By Joan Akello
I am a son of a chief. A public officer trying his best to serve the public
What is your claim to fame?
My character and work speak. Where ever you post me, you will never find me wanting. When I write, speak, I attract people around. When you debate with me you will want to do it over and over again. Anytime you felt unattractive?
Those not used to divergent opinion. Plenty of those who want respect because they are either older or previously held or currently hold high positions may describe me as a negative person or personality.
Do you feel that somebody is always targeting you?
Yes. I have been in public sphere for 27 and half years since NRM came in. Once you put on a public cloth you attract supporters and opponents in equal measure. It is up to you to find how you defend yourself without appearing always defensive. Let people probe my personality, work and character but without me putting a wall. Even persons who I know target me I never let them get to know that I know.
To do so, I would be surrendering to them. I never accept anybody to conquer my character.
Any two childhood dreams you have achieved?
Education. But as a 15th child amongst 47, my father was not able to send all of us to school. Fortunately, I was the first to successfully complete secondary and university education and got a job.
Kind and philanthropic as a public person but most Ugandans think help is about financial support. I can give you advice to change career or lower your expectation and go for what is available.
Your best colour?
Yellow. It is ten years since we became yellow and I just like it. I would also choose Orange. I like bright colours. My mind is always bright even when the situation appears outwardly bleak. I never lose hope or weigh myself down with worries whether financial or somebody has injured my reputation. I do not care. I always have the best of hope.
Didn’t the shoplifting scandal affect you?
It never happened. It was one of those things that somebody tries to put you down to target you. I put that at the back of me. It has since gone. The people who wrote that story are ashamed of themselves because they said I was a person with no credibility. Why would I pick a pen of about Shs 100 then and underwear of Shs 1,000. I have been in charge of government property and here I am an accounting officer. I am one of the stingiest and strictest.
What book are you reading now?
Character Above All, about what made ten US presidents. When you look at the presidents of America and other countries, you think they have always been very powerful people. No, some of them came from very humble backgrounds. President Museveni and Apollo Milton Obote came from the humblest backgrounds but the two of them have arguably also been the presidents whose legacy may last for a very long time. President Obama is from the humblest of backgrounds. Bill Clinton was accused of having extra marital affairs, then President Nixon, so if you are a strong personality those things will go away. Being strong does not mean headstrong but having a mind that is able to accommodate stress without showing it.
What approach would you use if you were Col (Rtd) Dr. Kizza Besigye?
Besigye is adequately aware of the more peaceful, legal and more civilized ways of expressing even the strongest dissent. I wouldn’t bring myself to ridicule where I reach a level of sizing up with a local police constable on the street. I would challenge the ideas, actions of government but do so peacefully, and consistently. With my personality, I would not allow anybody to touch my body, rough me up, tear my shirt because when you do so the majority of Ugandans will not differentiate you from a common chicken thief and you will never earn their respect.
But it seems he draws more crowds?
His objective is to win political support by elections but that type of conduct has consistently downgraded his electoral strength, votes and publicity. I do not think many newspapers can run a photo of Besigye on the front page and sell unless the police do something very terrible. But they will not be publishing that photo to show Besigye as a good person; the motive would be show the police brutality. If I were in Besigye’s shoes, I would like the media to portray me as a good person.
What if you were woman, who would you be in Uganda?
I cannot imagine. It is hypothetical and I wouldn’t engage in that.
Philosophy in life
Never give up and it is never too late to start.
What would you want written on your epitaph
Nothing. I do not want a speech at my funeral. I do not want my body taken to church, or even have my grave marked. For what purpose.
Where do you derive your happiness?
Reading, having vibrant discussions with friends on any subject.
The last place somebody would find OO?
A disco. You will not get me at a birthday party.
So how did you meet your wife?
I interact with so many people starting from university to work.
Where can one get you outside office?
A small bar, what we call a kafunda where there are no perfect strangers, the service and conversations are intimate. I try as much as possible to be in close proximity with home.