I have been reading all the vitriol that has been directed your way, since you promised our dear president, Baby Face, that you will ensure that he wins the next elections. The more I have read, the more I have found myself in your corner. I mean, the more I have appreciated your current position. Especially that indeed, the opposition never saw any good in you, they did not see your leadership potential while you were on their side, while Baby Face was always wooing you.
I will be honest, Beti. Us, who belong to the much maligned millennial generation (those aged 18-35 in 2016), who only know Baby Face’s leadership of Uganda, came to know you when you were one of the ‘detractors’, at least in public. We heard that you had differences with people in Reform Agenda, as early as 2001, and that in 2005, those differences worsened and led to your loss to Alice Alaso as Secretary General of the party. I sadly looked on between 2008 and 2009 as you tore the FDC party to shreds in your attempt to ‘inherit’ the late Dr. Kiggundu’s position as party chairman. Your opponents also threw some jabs your way, that have lasted!
The things you were saying about ‘Westerners’ then, were too heavy for me, a born of Kabale in the South-West of the country, to say or think anything at the time. I walk around with Westerner guilt anyway. Your words contributed to it, to be honest. That your late husband (May he RIP) hailed from the West, and therefore your children are from the West too, complicated matters. The guilt could not allow me to jump onto any side. Those who said that you hated Westerners did not get my audience, because I was there saying, if she hated them, why would she have married from them? We could say that I may not have been on your side, but I also wasn’t against you. What does that even mean?
Before the Kiggundu replacement saga, you had in February 2008 been charged before court, with promoting war and inciting violence. The charges were based on an article in Daily Monitor, in which you questioned Baby Face’s nationality! Even if you were then an FDC MP, that article had left some of us who held the party membership cards worried. The nationality and ethnic nationalism question in Uganda is a complicated one, that we have to face at one point, or at several points in Uganda’s life as a country, but Beti, that article! Do you sometimes look back at some of those things you wrote?
Anyway, you moved on, from FDC and started the Uganda Federal Alliance. I remember when you told Josephine Karungi of NTV that you fell sick during the campaign trail, and even went for surgery and the loud women rights activists did not even call you, to wish you well. EXCEPT: Winnie Byanyima and Miria Matembe. I remember you sharing with the country the fact that Winnie abandoned her husband, Besigye’s campaign trail to bring you flowers. Beti: Winnie cares. She is loyal. To digress: do you think you would maybe support her if she contested for President with Baby Face in 2021? (Just kidding)
Your relevance after the 2011 election played hide and seek, except on most Saturdays when the country tuned in to the Capital Gang to hear from you. People kept talking about you joining NRM, that there was really no surprise that you were made a Minister this year. In fact, some people (of course excluding you) had thought that you would be announced as Vice President. They thought that Ssekandi would not have a chance to set fashion trends in this playful hakuna mchezo term. But here we are, Beti.
I think people are being unfair to you. You are a complex human being, like each one of us. Those who claim that you were a spy in FDC and the opposition generally want to figure you out, and reduce your complexity to one mission. They forget that before the political phase of your story, you were a successful manager at Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC). I have seen others claiming that you needed some money to be able to sustain a middle class life in Kampala. Really? People can want to reduce others to small material conditions. You have a brain on your shoulders that can sustain your life without the trouble that politics is. One of my friends says that you really wanted a position of influence, such that you contribute to national development. She almost convinced me, but then, I do not buy this notion of ‘development’, so I jumped out of her taxi.
I do not want to try to understand you. I would hate it, for someone to try to understand me, too. Our individual lives are complex. Every single person who aims to understand others ends up misunderstanding them. I feel that you have been misunderstood Beti. People are now shaking their heads at how you can turn from the person who was calling Baby Face a monster, a non-Ugandan, to the one declaring that he has stamina and has always had your interests at heart. Again, I refuse to buy their attempts to reduce you to a turn-coat. I know you are not bothered by all the vitriol being thrown at you, you are not the first to be accused by some Ugandans of betrayal, I mean, there is Awori, there is Atubo, there are more people, and more will join the league of the complicated Ugandan politicians and we will forget about you, but I just wanted to say that we would appreciate if you could gift us an autobiography. There is an important story we deserve to know. So that when your detractors spread their misunderstanding of you, we will hit back with your properly laid out story. Please Beti, oblige us.