Someone asked me… "Henry, why have you been quiet on policy issues? MPs are busy enjoying our money. What is your take?"
I have written, on many occasions, that one of the problems of the majority of Facebook users is that we underestimate the depth of illiteracy of our population. The problem with being on Facebook and being educated is that we suffer from what they called the curse of knowledge. You assume that everyone knows what you know and therefore they 'automatically get it'. My friend, you don't know our people.
Secondly, I have realised I am one of the very few people who was born in a village, grew up in the village and so I have a good idea of how the majority of people in villages make their political choices or how they reason and what matters to them. It's a completely different world and it amazes me how you Kampala people think and reason. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT OTHERS ARE THINKING.
We are here talking about NSSF - how many people in the village know what that means or even care? It doesn't bother them, they don't want to know, they don't care - those are your problems as rich people of Kampala.
You guys are here talking about increased taxes; when many people in villages don't even know they pay taxes. Many don't understand at what point one pays the tax. Some once asked me why we say they pay taxes and yet the president removed tax. I didn't even know how or where to start from explaining to the fellow. He was an influential figure in that village.
You are here talking about macroeconomic policies - who understands those things of yours? You people, the majority of Ugandans don't care about those things or which government leader of opposition leader is able to articulate issues.
The ordinary man in the village has land given to him by his father. He has a slave called a woman or wife who tills that land and when the harvest is ready, he (the man) sells the produce - takes the money - drinks alcohol and in some cases marries another wife, using the money generated by his wife's labour. Men in villages live like kings. They don't go through the pressure you urban dwellers contend with. The woman is the worker. His role is to scare and big mouth all conversations and decisions to be made. He has a lot of power. You can't even believe it. These guys are kings.
When the woman tries to look beautiful...the man feels she is going to be "kukwanad" by other men - so he impregnates her, so that other men don't admire her. Problem solved. Period. Soon, the woman has eight children. You dare ask him if he is not thinking about how he will educate those children. He will ask you, 'I didn't get an education, am i not living? Are you the one who feeds me and my wife?' People, the village is a different world. I grew up from there and I totally laugh when I listen to how we have these conversations about development and our aspirations. People in the village are not like you.
They are not looking for a job. They are not looking for a plot of land around Najjera or Ntinda to put up a small house - they don't need to buy food or pay for electricity.Some of them can even spend a week without touching money or needing it. They are literally living off the economic grid. Life is different. National issues are urban issues. Even their view of success is different. Some believe you need some form of mystical power or the help of a witch-doctor to succeed. In fact many of you that live in towns and are successful (just by living in urban areas) - you are known as 'witches' in your villages. They don't believe you can work hard and succeed. Their view of fate is twisted.
You are here talking about lost jobs! Hmmm. How many people in the village wake up to go to an office and work? The office is the garden...and those offices are not closed...at least for now...the people in villages are still working. Lost jobs and lockdown is a 'rich peoples' problem someone in the village recently told me. The women are there working and that is how the posho comes to your table plus those beans that you eat. The women 'down there' are busy working to bring them to your table although the money you pay goes to the men.
The concerns of an ordinary man in the village are about four. First, sex from his wife, safety of his land and access to alcohol and a witch doctor. If you deny them those four, then a revolution can start. But those things of yours - simanyi MPs have got 40 million...wachaa. The villager will ask you, "Otyo...they have got 40 million...so what should I do?' Kwegamba the village is in another world.
Men in villages live like kings. They don't leave 'ezokukameza'. The woman has to look for food in the garden...and hunt for enva. Those things of leaving 10k mbu sente za kameza is only kajanja of you urban dwellers. The village woman feeds the man, offers sex, takes for him water to the bathroom behind the house and even has to be there and watch over him as he is showering. I know many of you have not been born in villages and probably think this is fiction but am telling you this is a typical village, where 75% of your fellow Ugandans live.
So many people who vote these MPs are completely in another world. They beg these MPs money. They are bought to vote and indeed when MPs get to the promised Land, it's time to pay themselves and sometimes, they take some pieces of it and share with their village voters. So your complaints as town dwellers are not of their concern. The MP attends and has to pay for almost every village funeral - he has to spend not less than 300 Million to get elected. It's basically a transaction. They sell their future to the MPs.
So most times, I am angry at these MPs but then I remember that they didn't take themselves to parliament. They were voted. Who voted them? Those people. Did they know what they were doing? I don't know. Should they pay for it? I don't know.
As Facebook users, many of you don't know the depth of the crisis we are in because of the quality of our voters. Those MPs know just too well who matters. It's not us who write long pieces on policies and make analysis and so forth and post on Facebook and share within our circles on issues we already agree on.
Those MPs know who matters. In fact when you hear them talking don't think they are talking to you Kampala urban dwellers. They are talking to the average villager who doesn't even know how he pays his taxes, who doesn't care what NSSF is or who has even never been to Kampala. Do you know that probably 75% of rural dwellers have never left their regions to any other? Have you ever wondered why people in urban areas tend to vote differently? while rural dwellers vote for some MPs? It is much about the difference in the quality of thinking. You guys know how the state enters your pocket and why you need quality MPs. For them, they are okay (in their view - they are fine). If you didn't know what 'Ignorance is bliss' means...that is the definition.
