By Kalungi Kabuye
History tells of an American general, Ambrose Burnside, of whom President Abraham Lincoln famously said “… only he could wring spectacular defeat out of the jaws of victory.”
During the American Civil War General Burnside faced the enemy across a river with only a narrow bridge, which could accommodate only two soldiers at a time, but the general ordered his troops to cross it. The enemy’s machine guns practically destroyed Burnside’s army.
The army that knows its terrain very often wins the battle. If Burnside had taken a closer look at that river, he would have found out that it was less than three feet deep and his men didn’t need to cross that bridge two at a time.
Some people make things impossible for themselves, leaving us asking: what were they thinking? So in honour and remembrance of the bumbling General Burnside, here are a few that have managed to wring spectacular defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Of all the foolish things that Telecom companies have done, caller tunes take the cake. They put a tune on your phone, and charge you sh500 for it.
Ten days later they change it, and charge you again. My question is, do they think they will get away with it? There are around 17 million mobile phone users in Uganda, which means Telecom companies probably deduct sh 8.5bn from their customers every 10 days. Some smart lawyer will soon add up the numbers, and class action suits are not very far off, are they? Hate to say “told you so”.
Abdu Katuntu & colleagues
Abdu Katuntu, a lawyer by profession, is one of the more astute politicians we have, and many feel he has what it takes to lead this country. So what does he go and do? He and colleagues take MTN to court for illegally dealing in mobile money.
Mobile money is probably one of the best things ever to happen to the ‘developing world’, it has made life immeasurably easier for the common Ugandan; and Katuntu and his buddies want to stop it?
If only, as General Burnside should have done, Katuntu had checked out the lay of the land, maybe people would have told him that it’s the caller tunes and unsolicited messages that he should go to court for. But no, he wants to stop mobile money. Can’t help but wonder, what was he thinking?
Another example of people who had it, but managed through dogged determination to spoil it. Flex were responsible for the sound, lights and the fashion shows catwalk at the 2012 Bride & Groom Expo.
The fashion shows are very popular, and hundreds of people turn up over the three days to watch them. This was ‘prime time’ for the Flex guys to show everybody what they got, but what do they go and do? They build the worst catwalk and the ugliest backdrop ever seen; the light-set up was so poor we expected the whole shebang to come crushing down.
At one time the lights caught fire, and they did not fully work till the very last show on Sunday evening. Then the guy to switch them on was never around, and twice the shows started without lights. With a chance to show the whole nation what they can do, they blew it instead. General Burnside would have been proud of these guys.
She is probably one of the most liked and respected ministers we have, but this granddaughter of Kampala’s first African mayor blew it in a few minutes that will stay in the minds of Ugandans (and on YouTube) for a long time.
No one really knows why she personally went to Centenary Park and stopped KCCA officials from demolishing structures, but she gave the assembled media quite some amazing footage.
We bet that the morning after that Centenary Park incident, when all was quiet, Amelia was asking herself: “what was I thinking?”
This one definitely deserves an honourable mention. An MP when the KCCA Bill was debated and finally passed, he was one of those opposed to the creation of a ceremonial Lord Mayor for Kampala, but lost out in the vote. So what does he do?
He resigns his seat in Parliament and contests for the post of…. (drum roll) Lord Mayor of Kampala. And now he is complaining that he has no work? Duh!