Once upon a time in 1996, Norbert Mao and Betty Bigombe (fondly called Atuku) wrestled for the Gulu Municipality MP seat. I was in Primary Four at Gulu Public Primary School, a short distance from Kaunda Grounds in Gulu town where Mao and Atuku would woo voters during their campaign rallies.
I don’t remember much from the political muscle-pulling then, but a chant coined by Mao against his rival, stuck in my mind, not that I knew its significance then.
Cam Atuku, bol ki Mao .i.e., Eat Atuku and vote for Mao, became a political courtship chant, urging voters to eat whatever money or goodies Bigombe would give them, turn up at her rallies even, but when it came to ballot day, they should cast their vote for Mao. The voters did just that: They ‘ate’ Atuku and voted Mao to Parliament.
Watching the crowd donate money and other items to presidential candidate Kizza Besigye on his nomination day reminds me of 1996. The only difference is that Ugandans eat Museveni during campaigns and get eaten at the polls.
But, will Ugandans eat Museveni now and give Besigye the ballot in 2016, or will the good old Doc only go home with a sofa, avocados, and bananas come 2016?
I’m no seer, so I will let you answer that.
But, there’s another way out. In 2012, Museveni let a huge secret out of the bag. He said if he kissed Janet in public, he would lose an election. How about Besigye, Amama and the other ‘wanters’ of the presidential seat do some magic and have Mzee kiss Janet the next time he shows up in Namboole, complete with Tubonge Nawe ballads in the background!
Hmmm! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the politics of crowds and watch as others give, and others are given.