By Mutebe Henry
Dear Andrew Mwenda,
I have read your latest article in which you raise a number of issues. I admit, you make good observations and offer good insight into how the opposition should pursue its power goals. To this end, you raise interesting points.
I wish though, to raise my concern on the texture and colour of your language .In the article, you referred to our MP- “Bobi” Sentamu Kyagulanyi as “empty headed”. I understand that we have freedom of expression, and I also know that it’s boundaries are so fluid and elusive, that we can never tell at what point one crosses the line, and starts to walk, not with freedom, but on freedom.
Andrew, in my view, any civilised society would reasonably expect that “elite” members of its family, have the inner-muse to make their voices and opinions heard without being abusive, offensive and uncultured. I would imagine too, that it should be common sense to understand that when you clock 18, there are certain manners expected of you. You don’t just talk nfwaaa.
People expect that when you got up and become an old man, you will exude a certain level do maturity and civility. To my disappointment, you are descending into more verbal savagery when referring to people who you disagree with. To find peace, you feel you should condescend to find your gradient.
In Buganda, a place you have lived and stayed for sometime, there is, a certain level of humility, expected from people who, by confirmation of society or self appointment, reffer to themselves as elders. There is, if you ask your bag and friends a word called “Obugunjuffu”. It is a certain level of civility expected of someone, regardless of their level of formal education. I think that your deployment of these words in reference to respected members of society, I am afraid, puts you under the spotlight.
You call yourself an old man. You should not be only old in abusing, you should instead, I think, be mature instead and put forward your points without abusing. Here, it’s not nice. I don’t know if it is, else where…but here, it’s funny.
As a person who is above 40, one would expect that you think about what words come out of your mouth and that while addressing others, you will be courteous and have the gumption to deliver a point without belittling another. It doesn’t not elevate you. It sinks you Andrew.
Interestingly, despite the sustained attacks on a person you call an empty head, he has remained silent and not attacked you as you have always done in most of your write ups. His silence, would invite any sober mind, to reflect, on who; of you two, is an empty head. The attacker or the attacked?
I think that you raise good points which, I want to imagine the opposition has heard, but you use language which is very un journalistic and un-tooro. Reading some of your articles and the way you reffer to others, sometimes very responsible people with families and children, it’s unsettling how you continue to pass as a journalist with that sort of hatred, envy, and lack of respect for the person of others.
I do not want to delve into the professional description of such behaviour as you will start yo allege that I am calling you X or Y, but I should bring it to your attention sir, that the colour and texture of language is dark, callous and unbecoming of a person of your status.
Even with all this said, I still think you have every right to express your opinion but I suggest that you accord some courtesy to our leaders. They are parents with children and to attack their person using words such as “an empty head” is an affront not just on them as individuals but an affront on the people who hold them as parents.
I have not written this letter as a response to the merits of your arguments but as a reminder ( and I promise I will always do this) that in this society, when you say certain words, people feel you are misrepresenting the values of the people who raised you.
Mwenda, in all you say, you stand not just for yourself as an individual but you represent a society, a place you come from, your parents, colleagues in the proffession, and friends. Please, for the sake of their dignity, I beg you, learn to respect fellow men…and don’t use abusive, belittling langauge to offend people like Bobi Wine whose silence only serves to make your cashe of abuses more uncalled for… and raises him to the platform of gentlemen while descending you into a hole of shame.
Andrew, over the last couple of days, events have happened that should offer every powerful person a lesson…that a time comes when those who refuse to be humble are humbled by other circumstances. A time comes when even the most powerful like yourself are humbled. I think that beyond the politics and pursuit of other interests, there ought to be a space, in your heart of hearts, in which you learn to appreciate that every man ought to be given some level of respect…especially when that person has not attacked you with such gravity of offense.
Andrew, my friend, you and I know that only an empty head, fails to learn the greatest lesson all men should learn: To respect another man especially if he is better than you at something. That guy-Bobi Wine is an MP…You and I are not. No matter how many books you have written, how many awards you have got, how many countries you have been to or which economic theories you know, that guy is what he is and you have to peacefully live with it.
He is the MP and you and I are not. Only boys fight when another man is better than them at something. I think Bobi Wine has some qualities that the people who sent him like. The extra qualities should not give you sleepless nights. Be at Peace, Andrew. Omwana alina work. Tobitekamu nuggu!!!. That doesn’t make you less and belittling him that doesn’t raise you above him…and none of you doesn’t have to be above the other. Let’s respect others and learn to live with the knowledge that its okay for someone to be better than you at something.
I want to acknowledge, as I end my letter, that you are a great writer and analyst. What I am not sure though, is whether you understand that calling Bobi Wine; a peoples representative, an empty head, may redefine the definition of that word and place you infront of that word and put Bobi Wine behind it.
The definition of an empty head: the one who calls others an empty head, or the one who responds to abuses with studied observation, thoughtful silence and unmatched restraint? You choose.
This article first appeared on Mutebe’s Facebook page