The average villager is just wowed by the 4X4 that an MP is driving. When someone parks a TX, the villagers gather and say, "Wow!!! Have you seen the man? He has a machine!! Agwaana (He deserves it)." In towns, many of you have cars and that doesn't matter to you - you don't even care what car someone drives. In the village, if you go with a big car, they can even give you a girl to marry for free. You can be voted for having a good house. You can be voted for not being educated (as a way of punishing the one who is educated for not being like the people who are not educated even when they would benefit from your skills).
You can be denied a vote for not being married. It is worse if you are a woman. They will say you are going to start loving their husbands or you are a Kampala malaya. You can be denied a vote for being a woman and contesting with a man. How dare you? Go and contest in female races not challenging a man. You can be denied a vote for having only daughters, that you are not man enough. You can be voted for being beautiful - sadly, this one happens and matters even in universities where you would think someone's looks should not matter but their brains.
So you find a poor sister putting colour indigo - colour violet and using cancer causing chemicals just to enhance her look and appease the sexually preying eyes of sexually active young men. You can be voted for attending more funeral services...and you can be voted for having many proverbs in your local language. That is the type of majority of our communities.
Their view of life and the world around them is so limited and you can't blame them. An MP that tells them that he or she will construct a road is the one they vote for, as though MPs construct roads. The one who speaks more of the local languages and has more proverbs is the one they call good. Speaking the native language is a good thing but all I am saying is - the things that matter to people in villages are just beyond your understanding.
The average person in the village doesn't understand what you guys are talking about. He doesn't watch NTV or NBS political shows or listen to business news segments. The average person likes agataliko nfuffu where they report a person who gave birth to a frog or where two men are fighting for a woman or where the news is about two drunkards that organized a drinking competition. Do your research and find out the most watched news bulletin or most read newspaper.
That's why Agataliko nfuffu has more viewers and Bukedde newspaper sells more than Daily Monitor and New Vision. The content people consume tells you a lot about that population and its way of thinking. Small things matter to them more than the so called policies and complicated stuff you guys discuss.
Many of our people are not able to process most of these things. They generally don't mind the status quo. In fact, for many, as long as they are seated on a malwa pot, they have no problem with anybody. As long the woman gets enough sex from her man, all those other things of your like human rights, domestic violence are completely irrelevant to them. They are okay and doing very fine and many of them are very happy in their lives. You think they are poor and suffering - they operate in a different world. They are probably happier than you are, yet you live in Ntinda, Munyonyo, Kololo and have all the facilities of modern life.
The day you understand that full figure, mama Fina and others in that caliber have more power and influence than a professor of medicine at Makerere University, that's the day you will discover that we were born at the wrong time. The critical mass of our country are still raw - functionally illiterate and not exposed at all and they are the majority voters.
The day you will appreciate that concept, you will understand what I'm talking about. Sometimes, I wish those MPs can add themselves as much money as they want - probably sell us, to that point where the ordinary person will wake up and understand that his MP ought to represent him or her in a certain way. For now, those people are still comfortable and the MPs know that too well. So they will act with as much impunity as the voters can allow them. Until people feel tired, the MPs will do just about anything they want.
So, what l'm doing these days is to dedicate some time to raising children and giving them an opportunity to keep alive., may be, just may be, when we move on as the current generation - may be these children will sort this country. I have accepted that we were born at the wrong time, we have been too exposed and we are suffering from a disease only a few of our peers in the villages have. For them, life is fine. Maybe not great, but fine.
As of now, we need to go back to basics. Go to villages, teach people how to write their names, how to load airtime, how to see a woman as a full human being, how to do basic things which we take for granted. These people voted for those MPs, they laid their bed - it's time to sleep in it. Sadly...all of us must feel the hit. The problem is not MPs per se, the problem is the millions that vote for those types of MPs.
If you don't agree with me, go to your village and try to contest for any political office. That's the day you will discover that your father is a witch. He bewitched other people's children so that you succeed. You took their blessings. That's the day you will know that your education is a problem. It's the day you will understand that the truth never wins you an election in a village.
We don't have a critical mass of people to vote a value laden parliament. Our society is still raw and was just picked from another political civilization into a democratic political civilization. The problem of democracy is that it assumes all people engaged in the exercise have the same information and that they share the same level of knowledge and that they are rational. We don't have the social software to generate a good parliament.
So, l'm not sure if I should burden myself with discussing MPs. Everyday, I only cry at the quality of our population. What we should all do is - each of you should identify a child in the village, give them an education. Help them and lift them from the disease of ignorance. Slowly, that child will pick up and also save his children from adding to the number of raw and i don't care cohort. As of now, you people are simply joking.
That said, there are many good people in those villages and not every man is disrespectful of their wife. I will make another post to show you the beauty of our villages. Today was for pouring out my frustration with their way of making choices - especially voting MPs. Next time, I will tell you sweet candy they are and why I love them anyway. Bye even.
This article was originally posted by Henry Mutebe on his Facebook page, and can be found here.