By John Kazooba
Mr Yoweri Museveni Kaguta officially made 72 years today. The president himself is not sure when he was born, but, September 15 is the day he settled for.
Last year, the president visited Bulakalango prayer centre in Wakiso where he was prayed for by priests that run the centre. The previous year when he turned 70, the president was surrounded by his immediate family where they admitted they had not spent enough time together as a family. It looked like a great gathering.
Mr Museveni has spent more than half of his life in public service. The man, who became president aged 42, has so far clocked 30 years in power.
Five years before entering Kampala as a victorious rebel leader, Museveni had served as defence minister in the UNLA government that had overthrown Idd Amin Dada in 1979. Museveni then aged 37, realized the best way to consolidate his position in Uganda’s annuls of history would take another war. The post independence politics and military were dominated by recruits from the north, and therefore that didn’t give Museveni the respect he wanted, even as he was the political face of the country’s then weak defence. Museveni decided after an election was the best time to take to another war. Who was boss in Uganda would be determined at the battlefield. Of course, Mr Museveni had a political program that he believed could only be implemented if his voice and word were followed.
It is worth to note that Museveni had spent some years in the trenches even before the 1981-86 war. He was in his 20s when he attacked Idd Amin’s government in the early 1970s, an attack that turned futile. The Ugandan leader himself concedes they were poorly prepared to attack a country with a standing army. The attack that collapsed in Mbarara proved to be a great lesson for Museveni, but, also a turnaround in his politico- military doctrine as he metamorphosed from a fiery idealist to a more pragmatic, patient military leader who wears out his enemies that surprise them and kill them off.
So, as Museveni celebrates his 72nd birthday, here are five things he needs to do with the remaining part of his life. In summary: he should once again metamorphose from an active general into a sage philosopher.
In his quest for power, Museveni spent a little time with his family and more time planning war. Actually, all his official children were born or raised in exile in their formative years. Janet had to spend the first years of her young family in Tanzania, either in Moshi or Dar es Salaam and later in Sweden, as Museveni busied himself with war plans and execution. There was also an option of not seeing him again. It is also true Museveni has spent more of his family time as president – however, as president; he is a busy person who has little time for his children. It might have helped him personally that he appointed his wife to cabinet and son as one of the top commanders in the military as he hears them out more often than usual, on official business as well as personal matters. However, do Museveni’s grandchildren have the same priviledges? Museveni seems to be a man who loves children and his contact with them seems to please him. Therefore, Museveni should look at the remaining part of his life connecting with family, and pass on to them some of the most valuable lessons of life.
“An unexamined life is not worth living” is a dictum in Plato’s book Apology. The phrase is attributed to Greek philosopher Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death.
Museveni has possibly lived to see some of his dreams come true. That is not to say there are no dreams that have slipped through his fingers. Therefore, it is important for an old leader like Museveni to start looking back. His mentor Julius Nyerere actually did that, and became an icon for his country. He saw his baby, Ujama, thrown out of the window by Tanzanian leaders that followed him. He realized however, Ujama was good but not its entirety. Although most people would agree that Museveni doesn’t want sit back and see Uganda run by anyone else, it would be a good thing an elder to see and enjoy the fruits of his labour. This time, he would write books, tell stories, advise his generals and youthful leaders.
Museveni has done many things. But also, there are many people that have done him good. A man on the run cannot savor the moment of thanksgiving. Museveni needs to relax, have a chance to say thank you to the people that have done him well. Then, the people that have benefitted from him, can also have a chance to show genuine thankfulness.
I guess the president doesn’t want to hear anything of this topic. May be we are wrong about him. However, he cannot run away from the fact that he has less time on earth left than he has covered. Yes, and Uganda will move on after him, whether he likes it or not. He better takes control of his succession that leave the country to chance.
It is time for Museveni to make peace with his God. With all powers around him, it is difficult for him to realize how the supernatural can uplift him as a person. Let our president prepare him soul for another long journey. But of course, we wish him the best.
Happy Birthday Mr President.