The lion and the jewel: The futility of Kyagulanyi


Bobi Wine [R] can be a good President - his fans say. Courtesy/File photo.

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𝐵𝑦 𝑃𝑎𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑘 𝑂𝑑𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑜 𝐿𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑜

Oyam—16, September 2020: My favourite African writer, Wole Soyinka, wrote a play titled “The Lion and the Jewel”. In the play, an enlightened school teacher named Lakunle vied for the hand of a beautiful village belle, Sidi, against a wily old chief named Baroka. 

The fresh-faced teacher, Lakunle, attempts to win the hand of village beauty with his modern ways and his mastery of the English language. He derides chief Baroka for his ancient practice of polygamy. In the play, we all root for Lakunle, but the wily old chief has a trick or two up his sleeves. To the shock of the teacher, in the end, the fair maiden decides to go for the old practiced hands of the chief, rather than risk her future with the naïve and foolish school teacher.

This play is a perfect analogy of Uganda’s 2021 general elections. In the red corner is the young man, Robert Kyagulanyi, brimming with naivete, a freshman legislator, whose performance record in the August House was so woefully dismal. During his three years in parliament, he neither proposed any ground-breaking legislative proposals nor made any noteworthy contributions.

In the yellow corner sits the quiet and patient veteran leopard —   President Museveni. Like his preferred totem, the President maintains a studious poker-face to study his enemies with disinterested attention. When he has learned enough about them, and known their achilles heel, he will then strike ferociously with overwhelming force.

Whereas Kyagulanyi is expending his energies in the early skirmishes, the President is retiring and even showing no appetite for a fight. He’s letting Kyagulanyi hog all the limelight while he seems more preoccupied with the events in the NRM party, paying scant attention to the gathering external threats.

The President’s political apathy seems to be accentuated by the early surrender of his erstwhile most potent opponent, pound for pound. Kizza Besigye, his perennial nemesis in the last four presidential election cycles, threw in the towel, effectively waving the white flag. 

As a seasoned warrior, President Museveni has decided to let the excitable People Power upstarts to show their hands first. Even when they provoke him, he sniffs them tentatively and retires refusing to give them a fight. President Museveni is playing the classic Russian war strategy that defeated Napoleon without a fight. Let the enemy bring the war to you and exhaust him.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan voters seem more smitten by the calm, sure hands of President Museveni than the wild-eyed gamblers who emerged from the notoriously dirty slums of Kamwokya in downtown Kampala. Can anything good come out of the dump heaps other than manure? In polite society, people hold their noses and shield their eyes from the sight of the former drug addicts now posing as reformist politicians. Uganda, a conservative and religious society, is repulsed by the history and immoral conduct of the lot.

Meanwhile, Kyagulanyi’s backers, made mostly of the disaffected LGBQTI Community in Europe and America, are feverishly promoting the candidacy of a man who is not only weak but whose values are at variance with the general public. They, for instance, ghost-wrote for Robert Kyagulanyi, an article in the New York Times, accusing the US Establishment of funding and supporting the regime in Uganda.

The United States knows better. President Museveni, hailed by Bill Clinton as a paragon of the “new breed of African leaders” has been a darling of the West because of his reformist and progressive administration. Museveni has been the elder Statesman who world leaders consult on major African hotspots.

For example, after the Sudan uprising that overthrew Omar El-Bashir, President Museveni quietly brokered a thawing of the relationship between Israel and Sudan when he hosted a bilateral meeting between the new Sudan leader and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at State House, Entebbe.

He (Museveni) solved the difficult, intractable case of Somali by deploying Ugandan troops that pacified Somalia and destroyed the training camps of Al Queda and other terrorists that, in 1993, gave the Americans a bloody nose in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” fiasco.

In other words, President Museveni is a guarantor of peace and stability in this restive region and is a faithful partner of the Western interests. 

Never twist the tail of an old leopard; he’s bound to bite!

𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑠 𝑎𝑛 𝑁𝑅𝑀 𝑐𝑎𝑑𝑟𝑒, 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑀𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑘𝑢𝑙𝑢 𝑖𝑛 𝑂𝑦𝑎𝑚 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑡.


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