President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa, is he a “ngamba nyenka” or about hubris syndrome?

President of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Courtesy Photo.

By Odaka Asuman

  • Contextualizing Gen. Elly Tumwine’s handover speech

According to Lord Owen and Duke Jonathan Davidson, hubris syndrome is manifested through a variety of symptoms. A leader suffering from hubris syndrome will: Use power for self-glorification and self gratification.

 Tororo—1, July 2021: Like everything has its dramatic aspect, the swearing-in of President Museveni’s 2021-2026 Cabinet had quite a dose.

Open show of resentment, anger, disappointment, and feeling of betrayal were exhibited by both allies and adversaries of the President.

The selection of wording of the handover speech of Gen. Elly Tumwine to his long-term colleague, Gen. Jim Muhwezi left many in shock as security minister.

Reminded by the statement once made by Gen. David Sejusa, “…actions or inactions, words or silence of a General are matters of strategy,” I couldn’t take Gen. Elly Tumwine’s outburst as a mere speech.

Gen. Tumwine’s script was very categorical, deeply philosophical with carefully selected wise saying, punctuated by very correlating idioms, proverbs and songs to drive the feeling and/or a sense of betrayal that seems to be blazing inside the decorated war hero.

Although commentators picked one issue (transition) for discussion, Gen. Tumwine’s speech had more issues fundamentally directed towards the President; I will zero on one.

Gen. Tumwine intelligently intended to tell Ugandans that the President is an “Ngamba Nyenka” as is in Lunyankore (translated as Nakyemalira in Luganda and dictator in English).

He further called out people to rescue or save the president from “hubris syndrome”, a thing he promised to mobilize both his age mates and the youth for a long-term stability of “our country”.

This magically comes barely a year after we learned that President Museveni’s other name is Tibuhaburwa – (also) translated as “one who never takes in advice”

How coincidental or accidental can this be that Gen. Tumwine, who is one of the experts in Nkore language, uses such correlating idiom to the name of a person he claims he knows pretty well. Was he telling off the President but in dressed up manner?

To me the answer is yes, why? Because he could not have deliberately brought it another related word “hubris syndrome”

The concept of “hubris syndrome” comes from the ancient philosophy that a hero wins glory by achieving great success against the odds. This experience then goes to their head; they begin treating others with contempt and disdain as they develop such confidence in their own ability that they begin to think of themselves singularly capable of absolutely everything.

This excessive self-confidence leads them into misinterpreting the reality around them and into making strategic mistakes.

According to Lord Owen and Duke Jonathan Davidson, hubris syndrome is manifested through a variety of symptoms. A leader suffering from hubris syndrome will:

  1. Use power for self-glorification and self gratification.
  2. Will exhibit an almost obsessive focus on personal image.
  3. Exhibit excessive self-confidence, accompanied by contempt for advice or criticism of others.
  4. Lose contact with reality.
  5. Speaking and wanting others to speak about him as a messiah/Irreplaceable (Praise singing).
  6. Exhibit very reckless and impulsive actions.
  7. Hubristic incompetence where supreme overconfidence leads to inattention to details.

In researching these symptoms, Owen and Davidson noted the overlap with other personality disorders, especially narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Seven of the 14 symptoms are also symptoms of NPD, and 2 symptoms are shared with antisocial personality disorder (APD) and histrionic personality disorder (HPD). Five of the symptoms; conflating yourself with the organization, using the royal ‘we’; believing that a higher court (perhaps God) will vindicate you; restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness; and a righteousness that ignores practicalities or cost.

Owen and Davidson investigated the psychological profiles of the UK Prime Ministers and US Presidents in power in the last 100 years for hubris syndrome. They found 7 US Presidents who displayed definite hubristic traits: the two Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.

However, only George W. Bush was found displaying the hubris symptoms.

Among UK Prime Ministers, Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair displayed hubristic traits, with Lloyd George, Chamberlain, Thatcher and Tony Blair suffering from hubris syndrome.

I hope you now know why Bush and Blair were great allies.

For General Tumwine to use such description against a person he claims is his hero, leader and mentor is not ordinary from this extraordinary General who even chaired the Court Marshal that charged Gen. Tumukunde of spreading harmful propaganda when, in 2005 he spoke about transition and long-term stability of the country.

Doesn’t this appear more harmful than what Gen. Tumukunde said?

Until then, we meet again.

The writer is an activist, analyst from Tororo Municipality.


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