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The East African : Dec 22nd 2014
20 The EastAfrican OPINION DECEMBER 20-26,2014 LAST WORD Help, the≥e’s a ch≥onic divo≥cee afte≥ my seat – and he’s well a≥med! South Sudan Vice-Presi- dent James Wani Iga is a man in distress as well as on the warpath. While addressing South Sudanese residents in Nairobi at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on December 14, Mr Iga sounded off on the proposal by the Dr Riek Machar-led rebels in his country that the position of the vice-president be scrapped and replaced with that of prime minister with executive powers. He accused Dr Machar of being after his seat through this arrangement. What he does not under- Joachim Buwembo Sejusa’s back and Ugandan youth a≥e once again left feeling foolish S ome time in the beginning of 1982, the embattled Ugandan government’s military intelligence pulled off a last stroke of genius to discourage young men from joining the guerrillas who were fighting in the bush. Intelligence operatives posing as rebel recruiting agents went around Kampala whispering to youth who wanted to join the rebellion and took them to a forest for training. After collecting several hundred recruits, the armed instructors turned on them and arrested them all. They were driven back to Kampala shirtless, most of them sporting wounds on the heads and swollen faces as they were paraded at the city square. For hours, government people ha- rangued the young men, talking about the futility of joining Museveni’s rebels because the government had the capacity “to follow them to the bush, finding them and leaving them there.” The insults heaped on the “rebels” were as hurtful as they were hilarious. A government minister said that capturing them had been easy because Museveni could not afford to feed them and they had surrendered to the state army to escape starvation. The minister then magnanimously announced that the government had pardoned the captured young rebels and called on their parents to collect them and take them home. But he advised the parents to only give them little human food at first as it could shock stomachs that had become accustomed to feeding on wild roots – which was all that rebel chief Museveni could provide. It was scary. Many students I knew abandoned intentions of going to the bush and instead completed their studies before quietly proceeding to Kenya and the then rosy Zimbabwe to find employment. Others headed to the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, rather than face the apparently invincible government army. While my generation was duped into believing that the government army was stronger than it really was in the 1980s, a somewhat similar lesson was learnt by today’s Ugandan youth last Sunday morning when they woke up to the news on their mobile devices that the renegade former coordinator of intelligence services, General David Sejusa, had returned to the country to a red carpet welcome and was escorted from the airport to his country home with a lead car. Sejusa had fled the country 18 months earlier alleging a plot to assassinate him and other senior security and political figures opposed to what he called a project to propel the president’s son into monarch-style succession of his father. While in exile, he had continued ac- cusing the government of heinous crimes against the nation, called for the removal of President Yoweri Museveni by means other than elections, and even claimed that he, Ssejusa, had played a central role in rigging the 2006 general election to rob Dr Kizza Besigye of victory. With hindsight, anyone can now see that Sejusa never meant his own allegations because when he named the venue from where he had orchestrated the said rigging, he named a building whose name had long changed by 2006 and whose oc- cupancy the government had long ceded to the Buganda kingdom. Most likely, Sejusa was coding his message, telling people not to actu- Illustration: John Nyagah ally believe him. With Sejusa’s return to Uganda as a free man, which has left his supporters numb with shock, it would take a reckless fool to follow any calls to oppose the government militarily again in future. stand is why Dr Machar is always coming after his seat. “What is wrong with Machar? Whenever he is fighting in the bush, he is always certain that my seat is there waiting for him,” he said explaining how in 2004, he voluntarily gave up his seat as SPLM second chairman to Dr Machar, who had rejoined the then rebel outfit after years of leading a separate liberation group. But what tickled the crowd most was when he referred to Dr Machar as a chronic “divorcee,” recalling how in 1991, Dr Machar ditched the late Dr Garang and teamed up with Dr Lam Akol. After two years, he ditched Dr Akol and signed a treaty with Khartoum. After several years, he ditched President Omar al-Bashir and teamed up again with Dr Garang. He recently ditched President Kiir and he now wants back in? Mr Iga asked irately. Dear God, hope this letter finds you well… A post office in Kerala, a state in South India, delivers letters to God! Located near the famed Hindu temple on the Sabarimala Hills, the post office may perhaps be the only one in the country that doesn’t work round the year. It comes alive when the peak pilgrimage season of the Ayyappa shrine begins on the first day of the Malayalam month in November, and the period ends towards the middle of January. During the pilgrimage season, more than 4.5 million devotees flock to the shrine and post letters asking for their prayers to be answered. The dog ate my TV licence It is my dog’s TV! This is one of the funniest and most brazen excuses for not owning a TV licence in the UK. They range from the absurd “It’s my dog’s TV — ask him to pay” to the delusional “I am the Messiah so I don’t need one.” Others include, “My mum died. She had a payment card.” One told officials with a straight face that the telly was never on but was used as a drying rack for the washing while an inventive householder said no licence was required because they didn’t own a remote control. Another housewife said, “My husband gave me the TV licensing money and I spent it on my new Kurt Geiger shoes.” He has no a≥ms but is too well a≥med to be set f≥ee A man who can’t use his arms in New Jersey because of a spinal condition is being held in jail while facing a gun possession charge. Defence lawyer Caroline Turner said the case against Marcus Hubbard, who injured his spine in a car accident and may have Lou Gehrig’s disease, “shocks the conscience,” because he has been held in protective custody for four months. Prosecutors acknowledged Hubbard has no use of his hands but said he still could be guilty of a crime. Authorities say Hubbard and three other men were in a car that ran a red light in Trenton and was pulled over. They say inside the car police officers found a stolen handgun in a seatback pocket and a prescription bottle of codeine.
Dec 15th 2014
Dec 29th 2014