It was a Monday afternoon about one O’clock. I had just checked out of Face Technologies, the contractor’s work site performing driver licensing and registration on behalf of the Ministry of Works. Some thought has gone into the design of this site although I am bothered that folks have to travel long distances to reach Kyambogo. As one Uganda Revenue Authority officer told me in Masaka, we can start the process here but it ends in Kampala.
This particular Monday, I stopped at Café Javas Kyambogo. It is primed next to major transmission lines that hover over its backyard. Demand for a caffeine fix is now a human right as city dwellers have pushed up the domestic price of roasted coffee to $6 per kg, almost twice what the equivalent fetches in the premium international market. The growth of the café business carries a big health hazard. In Uganda, coffee is served with a complete gourmet menu if you want cow hooves with your coffee they will prepare it.
In the main sitting area, I glanced at a senior apparatchik who functions as a senior presidential aisor (in the Uganda he enjoys the benefits of a Cabinet minister). I tried to digest the import of what “presidential duty” he was performing in the café. The bespectacled gentleman looked like he was marking time or had taken a break from preparations for NRM’s just concluded delegates’ conference in Namboole.
Twenty minutes later, another acquaintance walked in. We occupied the same hall of residence – Lumumba – in our days at the university. He walked briskly to meet the bespectacled gentleman. The acquaintance is Gen David Sejusa’s nephew.
The Makerere of the 1990s was more personal and informal than the Makerere of today that is brimming with Uganda’s improved life expectancy scores and record fertility rates. In my second and final years, the Faculty of Law was overtaken by the presence of a new student, Maj Gen David Tinyefuza. Tinyefuza (as he was known then) was in the graduate programme.
A few of us were fortunate or had enough fortitude to take some of these graduate-level classes. We never sat together in class but were examined together. It was insightful at the time to absorb the entire General squeezed on a small desk elaborating on Keynes’ theories and whatever other offerings came in the tough Jurisprudence exam. He was stripped of uniform, and drove himself to class.
I continued sipping my first cup of coffee. It seems the gentlemen were on a tight schedule. A quarter hour after arrival, the university acquaintance left in a hush. But not before I grabbed more details. He was curiously wearing a cold weather coat something not grand enough to qualify as a winter coat but temperate enough to brave the early winter cold.
The coat was freshly worn. I don’t work in fashion and style but these days you can tell what is last year’s edition and what is the new year’s edition. Some ladies in Uganda are glad to see the close of the year of the pencil-thin belt and 70s style dress. This style must have required many to spend a year waiting to get into at least one version of this dress.
As the gentleman walked off, I could not help but think of the General’s frustrations in exile. Probably after extensive debriefing by the Foreign Office and the ICC, they realised his long term use was minimal. After years of flip-flopping, the West is happy with Kampala.
Gen Sejusa has never lived or worked abroad and his expectations of life abroad may have been too generous. As an intelligence officer, he knows how fragmented Uganda’s political classes have become at the behest of State engineered manipulation. If anyone, it could not be to him to end it.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Aocate.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor