By Patrick Katagata
All people deserve to be treated with dignity. It combines honor and respect. Dignity is inalienable in every person by virtue of being human. Honor is merely ascribed although the beneficiary may not necessarily deserve it! Respect is earned from one's good conduct.
It is human for people to desire greatness – have more power, more wealth, more education etc but whatever the desire or pursuit, prudent requires that we refrain from unorthodox and vulgar schemes like ridiculing our rivals or even colleagues, demonising our superiors and predecessors including those who elevated or inspired us to the positions we currently hold or aspire for – never damn a bridge we've crossed!
Politics in Uganda is characteristic of contenders ridiculing their rivals and their opinions as utter rubbish, absolutely nonsensical, shallow minded, idiots, liabilities, useless, disoriented etc. Calumny, intrigue, blackmail, voter bribery, election rigging, internal bickering etc are also common occurrences! Indeed, like we're often told, politics is a dirty game. But I refuse to believe so. In my opinion, politics is a clean game which is only made dirty by the players' unrefined minds and approaches!
We've for long endured vulgar language and crude references made by our leaders generally about people previously close allied with or even mentors but now harbor varying political ideologies or rivalry ambitions. While I don't condone it, I'll point out that we'd gotten used to it and it didn't make headlines anymore. Today, however, I'm particularly disheartened by the fact that the same evil has now spilled over to young politicians and the youth generally, who've now turned against senior citizens. Disappointed or frustrated, I'll still respect their feelings but name-calling and hurling insults is unacceptable – two wrongs don't make a right! Besides, the president and his disgruntled former allies share a history although now bleached by personal feuds and vendetta that the youth may never understand and it would, therefore, be unwise for them to get involved!
And that's why I find issues with the opposition. Very few, if any, seem to be telling the youth the truth, much less empowering them to live better lives. Most of them worked with this government previously shamelessly continue reciting a litany of evils which they blame unto Museveni and his government and forget or at least aren't honest enough to acknowledge their own part in their creation! Why didn't they stop them? Whoever resigned for civility's sake? Why did they wait until things got really bad? I'm not unfairly castigating them but like, it's said, even a dead clock is right twice a day! Yes, Museveni may have defaulted on certain things, but it is wrong to purport that he has failed in everything and can never correct anything. In bad politics like in sour love relationships, though unwelcome, self-righteousness, fault-finding and bad mouthing prevail. A man or woman who fails in a relationship demonises their spouses as mean, unhygienic, cruel and boring and until you've a personal experience with them, you'd never naively believe support the accuser lest they turn out culpable!
Be careful what language you use. Crude references, like a bullet, once fired can't be recalled. The target dies or survives but with an indelible scar. You may momentarily win but your future bleak. It is humiliating swallowing your own words or seeking to work with the same people or government you once vulgarised! Treat all people with dignity for vulgarisation finds no space in civil politics of modern times!
The writer is a leadership trainer
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Vulgarizing politics insults civility