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Thursday,October 01,2020 01:56 AM

When big men reconcile

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th September 2009 03:00 AM

It was an extremely hot afternoon. The heat bearing down on me was unnerving but the possibility of reaching late for my assignment was more unnerving, which is why, in haste, I opted for the convenience of a motorcycle to beat Kampala’s rush hour.

It was an extremely hot afternoon. The heat bearing down on me was unnerving but the possibility of reaching late for my assignment was more unnerving, which is why, in haste, I opted for the convenience of a motorcycle to beat Kampala’s rush hour.

By Kennedy Oryema

It was an extremely hot afternoon. The heat bearing down on me was unnerving but the possibility of reaching late for my assignment was more unnerving, which is why, in haste, I opted for the convenience of a motorcycle to beat Kampala’s rush hour.

It was a fire-brigade situation created by the editors and we had to be dead on time.

A politician had just rung. He urgently needed coverage. It was a ‘big one’. We didn’t know what “big one” it was but the urgency of the matter was not to be mistaken, as the editor asked me to pick the quickest means of transport to the Prime Minister’s office.

We were later to learn that former State Minister for Health Capt. Mike Mukula had just successfully mediated a peace pact between conflicting political heavy weights Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi and his former deputy, Gen. Moses Ali.

The two had been brought to near confrontation following an interview in a weekly paper where Moses Ali accused Nsibambi of political foul play.

I arrived at the building, which hosts the Prime Minister’s office.

It took me about 10 minutes from The New Vision offices but I felt 30 minutes late!

The urgency of the matter was impressed upon me. I could not afford to be late.

An elderly lady in the lift briskly interrupted as I tried to press a button for my destination on the sixth floor.

“You are not supposed to touch any button in this lift,” she said “It stops automatically from floor five onwards.”

“Then the lift is not compliant. It must be the first generation of lifts manned by obsolete technology,” I replied cheekily. It was a joke intended to ease my mind from the thought of being late. But it did not go down well with her.

“Don’t try to be clever young man. You criticise the lifts used by some of Uganda’s high profile dignitaries?” She retorted. I remained tight-lipped as she drew my mind back to the important meeting I was to cover.

I arrived almost short of breath. My colleague, a writer, soon shot through the reception as well. He was breathless.

Mukula darted out of Nsibambi’s office looking suave in a blue suit, black shoes, cream shirt and a yellow tie.

“Where are these New Vision people?” he asked impatiently.

We introduced ourselves. “What about Monitor?” he asked, while pacing up and down.

“We don’t know, sir!”

Nsibambi, wearing a white striped shirt and blue trouser, walked into the reception. “I am going to see everyone who is waiting to see me,” he informed guests at the reception. “I know others want some money from me for their wedding,” he said bluntly.

Two ladies seemed uncomfortable after he made that remark.

“Then give them the money,” Mukula chipped in, as if to suggest the Prime Minister should clear out the office, so that no one could interrupt whatever was about to happen.

“I don’t have money,” Nsibambi replied defensively as he also paced around.

The two gentlemen’s relentless movements had turned the reception into a subtle beehive scene.

We walked into Nsibambi’s office to meet the surprise of the year. Infront of us was the imposing figure of Gen. Moses Ali.

Bad blood had been running between the two politicians, so we had to rub our eyes to check whether they were functioning properly.

It was hard to believe the spectacle of Moses Ali beaming in his ‘rival’s’ office. It almost felt like a scene from Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry.

I tried to capture the moment on camera but Nsibambi stopped me. Moments later I tried again and this time it was Moses Ali who stopped me.

“What is the hurry? Wait! Wait! Wait!” He implored.

“This man must be having his own agenda,” Nsibambi joked. “What is the hurry? We are going to hand you the news.”

Mukula cleared his voice and said it was a rare day for him and the movement, because the two political giants had successfully made peace.

The two politicians thanked Mukula for his efforts in uniting them.

Moses Ali said the media should report news responsibly and not only bother about newspaper sales.

He asked Nsibambi to deliver his deepest apology to his wife for the impact the story might have had on the family.

Only then was I allowed to take pictures.

And they were the typical stereotyped pictures that every politician wants to see of themselves in the paper – a hand shake and smiling faces looking into the camera.

When big men reconcile

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