For all my life in Uganda I have wished for an opportunity to relive the events of the CA that my old man keeps talking about when ideas and ideals ruled not achievements, threats and money and warrants from police. At the time these events happened I was suckling on my mother’s tits and just didn’t understand what was happening around me. All the text books I have read only show small glimpses of what really happened. Every time it has been presented it has been sold with the intention of exercising extortion rather than education.
My old man talks at length about the time when ideas were sold without any undercover mechanisms at play. The empty tins were never handed the microphone and all the parties involved put Uganda before their interests. The debate organisers were never questioned about their intentions as to why the debate had been organised because even if the ground was fixed if you had the best message you won the day.
Anyone who writes of last week’s debate skipped the most important part of the debate which also explains the spirit of the whole debate. Justice Ogoolas poem characterised the spirit of the debate from what characterises our politics today. Today our politicians stand on crowd sizes, vulgar language, the size of ones wallet, tearing opposition posters and self-entitlement where noise reigns supreme over the message being passed on. No wonder we judge the winner of the elections by the size of the crowd at his campaign rallies even though the majority of the crowd can’t explain a thing in the candidates manifesto. We hang onto the past not the future we are projecting and don’t want to question about the hollow promises made that never materialised yet with each year new promises are heaped onto the old ones.
When you debate you learn a new thing while if you argue it’s all about the win. Learning a new thing about what’s wrong with your manifesto, can you be held against failed promises you have made over the years. It’s something that has systematically been supped out of our communities, even the education system has not been spared, subjects like political education that were the centre piece of weekly debates at school have taken a back sit in favour of sciences where majority of schools don’t even have a laboratory to prove the scientific equations our children are cramming. We don’t understand the concept of sharing a stage with our competition albeit for ideas and our community members operate like militia men where we are judge, jury and executioner.
The debate was to move the narrative away from rhetoric to facts and figures, branding to preparation so as to judge a candidates ability to explain the gist in his manifesto precisely with specific examples of what he wants to do not use big blurry words that have more than one meaning in context with what is happening today without his choir singing along chorusing out those who don’t support your ideas. For example when you say you are going to improve tourism in the country, how for starters do you define it? Is it the text book version because living in the world we are in today that version of tourism is not selling any more. Today countries are selling whole experiences from the time you touch down at the airport not wild animals. Today tourism is an opportunity to savour how beautiful a country’s city is, the organisational structures before you even head to the country side where the lions and elephants usually are that make up the bulk of the old definition of tourism.
The debate was a platform to see if candidates can identify the weaknesses the current government has because one can stand on rhetoric that youth will vote me because I am one of them but then what?
In the short term you can write off the debate as a comedy show but deep down everyone is holding his breath for the second debate on the 10th, will the candidates have learnt a new thing, mastered their manifestos better or got lessons on how to comprehend and interpret questions better. Will they have better specific examples of programs and activities that they want to do instead of hanging onto populist sentiment. Anybody who still writes off the debate didn’t listen to Justice Ogoola’s poem because it paints a picture of the kind of politics that we want to see run supreme in this beautiful country.