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In reply to Mwenda on Besigye

By Morris DC Komakech

Personalisation of the opposition struggle helps to replenish KB’s conscience

Andrew Mwenda’s article, “About our collective delusions” (see The Independent Oct.2) is worth reading. The mainstay of this Dr. Besigye invective was that KB has become so bitter over time from experiences of humiliation and torture by the regime. Mwenda argued that this bitterness blinded KB from recognising the progress made by the NRM, thereby compromising KB’s ability to correctly assess the current state of affairs. As such, KB has personalised the struggles for change, in the process, lost his edge in articulating attractive alternative policies for a post-Museveni Uganda. Mwenda concludes that KB is empty in both rhetoric, and vision.

Mwenda would agree that a political cooperation like The Democratic Alliance TDA); devoid of genuine commitment, trust, and respect, is a marriage that does not yield lasting affection. Such dishonesty, perhaps, is one of the reasons the history of failed political alliances precedes Besigye.

The montage driving former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s (JPAM) candidature ferociously believes that TDA will hold sway merely on political blustering. The individual opposition parties in TDA, have struggled to forge unity in-house. Definitely they lack credentials to hold TDA together as a government-in-the-waiting. They have to restrain their affectations towards Besigye who is still a formidable force in the change narratives and in TDA.

Presenting KB as the dead weight in the change equation is a big mistake. In fact, TDA is shaping itself under the dead weight of JPAM with many “unknown knowns”, and a strong resentment in the North.

For that, I find Mwenda’s trepidations conceivable, given its various contradictions.

Note that revolutions are inspired by personal ambitions shaped within personalised worldviews. These worldviews are constructed out of events that shape personal values, and ideals (conscience). Therefore, being a change agent starts with the person, because that role commits one – personally – to the change process and/or its perils. When revolutionists suffer tragedy, it takes a personal toll. It is such personal experiences that compound into personal convictions to shape, reaffirm, and drive their ideology.

Extra-ordinary strugglers, like Nelson Mandela, deal with the tensions between the personal and public expectations differently. Three parts to a struggle require tremendous balance for one to stay afloat; individual level – one has a family; at organizational level – one has to struggle to remain on top of conflicting ideals; and at the national level – one stands against a monstrous tyranny. This stage requires the shrewdness to galvanise diverse sentiments for change to occur. Therefore, indulgence in a revolution starts with the personal – espousing the ideals, articulating it, and mobilising the masses.

In essence, Mwenda raises critical issues against KB that should strengthen KB’s resolve to be part of the change, and realign him to the struggle that he helped to shape. To students of revolution, such experiences are commonplace, and signify a difficult growth process from a part-time agent into the crux of it. Agents become impersonal at full submission to the struggle. This is characterised by giving the self wholly to the struggle to become impersonal. Nelson Mandela staked his family (personal) by choosing incarceration for 26 years because at that point, he had become impersonal. The lesson here is that to become impersonal to a revolution, one has to endure a process of personalisation first. Personalisation is about replenishing the individual’s conscience.

My defence of KB stems from three fundamental experiences: One, in recognising that Ugandans are fond of radical spontaneity – ideas that explode and die fast. Flirting with JPAM, who has not presented any attractive alternative policy options – as Mwenda demands of KB – is just that adrenalin rush moment for contradictions. It is about instant gratification. This speaks badly for a protracted struggle towards a fundamental change. Two, the politics of vote numbers, make KB an important factor in the change equation. Three, ceding opposition gains at the grassroots to NRM Go – Forward is returning Uganda to a No-Party System.


Morris Komakech is a Ugandan social and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via mordust_26@yahoo.ca

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