By Asiimwe Stephen
On 9th October 2013, Ugandans celebrated 51st Independence anniversary that took place in Rukungiri, which also happens to be Besigye’s home village, the State guest was the president of Mozambique Gen. Amando Guebuza a revolutionary who participated in the liberation of the Southern African States that were under colonialism and helped NRA forces to train in their home country, in His speech at the celebration was a revelation of Pan African struggles for those who fought for Independence and endured all colonial torture, mistreatment and collaborators.
Besigye who arrived at the scene with other leaders of opposition; Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Mayor Munyagwa, and little known DP Vice President of western region - Imam Makumbi who sat, listened and were entertained, later decided to leave at their will, like any other person who felt tired and wanted to move for a short call, whether it is interpreted that Besigye moved in protest or not, the reality is that he attended the celebration which was a good gesture. Historically, Nations are built on dialogues, reconciliation and understanding that mistakes are part of life, those who participate in Nation building must understand that they are part of the process.
In South Africa soon after the 1994 post Apartheid elections, the president set a tone of reconciliation, he invited the wives of key apartheid leaders and ANC veterans for a meal, soon after he visited the wife of apartheid architect Hendrick Ver Woerd and took tea in her home. He surprised many when he appeared in Spring-bok team rugby jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburg, something unimaginable before.
He is also remembered as having appointed his rival in katha; Freedom Party Leader Chief Buthelezi as a Vice President and acts as President in his absence, our leaders may not be Mandela but acts such as Dr. Besigye attending a National function with President Museveni gives hopes to Ugandans that at 51st anniversary celebrations were mature politically, the recent terrorism attack in Kenya is another lesson for us in case we were good students, after the March elections in Kenya, the former prime minister went to court, court ruled in favor of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila protested but when Westgate mall was besieged by terrorists and Kenyans lost their lives and others were injured, the country was united starting with leaders addressing a press briefing together at state House.
Therefore, we respect Dr Besigye and his colleagues right to end their participation in the national event, but they should remember that they are aspiring to lead Ugandans in future, if one of them become a President, I am sure he/she will invite guests from abroad, what will happen if other leaders behave in such a manner? our culture commands that when you host a visitor, you reduce on your quarrels and probably resume when the visitor has left.
This kind of behavior has ceased to amuse Ugandans and Africa as a whole, the Banyankore says “Atakumanya gu bamusigyire ati badizire” loosely translated as if you are not sure that they left you, you assume they are waiting. Complaining that the day was turned into NRM day could be said by a leader of Col. Besigye’s understanding? A former National Political Commissar, so attending Independence celebration remains a symbolic gesture that can easily propel unity and reduce unnecessary friction in our Country. As Amilcar Cabral said; tell no lies and claim no easy victories, remember we were celebrating 51st years of Independence.
The writer is a PanAfricanist and Member of Vision East African Forum