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In an article by Moses Mugalu titled “ Kamya attacked on ‘walk to work’ ” published in The Observer of May 23 – 25 May, 2011, Timothy Kalyegira and Dr. Aaron Mukwaya are reported to have said that I felt isolated and fearful of becoming irrelevant for not participating in walk-to-work, hence my visit to Mulago Hospital and Luzira Prison to comfort the wounded and jailed, to grab media attention. Mukwaya is also reported to have “wondered why I should have gone to FDC Headquarters to express “….sympathy for Dr Besigye after their bitter fall out that saw Kamya quit FDC”, except that I needed to remain politically relevant . The general tone of the article, beginning with the Editor’s title choice, is that I need media attention or risk obscurity in the limelight!
I was disappointed with the reported views of both gentlemen, whom I hold in high esteem. Surely, if publicity is what I needed, the easiest way to get it would have been to inform the press that I was going to walk, organized UFA and Lubaga North youth to walk with me, we would have been arrested ten meters from my gate, the youth would have put up a spirited resistance, which police would have quelled with teargas and live bullets, killing and maiming some, taken me to Buganda Road Court, and I would be the day’s star! After that, I would have joined the fanfare to welcome Dr Besigye from Nairobi. It does not take much to make news in Uganda. But for me to visit the walk-to-work casualties was consistent with my refusal to join the demo, because, I said I feared for the lives of the young rioters, innocent by-standers and passers-by. I went to Nakawa Court to stand surety for my friend Anne Mugisha, because we always hold each other’s hand, even as we went separate political ways, we remain friends.
What Dr Mukwaya does not know is that while he reckons Dr Besigye and I became life-long enemies, we actually remained cordial to each other. I continue to call him KB, when he had an accident in 2009, in Acholi, I rang to ask if he was ok, when I was hospitalized he sent flowers and a get-well-soon message through his wife and my friend Winnie Byanyima, and recently, when he flew to Nairobi after the Arinaitwe saga, I called to express my sympathies. It may surprise some readers to know that we do not always do everything for the press and that holding different opinions and applying different approaches does not always make people enemies! After ten years of confrontational and combative politics, my view is that we should review its effectiveness in terms of costs, benefits, delivery of desired goals and investigate alternative approaches – but that should not make me enemies with people who hold different views.
My worry about the politics of Uganda is that a thick line has been drawn between pro and anti Govt camps, there is no middle ground, there is no tolerance for other views and woe to anybody who does not fall in one of the two camps. In rising to the challenge, political analysts and critics on both sides of the divide have also taken “critic” to literally mean to criticize negatively. There is so much negativity in Uganda today, that one cannot but fear for the children we are raising. Some opposition politicians think that the hardliner, no-dialogue attitude endears one to voters and donors, so instead of advising voters who may not know better, that dialogue sets the agenda for the cherished peace, leaders lead from the rear, in order to endear themselves to voters. The atmosphere in Uganda is poisoned with negativity, and the press love it, it’s their fodder!
May I put to rest the speculations of Dr Mukwaya and Timothy Kalyegira that I do not have to define myself in anybody’s terms or to toe anybody’s line to get publicity, in fact, the most publicity I ever got was when I remained my own person and pursued my conscience.
Beti Olive Kamya-Turwomwe
UGANDA FEDERAL ALLIANCE
0783 438 201