Uganda is election country, as you know, and today is neither different from yesterday nor from tomorrow. Political contests are the order of the day from January to December, from one year to the next.
National general elections take place every five years in February without fail. So, from the last polls, in 2016, the next ones will be in February 2021.
In between, we have had scores of parliamentary elections for new constituencies that got created and by-elections in constituencies where results were nullified.
These ones, at an average of one per three months, attract intense national attention with all party leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni, going down to the grassroots to canvass for votes for their camps.
It is one such by-election that gave rise to Robert Kyagulanyi, the musician-turned-politician better known by his performance name of Bobi Wine, who is now defining the national electoral landscape for 2021.
Bobi Wine is not just a person, but the personification of dispossessed young people who want to change an order that doesn’t work for them.
Whether they can actually shake the entrenched establishment in a situation where even some Museveni haters in the private sector are not sure they want to change the existing order is another matter.
But the mild disgruntlement of the youth is not even that bad, as far as natural progression of social change goes.
Even a complacent dreamer could not have expected things to remain quiet in a country where population growth is the second fastest in the world but the land, whose productivity is declining rather than increasing, is being grabbed by a few rich guys, which is also naturally expected as competition for resources grows.
The political contestation is even entertaining, for now. It brought a smile to everybody’s face recently when President Museveni climbed down from State House and took the battle to Bobi Wine’s stronghold, the ghetto, actually the musician’s launch pad from where he emerged to join national politics.
Of course for a soldier who spent many years in real trenches, rubbing shoulders with the ghetto people is not that difficult. President Museveni’s new buddies, who have interesting names, include one dreadlocked fellow, Mr Butcherman, and the bad gal of the music world, Ms Full Figure. Anti-Museveni social media brigades immediately “corrected” it to “Fool Figure”.
Museveni’s day in the ghetto was an early Christmas present for Bobi Wine, who immediately composed a song titled “Kasukali” (a little sugar), in which he indicates that his campaigns over the past two years are yielding fruit as Museveni is now being pulled down by the sugar—the relentless youth push.
He asks if he should add a little more sugar to hasten the president’s fall. At a function to launch the students’ wing of his People Power movement, a cocky Bobi Wine swung a provocative jab at Museveni, saying the president would soon start walking with one shoulder stooping—a description of a teenage swag—trying to copy the ghetto folk.
So far it is still just amusing banter: the president dancing with ghetto youth while Bobi Wine pokes fun at him as the public enjoys a hearty laugh. But will it remain fun for long, preferably through February 2021, then we get back to work?
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. Email:[email protected]