Important Excerpts from Kalinaki’s Besigye book

As 2014 bids goodbye to us, Daily Monitor‘s former Managing Editor Daniel Kalinaki published his creative non-fiction book, Kizza Besigye And Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution. It is beautifully written (Moses Odokonyero has identified only three typos in the entire book), but I will say more about this in a review. For now, I pick some few excerpts that I found interesting and hope you do too.

Love stories

When the final year examination results came out, he (Besigye) had performed very well. He had also applied to study medicine at Makerere University School of Medicine but only because the head girl at Kigezi High, whom Besigye was seeing at the time, had chosen the same course. (Page 21)

While in Nairobi Besigye learnt that his fiancee, whom he had abandoned in that city a few years earlier, had moved on, found someone, and had a baby. Life did not wait for guerrilla wars to end. (Page 74)

Winnie and Museveni worked together for about six months in London as the rebel leader built political support and mobilised military assistance, before he returned to the war zone in Uganda. The two political rivals became allies, and then some. (Page 115)

Winnie had “deliberately” allowed five years to pass between breaking up with Museveni before starting her relationship with Besigye. As far as she was concerned, this was enough time for both parties to heal and move on. Winnie had continued to meet Museveni occasionally when he passed through Europe – “just as friends,” she says, “there was no issue between us but we had not declared to the public that it was over.”  (Page 120)

Bush War stories

For Besigye, there was also an urgent and rather personal matter at hand. On crossing River Mayanja he had jumped over an obstacle and his old corduroy trouser had been ripped all the way across the groin area. Besigye did not have any underwear beneath. He had run naked all the way to Masindi. After overpowering the UNLA, as the rebels collected arms and ammunition, Besigye’s main priority was to find a new trouser to cover up his dangling bits. (Page 66)

As the rebels walked through the Barundi settlements the hostile residents openly taunted them. “If you think people like you why do you walk at night in hiding?” they asked as they followed the rebels and raised alarm. They also mocked the rebels for waiting for their harvest time, when food was plentiful, before resuming operations against the government troops. (Page 69)

The First Days

Immediately after the swearing-in Museveni, accompanied by Besigye, was driven to Entebbe Airport. On the way, the driver of the lead car in the convoy switched on the hazard lights and, with the siren blaring, started forcing on-coming traffic off the road. Museveni ordered the convoy to stop and went to have a word with the driver. This was not Amin’s convoy, Museveni said. The driver had to maintain normal speed and respect other road users. Then Museveni got back into his car and continued on the journey. (Page 92)

Besigye book cover

Reluctant Opponent

“Winnie, would you accept to be our candidate for President?”

‘You as who?’ Who are ‘we’?’ Winnie asked, surprised.

Besigye laughed: “We!”

‘Besigye be serious,’ she said, sitting down next to him. ‘What do you mean ‘we’? It would be suicidal. How would you take him on? I wouldn’t do that! How can you, in this short time take on Museveni?’

The elections were about six months away.

“People are fed up with him,” Besigye said.

‘I guess they are, but it takes some time to turn discontent into votes’

“It’s possible. If you give people a chance now to speak, they will go to the ballot box and vote against him. They are so fed up!”

‘I won’t do it,’ Winnie said, with finality as she rose to her feet.

“Okay, then,” Besigye said. “This is a chance you have and you don’t want to take it. Don’t miss it.” (Pages 153-4)

The Single Dad

“Anselm was about three years and it was just the two of us. I lived in the middle of a white community and I was literally the only black person there. In an effort to stop blacks from moving into the area, the local council had passed some laws and regulations, one of which was not to allow commuter taxis or special-hire taxis. In other words, you had to have your own car,” he (Besigye) recalls.

I didn’t have a car and I didn’t even have a computer. The only way was to walk to the nearest shopping centre, which was about three miles away. Anselm could not walk such a long distance but he tried. By the time we walked back he would be completely worn out. I would have to put him on my shoulders and carry him for the rest of the journey, as well as our shopping. On getting home I would then have to bathe him, wash his clothes, prepare food, make the bed, and so on. It was really hectic! It helped me appreciate how difficult it is to look after a child.” (Page 210)

Links to more detailed reviews of the book will be posted once they are published. You can find the book at BookPoint in Kampala, or call designated numbers for delivery within the city’s Central Business District.