BUWEMBO: Tell me, how do I behave before important people I silently pity?

Sunday September 22 2019

I don’t know how the weak should react when the mighty are soiled and looking pitifully unwise. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA

I don’t know how the weak should react when the mighty are soiled and looking pitifully unwise. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGA 

JOACHIM BUWEMBO
By JOACHIM BUWEMBO
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In a Nigerian movie whose title I never caught, the richest man of the town who was envied by everyone always wore a cap that he never removed.

After one poor man pestered him to reveal the secret of his wealth, the rich man took him to his palace and lifted the cap. And behold, where the hair should have been was all rotten and full of maggots. At that point I switched off the TV and tried to push the nauseating image out my mind.

Now many years later, I wish I had watched the revolting movie to the end. It would have been interesting to see how the poor man reacted.

I can only guess that he stopped envying the rich man with a rotten skull. The poor man's reaction would probably have helped me shape my reaction to our Africa’s corrupt elite.

What would the poor man in the Nigerian movie do if he had been a Ugandan taxpayer and had watched miserably as politicians committed his country to guarantee a private investor's $378 million debt and then see the politicians being locked out of the site where the money was being borrowed?

Would he laugh with satisfaction yet chances of his taxes being lost were apparently increasing?

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The politicians who were snubbed at the borrower’s site or "scene of debt" were led by one who reigned earlier as finance minister and also committed the country to hundreds of millions of dollars by signing an agreement without reading it. Would the poor Nigerian enjoy the sight of seeing the ex-finance minister looking helpless as she was being firmly blocked like a stinky trespassers? In the team was a health minister and permanent secretary. Would the poor Nigerian laugh as workers of the borrower treated the national luminaries like flies?

How would the poor Nigerian react at the disfigurement of Uganda Telecoms? Would he cry at the apparent collective national ineptitude as the company with a great foundation that was poised to be the most powerful communications entity ended up as the stinking leper of telecoms community?

Would the Nigerian movie man laugh at the shame the successive (mis)managers of UTL have been bathed in for two decades? Or would he as a Ugandan taxpayer realise the shame is on him as the (mis)managers laugh unpunished? Would the man laugh or cry?

You see why I wish I had watched the disgusting Nigerian movie to the end?

I now wouldn’t be in a dilemma over how to look at my leaders when they remove the cap off their head and urgghh, yakh!

Without watching the Nigerian movie to the end, I don’t know how the weak should react when the mighty are soiled and looking pitifully unwise.

Someone who watched the nasty movie and remembers the title please tell me now.

I need to know how to behave before important people whom I pity silently. Especially if they don’t think they are pitiful.

Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. Email:[email protected]

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