I want to stand for president of Uganda come 2021 but in this vale of trickery in which we live, I still have to figure out how to tweak my name.
Ours is a largely illiterate population despite having had universal primary education for 21 years, and voters seem to rely on the photos on the ballot paper to identify which candidate to vote for.
Now, your position on the ballot paper depends on your name and the alphabet. You are well off if your name starts with A so your picture is on top of the ballot, while if it starts with Z, so your photo is at the bottom.
So if your name starts with K, like the new kid on the block who without doubt is the man called Kyagulanyi, you know for sure you will end up somewhere in the middle of the ballot.
The same middle location on the ballot awaits Mugisha Muntu, the retired former commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces who clearly now wants to become commander-in-chief, and has decamped from the party called Forum for Democratic Change that has always fielded retired colonel Kizza Besigye as presidential candidate.
Now my name starts with B and in my school days often used to come on top of the class lists. But now Uganda has a perennial presidential candidate called Abed Bwanika, so I stand little chance of getting the top slot. How do you beat “Ab” on an alphabetical list unless you are Aaron?
At the bottom you expect a candidate called Yoweri, wearing a big hat so he cannot be mistaken for any other.
It would take someone with a name starting with Z to steal that bottom slot from the incumbent. There is a Member of Parliament called Zaake who has been undergoing intensive medical treatment in India following an encounter with our security forces. If he recovers before nominations for the 2021 elections, he could take the bottom slot if he wants to take a shot at the presidency.
But I am supposed to worry about my chances of becoming president, not Zaake’s or Muntu’s. So how do I get the top slot on the ballot? Walk up to Abed Bwanika and say, “Do me a favour; quit the race?” He would laugh at me.
In any case, even Besigye would beat me to the top alphabetically. So would Bobi Wine, if candidate Kyagulanyi chose to use the name he is most known for.
I think there are two options. I could legally change my name to Aaron, unless the Electoral Commission says a candidate can’t change within five years before an election.
The second option is scientific. When you make an alphabetical list on any computer, numerals take precedence over letters. So, I will look for one Ugandan with the same surname as mine who qualifies to stand for president – aged 18 years plus and has A-level equivalent school papers – to enter the race.
Then I will register as 1Buwembo and s/he as 2Buwembo, muting all our other names on account of their being foreign and therefore unpatriotic.
That way, we shall ranks higher than even Aaron on the ballot paper. Now let me think of the easier bit: Raising a few hundred billion shillings for the campaign…