is not necessarily because they had agreed to coexist but because the muvule tree served each ones’ interest distinctively and therefore it was only a convenient base to facilitate ones’ pursuit of group interest for some and personal interest.
To some, their interests were long term and to other “mere yaleero”—short term.
For the humans, the purpose of the muvule tree was its cool shade where we would rest, play local chess, among others.
It was also a source of metrological knowledge, especially to those who had the knowledge to understand village weather. Men would tell the likely change in weather and doom of a new season by the behaviours of muvule leaves. If the leaves shade off, they would tell us how the dry season was approaching and vice versa.
But like the English say, amongst every 11, the 12th will be a Judas. Not everyone who comes under the muvule tree comes to enjoy the excellent serenity it provides, others come to survey on which side it would fall because cutting it down is all they intend to do. Others come to evaluate how much they can eat from it.
The same muvule shade also provided an excellent environment where snakes come to harm other innocent dwellers.
Even when the dweller is a human being who looks after the muvule for the collective good of the rest, snakes cared not.
Kwara Olowo Odaka himself was bitten by snakes many times. Soon, he moved with his local antidote all the time. This is because he knew the environment he was operating in.
The muvule also inhabited the always comical Mr Lizard that would run up and down the muvule tree.
Mr Lizard would reach halfway up the tree and test if the muvule was indeed firm and would not breakdown because of Mr Lizard’s assumed heavyweight. It was common to see Mr Lizard bouncing (i wish he knew that it couldn’t even check the branch of the muvule).
Lastly, the weaverbirds were the loudest noise makers, as though to attract attention.
But there were also the scavengers that would stand on the highest branches of the muvule tree as if to show how powerful they were in the highest level; they were always closest to the heart of the muvule tree.
Mr Chameleon would beat them all because he would even change his colours to look like the leaves of the muvule tree itself.
The bats on the other hands were ever dangling on the branches with their heads upside-down, scorning at every passing human as if to say it’s actually a human being who are moving upside-down.
But as all these dwellers harvest their temporary interests, the principle firmly remains recognizably tall, strong and clear in the pages of realities.
This is the angle and scenario in which I have contextualised what is happening to the People Power Movement in Uganda’s political reconfiguration today.
Consider the muvule tree as that permanent interest of the common man.
Not all who come speaking on the side and plight of the people want change.
Some put themselves in shelve of the political supermarket, others on a mission only to spy, disorganize and disorient the fighters.
But because of dynamic seasons and reasons of politics, others will fall off to give way and space.
The proverbial snakes will always be around, sometimes leaking sensitive information and sometimes injecting venom. This can be through trading rumours and confusion within the ranks and file of the fighters.
The antidote to this venom is always focused towards winning of the grand war and avoiding to divert by small fights.
This struggle is also full of those who will always want to test the firmness of the movement unfortunately when their own bodies shake, they think the movement is shaking. This comes from the firm foundation on which we [People Power] built the movement.
Lastly, think about those who will always want to take pictures with principles so that the outsiders think they are the struggle themselves and on top of all the rest.
From these, there will always be those who will think they are the only ones struggling and all other people are either spies or are fighting the wrong way.
They will insult, abuse and demean everyone else who they don’t want to see. They won’t even realize the struggle has many folds and segments.
Sometimes do this to attract the attention of the “buyer”. This is, my view, the scenario we find ourselves in. I hope someone else can make the picture clearer.
For now I dedicate to you “….Situka…” by Bobi Wine
The writer is an aspiring MP, Tororo Municipality (next election)
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