She is bold, blunt, unconventional, open minded, no nonsense and above all articulate with her words. She has mastered the art of pushing her points across in a manner that leaves many scampering for shelter. She is the one and only Stella Nyanzi who took on the world renowned Professor Mahmood Mamdani to the extent of publicly undressing herself to get her grievances addressed.
While rummaging through my Facebook feeds, I came across her post as depicted in the snapshot below.
Stella, you do regard your generation as a total sell out and I do agree with that statement only if it is devoid of the word “Total.” I am a 1974 kid too and lived to see some of the toughest times this country has been through. When the NRM came into power in 1986, I was among the then Primary kids moving around with the “Liberators” showing them where soldiers of the fallen government and their sympathisers stayed. After all we had been through for nearly two decades, I, like many Ugandans was like a child rescued from captivity. In hindsight, I must say that like a jilted lover looking for comfort, we gave our hearts to the “Liberators” wholesale and jumped in bed with the next best thing that appeared on our radar.
I recall the idealistic mindsets we had while in school. Debates on how Pan Africanism can be advanced and why Africa is still under-developed. We exuded a lot of optimism back then for this nation and its people. I always loved the straight thinking that my colleagues manifested including the first son Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba who was incidentally a class behind me at St. Mary’s College Kisubi. Today I can list not less than fifteen chaps that I studied with who could have done more politically for this nation than resort to only feeding their families.
Things started changing when we reached the University and begun politicking at a slightly higher level than before. This is when the dilution of the original ideals begun. The blunt exposure we got to capitalism and its side effects took its toll on us. On one hand you wanted to experience life like it is in the movies (go to the discotheques, drink alcohol till you drop, smoke your lungs away, drive a car, date a hot babe, be a big spender etc) while on the other hand you wanted to see the corruption in the nation reduce to a bare minimum, see a change of guard politically, reduce the poverty levels among other socially conscious achievements. The mistake we made at this point was to expect someone else to do all the social good while we lived life in the fast lane. This is starkly similar to the current habit of vibrant energetic Ugandans who have the audacity to congregate daily in a pub, guzzle alcoholic beverages worth two months’ salary of a teacher on a daily basis but spend all their time complaining about how the rural school in their village has no benches, tables and chalk. It has become a ritual and led to most resorting to self seeking pursuits.
My University (Campus) generation had the likes of Erias Lukwago the Lord Mayor of Kampala City, Hon. Mike Mabikke (Ex Member of Parliament), Hon. Godfrey Ekanya (Ex Member of Parliament), George Mutabazi (LC V Chairman Lwengo District), Hon. Elijah Okupa (Member of Parliament), Hon. Dennis Galabuzi (Member of Parliament and Minister), Hon. Mukasa Mbidde (Member of Parliament EALA) to mention but a few. These guys made a great effort to stamp their mark on the political setup of this country of ours with the hope that they would be able to influence matters positively. While I cant authoritatively tell you how much they achieved, I can say that some successes were registered and probably that is why we aren’t yet a basket case like South Sudan or Somalia.
However, all that aside, I felt riled by the blanket accusation that we have all let the country down in totality. You need to take time off your now busy schedule in South Africa and I take you for a tour around Uganda. Alot has gone wrong, TRUE. However, there are people out there, in ours and other generations that are doing something to positively influence the communities they are a part of. They may not have the privilege of being covered by the large media houses but they are moving things and influencing lives one day at a time. While others prefer to gather for pity parties where lamentations about what is going wrong are common, a few have decided to effect the change they want to see.
I have taken such steps in Butaleja (my home district) and while it is not an easy task, I can see the goodwill among people from my locale who believe that change can come in their lives if they choose to positively influence issues that affect them. Now, my prayer is that people like you Stella Nyanzi also start similar society transforming initiatives in whichever locale you originate from with the hope that as more and more Generation 1970s kids tread a similar script, we can eventually coalesce our efforts and create a ripple effect nationwide.
The corruption and many other vices you see on a daily in Uganda are propagated by people like me and you. These are our brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, friends, clan mates etc. To stem the rot, we need to start by positively influencing those in our environs and the rest will eventually fall in place.
So, Stella, when you say “Foolish, impotent, middle-aged Ugandans! Sellouts, just,” you’re talking about yourself and I.
Even impotence can be cured. Let us do something about it.
Follow @wirejames on Twitter
An incisive take. I appreciate the spirit in this piece of unrelenting resolve to make do especially where all else is, or seems, to be falling out of place.
Interestingly put, James. But, you limit the reach of your argument by using the same micro-variables as she does – naming successful individuals in the age group. Given that this is a population of 8 – 10m Ugandans (assuming 1m born for each year of the 70s), then the argument is better made at the macro level. Additionally, productivity is a construct of political, social and economic dimensions – a sound argument for (lack of) productivity needs to look at these three dimensions and not bias itself to any one.
Therefore, as a simple example, we could look at what happened to Uganda’s productivity at the macro level, in the political, social and economic dimensions as this 70s generation was coming of ‘productive’ age (attaining 18 years) – corresponding to the period 1988 – 1998 for those born between 1970 – 79. You can make your own assessment of that period, but there is adequate evidence Uganda transformed itself on all these dimensions during that period.
One could also argue that ‘the perceived’ social, economic and/or political failings started when the ‘newer generations’ – the 80s, 90s groups came of age (18 years – from 1999) and ‘diluted’ the work of the 70s generation.
But, at the end of the day it is an argument that is analytically neither here nor there. It cannot be proved either way, as there are too many confounders to any position taken. It is at best good social media satire, with arguments made depending on one’s emotional frame.
And you 70s children are supposed to be leading us 80s children but wah, you are still letting the 70 year olds to do that for you… But true we are in this together but also need guidance. 70s child please take the lead, we ask of you…
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Thanks James for sharing this. We need to each play our part instead of calling each other names. Thanks.
Spot on. We are in this together.
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