Sunday, August 2, 2009



31st July, 2009
By John Nagenda

TO say that the country is bamboozled, mystified and close to a loss for words, is as obvious as expressing the view that the Pope is a Catholic.

Give credit where due: The Monitor newspaper is at the centre of the investigations into the Entebbe Airport saga, proving the Biblical truth that out of the mouth of a once-beast honey might come. (For any little part your columnist has played over the years to improve this once delinquent publication, the result is its own reward, flags can wait!)

At any rate The Monitor introduced its fangs in the matter and refused to loosen them, and a grateful nation awaits the outcome with bated breath.

Of course a thing called Red Pepper has laid claims to being first with this story, suggesting that if you wait long enough Satan himself/herself will vacate Hell for a better address! (But with RP there still remains a titanic struggle to disentangle truth from malicious fiction; worse still a tiny truth, sometimes by accident, is whipped up like sour creams with monstrous inventions; so that Hell might remain its Home for years yet!).

The President’s washing his hands of the responsibility of awarding the running of the airport to a hitherto little-known Dubai company, Dodsal, creates, to put it mildly, a most interesting scenario; not less, hopefully, than the start of new Government directions. Suffice to say that unless H.E. agrees: little will happen. But Hallelujah in this current case! The more so when the State House website carries the President’s unambiguous denial that former State Minister for Investment, Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka, was directed by him to invite this private investor to take over management of the airport. Not only that.

Referring to a letter written to Minister John Nasasira by Kiwanuka, in which Kiwanuka is alleged to have intimated the President’s support for Dodsal, the President writes “with dismay”: “This letter does not in any way represent my instructions or common logic and it is not a letter expected of a cabinet minister of Mr. Kiwanuka’s calibre.” Ouch! The Prof, perhaps not by accident, currently languishes as Ambassador to Dubai. The President’s statement continues: “…It gives us a clear insight of how the government has been losing funds through hurried and unchecked investments.” Completely true!

But it might seem cruel of the Column to add to the woes of Kiwanuka, who first met us at Makerere in ’59, though I have to say that recently I expressed wonder at his vigorous support for the shadowy Serulanda sect, and its Chinese “supporter” (called Paradise) of a deeply unlikely investment of US $1,500,000,000 in its activities in the minor Rakai district. More humorously I remember when Kiwanuka was first back from his sojourn as Uganda Representative to the UN. I was called to State House, unsure for what. I saw him and some scruffy individuals in the waiting room, and greeted him. The call followed for “Mr Kiwanuka’s Group”. They all stood up. He turned and beckoned to me, “Come on John.” Reader, unwittingly, that is why I was here! The earth refused to open and swallow me: me, in “Kiwanuka’s Group!”

This gent has what Jews call chutzpah. But if he has now served as the instrument to bring about more attention on how Government chooses its investors, external and internal, then we are all in his (investment?) debt!
Where do you go from here? Start with myth or fact on how journalists used to be taught the craft of writing. High derision if you penned a headline such as, “Small earthquake in Chile, not many dead.” Oh the bathos of it, the lack of that tense expectation! So with the turgid happenings in Busoga: as those with time on their hands and very little to do with it, go through the hoops (or loops) of choosing a new Kyabazinga (King) of that region.

Princes (not traditionally a very accurate name for what these are) spring up like malaria from infested ponds; throwing their hats in the ring for the job, no matter how laughingly unsuitable for the post. (Headline: “Many not really suitable line up for Top Post”?) The advice from this, admittedly, Munakiwolo foreigner - as some Basoga call Baganda - is: why not grow up, you loiterers and just ask yourselves what the late (and so far, last) Kyabazinga, Henry Muloki, would think about these tasteless shenanigans!

Elsewhere the blood is more real, the results far deadlier. Think, for example, of Somalia, and Nigeria. This week, not for the first time, massacres of hundreds in religious pogroms in Nigeria’s north occurred. In Somalia, for decades, voracious killer lusts exist between members of the same clans; to say nothing towards foreigners! The question must now to be asked: when are we to leave Somalia to its own destiny and bring Our Boys home?

For huge almost unmanageable, Nigeria, God forbid we are one day tempted to deploy the same! Why and for what?

Meantime your columnist is promised an altogether softer landing this weekend. On Sunday I have been accorded an honour only a little short of my Heroes Medal a few years ago. The women of the Nebbi Community Women and Youth Event have invited me as Guest of Honour for their celebrations. Jeepers, creepers, as the song goes! I shall attend in full strength.

Imagine up to 600 of my inviters, and oneself, a defenceless, ever-shy ancient from the so-called Central Region, more accurately Buganda. Reader, Kindly Close the Curtain!