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CHOGM on, Uganda, November; period!

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th April 2007 03:00 AM

IF you find the title of this column somewhat cryptic, rest your furrowed brow and all shall be made crystal clear!
The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, (CHOGM) is slated to take place in our beautiful country in the latter part of November this year. That will happen, without any poss

IF you find the title of this column somewhat cryptic, rest your furrowed brow and all shall be made crystal clear!
The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, (CHOGM) is slated to take place in our beautiful country in the latter part of November this year. That will happen, without any poss

John Nagenda

UGANDA’S No1 COLUMNIST...INFORMED, CONTROVERSIAL AND PROVOCATIVE


IF you find the title of this column somewhat cryptic, rest your furrowed brow and all shall be made crystal clear!
The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, (CHOGM) is slated to take place in our beautiful country in the latter part of November this year. That will happen, without any possibility of a doubt. You can stake your life on it. Period!

It is a long-standing Commonwealth arrangement going back to 1971. Countries of the Commonwealth (once called, but no longer, the British Commonwealth, on the same lines, one supposes, as the British Pound or the British Weather!) line up to host this major event.

Some say it is only skin-deep, that it is largely symbolic, that it serves little practical use. They are entitled to their shallow opinions. But since when did symbol lose currency, or the power to move? Over 50 independent and sovereign nations will congregate in the capital, Kampala, holding hands across Planet Earth. That in itself brings a tingle to the skin; provided the skin is sensitive.

The colossal and colossally scattered group of nations, from Asia (including world population number two, India) to the Antipodes, to Africa, to the nations in the Atlantic, and then back to mother nation Britain, combine history and geography to a degree sometimes difficult to contemplate. To turn a phrase on its head: if it wasn’t there, the Commonwealth would be mighty difficult to set up! That’s the beauty of it. So what is the problem? Idle persons, if they have not much to do, offer their hands to The Devil, for work to do. They must tear down, not build up.

Rumours started sometime back, fuelled by frustrated wishers, that Uganda would fail to get the chance to host CHOGM 2007.

Furtive looking people would slide into your conversations, or even accost you at street corners to say: “Have you heard the latest on CHOGM; it is being moved to Canada!” To one of them I answered with some heat: “No, it is being moved to your head, where your brain would be if you possessed one, you numbskull!” Someone, in this case, from a country in Europe; we haven’t conversed since. This time round the gossip has emanated from London, and spread like wildfire in some of our clueless media here, eager to deposit egg on the face of the Ugandan leadership. The egg instead will end on theirs! The Guardian, “quoting a senior British government source”: “I am increasingly worried it won’t happen… You can’t have the Queen visiting if people are shooting each other in the streets.” Worried my foot! What a load of bull – obviously the fellow is enjoying it to the limit. In any case The Queen lives in London where street shootings are a daily feast.

Prissy Foreign Office’s country profile of Uganda warns: “Political tensions can flare up, often with little warning. There are cases ongoing in the courts [my italics] relating to opposition figures that can also be a potential cause of friction.” Where should cases be ongoing?
The Times, once, long ago, a great paper, chips in: “… Political unrest, the jailing of opposition leaders and a continuing strike by judges....” This on 26 April, when there is no strike!

The Foreign and Commonwealth office thunders: “… What we want him to do is to engage with the opposition and let its remaining leaders out of prison.” Begorrah!, as the Irish say. Where was The Times when Museveni invited the Opposition to tea, and some of them refused? And which “remaining leaders”?

As for the Queen’s safety, if the diplomatic corps in Uganda, some of them baleful to a degree, yet clearly as safe as we know they are, how about the nice Queen? The Times (or perhaps The Guardian; does it much matter?) cautioned, regarding changing CHOGM’s venue: “Diplomats fear that such a move would cause offence. Of course it would cause offence, and outrage! Does the Foreign and Commonwealth office run the Commonwealth or does the Commonwealth Secretariat? Ah, there’s the rub. But of course it is the latter. Its spokesman said it was confident that the event would go ahead as planned. He added, Uganda is the host of the meeting. The Commonwealth’s planning mission went to Kampala about two weeks ago and that team was satisfied that Uganda was moving in the right direction. The issues the planning mission looked at included security.” And so it will come to pass!
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Elimo Njau, famous East African artist, writer and all-round good man, used to say: “Copying puts God to sleep!” The same effect might be achieved by over-repetition!

This column in the past weeks, in the Mabira life-or-death struggle, has written on its giveaway almost to the exclusion of everything else. Today we have stared elsewhere, and rightly, in knowing Mabira will still be on its feet for some time to come; and hopefully for ever.

I had hoped to carry instead a well-deserved item on the recently deceased Apolo Kironde, teacher, musician, carpenter, diplomat. As the latter, his face would have creased in disdain, to say nothing of contempt, for the twitterings of the F & C so-called diplomats to the London publications above.

Back in ’65, in New York, when Kironde was our man at the UN, I overheard Lady Foot, wife of the British ambassador, whose party it was, say “Oh “our” Africans are absolutely useless.” I thought of Uncle Kironde, doing a super job in NY, made no excuses, and left! More next week. God rest him.

CHOGM on, Uganda, November; period!

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