By Joan Akello
Lt. Col. Henry Matsiko, a commissioner at the National Patriotism Corps Secretariat, speaks to Joan Akello on patriotism and ideology.
Why do you believe in ideology?
I have always been one of those who believe that our liberation succeeded because of a correct ideology. I have been part of those disseminating ideology. I have a passion and I see a correct ideology as the oil of our struggle.
Are Ugandans patriotic enough?
Uganda was defiled at an early age by post- independence regimes and most people lost confidence in the relevance of the State. But since 1986, we have become more patriotic though people still have that cynicism that it cannot be different. The spirit of Uganda is being built but it cannot be devoid of our history.
What do we not know about you?
At times people think my name is Kabakumba and people still think I am at Kyankwanzi because I was there for a long time.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfection is unrealistic in nature and in society.
When and where were you happiest?
I treasure doing what I like. I am happy playing the role of mentoring young people to begin resonating with our mission.
What is your greatest fear?
I am an optimist. When I have fears, I instead work hard to mitigate the unwanted situation. I withstand against all odds because I use fear as a source of inspiration.
What is your current state of mind?
I have been mobilizing and organizing the second Boloki Chango Machyo w’Obanda memorial lecture with his surviving family and the rest of the community who appreciate his works. I’ve also been thinking of how best to ensure that his ideas are circulated.
Which living person do you most despise?
I believe in the sanctity of human beings; they deserve to be treated fairly. I do not believe in artificial life, pretending to be what you are not, putting on ‘airs.’
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Down to earth. I do not like arrogant people man or woman. It is worse for a man; most times it ends up in pretense and later causes misunderstandings in relationships.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Bravery and brilliance. My wife has the qualities I like; she impressed me as outgoing, brilliant, and I also didn’t want somebody who would pull me down.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I would like to be a young person because when you are young, you are a king and available.
Where would you most like to live?
Uganda; it is everything and it must have a high percentage when you trace the origin of life. I’ll live here and hope I die here so that my remains manure here also.
What do you most value in your friends?
I treasure honesty.
Which historical figures do you most identify with?
Chango Machyo and Muammar Gaddafi. I met Chango Machyo in 1980 when Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) was launched. I became an admirer of his type of ideology and writings in the Weekly Topic. When the National School of political education was established with Maj. Kakooza Mutaale as one of its pioneers, Chango would deliver talks on ideology at the school.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Those who hold or held leftist views such as Mwalimu Juilius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah and Robert Mugabe who once said socialism is our byword. I am among the few of Robert Mugabe’s admirers. He is a brave man.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I love my family and Uganda.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be multilingual.
What is your favorite occupation?
Teaching, which is why I need to learn different languages to communicate better.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Honestly I do not know, but I am a bit shy.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Success; people seek it too much.
On what occasion do you lie?
To save my country if it is the only remaining decision to make.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I do not pay attention to my appearance.
What is it that you most dislike?
Arrogance and dishonesty; I get so disappointed and you become nothing if I discover that you are or were dishonest.
What is your greatest regret?
That I never enjoyed my youth because my generation suffered wars, the HIV/Aids pandemic came and I lost most of my colleagues. Fortunately, I somehow survived and eventually got married and I’m now happy with a family.
How would you like to die?
I don’t want an untimely death. I want to be old but there is a time when you are old and you feel the door should close. My grandmother, who was about 112 years, was ready to go.
What is your motto?
To build is to knock down.