Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Uganda at 50: A disillusioned ruling elite in Kampala?

In the early 80's, many joined the armed struggle against the Milton Obote regime, literally hours after sitting their last university exam at Makerere.

Many were in their 20's, eager to rid their country of  semi-illiterate Mal-administration of Idi Amin and Milton Obote and restore their country to the hope it was in the 60's. (a higher GDP than South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore).

They were charismatic, hopeful, confident, that they would restore Uganda back from its wrong turn. Many with a leftist brand of optimism.

They fought a protracted guerrilla struggle in the jungles of Luwero in central Uganda against a entrenched African state, initially with a handful of rifles. With more hope and conviction than might.

After a five-year struggle, they finally stormed the streets of Kampala, the Ugandan capital with a rag-tag army.

'' It is not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change'' they declared.

But  no body said turning guerrilla fighters into polished statesmen and sophisticated government bureaucrats  would be a walk in the park.

The state coffers were literally empty with a  virtually broken down state-structure.

What they lacked at the Central Bank they made up for governance chutzpah and political will.

The ministers drove Toyotas and lived a frugal life, from their most per-eminent leader to the half-dressed teenage kadogo  soldier, clutching an AK-47.

They  genuinely wanted  a fairer deal for the people of Uganda. And they believed.

But  a quarter of a century is a awfully long time.

With their dream of transforming Uganda a little more than a pipe dream, disillusionment set in.

'I give up on project Uganda. May be I can save myself and family instead'.

Ex-guerrilla fighters became capitalists over night. Of the crony kind of course. And many were transformed into consummate politicians per-occupied with winning the next election.

'Fundamental change'? It's more like regime survival. Political survival. Project Uganda? No, its project me myself and I.

The irony of Marxists turning into capitalists is not lost on Ugandans.

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