Last week, I came across an unreasonable or (for want of a better word, irrational) man! The fellow was parked on the only part that was drivable on my way home!
His response, when I asked why he was inconsiderate, was that that was the only good place to park and whoever is responsible should repair Kigo road so that every bit of it is usable.
Less than half a kilometre, I stumbled upon an unreasonable couple. There they were walking quite leisurely by a pothole with brown, muddy rainwater. Seeing that they had no intention of stopping, I waited for them to walk by the paddle.
I would have splashed them with dirty water if I had not! Who walks by a pothole with muddy water in this rainy season?
In northern Uganda, there were women older than my own mother who undressed for two ministers that had gone to resolve the Amuru, Adjumani boundary dispute. Most men I know would not be ruffled when accosted by a naked woman, but when an elder undresses deliberately, then it is serious.
Indeed, one of the ministers, Daudi Migereko, broke down and cried together with the women who were also wailing out slogans and curses, disputing the boundary division.
Were the women unreasonable when they embarrassed top government officials by undressing in public or was that the only tool available to them?
In many parts of Africa, it is also an abomination when an elder undresses publically to oppose something. In this case, the women’s action was so powerful it evoked emotion from Migereko, who called off the boundary demarcation for now.
Even the hardened military general, Minister Aronda Nyakairima, who was not moved to tears, conceded somewhat and ordered all police and military detail off the area.
In Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa, unreasonable citizens attacked foreigners and their businesses. From afar, it seemed like the attackers were Zulus and it was alleged that they could have been incited by their own king who had earlier remarked that foreigners should return to their countries and leave jobs for South Africans.
Were the attacks symbolic of genuine protest against unemployment and poverty in the new and free South Africa? Or was it ‘thuggery’ and criminality stoking fears by playing on the emotions of poor black men? I think it has to be both!
Surprisingly, the South African government has seemed weak, by allowing the violence to go on over a few days. Whatever one may say about Uganda, our security services would never allow similar violence to fester and even extend to another city the way South Africa’s moved from Durban to Johannesburg.
Arrests were made a week later when the army moved in but the damage had already been done. South Africa’s reputation is down because many see the country as xenophobic and with weak leadership.
Xenophobia is not just in South Africa alone lately. In Britain, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has gained popularity by taking a stand against immigration. They are against Britain’s stay in the European Union and have stated that immigrants suffering from HIV have filled British hospitals. This borders on racism but the UKIP knows how to stay legal.
Back home, we complain about Kenyans, Asians and Chinese taking jobs from citizens. It is a similar complaint in Tanzania! The difference is that like the Tanzanians, we are not violent and have not encouraged criminality.
Despite Europe’s distaste for or dislike of immigrants, the numbers of Africans wishing to emigrate yonder is unprecedented. Yet it is not an easy journey! Only last week, it was reported that, though, 10,000 immigrants finally managed to get to the much sought after Italian shores, 700 others died on the high seas.
Is it reasonable for one to dislike their country so much so that they are willing to cross the vast Sahara desert before boarding a packed, very expensive but dangerous boat to Italy or Greece? However, the numbers keep growing!
European leaders met last week about the immigrants’ crisis and reluctantly agreed to fund more rescue missions perhaps to maintain reputation since there was an international outcry. The European Union had decided to stop rescuing immigrants stranded on the high seas. But African leaders have not yet convened!
Troubled times await us because soon we may not be able to determine who is an unreasonable person! Is it right to blame the one that hogs the best part of the road or those that stand by muddy paddles instead of the government?
Would you despise the northern Ugandan woman who saved her land by undressing in public? Should the African immigrants dying on the high seas be blamed for wishing to leave their homeland at all costs?
Until the leadership question is addressed in Africa, we shall have far more unreasonable people!
The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.
Source : The Observer